|A reconstruction of the ruined Temple of Tenochitilan
has features of vaastu-shastra of South Indian Temples
Mexico, today officially known as the United Mexican States, was home to many advanced Mesoamerican civilizations in the pre-Colombian era before its first contact with Europeans in the early 1500s. In Nahuatl, the native language of the Mexicans, Mēxihcoor Machico – was a term used to refer to the heartland of the Aztec Empire, namely, the Valley of Mexico. Its capital was known as Tenochitilan.
There is much debate on the etymology of the name Mexico and Tenochitilan. It has been suggested that Mexico is derived from Mextli or Mēxihtli, a secret name for the god of war Huitzilopochtli. The name Tenochtitlan was thought to come from Nahuatl ‘tetl’ (rock) and ‘nōchtli’ (prickly pear) and is often thought to mean ‘among the prickly pears growing among rocks’. However, one attestation in the late 16th-century manuscript known as ‘the Bancroft dialogues’ questioned the logic here, so that the true etymology of both the words remains uncertain.
Mainstream historians ignore the theory propounded by many other scholars who are of the view that there is a definite connect to the etymology of Mexico with Sanskrit. The basis for this is the many common features and attributes in the culture, the remains of Aztec architecture and languages spoken by pre-Colombian natives of the Aztec empire to that of some of the ancient cultures of Asia.
In his book ‘Hindu America’ Professor Chamanlal quotes a paragraph from a publication of the Govt of Mexico which says, “Those who first arrived on the continent later to be known as America were groups of men driven by that mighty current that set out from India towards the East “— History of Mexico (Mexican Government Publication).
He also quotes Professor Raman Mena, who then was the Curator of the National Museum of Mexico and states, “ The (Maya) human types are like those of India. The irreproachable technique of their reliefs , the sumptuous head dress and ostentatious buildings on high, the system of construction, all speak of India….”.
In his book ‘Primitive Traditional History’, James Francis Hewitt stated, “Hindu merchants brought to Mexico the eighteen- months year of the Pandavas and the custom of trade guild and Indian bazaar.”— pp . 834-36.
In the Asiatic Society Researches, Volume 11, published in 1808, Major F. Wilford states in his paper ‘An Essay on the Sacred Isles in the West’, “….various etymologies are given of the name of the city of Mexico, the true pronunciation of which is Machico. The most probable is from the Sanscrit Matsya, or Mach’ha, fish; and, in a derivative form, Matssyacha, and Mach’hica. This word, in the Machico language, is pronounced Mecho, and Mechoa. According to the learned Abbe Clavigero, a native of that country, the name of the town and province of Mechoacan, signifies the place of fish. In Hindi, Mach’hi-c”han’a implies the same, and Mach’hwa-c’hana, a place of fishermen, or Mechoa-can…In the Mexican tongue Teu-Calli signifies the house or cell of god, in Latin Dei-cella, which is to be pronounced Dei-kella….”.
Major Wilford links the suffix ‘co’ in Mexico and -kella in Latin to the Sanskrit ‘kula’ (house). Examples in Sanskri scripures include names such as ‘deva-kula’ (देव-कुल) or ‘house of god’. The prefix ‘Teu’ in Teu-Calli according to Wilford is a distortion of Sanskrit ‘dev’, or god, which we know changes to ‘deu’ in Latin. The largest Teucalli in Mexico (picture above) was located in Tenochitilan which was the most venerated of them all.
Suggested Readings & Links:
1. Asiatic Researches or Transactions of the Society instituted in Bengal, Volume 11
2. Nahuatl-English Dictionary
3. History of Mexico by Francesco S. Clavigero, 1806
4. Sanskrit Scholars in Spain and Mexico by Juan Miguel De Mora
5. Mexico – Siva Temple
6. Avestan-English dictionary