In his book Oriental Fragments, author Edward Moor (1771-1848) put forth the view that a certain ‘race of words’ found in ancient place names around the world have their origin in Sanskrit. He states on page 241 of the book, “I shall proceed to show that India, or some region far East, is the cradle of this race of words. And, finally, that the Hindu deity Siva, in his dark character of Kala, or Time, is the Adam of this black family.” Edward Moor was referring to the existence of words such as Kal, Kol, Kul, Kil; or slightly aspirated, Khal, Kkol in the names of rivers,mountain and villages and in the ancient place names of towns where pagan temples or other places of worship had once existed.

He further adds,” ….a large family of sables are thence sprung’; some of whom are traceable in various ramifications and branches over distant countries, and people, and languages, surprisingly cognate, if not identical, from Himalaya to Calabria : though, of course, unequally distributed. In the Sanskrit language, the vocalized expansion of K — L into Kal, or Kalu, gives, as before hinted, the name of the changer of forms, Siva, in his character of Time. The word means also, in several dialects derived both from Sanskrit and Arabic sources, blackness, as well as time. Kal is both yesterday and to-morrow, the past and the future….”.

Moor cites examples from Memoirs Relating to European and Asiatic Turkey written by Robert Walpole, (1781-1856), great-nephew and namesake of Britain’s first prime minister, who was a classical scholar and clergyman. About a town by the name Calamata located on the Turkey-Greece border Walpole states, “Calamata is a small but populous town….. It stands on the banks of the rivulet that now hears its name….The rivulet has every character of a mountain torrent — an inconsiderable stream in summer, and violent in the winter months. It falls into the sea about a mile from Calamata, and the same devastation marks its course through the plain. Calami, the village mentioned by Pausanias still retains its ancient name, and is situated two miles from Calamata.”

Moor  states, “Calamata, I will here note, is at the foot of Mount Parnassus. Mountains or hills, more especially if conical, as them being more probably of volcanic origin, we shall by-and-by see are appurtenances of Siva and Parvati; of him, he being destructive, devastating fire; of her, as his consort, in all forms, but more especially under her name and character of Parvati, which means mountain-born: for which name and parentage legends are not wanting.

“The river Calamata reminds us that the Nile, and other rivers, have a like meaning of blackness or blueness. Kali is a river famed in Hindu epics. Nila means blue ; so does Krishna, or black. The poetical river Jumna, as we call it, is, with Hindus, “Yamuna, the blue daughter of the Ocean.”

Moor was intrigued by what what Pausanius, an ancient Greek traveller, writer and geographer of the 2nd century AD had noticed in the town of Calamata – that is, a temple of the Syrian goddess! Later in the 18th century Walpole had found ruins of ancient baths, remains of which are very considerable. The temple of Syri, Edward Moor says, could have been the temple of Kali or Parvati! “Syri is a cognate of the Vedic name Sri, which is yet another name of Kali!! Hence the name of the town – Kalamata!!!”.

Walpole also mentions the town of Callidia near Delphi in Greece. He says, “Passing near the plain of Callidia, we descended by the steep precipices of Delphi, Our descent is difficult and dangerous; our horses, though accustomed to mountainous tracts, were unable, from the rocky nature of the road, to keep their feet. They fell frequently. We arrived in three hours, much fatigued, at the Convent of Delphi….”.

Moor was of the opinion that Delphi was decidedly a Greek name. But Bibliotheca Classica, a dictionary of all the principle names and terms in literature, history, topography, geography and mythology compiled by John Lempriere, and published in 1842 by Collins and Keenes in New York says on page 91 that the ancient name of Delphi where the most famous oracle, though not the oldest in Greece was located, was ‘Pythos’. It describes Delphi thus – “Delphi, more anciently Pytho, now Castri, was the largest town in Phocis, and in some respects the most remarkable in Greece.” The ancient name of Delphi was ‘Pytho’ which most likely originates from the Sanskrit ‘peeth‘ (पीठ) meaning ‘seat of learning’. For more on this click here.

1. A Handbook for Travellers in the Ionian Islands, Greece and Turkey by John Murray
2. Argostoli
3. Pausanias


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