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Indian influence on ancient Lithuania

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I just discovered that ‘back in the day’, Vedic culture existed even in – hold your breath.. Lithuania. I had to look up where Lithuania was to derive some meaning out of this finding. It is a tiny country (about half the size of Tamil-Nadu), situated all the way near the Baltic sea and having fewer people than Pune does.

Location of Lithuania

The continously expanding realm of Indian influence

I’d read about Indian thought, culture and philosophy reaching as far as the extremes of South-east asia, all the way to China and Japan. A few years later I learned about India’s influence extending westward beyond Afghanistan to Persia, and I had to stretch my ‘influence-map’ further. Here too there was ample evidence of India’s influence at the highest levels, on the most profound of subjects – the nature of man and the universe, science, philosophy, art and music. India’s musical traditions preserve some fruits of her contact with Persia.

But it turns out there is more, and not only is there more, but every finding of Indic records in these remote places is a potential starting point for yet another study. We really know so little about the past.

Location Lithuania vis-a-vis India, China

A = Lithuania; C = Shanghai; Observe how much further Lithuania is than even eastern China

In the early 20th century, Sylvain Levy, the famous French Indologist remarked:

Sylvain Levy (d.1935)

“From Persia to the Chinese Sea, from the icy regions of Siberia to the islands of Java and Borneo, from Oceania to Socotra, India has propagated her beliefs, her tales, and her civilization. She has left indelible imprints on one-fourth of the human race in the course of a long succession of centuries. She has the right to reclaim in universal history the rank that ignorance has refused her for a long time, to hold her place among the nations, summarizing and symbolizing the spirit of Humanity”


And if we look, what records do we find of ancient Lithuania ?

Linguistic connection with Sanskrit

Amongst the European languages, apparently Lithuanian is closest in grammar to Sanskrit. There is a team of scholars at JNU in Delhi studying the connection between Sanskrit and Lithuanian.

Here are a few striking observations :

The word..

  • for Son: Sanskrit sunus – Lithuanian sunus
  • for Sheep: Sanskrit avis – Lithuanian avis
  • for Sole: Sanskrit padas – Lithuanian padas
  • for Man: Sanskrit viras – Lithuanian vyras
  • for Smoke: Sanskrit dhumas – Lithuanian dumas

A detailed study on these similarities is here

Prof. Sisirkumar Mitra, a prodigious scholar who made a deep study of the ancient world referred to a work called Priesistoririe Lietuva, by a Lithuanian archaeologist Pulk Tarasenka, which uncovered the following records from ancient Lithuania.

River names :

Nemuna (Yamuna), Tapti (Tapti), Narbudey (Narmada), Srobati (Saraswati)

Tribal or Clan names of the Lithuanians :

Kuru, Puru, Yadav, Sudav

Gods or Deities

 Indra, Varuna, Purakanya (Vedic Parjanya)


Remarkable, no?

These findings are actually not recent, but have for the most part been buried in dusty classic works sitting on rare untouched library shelves accumulating the weight of time. Mitra’s book which references the archaeological work is itself more than half a century old. I am glad to have chanced upon it !


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  • Vidhu Nambiar

    Interesting. Btw, did you know that there are a lot of Finnish words which have clear Dravidian origins?

    • Uday Arya

      No, I didn’t – this would be very interesting – can you suggest a few examples?

      • Vidhu Nambiar

        I just found this on the internet. But I had first heard of this in one of A L Basham’s essays.

        “Some words are strikingly similar and have the same or close-to meaning. This can be quite accidental, until someone can prove otherwise. Also ‘sata’ (=100) in Finnish means the same in almost all Indian languages! But the source of this is obviously Sanskrit ‘satam’.
        Malayalam      means         Finnish   means
        amma mother äiti mother
        nalu four             nelja           four
        vatti           basket       vati            basin
        puu             flower       puu           tree
        muusari         foundryman muurari*        mason
        piri             screw thread piiri           circle
        tuuli           blow in wind   tuuli           wind
        kol (kolluka)   die, kill       kuolla die, pass away
        ulla, olla(thu) be, exist       ole           to be 

        * Can be pure coincidence? They did not use bricks at the time of supposed contacts. Muurari comes from “muuri” which means “wall”.Whereas in Malayalam Musari comes from “Musa”(=mould). Though not exactlysame meaning, the formation of the final word follows a similar pattern.”

        Ref: Dravidian Languages vs Finno-Ugrian

  • Rahul Jindal

    Super interesting!

  • J_Templar

    Hi, I’m Lithuanian (8000 yrs old?) and Old Prussian (the even older mother tribe of Lithuanians, Germans, and others). Prussians are the more archaic and closest to the original P.I.E. culture. I hear our Baltic tongues are closest to Avestan of the Aryan languages since that is the oldest and so closest to P.I.E. Older means more archaic and pure, but more modern means more clever as the Vedics certainly were. The Balts stayed near their roots in the northern homeland while some Aryans moved south around 2100 BC, apparently lost their connection to earth and their feminine side, and became more masculine and modern conquerors. So the Aryans seemed to go from the northern P.I.E. homeland toward India later, not the other way around. (Sorry, but it does mean your Vedics were more advanced than us primitive Balts!)
    Da – Baltic virtues we should honor all start with the root Da for divine shining light of the day-sky etc such as in Dievas/Deivas/Daiwas -highest god of the sky. Such as Daina -song (singing was sacred), Darbas -work.
    Dharma = Lithuanian Darna/Derme? – Our very highest Baltic virtue is to connect oneself to Darna or Derme, the universal holy, peaceful order of the universe. Like Dharma but perhaps more feminine? That would be the deepest connection!
    Indra – like our Indra/Indraya, a goddess of water features/planet Jupiter who was betrothed of Perkunas, the main active P.I.E. god of thunder/rain whose symbol is the thunderbolt. Indra/Indre is still a girl’s name in Lithuanian. The Vedics clearly switched Perkunas with Indra. Our Indas means dish or vessel, esp of water, and also means an Indian person. Does all this relate to Indus/Indas river as the big water feature, and so its god would be most important?
    Surya – we worship Saule, the mother-sun. Some say your Surya clan derived from us ancient Balt sun worshippers?
    It is said in 3200-2100BC we Lithuanians lived with the pre-Vedic Aryans and ancient Finnics in Russia/Ukraine area and exchanged much peacefully and intermarried. All 3 groups borrowed words from each other.
    Muur – Lithuanian for stone wall is Muras. We likely got it from the Finnics, or maybe Finnics did come from Dravidians? Or did Aryans ever use it too? (Earlier roots get confused with later contacts.)

    • Uday

      Dear J_Templar, so wonderful to have someone from Lithuania comes across this post! And thanks for taking the time to share your learnings – it is much appreciated.

      Your word examples are very, very interesting – especially Darna/Derme, Deivas/Daiwas, Indre/Indra.

      Your sentence ” it does mean your Vedics were more advanced than us primitive Balts!” suggests that I may have implied Balts or Lithuanians were primitive. On the contrary, I believe Lithuania is one of the few places in the Western hemisphere that retains a capacity for truth-seeking that few ‘modern’ nations can claim of.

      On the word Arya / Aryan, I believe you and I use the term very differently. I have uploaded a pdf for you at scribd : I have learnt much from this wonderful essay by Sri Aurobindo on what I now understand as the true meaning of the word Arya.

      While the entire 4 pages merit one’s time, I have excerpted a few key passages below:

      “Western Philology has converted it into a racial term, an unknown ethnological quantity on which different speculations fix different
      values. Now, even among the philologists, some are beginning to recognise that the word in its original use expressed not a difference of race, but a difference of culture. For in the Veda the Aryan peoples are those who had accepted a particular type of self-culture, of inward and outward practice, of ideality, of aspiration.
      All the highest aspirations of the early human race, its noblest religious temper, its most idealistic velleities of thought are summed up in this single vocable.
      In later times, the word Arya expressed a particular ethical and social ideal, an ideal of well-governed life, candour, courtesy, nobility, straight dealing, courage, gentleness, purity, humanity, compassion, protection of the weak, liberality, observance of social duty, eagerness for knowledge, respect for the wise and learned, the social accomplishments.
      Everything that departed from this ideal, everything that tended towards the ignoble, mean, obscure, rude, cruel or false, was termed un-Aryan. There is no word in human speech that has a nobler history.
      Intrinsically, in its most fundamental sense, Arya means an effort or an uprising and overcoming. The Aryan is he who strives and overcomes all outside him and within him that stands opposed to the human advance. Self-conquest is the first law of his nature. He overcomes earth and the body and does not consent like ordinary men to their dullness, inertia, dead routine and tamasic limitations. He overcomes life and its energies
      and refuses to be dominated by their hungers and cravings or enslaved by their rajasic passions. He overcomes the mind and its habits, he does not live in a shell of ignorance, inherited prejudices, customary ideas, pleasant opinions, but knows how to seek and choose, to be large and flexible in intelligence even as he is firm and strong in his will. For in everything he seeks truth, in everything right, in everything height and freedom.”

    • Ą̶lp͘h͏́a͟C̢̀͞om̵̧p̡any̴

      The Aryan Invasion Theory theory is debunked.

  • Gintaras Kaulinskas

    Lithuanian and Finnish words:

    Circle: Ratas / Ratas

    Ship: Laivas / Laiva

    Profession: Amatas / Ammati

    Axe: Kirvis / Kirves

    • elinarrd

      Latvian 🙂
      Circle (round): Rats
      Boat (not ship): Laiva
      Profession: Amats
      Axe: Cirvis

  • Gintaras Kaulinskas


    Lithuanian language is oldest than Latin.

    Baltic nation (Pre-Lithuanians from territory of present Ukraine, Belarus, Lithuania, Latvia, Poland, Romania, Bulgaria) in 1500 BC came throw present Iran to present India and South Pakistan. In Iran was mix of languages Baltic + Iranians (Aryan) = Slavs. In India Baltic or Slavs language mixed also with local Indian languages and result was Sanskrit language. Not sure, but Mohen Jo Daṛo city was destroyed by Baltic and Co.

    Slavs (mix of Baltic + Iranians) in 500 BC came back to Europe and in 500 AC stay in present Chech, Slovakia, Serbia, Bulgaria.

    Sanskritas ir lietuvių kalba:

    Kadangi tiek sanskritas, tiek lietuvių kalba yra labai archajiškos, yra nemažai giminingų ir panašių žodžių, turinčių vienodą ar artimą reikšmę. Pavyzdžiui:
    agnis (अग्निः) – ugnis,
    vajus (वायु:) – vėjas,
    aśru (अश्रु:) – ašara,
    aśvā (अश्वा) – ašva , kumelė,
    kūrmas (कूर्म:) – kurmis,
    ratha (रथ:) – ratas,
    devas (देव:) – Dievas,
    navyas (नव्य:) – naujas,
    madhu (मधु) –medus,
    vīra (वीर:) – didvyris,
    svapnas (स्वप्न:) – sapnas,
    sanas (सन:) – senas,
    sravati (स्रवति) – srovena,
    śvaśuras (श्वशुर:) – šešuras,
    sūnus (सूनु:) – sūnus

    ir daug kt. Be to, kalbos panašios ir savo morfologija:
    skr. asmi – asi – asti = liet. esu – esi – esti.

    Šis kalbų panašumas yra ne dėl artimos jų giminystės (lietuvių kalba priklauso baltų-slavų kalboms, sanskritas – indoarijų), tačiau dėl to, kad abi šios kalbos išlaikė daugindoeuropiečių prokalbės elementų. Sanskritas, kaip liturginė kalba, nepakito nuo pat sukūrimo, o lietuvių kalba dėl istorinių ir kultūrinių aplinkybių taip pat pakito palyginti nedaug.

    • Uday

      Thanks for your comment. I especially appreciate your list of Lithuanian and Sanskrit words.

      For interested readers, the text in Lithuanian reads thus :
      “Sanskrit and the Lithuanian language:
      Since both the Sanskrit and the Lithuanian language is very archaic, there are a number of related and similar words, with the same or close to significance. For example:”

      I don’t quite agree with your statement “In India Baltic or Slavs language mixed also with local Indian languages and result was Sanskrit language.”

      Local Indian languages are a derivation from Sanskrit, not the other way around. Far as I know, there is no evidence to support the theory that Baltic peoples entered India, leave alone to form the Sanskrit language.

      • shrirang sudrik

        uday ji you are right westerners are not aware of the fact or if they are aware of it they do not have the guts to accept the truth that India once ruled the world and all world languages are derived from Vedic Sanskrit and not from Laukik Sanskrit. Also there is no evidence of any invasion whether you name it as baltic invasion or aryan invasion etc. all kinds of invasion theories are now proven defunct historically as well as geologically. Lithuania was ruled by India in Mahabharata times. The very word Baltic is derived from Bahlik who was the brother of King Shantanu in Mahabharata. whole baltic nations of today which were part of erstwhile USSR were created by Bahlik So Lithuanian language is directly derived from sanskrit language and not the other way round

        • Vytukas Karpavicius

          I granth it we don’t have stories from that long ago but if the Baltic tribes wore ruled by an indian king i think ther would be some arceological evidince of that. so far nothing like that found. what we did was one batalion of napaleonic troops buried in the old city when ther was a construction in progres in the capital of Vilnius. ther is 2 links to the first and an update.

        • Unclucky Bandit

          The invasion theory is not exactly the right word. People moved back and forth between Eurasia and the land beyond the Indus. Anyways the word “India” as geographically represented now is more of a modern Invention( thanks to the British). India was not one country then, so it is quite not factually correct to also say that Lithuania was ruled by India. Steppe farmers moved between lands ( from and beyond Indus towards Eurasia and Europe ) and people carry traditions, culture and language with them, and this is the same route as silk route ( the trade route ). i think transfer was then more of trade and Bartor. (which included language as well ). The genetics also prove that the movement was 2 way. ( r1a1 haplegroup) We share cause we are all mixed looking differently for geographical conditions.
          Being an Indian myself, i quite do not understand when other Indians try to claim superiority when its clearly not. No the world did not start from here, it was a 2 way process. Yes we were advanced but inventions and advancements travel during trade.

          • Vytukas Karpavicius

            first i want to point to this am lithuanian, and second lithuania was not a country until the year 1001 A.D. and thill then there was tribes and one of the tribes name was lithuanian.

          • Unclucky Bandit

            Hey my reply was to shrirang. I understand your point but what I do not understand is the claim of having saying that civilisation was born in India. It wasn’t. It was just migration both ways of you know what I mean which has been proved genetically

          • Vytukas Karpavicius

            genetics can only go so far until there will be any archiological discoverys. it is still up for debates.

  • Gintaras Kaulinskas

    I am not a specialist of languages, but in old Vedas was wrote, about pre-Indian homeland of nations, which spoke in Sansksrit – that there was ‘water like stone’ (= ice), stars on sky was in its positions looking from more North parallels than India. It could be, that first Baltic (+ others) came to India and later came back to Europe.

  • Gintaras Kaulinskas

    Baltistan in North Pakistan:

    Balti + stan ?

    Balti = Baltic?

    In Lithuanian ‘Balti’ / ‘Baltas’ = WHITE colour.

    Gašerbrumas balti kalba reiškia „gražų kalną“ (rgasha – gražus, brum – kalnas):

    In Balti language ‘Rgasha’ = Grazhus (Gražus) in Lithuanian = NICE in English

    Gašerbrumas I (taip pat žinomas kaip K5 arba Hidden Peak) – vienuoliktas pagal aukštį pasaulio kalnas. Viršūnė yra Karakorumo kalnyne, ant Pakistano bei Kinijos sienos. Kalno aukštis – 8080 m virš jūros lygio.

    Gašerbrumas balti kalba reiškia „gražų kalną“ (rgasha – gražus, brum – kalnas). 1856 m. kalnui buvo suteiktas pavadinimas K5 (penktoji Karakorumo viršūnė), 1892 m. dėl kalno nuošalumo pasiūlyta jį vadinti Hidden Peak (išvertus – „Pasislėpusi viršūnė“) vardu.

    • ragu

      Nice to know Indian Aryan culture and Sanskrit language spreaded in Baltic region and as far as Prussia aka GERMANIA

  • Gintaras Kaulinskas

    Nanga (Pakistan) = Nuogas / Nuoga (Lithuanian) = Naked (English)

    Oficialia Pakistano kalba, Nanga Parbat reiškia „nuogą kalną“. Tai devintasis aukščiausias kalnas pasaulyje. Daug alpinistų kopimą į šį kalną apibūdina kaip sudėtingiausią pasaulyje dėl labai aukštos 4,5 km aukščio kone stačios ledo sienos. Dar pridėkime greitai besikeičiančius orus ir didelę lavinų tikimybę ir gauname trečią pavojingiausią kalną pasaulyje.

    • James Robinson Cooper

      Sanskrit word for naked is Nagna and in Hindi it is Nagan.

      • Uday

        Thanks for your insight, James…

  • Darius Razgaitis

    I’ve always been amazed by one word that is the same in Lithuanian and Hindi. It’s the word for DREAM. In Lithuanian, it’s SAPNAS. In Hindi: SAPNA.


    • James Robinson Cooper

      The Sanskrit word for dream is Svapna.

    • elinarrd

      In Latvian it is Sapnis (singular).

  • elinarrd

    Does anyone here know who are the Balti people in North Pakistan and if they have any connection to Baltic tribes?

  • hindusthani

    “Vasudeva Kutumbakam” Jai Ho!