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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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