On some connections between ancient Slavs and India

Lotus pose and Swastika

These are already well-known facts but I will nevertheless mention them briefly. The oldest evidence of lotus pose comes from Mesolithic burials of Lepenski vir culture, modern day Serbia (9 500 BC). The oldest evidence of Swastika comes from Mezine, Ukraine and dates to more-less the same period as these burials (10 000 BC).

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However, there is something remarkable I need to tell you about this Ukrainian swastika.
In Slavic mythology, long before this bird-shaped object has been discovered, existed a deity called Mater Sva. She is the wife of Svarog, whose symbol is Kolovrat, two intertwined swastikas. Both of the deities have the syllable “sva” in their names while the later syllable “rog” could relate to Sanskrit “rg” meaning “praise, shine”, as in Rigveda.

Moreover, Mater Sva is often portrayed as a bird.

mater-sva   kolovrat

Mater Sva and Kolovrat

Vedic knowledge

In Sanskrit, Veda means knowledge, but in many Slavic languages, like Czech, Slovak and Polish this word has the exact same meaning. A Slavic word for God is “Bog”, while a rich person is “bogat” and the same parallel exists in Sanskrit in a word “Bhaga” which means “Lord” as well as “wealth, prosperity”. The list of such cognates is way too long to be mentioned here and it is strikingly noticeable especially when it comes to religious concepts.

For example, the Hinduistic concept of Moksha and Svarga mirrors in the names of deities of the Slavic pantheon – Mokosh and Svarog. It is obvious that these similarities could not be a coincidence. They point out to the fact that some precious pieces of information on ancient Slavic beliefs may actually be preserved in Hinduism.

Same parallels exist in Christianity. With its arrival in Slavic lands, pagan gods were demoted to saints, and so Indra, for example, became St. Andrew. No, it is not just about the similarity of names. To put it simply – Indra is a thunder god, and as such it can be equated to Jupiter of Roman mythology. Now, in astrology (western constellations are the same as in India) planet Jupiter rules the constellation of Pisces. And so Bible tells us that Andrew (and his brother ju-Peter) were fishermen, to whom Jesus had promised to make them “fishers of man”. Even the Andrew’s cross somewhat resembles the shape of the  constellation of Pisces. So without getting deeper in astrotheology, similarities are indeed obvious. There is no satisfying historical explanation of how Indra ended up in Christianity and why is the day of this saint so popular in Slavic nations.

The same goes for possible connections with Buddhism on which I wrote in my article On Slavic connections with Buddha

But speaking of Vedas, we must also mention three different controversial books.

First one, called “Slavic-Arian Vedas” is allegedly thousand of years old (but published only a few decades ago in Russia) This book even gave rise to a Russian pagan church of Ynglism.

The second one, called “Veda of Slavs” is older – dates to the late 19th century, and it is supposedly a compilation of ancient folk songs from the area of Bulgaria and Macedonia. Both books have divided the public into two groups – passionate supporters on one side and those who equally passionately label them as forgeries on the other. And while personally I have my doubts about the authenticity of the first book, in case of “Veda of Slavs”, it is worth a mention that it contains names of many Vedic deities, mainly Vishnu (Visnyi, or Sve-visnyi, “the exalted one” in Slavic) and that it is indeed written in an archaic language, in a style similar to the original Vedas. Here you can find an interesting critic which concludes that the author either had to be a “poetic genius” to forge 23809 lines of poetry or there is simply something more to this book.

Third one, published in the late 19th century Serbia is allegedly found in an old manuscript, forgotten in a monastery – a compilation of 345 poems of which at least 15 speak of Serbs being in India (under a name Hindustan and Indjija) mentioning also toponyms such as the Hindu Kush, Manchuria and Tatarstan. Serbian version of this book can be found here.

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Yin Yang symbol from Cucuteni-Trypillian culture

Language similarities between Sanskrit and Slavic

It is not at all unusual to find cognates in Indo-European languages, but when it comes to Sanskrit and Slavic, the number of cognates fits into a proper book, rather than a simple list. Therefore I have decided not to make a list myself, but any Slavic speaking person can play around with online dictionary Spoken Sanskrit and check for themselves.

There are actually books of such “Slavic – Sanskrit dictionaries” published in many Slavic countries, like Serbia and Russia, but in case you can’t get hold of any you can check these few English links:

Sanskrit in Croatia, by Sutra journal

Sanskrit and Serbian Slavs, by Hare Krishna center

Sanskrit and Russian – ancient kinship, by Russia and India report

Caste system

The word “caste” comes from Latin words CASTUS – (PURE) and  CASTITAS(MORAL PURITY), which translated in Slavic would be CHIST and CHESTITOST. But even though it is quite interesting why such a connection exists between Slavic and Latin, this does not tell us anything about India, where the caste system is called “varna”, just like a city in Bulgaria, which some Bulgarian authors also connect to Hindu god Varuna.

Moreover, Slavic word for work – “rabota”, actually implies that the work is done by a slave – “rob” or “rab”, depending on pronunciation. The word “robot” comes from Czech and has the same connotation.

There are no proofs that ancient Slavic society had a cast system, but it is very likely that it had existed in many pre-Roman societies of Europe – especially Celts and Gauls, with Druids in the role of high-priests and their belief in reincarnation which may have even impacted the teachings of Pythagoras according to some authors.

Toponyms

I am sure that there are many toponyms across Slavic countries that find their match in Asia, while they don’t mean much in Slavic language, and vice-versa. I have already mentioned Bulgarian theory about the etymology of Varna, but in order to avoid mistakes, I will focus only on the region that is familiar, a northern part of Serbia, in the region of Pannonia.

One of the most obvious toponyms is a city of Indjija, which simply translates to “India”. There is no official explanation for it’s name whose first mention comes from the 15th century. When Serbian monastery poems were discovered, some authors had tried to connect mentions of India with this town, as some of the poems also refer to India as “Indjia”. However, this theory does not explain where the name of the town actually comes from, neither it explains why other poems mention the Hindu Kush and Manchuria.

Not far from Indjia is a town of Chenei which mirrors in Chenai, India. And not far from there is a city of Kikinda, also mentioned in the 15th century, a name that does not mean anything in Serbian, but reminds on the name of an ancient kingdom of Kishkindha.

In this same region we also have:

  • Horgosh – Compare with Kazakh city of Khorgas, on the border with China.
  • Paracin (Roman name “Sarmates”) – Compare with Parachinar, Afganistan
  • Choka, Serbia – Choka, India
  • Pachir, Serbia – Pachir, Afganistan
  • Begech, Serbia – Two places called Baghechi in Pakistan
  • Churug, Serbia – Churugara, India (many others too)
  • Sanad, Serbia – Sanad, India
  • Not far from Sanad, Serbia is a place called Bogarash, not far from Sanad, India is Bhagirathi river. There are also few towns called Bhagirath in India.

And of course, you can read my full article on the etymology of Belgrade here.

This is just a small sample of many “strange” toponyms we encounter every day in Serbia without thinking that they may actually have a story to tell. Tribes of Sarmatians and later Avars had indeed once thrived in this region so it is not strange that they had left some heritage. The only problem is that modern Serbian historians for some reason consider this topic as a taboo.

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Pannonia marked as Sarmatia in 1st century AD, from Arheoloski vesnik 41, 1990.

The question of Gypsies

When I say “Gypsie”, I am not using this word as a pejorative. Gypsie means someone who comes from Egypt, as this was a popular belief in medieval times. So even in middle ages there was a riddle of how and when have these people arrived in Europe, and most of all – on Balkan. They also refer to themselves as Roma, which could be related to Roman empire of which their ancestors had probably been a part of, as there is no evidence of their migration in a more recent history. The other possible etymology could be related to god Rama.

Modern genetics and linguistic clearly points out that their origin is in Northern India, more specifically in Punjab region. So when did they come here? The only thing that we know for sure is that Alexander the Great went as far as India with his army, from this very region of Balkans. But according to the popular episode of Greek mythology he had only repeated what Dionysus had done some centuries before him, a story which must have been quite familiar to Alexander, although we have no evidence that it actually ever happened.

But then again, we do have evidence of tribes of Scythians and Sarmatians, whose empire once stretched from Northern India to Balkans, long before Alexander. There are actually people in North India who claim to be descendants of Indo-Scythians to this day. They are known as Jats. If you read the highlighted article you will see that Jats have no doubts that their fair skin, unusual height and blue eyes are inheritance of people who came from Ukraine, or according to others, from Gets or Goths (presumed to be the same word as Jat) which used to be a Thraco-Scythian tribe of modern day Romania.

Moreover, over 70% of the Brahmins (highest caste in Hinduism) belong to R1a1 haplogroup according to genetic research presented on Eupedia. This “Sarmatian” haplogroup is now most dominant in Poland. (cca 60%)

So in conclusion, we have people from India living on Balkan for millennia, and we have people in North India tracing their origin to Balkans and no mainstream theory to explain this.

I don’t know about you, but I find it all a little bit bizarre.

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