“(… the archeological evidence) confirms the origin of Civilisation and even of humanity itself in the Indies….that is, India and Indonesia…”Prof. Arysio Nunes dos Santos in “Atlantis, the Lost Continent Finally Found”
To date, “Sanskrit in Indonesia” by Dr. J. Gonda, Professor of Sanskrit and Indonesia Linguistics, Utrecht (Holland) remains one of the most often quoted work on the subject. No doubt, it is an interesting read.
The Professor must have spent years researching the subject, not to miss the time and energy spent on learning the fineries and subtleties of the languages and the idioms. As any other professor and researcher before 1950s, he too starts with the premise that the Indonesian Archipelago, or Dvipantara as it was known in the ancient times, was influenced by India, thus coining the phrase “Indian Cultural Colonization” of the archipelago.
Almost seven decades after the publication of Dr. Gonda’s work in the year 1952, this premise is now being challenged.
The New Technology, satellite pictures, archaeological findings, etc. prove beyond any doubt that there was no such thing as cultural invasion and colonization.
Beyond their current political boundaries, the Indian Subcontinent in its entirety and the Indonesian/Malaysian Archipelago – were once connected and not separated by the seas.
Let us consider the following points to understand our history, or rather histories better:
Sundaland, a name coined to identify a large chunk of Southeast Asian landmass submerged by rising sea levels between 15,000 and 3,000 BC.
Interestingly, the word Sunda means Elephant Trunk in several Prakrit or natural languages as the predecessor of Sanskrit. Please look at the picture here, it does look like an Elephant Trunk.
As the Result, over a Period of about 9,000 Years before the gradual submergence of most of its landmass, the peoples of Sundaland migrated to safer places.
What does this imply? We are talking about the migration of the peoples of Svarnabhumi (Sanskrit, the Land of Gold), the Yavan (Prakrit/Sanskrit for Yava or Barley Growers) upward, northward, to the modern state of Bengal, even beyond…. Perhaps, even beyond the mighty Sindhu River. The Greek are referred to as Yavan in several Sanskrit texts.
In his book “Eden in the East”, British Geneticist and Expert in DNA Studies Prof. Stephen Oppenheimer (1947) wrote, “Southeast Asia (is) the source of the elements of Western civilisation.”
The Later Fragmentation of Sundaland due to natural disasters created what became known as Yavadvipa, the Barley Island. Currently, the most populated island in the Indonesian Archipelago is Pulau Jawa – the Island of Jawa.
It got separated from the island now called Sumatra (Prakrit/Sanskrit, meaning the Island of Precious Metal, Gold) and is today the second most populated island in the Indonesian Archipelago.
A proper understanding of this history is important so as to appreciate the common cultural roots, the samskriti that we all share. For, it is this very samskriti, our common cultural roots, our natural history that gave rise to the Prakrit or Natural Languages, and, later Sanskrit as a language to unite us all.
Sanskrit, as the Very Term Indicates, is a refined, polished, customized language absorbing words from Prakrit or Natural Languages. Later, in the 6th to 5th century B.C., the great grammarian Panini codified the language.
His work Ashtadhyayi is considered the first ever treatise on the grammar. Yes, that is correct, on the grammar of any language. Around the same time, a script was also developed, i.e. the Devanagari Lipi, to complement the language and its grammar.
Coming back to Dvipantara or the modern Indonesian Archipelago, several of the older languages here like Javanese (also spelled Jawanese) and Balinese still retain the traces of Brahmi Lipi or Script that precedes the popular Devanagari Script today.
We are Aware of the Ongoing Debate on whether Sanskrit is older than the Prakrit languages or the vice versa. This will continue until the Sanskrit scholars and experts on languages look beyond the borders of Bharat, not to speak of the present state of India, and study the languages of ancient Persia, Dvipantara, and other regions sharing the same Sanatani, same Dharmika roots.
Without entering into an unnecessary debate, if we focus on the similarities of the lofty customs and traditions, or the samskriti of the vast region referred to as the Jambudvipa in the ancient times – we can easily conclude that, indeed, the entire region from ancient Persia to the outer limits of Australia, and even beyond, sprouted from the same cultural and civilizational heritage.
Let us now examine some very common words in Bahasa (Bhasha) Indonesia having similarities with modern Sanskrit and Hindi words:
- Agama meaning Religion, and Aagama meaning Traditional Doctrine.
- Ananda and Nandana – Son
- Angka and Anka – both meaning Number
- Angkasa and Akasha – Sky
- Arti and Artha – Meaning.
- Bahagia meaning Happy, and Bhagya meaning Good Fortune
- Bahaya meaning Danger, and Bhaya meaning Fear
- Baruna and Varuna, both meaning the Lord of Waters
- Bayu and Vayu, both meaning the Lord of Winds
- Biji and Bhija, both meaning Seed.
- Cempaka and Campaka – Magnolia Flower
- Cendana and Chandana, both meaning Sandalwood
- Cerita and Carita – Story
- Citra in Indonesian means Image, in Sanskrit it means Picture
- Dana and Dhana – Money.
- Desa in Indonesian – Village; Desha in Sanskrit – Country
- Dirgahayu and Dhirga Aayu – Long Live
- Duka and Dukha – Sadness/Pain
- Eka in both Sanskrit and Javanese means One or Mono
- Esa in Ancient Javanese and Indonesian – Mighty; Isha in Sanskrit – Lord.
- Gajah and Gaja, both meaning Elephant
- Garuda in both Sanskrit and Indonesian means Eagle-like Legendary Bird
- Genta in Indonesian and Ghanta in Sanskrit – Bell
- Gerhana in Indonesian and Grahana in Sanskrit – Eclipse
- Gita in both Indonesian and Sanskrit – Song.
- Graha in both Indonesian and Sanskrit – House or Mansion
- Guru in both Sanskrit and Indonesian means Teacher
- Hasta in both Sanskrit and Indonesian – Hand
- Husada or Usada in Indonesian and Aushadha in Sanskrit means Medicine
- Indra in Indonesian and Indriya in Sanskrit – Sense Organ.
- Isteri or Istri and Stri in both Indonesian and Sanskrit – Woman
- Jagat in both the languages – Universe
- Ja(a)la(a) in Indonesian, and Jaala in Sanskrit – Net
- Jiwa and Jiva – Individual Soul
- Jaya in both – Hail, Glorious, Victory.
- Ka(a)ca(a) in Indonesian and Kaacha in Sanskrit – Glass
- Kala in both – Time
- Kencana and Kanchana – Gold
- Kendi in Indonesian and Kundi in Sanskrit – Pitcher
- Loba and Lobha – Greed.
- Madya and Madhya – Middle
- Manusia and Manushya – Human being
- Neraka and Naraka – Hell or Underworld
- Pustaka in both the languages – Book
- Pertiwi and Prithvi – Earth.
- Rasa in both can mean Taste, Emotion, or Flavor
- Samudra in both – Ocean
- Tri in both – Three
- Utama and Uttama – Most Important
- Wahana and Vaahana – Vehicle
- Yudha and Yuddha – War.
Out of 25,000+ Entries in the Kawi (Old Javanese) – English Dictionary by Prof. P.J. Zoetmulder, S.J. (1982), almost half are mistakenly referred to as Sanskrit Loanwords. They actually stem from the same Prakrit roots as Sanskrit.
Most of these words are found in the modern Bahasa Indonesia. And, they are not perceived as words of foreign origin.
Similarly, as mentioned earlier, the samskriti, the values held high by modern Indonesians to date bear witness to our common roots, culture and civilization.
First Written for and Published by E-Samskriti, India
1 thought on “Samskriti, Sanskrit and Indonesia”
Interesting, thought-provoking, inspiring to go deeper!