Friday, September 9, 2011

How Tamas Became Thames.

The armchair is easily the most under-appreciated place in the world. If you ask me, I’d rate it on par with Archimedes’ bathtub, Krishna’s chariot, Newton’s Apple Tree and Siddhartha’s Bodhi.

It’s got that mystical, magical power to transform any occupant into an almost-credible theorist for a brief eternity of one minute. You hit upon the fanciest of ideas sitting there and the universe conspires to supply you with all the factoids to back your notions.

I discovered the power of the armchair recently when I was researching river names. I started with Thames in London. Many respectable and dubious sources have come to agree that the murky Thames could have flowed from the Proto-Celtic word Temeslos (meaning dark water). Now Temeslos seems like a step-brother of Latin Tamases and Sanskrit Tamas. That set me thinking. Are the Celts of Indian origin?

Take the word Druid (Celtic equivalent of the Brahmin class). It seems like a derivation from Deru (Sanskrit for tree) and Vid (knowledge). Thankfully renowned Celtic scholar Peter Berresford-Ellis shares the same view.

His extensive investigation of the similarities between the Ancient Indian and Irish tongues, points towards the possibility of a shared ancestry. For example, Budh is planet Mercury in both the lingos. The sun diety is Sulios which sounds very similar to Surya. Setu is the Sanskrit word for bridge/highway/path while Set is old Irish for road. Bhojan and fochan mean food. And Angar is Welsh for fire - doesn’t that ignite a very Hindi word in your mind?

See how our fluvial pursuits helped us meander into a large reservoir of evidence in support of our Everyone-Was-An-Indian-Once theory. That’s the beauty of the Armchair. It lets you leap into unexplored domains with just a springboard called hunch.

Let me give you one more nugget that should stir your imagination wild. Are you aware that, unknown to us, a 480-km river named Komati gushes through South Africa, Swaziland and Mozambique? What’s interesting is Komati translates to ‘cow’ in the Swazi language. Doesn’t that sound like the Sanskrit Gomati? Isn’t that a strong data point to prove that my armchair theory holds water?