Vedic Family Names In Pre Historic Greece

Created by Jijith Nadumuri at 07 Sep 2010 11:27 and updated at 30 Sep 2010 12:07

Just as Mahabharata and Ramayana contain the pre-history of India, I consider Iliad and Odyssey too as containing the pre-history of the Greeks (and countries surrounding Greece) apart from all the mythological contents and imaginative / fictional works in them. There are many family-names mentioned in Iliad and Odyssey which are of Vedic origin.

Sage Atri and Atreus, the father of Agamemnon

The tribe of Atri (the founder of Atri Gotra) is mentioned in Iliad as Atreidai. Atri was one of the seven ancient sages (the Sapta-Rishis). The seven sages were the founder members of several human tribes. Members of Atri's family appear in Iliad. One example is Atreus. He was the father of Agamemnon, the king of kings mentioned in Iliad. Atreus's descendants are known as Atreidai or Atreidae. In Mahabharata Atri's descendants are known as Atreyas. Dattatreya was a famous sage in the line of Atri mentioned in Mahabharata. The Hittites called the Atreus as Attarsiya or Attarissiya which seems to be a corruption of the form Atri-Rishiya, which translates to:- the descendant of Atri-Rishi or sage Atri. This is found in the Hittite text on the 'Indictment of Madduwatta'.

Ahhi-yawa and Ahi-chatra

The country of Atreus / Attarsiya / Atta-rissiya is mentioned in the Hittite text to be Ahhiyawa. Ahi is another name of the Nagas, the snake-worshiping tribe mentioned in Mahabharata. Symbols of Ahi / Nagas / snakes were predominant in the armors of Greek warriors participated in the battle of Troy. Many regions are mentioned in Indian-subcontinent as being associated with the Ahi tribe. There was a river named Iravati (Ravi_River in Punjab). It belonged to the Airavata-Nagas at some period of time. There was a city named Ahichatra in the southern foothills of the Himalayas (Wikipedia-Ahichatra) which served as the northern capital of the Panchalas (the main tribe who participated in the Kurukshetra war). Ahi-chatra literally means the land of Ahis, viz. the Nagas. There was also a region to the north of Himalayas mentioned as the Airavata region which is considered to be a region populated by the Ahis or the Nagas. Thus, I consider that the forefathers of Atreus and Agamemnon could be originally from any one of these regions, especially from the banks of the Iravati river of Punjab. They could be a branch of the Atri-tribe (the Atreyas as per Mahabharata) who lived on the banks of river Iravati.

Madduwatta and the Madhumatta

Madduwatta (or Madduwattas) was a king of Arzawa, in Anatolia. However this is also a tribe mentioned in Mahabharata. This is not part of Greek texts but of a Hittite text on the 'Indictment of Madduwatta'. In Mahabharata they are mentioned as the Madhumattas. They are mentioned as one among the many tribes that inhabited ancient India a.k.a. Bharatavarsha. Mdduwattas was also known as Madyattes, which seems to be a corruption of the form Madhya-Desas, literally meaning the inhabitants of the middle-country, a term used in Mahabharata and ancient Indian texts to denot people living in the Indo-Gangatic plain.

The text also mentioned about a tribe named Hinduwa, which seems to be the corruption of the name of Sindhu-Dwipa, the Sindhu region or Sindhu kingdom on the banks of the Sindhu river. Inhabitants of this kingdom moved to Asia minor and named a river there as Sindhu, which later came to be known as the Hindus-river. The Hittite text is referring to the region around this river in Asia minor.

Attica and Atrica

The region of Greece containing its capital city Athens is named Attica, which seems to be a corruption of the form Atrica, which translates to the region of Atri. Attica could be the region where the Atri branch from Punjab, Hariyana and Uttaranchal regions of India viz the tribe of Atreus settled initially. The climate of Attica is as warm as the climate of Punjab and Uttaranchal.

Gods of the Sea and the Sky

Poseidon, Pose-davone the Greek god of the oceans corresponds to Paasa Deva, Paasi Deva or Varuna, the Indian god of the oceans. Pasa was a weapon possessed by Varuna. It is also called Varuna-Pasa. It is same as the Naga-Pasa weapon or Urumi used in martial arts called Kalaripayat in Kerala. It is an extremely elongated snake-like flexible sword. Varuna used the Varuna-pasa to bind the wicked or to kill them by striking with it. Varuna was the former god-of-the-gods or Mahadeva, a title which was taken over by Indra and finally Siva. Surprisingly Siva (the final transformation of Varuna) too possess a trident as his weapon like Poseidon as depicted in Greek mythology.

Uranus, Ouranos, the Greek god of the sky or the celestial-ocean corresponds to Varuna, the Indian god of the sky or the celestial-ocean (Varuna became the god of terrestrial-seas and rivers only in later stages; initially he was the god of the sky which is considered to be a grand celestial-ocean. Uranus also sounds like Usanas. Usanus was a sage in the line of Bhrigu. He was also known as Sukra. The morning star (planet Venus) is named after him. It is the brightest object in the sky after sun and moon and hence can represent the night sky. The term Usa also means the morning-sky. Descendants of Bhrigu were called the Bhargavas. They were also called the Varunis since they worshiped Varuna as the primary god and gave Indra a lower status. Thus Usanus represents the (morning) sky due to astronomical reasons and also Varuna due to theological reasons. He was also the priest of the Asuras who were vanquished by the Devas. This is similar to defeat of the first and second generation of Greek-gods represented by Uranus and his son Chronus at the hands of the last generation gods headed by Zeus.

Another possibility is that Usanus transformed to Oceanus, a son of Uranus (and also another Greek god of the Oceans). The disciples of Usanas (Sukra) viz. the Danavas and Daityas (the Asura clans) were also mentioned as good at sea-navigation, sea-trade and sea-warfare. Agastya a sage in the line of Usanas, is mentioned as good at sea-warfare. Vasistha another sage in the line of Usanus is mentioned as allied to the Yavanas (Ionians).

Chronus is similar to Mahakala (Shiva) or Kala (Yama). The similarity is not in the name but in the meaning. Chronus means time or the lord of time. Kala (Yama) is considered as the Indian god of time who rules the region of the dead. He makes people meet with their death, when their age (time) expires. Mahakala (Shiva or Rudra) the greater god of time deals with the dissolution of the whole universe when the age (time) of the universe expires.

Zeus is similar to Indra in being the final king of the gods (former kings of the gods were Varuna (equivalent to Uranus) and Rudra (equivalent to Cronus). Indra had many sons (like Arjuna) among the mortal women. Zeus is mentioned as having many sons (like Perseus) among mortal women. Zeus lived in the high mountain of Olympus and Indra lived in the high mountains of the Himalayas. A lesser known Vedic god Dyaus is mentioned as the god of the sky in Vedas who has similarity with Zeus in name. Both Zeus and Indra later took the title "the lord of the sky".

I guess both Indra and Zeus were real historical figures. They were leaders of their respective societies (India and Greece). They brought revolution. They overthrew former centers of power and established their own. Later societies revered them as gods and fashioned them as the lords of the sky and identified them with their ancient sky god viz. Dyaus.

Goddess of the Earth, Gaia, the Cow

Greek etymologists consider the word Gaia to be originated from the root Ge. This word also appear in popular words like Geography, Geology etc related to Earth. Etymologists are unable to trace the origin of the word Ge or how it came to mean Earth. The answer lies in Indian mythology, which represents the Earth as a divine Cow (Go).

The Greek goddess of the Earth, viz. Gaia is derived from the Indian representation of the goddess of Earth in the form of a cow. In Indian tradition, goddess Earth is often represented as a cow and cow is often used as an allegoric symbol for the Earth, the mother-land, the land as property or the land in one's possession. The Puranas describe how goddess Earth assumed the form of a cow and sought protection of the gods like Vishnu and Brahma. In Mahabharata it is said that king Parikshit protected goddess Earth disguised in the form of a cow from the attack of the Gandharva king Kali, the enemy of Parikshit. Sanskrit word for cow is Go, Gou, Gauh. The corruption of this Sanskrit word found in Hindi, the national language of India is Gaay. In Hindi, Gaay means cow.

There is also a myth in Mahabharata about how the Yavanas (who later migrated to Greece and became the Ionians) originated from a divine cow (named Nandini) in the hermitage of sage Vasistha along with many other tribes who protected Vasistha from the attack of king Viswamitra's army.


From her tail she began to rain showers of burning coals all around. And some moments after, from her tail she brought forth an army of Palhavas, and from her udders, an army of Dravidas and Sakas; and from her womb, an army of Yavanas, and from her dung, an army of Savaras; and from her urine, an army of Kanchis; and from her sides, an army of Savaras. And from the froth of her mouth came out hosts of Paundras and Kiratas, Yavanas and Sinhalas, and the barbarous tribes of Khasas and Chivukas and Pulindas and Chinas and Hunas with Keralas, and numerous other Mlechchhas. And that vast army of Mlechchhas in various uniforms, and armed with various weapons, as soon as it sprang into life, deploying in the very sight of Viswamitra, attacked that monarch's soldiers.

Coincidently, the purely Indian tribes like the Keralas (Kerala), the Dravidas (Tamil), the Kanchis (Kanchipura), the Paundras (Bangladesh), the Sinhalas (Srilanka) were engaged in trade relations since pre-historic times with the Palhavas (Iran), Sakas (Saxon), Yavanas (Greece), Savaras (Sabaras, Sarabas and Saravas, aka. the ancient Serbians / Servíans), Khasas (Kazakhstan), Chivukas (of northern Himalays), Pulindas (of northern Himalays) and Chinas (China). Vasistha mentioned here seems to be a patron of these trader communities, probably their Guru or preacher or priest. He also seems to be the owner of the land where his hermitage stood, much like the Bhumihar Brahmins of the same region. King Viswamitra was trying to take over all this land and wealth of Vasistha, probably given to him by these trader-tribes in exchange of his teachings as their Guru.

Viswamitra then ruled Kanyakubja (Kanauj) and Kasi kingdoms (Benaras in Uttar_Pradesh) and Vasistha's hermitage situated in the southern boarders of Magadha kingdom (Bihar) to the east of Viswamitra's territories. This place later became known as Gaya. An Asura-Danava king who ruled this region was known as Gayasura. He seems to be an ancient Yavana king. Gaya became a holy place where mother goddess Earth is worshiped as Sakthi. It later became a Buddhist pilgrim center after Buddha's famous sermon at Gaya. The Greek goddess of Earth Gaia is derived from the name Gaya which means goddess Earth as well as cow.

King Viswamitra later gave up his kingdom and became a great sage. He authored the famous hymn named Gayatri (meaning the song). But Gayatri is often depicted as a divine cow. She is often praised as the mother-goddess and as the mother of all creation, the Vedas and the world.

The place Gaya in Bihar of India thus seems to be the original homeland of the Ionian-Greeks. From there they migrated to Punjab, Iran, Egypt and finally Ionia in Greece. They were followed by other tribes from India who gave the names of Indian kingdoms in Greek territories. Examples are Macedonia (Makedonía, Makedon) which is derived from the name of the Indian kingdom Magadha, Abantes from Avanti, Kassites from Kasi, Corinthus from Kuru and Sindhu kingdoms. The Indian tribal names too transformed to Greek tribal names. Examples are the Atri tribe turning to the tribe of Atreus, the Kasyapa tribal name turning to names like Cassiopeia.

The Roman word for Earth viz. Terra is derived from the Sanskrit word Dhara, which is another synonym of the word Earth. It means to bear or to support, as the Earth supports all of its inhabitants. Another term is Dharani which resulted into to the word terrain.

Yavanas mentioned in Mahabharata

More details can be found in the following articles:- Yavana, Yavanas.

Yavana is the word used in Sanskrit to denote the people who later became Ionian Greeks. They were the descendants of king Turvasu one of the two sons of king Yayati of Aila dynasty and Devayani, the daughter of Usanus (Sukra). The eldest son of Yayati and Devayani was Yadu from where the Yadavas were descended. (Krishna of Mathura and later Dwaraka belonged to the Yadava lineage.) Thus the Yadavas and Yavanas were closely related tribes and were descended from Usanus through maternal lineage. Sage Vasistha's lineage too is traced back to the Bargava lineage of Usanus. The closeness of Vasistha to Yavanas could be due to this kinship.

During the great war of Mahabharata they were living in Bharatavarsha (ancient India) at various locations. There was a Yavana king named Chanur mentioned in Mahabharata. Another king Bhagadatta, a friend of Pandu, the father of Pandavas too seems to be a Yavana king. He is mentioned in many places as the king of the Yavanas. Bhagadata's tribal name is Bhumi-putra or Bhauma (meaning the sons of the Earth). His father Asura Naraka is mentioned as the son of goddess Earth. This epithet is given to the Yavanas who were mythologically attributed to be born from the womb of the cow (symbolizing goddess Earth). Bhagadatta's territories stretched east-west along the southern foothills of Himalayas from Himachal_Pradesh to Assam. Parts of it was however controlled by small mountain kings like the Parvatas the Himalayas the Bhutas and the Ulukas. During the later stages it shrunk to Assam.

Coincidently Rama's wife Sita too seems to be born in the Yavana race, since she is mentioned as the daughter of the goddess Earth. She was not the real daughter of king Janaka who ruled at Mithila (in northern Bihar). Janaka got her in a cultivated land area as an abandoned child. King Janaka raised Sita as his own daughter and later married her to Rama of Ayodhya as per Ramayana.

The Trojan War

Some of the traditions described in Iliad on Trojan War, like the burning the dead body of warriors slain in battle are purely Indian origin exactly as found in the Kurukshetra War of Mahabharata. The names like Achilles (one of the main warriors who fought with Agamemnon) pronounced like Ahi-lles, reminds one to think of Ahi, the snake-worshiping Naga race mentioned in Mahabharata. Surprisingly the armor and shield of Achilles contains the symbols of snakes. The names like Priam (the king of Troy) reminds one the king Priyam-vrata / Priyavrata mentioned in Mahabharata and Ramayana. Priyavrata is a common name found among ancient Indians. The Sanskrit word Priyam means that which is desired. When applied as the name of a person, it means one who is liked by many. Priyavrata was a king in the line of Solar dynasty who worshiped the sun-god Surya. Priam the king of Troy, worshiped the sun-god Apollo. The way Apollo was worshiped in the temple of Troy is very similar to the way the sun-god Surya is worshiped in Indian temples (Konark) dedicated to the sun-god. The other name of Troy viz. Ilia also denote sun. As per Indian texts, there was a person (man / woman) named Ila who descended from Vivaswat considered to be a sun-god or a sun-worshiping king or king belonging to the Solar Dynasty, depending on ones view point. Ilia seems to have some connection with this Ila.

The name Trojan is derived from the Sanskrit form Tra-Jana, meaning the protected people (Tra means to protect and Jana means people, citizens, tribe). Tra-jana or Trojans could be the people who were protected by the sun-god Apollo. Troy or Traia could mean the city that protects. It is possible that they belonged to the solar dynasty mentioned in Mahabharata and Ramayana. Coincidently the Ionians, one of the antagonists of the Trojans, were the Yavanas mentioned in Mahabharata who trace their origins to the lunar dynasty. The Aila dynasty was a lunar dynasty (The first Aila king Pururavas's mother Ila belonged to the Solar Dynasty while his father Vudha belonged to the Lunar Dynasty. The dynasty retained the maternal name but came to be considered as lunar dynasty due to the paternal lineage). The Yavanas were mentioned as descended from Aila king Yayati's second son viz. Turvasu. Along with the Yavanas, the Tukharas (Tusharas, or the Turks, who settled in Turkmenistan, Turkistan, as well as Turkey) too were descended from Turvasu.

Other cognate names

Most of the basic tribes mentioned in Greek epics have an Indian explanation or an Indian connection.

Greek Tribe Indian Connection
Achaeans / Ahhiyawa Ahichatra, Ahi, Airavatas
Ionians / Jawan (Bible) / Yawan (Hebrew) Yavanas, the generic name for all the Greeks (and all westerners?) in ancient Indian texts
Danaans Danavas -a branch of Asura tribe. (Asuras and Nagas were allies).
Kadmos / Kadmeioi Kardama a sage and the founder of the Kardama tribe
Hellenes Hala , Sinhalas - Hala is also a name of Lanka; Krishna's brother Balarama is also known as Halayudha, the one having 'plough' as his weapon; There is also a mountain range in Baluchistan named the Hala range closed to the city of Dwaraka where Krishna and Halayudha lived
Aeolians no counter-part; related to Ayodhya or Airavata?
Boeotians Bhutas - tribe that lived around Kailasa in Tibet, which later moved to Bhutan; It can also be related to the word Bhu meaning Earth, as the Yavanas (the Indian term for the Greeks) were also considered mythologically to be born from the womb of Earth while disguised in the form of a divine Cow (the cow of Sage Vasistha)
Pausanias Paushya - a king with kingdom that lied in current Punjab region, neighboring the territories ruled by Janamejaya. Alternatively the worshipers of the Vedic god Pusan
Trojans / Ilians Ila's tribe or Ailas (see also: origins-of-aila-kings)
Ekwesh Aswa-Desa, the land of horses; the ancient name of Afganistan
Dorians Drahyu's tribe, kins of the Pauravas
Hestia Hasta one of the daughters of Daksha
Kuretes Kuru-Desis, the people from the kingdom of Kuru, the dominant royal tribe mentioned in Mahabharata; the Kurdish tribe of Iraq too derives its name from Kuru-Desa, the kingdom of the Kurus. Similarly Khorasan is derived from Kuru-sthana, the Kuru kingdom
Phrigiyans, Phruges, Phryges, Bryges or Briges Bhargavas, the descendants of sage Bhrigu
Sofia a Balkan city Sauvira a kingdom on the banks of river Indus in its southern course
Balkan, southern European peninsula containing Greece Bahlika, the western kingdom of ancient India. Their first exit point from Indian peninsula on their route to Europe was the province of Balkh in Afganistan. They were considered as outsiders to Vedic culture (Bahlika means outsider) as they moved out of Vedic cultural regions centered around Saraswati river and came into contact with non-Vedic western tribes
Damascus Damaghosha
Dacians the Dakshinas, the southerners mentioned in Mahabharata; they also appear as Dakinis (Dakshinis) and also in the name Daksha. Daksha ruled in the territory to the south (Dakshina) of Kailasa. The ferocious, warrior like women in his kingdom were known as Dakinis who worshiped Shiva among other tribes like the Bhutas (who migrated to Bhutan), the Pretas (who worshiped dead spirits) and the Pisachas (who migrated to Kashmir). Kingdom of Daksha later became the kingdom of women (probably the women were Dakinis) mentioned in Mahabharata.
Decapolis Daksha-pura, the city of Daksha, to the south of Kailasa
Dardanus Daradas - a tribe mentioned in Mahabharata
Davlida Dravida - the southern tribe mentioned in Mahabharata, a sea-faring kingdom, engaged in trade with countries that could include Greece
Zagkli, Zancle; Messina city of Sakala, the capital city of Madra kingdom
Heraklion, Iraklion Iravat was a Naga (snake worshiping tribe) prince mentioned in Mahabharata. This seems to be a Naga city belonging to the Airavata dynasty of Naga kings
Thessaly Tosali - a Kalinga port-city. Kalinga was a sea-trading kingdom and could have connection with ancient Greece
Judaea, Ioudaía Yaudheya - a tribe mentioned in Mahabharata
Káikos, Caicus the kingdom of Kekaya
Agasthenes a sage named Agastya, who also founded the tribe of Agastyas. The popular names like Augustus, Agasti, Agasi, Agassi, Aghasi all have their root in the name Agastya
Kaspia Caspian Kasyapa, the tribe of sage Kasyapa
Crete, Krḗtē, Kríti, a Greek island Kratu, one of the seven primordial sages
Kardamena Kardama - one of the ancient sages, a patriarch
Mediterranian Medi-terrainia:- Madhya-dharani, the middle-terrain
Media, Medas the middle land, coming from Madhya Desa (Indo-Gangatic plain)
Neilos, Nile river Nila (the blue colored river), only Sanskrit gives its real meaning
Odessa Odra Desa, Orissa
Parthia (north-east Iran) a tribe born of earth (Prithvi) an attribution usually given to Yavanas, descendants of king Prithu
Paris, Parísioi, Parisi Parasu (battle-axe), Parasika a tribe mentioned in Mahabharata
Persia, Persikḗ Parasika a tribe mentioned in Mahabharata
Parnasós, Parnassus, city of Pegasus, the winged horse the tribe of Suparnas, who were often attributed as winged-humans and sometimes as hawks. Garuda was a famous Suparna. Parna in Sanskrit means feather or wing. Same analysis holds true for another Greek city Parnitha (Parnes,
Pelasgia, Pelasgians - The tribal population of Greece The descendants of sage Pulaha, one of the seven primordial sages. In Kerala there is a tribal population called Pelaya, Pulaya, Pulaha. Palasa is the name of a tree; there is also a river named Palasini and a place named Palasaka mentioned in Mahabharata. There was a Naga named Pala and a women named Palala, mentioned as among the mothers of Skanda. There was a river Phalgu; the river Saraswati at the foothills of Himalayas was known by the name Plakshavati; Plaksha is the name of another tree. the name of Pelasgian could be derived from any of these names. If it is derived from Plaksha, it shows their connection with Saraswati.
Pydna, Púdna city Pundra kingdom, a sea faring kingdom engaged in trade with Yavana (Greece)
Ravenna, city Ravana the king of Lanka, probably the Italian city is named by the traders from Lanka who traded with Greece
Romania, Rhomania, Rome, Rumelia, Rumulus there are two tribes mentioned in Mahabharata, who could give these name:- Ramanas (mentioned along with the Parasikas) and the Ramathas (mentioned along with the Hunas and with the Yavanas). A mountain called Ramaka (in south India) and a person named Ramana too is mentioned.
Sinthos Sindhu kingdom
Syria, Suría Surya the sun-god
Tripoli, Trípolis Tripura, Tripuri, meaning the triple-city, of the Danavas
Oxus Ikshu river, the settlement of Ikshwaku tribe of the eastern India who migrated from India to the west

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