Diplomatist Special Report: West Asia - North Africa 2018 WANA 2018 - Page 45

SPECIAL REPORT of Mesopotamia. The mention of ‘Meluhha’ is made for the fi rst time in the cuneiform inscriptions of the Early Dynastic Period of the mid-third millennium BCE. Ancient Sanskrit Connection with Syria The earliest form of Sanskrit is that used in the Rig Veda (called Old Indic or Rigvedic Sanskrit). Amazingly, Rigvedic Sanskrit was fi rst recorded in inscriptions found not on the plains of India but in in what is now northern Syria. Between 1500 and 1350 BC, a dynasty called the Mitanni ruled over the upper Euphrates-Tigris basin, land that corresponds to what are now the countries of Syria, Iraq, and Turkey. The Mitannis spoke a language called Hurrian, unrelated to Sanskrit. However, each and every Mitanni king had a Sanskrit name and so did many of the local elites. Names include Purusa (meaning “man”), Tusratta (“having an attacking chariot”), Suvardata (“given by the heavens”), Indrota (“helped by Indra”) and Subandhu, a name that exists till today in India. The Mitanni had a culture, which, like the Vedic people, highly revered chariot warfare. A Mitanni horse-training manual, the oldest such document in the world, uses a number of Sanskrit words: aika (one), tera (three), satta (seven) and asua (meaning “horse”). Moreover, the Mitanni military aristocracy was composed of chariot warriors called “maryanna”, from the Sanskrit word "marya", meaning “young man”. The Mitanni worshipped the same gods as those in the Rig Veda (but also had their own local ones). They signed a treaty with a rival king in 1380 BC which names Indra, Varuna, Mitra and the Nasatyas (Ashvins) as divine witnesses for the Mitannis. While modern-day Hindus have mostly stopped the worship of these deities, these Mitanni gods were also the most important gods in the Rig Veda. This is a striking fact. As David Anthony points out in his book, The Horse, the Wheel, and Language, this means that not only did Rigvedic Sanskrit predate the compilation of the Rig Veda in northwestern India but even the “central religious pantheon and moral beliefs enshrined in the Rig Veda existed equally early”. Indian Connections with the Pyramids Similarly, with the Egyptian civilisation, the connection dates back to the Ganga-Yamuna civilization and the one on the Nile (Father Sihor). Mahomet Ali - An Egyptian scholar who was fascinated by the shared traces of history, in the ancient Egyptian gods and goddesses. He comes to trace Indo-Egyptian links. The biggest link was found in South India from where women of Malabar were employed as maids in Pharaonic palaces. Cleopatra had several who, besides other duties, also massaged her and put her to sleep with their songs of love and longing. It was only when the Delhi Sultanate came into being that Egyptian infl uence surfaced and continued from Slave, Khilji, Tughlaq, Sayyid and Lodi to the Mughal dynasty. Mahomet Ali had noticed that the fortress of Tughlakabad had sloping walls infl uenced by Egyptian architecture. Also Akbar’s tomb at Sikandra, Agra had many traces of it. The same pattern was followed in Safdarjang’s Tomb. Egyptian gods and goddesses have some counterparts in the Hindu Pantheon but otherwise, they have their own distinct identity. However, the cult of the Mother Goddess was common to both and so also animistic forms of divinity. One man who came out alive from the pyramid in which they had lost their way. He pointed out that the bhulbhuliayan of Adham Khan’s tomb in Mehrauli was a labyrinth made on the Egyptian model just as the burial pattern in the pyramids had been followed in Akbar’s tomb. Sultan Ghari’s tomb on the Mehrauli-Palam Road also has Egyptian features because of its subterranean architecture. Even Humayun’s Tomb has traces of it, as does Akbar’s new capital at Fatehpur Sikri. For that matter, said Mahomet Ali, Mohammad Bin Tughlaq built his Bijay Mandal on the lines of a pyramid, probably infl uenced by the tales of the Moorish traveller Ibn Battuta. Amir Khusrau’s fabled 50-gate palace also had traces of Egyptian architecture. *The author is a research scholar in the West Asian history. West Asia-North Africa• 45