Sri Shankaracharya of Kanchi gave a series of talks in Madras (Chennai) in 1932. He was talking about the Hindu symbols and names found all over the world. He mentioned that 75 percent of the place names in Madagascar were Sanskrit names (page 68 of Jagadguru’s lectures published in 1933). Shankaracharya also pointed out many names carry the name of Rama. Now there is some scientific proof to confirm the links between India and Madagascar via Indonesia.
Prestigious science magazine New Scientist (issue dated 24th March 2012) has published a news story that Madagascar settlers came from Indonesia 1500 years ago. Around that time a Hindu empire flourished in Indonesia. Mulavarman’s inscription in Sanskrit was discovered in the middle of thick tropical forest in the last century. Mulavarman’s fourth century Sanskrit inscription spoke of the Yagna he performed, the pole he erected (Yupa Sthamba) and the donations he made to Brahmins. Mulavarman also said about his forefathers ruling that place. Since the migration took place around that time no wonder we see so many Sanskrit names in Madagascar Island.
(For more information read my articles Sanskrit inscriptions in strange places and Old Sanskrit inscriptions in mosque and coins)
“ Madagascar is a country of paradoxes. It lies just 400 kilometres off the coast of Africa yet it appears to have been colonised only within the last 1500 years. Stranger still, it now looks as if most of the women in that first population came from Indonesia rather than Africa .We know from language and culture that modern Malagasy have African and Indonesian ties”-says New Scientist. When they analysed the genes of local women it showed 93 percent had Indonesian links. Research scholars from Massey University of New Zealand and University of Cambridge conducted research in this area.
After the Indonesians, came the Bantu Africans, the Arabs, Portuguese, French and the British. So it is difficult now to recognise many of the original names. But rice is cultivated like India and Indonesia. Two hundred million years ago the island split from South Western India. Now the sapphire dug out in Madagascar is similar to Indian and Sri Lankan gem stones. Malagasy language is of Malayo-Polynesian origin. Since the South East Asians received the script, architecture, language via the east coast of India we may find some Tamil influence in the island. Gujarati Hindus have migrated to the island from East Africa in the nineteenth century.
Some signs that show the link with India:
1.Unlike African countries people traditionally cultivate rice, which is the South Indians staple diet.
2. Swastika symbol is found.
3.People worship their dead which is part of Hindu life. Hindus have to do Pancha Yagna (five sacrifices) every day. Remembering them and giving oblations is done by orthodox Hindus. Other Hindus do it on monthly (Amavasya Tarpanam) or Annual (Tithi) basis in India.
4. Boabab is considred a holy tree like Peepal tree in India.
5. Malagasy houses are accurately oriented so that the door faces west. In India most of the houses will face East.
6. Merina is the tribe that ruled Malagasy for many centuries. They came from Malaya-Indonesia area. Merina may be a corrupted form of Varuna, the Hindu Sea God. Linguistically M=V=P changes are possilbe.
7. Like Hindus worship monkeys (Hanuman) they worship Lemurs and call them Indra/ Indri. Lemurs are considered their ancestors.
8. Valiha is a musical instrument made up of a long piece of bamboo with 15 strings stretched along its length between two collars. It is not found anywhere in Africa, but in Thailand, Burma and the East.
9.Famadi Hany (turning the dead): They exhume the body of the relatives every year and carry them to the land and then start farming. We have no similarity with any culture in this regard, but the word Famadi may be interpreted as Samadhi (Hindu Grave). Bali is a predominantly Hindu island in Indonesia where some strange customs like this exist.
10. Anovorano: Sacred lake where the women feed the crocodiles. As soon as the women call them, the crocodiles come. We have only Naga Panchami where the Hindu women feed the snakes every year.
Following place names sounds like Sanskrit names:
Antananarivo (capital city), Ambanizana, Mahajanga ( Maha Ganga?),Toamasina (Deva—-?),Sambhava, Manakara,Madirovalo (Mathura),Mahafali (Maha Bali, Mavali),Maevatanana (Maya vatana),Ankara fantsika (Ankara—)Marontsetra (Maran Kshetra),Moron dava (Maran Theva)Ambositra (Amba Sitra)Anala lava(Analan=Agni). More than ten town names begin with AMBA. Most of the river names begin with MAN, which may be Vana (forest).
A lot of place names start with A,U,M . As a matter of fact , all the famous islands start with Mala: Malaca, Malaya, Maldives, Malagasy, Mauritius, Malta, Mayotte, Molucas (Raja Raja chola conquered Mayirudingam, Mabuppalam Manakkavaram islands).
People’s names: Ravalomanana ,Ratsiraka ,Queen Rana Valona. Riija Rama is a name found in the island which may be Raja Rama.
A patient chronological analysis of names may reveal more details. As of now we can only make a safe guess.
From another book: “Who were the Malayo-Polynesian migrants?”
Higher numerals and calendrical terms are originally Malay and/or Javanese adaptations of Sanskrit terms. Sanskrit loanwords came into Malagasy via Malay or Javanese, as their shape or meaning often betray. Compare the following instances:
sisa ‘remainder, rest’ < Malay sisa ‘id.’ < Sanskrit çe ṣa ‘id.’
asotry (dialectal) ‘Winter’ < (Old) Javanese asuji ‘September-October’ < Sanskrit a çvayuja ‘id.’
tantara ‘story, legend’ < Malay tantra (obsolete), Old Javanese tantra ‘id.’ < Sanskrit tantra– ‘chapter of a scientific book, doctrine, theory’
hetsy ‘100,000’ < Malay kəti, Javanese sa-kəṭi ‘id.’ (both obsolete) < Sanskrit koṭi ‘ten million’
That these terms were borrowed via Malay and Javanese is supported by the fact that, of all Sanskrit loanwords in Malagasy (at least 35 in total), there is only one word that is not also found in Malay or Javanese.
A large part of the vocabulary for body-parts in Malagasy was originally Malay or Javanese.
trozona ‘whale’ < Malay duyu ŋ ‘sea cow’
hara ‘mother-of-pearl’ < Malay karah ‘patchy in colouring (of tortoise-shell)’
fanohara (dialectal) ‘turtle with a particular kind of shell’ < Malay pəɲu karah ‘tortoise-shell turtle, Chelonia imbricata’
vontana (dialectal) ‘kind of fish’ < Malay ikan buntal ‘box-fish, globe-fish or sea-porcupine’
tona ‘k.o. large nocturnal snake; enormous eel’ < Malay tuna ‘name of a mud-snake or eel with yellowish body’
lamboara ‘a species of fish’ < Malay ləmbuara, Old Javanese ləmbwara, ləmbora ‘a giant fish (possibly a whale)’
vidy (dialectal) ‘k.o. small fish’ < Malay ikan bilis ‘anchovy, Makassar redfish; small fish, esp. Stolephorus spp.’
hoala (dialectal) ‘bay, inlet’ < Malay kuala ‘river mouth’
rivotra ‘wind, storm’ < Malay (aŋ in) ribut ‘stormwind’
tanjona ‘cape, promontory’ < Malay taəjuŋ ‘id.’
an/drefana ‘West’ < Malay dəpan ‘(in) front’
valaha (dialectal) ‘East’ < Malay bəlakaŋ ‘back; space behind’
a/varatra ‘North’ < Malay barat ‘West’
sagary ‘a northeast wind’ < Malay or Javanese səgara ‘sea’ (< Sanskrit)