Singapore is Sanskrit (Post No.7109)

Shiva in Singapore Museum

WRITTEN BY London Swminathan

Date: 18 OCTOBER 2019
British Summer Time uploaded in London – 17-20
Post No. 7109

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All the encyclopaedias attribute the source of the name Singapore to the Sanskrit word Simhapura (Lion city). Singapore’s old history goes back to about 1300 CE. A prince from Sumatra island of Indonesia by name Sri Tri Bhuvana (also known as Sanga Neela Uttama) founded the Kingdom of Singapura (Lion Kingdom) in 1299. But the individual port cities are named at least for 2000 years. On either side of Singapore were powerful Hindu empires from the first century.

Shiva in Berlin (Germany) Museum

Simhapura is also interpreted as Sringa Puri (Horn of the Malayan peninsula). There is a debate this name- how come he named Simha (lion) to a place where there are no lions. The reason for this is,  lion is always associated with Kingship. The word Kesari (Kesa+ ari) meant Hair animal. That was the title of many Indian kings and Roman Kings. Kesari became Caesar in the West. We come across many Caesars including the most famous Julius Caesar/Kesari. Even Si Lanka, which has no lions, named itself as Simhala Desa (Lion country) 2500 years ago. People who don’t know the Hindu stories of Lion King gave stupid interpretations in Singapore and Ceylon (Sri Lanka). Singapore and Sri Lanka have lion in their flags or emblems. It simply means heroism with lion like kings.

More interesting is the word Malaya. This word has its origin both in Tamil and Sanskrit. In Tamil, it meant mountain and the most famous Malaya Parvata (Hill) is mentioned in both Tamil and Sanskrit literature. It has become synonymous with Sandal wood and southern breeze. In Tamil ‘Malai’ is mountain/hill. Since Malaya is divided by a mountain range Tamils might have called it Malaya desa. But the Sanskrit word Malaya has more meaning. It is in Mahabharata and many Sanskrit stories. Even King Rishabadeva’s son was called Malaya. Pandya kings had Malai (hill) in their flags and one Pandya was called Malayadwaja (one with mountain flag).

More interesting is the discovery of several Tamil and Sanskrit inscriptions in Malayan peninsula.

One of the oldest Hindu Kingdoms in the peninsula is mentioned in the Chinese History of the Liang Dynasty (502-556 CE) as lang- ya su. Later Malay and Javanese chronicles refereed to it as Lankasuka (Pleasure Island). Rajendra Choza won this place in 12th century and his Tamil inscription mentioned it as Lankasokam.

Two other Hindu kingdoms are mentioned in Chinese Chronicles Pan-pan where Brahmanas from India came to get gifts from the munificent king. Another one was Pa-hoang (Pahang). Sari – Pala- Varman sent an embassy to China from here in 449 CE.

Though a kingdom called Kantoli sent embassies to China, scholars are not able to identify it.

Only fragmentary Sanskrit inscriptions are available from Malaya. The Indian alphabets on them are ascribed to 4th or 5th centuries. Seven of the inscriptions were found in the centre, four in the northern part of Province Wellesley. Five of them were found in Ligor, two in Chaiya and one each in Keddah and Takua pa, according to R C Majumdar.

Other significant founds include a Cornelian seal in Perak with the Hindu name Sri Vishnu Varman. The characters point to fifth century. Slightly later in date is an inscription found near Keddah containing three verses from a Sutra of Madhyamika school. (We have one Sanskrit inscription of Kulothunga Choza period according to Wikipedia).

Swarnabhumi (Golden land) is used to refer to several regions from Malaya to Sumatra. At one time Malaya was also called Swarnabhumi.

(I will write about the Tamil Inscriptions in Malaya separately).

Xxx Subham xxx

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