Sindu river name

Michael Witzel witzel at FAS.HARVARD.EDU
Sun Oct 24 08:36:07 UTC 1999

Thanks to all for the various inquiries/discussions on SINDHU...

The matter is,as usual, complex. However, as I am about to leave town now
for the Intl.  Vedic Conference in Kyoto, I will be able to reply in detail
only after my return. Quickly from memory,
a small note only:

- Sindhu has a good IE etymology (Thieme), see Mayrhofer, Etym. Worterbuch
des Altindoarischen (and an OLD  counterpart in Iranian:  Avestan h at ndu
'border river/ocean at the end of the world'; O. Persian Hi(n)du / Handu=
non-Gandhara Pakistan area )

- But Bur. sende etc. has its counterparts, too, also west of the Bur. area

* in the Tedzhen (Murgh-ab River) on the border of
Turkmenistan/Afghanistan, which the Greek transmit as Sindes river (even
then, NOT in the Iran. form Hindu-!)
* in the Sindoi tribe in the Kuban area north of the Caucasus (Greek sources);
given the putative links of Bur. with NE Caucasian, this needs to be revisited
(Negatively, comme l'habitude,  on both: Mayrhofer, Ausgewahlte Kl. Schriften)

-  There are Sumerian/Mesopotamian sources which know of wood etc. from the
Meluhha (Sind/Baluchistan) area as sinda, sindu etc.

- the PMunda word for 'date' is similar to that of mu-kindu in P.Bantu.
Apparently an old word for date. Note that *kindu is *old* to deliver a
Mesop. sind-, as  Drav. change *k > c  (s)
is only later...

Whether sind-  'date' is also at the bottom of the name for Sindh (Meluhha)
is another question. Fruits can also be called after the country  (peach,
Persicum  the "Persian apple") . Nothing against dates, but we had a
similar discussion on S. Indian river names and palm trees before...

In short, we have a local "Pakistani" word (from Hunza to Sindh) ,
*sind/send- which has been taken over into various South Asian languages.
Sanskritized as Sindhu, and from there into various other S. Asian
languages... (note that there already was an Indo-Iranian *sindhu > Avestan
etc . h at ndu) with IE root, thus  *before* IIr/IA languages entered S.
Asia... (Some connect also Irish: Shannon etc. )

The connection of Bur./ Dardic sende/sin etc. with the Bur. word for
'water', c.hil, is in need investigation (Berger, long ago, 1959?)

And, any NE Caucasian (or Kartvelian)  connections?  None in the recent
discussion in Mother Tongue I (1995) as far as I remember (only *hur);
see MT I, via

With thanks, Yours M. Witzel

At 17:00 +0300 10/22/99, Ruth Laila Schmidt wrote:
>Turner, CDIAL # 13415 mentions the Burushaski word but regards it as a loan
>into Burushaski. The Dardic languages generally have sin, si-n, si-nd, send
>for 'river'. Prof. Witzel, have you any comment?

Michael Witzel                          Elect. Journ. of Vedic Studies
Harvard University        
my direct line (also for messages) :  617- 496 2990
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