Re: [INDOLOGY] folk etymology of "kaśmīra"

Walter Slaje slaje at
Sun Nov 29 20:26:42 UTC 2015

This since Bühler's detailed analysis of the Nīlamata in his famous Kashmīr
report of 1877 well-known desiccation myth simply provided a background for
"Nirvacananists" in search for a meaning like "water-draining-away" in the
syllables *ka-śmī-ra*. The Nīlamata reference with *ka *(n.) as "water" may
tacitly presuppose on what Govind Kaul elaborated more extensively later in
the 19th century. See his *Rājataraṅgiṇīpradeśavyākhyā *(MS Stein No. 128,
Clauson's Catalogue [1912] p. 598). There, he explains the nirukti in the
context of Kashmir's "second name", Satīsaras, in the following manner: *kaṃ
*[=] jalaṃ, *śmīrati *[=] calaty asmād iti *śmīra smīra* calane iti dhātor
auṇādikaṃ rūpam. Thereafter he quotes your  Nīlamata passage, incidentally
using the notable variant *halinā *instead of *hariṇā* (cp. the apparatus
in De Vreese's ed.).
Thus by a forced uṇādi derivation two nominal stems *śmīra / smīra* were
made up assigning to it the meaning of the verbal root *cal*. This could
very well represent an older tradition. Anyway, following Kaul's etymology,
*ka-śmīra* would eventually come to mean "[land]
In this manuscript, Govind Kaul explains also the etymologies of the name
Kashmir in the Kaśmīrī (*kaśīra, kaśur, kaśūr*) and Persian (*kaśyapamar,
kaśmar*) languages.


Prof. Dr. Walter Slaje
Hermann-Löns-Str. 1
D-99425 Weimar

Ego ex animi mei sententia spondeo ac polliceor
studia humanitatis impigro labore culturum et provecturum
non sordidi lucri causa nec ad vanam captandam gloriam,
sed quo magis veri
tas propagetur et lux eius, qua salus
humani generis continetur, clarius effulgeat.
Vindobonae, die XXI. mensis Novembris MCMLXXXIII.

2015-11-29 19:08 GMT+01:00 Charles Li <cchl2 at>:

> I came across this purported nirukta of the word "kaśmīra" on the
> Wikipedia page for "Kashmir" -- does anyone know where it comes from? -- :
> The Nilamata Purana describes the Valley's origin from the waters, Ka
> means "water" and Shimir means "to desiccate". Hence, Kaashmir stands for
> "a land desiccated from water." There is also a theory which takes Kaashmir
> to be a contraction of Kashyap-mira or Kashyapmir or Kashyapmeru, the "sea
> or mountain of Kashyapa", the sage who is credited with having drained the
> waters of the primordial lake Satisar, that Kaashmir was before it was
> reclaimed.
> I checked the Nīlamata Purāna, which has this:
> kaḥ prajāpatir uddiṣṭaḥ kaśyapaś ca prajāpatiḥ |
> tenāsau nirmito deśaḥ kaśmīrākhyo bhaviṣyati || 231 ||
> kaṃ vāri hariṇā yasmād deśād asmād apākṛtam |
> kaśmīrākhyaṃ tato paśya nāma loke bhaviṣỵati || 232 ||
> source:
> This explains the "ka" as water (vāri), but doesn't have anything to say
> about "shimir". The Rājataraṅgiṇī has, similarly:
> kaśyapena tadantaḥstaṃ ghātayitvā jalodbhavam |
> nirmame tatsarobhūmau kaśmīrā iti maṇḍalam || 27 ||
> source:
> Neither source seems to have anything to say about the second half of the
> word "kaśmīra" meaning something like "desiccated". Does anyone have any
> idea where this might come from?
> Thanks,
> Charles
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