Saturday, November 18, 2017

From Sibi to Siberia!


This article brings to the fore some features outside India associated with the word / name Sibi.  The article can be better understood after reading the previous two,

King Śibi, a descendant of Yayati’s son Anu left an indelible mark in later Indian history – in Buddhism and in the Indus valley that was predominantly occupied by his off-springs. The influence of his authority spread to north of Afghanistan too, by two of his sons, Kaikaya and Madra who occupied the territories in the northern regions that encompass what is today known as BMAC. Though much of it is yet to researched, one can notice an amazing connection to a farther northern region, i.e., Siberia!

The etymology of the name Siberia is still debated, but there is unanimity in the opinion that it was originally connected with a nameSibir’ or ‘Śibir’. There are written records since the 13th century by travellers of Chinese and Arab origin referring to a location called Sibir. This name was ancient but without a convincing etymology. Those who can say something about it – i.e., the indigenous people of Sibir – are very less in number today, as most of them have been eliminated centuries ago. From what little is known, they were pagan worshipers and shamanistsIt is from Sibir, the entire region came to be called as Siberia. Sibir certainly raises our curiosity for its phonetic similarity with Sibi, the king of ancient India, who lived before Rama.

When we start looking for clues for possible links with Indian Sibi, the foremost one is found in its very location.  Sibir is the region located at the confluence of two rivers – a sangama - that is sacred in Vedic culture.  The two rivers are River Irtysh and its tributary Tobol.



In Vedic culture, numbers 3, 5, and 7 are important – like 3 gunas, 5 elements and 7 sages. Sacred rivers are identified by these numbers. They either have 3 sources or flow through 3 worlds. The three worlds are heaven referring to origin in a higher location; say a mountain, earth referring to the flow on the ground and Nether world referring to ocean whose bottom is low. Number 5 and 7 are the number of streams that join the river. Such rivers are sacred in Vedic culture.

 In the above picture one can see River Tobol joined with 5 and 7 tributaries, qualifying her as 5-sistered or 7-sistered  - Sapta Tobol! If some Vedic people were around, they would have chosen this region as a divine one. Sibir is located where Tobol joins River Irtysh. River Irtysh too exhibits unique feature as one flowing through 3 worlds. Starting from Altai Mountain, Irtysh falls into the lower terrain and enters Lake Zaysan. This qualifies it to be a river of three courses. It re-emerges from the lake and flows further North West where it is joined by River Tobol.

There is one more confluence down the course of River Irtysh, where it joins River Ob. But that confluence does not exhibit the kind of features found in the confluence of Irtysh and Tobol. Therefore the choice of the confluence for founding a place by name Sibir (or originally Sibi) shows the hand of the Vedic people in locating the sacredness of a place.  

The names of tributaries of rivers Tobol and Irtysh also sound like Sanskrit words. Rivers Om and Tara are straight away from Sanskrit. Some of the tributaries of Tobol have phonetic similarity with Sanskrit. Toura (Tura?), Pychma (paschima meaning west?), Astana and Kostanay (some sthana) resemble Sanskrit words. The main river Irtysh that comes down from Altai Mountain (right hand corner in the above picture) is known as Kara Irtysh in its upper reaches, where Kara is black in the local language. This is similar to Kala in Sanskrit. After it crosses Lake Zayson it is known as White Irtysh. Such naming is common in Vedic culture.

Supporters of Aryan Invasion / Migration Theory might be tempted to use these hints to justify the origin of Vedic people from these regions. But the basic issue is why the name Sibir came here at the first place. The root of the name Sibi can only be associated with ancient India. His lineage starting from Anu, assigned to occupy the regions in the Northern direction of ancient India, it is only but logical to assume that the descendants of Sibi gradually moved towards further North and one among them found the confluence of Irtysh and Tobol to be a conducive place to lead a Vedic life they were already following.

Within the times of Sibi, two of his sons established kingdoms at Madra (Balkh) and Kekaya (north of it, perhaps north of Oxus River). Further north, Arkaim is found to house a structure with Vedic symbols. Dated variously between 4th and 2nd millennium BCE, this structure was formed in the later period compared to Sibi’s times which can be dated at the 6th millennium BCE, centuries before Rama. Arkaim offers a link of a migratory path from Kekaya to further north – to Sibir.


One can notice the same Sangama concept (Confluence of rivers) in the location of Arkaim. It is located at the confluence of two rivers called Karakanga and Utya-kanga. The name ‘Kanga’ sounds like Ganga! The name Ganga originated in India only. Only from India this name could have travelled to other places. It is because Ganga was one of the two daughters of Himavan, the other being Uma. (Valmiki Ramayana 1-35). The Himalayan connection is there for Ganga right from her origination.

Ganga’s earlier name was Jahnavi, after she passed through Sage Jahnu’s hermitage. This name is found as Jahnaavi in Rig Veda. (Sage Jahnu was not a migrant-Aryan, as he was the ancestor of Visvamitra). After she (Ganga) inundated the ashes of the sons of Sagara, she was given the name Bhagirathi, after Bhagiratha (Valmiki Ramayana 1-44). But the name even before she came down from the Himalayas was Ganga.  Looking at the etymology, the root word is ‘gam’ for going. She who keeps going or moving is Ganga! She kept moving around the coils of Siva’s hair – a reference to the coil-like passage through which she descends from the mountain. After reaching plains she kept moving behind Bhagiratha. And she keeps moving relentlessly in her course through the three worlds! So she is Ganga.

Such a name in Arkaim – though sounds corrupted now as Kanga could have been coined by someone connected with ancient India! But scholars who have their mind steeped into Aryan Invasion Theory keep talking about Arkaim as a place of Indo Aryan origins from where they spread to India. If true, why didn’t the invading or migrant Aryans start calling the rivers they crossed first, Sindhu and Sarasvati as Ganga, in memory of the two Kangas at Arkaim? But by the time the Aryans were supposed to have entered, Ganga was very old. The sedimentary analysis of Ganga would reveal how old she was, but she was older than Sibi’s times.

The memory of Ganga from East and that of Sibi from the west of India had been carried by the later generations of Sibi who gradually moved towards Northern parts of Europe. Arkaim and Sibir are reminders of such a movement.

PS: Musings on Sibi not yet over! There is one more article on Sibi, tracing a migration from Altai Mountain to South East Asia. Will follow next.