Alice C. Linsley
Olupero R. Aiyenimelo, a member of the Biblical Anthropology Group and a reader of Just Genesis has asked about the evidence that connects traditional religion of Nigeria (her homeland) with religion of the Afro-Asiatics who influenced religious practices in India. She is interested in this after reading an essay I wrote on “Linguistic Evidence for the Afro-Asiatic Dominion”. Olupero noted that the Nigerian word ‘Orisha’ is linguisticsally equivalent to the word 'Orissa' found in India and this prompted Olu's curiosity.
Here I will reproduce some of the linguistic evidence for the diffusion of the Afro-Asiatic worldview, but mostly I’d like to address Olupero’s curiosity and focus on the evidence for an ancient order of priests (not shamans) who were largely responsible for the spread of the Afro-Asiatic religion and worldview.
What is meant by the “Afro-Asiatic Dominion”?
I coined the term “Afro-Asiatic Dominion” for lack of a better way to speak of the apparent correspondence of religious concepts and practices diffused across a vast area extending from west central Africa to the Indus River Valley and even among the Sarki who live as ‘Haruwa’ (priests) in the Tarai region of Nepal.
In the Hebrew Scriptures (Old Testament) the Afro-Asiatic Dominion is suggested by the correspondence of western (Afro) and eastern (Asiatic) traditions. The distinct traditions are seen in a detailed study of the 2 creation stories and the 2 flood stories, and in the consistent binary framework of both traditions. (For more on this read “Eden’s Flood East and West”.)
My thesis, based on 32 years of research, is that Afro-Asiatic religious beliefs and practices were spread largely through the agency of priestly lines who intermarried according to a specific kinship pattern that I have identified. These were ruler-priests who exercised control of water systems at a time when west central Africa, Mesopotamia and India were wetter.
Further evidence of common religious views is found in the linguistic comparison of cognate languages and religious words used among peoples who share the Afro-Asiatic religious heritage. Consider the following examples:
The Semitic word ‘wadi’ = river, corresponds to the Sanskrit ‘nadi’ = river.
The Semitic root ‘mgn’ = to give, is the same as the Sanskrit ‘mgn’ = to give.
The Hebrew ‘rison adam’ = ancestral man is ‘adamu orisa’ = ancestral Adam in Hahm/Hausa languages of Nigeria. The Hausa word for human being is ‘dan adam.’ The Sanskrit word for male human is ‘manu’ which resembles the African word ‘adamu’ more closely than the Hebrew word.
The Hebrew ‘adamah’ = red clay/ground and the related Semitic words ‘dam’ = blood and ‘adom’ = red, are related to the Hahm/Hausa word ‘odum’ = reddish brown.
The Hebrew ‘bara’ = to begin, is related to the Yoruba/Hahm word ‘bere’ = to begin. There is an apparent relationship between the verb ‘to begin’ and the word Creator which in Hebrew is ‘bore’ and in the African Twi dialect is ‘Borebore’ = Creator.
The Hebrew ‘hay’ = ‘living being’, is related to the Hausa/Hahm word ‘aye’ = life, created world. Likewise, the Hebrew ‘iya’ = mother, corresponds to the Dravidian ‘ka ayi’ = mother, and the Hausa/Hahm ‘eyi’ = gave birth.
The Hebrew ‘abba’ = father, corresponds to the Hausa/Hahm ‘baba’ = father, to the Dravidian ‘appa’ = father, and to the Mundari ‘apu’.
The Hebrew ‘ha’nock’ = the chief, corresponds to the Hahm word ‘nok’ = “first ancestral chief”. The words Adam and Nok are paralleled in the Hebrew of Psalm 8:4 indicating recognition of both the mythical first father (Adam) and the historical ancestor-father (Nok) of the peoples descending from Nok (Enoch), the father-in-law of Kain and his brother Seth (Genesis 4 and 5).
The Hausa word for hunter is maharba. Compare this to the Hebrew word that appears in the Targum ‘nah shirkan’ (meaning hunter) and note the similarity to the Hausa word ‘sarkin maharba’ (meaning lead hunter).
The Sanskrit ‘svah’ = sky or heaven, corresponds to the Semitic ‘svam’ or ‘Sam-yim’ = sky or heaven. The Semitic resembles the Proto-Dravidian word ‘van’ = heaven. The Spanish ‘desvan’ (attic, rooftop) comes from the Arabic-speaking Moors.
The Sanskrit ‘Sakti’ = wine in Tantric use at harvest moon celebration, is the linguistic equivalent of the Falasha word ‘Sarki’ = harvest moon festival. For more on this read http://www.scribd.com/doc/13982742/Sakti-and-Sakta-John-Woodroffe-E)
Sarki also means ruler among the people of Kano (biblical Kain), who today are called the Kanuri. They reside in west central Africa which is where Noah and his ancestors lived according to the Genesis genealogical data. Sarki are also a people group who live in the Orissa Province of India. So here we have a linguistic coneection between India and Nigeria and it has to do with the ruler-priests who spread the Afro-Asiatic worldview. They went even beyond India into Nepal. We see that this is so because Sarki also live as ‘Haruwa’ in the Tarai region of Nepal. The word Haruwa is equivalent to the ancient Egyptian word ‘Harwa”, meaning priest.
Another word for priest is the Hebrew ‘Kohen’, equivalent to the Arabic ‘Khouri’ or ‘Kahin’ and the Persian ‘Kaahen’. Kaahen relates to the Persian ‘Kaahenaat’ which is translated "timeless being". This word is related to ‘Kahenat’ which means priest in the Ethiopian Church.
The Hebrew ‘yasuah’ = salvation, corresponds to the Sanskrit words ‘asvah’, ‘asuah’ or ‘yasuah’ = salvation.The Hebrew root ‘thr’ = to be pure, corresponds to the Hausa/Hahm ‘toro’ = clean, and to the Tamil ‘tiru’ = holy. All are related to the proto-Dravidian ‘tor’ = blood.
The Hebrew ‘echad’ or ‘ehat’ = one, corresponds to the Syrian ‘eka’ and to the Sanscrit ‘eca’ = one. It is a cognate to ‘ikka’ = one, in the Gonga languages of southeast Ethiopia.
As many ancient Afro-Asiatic peoples used base 6 in counting and as the basis for their calendars, the number six is a significant indicator of related languages. Consider the following:The number six in Proto-Dravidian is ‘caru’. This correlates to ‘koro’ in South Africa; to ‘karkia’ in some Chadic Languages; and to ‘korci’ in Meidob (eastern Sudan). The most striking similarity is between the Kanembu (Sudan) ‘araku’ and the Tamil ‘aarru’.
There are numerous other examples of linguistic affinity between peoples living in what was the ancient Afro-Asiatic Dominion. Linguists have noted these correspondences. Further, we can identify eight key features of ancient Afro-Asiatic religion. They are features that we find prominently in the Bible. They include belief in the Son of God who was expected to come into the world.
From the beginning, God has made known what He has wanted us to know about the coming of the Beloved Son.
Related reading: Who Were the Horites?; The Christ in Nilotic Mythology