Etymology of Kapisa
Kapiśa is related to and includes Kafiristan. The scholarly community holds that Kapiśa is equivalent to the Sanskrit Kamboja. Kamboja and Kapiśa are believed to be two attempts to render the same foreign word (which could not appropriately be transliterated into Sanskrit). Dr. S. Levi holds that Persian Kambujiya or Kau(n)bojiya, Sanskrit Kamboja as well as Kapiśa, all etymologically refer to the same foreign word. The evidence from third century Buddhist tantra text Mahamayuri, which uses Kabusha for Kapisha, and the Ramayana-manjri by Sanskrit Acharya, Kshmendra of Kashmir (11th century), which specifically equates Kapiśa with Kamboja, thus substituting the former with the latter, sufficiently attest that Kapiśa and Kamboja are the same. According to the Indian history series: History and Culture of Indian People, Kapisa and Kamboja are the same. Scholars such as Dr. Moti Chandra and Dr. Krishna Chandra Mishra also write that the Karpasika (of Mahabharata) and Kapisa (Ki-pin/Ka-pin/Chi-pin of the Chinese writings) are synonymous terms. Both Karpasika and Kapiśa are essentially equivalent to Sanskrit Kamboja. The Paninian term Kapiśi is believed to have been the capital of ancient Kamboja. Kapiśa (Ki-pin, Ke-pin, Ka-pin, Chi-pin of the Chinese records) refers to the Kamboja kingdom, located on the south-eastern side of the Hindukush in the Paropamisadae region. It was anciently inhabited by the Aśvakayana (Greek: Assakenoi), and the Aśvayana (Greek Aspasio) (q.v.) sub-tribes of the Kambojas. Epic Mahabharata refers to two Kamboja settlements: one called Kamboja, adjacent to the Daradas (of Gilgit), extending from Kafiristan to south-east Kashmir including Rajauri/Poonch districts, while the original Kamboja, known as Parama Kamboja, was located north of Hindukush in Transoxiana territory, mainly in Badakshan and Pamirs/Allai valley, as neighbors to the Rishikas in the Scythian land. Ptolemy refers to two Kamboja territories/and or ethnics - viz.: Tambyzoi, located north of Hindukush on Oxus in Bactria/Badakshan, and Ambautai, located on the southern side of Hindukush in Paropamisadae. The Komoi clan of Ptolemy, inhabiting towards Sogdiana mountainous regions north of Bactria, is believed by scholars to represent the Kamboja people. Front ranking scholars like Dr. S. Levi, Dr Michael Witzel, and numerous others accept the identity of Tambyzoi and Ambautai with Sanskrit Kamboja. The Ptolemian Ambautai formed parts of the Kapiśa kingdom under sway of Aśvakayana/Aśvayana (Aśvaka) Kambojas. It appears probable that the original home of the Kambojas was trans-Oxian Kamboja, from where some tribal sections moved southwards and established colonies in Paropamisan on southern side of Hindukush. Over time, the Paropamisan settlements came to be addressed as Kamboja proper, whereas the original Kamboja settlement lying north of Hindukush in Transoxiana became known as 'Parama-Kamboja', or furthest Kamboja. Some scholars call Parama Kamboja 'Uttara-Kamboja', or northern Kamboja or Distant Kamboja. The Kapisa-Kamboja equivalence, as suggested by scholars such as Dr. Levi, applies to the Paropamisan Kamboja settlement.
Kafir and Kafiristan etymologically derived from Kapiśa
According to the conventional etymology, the name "Kafir" derives from Arabic Kafir, commonly translated into English as "infidels" or "idolaters." Kafiristan, then, would be "The Land of the Infidels". This explanation would justify the renaming of the country after its Islamization.
Many historians, however, opine that the local name "Kafir" comes from Kapiś (= Kapish), the ancient Sanskrit name of the region that included historic Kafiristan. This is also given as "Ki-pin" (or Ke-pin, Ka-pin, Chi-pin) in old Chinese chronicles. This name, unrelated to the Arabic word, is believed to have, at some point, changed into the word Kapir. This linguistic phenomenon is not unusual for this region. The name of King Kanishaka, who once ruled over this region, is also found written as "Kanerika", an example of "ś" or "sh" changing to "r." In a similar way, Kapiś – the name of the people of Kapiś/Kapiśa – is believed to have changed to Kapir and then Kafir. One of the dominant clan of the Kafirs was known as Katir until recently.
The second change from Kapir to Kafir may have occurred spontaneously, since the exchange of "p" by "f" is common in Indo-European languages. It may also have been the result of confusion or intentional wordplay with the Arabic word, since the Kafirs were pagans until 1895.
The derivation of Kafiristan is now fairly easy, since -stan in Iranian language means country, abode, or place. Kafiristan would literally mean the land or abode of the Kafir (Kapir) peoples i.e. people belonging to Kapiśa.
Today, it is disputed if the term Kafir really defines a traditional ethnic group.
- Pre-Aryan and Pre-Dravidian in India, Edition 1993, p 121, Dr Sylvain Lévi, Dr Jules Bloch, Dr Jean Przyluski, Asian Educational Services.
- Geographical and Economic Studies in the Mahābhārata: Upāyana Parva, 1945, p 43, Dr Moti Chandra - India.
- Ref: The Greeks in Bacteria and India 1966 p 170, 461, Dr William Woodthorpe Tarn.
- Indian Antiquaries, 1923, p 54.
- The Indian Historical Quarterly, 1963, p 291; Indian historical quarterly, Vol XXV-3, 1949, pp 190-92.
- Kathakasankalanam: amskrtagranthebhyah sangrahītani Kathhakabrahmana,- 1981, P xii, Surya Kanta.
- Epigraphia Indica, Vol XIX-1, p 11.
- Afghanistan: A Study of Political Developments in Central and Southern Asia, 1953, p 58, Sir William Kerr Fraser-Tytler, M. C. Gillet.
- Kāṭhakasaṅkalanam: Saṃskr̥tagranthebhyaḥ saṅgr̥hītāni Kāṭhakabrāhmaṇa, Kāṭhakaśrautasūtra, 1981, pe xii, Dr Surya Kanta.
- cf: JBORS, XVI, 1930, p 229, Dr K. P. Jayswal; cf: Visnu Purana, II, p 182, Wilson quoted in Kāṭhakasaṅkalanam: 1981, p xiv, Surya Kanta.
- Prācīna Kamboja, Jana aura Janapada =: Ancient Kamboja, people and country, 1981, p 44, 147, 155, Dr Jiyālāla Kāmboja, Dr Satyavrat Śāstrī.
- Cf: Society and Culture in the Time of Daṇḍin, 1972, p 89, Dr Gupta, Dharmendra Kumar.
- cf: Journal of Indian History, 1921, p 21, University of Kerala, University of Allahabad Dept. of Modern Indian History.
- Cf: Main Currents in the Ancient History of Gujarat, 1960, p 26, Bhasker Anand Saletore, Maharaja Sayajirao University of Baroda Deptt. of History; Alexander the Great, 2003, Edition, p 277, Dr W. W. Tarn.
- Non-Aryan Linguistic Elements in the Atharvaveda, 2000, 137, Abhijit Ghosh - Vedic language.
- Pre Aryan and Pre Dravidian in India, 1993 edition, p 120, Dr Sylvain Lévi, Dr Jules Bloch, Dr Jean Przyluski, Asian Educational Services. See Link: ; .
- Problems of Ancient India, 2000, p 1, K. D. Sethna; Purana, Vol VI No1, January 1964, K. D. Sethna.
- See also: Indian Antiquaries, 52, part 2, 1923; Indian Antiquaries, 203, 1923, p 54.
- Prācīna Kamboja, Jana aura Janapada =: Ancient Kamboja, people and country, 1981, pp 44, Dr Jiyālāla Kāmboja, Dr Satyavrat Śāstrī; cf also: Dr J. W. McCrindle, Ptolemy, p 268.
- Pre Aryan and Pre Dravidian in India, 1993 edition, p 120, Dr Sylvain Lévi, Dr Jules Bloch, Dr Jean Przyluski, Asian Educational Services.
- See also: Indian Antiquaries, 52, part 2, 1923; Indian Antiquaries, 203, 1923, p 54.
- Prācīna Kamboja, Jana aura Janapada =: Ancient Kamboja, people and country, 1981, pp 44, 147, 155, Dr Jiyālāla Kāmboja, Dr Satyavrat Śāstrī.
- See: Indian Antiquaries, 52, part 2, 1923 .
- Pre Aryan and Pre Dravidian in India, 1993 edition, p 121, Dr Sylvain Lévi, Dr Jules Bloch, Dr Jean Przyluski, Asian Educational Services.
- History and Culture of Indian People, Vol III, pp 122, 617, Dr R. C. Majumdar, Dr A. D. Pusalkar, Dr. K. M. Munshi.
- Mahabhara 2.48.7.
- Geographical and Economic Studies in the Mahābhārata: Upāyana Parva, 1945, p 44, Dr Moti Chandra - India; Tribes in the Mahabharata: A Socio-cultural Study, 1987, pp 94, 314, Krishna Chandra Mishra - Mahābhārata.
- Dr Moti Chandra writes: "Thus before us is placed a suggestion that Kapis- Kamboja denoted the same geographical unit. To this may also be added Karpasika which on account of its rare appearance seems to be clinging to some original form phonetically very near to the Sanskritised form Karpasika when more common form as Kapisa and Kamboja were being commonly used" (See: Geographical and Economic Studies in the Mahābhārata: Upāyana Parva, 1945, P 44, Dr Moti Chandra.
- A Comparative Study of Thirty City-state Cultures: An Investigation, 2000, p 388, Dr Hansen, Mogens Herman (ed(d).
- The History and Culture of the Indian People, 1977, p 15, Dr Ramesh Chandra Majumdar, Dr Achut Dattatraya Pusalker, Dr Asoke Kumar Majumdar; An Advanced History of India, 1973, p 54, Dr Rameṣa-Chandra Majumdar; The Soul of India, 1961,p 56, Amaury De Riencourt.
- Mahabharata 7.4.5; Mahabharata II.27.23.
- Mahabharata II.27.25; Original Sanskrit Texts on the Origin and History of the People of India: Their Religion and ..., 1874, p 365, Dr John Muir - 1874; Die Voelker des oestlichen Asien: Studien und Reisen, 1865, p 186, Adolf Bastian; The Problems of Ancient India, 2000, p 1-8, K. D. Sethna; Some Aspects of Ancient Indian History and Culture, 1974, p 62, Dr Upendra Thakur; The Greco-Sunga Period of Indian History, Or, the North-West India of the Second Century B.C. 1973, p 39, Dr Mehta Vasishtha Dev Mohan; Geography of the Mahabharata, 1986, p 14, B. S. Suryavanshi. The Riśikas & the Parama Riśikas, whom the Mahabharata closely allies with the Parama-Kambojas, are located right into Śaka-dvipa or Scythia, north of Oxus. See: India as Known to Pāṇini: A Study of the Cultural Material in the Ashṭādhyāyī, 1953, p 64, Dr Vasudeva Sharana Agrawala.
- Central Asiatic provinces of the Maurya Empire, p 403, Dr H.C. Seth; See also: Indian Historical Quarterly, Vol XIII, 1937, p 400-403; cf: History and Archaeology of India's Contacts with other Countries, from Earliest Times to 300 B.C., 1976, p 152, Shashi Asthana. For Kamboja Nomads in Central Asia, Cf also: India and Central Asia, p 25, Dr P. C. Bagchi.
- See: Original Sanskrit Texts on the Origin and History of the People of India: Their Religion and ..., 1874, p 365, Prof John Muir; Geographical Data in the Early Purāṇas: A Critical Study, 1972, p 167-68, Dr M. R. Singh.
- See: Development of Hindu Polity and Political Theories, 1927, p 227, Narayanchandra Banerjee.
- Proceedings and Transactions of the All-India Oriental Conference, 1930, p 117.
- For instance,Dr Thomas Watters, Dr Moti Chandra, Dr Suniti Kumar Chaterjee, Prof Surya Kanta, Dr J. L. Kamboj etc.
- Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society of Great Britain & Ireland, 1856, p 239, by Royal Asiatic Society of Great Britain and Ireland; Indian Caste, 1877, p 286, John Wilson; India of To-day, 1906, p 280, Walter Del Mar.
- Ref: Publications, 1904, p 124, Published by Oriental Translation Fund (Editors T. W. Rhys Davis, Dr S. W. Bushel, London Royal Asiatic Society); Geographical and Economic Studies in the Mahābhārata: Upāyana Parva, 1945, p 44, Dr Moti Chandra - India; Census of India, 1961, p 26, published by India Office of the Registrar General; Geographical and Economic Studies in the Mahabharata, Upana parava, Journal of Uttara Pradesh Historical Society, Vol XVI, Part II, pp 48-50; Ancient Kamboja, People and the Country, 1981, Dr J. L. Kamboj, Dr Satyarti Shastri; The Kambojas Through the Ages, 2005, p 94, Kirpal Singh; See also: Kāṭhakasaṅkalanam: Saṃskr̥tagranthebhyaḥ saṅgr̥hītāni Kāṭhakabrāhmaṇa, Kāṭhakaśrautasūtra, 1981, p xii, Surya Kanta; cf: The Contemporary Review, Vol LXXII, July-Dec, 1897, p 869, A. Strahan (etc), London; See also: On Yuan Chwang's Travels in India, 629-645 A.D., 1904, 124, Dr Thomas Watters. See Link: .
- S. Levi states that Chinese Kipin is a rendering of an Indian word Kapir (See quote in: Geographical and Economic Studies in the Mahābhārata: Upāyana Parva, 1945, p 44, Dr Moti Chandra - India; See also: Bhārata-kaumudī; Studies in Indology in Honour of Dr. Radha Kumud Mookerji, 1945, p 916, Dr Radhakumud Mookerji - India).
- In ancient Sanskrit literature, there are numerous instances where the name of the people was obtained from the geographical territory they belonged to or occupied. Thus, Kamboja was both the name of the people as well as their country. Similarly, Gandhara, Vahika, Kuru etc. were names of people as well as their countries. In a similar way, the inhabitants of Kapis (Kapisa) were known as Kapis ==> Kapir which later transmuted to Kafir.
- cf: An Abridged Malay-English Dictionary (romanized), 1908, p 95 by Richard James Wilkinson; Bahasa Indonesia: Introduction to Indonesian Language and Culture, 1990, p 13, Yohanni Johns, Robyn Stokes - Foreign Language Study.