Krisna and Christ have different etymologies

Dear Editor,
I am learning much through the correspondence on “Bearing your chafe like Banwari,” which is what I have been doing for most of my adult life in Guyana. But I must register my disagreement with Mr Veda Nath Mohabir’s reference to the “etymological similarity between Krisna and Christ” in his letter of August 8, 2008. While it is true that many parallels can be drawn between the Lord Krisna of Hindu theology and the iconic Jesus-the-Christ of Christian theology, there is no etymological similarity between the words ‘Krisna’ and ‘Christ’. Let me demonstrate.

Wikipedia gives the meaning of both names.  “The Sanskrit word krsna has the literal meaning of “black”, “dark” or “dark-blue”, and is used as a name to describe someone with dark skin. Krishna is often depicted in murtis (images) as black, and is generally shown in paintings with blue skin. Krishna is also known by various other names, epithets and titles, which reflect his many associations and attributes. Among the most common names are Govinda, “finder of cows”, or Gopala, “protector of cows”, which refer to Krishna’s childhood in Vraja. … Krishna is also interpreted as meaning ‘all-attractive one’.”

“Christ is the English term for the Greek Khristós meaning “the anointed“. In the Septuagint version of the Old Testament, Khristós was used to translate the Hebrew Mašíah, meaning “[one who is] anointed.” Modern Christianity states that Christ was fully human as well as fully God, while the Jewish tradition understands the Messiah to be a human being – without any overtone of deity or divinity… Khristós in classical Greek usage could mean covered in oil, and is thus a literal translation of messiah. The Greek term is thought to derive from the Proto-Indo-European root of ghrei- (“to rub”), which in Germanic languages, such as English, mutated into gris- and grim-. Hence the English words grisly, grim, grime, gizm and grease, are thought to be cognate with Christ, though these terms came to have a negative connotation, where the Greek word had a positive connotation. In French the Greek term mutated first to creŝme and then to crème, due to the loss of certain ‘s’ usages in French, which was loaned into English as cream.”

Clearly then, while both words have a similar initial sound, they have different etymologies.
Also, Krisna is the proper name for a Hindu deity, whereas Christ is not a proper name, nor is it a surname; it is a title given to the historical Yeshua (Iesu in Hindi) by his followers, turning him into the iconic Jesus-the-Christ of Christian faith. Khristós existed in ancient Greek as a common word long before it was appended to the Christian deity (cognate with the Hindi word devta, Greek theos and Spanish dios).
It is not surprising that many words in European languages are related to Sanskrit and Hindi words having the same or similar meaning, since these langauges all belong to the Indo-European language family, having had a distant long-lost (unwritten/undiscovered) common ancestor called Proto-Indo-European by linguists. One example: Sanskrit pitar, Hindi pitaji, Latin pater, English father, Spanish padre. Unfortunately Krisna and Christ, like many other words (such as the two etymologically different homonyms for cleave) do not fall in the category of same etymology.
Like Banwari, I now return to bearing my chafe, while laughing at the bulls like Balgovind (little mischievious cow herder).
Yours faithfully,
M. Xiu Quan-Balgobind-Hackett


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