Saturday, December 23, 2006

Madeira - Madira

Continuing this ,
--------Page 40
...he called, sipped madeira, and said - and omitted - as his ecclesiastical collegue had advised.

This word caught my eye. A look into my Webster's dictionary told me that this refers to amber or white wine from Madeira an island near spain. (This is not as good as my Webster's, but its something handy)

And a simple google search will show you a lot of that.

But then this word is used in hindi, kannada etc as madira to mean intoxicating drink. And sanskrit has words like madya to mean an intoxicating drink.

A brief study of Monier Milliams showed that madira indeed exists from the time of Mahabharata (unless, of course, one chooses o argue that this is from a prakshipta part, that is, a part that has been added to Mahabharata by someone down the line.) . If you dont have the hard copy , you can see it for yourself at

It would be relaly interesting to know how that island got that name(assuming this word is from sanskrit/india). My hypothesis is that the Arabs (Remember? some time in the past they were the most open of cultutres and learnt a lot off Indians and Europeans. I refer you to folks like Al Beruni who translated sanskrit works into Arabic, and whose works now tell us about some lost works of Sanskrit :-) ) took this word with them to spain which they ruled.

Aside: The distillations by Arabs were very popular with indian kings (Moghals included).


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