Hindu spiritual leader Ravi Shankar has suggested that Australia’s name has originated from the Sanskrit word Astralaya (Astra- Alaya), which means armoury.
The video, whose timing cannot be determined, is doing the rounds on the internet. In the video, the Hindu Guru responds to a question by a follower by saying, “Do you know the country, Australia? Where did its name come from? Australia (armoury) in Mahabharta became Australia.”
Ravishankar goes on to say, “All the powerful weapons were kept there. That’s why it is all desert in the middle of Australia. Scientists say there would have been a nuclear blast here. There is no flora and fauna there. The whole population of Australia lives along the coast. So it must have been in those days.”
Ravishankar, the founder of ‘Art of Living’, further clarifies, “Even if it was not there, it was in the imagination. Everything starts from imagination. Just like someone imagined making a plane after watching the birds fly.”
According to the National Library of Australia, the English explorer Matthew Flinders made the suggestion of the name we use today.
“He was the first to circumnavigate the continent in 1803 and used the name ‘Australia’ to describe the continent on a hand-drawn map in 1804. The National Library holds a reproduction,” reads an article on the NLA’s website.
It says, “when the map and book describing his journey was finally published in 1814, the name ‘Terra Australis’ was used instead, although Flinders stated that his preference was still ‘Australia’. You can view his General chart of Terra Australis or Australia map online.”
“The name Australia had appeared in print before, but only broadly applied to the legendary southern landmass. The earliest printing of this name is in an astronomical treatise published in 1545. With south at the top of the map, a small wind head map names the imagined southern landmass ‘Australia’.”