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Masala’s Guide to Cultural Crossroads

by Niranjana Mittal

Unveiling the linguistic ties between Thailand and India.

By: Grace Clarke & Ayush Madan

Have you ever noticed the fascinating cultural similarities between India and Thailand? India’s rich and extensive history has deeply influenced Southeast Asia, leaving its mark on religious practices, arts, scriptures, and language. In this article, we explore the linguistic bridge linking Thai and Hindi, and reveal the shared heritage and cultural practices between these regions.

In Thailand, the mother tongue is deeply rooted in Balinese and Sanskrit. Sanskrit, an ancient Indo-Aryan language that emerged after the Bronze Age, originated in the Swat and northern Punjab regions of what is now Pakistan. Although Sanskrit is no longer widely spoken in daily life, its influence persists in dozens of languages across India, Pakistan, Nepal, Bangladesh, and of course, Thailand.

Since the era of the Silk Road, trade facilitated the exchange of goods, culture, language, and religion across Asia. It was during this time that Indian monks and scholars spread Hinduism and Buddhism across the region. In Thailand, the impact of Sanskrit is evident not only in the lexicon but also in its rich cultural practices infused with Indian influences.

The rhythmic patterns of traditional Thai music, the intricate designs of temples such as Wat Arun, and the spiritual narratives depicted in Thai murals and scriptures all reflect ancient ties to Indian culture. Even festivals in each region, such as Diwali and Loy Krathong, while commemorating different historical events, share common themes: the release of past misfortunes, the celebration of good over evil, and the symbolism of purification and spiritual renewal.

Today, the inclusion of Sanskrit in Thai school curricula underscores the awareness among Thai people of the connection between their language and Sanskrit. Understanding Sanskrit helps students comprehend etymology and the meanings behind words, deepening their grasp of Thai language.

Both Thai and Hindi have their origins in Sanskrit, a phenomenon known as cognation. Cognates are words that have been borrowed from one language to another or have descended from a common ancestral language – Sanskrit, in this case. Many Thai words, particularly those related to religion, royalty, and the arts, have direct counterparts in Sanskrit and Hindi. These shared terms are not merely linguistic curiosities; they serve as windows into the shared philosophical and cultural landscapes of the past, highlighting the enduring legacy of Sanskrit in shaping the modern tongues of Thailand and India today.

































  1. Thai: พระ (Phra) – Hindi: (Prabhu)
  • Meaning: Lord, God
  • Sanskrit Root: (Prabhu)
  1. Thai: ธรรม (Tham) – Hindi: –– (Dharma)
  • Meaning: Righteousness, Duty
  • Sanskrit Root: (Dharma)
  1. Thai: พุทธ (Phuttha) – Hindi: (Buddha)
  • Meaning: Buddha
  • Sanskrit Root: (Buddha)
  1. Thai: สวรรค์ (Sawan) – Hindi: (Swarga)
  • Meaning: Heaven
  • Sanskrit Root: (Swarga)


  1. Thai: ราชา (Racha) – Hindi: (Raja)
  • Meaning: King
  • Sanskrit Root: (Raja)
  1. Thai: ราชินี (Rachini) – Hindi: (Rani)
  • Meaning: Queen
  • Sanskrit Root: (Rani)
  1. Thai: สมาคม (Samakom) – Hindi: (Samaj)
  • Meaning: Association, Society
  • Sanskrit Root: (Samaja)


  1. Thai: กวี (Kawi) – Hindi: (Kavi)
  • Meaning: Poet
  • Sanskrit Root: (Kavi)
  1. Thai: ศิลปะ (Sinlapa) – Hindi: (Kala)
  • Meaning: Art
  • Sanskrit Root: (Kala)


  1. Thai: มหา (Maha) – Hindi: (Maha)
  • Meaning: Great
  • Sanskrit Root: (Maha)
  1. Thai: วัน (Wan) – Hindi: (Var)
  • Meaning: Day (as in the days of the week)
  • Sanskrit Root: (Vara)
  1. Thai: กาล (Kal) – Hindi: (Kal)
  • Meaning: Time
  • Sanskrit Root: (Kala)
  1. Thai: กษัตริย์ (Kasat) – Hindi: (Kshatriya)
  • Meaning: Warrior, Noble
  • Sanskrit Root: (Kshatriya)
  1. Thai: ภาษา (Phasa) – Hindi: (Bhasha)
  • Meaning: Language
  • Sanskrit Root: (Bhasha)
  1. Thai: อนุญาต (Anuyat) – Hindi: (Anumati)
  • Meaning: Allow, Permission
  • Sanskrit Root: (Anumati)

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