Sanskrit words in Philippines

I began to be curious about Sanskrit words in Filipino languages when I started learning yoga and heard the words guru and mukha, which mean teacher and face, respectively, in both Tagalog and Sanskrit.

Asa is “hope” in Tagalog and “asa” is also hope in Sanskrit.

Bahala in Filipino means responsibility, care, onus or burden. In Sanskrit the word “bhara” means pressure, weight, load, burden, and also the quantity of 100,000,000.

The phrase of Bahala na in Filipino means to put trust in God or Divine Providence. In Sanskrit “bharaNa” means completion or sustenance.

Note that when speaking Sanskrit, the consonants spelled with ‘h’ (kh, gh, ch, jh, th, dh, th, dh, ph, bh) are pronounced with consonant plus a slight ‘h’ sound, a noticeable aspiration of breath. So “bh” is pronounced quickly as “buh-huh.”

Bathala is the ancient name of a male supreme deity in the Philippines. In Sanskrit, the word “bathara” means “great lord.”

Damla means “honor” in Pampanga, Philippines. In Hinduism, dharma signifies behavior that is considered to be in accord with order in life and the universe possible, and includes duties, conduct, laws, rights, virtues and a right way of living.

Diwa, in the Philippines, means idea, concept, spirit. “Deva” in Sanskrit means divine.

Diwata means nature spirit in the Philippines. In Sanskrit “devata” means divine being.

Guru means teacher in both the Philippines and in Sanskrit.

Katha in the Philippines means “tall tale” or “story.” “Gatha” in Sanskrit also means tale. “Katha” is also an Indian style of religious storytelling.

Kulam in the Philippines means sorcery or spell-casting. Kolam in Hindu tradition is a magical, good fortune mandala or geometric symbol drawn in front of homes with powdered rice, flowers or chalk.

Likha means literature, art, an object created and “to create something with intelligence and skill” in the Philippines. In Sanskrit it means writer or writing.

Mukha means “face” in both Tagalog and Sanskrit.

Naga, In the southern Philippines, means serpent, dragon or mermaid, and is from the Sanskrit nāga meaning serpent or serpentine

Potri, in southern Philppines, means “princess,” a daughter in a royal family or a family of datus. “Putri” is princess in Sanskrit for “daughter.”

Simba In the Philippines means going to church and simbahan means church building. “Sembah” in Sanskrit means “pray.”

Salampati is dove in the Philippines and parapati in Sanskrit.

Tala is a Philippine goddess of the stars. “Tara” means star in Sanskrit and is also a Hindui star goddess.

And just for fun, here’s the O-U writing symbol in the Philippines influenced by Sanskrit writing:

In baybayin, the Philippine ancient writing system from various areas of the Philippines, the symbol for O or U sound is similar to the AU symbol in the Sanskrit symbol for OM.

You can find more words that are common between the Philippines and Sanskrit, “collected” in my pinterest board, Sanskrit in the Philippines.

This collection of words and translations come from online research and from Juan R Francisco’s book Indian Influences in the Philippines: With Special Reference to Language and Literature (Philippine Social Sciences and Humanities Review, Vol. 28, Nos 1–3.

And you can find more explorations of the meanings of baybayin symbols at

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