It is suggested here that one possible etymology (roots) of the name “Nara” for the ancient capital city Nara(from 710 to 784) that lies at the north end of the modern day Nara prefecture:
Nara means the plural form of “waters” of Indian-Mesopotamian origins speaking of the Flood Deluge or Diluvial Waters. This is according to D.D. Kosambi’s studies of “Myth and Reality: Studies in the Formation of Indian Culture.” Amazon page – P.23-25
The vedas have a Visnu, but no Narayana. The etymology seems to be he who sleeps upon the flowing waters (nara) and this is taken as the steady state (fig. 1.1) of Naifiyaija.15 It precisely describes the Mesopotamian Ea or Enki, who sleeps in his chamber in the midst of the waters, as Sumerian myth and many a Sumerian seal tell us.
The word nara (plural) for ‘the waters’ is not Indo-Aryan. Both the word and the god might conceivably go back to the Indus Valley. The later appearance in Sanskrit only means that the peaceful assimilation of the people who transmitted the legend was late. At any rate, the flood-and-creation myth (so natural in a Monsoon country) connects the first three avataras, (figs. 1.3, 1.5, 1.6, 1.7) Fish, Tortoise and Boar—surely related to primitive totemic worships. The Fish has its Mesopotamia counterparts (fig. 1.4). One performance of this Narayana is shared by Krsna in the did : the visva-rupa-darsana showing that the god contains the whole universe; he individually represents the best specimen of each species in it. Though familiar to most of us as in Gita 10-11, there is a prototype version without Krsna in Mbh 3.186.39- 112, which shows that an all- pervading Narayana had been invented much earlier.”
- According to the year 720 Japanese book Nihon Shoki the name “Nara” derived from the Japanese verb narasu “to flatten” and Nara is located in the flat Nara Basin (ja:奈良盆地).This is a folk etymology with other examples found in plenty throughout the text. Modern linguists suggest that it is cognate with the modern Korean word nara “country, kingdom”.
- More specially, Modern Korean nara derives from Middle Korean narah, which in turn is from reconstructed Old Korean *narak. The initial na may be related to Old Goguryeo na“earth”. The final -ra < -rah < -rak may be identified as meaning “land, territory” and is also seen in other geographical places such as Nara, Gara, and Silla, the last two of which where spelled with a final k- in Old Japanese (cf, Shiraki). Also, Nara was also written variously as 寧楽 and 乃楽, suggesting a reading of *naraku, also with a final k- ending. Source: Wikipedia article “Nara“