THE INDIAN CULTURAL EMPIRE: UNKNOWN TO THE INDIANS.
Indian cultural empire is larger than the Roman Empire and was established not by military conquest but by peaceful, philosophical and intellectual attraction and appeal. Historians call the Southeast Asia as “Farther India” and “Trans Gangetic Plains”. Both Hinduism and Buddhism that originated from India had deep impact on the social, religious, economic and political history of the entire Asia Pacific region. Buddhism is well entrenched in the North East Asia (Japan, China, Korea, Mongolia) whereas the Southeastern sector was dominated by Hinduism and Buddhism. The two religions competed with each other in a peaceful and civilized way without any dispute or animosity unlike the West where religious wars were common; and it is still happening. When India became weak due to foreign invasions, Hinduismt could not sustain much in the region after the 15th century; however Buddhism spread and maintained its dominance, thanks to the Chinese connection.
A few quotes of Western and Eastern historians and leaders:French scholar, Sylvain Levi (1863-1935) Orientalist who wrote on Eastern religion, literature, and history.
"From Persia to the Chinese Sea, from the icy regions of Siberia to the islands of Java and Borneo, from Oceania to Socotra, India has propagated her beliefs, her tales and her civilization. She has left indelible imprints on one-fourth of the human race in the course of a long succession of centuries. She has the right to reclaim in universal history the rank that ignorance has refused her for a long time and to hold her place amongst the great nations summarizing and symbolizing the spirit of Humanity."
Suharto Sukarno (1901- 1970) Indonesian nationalist leader and the first President of Indonesia. (Sukarno was a Muslim)
"In the veins of every one of my people flows the blood of Indian ancestors and the culture that we possess is steeped through and through with Indian influences. Two thousand years ago people from your country came to Jawadvipa and Suvarnadvipa in the spirit of brotherly love.”
Norodom Sihanouk, Head of the State of the Royal Government of Cambodia (1954-1970 and, again, since 1993)
"In fact, it was about 2000 years ago that the first navigators, Indian merchants and Brahmins brought to our ancestors their gods, their techniques, their organization. Briefly India was for us what Greece was to Latin Orient."
Will Durant American historian, observed
“In Asia all roads lead from India.” (“All roads lead to Rome” was the saying the West)Philip S. Rawson writes in his book The Art of South East Asia:
"The culture of India has been one of the world's most powerful civilizing forces. Countries of the Far East, including China, Korea, Japan, Tibet and Mongolia owe much of what is best in their own cultures to the inspiration of ideas imported from India. No conquest or invasion, no forced conversion imposed them. They were adopted because people saw that they were good and that they could use them..."
Japan, Korea, Mongolia and ChinaJ Eminent Zen Scholar - "The study of Japanese thought is the study of Indian thought.” Dr. D. Suzuki. "India is culturally, Mother of Japan. For centuries it has, in her own characteristic way, been exercising her influence on the thought and culture of Japan."
India Conquered and dominated China culturally for 20 centuries without ever having to send a single soldier across her border. Hu Shih ( Chinese scholar and diplomat)
Thailand is a Buddhist country with almost 95% of its population practicing Theravada Buddhism. Ramayana is very popular and is known as Ramakein. Sanskrit language has dominated the country for several centuries. The culture is a combination of both Hindu and Buddhist religions.
Myson temple ruins dedicated to Lord Shiva (Badreswara) was named after the king Badravarman. Buddhism is the major religion however sizable population claims no religion due to influence of communism.
Ramayana is well known in Laos, a Buddhist country. Ramayana and Mahabharata are well known in the whole of Southeast Asian countries. The Laotian adaptation of the Ramayana is called Phra Lak Phra
Cambodia (Derived from the name kambhoj)
Cambodia was a replica of the Kalinga kingdom in Orissa/Andhra region. The Funan Empire was hailed as the Roman Empire of the region. The official language was Sanskrit and Manu Shastra was the official code of conduct.
The entire Indochina states, (Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam) Myanmar, Thailand and Yunnan province of China were part of the Indosphere, also known as Suvarna Bhumi. The names of the kings who ruled the Funan and Khmer Empires were:
Sri Indraditya; Yaso Varman; Rudra Varman; Jaya Varman I to VII; Harshavarman; Rajendravarman; Isana Varman; Badra Varman; Surya Varman II ( builder of Angkor Wat).
The Indianised Kingdoms were: Mujapahit, Mataram and Sri Vijaya, Silendra and Airlangga in Malaysia and Indonbesia; Khmer and Funan in Indochina and Srikshtra in Myanmar
Kedah. (Kataram) a part of present Malaysia was part of the Sri Vijaya Kingdom. It was annexed by Rajendhra Cholan of Tanjore and was under the Chola Empire for a century. This was the only recorded military conquest from the mainland India. There are many Sanskrit words in the Malaysian language.
Parameswara (1344 – 1414), also called Iskandar Shah was the last king of Singapura (Singapore) who ruled from 1389 to 1398.
Though, a Muslim country its culture and language are more of Indian origin.
Their national airline is known as Garuda Airways.Indonesian defence ministry gave an honorary award to General David Hurley of Australia in 2012, with one of Indonesia's highest military honour “Bintang Yudha Dharma Utama” (Except Bintang others are Sanskrit).
Bali in Indonesia is well known for its version of Ramayana. The Sanskrit word “Bhumi Putra” ( son of the soil) is commonly used all over Southeast Asia.
According to Alfred Louis Kroeber (1876-1960), American anthropologist, and a major figure in the founding of modern anthropology, as well as author of Peoples of the Philippines (1919):
“Most of the folklore of the Philippines is of Hindu origin”
Two Filipino scholars, Tavera and Paterno, have concluded that about 25% of the Philippine vocabularies can be traced to Indian influence.
The capital city, Bander Seri Begwan is originally a Sanskrit word. It was part of the Indianised kingdom of Mujapahit until the 15th century.
Indonesia, Brunei, Philippines, Singapore and parts of Malaysia are known as Suvrna Dvipa; whereas India is known as Jambu Dvipa.
The most revered Buddhist shrine, Shwedagon Pagoda, was built by two merchants from Ramanya who met with Lord Gowthama Buddha. This 2500 years old pagoda is covered with hundreds of gold plates encrusted with 4351 diamonds and 2317 rubies.
Sri Lanka: The cultural and religious connection with India needs no elaboration. .
Indians are generally submissive and not proud of themselves. Sri Narayanamurthy of Infosys in his book titled “Better India, Better World” rightly pointed out that the self esteem of average Indian is very low due to foreign rule for over 800 years.
There is no reason at all for us to feel inferior. We are not aware of our own knowledge power, civilization values and the great impression we created.
We have been looking at the West for everything and also wasting our time, resources and energy for the last 60 years with our belligerent neighbours who refuse to acknowledge their Indian origin. We should start looking seriously at our friendly and reliable cultural cousins just across the Bay of Bengal and develop intimate relationship.
.It is very disappointing that the prescribed history books for schools and colleges are not elaborating the Cultural Empire of India in the Asia pacific Region. It is disheartening that they speak more about our slavery under the Moguls and Europeans.
The Indian Government has taken steps to restore and maintain a few of the ancient monuments in South East Asia and is also trying to attract Buddhist tourism. The government sent a ship called Sudharshini which called on many ports in the Asia Pacific region to rekindle the Indian culture and heritage. This is not enough. Similar trips and voyages should be initiated within India with ships, trains and trucks and make the Indians aware and feel proud of their Cultural Empire. The Indian government should encourage and strengthen the two way tourism between India and Asia Pacific.
Dr. Krishnan Arunachalam.
Hindu Kingdoms of South East Asia by R.K. Kanchan.
(http://www.defence.gov.au/defencenews/stories/2012/nov/1120a.htm Ministry of defence, Government of Australia, published on Nov/20/2012))
India’s Interaction with Southeast Asia: Gobind Chandra Pandey.
Suvarnadvipa : Ancient Indian Colonies in the Far East : R.C. Mazumdar.
Krishan and Arjuna Sculpture in the middle of the capital city Jakarta in Indonesia
Khmer Monarch pays homage to Lord Shiva
Khmer Monarch pays homage to Lord Shiva