DMPQ- Given an account of the India’s Cultural contribution to South East Asia and Central Asia?

  • India had commercial and cultural relations with her neighbours since an early time.
  • Resulting from this, was on the one hand the introduction of foreign elements into the art and culture of India and on the other the extension of Indian religious ideas and art motifs to foreign countries.

India’s Cultural contribution to Central Asia

  • Central Asia is a landmass bound by China, Russia, Tibet, India and Afghanistan. Traders to and from China regularly crossed the region despite hardships.
  • The route that was opened by them later became famous as the Silk Route. The route was so named because silk was one of the chief mercantile commodities of China.
  • In later times, the same route was used by scholar’s monks and missionaries. The route served as a great channel for the transmission of cultures of the then known world. The impact of Indian culture was felt strongly in Central Asia.
  • Among the kingdoms of Central Asia, Kuchi was a very important and flourishing centre of the Indian culture.
  • It was the kingdom where the Silk Route bifurcates and meets at the Dun-huang caves in China again. Thus, there is the Northern and the Southern Silk Route.
  • Cultural exchanges that took place between India and the countries of Central Asia are visible from the discoveries of ancient stupas, temples, monasteries, images and paintings found in all these countries.
  • Along the route there were resting places for Monks and Missionaries, for pilgrims and merchants and later these became famous centres of Buddhist learning. Silk and jade, horses and valuables changed hands, but the most lasting treasure that travelled along the route was Buddhism.
  • Thus, the trade route transmitted religion and philosophy, ideas and beliefs, languages and literature, and art and culture. Khotan was one of the most important outposts. It was on the Southern Silk Route.

India’s Cultural contribution to South East Asia

  1. Indian Culture in Indonesia
  • In the field of religious architecture, the largest Shiva temple in Indonesia is situated in the island of Java. It is called Prambanan. It was built in the ninth century.
  • It has a Shiva temple flanked by Vishnu and Brahma temples. Opposite these three temples are temples constructed for their vahanas.
  • They are Nandi (Bull) for Shiva, Garuda for Vishnu and Goose for Brahma. In between the two rows are the temples dedicated to Durga and Ganesh, numbering eight in all, surrounded by 240 small temples
  1. Indian Culture in Vietnam (Champa)
  • Indian culture was carried to the distant land of Vietnam by a number of enterprising traders and princes who migrated and established themselves as pioneers in the field of politics and economics.
  • They named the cities there as Indrapura, Amaravati, Vijaya, Kauthara and Panduranga. The people of Champa are called Cham. They built a large number of Hindu and Buddhist temples.
  • The Cham people worshipped Shiva, Ganesha, Saraswati, Lakshmi, Parvati, Buddha and Lokeswara.
  • Images of these deities and Shivalingas were housed in the temples. Most of the temples are in ruin now.
  1. Indian Culture in Myanmar
  • People and culture of India began to reach Myanmar in the beginning of the Christian era. Myanmar is situated on the route to China.
  • People coming from the port towns of Amaravati and Tamralipti often settled down in Myanmar after the second century AD.
  • The people who had migrated included traders, brahmins, artists, craftsmen and others.
  1. Indian Culture in Cambodia
  • The famous kingdoms of Champa (Annam) and Kamhuja (Cambodia) were ruled by the kings of Indian origins.
  • The history of deep-rooted cultural relationship between India and Cambodia goes back to the first and second centuries AD. In Kambuja, Kaundinya dynasty of Indian origin ruled from the first century A.D.
  • Cambodians constructed huge monuments and embellished them with sculptural representations of Shiva, Vishnu. Buddha and other divinities from Indian Epics and the Puranas.
  • The episodes from these texts were chosen by the kings to symbolise great historical events. Sanskrit remained their language for administration till the fourteenth century.
  • Their kings bore Sanskrit names. Brahmins assumed the highest position. The government was run according to the Hindu polity and Brahminical jurisprudence. Ashrams were maintained in temple vicinities as seats of learning.
  • A large number of localities were given Indian names like Tamrapura, Dhruvapura and Vikramapura.
  1. Indian Culture in Thailand
  • Indian cultural influences began to reach there in the first century AD.
  • It was first carried by Indian traders, followed by teachers and missionaries.
  • The Thai kingdoms were given Sanskrit names such as Dwaravati, Shrivijay, Sukhodaya and Ayutthiya.
  • The names of their cities also indicate a strong cultural interflow. For example, Kanchanaburi is from Kanchanapuri, Rajburi is from Rajpuri, Lobpuri is Lavapuri, and names of the cities like Prachinaburi, Singhaburi are all derived from Sanskrit.
  • Even the names of the streets like Rajaram, Rajajrani, Mahajaya and Cakravamsha remind us of the popularity of the Ramayana. Brahminical images and Buddhist temples began to be constructed in third and fourth century AD.
  • The earliest images found from Thailand are those of Lord Vishnu. At different points of time, the Thai kingdom was shifted from one place to another. At every place a number of temples were built.
  • Ayutthiya (Ayodhya) is one such place where large number of temples still stand though today most of the temples there are in ruins. There are four hundred temples in Bangkok, the present capital of Thailand.
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