Chapter 26 : India’s Cultural Contacts with the Asian Countries
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Medieval law givers + commentators = told that no one should cross seas ; but India maintained contacts since Harappan civilisation ; traders went to Mesopotamia (2400 B.C and 1700 .B.C.)
From Christian era – India maintained commercial relations with China, S-E Asia. West Asia and Roman Empire (connected through silk route ) + sent missionaries, conquerors and traders to Neighbouring countries who founded settlements there.
Propagation of Buddhism :
Propagation of Buddhism was with – SL, Myanmar . China and Central Asia.
To SL – during the reign of Ashoka (3rd century B.C.) + Short Brahmi inscriptions found there (at 2nd and 1st century B.C.) + acquired permanent hold there.
Early centuries of Christian era – Buddhism spread to Burma - where Theravada Form of Buddhism was developed.
Rich literature in Burma + SL on Buddhism in Pali texts.
Kanishka sent missionaries to China, Central Asia and Afghanistan.
From china, it spread to Japan + korea ; Fahien + Hsuan Tsang – came in search for Buddhist doctrines and Texts + cultural exchange (India learnt art of making silk and Chinese learnt – art of Buddhist painting)
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Other two Great centres of Buddhism - Afghan and Central Asia.
AFGHANISTHAN - Many statutes of Buddha and Monasteries – found.
Begram – (famous for ivory work) ; Bamiyan - Possess the tallest Buddha sculptured in early Christian era + 1000s of Caves (Natural + Artificial) where monks lived.
Buddhism was there until 7th century before Islam came.
CENTRAL ASIA :
Buddhist monasteries + stupas + inscriptions + manuscripts – Found.
Due to Kushan rule – Kharoshthi script in Prakirt language (used in inscriptions and manuscripts ) – Found.
Written Language - used for official and day-2-day correspondence and preservation and propagation of Buddhism.
SOUTH-EAST ASIA :
Indian culture – spread to S-E Asia – not through Buddhism but rather through the Brahmanical cults. (Except for Burma)
Burma : Use of name Suvarnabumi + Buddhist remains (during G.E).
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Close relationship with Java, Indonesia – known to be Surarnadivpa /Island of Gold. (Visit of chinese -à Pallavas à Kingdom of Sri Vijaya)
Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos – Indians setup two powerful Kingdoms ( Kamboja - devotes of shiva, centre of Sanskrit learning and Champa – also a shaiva + Sanksrit was official language )
Indian settlements in Indian ocean continued until 13rd century after that happt commingling with local peoples followed.
Largest Buddhist temple in Borobudur (Indonesia) and Temple of Ankorvat (larger thanBorobudur) but belongs to medival times (twin epics- written on the walls of the temple)
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Beautiful paintings – found in SL + Tun Huang caves (of china ) than in Ajanta.
Spread of Indian culture – was not only due to religion but also due to Traders and Conquerors.
Suvarnabumi + Surarnadivpa – Indicative of Indians search for Gold.
It was two-way traffic : India – from roman (Minting gold coins ) ; China (Silk growing) ; Indonesia (Growing betel leaves) - they learnt the art of growing rice from India.