Greater India is the historical extent of Indian culture beyond the Indian subcontinent. This particularly concerns the spread of Hinduism and Buddhism from India to Southeast Asia, Central Asia and China by the Silk Road during the early centuries of the Common Era, and the spread of the Indian writing systems like the Pallava script of the south Indian Pallava dynasty to Southeast Asia and Siddhaṃ script to East Asia through Gupta Empire. by the travellers and maritime traders of the 5th to 15th centuries. It also describes the establishment of Indianised Kingdoms in Southeast Asia and the spread of the Indian script, architecture and administration. To the west, Greater India overlaps with Greater Persia in the Hindu Kush and Pamir Mountains. The term is tied to the geographic uncertainties surrounding the "Indies" during the Age of Exploration.
In medieval Europe the concept of "three Indias" was in common circulation. Greater India was the southern part of South Asia, Lesser India was the northern part of South Asia, and Middle India was the region near Middle East. The name Greater India (Portuguese: India Maior) was used at least from the mid-15th century. The term, which seems to have been used with variable precision, sometimes meant only the Indian subcontinent; Europeans used a variety of terms related to South Asia to designate the South Asian peninsula, including High India, Greater India, Exterior India and India aquosa.
However, in some accounts of European nautical voyages, Greater India (or India Major) extended from the Malabar Coast (present-day Kerala) to India extra Gangem (lit. "India, beyond the Ganges," but usually the East Indies, i.e. present-day Malay Archipelago) and India Minor, from Malabar to Sind. Farther India was sometimes used to cover all of modern Southeast Asia and sometimes only the mainland portion. Until the fourtheenth century, India could also mean areas along the Red Sea, including Somalia, South Arabia, and Ethiopia (e.g., Diodorus of Sicily of the first century BCE says that "the Nile rises in India" and Marco Polo of the fourteenth century says that "Lesser India ... contains ... Abash [Abyssinia]")
In late 19th-century geography "Greater India" referred to Hindustan (Northwestern Subcontinent) which included the Punjab, the Himalayas, and extended eastwards to Indochina (including Burma), parts of Indonesia (namely, the Sunda Islands, Borneo and Celebes), and the Philippines." German atlases sometimes distinguished Vorder-Indien (Anterior India) as the South Asian peninsula and Hinter-Indien as Southeast Asia.
In plate tectonic models of the India–Asia collision, "Greater India" signifies "the Indian sub-continent plus a postulated northern extension". Although its usage in geology pre-dates plate tectonic theory, the term has seen increased usage since the 1970s.
The concept of the Indianised kingdoms, first described by George Coedès, is based on Hindu and Buddhist cultural and economic influences in Southeast Asia. Butuan, Champa, Dvaravati, Funan, Gangga Negara, Kadaram, Kalingga, Kutai, Langkasuka, Pagan, Pan Pan, Po-ni, Tarumanagara and Tondo were among the earliest Hindu kingdoms in Southeast Asia, established around the 1st to 4th centuries CE. Despite being culturally akin to Hindu cultures, these kingdoms were indigenous and independent of the Indian mainland. States such as Srivijaya, Majapahit and the Khmer empire developed territories and economies that rivalled those in India itself. Borobudur in Java, for example, is the largest Buddhist monument ever built. Coedès has been criticised for understating the Southeast Asian element of these kingdoms, in an unconscious echo of the European "civilising mission."
Professor Robert Lingat — characterised by law professor John Henry Wigmore as the greatest (and almost the only) authority on Siamese legal history — tended to emphasise the contribution of Southeast Asian societies and rulers to the formation of these states. In particular, where Coedès saw Indian merchants as the founders of these states, Lingat saw Southeast Asian rulers as founding them and then importing Indian ritual specialists as advisers on rajadharma, or the practices of Indian kingship. This view is supported by the argument that Indian merchants would not have possessed the ritual knowledge which became so prominent in these kingdoms.
These Indianised kingdoms developed a close affinity with and internalised Indian religious, cultural and economic practices without significant direct input from Indian rulers themselves. The issue remains controversial; Quaritch Wales in particular is cited as holding that Indianisation was the work of Indian traders and merchants as opposed to political leaders, although the travels of Buddhist monks such as Atisha later became important. There was also a merchant named Magadu, known to history as Wareru and founder of the Hanthawaddy Kingdom, who commissioned Mon specialists in Indian traditions to compile the Code of Wareru, which has formed the basis for Burmese common law down to the present. Most Indianised kingdoms combined both Hindu and Buddhist beliefs and practices in a syncretic manner. Kertanagara, the last king of Singhasari, described himself as "Sivabuddha", a simultaneous incarnation of the Hindu god Shiva and the Buddha.
Southeast Asian rulers enthusiastically adopted elements of rajadharma (Hindu and Buddhist beliefs, codes, and court practices) to legitimise their own rule and constructed cities, such as Angkor, to affirm royal power by reproducing a map of sacred space derived from the Ramayana and Mahabharata. Southeast Asian rulers frequently adopted lengthy Sanskrit titles and founded cities, such as Ayutthaya in Thailand, named after those in the Indian epics.
Cultural and trading relations between the powerful Chola dynasty of South India and the Southeast Asian Hindu kingdoms led the Bay of Bengal to be called "The Chola Lake", and the Chola attacks on Srivijaya in the 10th century CE are the sole example of military attacks by Indian rulers against Southeast Asia. The Pala dynasty of Bengal, which controlled the heartland of Buddhist India, maintained close economic, cultural and religious ties, particularly with Srivijaya.
Individual mainland kingdoms
- Langkasuka: Langkasuka (-langkha Sanskrit for "resplendent land" -sukkha of "bliss") was an ancient Hindu kingdom located in the Malay Peninsula. The kingdom, along with Old Kedah settlement, are probably the earliest territorial footholds founded on the Malay Peninsula. According to tradition, the founding of the kingdom happened in the 2nd century; Malay legends claim that Langkasuka was founded at Kedah, and later moved to Pattani.
- Funan: Funan was a polity that encompassed the southernmost part of the Indochinese peninsula during the 1st to 6th centuries. Centered at the lower Mekong, Funan is noted as the oldest Hindu culture in this region, which suggests prolonged socio-economic interaction with maritime trading partners of the Indosphere in the west. Cultural and religious ideas had reached Funan via the Indian Ocean trade route. Trade with India had commenced well before 500 BC as Sanskrit hadn't yet replaced Pali. Indian author Dr. Pragya Mishra even postulates: "Funan Was One Of The Colonies Established By Indians Within Cambodia...[sic]" in his essay "Cultural History of Indian Diaspora in Cambodia". Funans language has been determined as to have been an early form of Khmer and its written form was Sanskrit.
- Chenla was the successor polity of Funan that existed from around the late 6th century until the early 9th century in Indochina, preceding the Khmer Empire. Like its predecessor Funan, Chenla occupied a strategic position where the maritime trade routes of the Indosphere and the Sinosphere converged, resulting in prolonged socio-economic and cultural influence and the adoption of the epigraphic system of the south Indian Pallava dynasty and Chalukya dynasty. Chenla's first ruler Vīravarman adopted the idea of divine kingship and deployed the concept of Harihara, the syncretistic Hindu "god that embodied multiple conceptions of power". His successors continued this tradition, thus obeying the code of conduct Manusmṛti, the Laws of Manu for the Kshatriya warrior caste and conveying the idea of political and religious authority.
- Champa: The kingdom of Champa (or Lin-yi in Chinese records) controlled what is now south and central Vietnam from approximately 192 through 1697. The dominant religion of the Cham people was Hinduism and the culture was heavily influenced by India. It was later conquered by the Vietnamese, then known as Dai Viet (大越).
- Khmer empire: The Khmer Empire was established by the early 9th century in a mythical initiation and consecration ceremony to claim political legitimacy by founder Jayavarman II at Mount Kulen (Mount Mahendra) in 802 C.E. A succession of powerful sovereigns, continuing the Hindu devaraja cult tradition, reigned over the classical era of Khmer civilization until the 11th century. A new dynasty of provincial origin introduced Buddhism as royal religious discontinuities and decentralisation result. The royal chronology ends in the 14th century. Administration, agriculture, architecture, hydrology, logistics, urban planning and the arts saw an unprecedented degree of development, refinement and accomplishment in execution on the basis of a distinct expression of Hindu cosmology.
- Mon kingdoms: From the 9th century until the abrupt end of the Hanthawaddy Kingdom in 1539, the Mon kingdoms were notable for facilitating Indianised cultural exchange in lower Burma, in particular by having strong ties with Sri Lanka.
- Sukhothai Kingdom: The first Tai peoples to gain independence from the Khmer Empire and start its own kingdom in the 13th century. Sukhotai was a precursor to for the Ayutthaya Kingdom and the Kingdom of Siam. Though ethnically Thai, the Sukhothai kingdom in many ways was a continuation of the Buddhist Mon-Dvaravati civilizations, as well as the neighboring Khmer Empire.
Individual island kingdoms
- Srivijaya: From the 7th to 13th centuries Srivijaya, a maritime empire centred on the island of Sumatra in Indonesia, had adopted Mahayana and Vajrayana Buddhism under a line of rulers from Dapunta Hyang Sri Jayanasa to the Sailendras. A stronghold of Vajrayana Buddhism, Srivijaya attracted pilgrims and scholars from other parts of Asia. I Ching reports that the kingdom was home to more than a thousand Buddhist scholars. A notable Buddhist scholar of local origin, Dharmakirti, taught Buddhist philosophy in Srivijaya and Nalanda, and was the teacher of Atisha. Most of the time, this Buddhist Malay empire enjoyed cordial relationship with China and the Pala Empire in Bengal, and the 860 Nalanda inscription records that maharaja Balaputra dedicated a monastery at the Nalanda university in Pala territory. The kingdom ceased to exist in the 13th century due to various factors, including the expansion of the Javanese, Singhasari, and Majapahit empires.
- Medang: Medang i Bhumi Mataram Kingdom flourished between the 8th and 11th centuries. It was first centred in central Java before later moving to east Java. This kingdom produced numbers of Hindu-Buddhist temples in Java, including Borobudur Buddhist mandala and Prambanan Trimurti Hindu temple dedicated mainly for Shiva. The Sailendras are the ruling family of this kingdom in an earlier stage in central Java before replaced by the Isyana Dynasty.
- Majapahit empire: Majapahit empire centred in East Java succeeded the Singhasari empire and flourished in Indonesian archipelago between the 13th and 15th centuries. Noted for their naval expansion the Javanese spanned west—east from Lamuri in Aceh to Wanin in Papua. Majapahit was one of the last and greatest Hindu empires in Maritime Southeast Asia. Most of Balinese Hindu culture, traditions and civilisations were derived from Majapahit legacy. A large number of Majapahit nobles, priests, and artisans found their home in Bali after the decline of Majapahit to Islamic Demak Sultanate.
- Kingdom of Tondo: Originally an Indianised kingdom in the 10th century, Tondo capitalised on being central to the long-existing ancient regional trading routes throughout the archipelago to include among others, initiating diplomatic and commercial ties with China during the Ming Dynasty. Thus it became an established force in trade throughout Southeast Asia and East Asia.
Indian cultural sphere
The use of Greater India to refer to an Indian cultural sphere was popularised by a network of Bengali scholars in the 1920s who were all members of the Calcutta-based Greater India Society. The movement's early leaders included the historian R. C. Majumdar (1888–1980); the philologists Suniti Kumar Chatterji (1890–1977) and P. C. Bagchi (1898–1956), and the historians Phanindranath Bose and Kalidas Nag (1891–1966).
Some of their formulations were inspired by concurrent excavations in Angkor by French archaeologists and by the writings of French Indologist Sylvain Lévi. The scholars of the society postulated a benevolent ancient Indian cultural colonisation of Southeast Asia, in stark contrast—in their view—to the colonialism of the early 20th century.
The term Greater India and the notion of an explicit Hindu colonisation of ancient Southeast Asia have been linked to both Indian nationalism and Hindu nationalism. However, many Indian nationalists, like Jawaharlal Nehru and Rabindranath Tagore, although receptive to "an idealisation of India as a benign and uncoercive world civiliser and font of global enlightenment," stayed away from explicit "Greater India" formulations. In addition, some scholars have seen the Hindu/Buddhist acculturation in ancient Southeast Asia as "a single cultural process in which Southeast Asia was the matrix and South Asia the mediatrix." In the field of art history, especially in American writings, the term survived longer due to the influence of art theorist Ananda Coomaraswamy. Coomaraswamy's view of pan-Indian art history was influenced by the "Calcutta cultural nationalists."
By some accounts Greater India consists of "lands including Burma, Java, Cambodia, Bali, and the former Champa and Funan polities of present-day Vietnam," in which pre-Islamic Indian culture left an "imprint in the form of monuments, inscriptions and other traces of the historic "Indianising" process." By some other accounts, many Pacific societies and "most of the Buddhist world including Ceylon, Tibet, Central Asia, and even Japan were held to fall within this web of Indianising culture colonies" This particular usage—implying cultural "sphere of influence" of India—was promoted by the Greater India Society, formed by a group of Bengali men of letters, and is not found before the 1920s. The term Greater India was used in historical writing in India into the 1970s.
From about the 1st century, Indian civilisation started to strongly influence Southeast Asian countries. Trade routes linked India with southern Burma, central and southern Siam, Malay peninsula and Sumatra all the way to Java, lower Cambodia and Champa (modern day Southern Vietnam). Numerous urbanised coastal settlements were established there, and numbers of local polities modelled after Hindu civic organisation began to sprung in the region.
For more than a thousand years, Indian Hindu-Buddhist influence was therefore the major factor that brought a certain level of cultural unity to the various states of the region. The Pali and Sanskrit languages and the Indian script, together with Theravada and Mahayana Buddhism, Brahmanism and Hinduism, were transmitted from direct contact as well as through sacred texts and Indian literature, such as the Ramayana and the Mahabharata epics.
From the 5th to the 13th centuries, Southeast Asia had developed some prosperous and very powerful colonial empires that became extremely active in Hindu-Buddhist artistic creations and architectural developments. Some of these art and architectural creations are even rivalled, or even exceeded those built in India — especially in its sheer size, design and aesthetic achievements. The notable examples are Borobudur in Java and Angkor monuments in Cambodia. The Srivijaya Empire to the south and the Khmer Empire to the north competed for influence in the region.
A defining characteristic of the cultural link between Southeast Asia and the Indian subcontinent is the spread of ancient Indian Vedic/Hindu and Buddhist culture and philosophy into Myanmar, Thailand, Indonesia, Malaya, Laos and Cambodia. Indian scripts are found in Southeast Asian islands ranging from Sumatra, Java, Bali, south Sulawesi and most of the Philippines.
The diffusion of Indian culture is demonstrated with the following examples:
The Ramayana and the Mahabharata have had a large impact on the South and Southeast Asian continent. However, the Mahabharata has faded from the memory of many Southeast Asian nations and are not as widely known as the Ramayana.
One of the most tangible evidence of dharmic tradition commonality, probably is the widespread of Añjali Mudrā as the gesture of greeting and respect. It is demonstrated in Indian namasté, and similar gestures are known in Southeast Asia, as it cognate to the Cambodian sampeah, Indonesian sembah and Thai wai.
Religion, mythology and folklore
- Hinduism is practised by the majority of Bali's population. The Cham people of Vietnam still practices Hinduism as well. Though officially Buddhist, many Thai, Khmer, and Burmese people also worship Hindu gods in a form of syncretism. This echoes the beliefs of the past Hindu civilizations such as the Khmer Empire.
- Brahmins have had a large role in spreading Hinduism in Southeast Asia. Even today many moarchies such as the royal court of Thailand still perform Hindu rituals for the King performed by Brahmins.
- Garuda, a Hindu mythological figure, is present in the coats of arms of Indonesia, Thailand and Ulan Bator.
- Muay Thai, a fighting art that is the thai version of the Hindu Musti-yuddha style of fighting.
- Kaharingan, an indigenous religion followed by the Dayak people of Borneo, is categorised as a form of Hinduism in Indonesia.
- Philippine mythology includes the supreme god Bathala and the concept of Diwata and the still-current belief in Karma—all derived from Hindu-Buddhist concepts.
- Malay folklore contains a rich number of Indian-influenced mythological characters, such as Bidadari, Jentayu, Garuda and Naga.
- Wayang shadow puppets and classical dance-dramas of Indonesia, Cambodia, Malaysia and Thailand took stories from episodes of Ramayana and Mahabharata.
Architecture and monuments
- The same style of Hindu temple architecture was used in several ancient temples in South East Asia including Angkor Wat, which was dedicated to Hindu god Vishnu and is shown on the flag of Cambodia, also Prambanan in Central Java, the largest Hindu temple in Indonesia, is dedicated to Trimurti — Shiva, Vishnu and Brahma.
- Borobudur in Central Java, Indonesia, is the world's largest Buddhist monument. It took shape of a giant stone mandala crowned with stupas and believed to be the combination of Indian-origin Buddhist ideas with the previous megalithic tradition of native Austronesian step pyramid.
- The minarets of 15th- to 16th-century mosques in Indonesia, such as the Great Mosque of Demak and Kudus mosque resemble those of Majapahit Hindu temples.
- The Batu Caves in Malaysia are one of the most popular Hindu shrines outside India. It is the focal point of the annual Thaipusam festival in Malaysia and attracts over 1.5 million pilgrims, making it one of the largest religious gatherings in history.
- Erawan Shrine, dedicated to Brahma, is one of the most popular religious shrines in Thailand.
Scholars like Sheldon Pollock have used the term Sanskrit Cosmopolis to describe the region, and argued for millennium-long cultural exchanges without necessarily involving migration of peoples or colonisation. Pollock's 2006 book The Language of the Gods in the World of Men makes a case for studying the region as comparable with Latin Europe and argues that the Sanskrit language was its unifying element.
Sanskrit and related languages have also influenced their Sino-Tibetan-speaking neighbours to the north through the spread of Buddhist texts in translation. Buddhism was spread to China by Mahayanist missionaries sent by Emperor Ashoka mostly through translations of Buddhist Hybrid Sanskrit and Classical Sanskrit texts, and many terms were transliterated directly and added to the Chinese vocabulary. The situation in Tibet is similar; many Sanskrit texts survive only in Tibetan translation (in the Tanjur).
In Southeast Asia, languages such as Thai and Lao contain many loan words from Sanskrit, as does Khmer to a lesser extent. For example, in Thai, Rāvaṇa, the legendary emperor of Sri Lanka, is called 'Thosakanth' which is derived from his Sanskrit name 'Daśakaṇṭha' ("having ten necks").
Many Sanskrit loanwords are also found in Austronesian languages, such as Javanese particularly the old form from which nearly half the vocabulary is derived from the language. Other Austronesian languages, such as traditional Malay, modern Indonesian, also derive much of their vocabulary from Sanskrit, albeit to a lesser extent, with a large proportion of words being derived from Arabic. Similarly, Philippine languages such as Tagalog have many Sanskrit loanwords.
A Sanskrit loanword encountered in many Southeast Asian languages is the word bhāṣā, or spoken language, which is used to mean language in general, for example bahasa in Malay, Indonesian and Tausug, basa in Javanese, Sundanese, and Balinese, phasa in Thai and Lao, bhasa in Burmese, and phiesa in Khmer.
- In the Malay Archipelago: Indonesian, Javanese and Malay have absorbed a large amount of Sanskrit loanwords into their respective lexicons (see: Sanskrit loan words in Indonesian). Many languages of native lowland Filipinos such as Tagalog, Ilocano and Visayan contain numerous Sanskrit loanwords.
- In Mainland Southeast Asia:Thai,Lao, Burmese, and Khmer language has absorbed a significant amount of Sanskrit as well as Pali.
- Many Indonesian names have Sanskrit origin (e.g. Dewi Sartika, Megawati Sukarnoputri, Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, Teuku Wisnu).
- Southeast Asian languages are traditionally written with Indic alphabets and therefor have extra letters not pronounced in the local language, so that original Sanskrit spelling can be preserved. An example is how the name of the King of Thailand, Bhumibol Adulyadej, is spelled in Sanskrit as "Bhumibol"ภูมิพล, yet is pronounced in Thai as "Phumipon" พูมิพน using Thai-Sanskrit pronunciation rules since the original Sanskrit sounds do not exist in Thai.
- Suvarnabhumi is a toponym that has been historically associated with Southeast Asia. In Sanskrit it means "The Land of Gold". Thailand's Suvarnabhumi Airport is named after this toponym, signifying its intent to be a major transport hub of Southeast Asia.
- Several of Indonesian toponyms has Indian parallel or origin, such as Madura with Mathura, Serayu and Sarayu river, Semeru with Sumeru mountain, Kalingga from Kalinga Kingdom, and Ngayogyakarta from Ayodhya.
- Siamese ancient city of Ayutthaya also derived from Ramayana's Ayodhya.
- Names of places could simply renders their Sanskrit origin, such as Singapore, from Singapura (Singha-pura the "lion city"), Jakarta from Jaya and kreta ("complete victory").
- Some of Indonesian regencies such as Indragiri Hulu and Indragiri Hilir derived from Indragiri River, Indragiri itself means "mountain of Indra".
- Some Thai toponyms also often have Indian parallels or Sanskrit origin, although the spellings are adapted to the Siamese tongue, such as Ratchaburi from Raja-puri ("king's city"), Buriram from Puri-Rama ("city of Rama"), and Nakhon Si Thammarat from Nagara Sri Dharmaraja.
- The tendency to use Sanskrit for modern neologism also continued to modern day. In 1962 Indonesia changed the colonial name of New Guinean city of Hollandia to Jayapura ("glorious city"), Orange mountain range to Jayawijaya Mountains.
- While Malaysia named their new government seat as Putrajaya ("prince of glory") in 1999.
- Languages and Cultures: Studies in Honor of Edgar C. Polomé by Mohammad Ali Jazayery,Edgar C. Polomé,Werner Winter p.742
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- Southeast Asia: A Historical Encyclopedia, from Angkor Wat to East Timor, by Keat Gin Ooi p.642
- Hindu-Buddhist Architecture in Southeast Asia by Daigorō Chihara p.226
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- (Azurara 1446)
- Lewis, Martin W.; Wigen, Kären (1997). The Myth of Continents: A Critique of Metageography. University of California Press. p. 269. ISBN 978-0-520-20742-4.
- Pedro Machado, José (1992). "Terras de Além: no Relato da Viagem de Vasco da Gama". Journal of the University of Coimbra. 37: 333–.
- (Beazley 1910, p. 708) Quote: "Azurara's hyperbole, indeed, which celebrates the Navigator Prince as joining Orient and Occident by continual voyaging, as transporting to the extremities of the East the creations of Western industry, does not scruple to picture the people of the Greater and the Lesser India welcoming his ships (which never passed beyond Sierra Leone), praising his generosity, and even experiencing his hospitality."
- (Beazley 1910, p. 708) Quote: "Among all the confusion of the various Indies in Mediaeval nomenclature, "Greater India" can usually be recognized as restricted to the "India proper" of the modern world."
- Lewis, Martin W.; Wigen, Kären (1997). The Myth of Continents: A Critique of Metageography. University of California Press. p. 274. ISBN 978-0-520-20742-4.
- (Wheatley 1982, p. 13) Quote: "From the time when Southeast Asia first rose above their horizon, Europeans—the infinitesimal number of them who cared about such matters, that is—tended to treat that vague and insubstantial region beneath the sunrise as simply a more distant part of India. This practice went back at least to Claudius Ptolemy or, possibly, one of his redactors, who subsumed a good part of the region under the rubric "Trans-Gangetic India." Subsequently the whole area came to be identified with one of the "Three Indies," though whether India Major or Minor, Greater or Lesser, Superior or Inferior, seems often to have been a personal preference of the author concerned. When Europeans began to penetrate into Southeast Asia in earnest, they continued this tradition, attaching to various of the constituent territories such labels as Further India or Hinterindien, the East Indies, the Indian Archipelago, Insulinde, and, in acknowledgment of the presence of a competing culture, Indochina."
- (Caverhill 1767)
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Footnote 1. Cf. Quaritch Wales, Ancient Siamese Government and Administration, London, 1934, Chapters VII, VIII.
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The Mekong delta played a central role in the development of Cambodia’s earliest complex polities from approximately 500 BC to AD 600.
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The development of maritime commerce and Hindu influence stimulated early state formation in polities along the coasts of mainland Southeast Asia, where passive indigenous populations embraced notions of statecraft and ideology introduced by outsiders...
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The language of Funan was...
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- (Bayley 2004, p. 710)
- Ram Gopal and K. V. Paliwal, Hindu renaissance, page 83, Hindu Writers Forum, 2005 Quote: "Colonial and Cultural Expansion (of Ancient India)", written by R. C. Majumdar, concluded with: "We may conclude with a broad survey of the Indian colonies in the Far East. For nearly fifteen hundred years, and down to a period when the Hindus had lost their independence in their own home, Hindu kings were ruling over Indo-China and the numerous islands of the Indian Archipelago, from Sumatra to New Guinea. Indian religion, Indian culture, Indian laws and Indian government moulded the lives of the primitive races all over this wide region, and they imbibed a more elevated moral spirit and a higher intellectual taste through the religion, art, and literature of India. In short, the people were lifted to a higher plane of civilisation."
- (Bayley 2004, p. 712)
- Review by 'SKV' of The Hindu Colony of Cambodia by Phanindranath Bose [Adyar, Madras: Theosophical Publishing House 1927] in The Vedic Magazine and Gurukula Samachar 26: 1927, pp. 620–1.
- Lyne Bansat-Boudon, Roland Lardinois and Isabelle Ratié, Sylvain Lévi (1863-1935), page 196, Brepols, 2007, ISBN 9782503524474 Quote: "The ancient Hindus of yore were not simply a spiritual people, always busy with mystical problems and never troubling themselves with the questions of 'this world'... India also has its Napoleons and Charlemagnes, its Bismarcks and Machiavellis. But the real charm of Indian history does not consist in these aspirants after universal power, but in its peaceful and benevolent Imperialism—a unique thing in the history of mankind. The colonisers of India did not go with sword and fire in their hands; they used... the weapons of their superior culture and religion... The Buddhist age has attracted special attention, and the French savants have taken much pains to investigate the splendid monuments of the Indian cultural empire in the Far East."
- (Keenleyside 1982, pp. 213–214) Quote: "Starting in the 1920s under the leadership of Kalidas Nag-and continuing even after independence-a number of Indian scholars wrote extensively and rapturously about the ancient Hindu cultural expansion into and colonisation of South and Southeast Asia. They called this vast region "Greater India"–a dubious appellation for a region which to a limited degree, but with little permanence, had been influenced by Indian religion, art, architecture, literature and administrative customs. As a consequence of this renewed and extensive interest in Greater India, many Indians came to believe that the entire South and Southeast Asian region formed the cultural progeny of India; now that the sub-continent was reawakening, they felt, India would once again assert its non-political ascendancy over the area.... While the idea of reviving the ancient Greater India was never officially endorsed by the Indian National Congress, it enjoyed considerable popularity in nationalist Indian circles. Indeed, Congress leaders made occasional references to Greater India while the organisation's abiding interest in the problems of overseas Indians lent indirect support to the Indian hope of restoring the alleged cultural and spiritual unity of South and Southeast Asia."
- (Thapar 1968, pp. 326–330) Quote: "At another level, it was believed that the dynamics of many Asian cultures, particularly those of Southeast Asia, arose from Hindu culture, and the theory of Greater India derived sustenance from Pan-Hinduism. A curious pride was taken in the supposed imperialist past of India, as expressed in sentiments such as these: "The art of Java and Kambuja was no doubt derived from India and fostered by the Indian rulers of these colonies." (Majumdar, R. C. et al. (1950), An Advanced History of India, London: Macmillan, p. 221) This form of historical interpretation, which can perhaps best be described as being inspired by Hindu nationalism, remains an influential school of thinking in present historical writings."
- (Bayley 2004, pp. 735–736) Quote:"The Greater India visions which Calcutta thinkers derived from French and other sources are still known to educated anglophone Indians, especially but not exclusively Bengalis from the generation brought up in the traditions of post-Independence Nehruvian secular nationalism. One key source of this knowledge is a warm tribute paid to Sylvain Lévi and his ideas of an expansive, civilising India by Jawaharlal Nehru himself, in his celebrated book, The Discovery of India, which was written during one of Nehru’s periods of imprisonment by the British authorities, first published in 1946, and reprinted many times since.... The ideas of both Lévi and the Greater India scholars were known to Nehru through his close intellectual links with Tagore. Thus Lévi’s notion of ancient Indian voyagers leaving their invisible ‘imprints’ throughout east and southeast Asia was for Nehru a recapitulation of Tagore’s vision of nationhood, that is an idealisation of India as a benign and uncoercive world civiliser and font of global enlightenment. This was clearly a perspective which defined the Greater India phenomenon as a process of religious and spiritual tutelage, but it was not a Hindu supremacist idea of India’s mission to the lands of the trans-gangetic Sarvabhumi or Bharat Varsha."
- (Narasimhaiah 1986) Quote: "To him (Nehru), the so-called practical approach meant, in practice, shameless expediency, and so he would say, "the sooner we are not practical, the better". He rebuked a Member of Indian Parliament who sought to revive the concept of Greater India by saying that ‘the honorable Member lived in the days of Bismarck; Bismarck is dead, and his politics more dead!' He would consistently plead for an idealistic approach and such power as the language wields is the creation of idealism—politics’ arch enemy—which, however, liberates the leader of a national movement from narrow nationalism, thus igniting in the process a dead fact of history, in the sneer, "For him the Bastille has not fallen!" Though Nehru was not to the language born, his utterances show a remarkable capacity for introspection and sense of moral responsibility in commenting on political processes."
- (Wheatley 1982, pp. 27–28) Quote: "The tide of revisionism that is currently sweeping through Southeast Asian historiography has in effect taken us back almost to the point where we have to consider reevaluating almost every text bearing on the protohistoric period and many from later times. Although this may seem a daunting proposition, it is nonetheless supremely worth attempting, for the process by which the peoples of western Southeast Asia came to think of themselves as part of Bharatavarsa (even though they had no conception of "India" as we know it) represents one of the most impressive instances of large-scale acculturation in the history of the world. Sylvain Levi was perhaps overenthusiastic when he claimed that India produced her definitive masterpieces—he was thinking of Angkor and the Borobudur—through the efforts of foreigners or on foreign soil. Those masterpieces were not strictly Indian achievements: rather were they the outcome of a Eutychian fusion of natures so melded together as to constitute a single cultural process in which Southeast Asia was the matrix and South Asia the mediatrix."
- (Guha-Thakurta 1992, pp. 159–167)
- (Bayley 2004, p. 713)
- (Handy 1930, p. 364) Quote: "An equally significant movement is one that brought about among the Indian intelligentsia of Calcutta a few years ago the formation of what is known as the "Greater India Society," whose membership is open "to all serious students of the Indian cultural expansion and to all sympathizers of such studies and activities." Though still in its infancy, this organisation has already a large membership, due perhaps as much as anything else to the enthusiasm of its Secretary and Convener, Dr. Kalidas Nag, whose scholarly affiliations with the Orientalists in the University of Paris and studies in Indochina, Insulindia and beyond, have equipped him in an unusual way for the work he has chosen-namely, stimulating interest in and spreading knowledge of Greater Indian culture of the past, present and future. The Society's President is Professor Jadunath Sarkar, Vice-Chancellor of Calcutta University, and its Council is made up largely of professors on the faculty of the University and members of the staff of the Calcutta Museum, as well as of Indian authors, journalists, and so on. Its activities, besides meetings, have included illustrated lecture series at the various universities throughout India by Dr. Nag, the assembling of a research library and the publication of monographs, of which four very excellent examples have already been printed: 1)Greater India, by Kalidas Nag, M.A., D.Litt(Paris), 2) India and China, by Prabodh Chandra Bagchi, M.A., D.Litt., 3) Indian Culture in Java and Sumatra, by Bijan Raj Chatterjee, D.Litt. (Punjab), Ph.D (London), and 4) India and Central Asia, by Niranjan Prasad Chakravarti, M.A., Ph.D.(cantab.)."
- (Majumdar 1960, pp. 222–223)
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... they are now wholly substantiated by the other inscriptions.... They are all Indian, with the exception of one written in Persian... dated in the same year as the Hindu tablet over it... if actual Gabrs (i.e. Zoroastrians, or Parsis) were among the number of worshipers at the shrine, they must have kept in the background, crowded out by Hindus, because the typical features Hanway mentions are distinctly Indian, not Zoroastrian... met two Hindu Fakirs who announced themselves as 'on a pilgrimage to this Baku Jawala Ji'....
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