80. South Asian Cultural Bondage

Southeast Asia was closely allied to India culturally and commercially. The history of Indian connection covers a period of more than fifteen hundred years.

Indonesia:
An image of Lord Ganesha is printed on high denominational currency notes. Ganesha statues are seen everywhere, including a magnificent one at the entrance of the presidential palace.

India & Java:
The name Java comes from the Sanskrit Jawadwip, which means, an (dvip) island (yawa) shaped like a barleycorn.

The construction of Prambanan temple, which was dedicated to Lord Shiva, was started in 856 AD and completed in 900 AD by King Daksa. Earlier Shiva temples were built in 675 AD on the Dieng mountain range, southwest of Medang Kamolan, the capital of the Mataram Kingdom.

India & Sumatra:
The geographical position of Sumatra marks it out as pre-eminently the earliest Hindu settlement in Indonesia. The earliest Hindu kingdom in Sumatra was Sri-Vijaya (Palembang). It was founded during or before the fourth century AD.

Bali or Balidvipa:
Bali has been justly called the island of thousands of temples. Despite the loss of about 2500 temples due to earthquake, it still contains more than 4500 large and important temples. The most important is Pura Besakih, at the foot of the mountain Gunung Agung, and associated with the Hindu Trinity. It is said to have been founded by Warmadeva Keshari (Wira Dalem Kesari). The island of Bali possesses the unique distinction of being the only Hindu colony in the Far East, which still retains its old culture and civilization to a considerable extent.

Borneo or Varunadvipa:
Islands of Brunei are called as Varuna Dwipa. The earliest evidence of Hindu colonies of Borneo is furnished by inscriptions, which have been referred on paleographic grounds to about 400 AD.

India & Cambodia or Khamboja :
India is a country of temples with unmatched splendour, but there is a certain irony in that, one of the largest and most dramatic monuments to Hinduism rests not in India, but thousand of miles away from the subcontinent, amid the ruins of a metropolis hidden in the jungles of Cambodia (formerly known as Kamboja) One of the largest cities of the ancient world, Angkor was built by King Suryavarnam II to honour Lord Vishnu in the ninth century AD.

Cambodia boasts of the largest temple complex in the world, named Ankor, from the Sanskrit meaning "the capital city". It has become a symbol of Cambodia, appearing on its national flag, and it is the country's prime attraction for visitors.

India & Burma:
Burma was known as Indra-Dvipa. Hindu settlements began to establish in Burma before the first century AD.

Literary and archelogical evidence shows that the entire culture and civilization of Burma was borrowed from India and not from China. Ptolemy, the geographer, tells us that in the 2nd century AD. Many places in Burma had Sanskrit names. Indian religions flourished in Burma. Many religious structures having the images of Indian Gods and Goddesses have also found in Burma.

India & Philipines:
Even the national flower of Philippines is the Indian Champaka. The Indian influence on Philippines is explicable by the fact that it was for 150 years a colony of a Java-based Hindu Empire of Sri Vijaya.

Thai and Siam:
Hindu civilization spread to Siam in early times from about 2nd century AD. The Hindus set up many colonies in Siam and the most important of them was Dvaravati, which ruled from Cambodia to the Bay of Bengal up to the 10th century AD when it was overthrown by the Kaundinya kingdom.

Although Thailand is today predominantly Buddhist, there are traces of Hindu influence, visible mostly in the court ceremonials. Until recently, the court Brahmins cast horoscopes, consulted omens, and performed worship of both Hindu and Buddhist deities.

Malaya or Sri Vijaya:
The greatest of the states was the Sailendra Empire, or the empire of Shri Vijaya, which became the dominant power both on sea and land in the whole of Malaysia by the eighth century. Malaysian peninsula derives its name from the Sanskrit word Malaya. Its other name was Vanga from its abundance of 'tin' because in Sanskrit 'Vanga' means tin.

The language and culture of Malasia are still Sanskrit and Hindu. Take the name of Kuala Lumpur. The suffix 'Pur' is a Sanskrit termination used to signify a township. The original Sanskrit name was Cholanampuram i.e. the city of the Cholas.

In Malaysia, the commander-in-chief is still called lakshmana - a remnant of the role played by Rama's brother in the battle of Lanka.

The Champa Today's Vietnam:
The books in use were the Vedas, Sastras, the Epics, Buddhist philosophy, Saivism, Vaishnavism, Panini's grammar alongwith its commentary, Dharmasastras of Manu and Narada, the Puranas and classical Sanskrit literature including prose and Kavya literature.

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