Dissemination of Indian culture abroad


India had been in commercial contact with the outside world as early as the middle of the third millennium BC.

Even though India is surrounded by the sea on three sides and the Himalayas on the north, this has not stopped the Indians from interacting with the rest of the world. In fact, they traveled far and wide and left their cultural footprints wherever they went.

In return, they also brought home ideas, impressions, customs and traditions from those distant lands. However, the most remarkable aspect of this contact was the spread of Indian culture and civilization to various parts of the world, especially Central Asia, Southeast Asia, China, Japan and Korea. , etc.

What is most remarkable about this propagation is that it was not a propagation by means of conquest or threat to the life of an individual or a society, but by means of the voluntary acceptance of the cultural and spiritual values ​​of India.

In this lesson, we will find out how Indian culture spread to other countries and the impact it had on those countries. This lesson also brings forward the beautiful idea that peace and friendship with other nations, other societies, other religions and other cultures help our lives and make them more meaningful.

Spread of Indian Culture by Traders, Teachers and Missionaries In ancient times, Indian traders traveled to distant lands in search of new trading opportunities. They went to Rome in the west and to China in the east. As early as the first century BC, they traveled to countries like Indonesia and Cambodia in search of gold.

They went in particular to the islands of Java, Sumatra and Malaya. This is the reason why these countries were called Suvarnadvipa (suvarna means gold and dvipa means island). These traders came from many flourishing towns like Kashi, Mathura, Ujjain, Prayag and Pataliputra and from port towns on the east coast like Mamallapuram, Tamralipti, Puri and Kaveripattanam.

The Kalinga Kingdom had trade relations with Sri Lanka during the time of Emperor Ashoka. Wherever traders went, they established cultural ties with those places. In this way, traders served as cultural ambassadors and established trade relations with the outside world. Like the east coast, many cultural establishments have also been found on and near the west coast.

Karle, Bhaja, Kanheri, Ajanta and Ellora are counted among the well-known places. Most of these centers are Buddhist monastic establishments. Universities were the most important centers of cultural interaction. They attracted a large number of students and scholars.

Scholars from abroad often visited the Nalanda University Library, which was supposed to be a seven-storey building. The students and teachers of these universities have carried Indian culture abroad with its knowledge and religion. The Chinese pilgrim Huien-tsang gave a lot of information about the universities he visited in India.

For example, Huien-tsang describes his stay in two very important universities, one in the east, Nalanda and the other in the west, Valabhi. Vikramashila was another university located on the right bank of the Ganges. The Tibetan scholar Taranatha gave the description.

The teachers and scholars of this university were so famous that the Tibetan king is said to have sent a mission to invite the head of the university to promote interest in common culture and indigenous wisdom. Another university was Odantapuri in Bihar which grew under the patronage of the Pala kings.

A number of monks migrated from this university and settled in Tibet. Two Indian teachers went to China at the invitation of the Chinese Emperor in 67 AD. Their names are Kashyapa Martanga and Dharmarakshita. They were attended by a number of teachers from universities such as Nalanda, Takshila, Vikramashila and Odantapuri.

When Acharya Kumarajiva went to China, the king asked him to translate Sanskrit texts into Chinese. The scholar Bodhidharma, specializing in the philosophy of Yoga is still revered in China and Japan. Acharya Kamalasheel from Nalanda University was invited by the King of Tibet. After his death, the Tibetans embalmed his body and kept it in a monastery in Lhasa.

Another distinguished scholar was Jnanabhadra. He went to Tibet with his two sons to preach the Dharma. A monastery was founded in Tibet on the model of the university of Odantapuri in Bihar. The Principal of Vikramashila University was Acharya Ateesha, also known as Dipankara Shreejnana. He went to Tibet in the 11th century and gave a solid foundation to Buddhism in Tibet.

Thonmi Sambhota, a Tibetan pastor was a student in Nalanda when the Chinese pilgrim Huien-tsang visited India. Thonmi Sambhota studied there and after his return he preached Buddhism in Tibet. A large number of Tibetans have embraced Buddhism. Even the king became a Buddhist.

He declared Buddhism the state religion. Among notable teachers, Kumarajiva was active in the 5th century. Diffusion of Indian culture by other means Romans or Gypsies Certain groups of Indians went abroad as vagrants. They called themselves Roma and their language was Romani, but in Europe they are famous as gypsies.

They headed west, crossing present-day Pakistan and Afghanistan. From there, their caravans crossed Iran and Iraq to Turkey. Traveling through Persia, the Taurus Mountains and Constantinople, they spread to many countries in Europe. Today they live in Greece, Bulgaria, the states of the former Yugoslavia,

Romania, Hungary, Czech and Slovak Republics, Russia, Poland, Switzerland, France, Sweden, Denmark and England. It took them almost four hundred years to spread in these countries. At that time, although they forgot their country of origin, they kept their language, customs, way of life and professions.

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