In the ancient world India, that was way ahead of other nations in her culture and civilization and that had been the cultural leader of the world had trade relations with many countries especially with the countries of South East Asia.
Indians spread and propagated their religions and civilization in East Asia, Sri Lanka, China, Greece, Babylonia and the West Asian countries. Some adventurous rulers of India established their colonies in South East Asia.
The countries of South-East Asia were rich in minerals and spices. So this region was also called Suvarna Bhumi (the land of God). Indian traders from Bengal, Saurashtra, Kalinga, Tamil Nadu and other places bought the spices and minerals from these countries of South- East Asia and sold these to Rome and other countries in the West at a high profit.
Some adventurous merchants from India married got married in the noble families in the South East Indian countries and therefore, settled there permanently.
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India and Cambodia
The kingdom of Cambodia was established by a Hindu merchant namely Kundilya who after marrying a princess of the land settled in Cambodia. Not only the princess but also the courtiers and others adopted Hindu religion, customs and maners. Jayaraman I, II, VII, Yashovarman and Suryavarman were brave rulers of this kingdom. All the rulers of this kingdom had Hindu names.
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India and Java
In 132 AD a Hindu King, named Devavarman, established the kingdom of Java (Yavadvipa). When the Chinese traveler Fa-hien visited Java in 414 AD he founded the Hindu religion flourishing there. According to Fahien, the king and the subjects followed Hindu religion. In the honour of their Gods, Shiva, Vishnu and Brahma, they built many temples. Many depicted on the walls of these Javanese temples. It seems that the epic the Mahabharata was also known to them.
However, most of the Javanese, in the 8th century AD, got themselves converted to monasteries among them the Borobudur Stupa is the most famous; these stupas was built by the rulers of Shailendra dynasty. It is the biggest stupa in the world and contains 436 images of the Buddha. It is known as the eighth wonder of the world.
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India and Sumatra
Sumatra, a Hindu Kingdom, was founded by a Pallava prince Srivijaya. So it was also called Srivijaya. According to I’tsang, the Chinese traveler, from the 5th century to 10th century India became and remained a centre of Indian culture, as well as Buddhist learning.
India and Bali
Bali too was a Hindu colony. It still has the traces of Hindu culture. The people of Bali perform ceremonies related to Hindu religion and culture of their ancestors. They worship Brahma Shiva and Ganesha and epics like the Ramayana are still popular with them. The Balian society too has a caste system.
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India and Sri Lanka
It is believed, though traditionally, that the present inhabitants of Sri Lanka, who are called Sinhalese, have their origin in an old branch of Aryans called Simha (lion) tribe.
Indian Tamilians, during the times of imperial Cholas, had a powerful influence over Sri Lanka. And during Asoka’s reign, India exercised its cultural influence by sending the son and daughter of Asoka the great to spread Buddhism, that continues to be a dominant faith in this part of the world.
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India and Burma
The Hindus, before the first century AD, had set up their colonies in Burma. In Burma, the people developed the Theraveda form of Buddhism; it was during the times of Asoka that many Buddhist preachers visited Burma with the message of the Buddha.
Later on as Hinduism also spread in some parts of Burma and many Hindu temples were contrasted. Burma was a part of India during the British period till 1935, when it was separated by an Act of the British Parliament.
India and Champa of Anam
With a good deal of Hindu culture in South-East Asia, Champa was, in Indo-China region, a powerful Hindu Kingdom. Here, people worshipped Lord Shiva. They were constantly at war with Kambuja. However, they were able enough to defend themselves against their enemies till they fell finally before the Mongols. Amravati was the capital of Champa, that was a centre of Sanskrit leanings.
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India and Afghanistan
There are hundreds of Buddhist monasteries and stupas spread over the length and breadth of Afghanistan. The tallest Buddha statue at Baniyan has been found in Afghanistan. It has been recorded in history that Buddhism continued to be the main religion of the Afghans until it was captured and overpowered by Islam in the 8th century.
India and the Central Asia
From the 1st century Ad, that is the time of Kanishka, Buddhist missionaries began visiting China, Afghanistan and Central Asian countries. After China; Korea, Japan and Tibet too became Buddhist art and architecture.
India and Siyam
Siam, an important part of South-East Asia, now modern Thailand, came under the authority of Indians in about 3rd century AD. Siam’s people were influenced by the art, religion, language and literature of India. Even today, they are mainly Buddhist and have built beautiful monasteries. The stories of the Ramayana and the Mahabharata are very popular in this part of the South-East Asia.
Recent archaeological discoveries have shown that the Hindus that included the civilization to South-East Asia, Central Asia, China, Japan, Indonesia and Indo-China. In The Gobi desert and Khotan the influence and impact of Indianisation has been found to be so complete that it seemed as if a person was moving in an ancient city in Punjab.
It can be, after going through in detail the history of the South-East Asia, it can be surmised that the India influence on these countries has been obtained not by conquest or diplomacy, but by goodwill, love and truth, peace and brotherhood. This heritage of India is her greatest strength.
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