Sunday, May 10, 2020
Thanks to Othisaivu Ramasamy's recent blog post, I found George Coedes’ monumental work, ‘The Indianized States of Southeast Asia.
Published in 1965, the book is an authoritative analysis of India’s ‘Sanskritization’ and ‘Cultural Civilizing’, as Coedes calls, of the ‘Farther India’, a landmass which includes the current Myanmar, Thailand, Cambodia, Malaysia, Indonesian archipelago and Vietnam, almost one-third of the Asian continent.
The interesting part is his analysis of how India managed to convert the native peoples into adopting to its religion, language, customs, systems, and practices, as against the failure of China to do so, having arrived almost in the same century, 1 AD, or little later.
One could readily see the soft power that today’s India exerts on global stages vs. China’s current domineering and expansionist aggression as a natural extension of their individual manifestations over millennia.
Here is how Coedes concludes his chapter on ‘Indianization’:
“It is astonishing that in countries so close to China - countries that entered into commercial and diplomatic relations with her from the first centuries of the Christian Era - the cultural influence of the Middle Kingdom has been insignificant, although it was intense in the deltas of Tongking and North Vietnam.
We are struck by the fundamental difference of the results obtained in the countries of the Far East by the civilizing activity of China and India.
The reason for this lies in the radical difference in the methods of colonization employed by the Chinese and the Indians. The Chinese proceeded by conquest and annexation; soldiers occupied the country, and officials spread Chinese civilization.
Indian penetration or infiltration seems almost always to have been peaceful; nowhere was it accompanied by the destruction that brought dishonor to the Mongol expansion or the Spanish conquest of America.
Far from being destroyed by the conquerors, the native peoples of Southeast Asia found in Indian society, transplanted and modified, a framework within which their own society could be integrated and developed.
The Indians nowhere engaged in military conquest and annexation in the name of a state or mother country. And the Indian kingdoms that were set up in Farther India during the first centuries of the Christian Era had only ties of tradition with the dynasties reigning in India proper; there was no political dependence. The exchanges of embassies between the two shores of the Bay of Bengal were made on the basis of equality, while the Chinese always demanded that the "southern barbarians" acknowledge Chinese suzerainty by the regular sending of tribute.
The Chinese commanderies of Vietnam were administered by Chinese governors, while the Indian kingdoms of Farther India were governed by independent sovereigns of native origin or of mixed blood, advised by Indian or Indianized counselors whose activity was chiefly cultural.
Thus, although China exercised a more or less successful political guardianship over these countries for centuries, her civilization did not spread beyond the area of her military conquests.
The peaceful penetration of the Indians, on the other hand, from the beginning extended to the limits of their commercial navigations.
The countries conquered militarily by China had to adopt or copy her institutions, her customs, her religions, her language, and her writing. By contrast, those which India conquered peacefully preserved the essentials of their individual cultures and developed them, each according to its own genius.”
Sunday, September 1, 2019
As per the piece of history printed in their ticket, the shrine was first built in 247 AD in the Wu Kingdom. This temple is considered to have played a significant role in the evolution of Chinese Buddhism over the last 1740 plus years.
A huge monastery behind with hundreds of rooms for monks is a must-see.
As Dharma is the guiding pillar of this temple, Indians should or should not be surprised by seeing Ashoka Chakra and the four lions (the Indian national emblem) all around with a lot of Chinese and Indian (Sanskrit) motifs and representations.
The frescos and the huge ceramic work behind the main Buddha statue show stories from India, I think, with women in Sarees, Indian ornaments, Buddha as a young king (with the holy thread around his shoulders!) and structures probably denoting Hindu temples. It was one great monument!
Thanks to Othisaivu Ramasamy's recent blog post, I found George Coedes’ monumental work, ‘The Indianized States of Southeast Asia. ...
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