Indian Culture found in Trans-Oceanic Countries of Thailand, Cambodia, Indonesia and Japan

Indian Culture found in Trans-Oceanic Countries of Thailand, Cambodia, Indonesia and Japan

Dr Jayanthi Manohar

Our (by Dr Jayanthi Manohar and B.S.Manohar) – book, recently published in Kannada, contains an analytical study of the history of Indian influence in
South East and Far Eastern countries along with detailed travel
accounts. Indian culture is imbibed in their art and architecture, literature -
music - dance - drama and puppetry. What makes it more significant
is to know about how it is being continued as a living tradition in
these countries.

A detailed note on the monuments based on the salient features of
ancient Indian Vedic wisdom and literature are given separately under
the head of four countries viz., Thailand, Cambodia, Indonesia and
Japan along with cultural and philosophical insights. This is the
result of travel and analytical study of the authors since a decade.
Many significant observations found during this cultural journey
would make every Indian feel proud about our glorious heritage.

Several unique cultural traditions are seen in the length and breadth
of India among people belonging to many different sects (panthas)
along with spiritual under currents. This is seen beyond the
physical territories of present day India as well.

The cultural bonds with South-East Asian Countries was evident when their
heads of state were guests of honour for India’s 69th Republic Day on
26th Jan, 2018. These nations are bound to India since
many centuries through our culture and spirituality. Indian culture
which has travelled to these far shores has left an indelible marks despite the fact that India has not waged war against any country to
colonize them. Its impact is seen even today in the art and architecture,
literature - music - dance - drama and puppetry of south East Asian
and Far Eastern countries.

I got the opportunity to visit four countries viz., Thailand,
Cambodia, Indonesia and Japan during my lecture tours. My
husband Manohar and I were enthralled to witness the cultural and
divine bond seen in those countries with India.

Our book gives a detailed
account of how those countries have adopted Indian concepts, more so,
the Ramayana in all its related art forms.

Mesmerizing monuments in Cambodia

Indian temples are spread over a core area of 200 square kilometres
in Siam Reap area of Cambodia which date back from the 9th to the 12th
Century. Among them are the most impressive and most perfectly constructed
temples whose extensive ruins survive to form the world's largest
historical sites. It is also the largest religious monumental site in
the World, as declared by UNESCO; much bigger than even the Vatican City.

These temples with their intricate carvings on the walls reflecting
the several events depicted in Ramayana, Mahabharata and the Puranas
show how Cambodia and India are spiritually bound together. These
are a much needed reminder of how rich our cultural heritage is.

Angkor Wat Temple (Parama Vishnu Loka) is the largest among 75 major
temples that are excavated so far in Siam Reap. This magnificent
site was obscured from the vision due to several reasons for many
centuries. The world's attention was drawn towards the architectural
marvel, Angkor Wat, in the 19th Century and since then, it has become
a world - famous tourist destination and a heritage monument. The
splendour of these temples have been hailed by many a great writers
and historians since then.

No wonder a French man, - Henri Mouhot has said:
"There was a city so vast and so sophisticated that it must have been
built by people with an advanced knowledge of engineering, science,
mathematics and art. This architectural work, perhaps has not, and
perhaps has never has had, its equal on the face of the globe. ..SEE

Thailand's divine bond with India through Ramayana

People in Thailand identify many events and places of Ramayana
within their territory. They strongly believe that Ravana was their
King and they also identify a city near Bangkok as Ayodhya
(Ayuthaya). Ayuthaya was the capital of Siyam kingdom where
different dynasties called Ramadhibodhi, Rameshwara, Ramaraja,
Ramadhipati reigned from 1350 to 1767 AD.

Influence of Ramayana based on their version called ‘Ram
Kin’ (Ramakirti - Ramakatha) is seen throughout Thailand. They have
wide range of motifs of different events of Ramayana in their
sculptures and paintings in temples. It is found in all their art
forms, music, dance and Puppetry. Their Airport is named as
`Suwarnabhumi', The kings of Chakri dynasty carry the title 'Rama'.
Their present king is called Maha Vajiralankara (Vajralankara), the
X Rama of the Chakri Dynasty.

Indonesia - Temples and Ramayana Ballet

A large number of temples are found in Bali Islands of Indonesia
where traditional worship continues undisturbed since many hundred
years. Indian culture is seen in other parts of the country as well.
Ramayana Dance Ballet, a beautiful combination of arts, drama and
dance is performed in an open-air theatre in the backdrop of the
Prambanan Temple every night. Over 200 artistes performing Ramayana
ballet are Muslims. They say their religion is Islam but their
culture is Ramayana (Hindu).

Bhasha Indonesia has more than five thousand nouns that have samskrit
origin. There are quite many words adopted from Samskrit directly.
Sports Ministry - Krida Bhakti, Defence Ministry - 'Yuddhagriha',
Government Investigation Bureau - Hanuman. A Bank in Jakarta -
Arthagriha, University - Atmajaya, Pharmacy - Jivashraya, Jewellery
shop - Griha Muttinahara, House building company - Bhumi Bhakti, a
company run by five partners - Chakra Mitra Pandava (friends of
Krishna's Chakra).

India is culturally, Mother of Japan

Hajime Nakamura (1912 - 1999), a well-known Japanese scholar has
remarked that: "India is culturally, Mother of Japan. For centuries
it has, in her own characteristic way, been exercising her influence
on the thought and culture of Japan." He has also told that:
“Without Indian influence, Japanese culture would not be what it is
today. As most Japanese profess the Buddhist faith, needless to say,
they have generally been influenced by Indian ideas to a great

Popular Hindu gods who are widely worshipped in Japan are Indra
(Taishaku-ten), Varuna (Sui-ten), Yama (Emma), Agni (Ka-ten),
Mahakala (Daikoku-ten), Saraswathi (Benzai-ten), Ganesa (Sho-ten or
Kangi-ten), Brahma (Bonten), Vayu (Hu-ten), Vaisravana or Kubera
(Bishamon-ten), Mahesvara (Makei-shura-ten), Isana (Ishana-ten),
Nilakantha (Shokyo-Kannon), Prithvi (Ji-ten), Surya (Nit-ten),
Chandra (Gat-ten), Lakshmi (Kichijo-ten), Skanda (Marishiten,
Idaten). Devi Saraswathi who enjoys the high venerable status in
India right through the Vedic period is extremely popular in Japan.
She is known by various names such as Benzai-ten (Goddess of talent
and wealth.

Great Saga of Rama in Trans - Oceanic countries

The epic Ramayana has been translated and recreated in several other
languages of the world. Ramakatha flowed like a song to different
regions and the kings over there followed the ideals of Emperor
Ramachandra and tried to make their kingdoms a 'Ramarajya'. The main
motivation behind this is the universal appeal that the story of
Rama exudes. Events depicted here may take place anywhere at any
period of time. Symbolically people associate the characters of Rama
- Lakshmana - Sita - Maruti - Ravana with the aspiration of the
victory over evil. Thus Ramayana has very easily intermingled with
the language and cultures of various countries.

Inscriptions and literary works found in many neighbouring countries
mention about several sages who carried Indian culture and spiritual
wisdom to different parts of the world. Gurukulas beckoned students
seeking knowledge from far and wide at different intervals of time who
took back the cultural and spiritual tenets. Inner strength and the
spiritual vision gave India the position of 'Vishva Guru'. It is
indeed very essential today to recollect the glorious past which
makes every Indian proud. It is all the more necessary now to pass it
on to younger generation.

(Indian Culture found in Trans-Oceanic Countries of
Thailand - Cambodia - Indonesia – Japan. Book published in Kannada by authors (Amruta Vahini) Sagaradache haradiruva Bharatiya Samskriti. Pages: 260 along with 202 relevant pictures

Copies are available with the authors:
Contact: 9845147080