Archive for the ‘External Relations’ Category

According to Romila Thapar[3], the trade via the maritime route between the west coast of India and west Asia go back to the third millennium B.C. At that time the Egyptian civilization was in existence and Indus Valley was in its early stages. Once the trade route was established, there was continuous Indian presence in west Asia. This was the predecessor of the trade relations with Rome in the first millennium B.C and Africa in the first millennium A.D.

Georg Feuerstein et al[2] writes about cuneiform texts mentioning historical a historical place called Magan (or Makan) which according to some scholars could be Sudan or Ethiopia. But majority of the scholars think that Magan is present day Oman. Copper was found there as early as the fifth millennium B.C and and Omanis were wealthy from copper export. Copper attracted the merchants from the Indus valley and an inscription in Harappan script was found at Ras al-Junayz.

Now some researchers are traveling along that bronze age trade route, on a boat, similar to the one used by people four millennia back.

The 40-foot Magan, named after an ancient name for Oman, is made of reeds formed into bundles, lashed together with rope made from date palm fibers and covered with a woven mat coated with black bitumen or tar to make it waterproof. The vessel will be powered by a square-rigged sail made of tightly woven wool and maneuvered using two teak steering oars.

The plan is to leave Sur in Oman on Wednesday, taking advantage of the last of the southwest monsoon winds and favorable currents, and sail east 590 miles to the historic port of Mandvi in Gujarat, India, a journey that could take up to three weeks.[Bronze Age-style reed boat to sail from Oman to India]

This is going to be one hell of a trip since the boat is not covered and the sails have to be adjusted constantly. The crazy people who are doing this, all eight of them want to know how life was back then, how boats were built and ancient navigation techniques. To add authenticity, they have cargo similar to the ancient ones and the menu consists of a typical bronze age meal.

Even maneuvering aboard will be hard, since crew members will be walking on cargo piled up in the bottom. The cargo is meant to be representative of trade goods of the period: copper ingots for making the bronze that gave the age its name, blocks of fine black diorite stone for carving, turtle and marine shells, pearls, frankincense, carved soapstone vessels, dates and date products, fish oil and sharkskin – an ancient sandpaper.

The crew consists of Vosmer and the navigator, both Americans; a sailing master from Australia; two Omani seamen; two Italian graduate students; and an Indian archaeologist. They will have a Bronze Age diet of dates, honey, legumes, dried fish, bread and water, but there will also be some modern munchies.

But unlike the bronze age travellers, Magan will have a GPS, navigation lights, emergence beacon and life jackets, and also an Indian naval vessel will be following it.

Update (Sept 8, 2005): The boat sinks

Update 2(Sept 11, 2005): There is going to be another boat (via Secular-Right India)


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The Cham people

Yesterday there was a news on the discovery of a linga in Vietnam in the Cham community. The first religion of Cham was Shaivite Hinduism.

In the midst of modern day Vietnam, some distinct touches of India remain. These are artefacts of the Cham civilisation that flourished in central Vietnam from the 2nd to 15th century AD. Indian influence in Vietnam spread through its linkages with this dynasty.

The Chams became Indianised through commercial links with India – they adopted Hinduism, employed Sanskrit as a sacred language and borrowed heavily from Indian art. The effects of these are evident in the Cham monuments in the Quang Nam province, 700 km from capital Hanoi.

The Chams battled constantly with the Vietnamese in the north of their kingdom and the Khmers (in modern Cambodia) in the west. The Chams threw off Khmer rule in the 12th century but were entirely absorbed by Vietnam in the 17th century. One of the greatest Cham sites, My Son, is considered the equivalent of Angkor Vat, Cambodia, in terms of archaeological importance. It became a religious centre under King Bhadravarman in the late fourth century. Most of the temples were dedicated to Lord Shiva.

The Vietnam war destroyed My Son – the temples and ruins bombed to bits. Today they require extensive restoration work. A proposal for cooperation between India and Vietnam for restoration and conservation of Cham monuments is being considered by the Archaeological Survey of India. The Cham monuments of My Son have been declared a World Heritage Site by Unesco. The greatest collection of the Cham ruins is at the Cham Museum in Danang. [India lives on in ancient Vietnamese ruins]

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Cultural officials have recently found a linga (phallic symbol) of the Cham ethnic minority people at Van Tuong village, Nghia Dung commune in central Quang Ngai province.

The 35-cm-high linga made from sandstone weighs around 100 kg. It is the second found in Quang Ngai province, providing a link to a cluster of towers of the Cham ethnic minority people in the locality. Archaeologist Dr. Doan Ngoc Khoi said the discovery of linga in Quang Ngai reflects the diversity of the Cham Pa culture of the Cham ethnic minority people in Quang Ngai.

Quang Ngai is home to two ancient citadels, namely Chau Sa at Tinh Chau commune in Son Tinh district and Ban Co at Nghia Phu commune in Tu Nghia district, and around 40 towers of the Cham ethnic minority people scattered around the area that have so far been ruined by the climate. Around 80 years ago in 1924, the French found a linga and a yoni during an excavation in Chanh Lo, Quang Ngai township, and these are now exhibited at the Cham museum in the central city of Da Nang. [New linga found in Quang Ngai province]

There is no picture of the linga and hence we don’t know if it was influenced by the Siva Linga worshipped by the Hindus.

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On China and India

Amartya Sen has an article in New York Review of Books on the 2000 year old relation between China and India. Since ancient times China has exported its goods to India and India exported Buddhism and Mathematics to China.

As it happens, relations between China and India almost certainly began with trade, not with Buddhism. Some two thousand years ago the consumption habits of Indians, particularly of rich Indians, were radically influenced by innovations from China. A treatise on economics and politics by the great Sanskrit scholar Kautilya, first written in the fourth century BCE, though revised a few centuries later, gives a special place to “silk and silk-cloth from the land of China” among “precious articles” and “objects of value.” In the ancient epic Mahabharata there are references to Chinese fabric or silk (cinamsuka) being given as presents, and there are similar references in the ancient Laws of Manu.

Chinese records show that several Indian astronomers and mathematicians held high positions in the Astronomical Bureau at the Chinese capital during this period. Not only did one of them, Gautama, became president of the Board of Astronomy in China, he also produced the great Chinese compendium of astronomy, Kaiyvan Zhanjing, an eighth-century scientific classic. He adapted a number of Indian astronomical works for publication in Chinese, among them the Jiuzhi li, which draws on a particular planetary calendar in India and is clearly based on a classical Sanskrit text, produced around 550 CE by the mathematician Varahamihira. This work is mainly an algorithmic guide to computation, estimating, for example, the duration of eclipses based on the diameter of the moon and other relevant parameters. The techniques involved drew on methods established by Aryabhata in the late fifth century, and then further developed by his followers in India, including Varahamihira and Brahmagupta. [Passage to China]

One of the travelers Fax-ian who came to India in 401 AD was impressed by the medical facilities in Bihar and wrote

All the poor and destitute in the country…and all who are diseased, go to these houses, and are provided with every kind of help, and doctors examine their diseases. They get the food and medicines which their cases require, and are made to feel at ease; and when they are better, they go away of themselves.

In the 21st century Bihar both the doctors and patients are in trouble.

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A new paper titled Ethnic India: A genomic view with special reference to peopling and structure (via India Archaeology) reports on some interesting facts. The results are based on statistical analysis of DNA data from a large Indian population.

  • There is an underlying unity of female lineages in India indicating that the initial number of female settlers may have been small.
  • The studies support the hypothesis that Austro-Asiatic tribals are the earliest inhabitants of India.
  • In most cases we speak of immigration to India via the Afghanistan-Pakistan-Indus Valley route, the paper says that the Northeastern corridor also served as a passage to India. It suggests prot-Tibeto-Burman people leaving their homeland in the Yellow River basin and crossing the Himalayas to India.
  • The paper also comes up with data supporting the thesis that Dravidian speakers were widespread throughout India and when Indo-European language speaking people entered India and created the caste system, the Dravidian speakers would have retreated southwards.
  • Central Asia is supposed to have contributed in a major way to the Indian gene pool. Populations of North India are genetically closer to Central Asia. South Indians share less similarity and Northeast Indians share the least.

The most important immigration to India is that of the so called Aryans who came via the Pakistan-Afghanistan route. There was another wave of immigration via the northeast border though not much is mentioned about it. It has been proved that some people of Mizoram are related to Jews and belong to one of the Lost Tribes and they entered India via Burma. But that was only 300 years back.

Another point is that if South Indias share less similarity with Central Asians then the assertion that Thiyyas came from Kyrgistan may not be true.

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In the first centuries AD, there was both trade and missionary activity by Indians to South-East Asia which resulted in the spread of Indian culture to the Malay Peninsula, Thailand, Vietnam etc. The spread of Indians to Cambodia resulted in the Khemer kingdom, who built the magnificient Hindu temples of Angkor Wat. Now here is a story which connects Korean history to India, more specifically to Ayodhya.

The origin of the historical ties can be traced back to the middle of the first century AD. According to Sam Kuk Yusa, the ancient history of Korea, Queen Huh, wife of legendary King Suro, who founded the Karak Kingdom, was born in Ayodhya.

Queen Huh was a princess of the kingdom. Her father, the king of Ayodhya, on receiving a divine revelation, sent her on a long sea voyage to the Karak kingdom in southern Korea to marry King Suro, states the lines inscribed on the plaque at the monument in Ayodhya. The clan that descended from the Ayodhya princess Huh and South Korean King Suros, today known as Kim-Hae-Kim clan, has a little over six million Huh descendants in the Republic of South Korea.[South Korea’s Ayodhya connection]

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The Israeli Connection

The largest number of tourists to Jammu and Kashmir are from Israel and Muslims in the Kashmir Valley even started writing boards in Hebrew to attract them. One of the reasons Israelis visit Jammu and Kashmir is to visit the graves to Jesus amd Moses (yes as in Jesus Christ and Moses from Egypt).

The main attractions in the Valley for the Israelis are two graves, believed by some to be those of Jesus Christ and Moses. A section of the local population believes Kashmiris are one of the lost tribes of Israel. Aziz Kashmiri, the author of the book Christ in Kashmir, insists that the Kashmiri people’s ancestors were one of the 10 lost tribes of Israel and that Jesus died during a visit to the Valley.[Jesus’ tomb in Kashmir?]

While there has been no proof for these graves, as well as the assertion that the ancestors of Kashmiris were from the lost tribes of Israel, there is now evidence that people of Mizoram are descendents of Menashe, one of the lost tribes of Israel.

This is a clear indication that there was a Jewish female founder effect in the Kuki community. “It is scientifically impossible to have the same genetic sequence in two populations living so far apart if they did not originate from a common stock who historically inhabited a common space,” says Maity. He also found a specific mutation in some Lusei and Kuki samples that is also present in Indian Jews.

There are also historical pointers to this claim. Zaithanchhungi, a scholar who has been studying the Mizo claim to Israeli ancestry for over 20 years, is convinced that all Mizos are descendants of the Menashe. “The Menashe were enslaved by the Assyrians and taken there [Assyria] when Jerusalem fell,” she says. “From there they migrated to the Afghanistan region. During Alexander?s invasion they were driven further on to Mongolia through the Kashmir region and Tibet plateau, and they settled in the Chhinlung region of China. They entered Mizoram about 300 years ago from Thailand, Laos, Vietnam and Burma.”[The new Jerusalem via Indian Archaeology]

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