Through Traders, Teachers, Emissaries, Missionaries

  • Traders
    • Rome in the west and China in the east
    • Indonesia and Cambodia in search of gold
    • Java, Sumatra and Malaya islands
    • Kashi, Mathura, Ujjain, Prayag and Pataliputra and from port cities on the east coast like Mamallapuram, Tamralipti, Puri, and Kaveripattanam
  • Trades
    • kingdom of Kalinga had trade relations with Sri Lanka during
      the time of Emperor Ashoka
  • Cultural Establishments
    • Karle, Bhaja, Kanheri, Ajanta and Ellora (Buddhist monastic)
  • Teachers
    • Nalanda University
    • Chinese pilgrim Huien-tsang describes his stay one in the east, Nalanda and the other in the west, Valabhi
    • Vikramashila university that was situated on the right bank of the Ganges
      • Tibetan scholar Taranatha has given its description
    • Odantapuri University in Bihar
      • Pala Kings
    • Two Indian teachers went to China
      • Kashyapa Martanga and Dharmarakshita
      • Acharya Kumarajiva translated Sanskrit texts into Chinese
      • Bodhidharma specialised in the philosophy of Yoga is
        still venerated in China and Japan
      • Acharya Kamalasheel of Nalanda University was invited by the king of Tibet
      • Jnanabhadra-Tibet-Dharma
      • monastery was founded in Tibet on the model of Odantapuri University in Bihar
      • head of the Vikramashila University was Acharya Ateesha, also known as Dipankara Shreejnana
      • Thonmi Sambhota, a Tibetan minister was a student at Nalanda when the Chinese pilgrim Huien-tsang visited India
      • Kumarajiva was active in the fifth century

Other Modes

  • Romas or Gypsies (groups of Indians went abroad as wanderers)
  • in Europe they are famous as Gypsies
  • Persia, Taurus mountains and Constantinople, they spread to many countries of Europ
  • Romas are known for their dance and music as well
  • every Roma musician is a splendid artist

Central Asia

  • China, Russia, Tibet, India and Afghanistan
  • famous as the Silk Route
  • Kuchi was a very important and flourishing centre where the Silk Route bifurcates and meets at the Dun-huang caves in China again
  • Northern route goes via Samarkand, Kashgarh, Tumshuk, Aksu, Karashahr, Turfan and Hami and the Southern route via Yarkand, Khotan, Keriya, Cherchen and Miran
  • discoveries of ancient stupas, temples, monasteries, images and paintings
  • Silk and jade, horses and valuables changed hands
  • famous centres of Buddhist learning
  • Khotan-Outposts-Southern Silk Route. Famous for its silk industry, dance, music, literary pursuits, commercial activities and for gold and jade exports
  • Coins found from the first century AD bear engravings
    in Chinese on the obverse and Prakrit in Kharosthi script on the reverse providing evidence of a composite culture in Khotan

East Asia

  • Scholars-Kashyapa Martanga and Dharmarakshita
  • Bodhidharma went to China from Kanchipuram
    • carried the philosophy of Yoga with him and popularized the practice of‘dhyana’,(meditation), which was later known in China asch’an.
  • fourth century AD Wei Dynasty came to power in China
  • Dun-huang, Yun-kang and Lung-men are among the most famous cave complexes in the world


  • situated on the Northeast of China
  • Indian cultural elements through China. Sundo was the first Buddhist Monk who entered Korea, carrying a Buddha
    image and sutras in AD 352.
  • He was followed by Acharya Mallananda
  • Indian monk built two temples in the Pyongyang city
  • philosophy of ‘dhyana yoga’reached Korea in the eighth to ninth century AD


  • Indian culture in Japan is believed to go back to more than fïfteen hundred years
  • Korean Emperor sent a Buddhist statue, sutras, instruments for worship, artists, sculptors, painters and architects as gifts for the Japanese Emperor
  • Sanskrit was accepted as the sacred language
  • Buddhism was given the status of State Religion
  • The script in which all these are written is known as ‘Shittan’. Shittan is believed to be Siddham, the script that gives ‘siddhi’ (accomplishment).
  • Buddhist sutras, translated into Chinese, were brought to Japan during the time of Prince Shotokutaishi in the seventh century


  • situated on a plateau to the north of the Himalayas
  • peoples are Buddhists
  • Tibetan king Naradeva is believed to have sent his minister Thonmi Sambhot accompanied by sixteen outstanding scholars to Magadha
  • Thonmi Sambhot went to Kashmir.
    • He devised a new script for Tibet in the seventh century on the basis of Indian alphabets of the Brahmi script
    • he wrote a new grammar for the Tibetans which is said to be based on the Sanskrit grammar written by Panini
    • laid the foundation for the translation of Sanskrit books into Tibetan

Srilanka and Southeast Asia


  • great epic called Ramayana in which Lord Rama, King of Ayodhya goes to Sri Lanka to bring back Sita
  • King Ashoka made great efforts to propagate Buddhism outside India
  • Devanampiya Tissa was the king of Sri Lanka
  • teachings of the Buddha were transmitted orally by the people who had gone from India
  • first monasteries built there are Mahavihar and Abhayagiri
  • Pali became their literary language.
  • Dipavansa and Mahavamsa are well known Sri Lankan Buddhist sources
  • Indian Art forms also reached, where the themes, styles and
    techniques of paintings, dance, folklores and art and architecture
  • Most renowned paintings found in the cave-shelter monasteries at Sigiriya
  • King Kashyap is believed to have converted it into a fortified place in the fifth century AD.
    • Figures painted in the cave are in the Amaravati style of India


  • Situated on the route to China
  • People coming from the port towns of Amaravati and Tamralipti often settled down
  • Pagan was a great centre of Buddhist culture and famous for its magnificent Pagodas
  • King Aniruddha was a great builder who built Shwezegon Pagoda
  • Pali language
  • The court astrologers, soothsayers and professors were known to be brahmins called ponnas believed to be from Manipur


  • Till the year 1939, Thailand was called Siam
  • Thai kingdoms were given Sanskrit names such as
    Dwaravati, Shrivijay, Sukhodaya and Ayutthiya
  • Cities having strong cultural interflow. For example, Kanchanaburi is from Kanchanapuri, Rajburi is from Rajpuri, Lobpuri is Lavapuri,
  • Cities like Prachinaburi, Singhaburi are all derived from Sanskrit
  • streets like Rajaram, Rajajrani, Mahajaya and Cakravamsha remind us of the popularity of the Ramayana
  • Brahminical images and Buddhist temples
  • earliest images-Lord Vishnu
  • Ayutthiya (Ayodhya) is one such place where large number of temples still stand though today


  • Famous kingdoms of Champa (Annam) and Kamhuja (Cambodia) were ruled by the kings of Indian origins
  • In Kambuja, Kaundinya dynasty of Indian origin ruled from the first century A.D
  • constructed huge monuments and embellished them with sculptural representations of Shiva, Vishnu
  • Sanskrit inscriptions and remained their language for administration till the fourteenth century
  • Brahmins assumed the highest position
  • Ashrams were maintained in temple vicinities as seats of learning
  • Localities were given Indian names like Tamrapura, Dhruvapura and Vikramapura
  • Name of months in their language are known as chet, bisak, jes, asadh and so on
  • Angkor Vat is supposed to be the abode of Vishnu, that is, Vaikunthadhama-five peaks of the Sumeru mountain
  • king Suryavarman is portrayed there as an incarnation of Vishnu
  • scène of Samudra manthan
  • grand temple constructed at Yashodharapura-11th century known as Baphuon

Vietnam (Champa)

  • number of enterprising traders and princes who migrated and established themselves as pioneers in the field of politics and economics
  • named the cities there as Indrapura, Amaravati, Vijaya, Kauthara and Panduranga
  • Hindu and Buddhist temples
  • Cham people worshipped Shiva, Ganesha, Saraswati, Lakshmi, Parvati, Buddha and Lokeswara


  • references in the Ramayana
  • Jataka stories, Malindapanha, Shilapadikaram, Raghuvamsha
  • Evidence of Shaivism has been discovered in Kedah and in the province of Wellesly
  • Female figurines with trident have been unearthed
  • Head of a Nandi made of granite stone, a relief of Durga image, Ganesha and Shivlingas discovered
  • Brahmi script of ancient Malaysia
  • Tablets of Buddhist texts written in a script that resembles old Tamil have been found at Kedah. Sanskrit was one of the source languages
  • Sanskrit words-svarga, rasa, guna, dahda, mantri, dhïpati, and
  • Hanuman and Garuda were known
  • Sanskrit inscriptions
  • important inscription is from Ligor


  • religious architecture, the largest Shiva temple situated in the
    island of Java. It is called Prambanan. flanked by Vishnu and Brahma temples
  • Bali is the only country where Hindu culture flourished and survived
  • scriptural works mostly written on palm leaves in their ancient script called Kawi. Kawi script was devised on the basis of
  • Among the texts on Shaiva religion and philosophy, Bhuvanakosha is the earliest and the longest text.
  • The most popular form of amusement was the shadow play called Wayung (like the Indian puppet shows) where the themes are derived mainly from the epics – Ramayana and Mahabharata, still very popular in South East Asia.

Arab Civilizations

  • Sulaiman, the Merchant, Al-Masudi, Ibn Hauqal, Al Idrisi
  • In the field of astronomy, two important works namely the Brahma-sphuta-siddhanta better known to the Arab world as Sindhin and Khandakhadyaka (known as Arkand) were brought to Baghdad by embassies from Sindh and translated into Arabic by Alfazari, who probably also assisted Yakub Iun Tarik.
  • Aryabhatta’s and Varahamihira’s works on astronomy were also studied
  • Arabs acknowledged their debt to India by calling mathematics ‘hindisa’ (pertaining to India)
  • works of Alkindi
  • Indian works on medicine and therapeutics rendered into Arabic at the behest of the Caliph Harun al-Rashid, the ruler of Baghdad
    • Sushruta Samhita was translated by an Indian called Mankh in Arabic
  • works on snake poison, veterinary art and books on logic, philosophy, ethics, politics and science of war
  • in the field of shipping, of which they were renowned masters, you can easily identify a number of Arabic words that had Indian origin: hoorti (a small boat) from hori, banavi from baniya or vanik, donij from dongi


  • West represented mainly by the Roman Empire which had become India’s best customer
  • Roman coins specially at Coimbatore and Madurai
  • pepper, betel, spices, scents and precious stones like beryl, gem, diamond, ruby and amethyst, pearls, ivory, silk and muslins were in great demand
  • bound to bring in gold to India which gave her a favourable position in trade and established a stablegold currency for the Kushana empire
  • Tamil kings even employed ‘yavanas’ to guard their tents on the battlefield and the gates of Madurai
  • In ancient India the term ‘yavana’was used for people belonging to Western Asia and the Mediterranean region and included Greeks and Romans.
  • Kaveripattinam had become a very important centre of foreign trade
  • stamped with the ‘Tiger’ emblem of the Cholas after payment of customs duty and then passed on to merchants’ warehouses (pattinappalai).
  • According to Pliny, India’s exports included pepper and ginger
  • A Pandya king sent an ambassador to Roman Emperor Augustus of the first century BC.
  • Ambassadors were also sent to Troy after AD 99. Claudius (from Ceylon), Trajan, Antonmis, Puis, Instiman and other ambassadors adorned the courts of various Indian kings
  • ports like Sopara, and Barygaza (Broach) came to be built in the west coast, while the Coromandal coast in the east carried on trade with “Golden Chersonese (Suvarnabhumi) and Golden Chyrse (Suvarnadvipa)”.
  • Chola kings equipped their ports with lighthouses, exhibiting blazing lights
  • At a site called Arikamedu near Pondicherry specimens of the famous Italian pottery known as Arretine with the Italian potter’s stamps imprinted on them and the fragment of a Roman lamp have also been found
  • Town of Paithana (Pratishthana) shipped abroad stones, tagara, cotton, muslin and other textiles
  • Andhra king Yajnasri issued a rare type of coin figuring the ship as the symbol of the state’s sea-borne trade

Ships and Foreign Trade

  • Samudra Gupta (AD 340-380) not only had a powerful army but also had a strong navy
  • inscriptions discovered in the Trans-Gangetic Peninsula and the Malaya Archipelago testify to the activities of Indian navigators in the Gupta age
  • Hsuan-tsang, who visited India during the reign of Emperor Harsha (AD 606-647), has also written a detailed description of India during those times.

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