Neha Patil (Editor)

Greater India

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Greater India DeviantArt More Like Greater India A Map of Indian Cultural
Indianized kingdoms Hinduism Architecture Epigraphy  Butuan, Champa, Dvaravati, Funan, Gangga Negara, Chenla, Kalingga, Kutai, Langkasuka, Pagan, Pan Pan, Tondo devaraja, Harihara Angkor, Borobodur Sanskrit, Pali
Buddhism  Bangladesh, Bhutan, Nepal, Sri Lanka
Hinduism  Bangladesh, Bhutan, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka
Buddhism  China, Japan, Korea, Mongolia, Tibet
Buddhist monasticism  Central Asia (Afghanistan · Uzbekistan)

The term Greater India is most commonly used to encompass the historical and geographic extent of all political entities of the Indian subcontinent and beyond, that had to varying degrees been transformed by the acceptance and induction of cultural and institutional elements of pre-Islamic India. Since around 500 B.C. Asia's expanding land and maritime trade had resulted in prolonged socio-economic and cultural stimulation and diffusion of Hindu and Buddhist beliefs into regional cosmology, in particular in Southeast Asia and Sri Lanka. In Central Asia transmission of ideas were predominantly of religious nature.


Greater India FileFlagmap of Greater Indiasvg Wikimedia Commons

By the early centuries of the common era most of the principalities of maritime and continental Southeast Asia had effectively absorbed defining aspects of Hindu culture, religion and administration. The notion of divine god-kingship was introduced by submission to the concept of Harihara, Sanskrit and other Indian epigraphic systems declared official like those of the south Indian Pallava dynasty and Chalukya dynasty. These Indianized Kingdoms, a term coined by George Cœdès were characterized by surprising resilience, political integrity and administrative stability.

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To the north Indian religious ideas dissipated into the cosmology of Himalayan peoples, most profoundly in Tibet and Bhutan. Buddhist monasticism extended into Afghanistan, Uzbekistan and other parts of Central Asia and Buddhist texts and ideas successfully reached China and Japan in the east. Unlike Southeast Asia cultural and technological stimulation in East Asia always went in both directions. To the west, Indian culture converges with Greater Persia via the Hindukush and the Pamir Mountains.

Greater India WI India resists the British Alternate History Discussion

Greater india

European designations

Greater India Greater India YouTube

The concept of the Three Indias was in common circulation In pre-industrial Europe. Greater India was the southern part of South Asia, Lesser India was the northern part of South Asia, and Middle India was the region near the Middle East. The Portuguese form (Portuguese: India Maior) was used at least since the mid-15th century. The term, which seems to have been used with variable precision, sometimes meant only the Indian subcontinent; Europeans used a variety of terms related to South Asia to designate the South Asian peninsula, including High India, Greater India, Exterior India and India aquosa.

However, in some accounts of European nautical voyages, Greater India (or India Major) extended from the Malabar Coast (present-day Kerala) to India extra Gangem (lit. "India, beyond the Ganges," but usually the East Indies, i.e. present-day Malay Archipelago) and India Minor, from Malabar to Sind. Farther India was sometimes used to cover all of modern Southeast Asia and sometimes only the mainland portion. Until the fourtheenth century, India could also mean areas along the Red Sea, including Somalia, South Arabia, and Ethiopia (e.g., Diodorus of Sicily of the first century BCE says that "the Nile rises in India" and Marco Polo of the fourteenth century says that "Lesser India ... contains ... Abash [Abyssinia]")

In late 19th-century geography Greater India referred to British India, Hindustan (Northwestern Subcontinent) which included the Punjab, the Himalayas, and extended eastwards to Indochina (including Burma), parts of Indonesia (namely, the Sunda Islands, Borneo and Celebes), and the Philippines." German atlases distinguished Vorder-Indien (Anterior India) as the South Asian peninsula and Hinter-Indien as Southeast Asia.


  • The Greater India Basin hypothesis
  • Greater India, or Greater India Basin signifies "the Indian Plate plus a postulated northern extension", the product of the Indian–Asia collision. Although its usage in geology pre-dates Plate tectonic theory, the term has seen increased usage since the 1970s.

    The hypothesis is legitimate as long as the controversy of the location and time of the India-Asia convergence exists. How and where the India–Asia (Indian and Eurasian Plate) convergence was accommodated, after the collision, at or before 52 Million years ago? Since the plates have converged up to 3,600 km (2,200 mi) ± 35 km (22 mi), yet the upper crustal shortening documented from the geological record of Asia and the Himalaya is up to approximately 2,350 km (1,460 mi) less.

    Nationalist movement

  • The Greater India Society
  • The use of Greater India refers here to a popularization by a network of Bengali scholars in the 1920s who were all members of the Calcutta-based Greater India Society. The movement's early leaders included the historian R. C. Majumdar (1888–1980); the philologists Suniti Kumar Chatterji (1890–1977) and P. C. Bagchi (1898–1956) and the historians Phanindranath Bose and Kalidas Nag (1891–1966).

    The term Greater India and the notion of an explicit Hindu colonization of ancient Southeast Asia have been linked to both Indian nationalism and Hindu nationalism.

    Indianised kingdoms

    The concept of the Indianized kingdoms, a term coined by George Coedès, describes maritime and continental Southeast Asian principalities that since the early common era as a result of centuries of socio-economic interaction had incorporated central aspects of Indian institutions, religion, statecraft, administration, culture, epigraphy, writing and architecture.

    Iron age trade expansion caused regional geostrategic remodeling. Southeast Asia was now situated in the central area of convergence of the Indian and the East Asian maritime trade routes, the basis for economic and cultural growth. The earliest Hindu kingdoms emerged in Sumatra and Java, followed by mainland polities such as Funan and Champa. Selective adoption of Indian civilization elements and individual suitable adaption stimulated the emergence of centralized states and development of highly organized societies. Ambitious local leaders realized the benefits of Hindu worship. Rule in accord with universal moral principles represented in the concept of the devaraja was more appealing than the Chinese concept of intermediaries.

    The exact nature, process and extent of Indian influence upon the civilizations of the region is still fiercely debated by contemporary scholars. Debated are most claims over whether it was Indian merchants, brahmins, nobles or Southeast Asian mariner-merchants who played a central role in bringing Indian conceptions to Southeast Asia. Debated is the depth of the influence of traditions for the people. Whereas early 20th-century scholars emphasized the thorough Indianization of Southeast Asia, more recent authors argued that this influence was very limited and affected only a small section of the elite.

    Hinduism, authority and legitimacy

    The pre-Indic political and social systems in Southeast Asia were marked by a relative indifference towards lineage descent. Hindu god kingship enabled rulers to supersede loyalties, forge cosmopolitan polities and the worship of Shiva and Vishnu was combined with ancestor worship, so that Khmer, Javanese, and Cham rulers claimed semi-divine status as descendants of a god. Hindu traditions especially the relationship to the sacrality of the land and social structures indicates that Hinduism was characterized by transnational features. The epic traditions of the Mahābhārata and the Rāmāyaṇa further legitimized a ruler identified with a god who battled the demonic forces that threaten the ethical order of the world.

    Hinduism does not have a single historical founder, a centralized imperial authority in India proper and a bureaucratic structure ensuring relative religious independence for the individual ruler. It also allows for multiple forms of divinity, centered upon the Trimurti the triad of Brahma, Visnu, and Siva, the deities responsible for the creation, preservation and destruction of the universe.

    Butuan, Champa, Dvaravati, Funan, Gangga Negara, Kadaram, Kalingga, Kutai, Langkasuka, Pagan, Pan Pan, Po-ni, Tarumanagara and Tondo had by the 1st to 4th centuries CE. adopted Hindu cosmology, the devaraja concept of kingship, and Sanskrit as official writing. Despite the fundamental cultural integration, these kingdoms remained independent from the Indian mainland states.

    Adaption and adoption

    It is unknown how immigration, interaction and settlement took place, whether by key figures from India or through Southeast Asians visiting India who took elements of Indian culture back home. It is likely that Hindu and Buddhist traders, priests, and princes traveled to Southeast Asia from India in the first few centuries of the Common Era and eventually settled there. Strong impulse most certainly came from the region’s ruling classes who invited Brahmans to serve at their courts as priests, astrologers and advisers. Divinity and royalty were closely connected in these polities as Hindu rituals served to validate the powers of the monarch. Brahmans and priests from India proper played a key role in elevating ruling dynasties through exact rituals. Dynastic consolidation was the basis for more centralized kingdoms that emerged in Java, Sumatra, Cambodia, Burma, and along the central and south coasts of Vietnam during the 8th century.

    Art, Architecture, rituals, and cultural elements such as the Rāmāyaṇa and the Mahābhārata had been adopted and customized increasingly developed a regional character. The caste system, although adopted was never applied universally and reduced to serve for a selected group of nobles only.

    States such as Srivijaya, Majapahit and the Khmer empire with territorial continuity, resilient population and surplus economies soon rivaled those in India itself. Borobudur in Java and Angkor in Cambodia are, apart from their grandeur examples for a distinctly developed regional culture, style and expression.

    Southeast Asia is called Suvarnabhumi or Sovannah Phoum - the golden land and Suvarnadvipa - the golden Islands in Sanskrit. It was frequented by traders from eastern India, particularly Kalinga. Cultural and trading relations between the powerful Chola dynasty of South India and the Southeast Asian Hindu kingdoms led the Bay of Bengal to be called "The Chola Lake", and the Chola attacks on Srivijaya in the 10th century CE are the sole example of military attacks by Indian rulers against Southeast Asia. The Pala dynasty of Bengal, which controlled the heartland of Buddhist India, maintained close economic, cultural and religious ties, particularly with Srivijaya.

    Individual mainland kingdoms

  • Langkasuka: Langkasuka (-langkha Sanskrit for "resplendent land" -sukkha of "bliss") was an ancient Hindu kingdom located in the Malay Peninsula. The kingdom, along with the Old Kedah settlement, are probably the earliest territorial footholds founded on the Malay Peninsula. According to tradition, the founding of the kingdom happened in the 2nd century; Malay legends claim that Langkasuka was founded at Kedah, and later moved to Pattani.
  • Funan: Funan was a polity that encompassed the southernmost part of the Indochinese peninsula during the 1st to 6th centuries. Centered at the lower Mekong, Funan is noted as the oldest Hindu culture in this region, which suggests prolonged socio-economic interaction with maritime trading partners of the Indosphere in the west. Cultural and religious ideas had reached Funan via the Indian Ocean trade route. Trade with India had commenced well before 500 BC as Sanskrit hadn't yet replaced Pali. Indian author Dr. Pragya Mishra even postulates: "Funan Was One Of The Colonies Established By Indians Within Cambodia...[sic]" in his essay "Cultural History of Indian Diaspora in Cambodia". Funans language has been determined as to have been an early form of Khmer and its written form was Sanskrit.
  • Chenla was the successor polity of Funan that existed from around the late 6th century until the early 9th century in Indochina, preceding the Khmer Empire. Like its predecessor Funan, Chenla occupied a strategic position where the maritime trade routes of the Indosphere and the Sinosphere converged, resulting in prolonged socio-economic and cultural influence and the adoption of the epigraphic system of the south Indian Pallava dynasty and Chalukya dynasty. Chenla's first ruler Vīravarman adopted the idea of divine kingship and deployed the concept of Harihara, the syncretistic Hindu "god that embodied multiple conceptions of power". His successors continued this tradition, thus obeying the code of conduct Manusmṛti, the Laws of Manu for the Kshatriya warrior caste and conveying the idea of political and religious authority.
  • Champa: The kingdom of Champa (or Lin-yi in Chinese records) controlled what is now south and central Vietnam since approximately 192 The dominant religion was Hinduism and the culture was heavily influenced by India. By the late fifteenth century, the Vietnamese—descendants of the Sinic civilisation sphere—had conquered the last remaining territories of the once powerful maritime kingdom of Champa. The last surviving Chams began their diaspora in 1471, many re-settling in Khmer territory.
  • Khmer empire: The Khmer Empire was established by the early 9th century in a mythical initiation and consecration ceremony to claim political legitimacy by founder Jayavarman II at Mount Kulen (Mount Mahendra) in 802 C.E. A succession of powerful sovereigns, continuing the Hindu devaraja cult tradition, reigned over the classical era of Khmer civilization until the 11th century. A new dynasty of provincial origin introduced Buddhism as royal religious discontinuities and decentralisation result. The royal chronology ends in the 14th century. Administration, agriculture, architecture, hydrology, logistics, urban planning and the arts saw an unprecedented degree of development, refinement and accomplishment in execution on the basis of a distinct expression of Hindu cosmology.
  • Mon kingdoms: From the 9th century until the abrupt end of the Hanthawaddy Kingdom in 1539, the Mon kingdoms (Hariphunchai, Pegu, Pagan) were notable for facilitating Indianised cultural exchange in lower Burma, in particular by having strong ties with Sri Lanka.
  • Sukhothai Kingdom: The first Tai peoples to gain independence from the Khmer Empire and start its own kingdom in the 13th century. Sukhotai was a precursor for the Ayutthaya Kingdom and the Kingdom of Siam. Though ethnically Thai, the Sukhothai kingdom in many ways was a continuation of the Buddhist Mon-Dvaravati civilizations, as well as the neighboring Khmer Empire.
  • Individual island kingdoms

  • Salakanagara:Salakanagara kingdom is the first historically recorded Indianised kingdom in Western Java, created by Indian trader after marrying a local Sundanese princess. This Kingdom existed between 130-362 AD.
  • Srivijaya: From the 7th to 13th centuries Srivijaya, a maritime empire centred on the island of Sumatra in Indonesia, had adopted Mahayana and Vajrayana Buddhism under a line of rulers from Dapunta Hyang Sri Jayanasa to the Sailendras. A stronghold of Vajrayana Buddhism, Srivijaya attracted pilgrims and scholars from other parts of Asia. I Ching reports that the kingdom was home to more than a thousand Buddhist scholars. A notable Buddhist scholar of local origin, Dharmakirti, taught Buddhist philosophy in Srivijaya and Nalanda, and was the teacher of Atisha. Most of the time, this Buddhist Malay empire enjoyed cordial relationship with China and the Pala Empire in Bengal, and the 860 Nalanda inscription records that maharaja Balaputra dedicated a monastery at the Nalanda university in Pala territory. The kingdom ceased to exist in the 13th century due to various factors, including the expansion of the Javanese, Singhasari, and Majapahit empires.
  • Medang: Medang i Bhumi Mataram Kingdom flourished between the 8th and 11th centuries. It was first centred in central Java before later moving to east Java. This kingdom produced numbers of Hindu-Buddhist temples in Java, including Borobudur Buddhist mandala and Prambanan Trimurti Hindu temple dedicated mainly for Shiva. The Sailendras are the ruling family of this kingdom in an earlier stage in central Java before replaced by the Isyana Dynasty.
  • Melayu Kingdom:was a classical Southeast Asian kingdom. The primary sources for much of the information on the kingdom are the New History of the Tang, and the memoirs of the Chinese Buddhist monk Yijing who visited in 671, and states was "absorbed" by Srivijaya by 692, but had "broken away" by the end of the eleventh century according to Chao Jukua. The exact location of the kingdom is the subject of studies among historians.
  • Majapahit empire: Majapahit empire centred in East Java succeeded the Singhasari empire and flourished in Indonesian archipelago between the 13th and 15th centuries. Noted for their naval expansion the Javanese spanned west—east from Lamuri in Aceh to Wanin in Papua. Majapahit was one of the last and greatest Hindu empires in Maritime Southeast Asia. Most of Balinese Hindu culture, traditions and civilisations were derived from Majapahit legacy. A large number of Majapahit nobles, priests, and artisans found their home in Bali after the decline of Majapahit to Islamic Demak Sultanate.
  • Kingdom of Tondo: Originally an Indianised kingdom in the 10th century, Tondo capitalised on being central to the long-existing ancient regional trading routes throughout the archipelago to include among others, initiating diplomatic and commercial ties with China during the Ming Dynasty. Thus it became an established force in trade throughout Southeast Asia and East Asia.
  • Tarumanagara: is an early Sundanese Indianised kingdom, located not far from modern Jakarta, and according to Tugu inscription ruler Purnavarman apparently built a canal that changed the course of the Cakung River, and drained a coastal area for agriculture and settlement. In his inscriptions, Purnavarman associated himself with Vishnu, and Brahmins ritually secured the hydraulic project
  • Tambralinga:as an ancient kingdom located on the Malay Peninsula that at one time came under the influence of Srivijaya. The name had been forgotten until scholars recognized Tambralinga as Nagara Sri Dharmaraja (Nakhon Si Thammarat). Early records are scarce but its duration is estimated to range from the seventh to fourteenth century. Tambralinga first sent tribute to the emperor of the Tang dynasty in 616. In Sanskrit tambra means "red" and linga means "symbol", typically representing the divine energy of Shiva.
  • Galuh Kingdom: was an ancient Hindu kingdom in the eastern Tatar Pasundan (now West Java province and Banyumasan region of Central Java province), Indonesia. It was established following the collapse of the Tarumanagara kingdom around the 7th century. Traditionally the kingdom of Galuh was associated with Eastern Priangan cultural region, around the Citanduy and Cimanuk rivers, with territory spanned from Citarum river on the west, Pamali and Serayu river on the east. Its capital was located in Kawali, near today Ciamis city.
  • Sunda Kingdom:The Kingdom of Sunda was a Hindu kingdom located in western Java from 669 to around 1579, covering the area of present-day Banten, Jakarta, West Java, and the western part of Central Java. According to primary historical records, the Bujangga Manik manuscript, the eastern border of the Sunda Kingdom was the Pamali River (Ci Pamali, the present day Brebes River) and the Serayu River (Ci Sarayu) in Central Java.
  • Kalingga Kingdom:Kalingga (Javanese: Karajan Kalingga; 訶陵 Hēlíng or 闍婆 Dūpó in Chinese sources[1]) was the 6th century Indianized kingdom on the north coast of Central Java, Indonesia. It was the earliest Hindu-Buddhist kingdom in Central Java, and together with Kutai and Tarumanagara are the oldest kingdoms in Indonesian history.
  • Kediri Kingdom:In the 10th century, Mataram, challenged the supremacy of Srivijaya, resulting in the destruction of the Mataram capital by Srivijaya early in the 11th century. Restored by King Airlangga (c. 1020–1050), the kingdom split on his death; and the new state of Kediri, in eastern Java, became the centre of Javanese culture for the next two centuries, spreading its influence to the eastern part of island South East Asia. The spice trade was now becoming of increasing importance, as the demand by European countries for spices grew. Before they learned to keep sheep and cattle alive in the winter, they had to eat salted meat, made palatable by the addition of spices. One of the main sources was the Maluku Islands (or "Spice Islands") in Indonesia, and Kediri became a strong trading nation.
  • Singhasari:In the 13th century, however, the Kediri dynasty was overthrown by a revolution, and Singhasari arose in east Java. The domains of this new state expanded under the rule of its warrior-king Kertanegara. He was killed by a prince of the previous Kediri dynasty, who then established the last great Hindu-Javanese kingdom, Majapahit. By the middle of the 14th century Majapahit controlled most of Java, Sumatra and the Malay peninsula, part of Borneo, the southern Celebes and the Moluccas. It also exerted considerable influence on the mainland.
  • Indosphere

    The term Indosphere encompasses the full extent of Indian linguistic and cultural influence in Asia in a non-geographical sense. It is commonly used in areal linguistics in contrast with the Sinosphere.

    Cultural sphere

    The use of Greater India to refer to an Indian cultural sphere was popularised by a network of Bengali scholars in the 1920s who were all members of the Calcutta-based Greater India Society. The movement's early leaders included the historian R. C. Majumdar (1888–1980); the philologists Suniti Kumar Chatterji (1890–1977) and P. C. Bagchi (1898–1956), and the historians Phanindranath Bose and Kalidas Nag (1891–1966).

    Some of their formulations were inspired by concurrent excavations in Angkor by French archaeologists and by the writings of French Indologist Sylvain Lévi. The scholars of the society postulated a benevolent ancient Indian cultural colonisation of Southeast Asia, in stark contrast—in their view—to the colonialism of the early 20th century.

    The term Greater India and the notion of an explicit Hindu colonisation of ancient Southeast Asia have been linked to both Indian nationalism and Hindu nationalism. However, many Indian nationalists, like Jawaharlal Nehru and Rabindranath Tagore, although receptive to "an idealisation of India as a benign and uncoercive world civiliser and font of global enlightenment," stayed away from explicit "Greater India" formulations. In addition, some scholars have seen the Hindu/Buddhist acculturation in ancient Southeast Asia as "a single cultural process in which Southeast Asia was the matrix and South Asia the mediatrix." In the field of art history, especially in American writings, the term survived longer due to the influence of art theorist Ananda Coomaraswamy. Coomaraswamy's view of pan-Indian art history was influenced by the "Calcutta cultural nationalists."

    By some accounts Greater India consists of "lands including Burma, Java, Cambodia, Bali, and the former Champa and Funan polities of present-day Vietnam," in which pre-Islamic Indian culture left an "imprint in the form of monuments, inscriptions and other traces of the historic "Indianising" process." By some other accounts, many Pacific societies and "most of the Buddhist world including Ceylon, Tibet, Central Asia, and even Japan were held to fall within this web of Indianising culture colonies" This particular usage—implying cultural "sphere of influence" of India—was promoted by the Greater India Society, formed by a group of Bengali men of letters, and is not found before the 1920s. The term Greater India was used in historical writing in India into the 1970s.

    Cultural expansion

    Culture spread via the trade routes that linked India with southern Burma, central and southern Siam, the Malay peninsula and Sumatra to Java, lower Cambodia and Champa.

    The Pali and Sanskrit languages and the Indian script, together with Theravada and Mahayana Buddhism, Brahmanism and Hinduism, were transmitted from direct contact as well as through sacred texts and Indian literature.

    Southeast Asia had developed some prosperous and very powerful colonial empires that contributed to Hindu-Buddhist artistic creations and architectural developments. Art and architectural creations that rivaled those built in India, especially in its sheer size, design and aesthetic achievements. The notable examples are Borobudur in Java and Angkor monuments in Cambodia. The Srivijaya Empire to the south and the Khmer Empire to the north competed for influence in the region.

    A defining characteristic of the cultural link between Southeast Asia and the Indian subcontinent is the spread of ancient Indian Vedic/Hindu and Buddhist culture and philosophy into Myanmar, Thailand, Indonesia, Malaya, Laos and Cambodia. Indian scripts are found in Southeast Asian islands ranging from Sumatra, Java, Bali, south Sulawesi and most of the Philippines.


    The Ramayana and the Mahabharata have had a large impact on the South Asia and Southeast Asia. However, the Mahabharata has faded from the memory of many Southeast Asian nations and are not as widely known as the Ramayana.

    Shared traditions

    One of the most tangible evidence of dharmic tradition commonality, probably is the widespread of Añjali Mudrā as the gesture of greeting and respect. It is demonstrated in Indian namasté, and similar gestures are known in Southeast Asia, as it cognate to the Cambodian sampeah, Indonesian sembah and Thai wai.

    Religion, mythology and folklore

  • Hinduism is practised by the majority of Bali's population. The Cham people of Vietnam still practices Hinduism as well. Though officially Buddhist, many Thai, Khmer, and Burmese people also worship Hindu gods in a form of syncretism. This echoes the beliefs of the past Hindu civilizations such as the Khmer Empire.
  • Brahmins have had a large role in spreading Hinduism in Southeast Asia. Even today many monarchies such as the royal court of Thailand still perform Hindu rituals for the King performed by Brahmins.
  • Garuda, a Hindu mythological figure, is present in the coats of arms of Indonesia, Thailand and Ulan Bator.
  • Muay Thai, a fighting art that is the thai version of the Hindu Musti-yuddha style of fighting.
  • Kaharingan, an indigenous religion followed by the Dayak people of Borneo, is categorised as a form of Hinduism in Indonesia.
  • Philippine mythology includes the supreme god Bathala and the concept of Diwata and the still-current belief in Karma—all derived from Hindu-Buddhist concepts.
  • Malay folklore contains a rich number of Indian-influenced mythological characters, such as Bidadari, Jentayu, Garuda and Naga.
  • Wayang shadow puppets and classical dance-dramas of Indonesia, Cambodia, Malaysia and Thailand took stories from episodes of Ramayana and Mahabharata.
  • Architecture and monuments

  • The same style of Hindu temple architecture was used in several ancient temples in South East Asia including Angkor Wat, which was dedicated to Hindu god Vishnu and is shown on the flag of Cambodia, also Prambanan in Central Java, the largest Hindu temple in Indonesia, is dedicated to Trimurti — Shiva, Vishnu and Brahma.
  • Borobudur in Central Java, Indonesia, is the world's largest Buddhist monument. It took shape of a giant stone mandala crowned with stupas and believed to be the combination of Indian-origin Buddhist ideas with the previous megalithic tradition of native Austronesian step pyramid.
  • The minarets of 15th- to 16th-century mosques in Indonesia, such as the Great Mosque of Demak and Kudus mosque resemble those of Majapahit Hindu temples.
  • The Batu Caves in Malaysia are one of the most popular Hindu shrines outside India. It is the focal point of the annual Thaipusam festival in Malaysia and attracts over 1.5 million pilgrims, making it one of the largest religious gatherings in history.
  • Erawan Shrine, dedicated to Brahma, is one of the most popular religious shrines in Thailand.
  • Linguistic influence

    Scholars like Sheldon Pollock have used the term Sanskrit Cosmopolis to describe the region, and argued for millennium-long cultural exchanges without necessarily involving migration of peoples or colonisation. Pollock's 2006 book The Language of the Gods in the World of Men makes a case for studying the region as comparable with Latin Europe and argues that the Sanskrit language was its unifying element.

    Sanskrit and related languages have also influenced their Sino-Tibetan-speaking neighbours to the north through the spread of Buddhist texts in translation. Buddhism was spread to China by Mahayanist missionaries sent by Emperor Ashoka mostly through translations of Buddhist Hybrid Sanskrit and Classical Sanskrit texts, and many terms were transliterated directly and added to the Chinese vocabulary. The situation in Tibet is similar; many Sanskrit texts survive only in Tibetan translation (in the Tanjur).

    In Southeast Asia, languages such as Thai and Lao contain many loan words from Sanskrit, as does Khmer to a lesser extent. For example, in Thai, Rāvaṇa, the legendary emperor of Sri Lanka, is called 'Thosakanth' which is derived from his Sanskrit name 'Daśakaṇṭha' ("having ten necks").

    Many Sanskrit loanwords are also found in Austronesian languages, such as Javanese particularly the old form from which nearly half the vocabulary is derived from the language. Other Austronesian languages, such as traditional Malay, modern Indonesian, also derive much of their vocabulary from Sanskrit, albeit to a lesser extent, with a large proportion of words being derived from Arabic. Similarly, Philippine languages such as Tagalog have many Sanskrit loanwords.

    A Sanskrit loanword encountered in many Southeast Asian languages is the word bhāṣā, or spoken language, which is used to mean language in general, for example bahasa in Malay, Indonesian and Tausug, basa in Javanese, Sundanese, and Balinese, phasa in Thai and Lao, bhasa in Burmese, and phiesa in Khmer.

    Linguistic commonalities

  • In the Malay Archipelago: Indonesian, Javanese and Malay have absorbed a large amount of Sanskrit loanwords into their respective lexicons (see: Sanskrit loan words in Indonesian). Many languages of native lowland Filipinos such as Tagalog, Ilocano and Visayan contain numerous Sanskrit loanwords.
  • In Mainland Southeast Asia:Thai, Lao, Burmese, and Khmer language has absorbed a significant amount of Sanskrit as well as Pali.
  • Many Indonesian names have Sanskrit origin (e.g. Dewi Sartika, Megawati Sukarnoputri, Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, Teuku Wisnu).
  • Southeast Asian languages are traditionally written with Indic alphabets and therefor have extra letters not pronounced in the local language, so that original Sanskrit spelling can be preserved. An example is how the name of the King of Thailand, Bhumibol Adulyadej, is spelled in Sanskrit as "Bhumibol"ภูมิพล, yet is pronounced in Thai as "Phumipon" พูมิพน using Thai-Sanskrit pronunciation rules since the original Sanskrit sounds do not exist in Thai.
  • Toponyms

  • Suvarnabhumi is a toponym that has been historically associated with Southeast Asia. In Sanskrit it means "The Land of Gold". Thailand's Suvarnabhumi Airport is named after this toponym, signifying its intent to be a major transport hub of Southeast Asia.
  • Several of Indonesian toponyms has Indian parallel or origin, such as Madura with Mathura, Serayu and Sarayu river, Semeru with Sumeru mountain, Kalingga from Kalinga Kingdom, and Ngayogyakarta from Ayodhya.
  • Siamese ancient city of Ayutthaya also derived from Ramayana's Ayodhya.
  • Names of places could simply renders their Sanskrit origin, such as Singapore, from Singapura (Singha-pura the "lion city"), Jakarta from Jaya and kreta ("complete victory").
  • Some of Indonesian regencies such as Indragiri Hulu and Indragiri Hilir derived from Indragiri River, Indragiri itself means "mountain of Indra".
  • Some Thai toponyms also often have Indian parallels or Sanskrit origin, although the spellings are adapted to the Siamese tongue, such as Ratchaburi from Raja-puri ("king's city"), Buriram from Puri-Rama ("city of Rama"), and Nakhon Si Thammarat from Nagara Sri Dharmaraja.
  • The tendency to use Sanskrit for modern neologism also continued to modern day. In 1962 Indonesia changed the colonial name of New Guinean city of Hollandia to Jayapura ("glorious city"), Orange mountain range to Jayawijaya Mountains.
  • Malaysia named their new government seat as Putrajaya ("prince of glory") in 1999.
  • References

    Greater India Wikipedia

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