How the Governmental Polity helps in expanding the Indian Culture in South East Asia


Kingship, as we understand it today, began in South East Asia only under Indian influence. Succession by heredity, appointment of wise men, particularly the Brahmins, as mantris or advisers, the long ceremonies of coronation as were to be seen prominently in Cambodia and Siam are all of them Indian in character. Both Indian kingship and Indian religious forms had equal appeal to the Malaysians.

In time the ideas got intermingled and images of gods were made in the likeness of kings and vice versa.

Thus the images of king Suryavarman of Cambodia were given to that of Vishnu in the Angor Vat and that of Jayavarman VII to the image of Avalokesvara in the Angor Tom. The Bodisatva’s face in the Barabudur Chandi is that of the Sailendra king. In the same way gods were made to represent kings.


Thus the lingam erected by Bhasdravarman was called Bhadrisvarar, and that erected after the father of Indravarman I was called Indresvarar. In times, kings and their relatives also came to have statues like gods-Indralakshmi was a statue made in memory of the sister of Jayavarman V, Indradevi, was the statue of the younger wife of Jayavarman VII etc.

Thus was easily born the idea of the Devaraja cult which was a cult of the god-king. A figure exhibits Jayavarman II in Indrapura in the form of Siva, another shows Suryavarman in the form of Vishnu in Angor Vat and a third exhibits Jayavarman VII in the form of Buddha in Angor Tom.

The Dharmasastras and particularly that of Manu as well as the Arthasastra of Kautilya had an immense run in the politics of South East Asia. Beginning from the acceptance of the four varnas, the South East Asians have accepted much of Indian adminstrative methods, in tendering justice, in going to war, in the making of laws, in honouring religious preceptors and ancient law givers.

We find the rajagura and the mahasenathipathi as well as chief minister playing the same role among these people as they did in India and under the same name. Even the araichimani (bell announcing the complainant) is epigraphically referred to.

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