Short Essay on India’s relation with South East Asia (Indian History)


It was in South East Asia that India’s maritime trade and colonial activities found their full expression. The most notable feature of history of South East Asia in the 8th Century A.D. was the rise of the empire of Sailendras which comprised, Java, Sumatra, Malaya Penunsula and most of the Islands of Indian archipelago. Scholars express the view that Sailendras are a branch of Sailodbhaba dynasty that ruled Orissa in the Seventh Century A.D.

There were also may Hindu kingdoms in Java from 618 A.D to 906 A.D. Most important was called Ho-Ling. It is considered that Ho-Ling is the Chinese fom of ‘Kalinga’. It is inferred that colonists from Kalinga dominated Java or a part of it.

The establishment of Sailendra dynasty in South East Asia no doubt helped people from Orissa in particular and those from other parts of India in general to migrate to these regions in large numbers to build fortunes and the colonies. The result of these migrations was that the people of these regions adopted the religion, social manners, and customs, language and the alphabet of Indians. The caste system was introduced in Java. Brahminical Hinduism and Buddhism flourished side by side in these colonies. Brahminical Gods like Brahma, Vishnu and Siva came to be worshipped here. Siva was the most popular deity. Buddhism also spread widely in these parts. The Mahajan form of Buddhism gained supremacy. Consequently, Mahajanist gods gained ascendency in Java.


The study of Indian religious literature was the main feature of the religious life of the people of these region. Buddhism was the dominant religion in Kamboja, Burma and Sian Brahminical Hinduism also prevailed in other parts. One particular Siva Linga, namely the Bhadreswara linga, served as the tutelary deity of the ruling dynasty of Champa. A temple has been erected called Isanabhadreswar at Mi-son, which is a place of pilgrimage. Some deities like Bhagavati, Gouri, Uma, Mahadevi were widely worshipped in the southern part of Champa known as Kulhareswari. The image of Bhagavati Kulhareswar is worshipped in this place. The temple of Po-nagaro this deity became a national sanctuary of Champas.

Vaishnavism also played a vital role in the religious life of Champa. King Vikrant! Varman constructed many temples associated with Vishnu, Yama, Kubera, Chandra, Surya were also worshipped. Tantric gurus also played an important role as rajagurus especially in Kambuja. Sankara Pandita and Divakara Pandita played a leading role in the regions of Kambuja. Another interesting feature was the establishment of large number of ashramas all over Kambuja. These ashramas were primarily higher seats of learning. The most notable monument in Java is the famous Barabudur temple which is regarded as a wonder by the whole world. The Buddha images in this temple are considered the finest examples of Indo-Javanese art and they resemble their prototype in the Ratnagiri hill in Orissa.

Sanskrit language and literature of India made a deep impact on the culture and civilisation of South East Asia. A large number of Sanskrit inscriptions are found in Burma, Siam, Malaya, Penunsula, Cambadia, Annam, Java, Sumatra and Borneo. The oldest inscription is the Vo-chanh inscription in Champa, belonging to 2nd century A.D. Besides these, another fifty inscriptions have been discovered from the regions of Champa and Kambuja.

Epigraphic records contain a special reference to the study of the Vedas, the Smrities, the Ramayana and the Mahabharata along with sacred texts of Buddhist and Jains in these places. The name of Manu is also refered to while Panini and Patanjali find special mention.


The study of Indian literature was widely prevelent in Java. Many old Javanese works are based on themes supplied by the great epics of India. Among these are Arjuna Vivaha, Krishnaya and the Sumana Santaka. The greatest work was the Varata Yudha. Among other works of this class a Smaradahana, the Lubdhaka, the Bhomakavya etc.may be mentioned. The vast Indo Javanese literature bears eloquent testimony to the great influence of Sanskrit literature.

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