VOL. 1 NO. 15 DELHI: Ashwin Krishna 10, October 9, 1947 FOUR ANNAS
How many Hindus of the present generation know that there was a period in the course of the long history of Hindusthan when our ancient forefathers, pioneers of civilization, taught culture and civilization to many countries of the world? In those days Hindu missionaries inspired by the lofty ideals of Arya Hindu Dharma, went out, crossing seas and mountains, to distant lands to preach the message of Hindu Dharma. The traces of these cultural contacts are still found in abundance, scattered all over in those countries.
There was an unprecedented wave of missionary enthusiasm among the Hindus during the period of Ashoka. His missionaries went to all the different countries of the world –from Syria to Japan. The cultural contact between China and Hindusthan was specially remarkable.
With the spread of Buddhism in China, there began a long succession of pilgrims and scholars who travelled by the land route.
The earliest record of a Hindu scholars’ visit to China is that of Kashyap Matanga who flourished in the first Century of the Christian Era. Later followed many noted Hindu scholars who went to China not only carried many Sanskrit manuscripts with them.
Likewise many Chinese pilgrims and scholars in quest of knowledge and truth came to Hindusthan. Among them the best known are fahien, Huen-tsang and Itsing.
Huen-tsang tells us of the Buddhist rulers in Central Asia and of the Turks. He travelled all over the country and spent many years at the famous University of Nalanda. It is said that the University attracted as many as 10,000 students and monks from every corner of the country.
With the decay of Buddhism, however, this cultural contact between, Hindusthan and China gradually faded away. But the effect of this contact lasts to this day.
Besides China there were various other countries in the mainland of Asia, where Hindu culture flourished in all its glory for centuries together.
Our cultural contact with the countries of South-East Asia, also called Greater Hindusthan, was specially remarkable in many respects the influence of the Hindus is still traceable in the language spoken there which has a good admixture of Sanskrit words in it.
In ancient Sanskrit works there are references to many other countries. The old stories in Sanskrit and Pali contain many accounts of sea voyages by the Hindus of those days. The Hindus were expert ship-builders and ship-building was a well-developed and flourishing industry in our country.
Cloth industry was specially a flourishing industry in those days. Silk was also manufactured from very early times. Hindus were experts in those days in the art of dyeing cloth. The very word indigo is Hindu origin. Our steel and iron were also in great demand in foreign countries.
The Hindus in those days were bubbling over with energy and spread out far and wide. Wherever they went they carried with them not only their thought, their philosophy and their religion, but also their art and architecture, language and literature, social customs and methods of government. Hindu civilization was imbibed in a special degree by the countries of South-East Asia. There were great centres of Sanskrit learning in these countries.
The old literatures of these places in Indonesia are full of Hindu myth and legend. The dances of Java and Bali were derived from Hindusthan. Bali is, even to this day, a Hindu country and its people follow Hindu religion in a purer form than we do in Hindusthan. The Phillipines and Cambodia derived their art of writing from us. In Cambodia numerous Sanskrit words were taken over with slight variations.
But it is in the art and architecture of these countries that the influence of Hindu culture and civilization is specially remarkable. The old monuments and wonderful temples of Borobudur in Java and Angkor in Cambodia (Indo-China) show the extent to which this influence had penetrated the life of the people in these countries. At other places in Java are carved in stone the legends of Vishnu and Rama and Krishna. As for the Angkor Temple which is dedicated to God Vishnu, it stands to this day as one of the wonders of the world.
In the days of her glory Hindusthan was a mother country to so many countries of Asia. Now that Hindusthan has got her freedom, will her sons revive that glory again?
-From A Correspondent