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India, Tibet, Indonesia

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Albeit Indians are mentioned in the 'De Carolo Magno' by the monk of St. Gall, like being a people part of Orient, India nor Tibet are known to have had any direct a relationship with the Carolingian empire. In the booty taken from the Avar ring on a other hand, 'swords of Indian origin' had been found

for these countries of the region, see, too, the page 'The Nestorians, Missionaries in China and A Power Under the Abassides'


Time, in terms of history, in India, is considered a deceptive world only because the basics of the world's move has to be the realization and freeing of the self, which is about to cease the cycle of rebirths. That is true for Hinduists as well the Jainists or Buddhists, as a same aim is to reach 'nirvana.'

The Origins

The Indus Valley -currently Pakistan- was another primary location of the Neolithic Revolution, about 7000 B.C., as it eventually turned into the 'Indus Valley' or the 'Harapean' civilization about 3,300 B.C. The Indus or Harappan civilization, extending upon what is now India, Pakistan, Nepal and Bangladesh, with a count of 10 percent of the world population developed about 3,200 years B.D., and slowly disintegrated between 1,900 and 1,000 B.C. as populations abandoned cities and migrated toward toward the Ganges basin. They had developed, like many other civilization of the Neolithics, along a river to take advantage of the irrigation and transport possibilities. They were a civilization of feodal lords, of engineeers which, through the first urban planification process in history, mastered the creation of functional and sophisticated cities, with plumbing, agreable to their inhabitants. They had sea links with Mesopotamia, internal trade routes, arts and crafts, and a yet undeciphered writing and they seem to have been a more democratic society than Mesopotamia and Egypt with no large structures were built for important personalities. The civilization was fed in water by rivers fed by monsoon rains. Harapean writing still has not been deciphered as some archeologists think that either Harappans did not master writing or that supports of it which would have allowed to understand it, disappeared. The variation of insolation or the solar energy received by the Earth from the Sun impacted monsoons as, since the highest insolation which lasted in the northern hemisphere from 5,000 to 3,000 B.C, it decreased. The monsoon weakened during 200 years, hence the rivers of the Harappans which were forced to migrate towards the Ganges where monsoon kept alike. The Harapean civilization was followed by the 'Vedic civilization', that is a civilization which arose from the arrival of Indo-Aryan nomads about 1750 B.C. and their encounter with the 'Dravidian' cultures -possibly the remnants of the Indus Valley Civilization or more likely, the aborigenal people of India. Some scholars are stressing that the opposition between Aryans (those Indo-europeans of northern India) and Dravidians (the aborigenal people of the Indian subcontinent which lasted in southern India) is a ideological and racial construction in the 19th century, which, at the time, did not match any reality due to that the populations had merged between themselves. Once settled into northern India, the Indo-European herders progressively sedentarized themselves and turned farmers. Their brahmans' (priests) Sanskrit culture merged with the preexisting civilization et eventually gave birth to Hinduism between 1500 and 500 B.C. Then, by 500 B.C., the four Indian castes, or 'varna', formed with the priests, the warriers, the farmers and servants as the Gange valley sawn thus a new urban civilization, with fortifed cities which were the centers to a active trade. By the 5th century B.C. too, two religious cults, Jainism and Buddhism which stood againts the Veda religion and the castes system as a large kingdom is appearing along the Gange River, the Magadha which eventually had stretched above about all of norther India at the time when Alexander the Great, by 326 B.C., made contact with the subcontinent. Then came a millenium -from the Maurya to the Gupta dynasty- which constituted the apex of the Brahmanic culture. King Chandragupta Maurya took power in the Magadha by about 350 A.D. as his dynasty culminated under emperor Asoka (264-227 B.C.). The latter reigned over the whole of India, the southernmost parts excepted. That empire was better a pyramidal set of subjected kingdoms albeit it featured a bureaucracy and a army. In terms of arts, that epoch was one of the Greek and Achemenid influence. Asoka was also knowned like a Buddhist and devout emperor with that religion then in full expansion. The Maurya empire built from the instability brought to northwestern India by the incursions by the Persians, and then by Alexander the Great, as one of its first ruler adhered to the religion of jainism. It was Siddhartha Gautama, a Indian prince, who initiated Buddhism about 500 B.C., as emperor Ashoka converted to Buddhism about 250 B.C. Asoka made his decision after a military campaign which ended into a dreadful massacre, which brought him to non-violence. Decrees of Ashoka, which were imprinted with the philosophy of Buddha, were engraved upon sandstone columns as the emperor contributed to embellish the locations where eight urns had been interred 150 years before, as ashes of Buddha had been dispatched between them. A other story is that, after the Buddha entered 'parinirvana,' or that final death that breaks the cycle of reincarnation, his body was cremated near the Hirannavati River in India and King Ashoka decided to preserve the Buddha's remains, which he divided into 84,000 shares. Those periods were a period too of contacts with the worlds West of India, like Persia or the Greek empire of Alexander. Ashoka's Buddhism, under the form of his 'Tables of Peace,' reached to Vietnam, Sri Lanka, or the Mediterranean shores. Buddhism of that time commanded to a strict vegetarianism. After Asoka, the Maurya empire dislocated, letting room to the Middle Kingdoms of India, which saw northwestern India invaded by various peoples, like the Greeks, the Scythians or the Parthians. Greek kings, who had came from Bactriana by the 3rd century B.C. reigned in Pendjab when the Greco-buddhist civilization reached its apogee. That was also the time when nomad peoples came and invaded from high Asia, like the Sakas in the northwest, the Parthians and the Kuchans. Kuchans by the turn of Christian era, stretched from Central Asia to Benares, setting a territorial room of tolerance in terms of religions, of cities, of philosophy, arts, irrigated farming and large distance trade (among which through the Western Ghats passes). The city of Purushapura (current Peshawar) was the capital and Buddhism then began to export itself towards high Asia and China as the Greco-buddhist arts kept its influence, especially by the Ganhara. Despite that time of breaking up, India however featured the development of a powerful trade -with corporations and craft- which reached up to Central and western Asia and too up to the Mediterranean Sea, along with a large cultural move, with the development of Buddhism (with the schism between 'Small' and 'Large Vehicle') and Jainism, and art

The Vedas and the Hinduism

The Vedic civilization is the one which developed the classic culture of India, that is the one based on the sacred texts of the Vedas, the foundations to Hinduism, as it lasted from about 1500 B.C. to the 6th century B.C, centered North of India. Vedas are revealed texts, the most ancient of them having been gathered about 2,000 B.C. into the Rig-Vena, a set of prayers and a explanation of the Universe. Upanishads are the last parts of the Vedas and are about death's mystery and Universe's unity. Reading both texts is restricted to initiated males of higher castes. A series of latter other texts are not revealed but more practical texts about home rituals, politics, etc. The Mahabharata (about 1,000 B.C. with additions by 500 B.C., of which the Bhagavad-Gita) is a epic telling the feats of Krishna in the fundamental fight between gods and devils and too a dialog between him and Arjuna, a other god. It also holds philosophical and theological teachings. The Ramayana (3rd or 2nd century B.C.) also is about a fight between gods and devils with the events of the life of Rama, a incarnation of Vishnu as Rama is helped in by the army of monkeys commanded by their god Hanuman. Both those texts are also restricted for reading by initiated. Puranas at last are texts which expand those epics and develop the concept of 'Trimurti,' or trinity of the essential spirit as their reading is not restricted. Hinduism, as far as it is concerned, is basing upon the concept of 'brahman,' a eternal and infinite spirit, being at the origin of everything. Gods and goddesses are only the material expression of it. As far as men are concerned, their terrestrial life is cyclical and the object of successive reincarnations, or 'samsara.' A reincarnation depends upon how one's life was conducted, or 'karma' and of the respect, or not, of the 'dharma,' a moral and social code. Should the karma having been right one can be reincarnated into a higher caste as the 'moksha,' or 'freeing,' is reached through a sufficient knowledge of self at it allows to be freed from the lifes cycke. The brahman is considered a trinity (for the creation, preservation and destruction of the Universe), or Trimurti (which symbol is the sacred syllable, or "mantra,' Ôm). The brahman thus is constituted by three main gods. Brahma is the one which creates the Universe and then just meditates as he is riding a swan and possesses four bearded heads pointing to cardinal points. His wife is the goddess of knowledge. Vishnu then is the protector of all what is good as he rides Garuda, a half-man, half-bird creature. The Gange river is believed to flow from his feet as his wife is the goddess of prosperity. Shiva at last, is the god which destroys as he allows re-creation through destruction. He rides a bull and his weapon is a trident which figures the Trimurti. Shiva might also be the lord of yoga. Other major deities also exist, like Ganesh, the elephant-shaped god, the son to Shiva, the god of good luck and of scribes (because a elephant tusk would have been used to write a part of the Mahabharata). Also Krishna, which is a incarnation of Vishnu, as he is fighting the evil; he features a bluish complexion. Or Hanuman, god of monkeys and god of devotion. Those are added with 330 million of other deities! Hinduist prayers are performed before the home altar, or in temples. Cows and snakes are sacred animals as banian, the mango tree and lotus are in the plants' kingdom. Two great devotional currents existed -and still exist- in India as each is either stressing Vishnu, or Shiva, like the main god, close to the transcendental divine. Vishnuism is mainly extend in northern India as Shivaism South. That division is mainly practiced by superior casts as it also impacts Indian philosophy

The Gupta Dynasty and After

The 'Gupta dynasty' lasted 250-550 A.D. It started in the Magadha as it brought back a time of unification -from Gujarat to Bengal- which in turn brought what is called the 'Golden Age of India,' with a general properity, a refined society, tolerance for Buddhism -which bloomed- as the rulers, along with the merchants corporations protected letters and arts, which reached their classicial age. Science, mathematics, astronomy, religion and philosophy flourised. This period of the history of India was considered the equivalent of such great periods of history like the Han or Tang dynasty, in China, or Rome, in the West. Education included grammar, composition, logic, metaphysics, mathematics, medicine, and astronomy, with each domain becoming highly specialized and of a high level. The Indians, for example, created then the numeral -and decimal- system -which is erroneously attributed to the Arabs- which then sprung to Rome. In astronomy, the solar year and the shape and motion of astronomical bodies were computed with remarkable accuracy. Medicine too made sharp progresses then despite dissection and anatomy discouraged by the religious injunctions against contact with dead bodies and the progress in physiology and biology. Free hospitals were established, as the Indian physicians excelled in pharmacopoeia, bone setting, skin grafting, or caesarean section. Such advances soon spread to the Middle East and in Europe. The Gupta empire was eventually overran by the invasions of the White Huns (or 'Hunas') those Hephthalite, or Indo-Hephthalite nomads -likely of Central Asia origin in the Altai, not related to the real Huns- beginning their invasion about the 480's A.D. That heralded the end of the classical age of the Indian civilization. The Hepthalite Huns were eventually swiftly repelled, by the end of the 6th century A.D. into Central Asia where they were destroyed by the Turks but India nonetheless returned back into breaking up during six centuries, letting civilization to the southernmost of the Deccan. Northern India was the location of a struggle of influences and of various dynasties. The Pratahiras (in Rajahstan and northern India, 6th-11th century; they were Rajputs), the Palas (with their empire centered in Bengal, 8th-12th century), and the Rashtrakutas (ruling in the Deccan, 8th-10th century) were the three main powers fighting for control of northern India, as some early Rajput kingdoms already existed leading to the other new power there during the 9th, 10th and 11th centuries, as, at those times, occurred too the invasions by the Turk-dominated Muslim dynasties of the Middle-East

Southern India

As the previous descriptions concern northern India, mostly, southern India tends to have had a separate history, as it was mostly never included into the northern Indian empires. South India is owing its originality to that its shores were the point of contact between the Mediterranean and the Far-Eastern worlds. Southern India had several significant dynasties. It's under the Mauryas only that the South was included into a northern dominion. Then, by the 7th and 8th centuries A.D., the Pallava dynasty was predominant with the first stone buildings and a mystical poetry before it let room, about 850, during 4 centuries, to the Colas of Thanjavur the power of which was associated with their ritual function. The Colas founded a southern empire the irrigated farming of which was very well managed as their temples were richly endowed. That dynasty supported traders and issued military expeditions against the Indonesian kingdom of Srivijaya which controled the straights to eastern Asia. The South of India during the Caroligian era, or the Deccan, was also controled by the Rashtrakutas (South and center of the Deccan, 8th-10th century; great contributions from Jaina mathematicians and scholars). In south-central India, it was the Chalukya dynasty and culture which was ruling (6th-12th century) albeit attacked to its North by the Rastrakutas, with the Chera dynasty to the southwestern tip of India, current Kerala. Pline the Elder already in the 3rd century B.C. stated that the area was the place to a active spices trade with the Phenicians and Rome. The main harbor to the Cheras was Cranganore which later turned silted up. The kingdom, until the 15th century, remained to place to the commerce of spices, ivory, timber, pearls and gems with the Middle East and Europe. The Pallavas, further, were found to the southeast. The Pandyan kingdom, at last, ruled over the Tamil country, in the southeast and related to Sri Lanka. That was a great epoch for the Indian diaspora in southeastern Asia where Hinduised states developed. Ancien India exported its culture along the whole of the area during more than a millenium beginning in the 3rd century B.C. That constituted a unique example a expansion which occurred culturally -with a deep installation of the cultural Indian values- only, and not through a military conquest. The cities of Borobodur, for example, in Java, Angkor in Cambodia, or Pagan in Burma were built between the 9th and 13th centuries A.D. That diffusion was the fact of Indian traders along with brahamns and Buddhist and Jainist monks, as those clerics provided the local elites with a set of materials in scholarship and politics

->Sri Lanka
The Sri Lanka emerged into History between the 3rd century B.C and the 3rd A.D. only, as its was inhabited by hunters-gatherers. It was first referenced to in the Indian epic Ramayana. Sri Lanka might have been Ptolimy's island of Taprobane, know by Egyptians, maybe King Solomon, by Greeks and later Romans as it was rich with gemstones, gold, marble, or cinnamon. Sri Lanka was part of the southern, Tamul, Indian Pandya empire (600 B.C.-1345 A.D.) then Prince Vijaya, who came from Bengal is supposed to have created the Kingdom of Tambapanni and founded a dynasty which lasted into 1815 A.D. That episode is allowing the Sri Lanka people to refer to a Indo-Aryan lineage. Another kingdom, the Anuradhapura Kingdom (377 B.C.-1017 A.D.) appeared. It was the time when Buddhism was introduced on the island likely by the son of Indian emperor Asoka. Sri Lanka, along its history, endured invasions from neighbouring powers. Fourth Buddhist Council, by 25 B.C., was gathered to lay written the religion's texts as monks feared that their tradition might disappear, as it had remained oral until then. By the time of the classical Western Middle Ages, the system of water reservoirs was expanded but the island eventually entered decline. Portuguese reached Sri Lanka by 1505 A.D. and settled as the island passed after that to Dutch (1658) et eventually the UK (1796). Since the British colonial rule, the islande was known like 'Ceylon'

Historians think that, since the 6th century B.C., India, despite the various change in its history, had, from the 1st to the 15th century A.D., the largest economy of the ancient world, controlling between one third and one quarter of the world's wealth. By 1640 A.D. still, Moghol ruler Shah Jahan, who had the Taj Mahal constructed, endowed his court with a budget of 20 million euros as the court of England's one was of 50,000 euros only at the time and he had a throne of one ton of gold built! Hinduism, buddhism and jainism were, until as far as our period is concerned, the main cultural components of India. Muslim occupation of India brought a harsh exploitation of conquered peoples through slavery and deportation


The northern, tall mountain ranges and the Himalayas likely allowed Tibet to develop a civilization independent from China, and India, respectively. Hunter-gatherers may have lived in the harsh environment of the Tibetan Plateau at least 7,400 years ago. Chinese and Tibeto-Burmans might have begun together like nomadic peoples in the steppes, as the latter remained such, when Chinese settled and became farmers in the Yellow River valley. Tibet split in turn from Burma around 500 A.D. only. It might that, as far as Tibet is concerned, the history had been a conquest by long headed, nomadic nobles, who submitted round headed, peasants. As the mythic history of Tibet states that the first Tibetan king came from India, a series of emperors ruled Tibet from the 7th to the 11th century. Tibet was first mentioned by foreigners in the Geography, by Ptolemy -in the 2nd century A.D.- or by a Chinese text. Tibet, further, sent an ambassador to China in the early 7th century. At that time, some feudal fights led to that a fledgling state appeared, centered on a castle name Taktsé, in the Chingba district of Chonggyä. The ruler was Namri Löntsän. His son Songtsän Gampo succeded him after he was poisoned, as he put down a brief rebellion. This emperor ended by gaining reconnaissance from China who eventually agreed to give him a princess in mariage, about 636. Various campaigns East and West allowed the Tibetan emperor to expand his dominions, with Buddhism, on the other hand, invited to Tibet, as relations with China were good. Miscellaneous events followed, between 650 and 704 A.D. under the Tibetan Tubo Kingdom (618-842), with conquests, internal struggles -as the power in Tibet was based on the influence of a minister, and possibly his clan. After some disagreement with China, peace came back in 702, as fights resumed here after. Various alliances and breaks of alliances with the Arabs or the Turks led to that China eventually deprived Tibet from all its conquered territories in Central Asia by 750. The Tibetan emperor Trisong Detsän however (756-797) took profit of an internal rebellion in the Tang empire, as he regained his territories in Central Asia and even reached and occupied the Chinese capital Chang'an by 763-64, installing a puppet emperor! The relations with the Hephthalites had allowed as early as the 6th and 7th centuries, Christianity to reach Tibet, with a strong presence in the 8th century. Struggles with the Arabs and nomadic peoples kept on about 800, as a peace treaty was enforced with China during about 20 years, after 821. A civil war, triggered by the influx of displaced persons from the North due to the collapse of the Uyghur state at the northern border, unfolded bringing to the end of an unified Tibet from 842 the 13th century despite some control retained over central Tibet. Buddhism, beginning by the year 1000, was the main contributor the the renaissance of a strong Tibet, from the monastery of Sakya. Any such effort however was brought to an end, as Tibet was eventually surrendered by the Monks of the Sakya sect, in 1246, to the Mongolese China. On a other hand, The Bodnath stupa, built in Katmandu, Nepal after 600 A.D. at a period when Buddism was expanding into Tibet and Nepal, was located along the ancient trade route of Tibet


A locus of passage for ancient humans to Australia, Austronesian people came from the island of Taiwan about 2,000 years B.C. and spread through the archipelago. They installed the agricultural revolution. Indonesia was located about major sea lanes, which eventually brought to relations with both India and China early. A powerful kingdom, the Srivijaya, emerged since the 7th century A.D. as it imported the influence of Hinduism and Buddhisme altogether. That kingdom was succeded by varied dynasties between the 8th and 9th centuries -- it's at that time that the Borobudur, Buddisht temple was built and turned a major Buddisht pilgrimage site, representing mountains of the Himalayas. A series of geographical shifts and succession of polities occurred since about 925 A.D. as the arrival of Islam is obvious by the 13th century in northern Sumatra only despite the Muslim traders traveled in the Indonesian straits early. The Hindu Majapahit kingdom, founded by the late 13th century A.D., became then the predominent force on the islands. Europeans then arrived with the Portuguese in 1512 A.D. in search of spices

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