India’s Cultural Invasions

It’s widely regarded that India did not invade any country and Switzerland never participated in a war or an armed conflict. While I am no expert on Switzerland’s military conquests, but, I certainly know a thing or two of India. 

As you are aware, India was repeatedly stress-tested by Military invasion of a range of other civilization or Tribes or even barbaric cults. Chronologically they list as Greek-Macedonians (Darius1, Alexander, Seleucid etc.), Scythian, Kushans, Huns, Arabs (Mohd bin Qasim), Afghans (Ghazni, Ghori), Mongols, Turco-Mongol (Timurlane, Babur), Persians (Nader Shah), Afghani’s again (Durrani), Europeans (British, Dutch, French), Pakistan and China post-independence. In return, never gathered her army beyond with thirst of more land. Well, almost. The only exception in recorded history was the Great Cholas sent their Armada to south-east Asian countries on a Naval expedition. 

If you take a step back, we almost always refer to military conflicts as an invasion resulted in bloodshed. What about those aren’t armed conflicts? India does certainly have many such in this category.!! Let’s include Collisions, migrations and cultural dominations. 

The First one was pretty pre-historic, it was those days when India was still an island which was many many million years ago. Subsequently and eventually India drifted along the Indian ocean and collided with Asia and pushed it hard, resulting in the creation of Himalayas. This had a devastating effect on the fundamental structure and ecology of Asia and Africa. The Himalayas blocked the natural air currents and India blocked natural ocean currents, permanently. Forests became savannas, and savannas become Saharas. If you are interested in reading more about this, please read- Bill Bryson’s book “A short history of everything”. 

The Second invasion was through human migration. Series of Hominoid species, foraging societies, once settled in India chose to migrate/invade most of south-east Asia and beyond. This happened despite unfavourable conditions such as 100s of miles of ocean on between. We still don’t know how did they do it even before inventing a basic raft; still, they did it. The results are again devastating; it resulted in the extinction of a large number of species. For example, 95% of Australia’s large animals were extinct within decades of arrivals of humans while they had been evolving there for millions of years before that. For a deeper understanding, please read “Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind” a book by Yuval Noah Harari.

The final Invasion was cultural. It is said, “India conquered and dominated China culturally for 20 centuries without ever having to send a single soldier across her border.” This quote is attributed to Hu Shih, a Chinese Ambassador to the US. Let’s not delve into if he said it or not, but there is no dispute behind the sentiment. India culturally dominated almost entire eat Asia, south-east Asia, all the way till the Philippines for centuries. There is overwhelming evidence written on stones! They are indeed literally written on stones. Indonesia, Thailand, Cambodia wherever you look. I recommend you start from here on How South East Asia Was Indianised

I intend to leave a running list of “Did you know.” on this cultural invasion. However, I will only provide the glimpse rather than full details. Please let me know if I have missed anything significant.

  1. Father of Zen school of Buddhism was Bodhidharma. It was argued that he is a son of Pallava king from South of India. 
  2. It is said that all Korean surnamed Kim trace their lineage back to Ayodhya! all 6 million of present-day Korean remember an Indian princess Heo Hwang-ok. Refer image above and link.
  3. If you are interested in linguistics and commonalities of languages, it’s a no brainer
  4. Let’s not miss out Japan! Some Japanese worship a goddess named Benzaiten (弁才天, 弁財天) is a Japanese Buddhist goddess who originated from the Hindu goddess Saraswati.