The present volume is a result of the resolve of the Swami Vivekananda Centenary Celebration and Vivekananda Rock Memorial Committee to publish a monumental Vivekananda Commemoration Volume on the occasion of the inauguration of the Vivekananda Rock Memorial at Kanyakumari. For carrying out the collection of articles, to edit them and finally to see them through the press a Vivekananda Commemoration Volume Publication Committee was formed under the auspices of the parent body. An Advisory Board was set up under the chairmanship of Prof. K.A. Nilakanta Sastri of Madras, with Dr. C. Sivaramamurti as the Vice-Chairman. Eminent scholars from all over India were represented in the Board. Similarly a committee of twenty Patrons of the Publication was formed under the Chairmanship of Shri S.K. Patil. The response to the Volume was world-wide, and we are fortunate in obtaining cooperation of luminaries of the scholarly world of Europe, America, Soviet Union and Asia as well as of eminent scholars from all over India to present a panorama of India's cultural pageant beyond her frontiers. His Holiness the Dalai Lame also honoured us by his contribution.
Swami Vivekananda being one among the many who carried India's thought beyond its frontiers, the Committee decided to remember, in this volume. India's projection in the outside world in various fields, temporal as well as spiritual, since the dawn of history. The Volume has, therefore, been titled "India's Contribution to World Thought and Culture".
The diffusion of India's cultural immensity over the vast expanses of Asia and other continents is a glorious epic of human achievement in the domain of thought and its expression in space and time.
Beyond the shimmering blue waters of Lake Baikal in the heart of Eastern Siberia lie monasteries studded with Indian images and silken scrolls of Tantric deities.
A little below lies the Mongolian people's Republic which has one of the richest treasures of translations of thousands of Sanskrit works, and rare icons of India's divinities like Mahakala, Kali, Ayushi, Tara-Devi, and so on.
From the Central Asian sands have been exhumed Sanskrit manuscripts, rare works of art, unique administrative documents in Prakrit, exquisite murals and objects of a high material culture all imbued with the spirit and form of India.
In the Far East, the sprawling mainland of China has preserved a rich heritage of the art, literature and philosophy of India. Stories of the Mahabharata in the classical Japanese theatre, the art traditions of Ajanta at Horyuji Temples, or Sanskrit Mantras, all are ageless symbols of India's contribution to Japan's evolution.
The Tibetan books on medicine, astronomy, grammar, rhetorics and poetics are inspired by Indian works of similar description.
The skyline of temples in Bangkok, Sanskrit words in the Thai language, Ramayana as the supreme expression of Thai theatre, Shaiva ceremonies at the Royal Court are parts of the stream that flows in the heart of Thailand from the deep of India's being. The enthralling stupa of Borobudur, the Shiva temple of Prambanan, the living presence of Hinduism in Bali, are some of the facets dynamics of our cultural spectrum in the isles of Indonesia.
The Volume also relates India's impact on European thought, Indian themes in European folklore, and the message of Sanatana Dharma (Universal Religion) to the modern man of Europe and America.
This Volume is a result of collaboration of several scholars from all parts of the world. But the moving spirit, invisible but ever active, ever inspiriting has been Shri Eknath Ranade, the Organising Secretary of the Vivekananda Rock Memorial Committee, and Publication Committee, whose constant readiness to fly from any distance of India to help with his wide experience and advice were always at the disposal of the editors. No detail has been trivial for him to solve the multiplicity of problems arising over the years.
The Volume details the dynamics of our cultural relations with Afghanistan, Central Asia, China, Korea, Japan, Nepal Tibet, Mongolia, Ceylon, Burma, Thailand, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Malaysia, Indonesia, Philippines Middle East, Africa, Europe and America. A section devoted to the tale of the construction of the Rock Memorial has been inserted after page 384. We considered it but meet to include the section as it was the completion of this memorial that provided an occasion and an cultural epos of India from the earliest period to its culmination in Swami Vivekananda is represented in this Volume.
In fine it may be mentioned that the volume aims at giving an overall idea of India's Contribution to World Thought and Culture both to the common intelligent reader and to the erudite scholar. A task like this is, indeed, difficult to perform. We therefore, decided to include a number of introductory and survey articles for the common reader and also to keep a few specialised articles for the well informed scholars.
Editors' grateful acknowledgements are due to many individuals and institutions without whose active help and support this volume would not have assumed this form.
We wish to express our sense of gratitude to the authors and publishers of the large number of books and articles from which our writers as well as the publishers have taken their illustrations. To our young promising scholars Sarvashri B. Datta. Pande, M. L. Sharma and Km. Chhaya Bhattacharya also we owe our thanks for giving us much help in the publication of this Volume.
Our indebtedness is also to Shri S.B. Deshaprabhu for preparing the layout of the Volume. Shri M.S. Mani for preparing line drawing illustrations, Prof. H. Hartel of the Museum fur Volkerkunde, West Berlin, for arranging colour photographs of well paintings from Kizil, Dr. M.S. Agrawal for colour photographs of Cambodian temples. Shri Darshan Lal and others for other colour photographs and Shri B.B. Datta for typing the manuscript. We also express our thanks to the Management, Times of India Press, Bombay, for giving us on loan the colour books of Plates IX and X and black-and-white blocks of Planets 88 to 91.
We shall be failing in our duty if we do not acknowledge the overnight work that Sarvashri B. L. Ganju, R. Srivastava, M.N. Kamath, P.N. Khanna, K. Singha, K.N. Jaychandran, J. Marathe and R.S. Wadhwa of Thomson Press had put in to print this Volume. We are equally grateful to the managers and workers of the Thomson Press, Faridabad and the Rational Art and Press Pvt. Ltd. Bombay, for the immense pains that they took in producing the Volume in a comparatively short time.
The idea of publishing the Vivekananda Commemoration Volume originated in connection with the construction of a Memorial Temple on the famous rock, off the coast of Kanya Kumari, sanctified by its association with Swami Vivekananda in one of the most crucial phases in his life, which proved to be a turning-point in his whole career.
It is impossible to comprehend fully the character and personality of a great soul like Vivekananda, but the great mission of spreading all over the world the essence of Hindu religion and culture must be regarded as one of the most important aspects of his life. For a long time it was believed, even by educated Indians, that unlike the missionaries of Buddhist, Christian and Islamic faiths no band of religious men ever went out of India to preach Hinduism in far off Foreign lands. Even Swami Vivekananda is reported to have observed in his reply to the Welcome Address at Pamban that "since the dawn of history, no missionary went out of India to propagate the Hindu doctrine and dogmas". But modern researches have proved beyond doubt that such a view is quite wrong. Attempt has been made to show in an article in this volume by Dr. S.P. Gupta that "the dispersal of Indian culture, at least in Soviet Central Asia, can be traced from the Early Stone Age which takes us back to about half a million years". But such studies of cultural contact between primitive peoples, being based almost solely on stone tools or other artifacts, can only give us very meager and vague ideas on the subject of what we properly recognize as human culture. Our definite knowledge of the spread of Indian culture in all its aspects, beyond India, beings from the third century B.C., and we are in a position to say that in the course of ages that culture was spread almost all over Asia, from Armenia to Japan, and from Eastern Siberia to Ceylon and islands of Indonesia; even further beyond, it left its impress upon other cultures.
The story of the spread of Buddhism since the time of Asoka, about the middle of the third century B.C., is well known. Far less known is the fact that Hinduism i.e. the Puranic form of Brahmanical religion, was also spread in all parts of Asia, and abundant traces of Hinduism and other aspects of Indian culture associated with it still remain in various regions of the continent. It would, perhaps, be a news to many that there was an Indian colony in the region of the Upper Euphrates river, to the west of Lake Van, as early as the second century B.C., and the temples of Hindu gods, like Krsna, erected there were destroyed by the Christian monk St. Gregory early in the fourth century A.D., defeating the Indians who stoutly resisted the iconoclastic fury of the Christians. It is hardly necessary to refer to the numerous magnificent remains of Hindu temples in Indo-China and Indonesia to prove the mature and extent of the missionary zeal of the Hindus in remote parts of Asia.
This great truth about Hinduism was hitherto ignored or obscured by the fact that there is no evidence of such missionary spirit of the Hindus during the last one thousand years or more. It was Swami Vivekananda who revived the old missionary spirit of Hinduism towards the close of the Nineteenth Century A.D.
This Commemoration Volume is primarily intended to bring home to the minds of all this long-forgotten, but very important, chapter in the history of Indian culture in general, and of Hinduism in particular, which has been rescued from oblivion by modern researches. Even a cursory glance at the Table of contents of this volume would show that this episode an epoch-making discovery from the point of view of Indian culture is the main thread which binds together the different articles it contains. In order to emphasize this aspect the articles have been classified under different countries outside India where either the religion and other elements of Indian culture were generally adopted by the people at large or the existing culture was greatly influenced and modified by that of India. Tibet, Central Asia, China, Japan, Burma, Indo-China and Indonesia formed very powerful strongholds of Indian culture, and several articles have been devoted to them. Nearer home, Afghanistan, Ceylon and Nepal have formed subjects of discussion, though the intimate relations between India's cultural contact with such cultural relations of India with Middle East, Europe and America.
These detailed accounts are preceded by a number of articles which give a broad survey, and may be regarded as a general review. Most of these describe India's cultural contact, not with specific countries but with wider stretches of regions, and discuss specific items of culture such as medical science, art and architecture, geographical nomenclature borrowed from India by other countries, etc. They also include subjects basically connected with the cultural contact between India and the outside world, such as shipping and maritime adventure, trading activities in or with foreign countries. Attention may be drawn once again to the fact that these articles conclusively prove that contrary to popular notion, not only religion and philosophy but various other aspects of Indian culture, specially art, literature and even technical sciences were spread to many foreign lands.
While this summery gives some ideas of the comprehensive nature of this volume and the general plan underlying it, the names of contributors would indicate the wide range of talents, not only from india, but also from other countries in Asia, Europe and America, whose knowledge has been laid under contribution for making to enable us to arrive at a definite conclusion or reasonable hypothesis.
In spite of these and probably a few other shortcomings that may be noticed in this big volume, it will, I hope, be generally conceded that it is a remarkable attempt to throw light from various points of view, on a very important aspect of Indian culture. As, in the case of individuals, their real greatness is to be judged, not so much by the wealth, knowledge or experience which they themselves possess, but by the extent to which these are applied towards the welfare and improvement of their fellow-countrymen, the greatness of nations may not unnaturally be measured by their contribution to the upliftment of other, particularly less developed or less fortunate, peoples. Judged by this standard of greatness the Indians may Justly rank with Greece, Rome, and China. This is no mean tribute and this volume may be regarded as a testimony to such greatness.
Vivekananda Kendra has great pleasure in bringing out the new edition of "INDIA'S CONTRIBUTION TO WORLD THOUGHT AND CULTURE". It has been long out of print and there was a steadily growing demand for the same from all parts of the country and even abroad. We wanted to update the contents by giving additional material on the subject, but we realised that it is a difficult task considering the kind of material required and the paucity of contributors of the requisite type. Finally, it was decided that it is better to reprint the present volume rather than waiting for additional material indefinitely.
"INDIA'S CONTRIBUTION TO WORLD THOUGHT AND CULTURE" is a monumental volume, which was published as commemoration volume of Vivekananda Rock Memorial in the year 1970 under the supervision of an editorial board consisting of scholars of national and international reputation. It throws light on Mother India's contribution spreading across all the countries of the world with adequate descriptions and also suitable illustrations. It presents a fairly comprehensive history of India's cultural expansion during the last many centuries. As Swami Vivekananda has pointed out, the spread of Hindu cultural influence is amazing and incomparable when we consider that this feat was achieved not through military might or imperial domination. It was achieved over the centuries by peaceful cultural contacts undertaken in a sustained manner by generations of dedicated sons and daughters of Mother India. The great debt the world owes to India has been liberally acknowledged by eminent personalities.
'Globalisation' was practised by our adventurous ancestors and cultural ambassadors long before the slogan of globalisation has been currently employed to mark international trade and world market founded on competitive commercialism. We are experiencing today the unwholsome effects of the materialistic gobalism without the sobering influence of a spiritually tempered humane culture. It is in this back ground that this great book has a message for all those who have a say in shaping of a New World Order.
The publishers are confident that this new edition will be warmly received by laymen and scholars alike. It will also enrich the libraries of educational and cultural institutions.
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