- While reading Diana Eck’s India: A Sacred Geography, Sunil Deepak has questions like why our ancient traditions are not taught in schools. He argues that we need to break out of the cultural colonization of the mind
- Why did Asoka write some his edicts in Aramaic? Fëanor investigates
- Judith Weingarten writes about the history of Bamiyan and the various travelers who wrote about their visits.
- Indian History and Architecture blog has a post about the Harihareshvara temple and the author goes over various inscriptions found in the town.
- Calicut Heritage attended a discussion in Singapore in which the topic was if Zheng He‘s voyages were part of China’s imperialist designs?
I feel that we have a kind of cultural colonization of our minds, where we pretend that only western linear-rational way of thinking exists, and world needs to be understood exclusively according to this logic. The non-linear and apparently contradictory thinking pervades our cultures, but we pretend that it does not merit acknowledgement or understanding.
We need to break free of this cultural colonization and learn to look at our ancient myths, stories and traditions as living paradigms that influence and shape us even today
Why Aramaic? Well, that was the main language of communication across the Near East and the erstwhile Persian empire. (Recall it had fallen less than a century earlier.) Rather unchauvinistically, the Achaemenid rules of Iran didn’t impose their own lingo on their subjects. The Greek bit is slightly more comprehensible – there were Greek-speaking peoples dotting the sundry Alexandrias set up by that maniac eponymous conqueror all the way from Greece to the Hindu Kush. According to Carratelli (the translator above) it appears that the Seleucid rulers of the area were in the process of establishing Greek as official bureaucratic language, but because it’s unlikely that Ashoka was propagandising outside his empire, he must have been aiming his bilingual texts for Greeks living within it. (Why is it unlikely?)
Visitors of an entirely different kind arrived in Bamiyan in the 19th century, adventurers and spies heading to or from British India. The antiquarian Charles Masson (actually a deserter from the British army) arrived in 1832. An early excavator of Buddhist sites, he also worked surreptitiously for the British as their ‘Agent in Cabul for communicating intelligence of the state of affairs in that quarter on a salary of Rs. 250 per annum.’ It didn’t take long for Afghan authorities to realize — correctly — that English archaeologists was just another way of saying English spies.
No 82, Inscriptions of the Chalukyas of Badami – Language Sanskrit, script Early Kannada – dated Saka 616 (694-95 CE) – The purpose of the record was to register the grant of the village Kirukagamasi in Edevolal-vishaya in Vanavasi-mandala to Ishanasharma of Vatsya-gotra who was the son of Marasharma and grandson of Shrisharma, who had performed the Soma sacrifice. The donee was an adept in Vedas and Vedangas. The grant was given at the request of illustrious Aluvaraja when the king Vinayaditya was in his victorious camp at Karanjapatra in the neighborhood of Hareshpura. Given also were cultivated and uncultivated fields on the west of village Pergamasi. In the connection with the boundaries of these fields are mentioned certain villages, viz., Pulivutu near Sirigodu, Karvasurigola, Perbutu, Algire, Algola, Nittakala, Nerilgire, Kurupakere and Arakatta. The record was written by mahasandhivigrahika Sri-Ramapunyavallabha.
In sum, Calicut cannot subscribe to the theory that the Zheng He fleet was out to conquer and colonise. That was not the experience of medieval Calicut, at least. They did nothing to dominate or control the ports or maritime trade routes of either Quilon or Calicut. Perhaps, as in the case of Vasco da Gama ( who thought that the ruler and people of Calicut were Christian because he mistook the temple of Devi in Puthoor for a Church of Mother Mary), the Chinese mistook the polite exchange of gifts by the Calicut ruler for a tacit recognition of Chinese sovereignty! But, proto-colonialism – sorry, we do not share the view point.
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