Historical Relationships between Karnataka and South East Asia

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Agneya Asia Karnataka purathana sambandhagalu -Karnataka and South East Asia

Author:  Dr. G. S Dikshit

Place:  Badami, Aihole, Pattadakal, Cambodia, Java, Angor Wat

The purpose of this paper is to give a few examples of the part played by the people of Karnataka in spreading Indian culture in South-east Asia. Among the Indian scholars who have written on this subject, mention may be made of Doctors D. C. Sircar, S. Nagaraju and K. V. Ramesh. Long before these scholars wrote, that is, in 1912, Sir Charles Elliot in his classic work, Hinduism and Buddhism (I11 Vol., pp. 106 ) had pointed out the similarity between the temple-architecture of Cambodia and that in Karnatnka at Badami, Aihole and Pattadkal. He had also said that there was similarity in the names of the Kings -both ending in Varman and in the script of the inscriptions in both the regions. He also hinted that the Devaraja cult i.e., deifying the king as God and naming the Gods after the kings was observable in both the countries. In his view the Indian culture and religion which took root in Kambhoja went from the Deccan.
Half a century after Sir Charles Elliot, Dr. Kalyan Kumar Dasgupta of the Calcutta University, wrote that the resemblances between the Angkorwat temples and those in Karnataka would astonish anybody. He produced additional evidence like the prevalance of the Saka era in both the regions and concluded that it was Karnataka which spread Indian culture in Kambhoja and its neighbour-hood. He hoped that a study of early Kannada literature might throw further light on the subject.
Dr. A. Venkatasubbaiah’s researches substantiate this hope. He has shown that the Panchatantra written by Durgasimha in Kannada and the Punchatantra which appeared all over South-east Asia were both based not on that of Vishnusharma, but on that of Vasubhaga.
The direct proof to show that the people from Karnataka went to South-east Asia can be found in a work called Nagara Kertagama of 1365 A.D. which names the countries which sent its citizens to Java. “All kinds of people have continually come from other countries in multitudes. They are from China, Yavana, Champa, Karnataka, Goda(Gaur) and Siam ……..They came by ship with numerous merchants : monks and Brahmins are the principal ones who as they come are regarded and are well pleased during their stay.”  (The World of South-east Asia, Selected Historical Readings, Ed. Harry J. Bende, John Larkin, p.46).

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