The spread of Hinduism

From Hindupedia, the Hindu Encyclopedia

By Himanshu Bhatt

Indian shoreline before submersion from sea levels increasing, which began after end of last ice age in 10000 BCE, devastating the Indus Valley Civilization and leading to an exodus.

Hindu teachings were spread not just by Indian Hindus migrating and preaching outside of the Indian Subcontinent, but also by visitors to India who came for understanding Hindu spirituality. This latter section includes Greek philosophers such as Pythagoras, Orpheus and Plato, who had all returned to Greece and preached the concepts of karma, bhakti, gyāna, reincarnation and Mokṣa. Iranian philosophers such as Mani also visited India and later preached similar messages as the Greeks who had become Hindu.

Hindu scholars noted for their wisdom had further promoted the religion through becoming advisers to monarchs outside of India. Kingdoms Kucha[1] and Tukhara[2] in Central Asia, Mongolia[3], Naiman[4] in Western Mongolia, Tibet[5] and mainland China[6], all chose Indian Hindu advisers who promoted Hinduism throughout their kingdoms. Soon an era came in which Greek philosophers describe that 'Greater India' came into being with cultural similarities between many regions outside India. Central Asia was known as Serindia, while from Burma to the Strait of Malacca became Indochina and the islands of the Strait of Malacca became Indonesia.

Around 4000-3000 BCE, is when exploration in the Indian Ocean had began, and the international regions to communicate with one another were India, Gulf (i.e., Mesopotamia), and Oman.[7] The curiosity of places outside of India and knowledge of trading routes had led to the Indian diaspora both from sea and land. Following this the Yamnaya culture of Europe that prospered from 3500-2500 BCE, which consisted of mixed peoples from both Indo-Iranian and native European ancestry was established around 3500-3200 BCE.

Of the Indian Hindus in the ancient times that established colonies abroad, noteworthy are the Danavas of Sind province that, with their navigation expertise, had settled in various places where they had come to be been known as Danuna, Danunites, Danaoi, Danaus, Danaids, Dene, Danai, Danaian, and Dananns. Historians have noted tribes with the demonym 'Sindi' among the Thracians, Colchis, and both ancient and modern Kurds.

With the spread of British colonialism in the modern era, many Indians started regularly traveling and emigrating to other British colonies outside of India. Many others also traveled to other colonies, such as of France and Netherlands. Resulting from this diffusion and establishment of communities abroad, Indian Hindus have gone on to democratically achieve becoming leaders of countries such as Guyana, Suriname, Fiji and Mauritius. From colonialism, Europeans also received the opportunities to travel to India and then share spiritual ideas with Western nations. As such, the establishment of the Theosophical Society by Helena Blavatsky and Agni Yoga by Nicholas Roerich. The modern age has given a boost to Hinduism through organizations such as the Hare Krishnas, Ananda Margis, Brahma Kumaris and others. Yoga has spread now and is practiced by many non-Hindus for improving and maintaining both physical and mental health.

Middle East

The process of Hinduism spreading in the Middle East is whereby Hindus left India and had traveled to regions within the ancient Neat East and had preached the doctrine and customs. Hindus of Mitanni were Hurrians while those of Anatolia were Hittites, those of Levant the Hurus and those of Egypt, the Hyksos.

Iranian Plateau

See also: Zoroastrianism and Hinduism

Statue of Vishnu sitting cross-legged while holding conch and lotus (underneath peacock) at mosque in Mashad, Khorasan, Iran.
Ancient Greek historian Aelianus in De natura animalium (16.16), also mentions that there were "Indian Arianians" and there is some suggestion that control of Ariana fluctuated between Indian and Arian Arianians.
One of Greco-Bactrian Empire's coins from King Agathocles Dikaios issued around 190-180 BCE, featuring Balarama (left) and Krishna (right) holding Dharmachakra.[8]
Four of Kushan Empire's coins from King Vima Katphisa issued around 166-230 CE, featuring Shiva with his bull attendant. They read, "[Coin] of the great King Vima Kathphisa, the king of kings, lord of all the world, the Mahavesvara."[9]
Hunnic Empire's coin of Bactria in Brahmi from 400-500 CE displaying Lakshmi holding a lotus in one hand and a cornucopia in the other.
Vaiśnava temple in Bandar Abbas, southern Iran. The temple was built in 1892 particularly for the recent Indian immigrants, many of whom were merchants and soldiers. In 1965 the temple was vacant as Indians emigrated. Whereas temples are usually made by stone, dew the climate of Bandar Abbas, rubble stones, mortar, coral rock, soil material and plaster was used in this temple’s construction.
Movement of Indians into Iran

Ancient Iranian lands had a diversity of spiritual beliefs and the religions included Zoroastrianism, Manicheism, Yazdanism, Mandeanism and others. As the original Indo-Iranian homeland was eastwards in the Himalayas, the nations of those areas spread westwards and found existing non-Indo-European peoples there such as Kasodians in Gilan, Taporians in Mazandaran, Urartians in the Caucus Mountain Range, Turukkus, Kassites and Lolobites in the Zagros Mountain Range and Elamites on the southern shoreline. The Turkic groups were known collectively to the natives as the 'Turani'[10] and they were associated with Dānu, just as the Turukṣas coming into India were too. The non-Indo-Iranians (or non-Aryans) were known to the Aryans as 'Anariakoi' (non-Aryan people), and this was the term documented by Greek writers for Hyrcanians[11] and others. Overtime, the Indo-Iranian cultural significance in the societies of the plateau led to the formation of Indo-Iranian nations that were native to the region (i.e., Hurrians, Baluchis, Armenians.) A Turani monarch had however opposed the Indo-Iranian influence on the plateau and invaded Balkh.[12] After its conquest both its king and the king's close friend Zarathustra were executed by invading Turanis.[13]

Sir William Jones notes:

Thus it has been proved by clear evidence and plain reasoning that a powerful monarch was established in Iran long before the Assyrian or Pishadi government. That it was in fact, a Hindu monarchy, though any may choose to call it Cusian, Casdean or Scythian..."[14]
Closeness between religions of Iran to Hinduism

Zoroastrianism, which is also known as Mazdayasna (Sacrifice to Ahura Mazda) and as Vehdin (Good Religion), resembles Hinduism in many ways, such as in its origin, beliefs (i.e., common deities) and iconography. Dr. Mills says, "The Avesta is nearer the Veda than the Veda to its own epic Sanskrit." Major gods or yazatas[15] included Varuṇa and Mitra. Zarathustra (Greek: Zoroaster) Spitama was an Athravan priest, a descendant of the Vedic Atharvans. The swastika has been a popular symbol throughout the history of Iran and it has been called by Persians, "The four horses of Mitra."

Among the followers of Zoroastrianism, while the scriptures do not mention the idea of re-incarnation, it is not denied either[16] and some Zoroastrians of India[17] believe in reincarnation.[18] Some esoteric Parsi mystics such as Beaman adhered to the belief in reincarnation.[19] The belief in karma and re-incarnation are perpetuated in the Desatir, wherein it declares that those who are happy now have done good deeds in a previous life while those who suffer now have done bad deeds in former life.[20] It is therefore discredited as a Mazdaean work.

Of Mandeans, Chevalier Emerys writes, "Modern Johannite Mandean Christians of Iraq, also known as Nazoreans, still believe in the doctrine of reincarnation and also teach that Jesus was the reincarnation of the prophet Melchizedek."[21] The Mandeans also believe in reincarnation of the human, if a human does not marry within his or her lifetime.[22] Islamic Druzism believes in reincarnation, and is named after Persian Batinite missionary named Muhammad bin Ismail Nashtakin ad-Darazi. Muslim Shah Ismail the Persian Sultan was one of the founders of Alevism or the "People of Fire" and this Islamic sect believes in reincarnation. The Islamic sects of Shabak, Bajalan, Sarli, and Kakais are also very closely affiliated with Iranians and has a belief in re-incarnation.

After the Islamization of the Iranian Plateau, some intellectuals resisted and established their own new religions, which contained some hindu ideas and some other themes that they were familiar with. This includes, Yarsanism (Ahl-e Haqq) established in the 14th century by Sultan Sahak as a Yazdan sect and Baha'ism by Bahá'u'lláh in the 19th century. Whereas both traditional Hinduism and Buddhism were popular in the eastern part of the Iranian Plateau, Mithraism became popular within Zoroastrianism particularly in the western part. From here the popularity of the god Mitra spread to Assyria, Anatola and Europe. The Avesta declares, "This Mitra, the lord of the wide pastures, I have created as worthy of sacrifice, as I, Ahura Mazda, am myself."[23] Philosopher Mani of Persia had spent time in India, and after having accepted the ideas of re-incarnation and the three paths to Mokṣa, he began preaching of them in Iran. His set of beliefs are called Manicheism.

Association of regions within Iranian Plateau to India

Ancient Persians called the regions stretching from Hormuz to Baluchistan as 'Hind'[24] because those areas had more in common with India than with the other Iranian cultures located west to them. King Dhrishataketu of Kaikeya Kingdom married Śrutakirtti and had by her Santarddana, and four other sons, known together as the five Kaikeyas. The Kaikeyas were a major dynasty in India and it was on both sides of the Indus River. The Anava Kingdom of Uśinara Sibi, extended from Baluchistan to the Punjab. Even modern times Sibi is a district within Baluchistan.

Further, the Helmand region of Afghanistan was called by Persians as 'White India'. Siestan was also referred by Greek philosophers to as White India. Referring to the peoples of this region, Alexander called them, "the Indians on this side of the river Indus."[25]

Overtime, the natives of this region stayed and many became Buddhist in modern-day Afghanistan and the Afghans turned Kandahar into a Buddhist pilgrimage center which was visited by devout Buddhists from China and Indonesia. While Takśaśila was a city in east of the Indian river on the Iranian side, there were other important centres. The two great Indian grammarians Panini and Patanjali have mentioned a number of north-western cities like Balkh or Vahika, Kapisa, Pushkalavati, Masakavati, Takśaśila and Sakala. Takśaśila was the greatest and most flourishing city.[26]

Modern Relations between the Plateau and Hinduism

Hare Krishna's founder A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada traveled to Tehran in 1976. Since 1977, ISKCON runs a vegetarian restaurant in Tehran.

Assyria

Assyria was known as Asuristan.[27] The name of Assyria comes from Rigvedic 'Asurya', the original name of the sun-god Surya. Syrians still to this day, pronounce the name of Syria as 'Surya'. Hence, Assyria's name would have been pronounced as 'Asurya'.

In the 6th century CE, the Lower Euphrates was known as 'India within land' or just 'Hind' (India) in general.[28] Oderic in 1320 CE also speaks of the Lower Euphrates as 'India within land'. Much like how the Indus River Civilization had priest-kings as ruler of certain towns and cities, Assyria too had a priest-prince ruler. Hence, from the Indian Hindu influence, Parshurama is also believed to have been worshiped in the region. In the ancient Sumerian social structure as well, there was a leader of the Baramas (i.e., Brahmanas) named Bur-Sin and the belief by some scholars is that he is Parshurama.

The patriarchal god of the Assyrians was Assur, who is always portrayed on a winged chakkra-sun or sundisk, just as the frahavars[29] of Iranian spirituality are shown. The Assyrians, referred to a chakkra as a wheel. The cultural and political capital of the Assyrians was Assur, named after the god. Assur was also known as Asara Mazas[30][31] God Assur had later been identified within Judeo-Christian Biblical mythology as Ashur, the son of Shem.

It is believed that Europe had borrowed the planetary names for the week's days that the Babylonians used. Babylon was a part of the Assyrian Empire. When Hindus had spread to Assyria, they had brought this system of the week with them.

Sunday Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday
Planet Sun Moon Mars Mercury Jupiter Venus Saturn
Hindu deity Ravi Soma Mangala Buddha Guru Shukra Shani
Mazdaen deity[32][33] Mitra Vrarayna Tiriya Ahura Mazda Ardvi Anahita Sura Kayvanu
Assyrian deity[34] Nergal Nabu Marduk Ishtar Kajamanu
Greco-Roman deity Helios-Sol Selene-Luna Ares-Mars Hermes-Mercury Zeus-Jupiter Aphrodite-Venus Cronus-Saturn

The Assyrians had come to India as Melluhha. This comes from the name Mallhu and Malla, which many kings in India, particularly western India and Baluchistan have been called. There was even Mount Malleus mountain that Sind[35] was known for having. Even the coast of Kerala is known as Malankara.

Mitanni

Mural of Nefertiti found at Amarna in 1912. She was an Indo-Aryan princess from Mitanni, who married an Egyptian Pharaoh Amenhotep IV (Akhnaton), and reigned ca. 1353-1336 BCE.

Today this region is known as Kurdistan. In the ancient times, the inhabitants of Mitanni were known as Hurrians. In the Judeo-Christian Bible, they are known as the Horites.[36] Sanskritic interpretations of Mitanni names render the following:

  • Artashumara (artaššumara) - It means that it is as Arta-smara "who thinks of Arta/Ṛta".[37]
  • Biridashva (biridaša, biriiaša) - It means that it is as Prītāśva "whose horse is dear".[38]
  • Priyamazda (priiamazda) - It means that it is as Priyamedha "whose wisdom is dear".[39]
  • Citrarata as citraratha - It means that it is "whose chariot is shining".[40]
  • Indaruda/Endaruta - It means that it is as Indrota "helped by Indra".[41]
  • Shativaza (šattiaza) - It means that it is as Sātivāja "winning the race price".[42]
  • Šubandhu as Subandhu - It means that it is like 'having good relatives".[43][44]
  • Tushratta (tišeratta, tušratta, etc.) - It means that it is as taišaratha, Vedic Tveṣaratha "whose chariot is vehement".[45]


Apart from Queen Nefertiti, Ramesid pharaohs were also of Mitanni descent.[46]

Hatti

The Hittites or Nesili, whose Empire was known as 'Hatti' and 'Kadesh', had believed in re-incarnation as attested by their writings. They worshiped the Devas like Indra, Nasatyas (Ashvins), Mitra and Varuṇa. This is confirmed by the Suppiluliuma-Shattiwaza Treaty between the Hittites and Hurrians. The beleaguered Tusratta was then murdered by his son in a palace coup. Tusratta's other son, Prince Shattiwaza, fled Mitanni and was eventually given sanctuary by the Hittite King Suppiluliuma with whom he concluded a treaty 1380 BCE, which we know as the Suppiluliuma-Shattiwaza Treaty discovered in 1907 CE in Hattusa near present-day Bogazkale (Boğazkale, formerly Bogazköy) in north-central Turkey. In the treaty, the Hittite King Suppiluliuma agreed to assist Shattiwaza to gain the Mitanni throne. The Hittites captured the Mitanni capital Wassukanni after a second attempt and installed Shattiwaza as a vassal king.

The Suppiluliuma-Shattiwaza Treaty is a source of considerable information about the Mitanni. In addition, it gives us some astonishing information about the religious practices of the Mitanni for it invokes the Indo-Iranian pantheon of Asuras and Devas Mitras(il) (Mitra), Uruvanass(il) (Varuṇa), Indara (Indra) and the Nasatianna (Nasatyas.) In the Judeo-Christian Bible, the Hitties are assimilated to have been descended from Heth, the son of Ham.

Levant

The Levant region includes countries of the Mediterranean coast which are located at the southwest Asian area. The Hindus here were an Indo-Aryan speaking population called as the Huru.

Egypt

See also: Danava

"One of the oldest colonies founded by the Hindus was in Egypt" - G. R. Josyer[47]

The Hyksos were an Indo-Aryan dynasty, according to the scholars such as Sam Kerr[48] and M. Chahin[49]. They had come to Egypt and settled within its Delta region in about 1674-1547 BCE[50] and within a few centuries dominated the country. Much cultural exchange happened during the period of their rule.

Excavations in El-Amarna in Egypt have yielded the fact that around the 14th-15th centuries BCE, kings and princes with Vedic-like names were ruling in the region of modern day Syria. Some of the names are Artamanya, Aryavirya, Yashodatta, Suttarna and Dushratta. Thutmose IV had married a daughter of Artatma, the King of the Mitanni Kingdom. A letter addressed by Dushratta, Artatama's grandson, written to Akhnaton, says that it was not until Thutmose asked seven times that King Artatma agreed to his marriage proposal. Amenhotep III married Tiy, daughter of Yuaa[51] and Tuau. During this time in Egyptian history, the ruling aristocracy of Egypt, were of mixed Egyptian and Mitanni ancestry. According to Akhnaton, Aton was both the male and female. He says to Aton, "Father and Mother of all that You have made." This parallels with the Hindu terms for the sun-god, Savita[52] and Savitri[53] or the sun and the sun's energy (Puruṣa and Prakṛti.)

The Hyksos were descendants of the Indian Danavas. They're written of in Egyptian, Hittite, and Hellenic accounts under the names Danuna, Danunites, Danaoi, Danaus, Danaids, Dene, Danai, and Danaian.[54] In mythology it was Ramses III who exiles them from Egypt, whereby they take refuge in Greece and spread further into Europe from there.

Arabian Peninsula

This region was historically known to Indians as Arabaka or Arvasthān.[55] Before the Islamization of the region beginning with Islam's prophet Mohammed, peoples here more freely practiced their spirituality. Mohammed's own uncle, Umar-Bin-E-Hassham had died for his devotion to Śiva. Among his writings, one poem of him depicting his faith in Śiva, has been found. It has come to be known as the "Śiva Stuti." The poem reads as follows:

English Arabic
The man who may spend his life in sin
and irreligion or waste it in lechery and wrath
If at least he relent and return to
righteousness can he be saved?
If but once he worship Mahadeva with a pure
heart, he will attain the ultimate in spirituality.
Oh Lord Shiva exchange my entire life for but
a day’s sojourn in India where one attains salvation.
But one pilgrimage there secures for one all
merit and company of the truly great.
Kafavomal fikra min ulumin Tab asayru
Kaluwan amataul Hawa was Tajakhru
We Tajakhayroba udan Kalalwade-E Liboawa
Walukayanay jatally, hay Yauma Tab asayru
Wa Abalolha ajabu armeeman Mahadeva
Manojail ilamuddin minhum wa sayattaru
Wa Sahabi Kay-yam feema-Kamil MINDAY Yauman
Wa Yakulum no latabahan foeennak Tawjjaru
Massayaray akhalakan hasanan Kullahum
Najumum aja-at Summa gabul Hindu

Umar-Bin-E-Hassham had the title of 'Abul Kaham', which in Arabic means doctor.[56] It is a fact that the Kaba was worshiped in by non-Muslims before Islam. It is believed by some that before the Kaba was Islamitized and made a pilgrimage for only Muslims, it was a Śiva temple. Umar-Bin-E-Hassham is known to have been a priest at Kaba. His composition was a part of the Sair-Ul-Okul compiled by Labi-bin-e-Akhtab bin-e Turfa, which contained verses composed by multiple authors.

The Encyclopedia Islamia admits: "Muhammed's grandfather and uncles were hereditary priests of the Kaaba temple which housed 360 idols!" Besides the Arabian Umar-Bin-E-Hassham having been a priest at the temple, another point that some people make is that the black stone at the Kaba is actually a Śivalinga.

Kṛṣṇa was also worshiped in Arabia and his tale is written in a Hadith. The text titled, The History of Hamadan Dailmi (Chapter "Al-Kaaf") declares, “There was a prophet of God in India who is dark in color and his name was Kahān [Kṛṣṇa].”[57]

East Asia

Tibet

Bon Dharma founder Tonpa Shenrab Miwoche, also known as Shenrab Miwo, and Buddha Shenrab.
Hinduism in Tibet began with the Bon religion of Tonpa Shenrab, who is noted in Bon scriptures to have come from a western land called Olmo Lungring and wandered into Zhang Zhung (western Tibet.) In some Tibetan scriptures, Shenrab's country is also called as sTag-gzig, Shangri-La and Shambhalla. Like several other ṛṣis such as Riṣabha, Rāvaṇ and Śukracharya, Tonpa too meditated at Mount Kailāśa.

According to most Bon sources on Guru Shenrab's dating, he arrived in Tibet either around 18,000[58] or 16,000 years ago. According to another Bon tradition, he was a contemporary of the pre-8th century Zhang Zhung king Triwer Sergyi Jyaruchan.[59] However, the present day Tibetan history scholar and Dzogchen master Chogyal Namkhai Norbu calculates the probable actual date of his birth as 1917 BCE.

What brought the prince to the region was his quest to retrieve his 7 blue horses that were stolen by his aggressor Khyab-Pa Lag-Ring and taken to Zhang Zhung. Master Shenrab went forth with his four attendants to find them. During his time in Zhang Zhung, he taught the locals the basic tenants of Bon Dharma. He found the horses and Khyab-Pa became his pupil. They left Tibet to return home and at age 32 Prince Shenrab decided to give up the royal life and take solitude (sanyāsa) to become a monk. Khyab-Pa had become his leading disciple.

At age 82 he departed the world and attained Mokṣa. Both in his country and among the locals in Zhang Zhung, Buddha Shenrab was successful in stopping ritual animal sacrifices. Bon preachers continued visiting Tibet for further propagating the religion, and many Tibetan Bonpas visited Olmo Lungring for learning the religion and meeting with Bonpa scholars. There are two types of Bonpas classed by Buddhists, White Bon[60] and Black Bon.[61]

Apart from Tonpa Shenrab (the teacher), there are 3 other Sugatas, who together are known as Bon's 'Four Transcendent Lords'. They are Satrig Ersang (the great mother goddess), Shenlha Okar (god of light or wisdom), Sangpo Bumtri (the procreator.) Other recognized Sugatas are Kuntu Kazgpo (who is similar to Buddhism's Adi Buddha), Kunzang Gyalwa Gyatso (a person similar to Avalokitesvara), and Welse Ngampa, Sipai Gyalmo (a 9-headed protector of Bon.)[62]

East Turkistan

Known anciently as Turkharistan, Buddhism was originally spread here by many missionaries from India. Later, missionaries within the country spread the dharma. It is noteworthy that the sun-god was known to the Saka Khotan Kingdom of the Tarim Basin as Urmaysde which scholars link to the term Ahura Mazda[63]. These Indo-Iranian words started coming over with migrants who were missionaries and merchants from India and Iran.

China

"India conquered and dominated China culturally for 20 centuries without ever having to send a single soldier across her border." - Hu Shih, Chinese ambassador to the U.S. (1938-42)[1]

Indian missionaries and monks worked with Chinese spiritual leaders and together preached the message of Moksha.

Bodhidharma is the well-known of the persons that increased the cultural relationships between India and China.

Some Tamil Siddhars too had visited China to discuss and spread spiritual knowledge. The Siddhar saint Bogar, disciple of Kalanginaathar, visited China. It is said that he proceeded there to teach the ways of the Siddhars. There is a legend that Lao Tze is Bogar.

Japan

From left to right, Benzaiten (Saraswati), Kangiten (Ganesh) and Bishamonten (Vaishravana) in the 1,200 year-old Daishō-in Temple Complex, Hatsukaichi, Japan.
Shivlinga in the Toganji Temple at Nayoga, Japan.

Due to the cultural exchange between India and Japan, mainstream Hindu gods were adopted by Japanese. Ganesh is known as Kangi-ten and as Bināyaka-ten which originates from the Sanskrit name Vināyaka.

South East Asia

This whole region has been known in Hindu scriptures as Suvarṇabhumi.[64] Hinduism has been the dominant religion amongst several nations for a long time here. Indonesia[65] was dominantly Hindu until Islamization by missionaries and Islamists within the islands. At one point, lands even as far as the Philippines were part of the Chola Empire.[66]

Indonesia

The Chola Empire and its tributary lands. Indonesia was once a part of the Greater Chola Empire or 'Choladesh'.

The largest and most prestigious native Indonesian dynasties were Srivijaya, Mataram, Shailendra, and Majapahit. The Chola Dynasty of India was a great link between both India and Indonesia as the exchange of cultures occurred, leading to closer ties between Indonesians and Indians.

Indonesians believe that Sage Agastya and Sage Markandeya brought Hinduism to Indonesia. Hence, this shows that sages particularly of the pravara gotra lineages from Agastya and Markandeya had been the first preachers of Hinduism in the islands.

Many Indians had migrated to Indonesia, some of them being Gujaratis. It is said that King Aji Saka, who came to Java in Indonesia in year 1 of the Śaka calender, was believed to be a king of Gujarat by some.[67] It is also believed that the first Indian settlements in Java Island of Indonesia was established with the coming of Prince Dhruvavijaya of Gujarat with 5,000 traders.[67] Some stories propose that a sage named Tritresta was the first to bring Gujarati migrants with him to Java, hence some scholars equate him with Aji Saka.[68]

Cambodia

The name Cambodia comes from the founder of the first Khmer Dynasty from India, who was Kambhoja. From him Cambodia is usually called by its natives as either 'Kambuja' or 'Kampuchea'. Its national flag displays the world-famous Angkor Wat Temple within the country. Angkor Wat is the largest spiritual monument in the world. It was built by King Suryavarman II.

Burma

In most Hindu scriptures, Burma is known as Brahmadesh. Buddhist scriptures sometimes called it Majjhimadesh. Greek philosopher Pliny had said that on the river called Ava or Pumas or Puman, many nations along it are in general called Bracmanae or Brahmane.[69] Hence, there is also the Brahmaputra River near Burma which crosses North-East India.

Several Hindu temples here date back to pre-Buddhistic times. In Burma there is a Dagoba dedicated to Dagon (Matsya avatār of Viṣṇu) which Burmese claim is over 3000 years old.[70]

Thailand

In Hindu scriptures, Burma is known as Shyamdesh. Hence the other name of the country is 'Siam'.

Malaysia

Oceania

Australia

Their closest blood links are with the groups in New Guinea, South India and Sri Lanka, representing their path of migration into Australia.[71]

One academic, Professor Alan Cooper, from the University of Adelaide’s Centre for Ancient DNA, says the Indian influence may well have played a role in the development of the Aboriginal culture – outlined in a paper titled ‘Genome-wide data substantiate Holocene gene flow from India to Australia’.

Professor Cooper says it is impossible to ignore the link with the discovery of the dingo…"The timing of all those things in the archaeological record, about 4,000 to 5,000 years ago, happens to match the timing estimated for this genetic influx from India."

Professor Cooper also points to another development that happened around the time of the Australia-Indian connection – an expansion of one of the Aboriginal language groups. "This other language seems to have taken over Australia relatively recently – perhaps 5,000 years ago,…And how it did it, how it replaced the other ancient languages, we don’t know…So suddenly, 4,000 to 5,000 years ago is starting to become a fairly tumultuous time in Australian history."

New Zealand
Tamil bell found near Whangarei, Northland Region.
Sanskrit writing (digitally highlighted) found near Hokianga Harbour, Northland Region.

The oldest Indian settlement in New Zealand comes from the Dānavas that sailed originally from Patala in Sind. These Indians became known locally in New Zealand as the Tuhoe.

About 150 years ago, a bell was discovered in New Zealand near Whangarei in the Northland Region with Tamil writings on it.[72] It is believed to have come from a Pallava Dynasty ship which was sailing in the area and had possibly landed on New Zealand. The bell had led Indologist, V. R. Ramachandra Dikshitar to investigate and claims in his book The Origin and Spread of the Tamils that ancient Tamil sea-farers might have had a knowledge of Australia and Polynesia. There has also been Sanskrit writing discovered on a boulder in Hokianga Harbor. This finding has led to the belief that Hindu monks had arrived in New Zealand before Europeans did.

It is even believed by some historians that among the ancestry of indigenous New Zealanders there is some Indian descent. Joan Leaf through oral tradition of genealogy (whakapapa) among the Maori and having consulted with the Maori Wharewananga, traced the lineage of her husband, who is Maori on both sides of his ancestry, back to India.[73] That the Tuhoe of New Zealand were Dānavas is further evidenced by their oral traditions which recants Dānavas having fought other Indians in the typical wars that Indian epics mention about them.

"Maori tradition tells us that their ancestors in times long past away, 165 generations ago, they migrated from a hot country named India." - Eldson Best[74]

Polynesia
The trajectory from Mohenjo-Daro (Indus Valley Civilization) to Giza (Egypt) then Machu Pichu (Peru), and to Easter Island is a perfect 30° incline.
The scripts of Indus Valley Civilization and Eastern Island. An image from The Indians And The Amerindians By Dr. S. Chakravarti.

Balaram Chakravarti writes, "The Lapita potteries which seem to be of Dānava origin seems to lend evidence to the stepping stone of Dānava migration from New-Britain to Fiji with an off-shoot in New-Caledonia."[75]

Easter Island has stories among its natives of long-eared (Hanau epe) people having come there, led by Hotu Matu'a (Great Parent, a title given to their 'ariki' or king.) The Hanau epe were said to have been from Hiva (Far away land.) The reason for their migration was a great flood. The Indus Valley Civilization was devastated and abandoned due to severe flooding. Together they had built the Moai monuments.

Elongated earlobes are a common feature in many depictions of devas, gandharvas, ṛṣis and others. Long and hanging earlobes are known as larhba-karṇa. Even the Viṣṇu-koṣa[76] mentions it as a feature of Viṣṇu. Dr. B. A. Saletore had published in his book, The Wild Tribes in Indian History[77] about a tribe called the Labhakarṇas. It is not an unknown trait in Indian history and so it is likely that the Dānavas who arrived in Easter Island had elongated ears.

"It has been suggested Easter Island rongorongo script arrived from Peru, South America and is related to the Indus River Valley dating back to 2000 BC which is likely since there were Indus River Valley migrations to Peru, South America, by 1500 BC or perhaps as early as 2000 BC. Many Harappan glyphs appear in both Peruvian and Easter Island scripts." - Jeffrey L. Gross [78]

Europe

See also: Hindu Temples in Europe

At the time that the Indo-Iranians came into Europe, the natives of Europe were Palesgians in the Balkan Peninsula, Basques in Iberian Peninsula, Fins and Sami in Northern Europe and the Magyars to later become Hungarians, Estonians and Kami in Eastern Europe and several other non-Indo-European linguistic families within the Caucasus. With the influence on the Indo-Iranian comers, the Indo-European nations of Europe were born. Some identified groups that had come into Europe were Druyus (becoming the British Druids and German Druvis), Parthians (Thracians from Parthenope and some Irish from Partholonians) and Medians.

The reason why it was easy for the Indo-European languages to gain popularity among Europe's natives is because the native Europeans were nomads that relied on hunting and gathering, the Indo-Iranians were agarians that brought an agricultural revolution. DNA samples of the Yamnayas (mixed of Indo-Iranians and Europeans) show that they were not lactose intolerant whereas the European natives were. Thus, Indo-Iranians showed Europeans to be able to live sedentary lives opposite to foraging and constantly relocating.

The Sanskrit word Deva took on vernacular forms amongst European nations wherein it became Theo in Greek, Dio in Latin and Italian, Deos in Portuguese, Dios in Spanish, Déu in Catalan, Dieu in French, Dievs in Latvian and Dievas in Lithuanian and the words Deity and Divinity in English. Even the word 'devil' means slanderer ('il') of god ('dev') and its Latin version is 'deofel' wherein 'deo' means god and 'fel' means slanderer. Further, the Sanskrit word 'Asura' became Æsir for Scandinavia's worshipers of the Norse gods.

Thrace

Goddess Hekate's depictions look similar to those of a Hindu goddess.

The Thracians called their country 'Aria'[79] which means Noble. It is a word which has much significance in Hinduism, including Buddhism and Jainism. In Hellenist mythology, Thrace was the offspring of Parthenope, the daughter of Olympian god Ares. The 'Parth' in the name Parthenope indicates Parthian and hence an Indo-Iranian origin. Goddess Hecate was portrayed as a multi-headed and multi-handed deity.

There were several tribes among Thracians. Originally there was one but as they expanded control of other territories in the Balkans, other nations became Thracianized. Hesychius notes that the Sindi tribe of Thracians was from India.[80] Sir W. Drummond was also of the same viewpoint. George Faber wrote that Thracians came from a frontier of India.[81]

The Thracians inhabited this region even before the earliest Greeks[82] made their way south to the present Greece.[83] Thracians even preceded Greeks to important islands in the northern, central, eastern and eastern Aegean. This includes Thasos, Samothrace, Imbros, Lemnos, Euboea, Naxos, Lesbos and Chios.[84]

The Sindi Colchi country, located in the Taman Peninsula, was known as Sindike and Sindikos, and its largest city was named Sinda. Greek writer Strabo referred to these Sindi as 'Sindoi'. Ancient Greek Pliny called it 'Scythia Sindica', Ptolemy as 'Indo-Scythia', and both Socrates and Stephanus as 'India'. Because the Thracians were also in the Aegean Sea, they were in Lemnos island. There was an ethnicity here named 'Sindians', whom Homer in his Iliad and Odyssey wrote, "spoke a strange language" and the Scholiast Thucydides wrote the Thracians are derived from.[85]

Greece

Greek mosaic of Kṛṣṇa in his iconic cross-legged pose playing the flute by cows, from 2nd century CE, now found at Corinth, Greece.
Coin with Swastika issued at Corinth, Greece.

The natives of Greece were Palesgians. From the academic influence of the Indo-Iranians in the region, the ancient Greek and Latin languages were established from which all the other Indo-European languages of Europe were created. This can be seen in the wars between the Olympian gods and the Titans. Scholar Ignatius Donnelly believes the conflict between the Olympians and Titans represented a war between the Olympians and Titans.[86] Lewis Spence also mentions that the conflict between the Olympians and the Titans was of Aryans with non-Aryans with the Titans being projected as the latter.[87]

"We find that it (India) was visited for the purpose of acquiring knowledge by Pythagoras, Anaxarches, Pyrrho and others who afterwards became eminent philosophers in Greece." - Dr. William Enfield[88]

Overtime, a link was established between Greece and India, wherein Greek scholars would visit India and learn from Hindu clergy. Count Bjornstjerna says that Greek philosophy was indebted almost wholly to the Hindu philosophy for its cardinal doctrines.[89] From this cultural phenomena, Pythagorus founded Pythagorism, Orpheus founded Orphism and Plato founded Platoism. Orphism from 6th century BCE believed in reincarnation[90], a Supreme God.[91] Pythagorism from 5th century BCE believed in reincarnation[92], a Supreme God[93], promoted asceticism[94] and vegetarianism.[95] Platonism from 5th century BCE believed in reincarnation[96] and a Supreme God.[97] Although Orphism, Pythagorism, and Platoism spirituality are all Hindu, Western scholars note that non-Hindu spiritualties of Greek thought also demonstrate Hindu influence such as Stoicism[98] which advocated asceticism.

"The Hindus were, in this respect, the teachers and not the learners." - Henry Colebrooke [99]

When Greek scholars had spoken of philosophies of wisdom, they regarded amongst the highest as Orphism, Pythagoreanism and Platonism. Early Christian sects not only regarded Pythagorus as a prophet of God, but drew on Orphic, Pythagorean and Platonic, as well as Neo-Platonic Mystery schools.[100] Plaethon not only stated that he preferred Indian Brahmans and Magi amongst the non-Greeks, but that "inspired men" like Pythagorus, Plato and other philosophers belonging to their school, notably Parmenides, Timaeus, Plutarch, Plotinus, Porphyry and Iamblichus were great people.[101]

Astrology was also a science that Hindus spread with them in Greece. Philostratus tells how Iarbas the Brachman or Brahman gave Apolloneus of Tyans a set of rings for days of the week to maintain good health.[102]

The Grecianized version of 'Brahman' is Brachman and Bragmanni. The ancient Greeks mention them in many instances when discussing spirituality, philosophy, astrology, geopolitics and other steams of study. In about 270-303 CE, makes distinguishing statements among the gymnosophists wherein he describes differences amongst them.[103] Purchas had written that all the things observed by Nsturall Philosophers in Greece had been handled before, partly by the Brachmancs amongst the Indians.[104] A type of non combustible cloth made from stone was also said to have been used by the Brachmancs.[105] It later became used by some in Europe.

"While Dionysus (Siva) is worshipped in the mountain, Heracles (Krsna) is worshipped on the plain, especially by the Surasenoi (Surasena), an Indian people who possess two towns, Methora (Mathura) and Kleisobora (Krsnapura)" - Megastheses[106], Greek historian and ethnographer, 4th century BCE

There were also Hindu monks that had visited Greece for the purpose of discussing philosophy. Zarmanochegas is the most known of these. In Greece, he had self-immolated himself to protest Alexander's invasion of India. His tomb in Greece reads, "Here lies Zarmanochegas an Indian, a native of Bargose, having immortalized himself according to the custom of his country."[2] Other Hindu sages that were in the company of Emperor Elagabalus also were written about.[107]

Apart from the Greeks having visited India for learning Hinduism and its ideals and customs, Indians had colonized Greece as the first Indo-Iranians in the country. They were the Danauna (also known as Aavaoi), who descend from King Danaus. This king has founded the city Argos, and from his descend figures like the Danai, who are Argives mentioned by Homer.[108] They were also known as Achaians, who are mentioned separately from the people of Greece, the Hellenes, themselves because they were a foreign nationality.

The gods worshiped by Hellenists were similar to that of Hindus. Whereas Indra is called Vetethragna in the Avesta, and Vahagn by the Armenians, he's also known as Artagnes-Herakles in Commagene.[109] Many of the soldiers in Alexander of Macedonia's army readily became Hindu. "Close to 10,000 Greeks, who came in the wake of Alexander the Great, were Krishna's devotees. There is an inscription by Heliodorus, the Greek ambassador at Takshila , which reads Deva, deva, Vasudeva. Krishna is my god and I have installed this Garuda Pillar at Bes Nagar (now in Bihar)," says researcher T K V Rajan.[m.timesofindia.com/city/chennai/New-finds-take-archaeologists-closer-to-Krishna/articleshow/3898205.cms]

“The whole of this state of society, civil and military, must strike anyone as eminently Asiatic; much of it specifically Indian. Such it undoubtedly is. . . these evidences were but the attendant tokens of an Indian colonization with its corresponding religion and language. . . the whole of Greece, from the era of the supposed godships of Poseidon and Zeus, down to the close of the Trojan war was Indian in language, sentiment and religion, as well as the arts of peace and war.” – Edward G Pococke.

British Isles

Many Irish have written of an Indian influence on ancient Ireland including Mrs. Dorothy Chaplin and Madam Wilde.[110] The Druids were the chief priests of the isles and their religion is known as Druidism. Godfrey Higgins wrote a book supporting that the Druids had come from India. They were a priestly hereditary group and are said to have been descended of the Brahman Druyus. The Druids had propitiated Danu because Druyu, their patriarch, was her great-great grandson as the son of King Yayati and Queen Sarmishṭha.

Being of Indian descent, Druids would have been Indo-European speakers and they likely would have been the first speakers of the language family in the British Isles. They had also worshiped the Thracian Hecate. One group of Indo-Iranians, according to Irish legends that emigrated were the Partholonians from Parthia.[111] Druids were Partholonians because according to a legend, a person named Parthalon landed in Ireland three-hundred years after a mythic deluge and had brought with him three Druids named Fios, Folus and Fochmare.[112] They had come to Ireland from Midgonia.[113]

The very name Druid is composed of two Celtic word roots which have parallels in Sanskrit. Indeed, the root vid for knowledge also emerges in the Sanskrit word Veda, demonstrates the similarity. The Celtic root dru which means 'immersion' also appears in the Sanskrit. So a Druid was the one 'immersed in knowledge.' - Peter Beresford-Ellis[114]

In history, the Druids were later pushed into Ireland and Scotland. "In Britain, the Kelts pushed the Albans into northern Ireland and northern Scotland.”[115] Druidism still survives today in the isles and revivalist efforts have been put forth by its followers.

"The island [Britain] has long been pre-disposed of it's [Christianity] through the doctrines of the Druids and Buddhists who already inculcated the doctrine of the Godhead." - Christian cleric Origen, 3rd century CE

It is notable that there is a Druid named Arias, which even further strengthens the relationship between the Druids and Brahmans as Aria/Arya meant noble and was used in the ethical and spiritual sense even by the Buddha who referred to his creed as the Arya Astanga Dharma (Noble Eight-fold Religion.) Peter Berresford Ellis writes, "Moreover, we learn that in these four cities were 'four Druids who taught the Children of Danu skill and knowledge and perfect wisdom'. Morias dwelt in Falias; Urias 'of the noble nature' lived in Gorias; Arias the poet resided in Finias and Senias had his abode in Murias."[116]

The Druids were especially the priests of the Tuatha De Danann. D'Arbois translates Tuatha De Danann as "people of the god whose mother is called Danu." Goddess Danu written of in Celtic spirituality is the same Danu from the Ṛgveda. The Danavas, upon leaving India, moved westwards to Iran (i.e., Parthia), then more westwards, which led them to arrive in Egypt. In Egypt, these Danavas are recorded in legend to have been banished from the country where in legend, King Ramses exiled his brother Danaus. From the exile, Danaus moved to Middle Greece and eventually to Ireland. George A. Christopoulos had also connected the Danaans and Danawois to the Danawos mentioned in the Avesta.

Scandinavia

Statue of Buddha dated from 5th Century CE[117] found on a Viking tombstone in Helgö, Sweden.

The Norse gods referred to god as 'Æsir'. The name of thunder-god Thor comes from 'Thortian' of the Zoroastrian Vendiad and the name derives it's form from the Vedic Trita, who was known as Trita in the Avesta and then later as Traitana, then 'Thraetaona' and finally as 'Thortian' to the Zoroastrians. In Sweden's Helgö, a small Buddha statuette from North India dating from 6th century AD; was found in Viking's grave.[118]

Eastern Europe

The names of deities of Eastern Europe indicate a strong Hindu influence.

Azerbaijan

Currently the Fire Temple of Baku is a site revered for its historic uniqueness which was established by Hindu priests from India in the 19th century. It was nominated by the Azerbaijani government for being recognized as a UNESCO Hindu Site. Currently there is an ISKCON temple in Baku[3], the country's capital city.

Poland
Śivā is the name of a female deity in Poland, just as Śivā is the name of Kali Mātā of Hinduism, the wife of Śiva. Further in Poland,
"Vogt in his lectures of Man assumes the Polish to be descended from Hindu sources..."[119]
Lithuania
Table of gods worshiped in pre-Christian Lithuania:
Deity Vedic equivalent About god
Praamžius Dievas Prajapati The supreme or leader of the gods.
Dievas Senelis ("Good Old Man") Yama He is a teacher of people and judge of their morality. He looks like an old traveling beggar. Dievas Senelis is proficient at magic and medicine. Epithet of Dievas.
Perkūnas Prajanya Thunder, a son of Dievas ("dievaitis.")
Saulė Surya The Sun Goddess.
Ašvieniai Ashvins The divine twins who pulled the chariot of the Sun.

There is a Lithuanian folk song reminiscent of a Vedic tale.[120][4]

Russia

In Russia's Volga region during excavation, a 7th century AD Varāhā statue was found in Staraya Maina village within the Ulyanovsk region.[121] This ancient area was highly populated city 1,700 years ago. Ulyanovsk State University's archaeology department Dr. Alexander Kozhevin's team had made the discovery after having excavated the area. A famous Russian historian had written that thousands of years before the 'Kiev-Rus' culture, from which Russian nation originated, there was a 'Vedic-Rus' which was characterized by an international Vedic culture.[122] During the 14th century CE Indian gold coins were found in the Volga region near the village of Tenishevo indicating a flourishing trade between India and Russia.

Americas

USA

The USA has been the base for establishing several Hindu-oriented organizations, such as ISKCON.

Guyanas

Guyana, former British Guyana and Suriname, former Dutch Guyana, were the countries of many Hindu immigrants. Both have had Hindu leaders as heads of the government.

Africa

Technically Egypt was the first part of Africa in which the Hinduism spread.

South Africa
The first Hindu Temple in South Africa was a very simple design. It was built in 1869 and is now a Protected Site by South African government.
The first Hindu temple in South Africa was constructed in 1869.
Ghana
Hindus celebrating Ganesha Chaturthi in Ghana.[123]
Hare Krishnas chanting in Ghana.[124]

See also

External resources

References

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  2. It means Dhitika.
  3. It means Śakya Pandita.
  4. It means Tatatungya.
  5. It means Padmasambhava.
  6. It means Bodhidharma.
  7. P. 15 Indian Ocean In Antiquity By Julian Reade
  8. P. 330 The Serpent The Eagle The Lion & The Disk By Brannon Parke
  9. P. 370 Studies in Indian Coins By D.C. Sircar
  10. They were called 'Turiya' in the Avesta.
  11. P. 25 An Inquiry Into the Ethnography of Afghanistan: Prepared and Presented to ... By Henry Walter Bellew
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  13. P. 62 Mute Dreams, Blind Owls, and Dispersed Knowledges: Persian Poesis in the Transnational Circuitry By Michael M. J. Fischer
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  15. Yazatas means venerable ones.
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  17. It is particularly members of the Parsi Theosophy.
  18. P. 264 The Parsis of India: Preservation of Identity in Bombay City By Jesse S. Palsetia
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  29. Frahavars means angels.
  30. For them some scholars believe that they origin from the proto-Indo-Iranian form Asura Mazdas.
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  37. Mayrhofer II 780
  38. Mayrhofer II 182
  39. Mayrhofer II 189, II378
  40. Mayrhofer I 553
  41. Mayrhofer I 134
  42. Mayrhofer II 540, 696
  43. It is a name in Palestine.
  44. Mayrhofer II 209, 735
  45. Mayrhofer I 686, I 736
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  48. P. 15 Cyrus the Great - Celestial Sovereign By Sam Kerr
  49. P. 28 The Kingdom of Armenia: A History By M. Chahin
  50. P. 28 The Kingdom of Armenia: A History By M. Chahin
  51. He is a foreigner "from North Syria".
  52. He is the male form.
  53. She is the female form.
  54. P. 218 Sea Peoples of the Bronze Age Mediterranean c.1400 BCÂ?1000 BC By Raffaele DÂ?Amato, Andrea Salimbeti
  55. It means the Land of Horses.
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  60. They are the ones who also follow Buddhism.
  61. They are strictly Bonpas.
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  63. P. 132 The Nativist Prophets of Early Islamic Iran: Rural Revolt and Local Zoroastrianism By Patricia Crone
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  66. The Tamil Chola Empire
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  117. How did a Buddha statue land in Viking hands? BY SAM LITTLEFAIR| MARCH 24, 2016
  118. "The Helgo Treasure: A Viking Age Buddha" by Colm
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  120. P. 323 The Religion of the Ṛgveda By Hervey De Witt Griswold
  121. "Ancient Viṣṇu idol found in Russian town"
  122. India’s Emerging Partnerships in Eurasia: Strategies of New Regionalism By Dr. Nivedita Das Kundu
  123. Hinduism growing in Africa without Proselytizing by Desh Kapoor
  124. Hinduism growing in Africa without Proselytizing by Desh Kapoor