Influence of India over the world (2nd century B.C.)

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Indian culture & merchandise was known all over the world even before the birth of Christ. Indian merchandise such as clothes and spices were in great demand all over the human world. Whereas Indian culture & religion influenced both east and west to a great extent. Some aspects of Indian religion became fashionable in the west, among them asceticism (Paul of Alexandria and St Anthony), idol worship, and the use of the rosary.

A number of Indian kingdoms sent embassies to Rome. Perhaps the best known was the one which sailed from Broach in about 25 B.C. and included a strange assortment of men and animals - tigers, pheasants, snakes, tortoises, a monk, and an armless boy who could shoot arrows with his toes - which were all regarded as appropriate for the Roman emperor. It took the mission four years to reach Rome and the animals were presented to Augustus by 21 B.C.

Communication with the west was not the limitations of Indian influence, for in this century there was a phenomenal growth in Sino-Indian relations and the introduction of Indian culture to south-east Asia : all of which began through trade. During the second and third centuries B.C. some goods of Chinese origin were in use in India whose names clearly derive from Chinese language itself: e.g., Chinese cloth, china patta, and bamboo, kichaka, which is related to the Chinese Ki-chok. Contact of a more sustained nature began in A.D. 65 with the first Buddhist missionaries who arrived in China and established themselves at the famous White Horse Monastery at Lo-Yang.

In the process the inhabitants of the central Asian oases at which the missionaries halted were converted to Buddhism and monasteries grew up at places such as Yarkand, Khotan, Kashgar, Tashkend, Turfan, Miran, Kuchi, Qara-shahr and Tun-Huang. Manuscripts, paintings, and ritual objects were brought from India and for many centuries these monasteries maintained a close and lively interest in the development of Buddhism both in China and in India. In fact, much of the more significant knowledge of later Buddhist history has come from excavations at these sites. By the third century A.D. Chinese Buddhists were travelling to India to study Buddhism.

Voyages to south-east Asian ports became more regular with the increasing contact with China, since the sea route to China touched these ports. Legends about the origin of kingdoms in south-east Asia often trace the story back to Indian princes and merchants. The Kalingans are said to have colonized the Irrawady delta in Burma, and various parts of Java. An Indian Brahman Kaundinya, married a Cambodian princess, introduced the Indian culture to Cambodia.

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