Experts trace cultural links between India, Asean

New Delhi, July 24 (IANS) India and the Southeast Asian nations had a vibrant relationship traced as far back as the 1st century BC, mainly through trade and socio-cultural links that also saw the influence and spread of Sanskrit and Indian art forms in those countries, experts said here on Friday.

The ancient Javanese script has many Sanskrit words like khatriya, dharmaputra, while shards of Indian pottery with the ancient Kharoshti script, prevalent in India then, have been found in Bali, said experts at the International Conference on Asean-India Cultural Links Historical and Contemporary Dimensions, held at the India Habitat Centre.

Indian Council for Cultural Relations chief Lokesh Chandra, in his address, said the spread of the Sanskrit script helped the countries in the region communicate through vast regions.

He said the Chinese script “did not have grammar as such” and Sanskrit was used to separate the consonants from vowels and provided a base for the use of local languages as official language.

Likewise ships, horses, temples, sculptures and the performing arts were important facets linking the countries of Southeast Asia to ancient India.

The conference is being held as part of efforts by India and the 10-member Asean to establish research partnerships on their historical and cultural links.

I Wayan Ardika, an archaeology professor from Indonesia, said lot of Indian pottery was found in Sembiran, in Indonesia, inscribed with the ancient Kharoshti script.

He said in Sembiran and Pacung on the northern coast of Bali some coarse Indian style dishes were popular.

Thomas M. Hunter, a lecturer in Sanskrit and Southeast Asian Studies in the University of British Columbia, said a lot of influence of Sanskrit is seen in old Javanese script, with wide use of Sanskrit words in ancient texts like the Bhisma Parwa.

The second such Asean-India conference is to be held in Jakarta at a later date.

The conference was organised by the Asean-India Centre, the Research and Information System for Developing Countries (RIS) and the ministry of external affairs.

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