III.D.6. The Indianization of Southeast Asia to c. A.D. 650
The transfer over many centuries of numerous aspects of Indian civilization to Southeast Asia constitutes, in the per- spective of world history, one of the most important examples of large-scale, protracted cultural diffusion. Cumulatively, if not altogether accurately, the process may be described as "the Indianization of Southeast Asia." which theme provides a leit- motif for atlas plates III.D.6, IV.6, and V.7. Of these, the first considers Southeast Asia to the mid-7th century A.D.
Unlike most atlas maps of the ancient and medieval periods of India, in which heavy use has been made of primary source materials, the data for the maps relating to Southeast Asia have been drawn entirely from secondary historical materials. We have relied heavily on the works by Briggs, Coedès, Hall, Luce, Vlekke, Wales, Wheatley, and Wolters, and in particular on the maps that appear in their works and those of other au- thorities listed in the bibliography. Able as those scholars are, however, much of their work, and hence much of our own, is highly speculative because of the meagerness of the available primary sources. This is particularly true for materials drawn upon for plate III.D.6. In some instances doubtful identifica- tions have been indicated by placing a question mark after a place name, which may, as in the case of "Yāvadvīpa," be shown in more than one tentative location. Recent scholarship has tended to cast doubt on some locations of historical sites that formerly were generally accepted, as, for example, the identification of the Śrīvijayan capital with Palembang. Other conventionally accepted identifications are also likely to be called into question as Southeast Asian historical research progresses.
India undoubtedly had contacts with Southeast Asia well before the opening of the Christian era. References to South- east Asia appear in early Buddhist classical Sanskrit literature. The Rāmāya&ntod;a mentions Suvar&ntod;advīpa and Yāvadvīpa, and the Purā&ntod;as also speak of Yāvadvīpa and mention Malayadvīpa as well. These terms apparently refer to parts of Southeast Asia that Indian traders frequented. We likewise know that in the 3d century B.C. Aśoka sent Buddhist missionaries to "Suvar&ntod;a- bhūmi," the "Land of Gold," a term that appears in other clas- sical Indian literature and appears to have referred at this early period to the general area of Southeast Asia.
One finds much controversy in the scholarly literature over
exactly how the transmission of Indian religions and associated
cultural traits took place. Hall's major work on the history of
Southeast Asia summarizes many theories on the subject.6
Generally not accepted by most Western scholars is the theory
put forth by some Indian historians that this was the result of
Indian "colonizing" expeditions or of any type of large-scale
immigration from India to Southeast Asia. Rather, the debate
has largely centered on whether this infusion of Indian cul-
ture took place mainly through the influence of Indian traders
or was primarily due to Brahmins and Buddhist missionaries,
who converted the indigenous rulers and their courts and thus
initiated acceptance of other Indian cultural traits. Coedès
argues that the spread of Indian culture came largely "as a
result of the intensification of Indian trade with Southeast Asia
early in the Christian era." According to this theory, with the
establishment of Indian trading settlements there came Brah-
min priests and literati, who transmitted the cultural elements
from India that Coedès enumerates as "a) a conception of
royalty characterized by Hindu or Buddhist cults, b) literary
expression by means of the Sanskrit language, c) a mythology
taken from the Rāmāyana and Mahābhārata, the Purā&ntod;as and
other Sanskrit texts containing a nucleus of royal tradition
and the traditional genealogies of royal families of the Ganges
Other scholars emphasize the probable role of Southeast Asians in the process of Indianization. Bosch believes that Bud- dhist missionaries to Southeast Asia inspired a counterstream of pilgrims to India, who on returning to their native lands must have played a very active part in the Indianization process. Van Leur has observed that active Brahmanization of South India was taking place early in the Christian era, and suggests that, just as South Indian rulers were inviting Brahmin priests to their courts, rulers in Southeast Asia probably did likewise; hence, the transmission of Indian culture initially took place at the level of the court circle. Hall criticizes the Indocentric the- ories of dissemination, believing that they do not give enough emphasis to the probable activities of the Southeast Asians themselves. Since a number of Southeast Asian peoples were very skillful navigators, Hall reasons that both traders from Southeast Asia and new converts made pilgrimages to India and after returning to their own countries played a primary role in the transmission of Indian culture.
Regardless of how the process took place, we can see that by the first centuries A.D. there were established in the delta lands of Southeast Asia, along the shores bordering the Ma- lacca Strait, on the eastern coast of the Malay Peninsula, and on the coasts of Java and western Borneo, states that had in- corporated many elements of Indian culture, including the Hindu and Buddhist religions and the Sanskrit language, writ- ten in early types of Indian script. While the main foci of In- dianization appear initially to have been along the principal key points in the trade route between India and China, ele- ments of Indian culture gradually spread into the interior of the mainland along the great rivers and eastward along the sea routes through the archipelago.
The peoples of Southeast Asia who were notably affected by the Indianizing processes we have just described included a variety of ethnically Malay groups, Mons, Khmers, and Tibeto- Burmans. Among the Malay groups were the founders of the state of Funan, in the region of the lower Mekong Plain; the Chams, whose kingdom, Champa, was situated in modern An- nam; and numerous others, who gave rise to lesser polities in the Malay Peninsula and Archipelago. Mon peoples founded the states of Suddhammavatī, in lower Burma, and Dvāravatī, in the Menam Plain of Thailand. The ethnically similar Khmers were gradually to replace the people of Funan and to found the successor state of Chenla. Probably the last to arrive (in the period of plate III.D.6) were the Tibeto-Burmans, among whom the Pyus established the state of Śrīk&stod;etra in the Irra- waddy and Sittang Basins of Burma.
Not much is known of the political relations among the
states just named or of the nature of their ties to India. It has
not even been established with which parts of India the closest
contacts were maintained, though available evidence supports
the preeminent role of the east coastal regions. Within South-
east Asia, various coastal localities figured in the maritime
trade between India and China, which had commenced before
the Christian era. While a portion of this trade went through
the Straits of Malacca, much of it was shunted across the nar-
row Malay Peninsula—not so much to save on time and dis-
tance as to avoid the pirates who came to infest the Straits. But
Of the major peoples inhabiting Southeast Asia today the descendants of three—the Vietnamese, the Thais, and the Bur- mans—had penetrated little, if at all into the area by the mid- 7th century and had experienced little, if any, Indianization. The best established were the Vietnamese who, having migrated southward from China, established a state in the Songkoi Delta region of Tonkin c. 200 B.C., only to be absorbed into the Han Empire in A.D. 111. Subsequent centuries saw, on the one hand, repeated conflict in the marchlands between the Chinese com- manderies of Nam-Viet and the Indianized state of Champa (or Lin-yi, to use an earlier Chinese designation for the region of central Annam) and, on the other hand, at least three abort- ive revolts by the Vietnamese against the yoke of Chinese im- perial rule. The mainly tribal Thais, to the west, lived in the hilly regions straddling what is today southwest China proper and northern Burma, in which area they were to found the powerful state of Nan-chao in the mid-7th century. And to the west of them lived Burman tribes, who were not to gain promi- nence on the Southeast Asian stage until the 9th century. The push of these three peoples southward against the Indianized states noted above and the Indianization of the Thais and Bur- mans will be dealt with in the text for plate IV.6.
The "Dynastic Chronology" on plate III.D.6 differs from those presented elsewhere in the atlas in three significant re- spects. First, its time scale is only half that of the other chro- nologies, a century being shown here in the space assigned to fifty years elsewhere. Second, it lacks color to identify the dominant culture or religion of the several states depicted, since it cannot always be established when changes from Hindu to Buddhist dominance, or the reverse, took place. Third, on the time bars for Southeast Asia, in contrast to those for India and China to the left and right, states rather than dynasties are named; apart from our partial ignorance of dynastic names for the rulers of major Southeast Asian states for the period under review, their omission is explained by our belief that they will be of relatively little help to most users of this text.
Sources (in addition to those in the General Bibliography)
Artibus Asiae, supplement 23, vols. 1 and 2 (1966); R. Brad- dell (1956); L. P. Briggs (1951); J. F. Cady (1964), (1966); G. Coedès (1966), (1968); L. C. Damais (1955), (1964); D. G. E. Hall (1968b); G. H. Luce (1925a), (1925b), (1937), (1965); G. H. Luce and Pe Maung Tin (1939); P. Pelliot (1903); R. A. Stein (1947); B. N. M. Vlekke (1965); H. G. Q. Wales (1969); P. Wheatley (1961); O. W. Wolters (1967); W. A. R. Wood (1933).
K&rtod;&stod;&ntod;a Govardhana by courtesy of Cleveland Museum of Art (John L. Severance Fund); Harihara by courtesy of Musée Guimet, Paris; standing Buddha by courtesy of Nelson Gal- lery—Atkins Museum, Kansas City, Missouri (Nelson Fund); Vi&stod;&ntod;u, from A. J. Bernet Kempers (1959); photo selection and captions by Forrest McGill.