How India has influenced Indonesia through ages

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image source: www.livemint.com

By Shriya Katoch

The culture of Indonesia is highly influenced by India. In fact, the word Indonesia actually means “Indian island”.The entire country is diffused with a touch of India.

HISTORY 

It has statues of Ramayana at road intersections, temples and folk performances of the Ramayana.Infact the island of Indonesia actually makes an appearance in the epic Ramayana, when Sugriva the chief of Rama’s army  dispatched his men to Yawadvipa, the ancient name for Indonesia , in search of Sita.

INDIAN DIASPORA 

Indonesia also supports a large Indian diaspora amounting to the humongous count of 129,000. Most of these Indian Indonesians are concentrated in the region of Jakarta. Infact Indians have been living in Indonesia for centuries from the time of the Sri Vijaya and Majaphit Empire, both of which were Hindu and heavily influenced by the subcontinent. Later in the 19th century the Dutch brought the Indians as bonded labourers to work in the expanse of Medan in Sumatra , these were mostly South Indians. They have now been in Indonesia for around four generations and have acquired Indonesian passports. The second wave of Indian influx was in the 20th century with the arrival of the Sindhis in the Indonesian land. The Sindhi community is mainly involved in the arena of trade and commerce. The Indian community is highly regarded in Indonesia.perceived as being intellectually driven, they  hold important positions in different fields .

CULTURAL TIES

India’s cultural ties with Indonesia still continues, with Bollywood music having traces of the popular dangdut music, which originated from Indonesia. The largest ethnicity in Indonesia is Javanese. Javanese culture is humongously effected by Indian culture. Indonesian people, mostly Javanese, even name their children with Indian names like Aditya, Indira etc. They idolise Bollywood with all its colour and fervour. Indonesian cinematography is very similar to Indian cinematography as both of them borrow the power of music and dance to entrance their audience.

A lot of Indonesian mythology has been inspired by Hinduism featuring elements which the Indian culture can identify with. According to a survey 51%, Indonesians identify the Indian influences in their culture positively and only 21% view these influences as negative.

PRESENT DAY SCENARIO 

The Indian-Indonesian relationship stretch back for almost two millennia. In 1950, the first President of Indonesia-Sukarno called upon the peoples of Indonesia and India to “intensify the cordial relations” that had existed between the two countries “for more than 1000 years” before they had been “disrupted” by colonial powers.

To advance Indian culture Jawahar Lal Nehru Indian Cultural Centre was established in Jakarta in 1989. Historically the ties between India and Indonesia goes back to the age of Ramayana. The effect of India on Indonesia in the linguistic sense is the influence of Sanskrit in Indonesian languages . Throughout the history, India and Indonesia have enjoyed a peaceful history except the war in 1965 in which Indonesia aided Pakistan. With all its up and downs both India and Indonesia have continued to maintain a strong bond throughout the years.

Shriya Katoch multitasks as an Engineering student, an avid reader, a guitar player and a death note fan.
https://twitter.com/katochshriya538

  • Ashramam Ramalingan

    Just came through the article, how well written

    But the facts are missing or hidden – your line “Later in the 19th century the Dutch brought the Indians as bonded labourers to work in the expanse of Medan in Sumatra , these were mostly South Indians” and then later you say ….”The second wave of Indian influx was in the 20th century with the arrival of the Sindhis in the Indonesian land. The Sindhi community is mainly involved in the arena of trade and commerce. The Indian community is highly regarded in Indonesia.perceived as being intellectually driven, they hold important positions in different fields”

    This is a fact and I do not deny, but you have effectively degraded south Indians, I say this because you have carefully ignored the history before 19th Century and have just written the Hindu and heavy influence of the subcontinent after that.

    You have created an illusion that some one reading this article will think that south Indians living is Indonesians are bonded laborers .

    But you also say that – “Infact Indians have been living in Indonesia for centuries from the time of the Sri Vijaya and Majaphit Empire, both of which were Hindu and heavily influenced by the subcontinent.” Now here is the catch why were you silent on the this statement? Please refer who influenced ?

    It was the mighty Cholas! the same south Indians you referred!

    Easy reference for you from Wiki…:)

    In 1025, Rajendra Chola, the Chola king from Tamil Nadu in South India, launched naval raids on ports of Srivijaya in maritime Southeast Asia, and conquered Kadaram (modern Kedah) from Srivijaya and occupied it for some time. Rajendra’s overseas expedition against Srivijaya was a unique event in India’s history and its otherwise peaceful relations with the states of Southeast Asia. Several places in Malaysia and Indonesia were invaded by Rajendra Chola I of the Chola dynasty. The Chola invasion furthered the expansion of Tamil merchant associations such as the Manigramam, Ayyavole and Ainnurruvar into Southeast Asia.The Chola invasion led to the fall of the Sailendra Dynasty of Srivijaya and the Chola invasion also coincides with return voyage of the great Buddhist scholar Atiśa from Sumatra to India and Tibet in 1025.The expedition of Rajendra Chola I is mentioned in the corrupted form as Raja Chulan in the medieval Malay chronicle Sejarah Melaya, and Malay princes have names ending with Cholan or Chulan, such as Raja Chulan of Perak..

    The expedition of Rajendra Chola I had such a lasting impression on the Malay people of the period that his name is even mentioned (in the corrupted form as Raja Chulan) in the medieval Malay chronicle, the Sejarah Melayu (Malay Annals). Even today the Chola rule is remembered in Malaysia as many Malaysian princes have names ending with Cholan or Chulan, one such was the Raja of Perak called Raja Chulan.

    The influence was so much their later kings named themselves as Cholas, they are were also from South India! This was at least 900 Years back to the period you are referring.

    • Ashramam Ramalingan

      The Cholas ruled Srivijaya from 1078 to 1115 ..the same south Indians!

      • Khuda Jantaa

        And don’t forget Gujarati Muslim spreading Islam and Indo Islamic culture in this region during early medieval period

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  • Ashramam Ramalingan

    Just came through the article, how well written

    But the facts are missing or hidden – your line “Later in the 19th century the Dutch brought the Indians as bonded labourers to work in the expanse of Medan in Sumatra , these were mostly South Indians” and then later you say ….”The second wave of Indian influx was in the 20th century with the arrival of the Sindhis in the Indonesian land. The Sindhi community is mainly involved in the arena of trade and commerce. The Indian community is highly regarded in Indonesia.perceived as being intellectually driven, they hold important positions in different fields”

    This is a fact and I do not deny, but you have effectively degraded south Indians, I say this because you have carefully ignored the history before 19th Century and have just written the Hindu and heavy influence of the subcontinent after that.

    You have created an illusion that some one reading this article will think that south Indians living is Indonesians are bonded laborers .

    But you also say that – “Infact Indians have been living in Indonesia for centuries from the time of the Sri Vijaya and Majaphit Empire, both of which were Hindu and heavily influenced by the subcontinent.” Now here is the catch why were you silent on the this statement? Please refer who influenced ?

    It was the mighty Cholas! the same south Indians you referred!

    Easy reference for you from Wiki…:)

    In 1025, Rajendra Chola, the Chola king from Tamil Nadu in South India, launched naval raids on ports of Srivijaya in maritime Southeast Asia, and conquered Kadaram (modern Kedah) from Srivijaya and occupied it for some time. Rajendra’s overseas expedition against Srivijaya was a unique event in India’s history and its otherwise peaceful relations with the states of Southeast Asia. Several places in Malaysia and Indonesia were invaded by Rajendra Chola I of the Chola dynasty. The Chola invasion furthered the expansion of Tamil merchant associations such as the Manigramam, Ayyavole and Ainnurruvar into Southeast Asia.The Chola invasion led to the fall of the Sailendra Dynasty of Srivijaya and the Chola invasion also coincides with return voyage of the great Buddhist scholar Atiśa from Sumatra to India and Tibet in 1025.The expedition of Rajendra Chola I is mentioned in the corrupted form as Raja Chulan in the medieval Malay chronicle Sejarah Melaya, and Malay princes have names ending with Cholan or Chulan, such as Raja Chulan of Perak..

    The expedition of Rajendra Chola I had such a lasting impression on the Malay people of the period that his name is even mentioned (in the corrupted form as Raja Chulan) in the medieval Malay chronicle, the Sejarah Melayu (Malay Annals). Even today the Chola rule is remembered in Malaysia as many Malaysian princes have names ending with Cholan or Chulan, one such was the Raja of Perak called Raja Chulan.

    The influence was so much their later kings named themselves as Cholas, they are were also from South India! This was at least 900 Years back to the period you are referring.

    • Ashramam Ramalingan

      The Cholas ruled Srivijaya from 1078 to 1115 ..the same south Indians!

      • Khuda Jantaa

        And don’t forget Gujarati Muslim spreading Islam and Indo Islamic culture in this region during early medieval period