- Professor Lokesh Chandra who is proficient in several languages including Mongolian revealed that Kalidasa’s Meghdoota has a translation in Mongolian
- Mongolia’s highest civilian award, the North Star, refers to ‘Dhruva Tara’ or ‘Sudarshan’
- The Jibchundampa are incarnations of Tara Nath from Tibet, all with Sanskrit names
However unlikely it may sound but the fact remains that the Indian culture had a significant influence on Mongolian ethos.
Talking about how potent culture is in the making of any nation, Vedic and Buddhist scholar Professor Lokesh Chandra explained that culture is not limited to art and dance but “culture is power.”
Chandra, 89, who is also the president of Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR) pointed that even China is proud of its culture these days, but we (Indians) are not, in spite of being blessed with a rich cultural heritage.
Chandra who is proficient in several languages including Mongolian revealed that Kalidasa’s Meghdoota has a translation in Mongolian.
While being interviewed by Speaking Tree, he said, “The Astangahridaya Samhita of Vagbhata is translated in Mongolian and they follow it. Most of the culture in Mongolia has gone from India. We don’t realise it but India is a cultural superpower in Asia.”
Apart from our literary and Ayurvedic texts Mongolians fascination with Indian culture dates back to the very foundation of the empire. The proof of which is Lord Shiva’s Trishul (weapon used by Lord Shiva) that is depicted in the scepter of Emperor Genghis Khan, the founder of Mongol empire.
Tracing the history of this symbol, Chandra suggested that the symbol could have been borrowed from Kanishka’s Kushan dynasty when they were in Central Asia.
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Notably, the name of the Mongolian president during the communist period was also Shambu (another name for Lord Shiva).
Professor Chandra also puts forth the importance of Mongolia’s highest civilian award, the North Star, which refers to Dhruva Tara or Sudarshan.
Speaking on how imperative the North Star was for nomadic Mongols, Chandra iterated that since the tribe was rover in nature, they needed a constant reference point to determine the direction and so relied heavily on the North Star.
Interestingly, Professor Chandra has recently conferred the order of the North Star for “his scholarly contributions to the study of Buddhism in Mongolia and for fostering cultural ties between India and Mongolia that go back to his father, Professor Raghu Vira’s time.”
Mapping Mongolian tradition is also essential for us as the 13th-century ruler, Genghis Khan, with an elaborate empire, became the first Asian emperor to rule over Europe.
Claiming that a cultural renaissance is taking place and India needs to be a part of it, Chandra said, “With 11 countries in Asia being Buddhist, they are all looking up to India as a great cultural power — a fact we are not aware of. It is all shared cultural heritage. What we call culture is part of a much bigger system where everything is involved.”
Discussing the significant impact of Buddhism in shaping the present nature of Mongols, he explained that the religion gave Mongols a sense of stability. “Monasteries were built and the transition began from nomadic to settled life with development and buildings,” he added.
Mongol’s contribution to the world is huge. They not only gave paper currency but also for the first time, “opened the west to the east and the east to the west.”
Presently, Mongolians convert their water to Ganga water by chanting hymns written by local masters.
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Indicating a strong India-Mongolia connections, Prof Chandra says, “The Jibchundampa are incarnations of Tara Nath from Tibet, all with Sanskrit names.They have now found an incarnation of Jibchundampa in India and officially recognised him. The Mongolian state is now supporting Buddhism in a big way because it is their identity. Mongolia has evolved a national form of Buddhism with a large Tibetan component, creating new sutras translating into Mongolian modern language, creating ethnic Mongolian Buddhism — all Vajrayana Buddhism.”
-This article has been prepared by Bulbul Sharma, a staff-writer at NewsGram.