What is the extent of Greek influence on the Art, Culture and Civilisation of Ancient India? To this basic question that concerns the very history of our land, there are two diverse answers, extremely opposed to each other.
What is the extent of Greek influence on the Art, Culture and Civilisation of Ancient India? To this basic question that concerns the very history of our land, there are two diverse answers, extremely opposed to each other. There is one school, mainly consisting of European scholars, that asserts that everything Indian has been, in its early beginnings, influenced by our contacts with Greece. There is the other patriotic school that refutes this theory and upholds the absolute independence of Indian thought and culture. The author, one of the few eminent historians which India has ever produced, has approached this question objectively and analysed the slight yet stimulating influence of Greece on Indian thought and culture in all its manifold aspects, since the time of Alexander's invasion. The book is of such importance that no student of Indian History or Culture can claim his study to be complete without it.
Less remote than China, bathed by an ocean which bore the fleets of Egypt, Chaldæa, Persia, Greece and Rome, India was never beyond the reach of the Western Nations. The Assyrians, the Persians, and the Greeks carried their arms into the basin of the Indus, some portions of which were annexed for a time to those Empires which had their centre in the valley of the Euphrates and stretched westwards as far as the Mediterranean. There was a continuous coming and going of the caravans across the plateau of Iran and the deserts which lie between it and the oases of Bactriana, Aria and Arachosia and through the passes which lead down to what is now called the Punjab; between the ports of the Arabian and Persian Gulfs and those of the Lower Indus and the Malabar Coast, continual commercial movement went on, which though fluctuating with time, was never entirely interrupted. “Nous savons," writes M. Gustave le Bon, in his celebrated work Les Monuments de l'Inde, “que des une antiquité fort reculée, l'Inde communiquait directement avec les empires de l'ancien Orient, la Chaldée, la Babylonie, et l'Assyrie. Les relations se faisaient à la fois par mer et par terre. Par mer des communications régulières étaient établies entre ports de l'Inde et ceux de Golfe Persique. Par terre, plusieurs routes reliaient les grands centres de l'Orient avec le nord-ouest de l'Inde. Plusieurs provinces de l'Inde furent soumises à l'empire des Perses dont elle formirent une satrapie.” From the Malabar Coast, Western Asia drew her supplies of aromatic spices, of metals, of precious woods, of jewels and other treasures--all of which came mainly by the sea-route.
All this, however, was but the supply of raw materials for the Egyptian, Assyrian and Phænician industries. There is no tan Nor ought this to excite our wonder; since the earliest ages, the nature of the land produced a civilisation of rare abundance and splendour. No country in the world displays such luxuriant productiveness, combining in the north, in Hindusthan proper, the natural phenomena of all the zones from the eternal ice and scanty vegetation of the glacier world, to the exuberant undergrowth and majestic palms of the tropics. Under the glaring tropical sun, the moist soil becomes fertile beyond imagination, producing for man, in lavish abundance, all that he needs for life. But it also subdues the mind with the overwhelming force of its fecundity. It could not have been otherwise than that the exuberance of tropical nature should have captivated the mind of man, stirring up his imagination, filling it with brilliant pictures and fostering in him a love of contemplation and luxurious ease. With this were blended in the Indian character, a deep delight in the contemplation of the secrets of nature and enthusiastic devotion to the native soil and a leaning towards subtle speculation. The old poems of the people with their poetic charm exhibit the first of these traits; indeed the tender enthusiasm for nature exhibited in Kālidāsa's Sākuntala betrays a deep sympathy rarely known to the other nations of antiquity. The Hindus however afford another illustration of the general truth that the original character of a people acquires fixed traits in consequence of the peculiarities of climate and the unceasing correlation between nature and the mind. Instead of an impulse to a practical activity, there early appears a powerful bent towards the investigation of the spiritual life, in thought as well as in action. It is owing to this reason, that the ancient Indians did not turn their attention to the development of merely material things, in the earlier stages of their history.
**Contents and Sample Pages**
Art & Culture (797)
Emperor & Queen (492)
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