History Optional Paper-1 Solution – 2011: Q.8 (b)
Q.8 (b) Assess the contribution of the Cholas in the expansion of Indian culture outside India. [30 Marks]
The Chola Kingdom of South was powerful, had a strong navy and was active in maritime trade and conquest. Navy and maritime trade helped in the expansion of Indian Culture outside India, mostly in the South-East Asian Countries.
Contacts of Cholas with the outside world
(1) During the days of Raja Raja-I, Bay of Bengal was called the lake of Cholas. He captured Maldives, Andaman and Nicobar Islands and many other small islands like Java, Sumatra, Borneo and Malaya. Trade between India and south-East Asia helped in the Indianization of south-East Asia and China.
(2) The king of Kambuja desa (Cambodia) sent an ornamental chariot to the Chola Emperor, probably to appease him so that his strategic attention does not extend further than the Malaya Peninsula.
(3) Chinese Song dynasty reports that an embassy from Chulian (Chola) reached the Chinese court in the year 1077 and that the possible king was called Ti-hua kia- lo (Kulothuga Chola I). This embassy was a trading venture and was highly profitable to the visitors, who returned with 81,800 strings of copper coins in exchange for articles of tributes, including glass articles and spices.
(4) In 1015 and 1033, Rajendra I sent diplomatic missions and the Chinese emperor recognized the Chola Kingdom as one of the great tributary states.
(5) Suryavarman II, builder of Angkor Vat sent a precious Jewel to Kulottunga, who then donated it to the temple of Chidambram in 1114.
(6) Burmese king Kyanzitta wrote a letter on golden leaves to the Chola rulers.
(7) A fragmentary Tamil inscription, dated 1088 AD, found in Sumatra gives the name of a famous merchant guild in Chola Kingdom. This indicated that there was an active overseas trade.
(8) An early silver coin of Uttam Chola found in Srilanka also showed Tiger emblem of the Cholas.
Expansion of Indian Culture
At the northern coast of Sumatra, the old port of Dilli had great Buddha sculptures evincing a local variation of the Chola style.
A magnificent status of the Hindu God Ganesha, in the pure Chola style, have recently been found at the same place.
Close to the famous temple of Padang Lawas, central Sumatra, small but very impressive Chola-style bronze sculptures of a four armed Lokanath and of Tara have been found. These sculptures have brief inscription containing Old Malay words in addition to Sanskrit and Tamil words-proves that the figures were not imported from India but were produced locally.
During the Chola period, Indian languages like Sanskrit, Pali and Tamil had a considerable long term impact upon the linguistic and intellectual cultures of south East Asia.
Indonesia still has a high regard for their connections with the Cholas. The Indonesian museum is housed in an Old Russian whiskey-class submarine, which was named Posopoti, one of the names of the Hindu God Shiva.
Still existing fact is the cultural ties spread by the Chola navies. The motto of the Indonesian navy ‘Jalaseva Jayambe’ which is Sanskrit for “on the sea we are glorious”.
The ‘ruins of Ayutthaya in Thailand were named after Ayodhaya.
(3) Temple architecture
There were many surviving examples of the temples built around Dravidian architecture, in Vietnam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia and Sri Lanka.
Hindu temple complex at Prambanan in Java clearly showed Dravidian architectural influences. Angkor Vat in Cambodia is one of the largest Hindu-Buddhist temples in the world also shows Dravidian style of architecture.
(4) Great diplomatic relation between the Chola and South East Asian nations which must have enabled the great merchant guilds of south India to conduct their international business undisturbed which provided further development in the culture.
(5) Contacts established by Cholas with outside world continued in the subsequent times which led to the further expansion of Indian culture.