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A 15th century Latin annotated version of Ptolemy's map of India Intra Gangem (literally "India upto the Ganges," or India proper) and India Extra Gangem (literally, "India beyond the Ganges," or Further India and often identified with Southeast Asia). In some accounts Greater India = India proper + Further India. Dark blue: the Indian subcontinent, Light Blue: Other countries culturally linked to India, notably Burma, Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, Indonesia and Malaysia, Purple: Regions not included in Indosphere, but with significant current or historical Indian cultural influence, notably Gandhara . The term Greater India has several related meanings:
In medieval literature and geography: the term "Greater India" (P. Indyos mayores) was used at least from the mid 15th century. The term, which seems to have been used with variable precision, sometimes meant only the Indian subcontinent; however, at other times, in some accounts of European nautical voyages, "Greater India" (or "India Major") extended from the Malabar (presentday northern Kerala) to India extra Gangem (lit. "India, beyond the Ganges,"
but usually the East Indies, i.e. present-day Malay Archipelago) and "India Minor," from Malabar to Sind. In late 19th century Geography: The term "Greater India" included: "(a) Himalaya, (b) Punjab, (c) Hindustan, (d) Burma, (e) Indo-China, (f) Sunda Islands, (g) Borneo, (h) Celebes, and (i) Philippines." (Similarly "Greater Australia" included "(a) West Australla, (b) East Australia, (c) New Zealand, (d) Melanesia, (e) Micronesia, (f) Polynesia.") In 20th century history, art history, linguistics, and allied fields: The term "Greater India," now largely out of favor, consists of "all the Asian lands including Burma, Java, Cambodia, Bali, and the former Champa and Funan polities of present-day Vietnam," in which pre-Islamic Indian culture left an "imprint in the form of monuments, inscriptions and other traces of the historic ‘Indianising’ process." In some accounts, many Pacific societies and "most of the Buddhist world including Ceylon, Tibet, central Asia and even Japan were held to fall within this web of Indianising ‘culture colonies’" This particular usage—implying cultural "sphere of influence" of India—was spurred by the formation of The Greater India Society by a group of Bengali men of letters and does not go back to before the 1920s (lasting well into the 1970s in history and later in other fields). In late-20th- and 21st century geoscience: The term "Greater India," still current, is used to mean "the Indian sub-continent plus a postulated northern extension," in plate tectonic models of the India–Asia collison. Although its usage in geoscience pre-dates plate tectonic theory, the term has seen increased usage since the 1970s.
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1 Usage in cultural history 2 Notes 3 References 4 See also
 Usage in cultural history
The third meaning of "Greater India" (as a cultural sphere of influence) was popularized by a network of Bengali scholars in the 1920s who were all members of the Calcuttabased Greater India Society. The movement's early leaders included the historian R. C. Majumdar (1888–1980); the philologists Suniti Kumar Chatterji (1890–1977) and P.C. Bagchi (1898–1956), the historians Phanindranath Bose and Kalidas Nag (1891–1966). Some of their formulations were inspired by the then ongoing excavations in Angkor by French archaeologists and by the writings of French Indologist Sylvain Lévi. The Greater India Society scholars postulated a benevolent ancient Indian cultural
colonization of South-east Asia, in stark contrast—in their view—to the colonialism of the early 20th century.
"The ancient Hindus of yore were not simply a spiritual people, always busy with mystical problems and never troubling themselves with the questions of ‘this world’ . . . India also has its Napoleons and Charlemagnes, its Bismarcks and Machiavellis. But the real charm of Indian history does not consist in these aspirants after universal power, but in its peaceful and benevolent Imperialism—a unique thing in the history of mankind. The colonisers of India did not go with sword and fire in their hands; they used . . . the weapons of their superior culture and religion [to bring] the world under their sway. Wherever they went, they conquered the world through their culture . . . . This fascinating and forgotten chapter of Indian history is being gradually reconstructed by the constant efforts of Indologists . . . .The Buddhist age has attracted special attention, and the French savants have taken much pains [sic] to investigate the splendid monuments of the Indian cultural empire in the Far East."
The term was used in historical writing in India well into the 1970s. For example, the fifteenth chapter of the popular text-book, An Advanced History of India. titled, "Colonial and Cultural Expansion (of Ancient India)", and written by R. C. Majumdar, concluded with:
We may conclude with a broad survey of the Indian colonies in the Far East. For nearly fifteen hundred years, and down to a period when the Hindus had lost their independence in their own home, Hindu kings were ruling over Indo-China and the numerous islands of the Indian Archipelago, from Sumatra to New Guinea. Indian religion, Indian culture, Indian laws and Indian government moulded the lives of the primitive races all over this wide region, and they imbibed a more elevated moral spirit and a higher intellectual taste through the religion, art, and literature of India. In short, the people were lifted to a higher plane of civilization. A greater India was established by a gentle fusion of races, which richly endowed the original inhabitants with the spiritual heritage of India.... The colonial and cultural expansion of India is one of the most brilliant, but forgotten, episodes of Indian history, of which any Indian may justly feel proud."
The term "Greater India" as well as the notion of an explicit Hindu colonization of ancient Southeast Asia have been linked to both Indian nationalism and Hindu nationalism, however, many Indian nationalists, like Nehru and Tagore, although receptive to "an idealisation of India as a benign and uncoercive world civiliser and font of global enlightenment,"stayed away from explicit "Greater India" formulations. In addition, some scholars have seen the Hindu/Buddhist acculturation in ancient Southeast
Asia as "a single cultural process in which Southeast Asia was the matrix and South Asia the mediatrix." In the field of Art History, especially in American writings on the Indian Art History, the term survived longer due to the influence of art theorist Ananda Coomaraswamy. Coomaraswamy's view of pan-Indian art history was influenced by the "Calcutta cultural nationalists."
1. ^ a b (Azurara 1446) 2. ^ (Beazley 1910, p. 708) Quote: "Azurara's hyperbole, indeed, which celebrates the
Navigator Prince as joining Orient and Occident by continual voyaging, as transporting to the extremities of the East the creations of Western industry, does not scruple to picture the people of the Greater and the Lesser India welcoming his ships (which never passed beyond Sierra Leone), praising his generosity, and even experiencing his hospitality." ^ (Beazley 1910, p. 708) Quote: "Among all the confusion of the various Indies in Mediaeval nomenclature, "Greater India" can usually be recognized as restricted to the "India proper" of the modern world." ^ (Wheatley 1982, p. 13) Quote: "From the time when Southeast Asia first rose above their horizon, Europeans—the infinitesimal number of them who cared about such matters, that is—tended to treat that vague and insubstantial region beneath the sunrise as simply a more distant part of India. This practice went back at least to Claudius Ptolemy or, possibly, one of his redactors, who subsumed a good part of the region under the rubric "Trans- Gangetic India." Subsequently the whole area came to be identified with one of the "Three Indies," though whether India Major or Minor, Greater or Lesser, Superior or Inferior, seems often to have been a personal preference of the author concerned. When Europeans began to penetrate into Southeast Asia in earnest, they continued this tradition, attaching to various of the constituent territories such labels as Further India or Hinterindien, the East Indies, the Indian Archipelago, Insulinde, and, in acknowledgment of the presence of a competing culture, Indochina." ^ (Caverhill 1767) ^ a b "Review: New Maps," (1912) Bulletin of the American Geographical Society 44(3): 235-240. ^ a b c d (Bayley 2004, p. 713) ^ (Handy 1930, p. 364) Quote: "An equally significant movement is one that brought about among the Indian intelligentsia of Calcutta a few years ago the formation of what is known as the "Greater India Society," whose membership is open "to all serious students of the Indian cultural expansion and to all sympathizers of such studies and activities." Though still in its infancy, this organization has already a large membership, due perhaps as much as anything else to the enthusiasm of its Secretary and Convener, Dr. Kalidas Nag, whose scholarly affiliations with the Orientalists in the University of Paris and studies in Indo-China, Insulindia and beyond, have equipped him in an unusual way for the work he has chosen-namely, stimulating interest in and spreading knowledge of Greater Indian culture of the past, present and future. The Society's President is Professor Jadunath Sarkar, Vice-Chancellor of Calcutta University, and its Council is made up largely of professors on the faculty of the University and members of the staff of the Calcutta Museum, as well as of Indian authors, journalists, and so on. Its activities,
5. 6. 7. 8.
besides meetings, have included illustrated lecture series at the various universities throughout India by Dr. Nag, the assembling of a research library and the publication of monographs, of which four very excellent examples have already been printed: 1)Greater India, by Kalidas Nag, M.A., D.Litt(Paris), 2) India and China, by Prabodh Chandra Bagchi, M.A., D.Litt., 3) Indian Culture in Java and Sumatra, by Bijan Raj Chatterjee, D.Litt. (Punjab), Ph.D (London), and 4) India and Central Asia, by Niranjan Prasad Chakravarti, M.A., Ph.D.(cantab.)." 9. ^ (Ali & Aitchison 2005, p. 170) 10. ^ Argand, E., 1924. La tectonique de l' Asie. Proc. 13th Int. Geol. Cong. 7 (1924), 171– 372. 11. ^ (Bayley 2005, p. 710) 12. ^ (Bayley 2005, p. 712) 13. ^ Review by ‘SKV’ of The Hindu Colony of Cambodia by Phanindranath Bose [Adyar, Madras: Theosophical Publishing House 1927] in The Vedic Magazine and Gurukula Samachar 26: 1927, pp. 620–1. 14. ^ (Majumdar 1960, pp. 222-223) 15. ^ (Keenleyside 1982, pp. 213-214) Quote: "Starting in the 1920s under the leadership of Kalidas Nag-and continuing even after independence-a number of Indian scholars wrote extensively and rapturously about the ancient Hindu cultural expansion into and colonization of South and Southeast Asia. They called this vast region "Greater India"–a dubious appellation for a region which to a limited degree, but with little permanence, had been influenced by Indian religion, art, architecture, literature and administrative customs. As a consequence of this renewed and extensive interest in Greater India, many Indians came to believe that the entire South and Southeast Asian region formed the cultural progeny of India; now that the sub-continent was reawakening, they felt, India would once again assert its non-political ascendancy over the area.... While the idea of reviving the ancient Greater India was never officially endorsed by the Indian National Congress, it enjoyed considerable popularity in nationalist Indian circles. Indeed, Congress leaders made occasional references to Greater India while the organization's abiding interest in the problems of overseas Indians lent indirect support to the Indian hope of restoring the alleged cultural and spiritual unity of South and Southeast Asia." 16. ^ (Thapar 1968, pp. 326-330) Quote: "At another level, it was believed that the dynamics of many Asian cultures, particularly those of Southeast Asia, arose from Hindu culture, and the theory of Greater India derived sustenance from Pan-Hinduism. A curious pride was taken in the supposed imperialist past of India, as expressed in sentiments such as these: "The art of Java and Kambuja was no doubt derived from India and fostered by the Indian rulers of these colonies." (Majumdar, R. C. et al (1950), An Advanced History of India, London: Macmillan, p. 221) This form of historical interpretation, which can perhaps best be described as being inspired by Hindu nationalism, remains an influential school of thinking in present historical writings." 17. ^ (Bayley 2004, pp. 735-736) Quote:"The Greater India visions which Calcutta thinkers derived from French and other sources are still known to educated anglophone Indians, especially but not exclusively Bengalis from the generation brought up in the traditions of post-Independence Nehruvian secular nationalism. One key source of this knowledge is a warm tribute paid to Sylvain Lévi and his ideas of an expansive, civilising India by Jawaharlal Nehru himself, in his celebrated book, The Discovery of India, which was written during one of Nehru’s periods of imprisonment by the British authorities, first published in 1946, and reprinted many times since. ... The ideas of both Lévi and the Greater India scholars were known to Nehru through his close intellectual links with Tagore. Thus Lévi’s notion of ancient Indian voyagers leaving their invisible ‘imprints’
throughout east and southeast Asia was for Nehru a recapitulation of Tagore’s vision of nationhood, that is an idealisation of India as a benign and uncoercive world civiliser and font of global enlightenment. This was clearly a perspective which defined the Greater India phenomenon as a process of religious and spiritual tutelage, but it was not a Hindu supremacist idea of India’s mission to the lands of the transgangetic ‘Sarvabhumi’ or ‘Bharat Varsha’." 18. ^ (Narasimhaiah 1986) Quote: "To him (Nehru), the so-called practical approach meant, in practice, shameless expediency, and so he would say, ‘the sooner we are not practical, the better’. He rebuked a Member of Indian Parliament who sought to revive the concept of Greater India by saying that ‘the honorable Member lived in the days of Bismarck; Bismarck is dead, and his politics more dead!' He would consistently plead for an idealistic approach and such power as the language wields is the creation of idealism— politics’ arch enemy—which, however, liberates the leader of a national movement from narrow nationalism, thus igniting in the process a dead fact of history, in the sneer, ‘For him the Bastille has not fallen!’ Though Nehru was not to the language born, his utterances show a remarkable capacity for introspection and sense of moral responsibility in commenting on political processes." 19. ^ (Wheatley 1982, pp. 27-28) Quote: "The tide of revisionism that is currently sweeping through Southeast Asian historiography has in effect taken us back almost to the point where we have to consider reevaluating almost every text bearing on the protohistoric period and many from later times. Although this may seem a daunting proposition, it is nonetheless supremely worth attempting, for the process by which the peoples of western Southeast Asia came to think of themselves as part of Bharatavarsa (even though they had no conception of "India" as we know it) represents one of the most impressive instances of large-scale acculturation in the history of the world. Sylvain Levi was perhaps overenthusiastic when he claimed that India produced her definitive masterpieces —he was thinking of Angkor and the Borobudur—through the efforts of foreigners or on foreign soil. Those masterpieces were not strictly Indian achievements: rather were they the outcome of a Eutychian fusion of natures so melded together as to constitute a single cultural process in which Southeast Asia was the matrix and South Asia the mediatrix." 20. ^ (Guha-Thakurta 1992, pp. 159-167)
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Guha-Thakurta, Tapati (1992), written at Cambridge, UK, The making of a new ‘Indian’ art. Artists, aesthetics and nationalism in Bengal, c. 1850–1920., Cambridge University Press. Handy, E. S. Craighill (1930), "The Renaissance of East Indian Culture: Its Significance for the Pacific and the World", Pacific Affairs 3 (4): 362-369, <http://links.jstor.org/sici?sici=0030851X%28193004%293%3A4%3C362%3ATROEIC%3E2.0.CO%3B2-L>. Keenleyside, T. A. (1982), "Nationalist Indian Attitudes Towards Asia: A Troublesome Legacy for Post-Independence Indian Foreign Policy", Pacific Affairs 55 (2): 210-230, <http://links.jstor.org/sici?sici=0030851X%28198222%2955%3A2%3C210%3ANIATAA%3E2.0.CO%3B2-3>. Majumdar, R. C., H. C. Raychaudhuri, and Kalikinkar Datta (1960), written at London, An Advanced History of India, Macmillan and Co., 1122 pages. Narasimhaiah, C. D. (1986), "The cross-cultural dimensions of English in religion, politics and literature", World Englishes 5 (2-3): 221-230, <http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-971X.1986.tb00728.x>. Thapar, Romila (1968), "Interpretations of Ancient Indian History", History and Theory 7 (3): 318-335, <http://links.jstor.org/sici?sici=00182656%281968%297%3A3%3C318%3AIOAIH%3E2.0.CO%3B2-%23>. Wheatley, Paul (1982), "Presidential Address: India Beyond the Ganges-Desultory Reflections on the Origins of Civilization in Southeast Asia", The Journal of Asian Studies 42 (1): 13-28, <http://links.jstor.org/sici?sici=00219118%28198211%2942%3A1%3C13%3APAIBTG%3E2.0.CO%3B2-Z>.