ANCIENT INDIAN CULTURE & HINDU CIVILISATION FROM EGYPT TO JAVA
– Speech of HH Pujyasri Chandrashekarendra Saraswathi Shankaracharya Swamiji
Pujyasri Acharya Swamiji delivered a rare speech in January 1947 in Sri Matham during the Annual celebrations of Ayyuvayyar Vedanta Pathasala on the subject of ‘Resurrection of our ancient culture and ways of solving present day problems’. The speech is summarised below:
“In ancient times the civilisation of Indian art had spread from Egypt in the west to Java in the east and grown to great heights. By realising its greatness properly today, our nation can be made to regain those heights. We can strengthen the unity among us and those nations. Knowledge of Hindu civilisation is seen deeply founded in other nations. We can see its signs even today in those countries.
Experts, who came here from Germany, took away many of our ancient Samskrit texts and deposited them in the national libraries of that country. We should be proud of our government’s demand to them to return those books to us by way of compensation towards our losses in the last World War. Nowadays politics alone attracts people’s attention. Not many care for religion. Despite this, the fact that our representatives have realised the greatness of Samskrit and made such a demand to Germany shows how deeply the power of our culture is founded in people’s minds. Dr.Sukarno (Sukarna:) has accepted the greetings of India and has been showing his friendliness towards Indians. He commends mutual contacts between the two countries and claims special relationship with us based on the civilisation, which has spread from India to his country. We see signs of India in Java even today. The names of people there are related to Hindu names. Hindu temples are to be seen there even today.
Buddhism is but a branch of Vedic religion. We hail Buddha as an avatara (incarnation) of Bhagavan Vishnu. He laid special emphasis on truth and non-violence. Veda also stresses these two. But Buddha did not accept karmas like yaga, mentioned in Veda. Buddhism is only Vedic religion, but not accepting difference of ‘adhikari’ (qualification). We have allowed that religion to spread in other countries. We see translation of Gaudapada’s Karika in Chinese languages in very ancient Chinese religious texts. Rabindranath Tagore attempted to renew contact in art with that country with the help of Chinese intellectuals in Santiniketan. Those experts are researching on the common knowledge of art in our country and theirs.
Researchers have said that there was commonality between ancient Egypt and India. Names resembling Rama’s name have been given to many places close to the Sahara desert. Sahara desert itself is said to have been a sea, dried up in course of time. The term ‘Sagara’ must have degenerated into ‘Sahara’. There are some signs like this in that country indicating the contact which existed between the two countries.
In the Bible, called Old Testament (Old Veda) in Christianity, the term ‘Adam’ and ‘Evan’ (Eve) refer actually to ‘Atma’ and ‘Jiva’. The term ‘Apple’ there refers to the fruit ‘Pippala’. This indicates desire. Adam is the form of Paramatma, free from blemishes. Evan or Jiva is linked to sin. This is the cause of birth and death.
The Upanishadic mantra “Dva suparna—– Pippalam” teaches this only. The Old Bible is accepted by Jews, Muslim Arabs and Christians. It can be said that the stories and teachings in that book are based on Hindu Sastras.
It was the western researchers who divided the society into various groups like Arya, Dravida, Semitic etc. Of them, the western Christian priests, who came and stayed in India first, happened to imagine such differences. It was Christian missionaries only who sowed the seeds of division first. They strengthened their domination over us by using this method. Politicians used this to their advantage.
Using the unity with India in culture from Egypt to Java, unity must be cultivated among all these countries. Realising such truths, attempt should be made to inculcate brotherhood and goodwill among these divided nations. No attempt should be made to divide India on the basis of small differences like language etc. If people conduct agitations with political aim on the basis of false divisions by reading wrong histories, our Asian continent itself will be divided and fragmented. It will give room to another third party.
It is gratifying that the representative of a Muslim nation, Dr.Sukarno has spoken encouragingly of the civilisation binding us and his nation. Similarly we should rediscover our ancient ties in culture with West Asian countries, develop goodwill and brotherhood with them and pave the way for complete unity of Asian continent and world peace. I consider this as the best step in this field. Government and private individuals should help in conducting research in this field.
Manu has referred to all groups like Chinese, Persians, Greeks et al. He says that all these peoples are endowed with kshatriya disposition. We can be friends with them. We can foster unity well by sending delegations in culture from India to foreign countries, instead of political delegations. We may foster mutual goodwill with them. Let us also live with unity as our ancestors did in ancient times and protect our arts and Sastras.”
Translated from ‘Sri Jagadguru Divya Charitram’ in Tamil by:
P R Kannan, Navi Mumbai