Saturday, April 1, 2017

From ‘The Indian Colony of Champa’ by Phanindranath Bose

In the first century A.D., in the mainland of India, the mighty Mauryan empire had broken into pieces and the Sungas and Kanvas were ruling over Magadha. At such a juncture…….these colonists went over to Champa and made settlements over there. They might have taken the land route through Burma and Assam, or the direct sea route coming past Java.

The application of the name of Champa to this colony may lead us to conclude that the colonists went from the eastern parts of India. The epigraphical evidence of Vo-can, however, points to the Southern India as the home of the Indian colonists of Champa. As the epigraphical evidence is more strong and trustworthy, we must accept the theory that at least the family of the first Indian royal dynasty of Champa went from the valley of Godaveri and Krishna, because the inscription of Vo-can bears close resemblance to that of Rudradamana at Girnar and of Satakarni Vasisthaputra at Kanheri

…..the Indian kings of Champa…for more than a thousand years (from the third century to the fourteenth century A.D.) they kept up in that country the Indian rule as well as the culture and civilization of India.x

The native Chams had a distinctive clannishness which resisted to some extent the Hindu colonization and the institution of castes. Each Cham clan had its own totem, and there were traditions current for each clan.

Another point to be noted is that Hindu civilization and culture could not influence the law of inheritance of the Chams. So we find that among the native Chams the rule of property going to females survived even the introduction of Hindu civilization. The rule about the devolution of kingship, however, was according to the Hindu Law.

The Hindu custom of sati prevailed in Champa.

…..the prince was known by the Indian name – yuvaraja. ….The yuvaraja was often elected by an assembly of great men. This custom still survives in Cambodia. At the death of the king, the council of ministers meets under the presidency of Aka Moha Sena and elects one as the king or confirms one chosen by the dead king.

Some kings selected their ministers only from among the Brahmans and Ksattriyas.

From Chinese sources, we know that the officers, brothers and even the sons of the king had not immediate access to the king. It is strange that though they were not easily accessible even to their relatives, the kings were sometimes assassinated.

The entire kingdom of Champa was divided into three provinces, with a governor over each of them. It is significant to note that the names of these provinces are Indian. …..The provinces are ….Amaravati. It is in North Champa……Vijaya. It is in central Champa ……Panduranga ….in South Champa

….in the reign of Harivarman …..the whole kingdom at that time consisted of 30,000 families.

These provinces of Champa were governed by high officials or by princes of the royal family. The province of Panduranga was often given to a prince. ….the Champa king was an absolute monarch….He had ….to maintain a large army. In the time of Wen, it consisted of ….40 to 50,000 men. It increased more and more afterwards. In the eighth century only the royal guard consisted of 5,000 men. ….The command of the army was given to the brothers or sons of the king.

While Cambodia provides us with the best specimens of Indian art and sculpture …..the artists of Champa were not inspired by the Indian ideal in the same way. They followed the Indian canons, and got the Indian form, bereft, however, of the inspiration. The result was that they could not approach the best specimens of Indian sculpture of the Gupta period.

The most popular of the Gods of the Hindu trinity in Champa was Siva…….the sculptors of Champa ….seemed to prefer to represent and worship Siva in the form of a lingam (phallus) ….The worship of the lingam was perhaps prevalent in Rigvedic times…..Whether we agree with Hopkins as to the Greek influence behind lingam worship or not, no one will deny that the worship of Siva and his emblem, the lingam, is of non-Aryan origin.

It is surprising that while Hinduism made such headway in Champa, Buddhism, which penetrated so far into China and Japan could not make much progress in Champa. This may be due to the fact that most of the kings of Champa were Hindus and that they were busy making endowments to Hindu Gods and Goddesses.
The remains of Buddhist sculptures in Champa show that Buddhism prevailed side by side with Hinduism, though it could not rival the latter in popularity.

This art of Champa, which is Indian in origin and design but Cham in execution…….

The stories of the Ramayana and the Mahabharata seem to have been familiar with the people of Champa, though perhaps they were not so popular as in Java.

India effected in Champa not only a physical but also a cultural conquest. Her sons ruled over Champa for more than twelve hundred years ……

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