Historic trade and cultural links between India and Southeast Asia established

Launch of book on
“Early Interactions Between South and Southeast Asia: Reflections on Cross-Cultural Exchange”


Chennai 15 December 2011: Launching the book ‘Early Interactions Between South and Southeast Asia: Reflections on Cross-Cultural Exchange’ in Chennai today, Ambassador K Kesavapany, Director, Institute of Southeast Asian Studies (ISEAS), Singapore described the popularly-held belief of “Indianisation” of Southeast Asia as a possible use of the term without enough caution. “There has been much debate on the precise nature of the interaction between South India and South East Asia, and this book, among other things, addresses the question of whether Southeast Asia was Indianised before Indianisation” he said.

Launch of book on “Early Interactions Between South and Southeast Asia: Reflections on Cross-Cultural Exchange”

The book is a compilation of twenty-three papers contributed by twenty-seven authors who have carried out extensive research on the trade and cultural interactions between South India and Southeast Asia as part of a conference in Singapore in November 2007. Edited by Pierre-Yves Manguin, A.Mani and Geoff Wade, the book discusses, among other topics, the discovery of new archaeological evidence of the links between India and Southeast Asia, including ceramic and boat-building traditions, trade and marine links. It also discusses the presence of Tamil merchants, spread of Sanskrit, musical exchanges, and India’s influences in various versions of the epics like Ramayana in Southeast Asia.

The first copy of the book was handed over to Mr. M V Subbiah, Managing Trustee, AMM Foundation. Receiving the first copy of the book, M V Subbiah expressed pleasure at having been a part of the conference which led to the papers being compiled and published.

The occasion was also marked by a special address by the historian Mr. CV Karthick Narayanan, translator of many books including the famous Ponniyin Selvan, who elaborated on his thoughts on the history of relationships between South India and Southeast Asia. Describing the evidences of the Shivalinga in a place like Vietnam, where scenes from the Mahabharata were engraved, and the huge temples in Angkor Wat, he also described the excavations found in Arikamedu in Tamilnadu which gave evidence of trade links with Greece and Rome. He lamented on the lack of records describing the very active interactions that South India had with the rest of the world many years ago. He also remarked on how Ramayana scenes were found in murals around Terawada Buddhist temples. 

The book launch function was organised by Madras Book Club and Roja Muthiah Research Library and was attended by some of the city’s most eminent personalities including Chennai’s own chronicler Mr. S Muthiah, Mr. MV Murugappan, Chairman of AMM Murugappa Chettiar Research Centre and many others.

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