FROM INDUS TO INDEPENDENCE: A TREK THROUGH INDIAN HISTORY; Part 16

Canberra, 23 September 2013
THE AGE OF DIFFUSION AND DISINTEGRATION (~200 B.C. to 300 A.D.)
Section II
OF GREEKS AND NOMADS
The Yavanas
In ancient times, the people who moved eastwards from the other side of the Mediterranean Sea, whether Greeks, Macedonians or Ionians, were all referred to as Yona, Yauna or Yavana, by both the Persians and Indians. Considering that the Persians had earlier contact with these people it can be reasonably believed that Indians adopted the Persian term, which is itself derived from Ionia from where the first Greeks originated. There is archaeological evidence of the existence of a pre-Alexandrian Ionian Greek settlement at Nyasa on the banks of the River Kabul. The Greeks have given its location as on the lower slopes of Meros (Meru). The Mahabharta and the Puranas mention Meru as one of the four mountains surrounding Mount Sumeru (the Pamir Knot). Mount Meru is in the Sualaiman Range and Nyasa must have been located in the lower spurs and valleys of Koh-i-Mor. Some analysts place Nyasa in the general area between the River Kabul and Indus. Irrespective of the actual location of Nyasa, there is irrefutable proof that Greeks were already known to the people of India much before the arrival of Alexander at their gates.
Further, there is mention in the Mahabharata that in the epic Battle of Kurukshetra between the Pandavas and the Kauravas for the kingdom of ‘India’, King Sudakshina of Kamboj had Yavanas and Shakas (Scythians) in the army that he brought along for the battle.     
The decline and eventual fall of the once glorious Maurya Empire led to an era of turbulence and uncertainty of over three centuries. During this period the control of the India’s North Western provinces and further west of the Khyber Pass, the gateway to India, was fiercely contested, primarily by the Greeks, Scythians and the Parthians. While the Greeks had fundamental connections to the declining Seleucid Empire, the Scythians and the Parthians were nomadic tribes that moved south from their original habitats in Central Asia. The primary reason for this movement was quest for fresh pastures, which is a basic trait of nomadic tribes. However, such movements almost always resulted in the collision of two tribes—one the new arrival and the other the original inhabitants of the contested area—that would invariably lead to conflict with the defeated tribe either being annihilated or having to move on. This would in turn create another ‘collision’ in another location with similar results, and so on; a self-perpetuating cycle of violent, reactive and militarised migrations of nomadic tribes. The difference between nomadic tribes and the more settled agrarian cultures was starkly evident in this process. In this process it was normally the agrarian societies that were defeated, becoming extinct through slaughter or amalgamation as slaves or subservient people of the victorious tribe. It would not have been possible for them to gather all their assets and move to another place before being attacked and subdued. The agrarian society would have been at a disadvantage because it is also entirely possible that the nomadic tribes were more attuned to warlike activities and therefore better placed to win these conflicts. This cycle of clashes also meant that even a faraway migration would have cascading ripple effects on other areas, even across continents.
By around 240 B.C. the power of the Seleucid Empire was in decline—as it often happened to empires that were geographically spread beyond the capability of the administration to maintain proper control—and the Greeks in the province of Bactria, and subsequently in Parthia, declared independence. Bactria is the region located south of the River Amu Darya (Oxus) and west of Gandhara, in the present day northern Afghanistan. 
There is no verifiable evidence to support the purported presence of Greeks and/or other nomadic tribes in the North West Frontier and the unconnected stories that proclaim such occupancy have to be considered hypotheses at best. The breakaway provinces of Bactria and Parthia that became independent from the larger, but declining Greek Empire were ruled respectively by Diodotus and Andragoras. Parthia was attacked almost immediately by the Scythians under Arsaces who deposed Andragoras and occupied the province. Since this branch of the Scythians settled into the province they came to be called Parthians. They moved westward from then on and went on to create a powerful empire.
The Greco-Bactrian kings belonged to a mix of different lineages and after they invaded India came to be known as Indo-Greek kings. There is numismatic evidence as well as some sculptors that indicate that the Indo-Greek kings controlled, at various times, small kingdoms or territories that were nonetheless rich and flourishing. Coins with both Greek and Indian symbols have been found indicating a culture that was a fusion of Hellenistic and Indian influences. However, the Brahmins always looked own on the Greeks, who were called Yavanas, even when the Greeks were the ruling nobility. [Even at the dawn of history, there was obviously no stopping the Brahmins from exerting their self-proclaimed superiority and status in terms of religious imperialism.]   
The Bactrian Greeks
Diodotus was more fortunate than Andragoras and went on to develop a powerful Bactrian kingdom. Bactria then was a far cry from the arid and barren north of Afghanistan as seen today. The province was well irrigated by a network of canals that had been created by the Persian emperors and subsequently enhanced by the Greeks. The kingdom had considerable agricultural wealth, a sophisticated administration, and a well-developed culture. In the 1960s and 1970s a number of sites were discovered and partially excavated, which give irrefutable proof of Bactria having been a flourishing Hellenistic kingdom. In 208 B.C. Antiochus III, the Seleucid Emperor, decided to recapture the lands that had been lost by his ancestors and laid siege to Bactra, the capital of Bactria. Bactria was then ruled by Euthydemus of Magnesia who had overthrown Diodetus and his successors, and annexed the provinces of Sogdiana, Margiana and Aria into the Bactrian kingdom. Bactra was extremely well-fortified and withstood the siege for two years; Antiochus III accepted the failure in 206 B.C; recognised Euthydemus as the king of Bactria; formed an alliance with him; and sealed the alliance by marrying Euthydemus to a Seleucid princess. Antiochus III then turned south and entered India. In what can only be considered a subsidiary campaign, he encountered a minor and obscure king Subhagasena (Sophagasenus in Greek) who was promptly defeated in battle. It is possible that Subhagasena was a minor vassal of the great Mauryas at some stage, but at the time of his encounter with the Seleucid emperor, it is more likely that he was an independent king, since this was the post-Ashoka period of the Mauryan decline.   
Even with this victory, Antiochus did not achieve much, he renewed the treaty that Seleucus had signed in earlier times with the Indians, replenished elephants for his army and returned home. The significance of Antiochus’s brief sojourn into India lies in the fact that he demonstrated India’s vulnerability to attack through the Khyber Pass, a discovery that the Bactrian kings did not miss. Almost immediately after Antiochus’s departure, the Bactrian rulers started to move south towards India, encouraged by the knowledge of India’s great wealth and noticing the setting in of political instability. In 190 B.C. Euthydemus was succeeded on the throne by his son Demetrius, who is reported to have negotiated with Antiochus on behalf of his father during the siege of Bactra (208-206 B.C.). He was known as ‘Aniketos’ meaning ‘invincible’ and led the Bactrian Greek army into India. Coins show Demetrius wearing an elephant shaped headdress, probably indicating his conquest of Indian lands. The depth of his penetration into India is uncertain, but it is almost certain that he reached up to the River Beas. At this stage in his foray into India, the throne of Bactria was usurped by Eucratides and Demetrius was forced to turn back in order to reclaim his kingdom.
“Given the crisis of political legitimacy, given too the obscure origins of most indigenous dynasties of the period, plus the absence of anything like a national consciousness, there may have been no fundamental objection to accepting as kings men with strange names, remote origins and unusual headgear.”
John Keay, India: A History, p. 110.
From the time of Demetrius return to Bactria, the Greeks were divided, with factions supporting both the contenders and the kingdom descending into internecine war. Demetrius battled the usurper but was defeated in 160 B.C. his Indian conquests falling to Eucratides, who occupied Gandhra and Taxila. From the evidence available through the coins of the time, Eucratides was most probably a cavalry commander and was able to consolidate his hold on Bactria by defeating the rebels, subsequently calling himself ‘Great’. At the height of his rule, Eucratides ruled the Hindu Kush and India’s North West Frontier. Around this time the eastward incursion of the Parthians brought the Bactrian kingdom into disarray, paving the way for the sons and grandsons of Demetrius to reclaim Bactria for themselves. However, the Indian lands of the Bactrian Greeks followed a separate path. Essentially, for a few decades after 190 B.C., North West India was under the control of Indo-Greek rulers. Excavated coins indicate that nearly two dozen Hellenic kings ruled or claimed the throne during this period, with some of these ‘kings’ being so obscure that they are known only through one or two coins.
The most famous of the Indo-Greek kings was Menander, who perhaps had the longest tenure and ruled from 160 to 135 B.C. Menander is referred to as ‘Milinda’ and the ‘saviour king’ in Buddhist chronicles. He expanded the frontiers of his kingdom and ruled an area that encompassed Punjab, the Swat valley and some lands in the Gangetic plains. It is claimed that he annexed Kathiawar (Saurashtra); occupied Mathura; besieged Madhymika (now Nagiri near Chitor in Rajasthan) in erstwhile Rajputana; invested Saketam in southern Oudh; and threatened Pataliputra itself. He is supposed to have been repulsed with great effort after a long struggle. Menander’s coins have been found in Mathura near Delhi and as far north as Kabul. This was the second and last effort by a European General to conquer India through its land approaches. Menander is famous for another reason—his conversion to Buddhism. There is a famous Buddhist text called Milinda-panha, translated as ‘The Question of Milinda’, which is the record of Menander’s conversation with a Buddhist thinker Nagasena. It is claimed that the conversation took place before the king’s conversion and that the depth of the philosophy and the erudition of the philosopher were fundamental to the king’s conversion. Although the book describes the king and his capital Sagala (modern day Sialkot) in glorious detail, it is essentially a Buddhist catechism that was used for proselytising the religion amongst the Greek ruling elite.
During this period, and even later, Vedic Brahminism that subsequently evolved into Hinduism, adhered to a strict and rigid social system and religious code that did not have the necessary flexibility to readily induct or absorb outsiders into the fold. On the other hand, Buddhism with its ‘casteless’ society and unrestricted social inclusiveness was popular with the Indian-Greeks. For the same reason, it also gained popularity with the rising merchant class who were excluded from an intimate practice of Vedic Brahminism because of their being considered of a lower birth-status. Both from a religious as well as social stand-point, the Indo-Greek kingdoms were unique in their constitution. The general population was local, whereas the ruling elite and the core of the army was purely Greek and numerically lesser. This imbalance required the kings to be patrons of different religious beliefs and the adoption of the predominant or popular local religion by a ruler must be seen as a sophisticated tool of governance. It is certain that religious tolerance was a hallmark of the Greek administrations. In these general circumstances, the fact that change in regime was of little consequences for the population is understandable.
The Evidence of Coins
Coins are the main source of information regarding the Indo-Greek kings who ruled North West India for more than a century, from about 190 to 70 B.C. The most prominent of these rulers, Demetrius, Eucratides, and Menander, although prolific in coinage, find only passing mention in Greek, Indian and Chinese literature of the time. [It could well be that while they claimed greatness on their own, in the larger scheme of the history of the sub-continent they did not matter much!] Coins have been found in Sialkot in the east, Balochistan in the north-west, Bactria in the north, and Mathura in the south. They reveal 37 Indo-Greek rulers, including two queens (Agathocleia and Calliope). The spread of these coins provide a very broad idea of the area that these rulers influenced, although not the exact extent of their kingdoms, and also indicate that a number of them were contemporary chiefs, ruling different areas. The coins sporadically confirm the stray references in the literature, help fix the chronology, provide some amount of information on political and military events and are also indicative of the faith and religious inclinations of the rulers. However, deductions from coins are, at best, educated guesses and can never be considered the sole evidence to assert a particular event. Information from coins remain purely corroborative and cannot be considered as primary material.    
The Parthians
While the Greeks were establishing the Indo-Greek kingdoms, the Parthians gradually took over the erstwhile Seleucid kingdom. Titidates, brother of Arasaces who had ceased Parthia, conquered the province of Hyrcania and created the Parthian Iran, thereby wresting control of the old Achaemenian Empire. For the next five centuries Iran was again ruled by kings of Iranian extraction, bringing to an end the brief Greek interlude. The greatest Parthian king was Mithridates I who ruled from 171 to 138 B.C., conquering Aria, Drangiana, Gedrosia and Media. There are some claims that he also annexed Taxila, which is dubious since the Greeks continued to control the town for a much longer period. In 142 B.C. he conquered Babylon and proclaimed himself ‘Shahanshah’ or ‘king of kings’. The Parthians initially followed the Hellenic traditions of their predecessors, but there was a gradual but strong revival of the Iranian language, religion and culture over a period of time—the dynasty becoming truly Persian.
While the cavalry was a defining arm of all nomadic armies, the Parthian cavalry took their equestrian capabilities and prowess to a much greater height. The Parthian cavalry was of two distinct types—the light cavalry and the armoured cavalry. The light cavalry was very lightly armed and armoured, extremely mobile and able to concentrate rapidly with great range and reach. The horsemen carried bows and arrows as well as close combat weapons for use when necessary. The Parthian bow was a work of art; made of a composite of wood, horn and sinew brought together in layers. The shape was such that when unstrung, the bow would bend forward, thereby having an inherently high latent energy. The arrows from these bows could easily pierce the armour of a Roman legionary, which was to become a scourge of the Roma legions in later years.
The ‘Parting Shot’
The Parthian cavalry were expert horsemen and adopted a tactic that was unique to them. They would ride at great speed towards the enemy; at an appropriate distance turn around completely; fire arrows behind themselves towards the adversary; and then gallop away rapidly out of reach of retaliatory action. This was the origin of the term ‘parting shot’—the ‘Parthian shot’!
The armoured cavalry—the Parthian cataphract from the Greek Kataphractoi, meaning ‘covered over’—was the equivalent of the modern day battle tank. They could be considered the precursor of the medieval knights. The Parthian knight was invariably of noble origin, wearing a sleek bronze helmet that covered the back of his neck, with armour covering the throat, body and arms being covered in flexible armour, and armed with lance, sword and battle axe. Similarly the horse was completely covered in lacquered raw hide with the ears sticking out and slits for the eyes. The effectiveness of the combination of the two types of cavalry was exhibited graphically in the Battle of Carrhae in 53 B.C. The Roman advances to the east culminated in an uneasy contact with the Parthian Empire, although the Romans dismissed the Parthians as nothing more than uncouth barbarians. The increasing interaction, most of it hostile, finally resulted in the Battle of Carrhae. A Roman army, led by Marcus Crassus in search of glory, had ventured into Parthian lands in what is today’s South East Turkey. The Roman army consisted of 28,000 legionaries and 4000 cavalry and were opposed by a Parthian cavalry contingent of 1000 cataphracts and 10,000 light cavalry. In the ensuing battle the Roman army was methodically annihilated by the Parthian cavalry leaving 20,000 killed and most of the remaining captured.
For Rome, the loss was compounded by the capture of the Eagle standards of their legions, which were thereafter kept in the Parthian temple. Mark Antony was also defeated by the Parthians in 36 B.C. and to their lasting disgrace, according to the Romans, a further number of standards were captured. These standards were returned in 19 B.C when relations between the two empires became more cordial. After the fall of Carthage, Parthians became the principle foe of the Roman Empire. By mid-40 B.C. the Parthians had started an eastward expansion and expelled the Kushans from the Kabul valley. At the same time that the Roman Emperor Claudius was embarking on his conquest of Britain to enhance his empire, the Parthians ruled the full extent of Cyrus and Darrius’s old empire. Around the same time, events in taking place to the north had already initiated movements of some nomadic tribes that would have a direct impact on the history of India.
Changes in Central Asia
A complex chain of events unfolded in Central Asia because of both political and climatic reasons. The conflict in faraway Mongolia made the Scythian (known in India as Shakas) and other tribes start to move south west, compelled also by the drying up of the Central Asian pastureland. The other major factor in initiating the movement west was also the result of the building of the Great Wall of China by the Chinese Emperor Ch’in Shi Huang Ti (247-210 B.C.) in the latter half of 3rd century B.C. The wall was further strengthened by the succeeding Han dynasty. The wall was built to protect China from the periodic raids of the nomads from the central Asian steppes and effectively closed China to the wandering tribes. It was no longer lucrative to attack China and the country was not easy picking. The result was an inexorable movement of warlike nomads to the south.  
Of the tribes that moved south, the Yueh-Chi split into two—the Little Yueh-Chi settling in northern Tibet and the Great Yueh-Chi moving west and arriving at the coast of the Aral Sea. They drove out the Scythians (Shakas) from this area. (The movements of the Yueh-Chi tribe is covered in detail in the next Part)
The Shakas
Forced to move on, the Shakas entered Bactria in 130 B.C., overwhelming the minor Greek kings, but were almost immediately pushed out and onward by the Yueh-Chi moving eastwards, around 127 B.C. The Shakas continued their move and established a kingdom in Drangiana, its modern name of Seistan being derived from the old name Shakastan. They came into conflict with the Indo-Greek kingdoms and defeated them. By around 65 B.C. the Shakas had captured Gandhara and reached Mathura near Delhi. They ruled Indian lands only for a very limited period of time, and influenced the linguistic development in the sub-continent. Further, the Central Asian deity Surya was absorbed into the pantheon of Indian gods around the same time. The Pathan tribes of the Khyber valley are direct descendants of the Shakas. The Shakas adopted Greek and Persian traditions and culture, although by about 20 A.D. the Shaka province of Drangiana was absorbed into the Parthian Empire by a vassal king Gondophares.
It is about this time that the Chinese texts that describe Central Asian events become relevant to India. These texts mention the first Shaka king of Gandhara as Maues (or Moga in India) and state that he was succeeded by a king called Azes. The Greeks, led by king Amyntas and his son Hermaeus very temporarily took back most of the old Indo-Greek provinces. By this time the Shakas had already spread to the Punjab and south towards Sindh, Gujarat and the western Deccan, gradually superimposing themselves on the Parthians who had preceded them. Their movement was more migratory than conquest through warlike activities, eventually settling down in western India as a body and adding to the racial composition of the area. From this mix evolved the current day Maratha people and their language.  
The Intermingling of Religion and Culture
The Parthians revived the Iranian culture, which was in any case syncretic and not prone to changes with the changing political landscape, and by their strict adherence to the Zoroastrian religion revitalised the faith that had fallen into a sort of stupor at the decline of the old Achaemenid Empire. This period also saw the beginning of the recording of the sayings of Zarathustra, which in its entirety forms the Avesta—the holy book of the religion. However, the book was only completed at a much later date. The Iranian faith, when it was brought to India by the Parthians had a salutary influence on the development of the Buddhist religion in the sub-continent. For example the Buddhist promise of ‘Maitreya’, the Buddha who would ultimately redeem the world, is considered to have been inspired by the Zoroastrian tradition of ‘Saoshyant’, the world saviour who would lead humanity in its final battle against evil.
In an indirect and more general manner, the intermingling of Zoroastrian traditions and Judaism for centuries could be considered to have led to the birth of Christianity during the Parthian era. Equally important is the fact that the consolidation of the Middle East and the North West India by the Parthians would have influenced the spread of Christianity since this empire bordered Palestine. Saint Thomas is reported to have met king Gondopahres on his journey to India.
The Worship of Mithra
A large part of the Roman legions that came into contact with the ancient Iranian culture became part of a prominent cult that was prevalent in the Asia-Minor region in the Parthian era, based on the worship of Mithra (called Mitra initially and then Mithras by the Romans). Before 1200 B.C. and the advent of Zarathustra, the nomadic ‘Aryans’ considered Mithra the God of fire, associated with the sun-the greatest of all fires. Subsequently Mithra evolved into the God of war, riding across the skies in a chariot drawn by white horses and gradually migrated into India. In India Mithra evolved into the Vedic god Mitra, keeper of the cosmic order, while continuing to be associated in Iran with light and fire, as the God of order and fairness. The increasing importance of Zoroastrianism reduced the status of Mithra, but the god remained in the pantheon. A little understood development was the evolution of the worship of Mithras (Latin sol invictus or ‘the unconquered sun’) into an ascetic Roman cult carried across the entire Roman Empire by its conquering armies. In the first centuries of the Christian era, Mithraism which excluded women, contested directly with Christianity for dominance. At one stage the Emperor Commodus was also initiated into the cult. Ina speculative manner, it is enthralling to think that this obscure cult formed in Iran and nurtured in India could have been the religion of Europe, had it triumphed over Christianity.     
 The Parthian Empire encouraged links between the eastern and western part of the known world and facilitated advanced mingling of religious thought and cultural developments. The coins of the time that have been excavated clearly demonstrate this intermingling of Indian, Iranian and Hellenistic traditions—they depict the Yakshi figures from India, and Heracles of Greece; and there are Greek decorations on the Iranian fire temples in Tajikistan. In the earliest temple dedicated to Hindu worship, excavated in Besnagar in Western India, there is a Garuda column with inscriptions. These inscriptions proclaim that it was erected by Helodious, the envoy of King Antialkidas of Taxila to the court of the king of Besnagar, who must have been an obscure Shunga chief. In the inscription, Helodious professes to be a follower of Vasudeva making him an obvious convert to the early version of Vaishnavism, which is perhaps more important than the fact that he was an envoy, since it attests to the coming together of both religion and culture in an amicable manner. At the height of their power, the Roman and Parthian empires together controlled Europe, West Asia and parts of the Indian sub-continent. This facilitated connecting parts of the world hitherto not visible to each other and eased trade and travel. However, it must be remembered that the easing of trade also normally becomes the motive for war.
An Indian Perspective of the Turbulent Years
The intermingling and contest between the Greeks, Shakas and Parthians for control of the north western parts of India led to certain amount of confusion and a great deal of destruction that swept away a number of dynasties in a rapid manner. It was through the copying of Greek dramatic conventions that the concept of Sanskrit drama developed; again, Western theories of medicine and astronomy embellished the great knowledge already existing within India, creating an indelible influence on their further development; and the languages of both sides gave to, and gathered from the other. However, it has to be reiterated that the invasions of Alexander, Antiochus, Demetrious, Eucratides and Menander into the main Indian sub-continent were merely military incursions leaving no appreciable or lasting mark on Indian institutions. The occupation of Punjab for about a century neither left any enduring effect, nor did it Hellenise the country. The only lasting impact was the traces of their race that was imprinted on the local population through myriad inter-marriages.  
India and Greece
Although a great deal has been written about the differences in cultural and other developments is the Occident and Orient, especially in the ancient time, on closer scrutiny it can be observed that India is perhaps far nearer in spirit to ancient Greece than most of the modern nations of Europe. Geographically and climatically India and Greece are different: there are no real rivers, forests or big trees in Greece, whereas India bounds in them; and the immensity of the sea affected the Greeks much more than it did the Indians who are, as a collective whole, more land-centric in their outlook. However, the Greeks and the Indians placed their gods on top of the highest mountains of the land—on Mount Olympus and the Himalayas respectively. The philosophy of life in ancient Greece and in India was one of acceptance of life with its pleasures, joys, troubles and tribulations. The ascetic aspect of life was confined in both countries to a limited number of people, life was generally lived in full.
Greece and India were on contact with each other from the earliest times and contacts between the Hellenised West Asia and India became much closer in later years. The great Indian astronomical observatory in Ujjain (Ujjaini in ancient times) is linked to the Greek observatory in Alexandria in Egypt. The famous traveller and scholar Alberuni of Persia who came to India in 11th century A.D. refers to Sanskrit books dealing with Greek as well as Roman astronomy. Though there was free-flowing influence between the two, both Greek and Indian civilisations were sufficiently strong to absorb each other’s influences and yet flourish as distinct entities, developing in their own individual manner following different paths.     
The long-drawn Indo-Greek encounter led to agreement between philosophers from both traditions on the nature of the human soul and the question of generations, while also accepting the similarity of the doctrinal concepts of causality (karma) and illusion (maya). It is important to note that there was no domination in this exchange by either nation, nor any dominant direction in the nature and flow of ideas. Essentially the mingling brought about the opening of channels of communications at different levels of exchange—that was all. At this time in history, India had more to give than receive, both materially and spiritually, a condition that lasted well into the 18th century A.D.
While the Greeks and nomads were in the throes of trying to gain dominance in the north western region, trade across the maritime domain flourished, especially with Egypt. In fact the bulk of trade was carried out through the maritime route from the Arabian lands across to the Konkan, Kerala, and Coromandal coasts. Excavations of trading posts, one at Muziris near Cranganur in Kerala and another at Arikimedu near Pondicherry have been dated to this era. There are also numerous references to Yavanas in Tamil literature, where the term ‘Yavana’ has been used in a very generic manner to indicate people from the West rather than the more specific use of the term, as practised in North India, to indicate Greeks in particular.
The epilogue of this age of diffusion and disintegration must be written as the peaceful arrival of two religions into what is essentially the land of religions. It is not surprising that both the invasions came to the shores of Kerala, which lies at the cross roads of the maritime trade route between the West and China. First came the Jews to Cochin (now Kochi) as refugees after the destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans in 70 A.D. bringing with them their age-old customs and traditions, which in turn influenced the local culture and was in turn influenced by it. The second was the arrival of Christianity, established around the 3rd century A.D. with today’s Syrian Christians claiming that the first church of the religion was founded in Kerala by none other than Saint Thomas, the famous ‘Doubting Thomas’ and the one who met Gondaphares the Parthian vassal king. With the arrival of these two religions India became the repository of all the divergent religious thoughts in the world at that time—a role that it plays admirably even today.
 
© [Sanu Kainikara] [2013]
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About Sanu kainikara

Sainik School Kazhakuttam (Kerala), National Defence Academy 39/A, 108 Pilot's Course IAF, fighter pilot, QFI, FCL, psc, HACC, Voluntary Retirement as Wing Commander. Canberra-based Defence Analyst specialising in air power and national security. PhD in International Politics from University of Adelaide Adjunct Professor, University of New South Wales, Distinguished Fellow Institute For Regional Security (IFRS)

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