Bengal and Southeast Asia: Trade and Cultural Contacts in Ancient Period
The trade and subsequent cultural contact between the Indian subcontinent and South Asian countries led to India having a very profound influence on politics, religion, culture and society in the region. Scholars refer to this phenomenon as “Indianisation “ or the “Indianised States of Southeast Asia”. This influence spread as a form of ‘osmosis’ via the expansion of an organized culture founded on Indian royalty, Brahmanism and Buddhist religions, religious texts in Sanskrit, and art and temple architecture that was connected to Hindu-Buddhist culture and beliefs. From early Christian times, Bengal played a central role in this process of Indianisation due to its geographic location and its connection with several major trade routes. The sea routes especially played a key role in facilitating the trade and cultural expansion of India, especially towards Sri Lanka and the countries of South East Asia.