Why didn't Indian civilization spread to its west?

kandal

Ad Honorem
Aug 2015
2,840
USA
Indian (South Asian) civilization (culture, religion, language and so on), when it spread, it spread to the east of India. But it didn't expand to its west. Why? What prevented it?

Here are some maps that show the spread of Indian civilization, and all of it is to its east:

Spread of Hinduism:


Expansion of Indian cultural Influence:


Spread of Indic script:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Greater_India

Expansion of Buddhism:
 
Jan 2016
1,637
India
The Western neighbour to India was Persia, the elite of which was already under overwhelming influence from the cultures of Tigris-Euphrates valley. Indic civilisation could not influence the middle-east simply because the middle-eastern people were superior in many ways to the Indic people themselves, in terms of civilisation.

1.) Script - Middle-east had scripts from 5th mil. BCE, while India had it's first recorded script in 5th century BC (which has its origins in the middle-east itself). No question of influence here.

2.) Religion - Middle-east was already having organised and very zealous religions by the ancient times, unlike China, Tibet, or South East Asia.

3.) Culture and science - In my opinion, Iranians were a major obstacle in the cultural relations between India and the middle-east. Pre-Islamic Iranians were never a curious people, were very ethno-centric and xenophobic and were never interested in any kind of intellectual pursuit. When they were conquered by the Greeks, a era of cultural and diplomatic interactions between the West Asia and India started. Same happened when the Arabs conquered Iran, at this time the level of cultural interactions between the middle-east and India was unparalled in history. Most of the Indic influences on the West come from this period. A few centuries after the Arabs,the Indic civilisation was conquered and went under a long decline, so there is no question of influence after that. All of this being said, I think the main reason behind relatively less Indic influence on the middle-eastern and eastern mediterranean people is because they themselves had great civilisations of their own which not only rivalled Indic civilisation, but also surpassed it in certain aspects. From whatever contact Greeks had with Indians, the Greek cultural impact on the Indic civilisation is far greater than the Indic cultural impact on the Greek civilisation.
 
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kandal

Ad Honorem
Aug 2015
2,840
USA
^^ Few points to keep in mind:
- India was always known as a pretty civilized place across the Middle East. They didn't consider India to be any less civilized. Though this might have changed a little after Islamic conquests.

- More importantly, the whole eastern coast of Arabia wasn't that advanced at all. And it parallels the Indian coast just across the Arabian sea. Most of the expansion of Indian civilization to the SE Asia took place through sea travel. Travel across the Arabian sea was not any different from travelling across the Bay of Bengal. So why didn't Indian civilization spread to Arabian coast likewise?

- There were extensive across sea contacts between India and various Middle eastern ports since ancient times. But one can't find a single Buddhist stupa, or a Hindu temple anywhere in those ports of contact.
 
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Aatreya

Ad Honorem
Dec 2014
3,608
USA
The Western neighbour to India was Persia, the elite of which was already under overwhelming influence from the cultures of Tigris-Euphrates valley. Indic civilisation could not influence the middle-east simply because the middle-eastern people were superior in many ways to the Indic people themselves, in terms of civilisation.

1.) Script - Middle-east had scripts from 5th mil. BCE, while India had it's first recorded script in 5th century BC (which has its origins in the middle-east itself). No question of influence here.

2.) Religion - Middle-east was already having organised and very zealous religions by the ancient times, unlike China, Tibet, or South East Asia.

3.) Culture and science - In my opinion, Iranians were a major obstacle in the cultural relations between India and the middle-east. Pre-Islamic Iranians were never a curious people, were very ethno-centric and xenophobic and were never interested in any kind of intellectual pursuit. When they were conquered by the Greeks, a era of cultural and diplomatic interactions between the West Asia and India started. Same happened when the Arabs conquered Iran, at this time the level of cultural interactions between the middle-east and India was unparalled in history. Most of the Indic influences on the West come from this period. A few centuries after the Arabs,the Indic civilisation was conquered and went under a long decline, so there is question of influence after that. All of this being said, I think the main reason behind relatively less Indic influence on the middle-eastern and eastern mediterranean people is because they themselves had great civilisations of their own which not only rivalled Indic civilisation, but also surpassed it in certain aspects. From whatever contact Greeks had with Indians, the Greek cultural impact on the Indic civilisation is far greater than the Indic cultural impact on the Greek civilisation.
What were Indra, Nasatya, etc.. doing in Mitanni treaty were it not for Indic civilization?
 
Jan 2016
1,637
India
^^ Few points to keep in mind:
- India was always known as a pretty civilized place across the Middle East. They didn't consider India to be any less civilized. Though this might have changed a little after Islamic conquests.
Well,in terms of arts, culture, architecture or science and technology, I do not see how India was any superior to the middle-east and the eastern mediterranean. But to Iran, yes it was, by far.


- More importantly, the whole eastern coast of Arabia wasn't that advanced at all. And it parallels the Indian coast just across the Arabian sea. Most of the expansion of Indian civilization to the SE Asia took place through sea travel. Travel across the Arabian sea was not any different from travelling across the Bay of Bengal. So why didn't Indian civilization spread to Arabian coast likewise?
Mainland Iran was never civilised either. In 6th century, there were zero cities in mainland Iran that had a population over 20 thousand. But there still are not great Indic influences on the people living in the mainland Iran.

I think this is because of 3 reasons:

(i) Iran lied under the middle-eastern sphere of influence which it was geographically closer to, while the Indic heartland (Eastern Gangetic plains) was thousands of miles away from Iran.

(ii) Because most of Iran can not be accessed via sea

(iii) Persians were/are extremely conservative and regressive people, not interested in any cultural interactions with distant foreigners. For example, even when they were surrounded by urbanised societies like Mesopotamia and Gandhara, most of Iran did not have any significantly large cities until the Islamic period.


As for Yemen and Oman on the eastern coast of Arabia, I would have also expected them to be more Indic in culture, but probably this did not happen because they too lied under the middle-eastern sphere of influence and later were integrated into the Islamic civilisation.

- There were extensive across sea contacts between India and various Middle eastern ports since ancient times. But one can't find a single Buddhist stupa, or a Hindu temple anywhere in those ports of contact.
Yes, there indeed was very intense trade between India and the West in the Classical period, and to be honest, I also find it quite surprising that not a single trace of Indian architecture and culture are found in these regions. All we have is extremely few Indian artifacts and coins that are excavated in Egypt and the Levant. Even sophisticated civilisations like the Sintic one, were greatly influenced by Indian architecture.
 
Jan 2016
1,637
India
What were Indra, Nasatya, etc.. doing in Mitanni treaty were it not for Indic civilization?
Well, I'm sorry but we are assuming AIT to be true for the topic at hand, and the Indo-Aryans in Mitanni migrated there in Bronze age in 1700 BC, while Indic civilisation in eastern Gangetic plains did not emerge until 1000 BC or so.
 
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Nov 2015
330
abroad
Native indians werent warriors there wasnt king in ancient india.

IVC is best example of ancient indian civilization where there was no king but a group or clan leader existed...

It was ppl outside india who invaded india till they reached bihar where they where stopped bith military as well as culture wise.

Probably only indian king who invaded outside india is chola dynasty who reached as far as cambodia. For me chola dynasty is one of best dynasty their route of invasion took place vi sea so they rrached south east asia if its land based they would have reached north india and west of asia.
 
Nov 2015
330
abroad
Reason for none of indian king invaded other countries is india is vast by itself conquering india itself was huge task more over all the need like man power treasure everything was well abudant within india itself so there was no chance or reason to invade other countries...
 
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Nov 2015
330
abroad
Mauryan and other dynasty based on bihar spread west wards only since they were non vedic we dont have much information about their strength ability speciality etc...