TRINIDAD AND TOBAGO, October 20, 2006: “The diffusion of India’s cultural immensity over the vast expanses of Asia and other continents is a glorious epic of human achievement in the domain of thought and its expression in space and time.” This summarized former UNC Senator Suren Capildeo’s feature address at the 20th annual Divali Nagar on October 12, 2006, before a packed assembly. Theme of this year’s Divali Nagar was “The Hindu Contribution to World Thought and Culture.” The Nagar ends Friday, October 20.
“Beyond the shimmering blue waters of Lake Baikal in the heart of Eastern Siberia lie monasteries studded with Indian images and silken scrolls of Tantric Deities. A little below lies the Mongolian People’s Republic which has one of the richest treasures of translations of thousands of Sanskrit works and rare icons of India’s Divinities like Maha Kala, Kali, Ayushi, Tara Devi and many others,” Capildeo said. From the Central Asian sands have been exhumed Sanskrit manuscripts, rare works of art, unique administrative documents in Prakit, exquisite murals and objects of a high material culture – all imbued with the spirit and form of India, Capildeo reported. “In the Far East, the sprawling mainland of China has preserved a rich heritage of the art, literature and philosophy of India. Stories of the Mahabharata in the classical Japanese theater, the art traditions of Ajanta at Horyuji Temples, or Sanskrit mantras, all are ageless symbols of India’s contribution to Japan’s evolution. The Tibetan books on medicine, astronomy, grammar, rhetoric and poetics are inspired by Indian works of similar description.”
Capildeo said that the skyline of temples in Bangkok, Sanskrit words in the Thai language, Ramayana as the supreme expression of Thai theatre, Shiva ceremonies at the Royal Court – are parts of the stream that flows in the heart of Thailand from the deep of India’s being. The enthralling stupa Borobudur, the Shiva Temple of Prambanan, the living presence of Hinduism in Bali, are some of the facets of the dynamics of India’s cultural spectrum in the Isles of Indonesia. “Modern research reveals that the dispersal of Indian culture, at least in the former Soviet Central Asia can be traced from the early stone age which will take us back over half a million years ago. But such studies of cultural contact between primitive peoples, being based solely on stone tools or other artifacts can only give us very meager and vague ideas on the subject of what we properly recognize as human culture,” Capildeo said. “The great truth about Hinduism was hither-to-ignored or obscured by the fact there is no evidence of such missionary spirit of the Hindus during the last thousands years or more. It was Swami Vivekananda who revived the old missionary spirit of Hinduism towards the close of 19th century. Capildeo went on to say that there is no denying the fact that the whole of the Far East is in India’s debt for Buddhism which helped to mould the distinctive civilizations of China, Korea, Japan and Tibet. As well her special gifts to Asia, India has conferred many practical blessings on the world, notably rice, cotton, sugar cane, spices, the domestic fowl, the game of chess and most important of all, the decimal system of numeral notation, the invention of an unknown Indian mathematician.
Capildeo, had his audience spell bound, as he continued, “The extent of the spiritual influence of India on the ancient West is much disputed. The heterodox Jewish sect of the Essenes, which probably influenced early Christianity, followed monastic practices in some respects similar to those of Buddhism. Parallels may be traced between the passages in the New Testament and the Pali Scriptures. Similarities between the teachings of Western philosophers and mystics from Pythagoras to Plotinus and those of the Upanishads have been frequently noticed.”
Deokienanan Sharma, president of the NCIC, in his address, said that the impact of Divali Nagar has extended beyond our shores and has triggered the revival of the almost lost Indian cultural practices in our sister isles of Martinique and Guadeloupe where substantial populations of East Indians live. Sharma said that the Divali Nagar festival has also spread to Canada where some years ago, a Divali Nagar festival was staged in Montreal and Toronto.” The NCIC is proud of these developments having been not only the inspiration but has also assisted in whatever way its limited resources would allow,” Sharma said. “My only hope is that they will continue to serve selflessly as before so that not only the Divali Nagar, but the NCIC will grow and develop into an even more formidable cultural organization,” he said.