India experienced historical encounters with the Iranian, Greek and Chinese civilizations in pre-historic times with tremendous cross-cultural impact, a panel of historians and academicians from India and abroad told an international meet here today, making a strong case to further validate this phenomenon with rigorous historical research.
The conclave of formidable array of historians also sought to debunk the colonial historical narrative that the oriental culture, which flourished in India, China and Iran, was greatly influenced by the Hellinistic culture of classical Greece. On the contrary, the Greek civilization reached its apogee when it came in contact with the Asian countries during the antiquity (5 BCE to 5 CE).
The interesting observation was made at the three days-seminar on “Cross Cultural Knowledge Exchange in Antiquity: Interactions between Greece, Iran, India and China”, which got underway at the National Museum Institute (NMI) on January 7, the seminar will go on till January 9.
NMI is organising the multi-venue seminar as part of its Silver Jubilee celebrations and in collaboration with the Centre for Community Knowledge, Ambedkar University, Delhi and Indian National Science Academy (INSA), Delhi.
Delivering the keynote address, U P Arora, Professor, Greek Studies, JNU, said several historians from Europe had extolled the Greek civilization by saying that it greatly influenced the oriental cultures. Explaining, he said India, Bactria, Iran and Mesopotamia formed an ‘Oriental Continuum’ and Greece was part of it. “Greeks pride on Alexander the Great and their small police states, hailing them as examples of democracy in the pre-historic times. But the fact is Alexander destroyed democracy,” he contended.
“It is imperative for historians to look beyond the timeframe and geographical boundaries and reassess the interconnectedness of civilizations through multicultural perspectives,” he told the gathering that saw the attendance of Satish Mehta, DG, Indian Council of Cultural Research (ICCR) , and Lotika Varadarajan, noted historian and a Tagore Fellow. Daryoosh Akbarzadeh, Professor, Iranian Studies, Teheran, said the texts and archaeological evidences from the Sasanian Empire (224-651 AD), the most significant milestone in ancient Iran, showed strong relations that Sasanian had with India, China and the Hellenic World.
Earlier, in his welcome address, NMI Vice Chancellor Venu Vasudevan said the seminar was a stellar example of partnerships between academicians and institutions across India and outside to look afresh into multiculturalism.