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Central Asian Programme

INTERNATIONAL SEMINAR
“ CITIES, ROADS AND CARAVAN SARAIS
AN EMBLEM OF LINKAGES THROUGH THE AGES”
(INDIA, WEST AND CENTRAL ASIA)

Concept 

Although researches have been undertaken on various aspects of history and culture of India, Central Asia, Ottoman Turkey and Iran, but still their mutual relations and relations with the outside world have not yet been thoroughly studied and properly evaluated. The brisk exchange of ideas through the ages between India and the outside world and the interaction in the spheres of culture, fine arts, learning, medical sciences, astrology, languages, music, paintings throughout the Eurasian world are well established though its extent and depth is yet to be examined and determined. Eurasia’s image in the outside world remains stereotyped, but it needs fresh glances and a concentrated conceptual presentation to show its varied dimensions and shades of its past achievements. What were its magnetic charms and how and why it had consistently attracted the attention of invaders and the fortune seeker? Although numerous travelogues and eye witness accounts, left behind by well known travelers (e.g. the Chinese travelers like Megasthenes, Fa Hien, Hieuntsang,Turkish and Persian travelers like Sidi Ali Reis, Abu Talib Isfahani, Dutch, French Portuguese and English travelers, Sherley brothers, Gargen , Burnes and Friers, Jesuit Fathers like Thomas Roe, Bernier, Tavernier, Monserrate, Payne, Manucci), and a hoard of others, are extant, certain accounts provide only one sided view of our far and near neighbours and extended neighborhood, sometimes even with the tinge of free conception.In fact, the Eurasian Civilization, with all its cultural concomitants, as perceived and preserved beyond its frontiers, had a much wider scope for study,and it could provide ample raw material for research and assessment. 

Indian and Eurasian horizons may not have been linked with each other by geographical proximity so much as by common cultural heritage through the ages. A concealed chain of common currents of culture and a fascinating similarity of ethos can therefore be noticed in numerous forms. In the spiritual sphere, Buddhism engulfed many Asian regions. A spate of Sufism dominated the Indian scenario. In the field of pottery, music, medical sciences, architecture, sculpture, handicrafts, arithmetic, astronomy, astrology, handicrafts, etc. a deep impact of each other’s culture is evident. 

The mutual cross fertilization of thought and impact on spiritual and material culture of several regions like Mongolia, China Japan, Central Asia, Turkey, Iran, Greece, Arabian peninsular, Nepal, Bhutan, Cambodia, Portugal and other places seems to be as explicit as their direct or indirect influence on art, architecture, languages and various socio-religious movements. 

Multidimensional contacts existed in literary spheres and in styles, modes of expression ideas and negotiated through the trade of books and materials and the visits of scholars and poets. These channels need to be explored. Ever since the dawn of civilization, Eurasia had immensely contributed towards enrichment of eastern culture and irrigated other lands facilitating the efflorescence of new trends. The process was not confined to a few decades or to a few centuries but had persisted through the ages. Many Eurasian features of sculpture, architecture and paintings had been adapted by the Indians. The Indians, Greeks, Arabs, Central Asians, Turkish, Persians, and Mongolians had greatly benefited from each other in medical sciences, astronomy, mathematics, handicrafts and in these fields a regular exchange of ideas seems to have taken place. Sanskrit is said to have played the same role in Khotanese medicine as did Latin in Europe. The Indian scholars and physicians were honoured by invitations from Baitul Hikma in Baghdad, Central Asia and other places. The works done by them were translated and appreciated. 

History brings forth many parallels, which have remained linked other by geographical proximity, or common cultural heritage. In the sphere of cultural development, significant contributions were made by Indian, Central Asian, Persian, Greek and European scholars, painters and other artists towards the enrichment of eastern civilization. The “cross pollination” of ideas in architecture, metal work, pottery, vessels, jewellery, tilework, calligraphy, painting and colophons in manuscripts is reflected in the developments in the Eurasian region. A blend of two or more styles emerged out of the admixture of different civilizations. The genesis, nature and characteristic features of these relations have to be sorted out in all their ramifications.
In Eurasia, the wisdom of men from other countries was always valued. Kings and nobles had their galaxy of accomplished men. For many centuries in the past (tenth to eighteenth centuries), these places appeared to be a region of gold and precious riches, of strange wonders and secrets — a hospitable land offering protection to refugees, poets, artists and even invaders,work opportunities. The great demand, its achievements in the sphere of arts and the route to Mecca through India was safe and comfortable as compared to the one through Iran, due to sectarian rivalries. 

Importance of silk, used as a mode of payment of tribute, required for dresses of Gods and Goddesses and also for marriages and funerals and other important merchandise left an impact on different religions (Buddhism, Christianity, Maniachenism, Zoroastrianism, Islam, Hinduism), the exchange of beliefs, practices and metamorphosis of society and culture of Central Asia could form an interesting part of study and discussion. Different Roads connecting the Silk Route—from Grand Trunk Road to Rahi Abresham and the details about the time, type and mode of traveling are topics of abiding interest. The Caravansaries, with their imagination plan and layout, were the junctions where the merchants, travelers, men of talents, fortune seekers assembled from different countries turning them into platforms for cultural exchanges, intelligence station. 

The extra ordinary role played by the Silk Road countries was the subject of the seminar at the IGNCA is fine arts, religious, secular, utilitarian, public welfare Buildings, monasteries and mosques, in the advancement of medical sciences, Cultic folklore, and in the fields of human creativity, that bears evidence to confluence of cultures. 


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