Introduction of Religio-Cultural
Emissaries From India
Egypt and West Asia:
India's contact with Egypt is very ancient. It is the opinion
of some historians that cloth wrapped around the Egyptian mummies
was imported from India!, and their original home was Punt which
could, perhaps, be identified with the pandyan country in the south.
Even the names of Egyptian and Brahmanical gods are identical) Further,
in early historical times, during Asoka's reign, Indian missionaries
with the message of Dharma must have reached Alexandria, for Asoka
in his Thirteenth Rock Edict clearly mentions Ptolemy Philadephos,
the ruler of Egypt. It is quite likely that a few traders from India
ha<;l establishments in a few cities of Egypt.
The discovery of several 'Indus-type' seals from many West-Asian
sites, viz., Dr, Kish, Susa, Lagash, etc. and, a dockyard and a
'Persian Gulf seal' at Lothal in Gujarat, India, point to the contact,
trade, cultural or otherwise of the Harappans with West Asia as
early as in the third millennium B.C.3 Stronger impact of early
Indian religion during the middle of the second millennium B.C.
is evident from the fact that Indra, Varuna, Mitra, the twin Asvins-all
of the Vedic pantheon-are mentioned in an inscription found at Boghaz-koi4
recording the treaty between the Hittites and the Mittani peoples.
It is possible that there were some movement of the Aryan people
from India to Asia Minor as there is the possibibility of people
coming from Asia Minor to India.s The languages of the Avesta and
the Vedas and the respective religions have some commonness between
them. Could it be possible that the Parsis were the residents of
India prior to their reaching Persia? Of course, for the present
it is largely conjectural. By far the most substantial evidence
of India's contact with the West is provided by an Asokan Rock Edict.
The trade routes have been advantageously utilized in the third
century B.C. by Asoka, who despatched several goodwill missions
with the message of peace, love and service in various directions;
five such missions were sent to the western countries, Syria, Macedon,
Epirus, Cyrene and Egypt.