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 Armenians in India....Indians in Armenia

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Number of posts : 11
Age : 40
Registration date : 2007-04-02

PostSubject: Armenians in India....Indians in Armenia   Mon Apr 02, 2007 8:10 am

Indian Settlement in Armenia and Armenian Settlements in India

The mutual economic, cultural and scientific ties between the Armenians and the Indians are of long standing. They existed before our era and continue at present. They intensified as the first Armenian settlers set foot on the hospitable soil of India where they won the affection and respect of the Indian people, and began to enjoy patronage of the local authorities. Being situated on the crossroads of caravan routes between the East and the West, Armenia had established cultural and economic ties with India over the centuries.
Armenians, whose love for commerce has been proverbial, have seen trading from time immemorial with India. They were lured from their distant homes in the snowclad mountains of Armenia by the glamour of the lucrative trade in spices, muslins and precious stones. They carried on their trade successfully with Europe via the overland route through Afghanistan, Persia and Armenia via Trabezund (Trabzon) long before any European traders, adventurers and intruders first appeared in India.
It can be mentioned that even before the Moghul invasion of India, Armenians were found in all the principal commercial centres and state capitals of India engaged in the peaceful pursuit of commerce. However, the early Armenian traders formed no permanent settlements.
The Armenians might have come to India first about 4000 years earlier. According to Ctesias and Diodoros, Semiramis, the warrior queen of Assyria, invaded India in about 2000 B.C. and it is most probable that Armenians, as faithful allies, accompanied her.
Armenians as allies or otherwise might have accompanied the Greek invasion of India in 327 B.C. under Alexander the Great as it is a well known historical fact that he passed through Armenia en route to India via Persia.
The first written reference to Indo-Armenian relationship is found in the ancient Greek writer Xenophon’s (430-355 B.C.) Kyropaedia (Persian Expedition). From this work we come to know that Armenians often travelled to India and entered the military service there. When Kyrus (558-550 B.C.), the King of Persia, came to know that Khalds and Armenians often visited India and were very well acquainted with the route to India, he asked them to accompany his ambassador there to develop and strengthen trade relations with this country.
Hearing of the Khalds often going to the Indian King and recalling Indian ambassadors coming to Midia to get the news about Midia’s internal situation, Kyrus came to know about the Indian King’s interest on Persian King’s heroic deeds.
He narrated: “King of Armenia and you, Khalds! If I send one of my people to the Indian King, tell me, will you send somebody from your people, who will show the way to my ambassador and support him to persuade the Indian King to fulfill my requests?”1
From the further narration one can find out that Kyrus, by sending an embassy to India, meant to get financial aid from the Indian King. The Armenians and Khalds in the course of action agreed to arrange guides for his ambassador and help him with the implementation of that mission.
According to the information given by Xenophon, the ancient rulers of Armenia were often sending their people to India and these people were so familiar with this country that they could help the ambassadors of Kyrus and solicit in front of the Indian King.
From the ancient times the Indians and Armenians, by and large, had trade relations, but in this reference military-political relations were quite effective. The Armenians agreed not only to accompany the Persian ambassador, but also to introduce him to the Indian King and to help him with getting financial support for the King Kyrus. Evidently the implementation of mediator’s such kind of mission was going to be successful only through friendly relations between the Armenians and the Indians.
However, there were mostly economic relations between Armenia and India. Russian Prof. G. Bongard-Levin in the article Indians in Ancient Armenia writes: “Armenia maintained close relations not only with neighbouring Parthia and Roman Empire, but also with India and China. In order to promote relations with these countries, Armenian Kings founded new cities on the trade routes passing through Armenia and leading from Parthia and Bactria to India and China”.2
These and other valuable information about old-time relations between the two countries are mentioned in the writings of Armenian historians and scholars, such as: Agathangueghos (5th century), Movses Khorenatsi (5th century), Yeghisheh (5th century), Yeznik Koghbatsi (5th century), David Anhaght (6th century), Bishop Sebeos, Tovma Artsrouni (10th century), Aristakes Lastivertsi (11th century), Stepanos Orbelian (13th century), Khachatour Joughayetsi (18th century) etc.
Old manuscripts on the history of India and the Indo-Armenian relations have been preserved in the archives and depositories of Armenian manuscripts and documents situated in Yerevan, Venice, Vienna, Jerusalem, New Julfa and other cities.
Ancient Armenian historians could have highlighted about the Armenians’ presence in India but unfortunately the annals of ancient Armenia, which were carefully preserved in the temples of pre-Christian Armenia, had been entirely destroyed when Gregory the Illuminator3 started getting the Armenians converted into Christianity in the beginning of the 4th century of our era. King Tiridates III (298-330) of Armenia initially fiercely rejected Christianity. But after the Milan Edict of Constantine the Great he adopted Christianity and declared that as a state religion. From the historical perspective, the traditionally accepted date of adopting Christianity in Armenia is the year of A.D. 301 when the new religion became dominating in the country. Already during the 2nd – 3rd centuries A.D. Christianity began to penetrate into Armenia from south-west – from Syria and from the west – from Kappadokia and Armenia Minor. Christian missionaries who came from those places, set up their active activities which gave significant results by the end of the 3rd century.


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