Historical Background of South & South East Asian Countries – 3

The resplendent island known to be Sri Lanka in its native language Sinhala continues to live up to its definition to be gleaming and brilliant. Perhaps the earliest inhabitants in this splendid country were the forefathers of the aboriginal group of people called Veddas who came as early as prior to 6th century B.C. before they were besieged by the next inhabitants. In between the 6th and 5th century B.C. came a large group of indo-Aryan ethnic people from the north of India called to be the Sinhalese which now comprise about three-fourths of the population. Sri Lanka is a neighbouring country of India therefore emigrations most likely came from different ethnic groups of different parts of India. Another ethnic group of people now emerged, emigrating from the Tamil region at the south of India forming the second largest group of inhabitants in the island, known as the Tamils. From these two major ethnicities bloomed the official language of the island – Sinhala and Tamil. From accounts, it was believed that they arrived sometime between the 3rd century B.C. and A.D. 1200.
In the 16th century, presumably 1505, the Portuguese settled in the land until the Dutch took over by trading spice in the 1658 to 1796. The English took over in 1796, translated the formerly Portuguese-named Celiao into the English word Ceylon and claimed the country as their colony, where they developed the land from its produce, its government to its educational system. The native people arose during the World War I to claim their freedom, and its primary success was through the constitution of 1931. On February 4, 1946 Ceylon was recognized as a self- governing country in the Commonwealth of Nations. The name Ceylon was later changed into Sri Lanka on May 22, 1972 and at present it is now officially known as the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka.
Pakistan emerged on the world map on August 14,1947. It has its roots into the remote past. Its establishment lwas the culmination of the struggle by Muslims of the South-Asian subcontinent for a separate homeland of their own and its foundation was laid when Mohammad bin Qasim subdued Sindh in 711 A.D. as a reprisal against sea pirates that had taken refuge in Raja Dahir’s kingdom.
The pre-historic site of Kot Diji in the Sindh province has provided information of high significance for the reconstruction of a connected story which pushes back the origin of this civilization by 300 to 500 years, from about 2500 B.C.. to at least 2800 B.C. One of the most developed urban civilizations of the ancient world which flourished between the years 2500 and 1500 B.C. in the Indus Valley sites of Moenjodaro and Harappa. These Indus Valley people possessed a high standard of art and craftsmanship and a well developed system of quasi pictographic writing, which despite continuing efforts still remains undeciphered. The imposing ruins of the beautifully planned Mohenjodaro and Harappa towns present clear evidence of the unity of a people having the same mode of life and using the same kind of tools. Indeed, the brick buildings of the common people, the public baths, the roads and covered drainage system suggest the picture of a happy and contented people. Aryan Civilization In or about 1500 B.C., the Aryans descended upon the Punjab and settled in the Sapta Sindhu, which signifies the Indus plain. They developed a pastoral society that grew into the Rigvedic Civilization. The Rigveda is replete with hymns of praise for this region, which they describe as “God fashioned”. It is also clear that so long as the Sapta Sindhu remained the core of the Aryan Civilization, it remained free from the caste system. The Gandhara grave culture has opened up two periods in the cultural heritage of Pakistan: one of the Bronze Age and the other of the Iron Age. In the sixth century B.C., Buddha began his teachings, which later on spread throughout the northern part of the South-Asian subcontinent. It was towards the end of this century, too, that Darius I of Iran organized Sindh and Punjab as the twentieth satrapy of his empire.
There are remarkable similarities between the organizations of that great empire and the Mauryan empire of the third century B.C., while Kautilya’s Arthshastra also shows a strong Persian influence, Alexander of Macedonia after defeating Darius III in 330 B.C. had also marched through the South-Asian subcontinent up to the river Beas, but Greek influence on the region appears to have been limited to contributing a little to the establishment of the Mauryan empire. The great empire that Asoka, the grandson of Chandragupta Maurya, built in the subcontinent included only that part of the Indus basin which is now known as the northern Punjab. The rest of the areas astride the Indus were not subjugated by him. These areas, which now form a substantial part of Pakistan, were virtually independent from the time of the Guptas in the fourth century A.D. until the rise of the Delhi Sultanate in the thirteenth century.