Vietnam- India cultural exchange: Champa civilisation


(QNO) - The remnants of the ancient Champa culture in Central Vietnam are the most vivid evidence of the Vietnam- India relations. The archaeological objects there date from the centuries before Christ to pre-modern era.

Kate Festival by the Cham people in Ninh Thuan
Kate Festival by the Cham people in Ninh Thuan


It is found that the ancient inhabitants of Sa Huynh culture in Central Vietnam had exchanged high-class items with Indian culture, such as agate, precious stones and gold jewellery since around 500 BC.

Among these items is an agate lion called Shakyasimha- Lion of the Sakya Clan excavated from the Sa Huynh cultural tombs in Lai Nghi (on the bank of the Thu Bon river, Quang Nam province).

Besides, Shakyasimha was also found in Myanmar, Indonesia, and Thailand. It is believed to be the evidence for the early Buddhist activities in coastal areas in Southeast Asia.


Siddham (the around 3-5th century Indian script) was found in two stelae in Vo Canh (Khanh Hoa province) and My Son (Quang Nam).

The My Son stele built by King Bhadravarman shows that Brahminism- a very ancient religion in India was organized systematically and sponsored by the Champa royal family.

So, it can be said that Indian religion and culture were venerated in the kingdom.

Shakyasimha- Lion of the Sakya Clan
Shakyasimha- Lion of the Sakya Clan

Besides, the stele in Sanskrit reveals the presence of several great epics of Indian literature (including the Mahabharata and the Ramayana) in the Champa Kingdom.

The stele is considered as the evidence for a literary of the Champa inhabitants then.

Religion Brahminism and Buddhism are found to develop well in the Champa Kingdom.

The My Son E1 altar dating from the early 8th century expresses religious activities of Brahmin monks at My Son Sanctuary.

Buddhism entered the Kingdom of Champa in the 5th century but it was not until the 8th century that Tantric Buddhism developed well in this kingdom and a centre for Tantric Buddhism was established there.

Laksmindra-Lokesvara Buddhist monastery in Dong Duong, which was founded in 875 under Jaya Indravarman dynasty, is a great proof.

Distinguished culture

It can be seen that ancient Champa scholars had a deep insight into Indian civilisation, including philosophy, literature, art, and techniques. The Champa’s application of the Saka calendar is an illustration.

Stele found in My Son
Stele found in My Son

Although the Kingdom of Champa was located in the middle of the maritime route connecting between India and China- the two great cultures at that time, Champa chose to follow Indian culture for the safety of the nation, according to some scholars.

The Kingdom of Champa also wanted to keep their unique cultural identity from the expansion of Chinese culture.