[This article by A. Najib Ariffin appeared in Kuala Lumpur's YellowPost, November 2007]
Soon after Hari Raya Puasa, we have Deepavali. For the past few years this holiday season has been a special convergence – Deepavali & Aidil Fitri just weeks apart! This timing happens every about 30-odd years… Some of us may not be alive to see the next convergence (although I hope we all do, with fulfilled long lives); so let’s make the best of it. Forget the narrow-minded ones, and look broadly.
To start off, let’s take a history tour. Ancient chronicles already record trade and diplomatic links between Indian kingdoms and their Malay counterparts such as Langkasuka, the 1st century AD Malay Kerajaan (Kingdom) covering today’s Kedah, Kelantan, Pattani and other states. From there, any historian can point out a historical fact so simple and obvious that many books don’t even point it out (such is the Euro-centric preoccupation to dwell on history as “great” wars, conflicts, conquests…) that in over 2000 years of continuous contact between the Indian and Malay Worlds, there has never been a single war between them !
Did you realise that? In fact, the Kalinga, Tamil, Gujerati and Bengali kingdoms and the Malay Kerajaans were you could say good buddies, with frequent exchange of royal visits, traders and missionaries. So much so that the Malay World openly accepted Hindu and Buddhist influences from India for over a thousand years – the stone Candi (“Chan-dee”) temples and Indianesque carvings made by Malays that were found in the Malay Peninsular’s Lembah Bujang and Kuala Selinsing, among other places, attest to this.
But there was an exception… that proved the rule. In around 1025 AD, King Rajendra I Chola of Coromandel made one of the only invasions of Tanah Melayu (Malay Lands) from India. He attacked the Malay Peninsula’s west coast littoral states. But it was a one-sided invasion, not a prolonged war. After rebelling and defending themselves, the Malays sent ‘beritahuan‘ emissaries to alert neighbouring kingdoms, who were aghast that the Chola king dared to attack a friendly realm. The Malay Buddhist kingdom of Ligor sent an army, and the Cholas were pushed back, their invasion becoming a blip in history.
The historic fact of no wars in Indian-Malay civilizational relations remains unchanged. As mentioned in the Perdana Global Peace Forum 2005 at Kuala Lumpur’s PWTC, “Peace is also the Absence of War”.
So let us celebrate and nurture this continuous reign of peace that shames the Colonials, whose history is full of war, invasion, conflict and conquest, and whose achievements from ancient Roman times were built on imperialism, colonialism and exploitation of the rest of humanity, including of the Indians, Malays and also Chinese (forgot colonised Shanghai, Hong Kong, Macau? The Opium Wars? The European destruction of the great Summer Palace that eventually bankrupted imperial China) etc.?) – Learn from history.
“True civilisation is reflected not on a society’s technical achievements but on its ability to survive harmoniously with the earth, with fellow mankind, and with the Divine.” (Nadge)
We trust everyone is celebrating a peaceful and happy Deepa-Raya season.
 The name ‘Coromandel’ is used for the eastern coast of India roughly from Cape Comorin to Nellore. The word is a form of Choramandala (’Realm of Chora’), the Tamil form of the title of the Chola dynasty”.
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