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Indian Imprints In Pre-Colonial Philippines


Philippines got its name in 1544, after a Spanish explorer, Ruy López de Villalobos, decided to name the archipelago after the prince of Spain, Philip II. This prompted Filipino politicians viz. Eddie Ilarde, Marcos and most recently Rodrigo Duterte, President of Philippines, who on Feb-11, 2019 triggered a proposal to rename Philippines as the “Republic of Maharlika”. The term “Maharlika” is rooted in the Sanskrit word “maharddhika” (महर्द्धिक), a title meaning “man of wealth, knowledge, or ability”. Contrary to modern definitions, it did not refer to the ruling class, but rather to a warrior class of the Tagalog people (equivalent to Indian Kshatriyas).


Indian cultural influence during pre-colonial Philippines:

The influence of Indian culture on the Philippines intensified through the sea route from the 2nd (or perhaps even before though this area requires further research) through the late 14th centuries CE. Ancient polities in Philippines were highly influenced by the Hindu-Buddhist religions, language, culture, literature, and philosophy through much trade campaigns from India including the famous South-East Asia military campaign of Rajendra Chola. Ancient India’s maritime prowess was well known and in fact the ancient Indian kings like Samudragupt and others had their own well-defined navy which helped them to extend their reach and influence over the various islands in South and South-East Asia. In fact ancient Indian sea expeditions have covered far East including Japan.


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