The Indian influence into the Malay Peninsula

An opinion piece in the Malaysian Insider about the influence of Indian culture into the Malayan peninsula during the early centuries CE.

Bujang Valley Museum

When Malays were Hindus and Buddhists were Indians
The Malaysian Insider, 09 January 2016

We often compress these vast-ranging influences into “cultures” or “traditions”, but this broad terminology certainly does not do justice to the deep influences of the Indians in Malaya.

The Hindu-Buddhist heritage of the Malay world, brought by the Indians, is in stark contrast with the rigidly defined notion of ethnicity and religion today.

The fluidity of movement no longer exists. Legal and societal barriers are constructed to eradicate remnants of fluid identity, which confuses and blurs the “fixed” identies of ethnicity and religion. Now, we cannot entertain the idea of a Malay being anything other than a Muslim.

The present disowns and refuses to come to terms with its past, as if their Indianised history, or the Indian era of Malaya, is impure.

The past is something to be buried, not celebrated. To be avoided and a lesson not to repeat.

Full story here.

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Author: Noel Tan

Dr Noel Hidalgo Tan is the Senior Specialist in Archaeology at SEAMEO-SPAFA, the Southeast Asian Regional Centre for Archaelogy and Fine Arts.

1 thought on “The Indian influence into the Malay Peninsula”

  1. the earliest civilization in malaya was Indians as well as the natives who are still labelled as ‘orang asli’ when they are the rightfull Bumiputras of Malaya. The Indians who came to Bujang Valley then decided to stay put up the hill. They were known as Malaiur, meaning people of the hill. As time passed by the name was called Malayu, hence the name Tanah Malayu was born. later some indians converted to muslims when Islam was brought by the Arab merchants. There were a lot of mixed marriages and finally we had the current species who called themselves as bumiputras.

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