India–Iran relations


India–Iran relations

Relations between India and Iran date back to the common prehistoric Indo-Iranian heritage (which connects all of Greater Persia and Greater India) and the Indo-Parthian and Indo-Scythian kingdoms of antiquity to the strongly Persianized Islamic empires in India in the 13th to 19th centuries.

After the Iranian Revolution of 1979, Iran withdrew from CENTO and dissociated itself from US-friendly countries, including Pakistan, which automatically entailed improved relationship with the Republic of India.

Currently, the two countries have friendly relations in many areas. There are significant trade ties, particularly in crude oil imports into India and diesel exports to Iran. Iran frequently objected to Pakistan's attempts to draft anti-India resolutions at international organizations such as the OIC. India welcomed Iran's inclusion as an observer state in the SAARC regional organization.

Lucknow continues to be a major centre of Shiite culture and Persian study in the subcontinent.

In the 1990s, India and Iran both supported the Northern Alliance in Afghanistan against the Taliban regime. They continue to collaborate in supporting the broad-based anti-Taliban government led by Hamid Karzai and backed by the United States.

History

Pre-Aryan civilizations

The Indus Valley (Harappan) civilization, which is the oldest historically known civilization in ancient India, was contemporary with the Proto-Elamite and Elamite civilizations in ancient Iran. The Indus people had trade links with (even northern) Afghanistan, the coastal regions of Iran, and the ancient civilization of Mesopotamia. At Susa in the western part of Iran, decorated pottery has been excavated which appears to be similar to those of the Kulli culture in the north-west of the Indian subcontinent. Indus seals have also been excavated at Kish, Sura and Ur. The Harappan culture, in what is now Pakistan and adjacent western regions of India, imported silver, copper, turquoise and lapis lazuli from Persia and Afghanistan, in return for ivory. In terms of linguistics, it has been theorized that the Indus people spoke a Dravidian language. In the Balochistan region in the southeast of Iran and in the southwest of Pakistan, the Brahui people traditionally speak a Dravidian language. [http://www.indianembassy-tehran.com/india-iran-links.html India & Iran – Age Old Ties] ] The Elamo-Dravidian languages form a theorized, though disputed language family that includes the ancient Elamite language of Iran and the Dravidian languages of the Indian subcontinent, suggesting a possible linguistic relationship between the Elamites and Harappans before the arrival of Indo-Iranians.

Pre-Islamic Persia and Vedic civilization era

The languages of the northern, western, central and eastern regions of India belonging to the Indo-Aryan family are believed to have originated from the same source as the Iranian languages, namely the Indo-Iranian language family, which in itself is a member of the Satem group of Indo-European languages. The Indo-Iranians were a semi-nomadic people originating from the Central Asian steppes, via the Oxus river valley, at c. 2000 BCE. [J.P. Mallory and D.Q. Adams, The Encyclopedia of Indo-European Culture. London and Chicago: Fitzroy Dearborn 1997]
Iranian peoples referred to themselves as Aryans (Arya, Ariya) , from which the word "Iran" originates (from "airyanam vaejo" meaning "expanse of the Aryans"). The word "Arya" in Sanskrit means "noble". Ancient northern and central India was also referred to as "Aryavarta", meaning "abode of the Aryans".

Vedic civilization began in India around 1500 BCE, with the Rigveda being the oldest of the Vedas. The Rigveda was composed in Vedic Sanskrit, which is very similar to Avestan, the ancient language of the Iranian Zoroastrian sacred text Avesta. According to the Vendidad (ch.1), the (Iranian) Aryans lived in sixteen countries, one of them being "Hapta Hindu", which is the Avestan form of the Sanskrit "Sapta Sindhu" (Rigveda), meaning "seven rivers" and referring to the northwestern region of the Indian subcontinent. Ancient Vedic religion and Zoroastrianism also have much else in commonFact|date=May 2008. The Vedas and the Gathas of the Avesta include the performance of sacrifice (Sanskrit yajna or Avestan yasna) and the importance of priests or Magi. Many myths that appear in the Yasht part of the Avesta have their roots in ancient Indo-Iranian culture.

"Achaemenid Period and Seleucid Empire"

The emergence of the Achaemenid empire in Persia, founded by "Hakhāmaniš" (that would be "Sakhamani" in Sanskrit, meaning "one with friends or allies") saw parts of northwestern subcontinent come under Persian rule. Indian emissaries were present at the courts of Cyrus the Great or "Kurush" (590 BCE - 529 BCE), whose empire extended as far east as Gandhara and Sind. It is also believed that when Cyrus was threatened by Croesus of Lydia, he received military assistance from an Indian king. [‘Iran and India: Age old Friendship’ by Abdul Amir Jorfi, India Quarterly, October-December 1994, p 69.] Under Darius I or "Darayava(h)ush" (519 BCE - 485 BCE), inscriptions refer to Persian relations with India. The Behistun rock inscription (ancient "Bagastana" "place of Gods" which would be Sanskrit "Bhagasthana") dating back to 519 BCE includes Gandhara in the list of his subject countries. Here Darius also refers to his language as Aryan (ariya). The epigraph of Nakhsh-i-Rustam shows India as the 24th province of his empire. It was believed to be the richest in Darius's empire. Herodotus tells us of the wealth and density of the Indus population and of the tribute paid to Darius:
"The population of the Indians is by far the greatest of all the people that we know; and they paid tribute proportionately larger than all the rest – (the sum of) 360 talents of gold dust."
Herodotus also mentions the Indian contingent in the Persian armies consisting of infantry, cavalry, and chariots. Later, elephants are also mentioned. [‘The Discovery of India’ by Jawaharlal Nehru, Oxford University Press 1992, p 147.] Under Xerxes I or "Khshaya-arsha", the successor of Darius, it is believed that Indians (specifically from the northwest, Bactria and Gandhara) fought alongside the Persian army against the Greeks in the battlefields of Plataea and Marathon. [‘Indo-Iranian Relations’ by Dr. Tara Chand, p 4]

Achaemenian art and architecture also had a significant influence on India. Before the Ashokan period of history, there is no evidence of epigraphy in India. It has been suggested that the idea of issuing decrees by Ashoka was borrowed from the Achaemenian emperors, especially from Darius. The animal capitals of pillars in Mauryan imperial art), are influenced by Achaemenian pillars. [‘Iran and India: Age old Friendship’ by Abdul Amir Jorfi, India Quarterly, October-December 1994] The use of this means of propagating official messages and the individual style of the inscriptions both suggest Persian and Hellenistic influence.

Trade expanded mainly because Achaemenids introduced coinage, which facilitated exchange. India exported spices like black pepper and imported gold and silver coins from Iran. [‘Iran and India: Age old Friendship’ by Abdul Amir Jorfi, India Quarterly, October-December 1994] The grape, introduced from Persia with the almond and walnut, was cultivated in the Hindukush and western Himalayas. [ ‘The Wonder that was India’ by A L Basham, p 196 ] One of the earliest Indian words for a coin is Karsa (also a small weight), which is of Persian origin. [‘The Wonder that was India’ by A L Basham, p 222 ]

According to Herodotus, Artaxerxes or "Artakshathra" exempted the inhabitants of four Babylonian villages from taxation in return for their breeding Indian dogs for hunting and war. Dogs are rarely mentioned with respect in ancient Indian literature and was rarely, if ever, treated as a pet. The exception occurs in the Mahabharata, when the five Pandavas and their wife Draupadi take their dog with them on their final pilgrimage to heaven, and the eldest brother Yudhisthira refuses to enter without his faithful friend. It has been suggested that the episode shows Iranian influence, because for the Zoroastrians, the dog was a sacred animal. [‘The Wonder that was India’ by A L Basham, p 196 ]

In 330 BCE, Alexander the Great defeated Darius III. In the decisive battle of Gaugamela, Indus soldiers with fifteen elephants fought with Darius against the Greeks. [The Wonder that was India’ by A L Basham, p 49 ] Alexander marched into India after defeating the Persians. Chandragupta Maurya, who founded the Mauryan dynasty, had friendly relations with the successor of the Macedonian conqueror in Persia. Seleucus Nicator, the Grecian ruler of Persia, sent Megasthenes as the envoy of Hellenistic Persia to the court of Pataliputra in India, the seat of the Mauryas. Persian nobles were also present in the courts of Mauryan kings. Tushaspa, a Persian, was present during the reign of Chandragupta Maurya. The Aramaic-based Kharoshti script was introduced in the northwestern frontier province and continued to be in use till the 4th century CE. [‘Iran and India: Age old Friendship’, paper by Abdul Amir Jorfi, India Quarterly, October-December 1994, p 69]

"Parthian and Sassanid Periods"

The Parthian empire was actively involved in cultural and commercial interactions with India. In later Parthian times, the borderland areas of Kabul, Kandahar and Seistan, which formed part of Gandhara, were also referred to as "white India". [ ‘Discovery of India’ by Jawaharlal Nehru, Oxford University Press, 1992, p148. ] The name "Gujarat", the region in western India, is associated with the Gujjar tribe that were partly descended from the Indo-Scythians or Sakas who were Iranian peoples, and fought against the Parthian Empire. [Iran and Gujarat – Political and Cultural Relations’ paper by C.R. Naik. ] The history of Gujarat from 78 CE to 400 CE is sometimes shown as the "Kshatrapa" (Satrap) period, when the suzerainty of the Parthian empire was gradually replaced by the Sakas. The Indo-Scythian rulers of this time included Nahapana, Chashtana, Jayadaman and Rudradaman. Over time the rulers assumed Hindu names. [Iran and Gujarat – Political and Cultural Relations’ paper by C.R. Naik.] Also, the Ranas of Udaipur, the heads of the Sisodia clan of the Rajputs are believed to have originally been Iranians who came to India towards the end of sixth century CE. The Pallavas (Sanskrit for Pahlavas) are also believed by some to have originated from Iran. Pulakesin II, the ruler of Badami in known to have sent an embassy to Khosrau II (Parviz) in 625 CE. [` The History of the Parsees of India’ paper by P.P. Balsara]

The Sassanian period in Persia (226-651 CE) coincided with the Gupta period (308-651 CE) in India. The Sassanian monarchs maintained relations with the Gupta empire which was based in Pataliputra. Pulakesin, the ruler of the Deccan, was known in Persia,Fact|date=May 2008 and there were frequent embassies between Persia and India. Trade flourished as Persian merchants acted as intermediaries in the flow of goods between India and Europe. One of the murals in the Ajanta caves near Mumbai depicts a Hindu king with men in Sassanian dress. [‘Iran and India: Age old Friendship’ by Abdul Amir Jorfi, India Quarterly, October-December 1994, p 71.] In the 6th century, sandalwood, magenta, shells, corals, pearls, gold and silver are said to have been traded between India and Persia. [ ‘Iran and India: Age old Friendship’ by Abdul Amir Jorfi, India Quarterly, October-December 1994, p 72] Bam, in south-east Iran, was a major commercial and trading town on the famous Spice Road, a major tributary of the Silk Road, that connected trade routes from India through Iran to Central Asia and China.

Kushana and Gandhara art included of Parthian and east Iranian elements. Sassanian motifs are also visible in Gupta art. On the other side, the Indian peacock, dragons, cocks and spiral creepers adorn Sassanian monuments. [‘Indo-Iranian relations’ by Dr. Tara Chand, p 10. ] The tiles of the Harvan monastery near Srinagar have Sassanian-influenced decorations, signifying the extent of Sassanid influence in the Kashmir valley. [‘Some Iranian Sufi traditions & their impact on the evolution of Indo-Muslim culture’, paper by Mohd Ishaq Khan. ]

According to the Shahnameh of Ferdowsi (11th century CE), the 5th century Sassanian king Bahram V requested Indian king Shangol to select 12,000 "Gypsies", or Indian musicians, and introduced them to Persia. These Gypsies are believed to be the ancestors of the Persian Gypsies. They propagated Indian music and dancing in Persia, and may have travelled further west to Europe in the next four to five hundred years. It is possible that these "Gypsies" are the ancestors of the modern Roma people in Europe. It is also believed that Bahram visited India in the 5th century CE. Persian poet Hakim Nizami Ganjavi has alluded to the Indian wife of king Behram in his famous work "Haft Paikar" (seven figures) indicating instances of inter-marriage. [‘Iran and India: Age old Friendship’ by Abdul Amir Jorfi, India Quarterly, October-December 1994, p 71.]

During the reign of the Sassanian king Khosrau (531-579 CE), the game of chess ("Chaturanga" in India) is believed to have been introduced to Persia (where it was known as "Shatranj"). [‘Iran and India: Age old Friendship’ by Abdul Amir Jorfi, India Quarterly, October-December 1994, p 72. ] Later, when Persia was conquered by the Arabs, the game quickly spread all over the middle east and then to Europe. The original game was played on 64 squares ("astapada") with a king piece and pieces of four other types, corresponding to the corps of the ancient Indian armies – an elephant (rook), a horse (knight), a chariot or ship and four footmen (pawns). ['The Wonder that was India' by A L Basham, 1967, p 210 ] Under Khosrau, Jundishpur was developed as a leading center of Persian medicine, in which the Indian Ayurvedic system was syncretized with the Greek system propagated there by the Nestorian Christians. Burzuya, the physician to Khosrau, was sent to India to bring back works on medicine and searched for the so-called "elixir of life". Burzuya on his return is said to have brought stories of the Panchatantra with him. [Indo-Iranian Relations’ by Dr. Tara Chand, p 5] The Panchatantra is an ancient collection of Indian fables, and it was translated from Sanskrit to Pahlavi by Burzuya, who called it "Kalila-va-Demna". Also in the field of medicine, the Charaka Samhita, the famous Indian medical text by the physician Charaka was translated to Persian and then to Arabic in the 7th century. In the field of astronomy, an early Pahlavi book "Zik-i-Shatro Ayar", which was an astronomical work based on Indian elements was translated into Arabic by Al-Tamimi. [‘A Concise History of Science in India’, edited by D.M. Bose, INSA Publications, 1989, p 48. ]

According to the "Christian Topography" of Cosmas Indicopleustes of the 6th century, there were churches in Kerala and Ceylon in the hands of Persian priests, supervised by a Persian bishop at Kalliana (perhaps modern Cochin). Indian Christians had embraced Nestorianism, which was then widespread in Persia. The Nestorians were active missionaries and crossed Central Asia to found churches even in China. These missionaries following in the wake of Persian merchants are believed to be chiefly responsible for establishing a Christian community in south India. [‘The wonder that was India’, by A.L. Basham, 1967, p 345.]

"Buddhist influence in Pre-Islamic Persia"

Buddhism became widespread in Persia within a few hundred years of its emergence in India. The Kushana king Kanishka in northwest India became a great patron of Buddhist faith. Kanishka patronized the Gandhara school of Greco-Buddhist art, which introduced Greek and Persian elements into Buddhist iconography. Buddhism became the religion of the east Iranian province of Khorasan through the Kushana emperors.Fact|date=May 2008 The legendary biography of the Buddha in Sanskrit – the Buddhacharita – composed by Ashvaghosha - was translated into Khotanese, Sogdian and Parthian, followed by Pahlavi, then Arabic and other languages. In Iran, the story of Ibrahim ibn Adham, the prince who abandoned his kingdom to lead a religious life, is modelled on that of the Buddha. [‘Indo-Iranian Relations’ by Dr. Tara Chand, p 5. ]

In Central Asia there was a mixture of languages, religions, and cultures, and, as Buddhism interacted with these various traditions, it changed and developed. Shamanism, Zoroastrianism, Nestorian Christianity, and later Islam coexisted with Buddhism. For example, some of the Mahayana bodhisattvas, such as Amitabha, may have been inspired, in part, by Zoroastrianism. There is also evidence of some degree of syncretism between Buddhism and Manichaeism, an Iranian dualistic religion that was founded in the 3rd century CE. Zoroastrianism and Buddhism also came in close contact in northwest India. [The Wonder that was India’ by A L Basham, 1967, p 276]

Buddhist architecture and imagery probably influenced and was influenced by its Persian counterpart, as Buddhism spread in Persia. [‘India and Iran: A Dialogue’, paper by Prof. Lokesh Chandra. ] The blue of turquoise from Khorasan became the symbol of the 'mind by nature luminous' ("cittam prakriti-prabhasvaram"), and the spires of Buddhist monasteries were made of turquoise, as blue was the colour of meditation. The shades of blue porcelain created by the Buddhists of East Asia signified the subtle planes of contemplation. This tradition was adopted centuries later by the blue mosques of Persia. [‘India and Iran: A Dialogue’, paper by Prof. Lokesh Chandra. ] The Jandial temple near Taxila was probably Zoroastrian. [‘The Wonder that was India’ by A L Basham, 1967, p 357]

Paintings on the walls of the Alchi monastery in Ladakh (northern Kashmir) reproduced in detail Sassanian motifs on textiles. They can be seen in round medallions with mythical animals. The most ancient stringed instrument from Persia – a red-sandalwood five-stringed veena – has been preserved at the Todaiji monastery in Nara, Japan since the 8th century. It is decorated with a Persian motif in mother-of-pearl inlay and represents a cultural exchange between the Persian and the Buddhist world.

The Tibetan histories of medicine relate that Jivaka, the physician to Lord Buddha was born as the son of King Bimbisara. The legend goes that as a child he once he saw a group of white-clad men and asked his father who they were. The king replied, "They are doctors and they protect people from diseases". He then wished to become a doctor and he asked his father for permission. King Bimbisara sent him to Taxila. These white-clad men were Iranians, who were famous physicians as attested by Sanskrit texts. [‘India and Iran: A Dialogue’, paper by Prof. Lokesh Chandra]

Buddhist literature also influenced early Persian compositions. Early Persian poetry created abstract mental forms recalling the grace of Buddhist statues. Up to the 11th century, Persian poetry came from Khorasan, Sogdiana and adjacent areas, which were once steeped in Buddhism. The metaphor of "Bot" (Buddha) was constant and exclusive in early Persian poetry. The facial type of "bot-e-mahruy" ("moon-faced statue") was the norm in Persian paintings and poetry. [‘India and Iran: A Dialogue’, paper by Prof. Lokesh Chandra] The Parthians are said to have translated Sanskrit texts into Chinese. An Shih-Kao was a Parthian prince who became a Buddhist monk. He came to China in 148 CE and translated 95 Sanskrit works on Buddhism into Chinese. 55 of them are still available in Chinese Tripitaka. Another Parthian prince, An Huen, translated two Sanskrit works into Chinese in 181 CE. [‘India and Iran: A Dialogue’, paper by Prof. Lokesh Chandra]

Islamic Persia and India

"Islamic conquest of Persia and Pre-Sultanate Period in India"

In the 7th century, after the Persians lost the battle of al-Qādisiyyah in 637 CE to the Islamic Arab armies, the Sassanian dynasty came to an end. Following this, a large community Zoroastrians migrated to India through the Strait of Hormuz. In 712 CE, the Arabs under the command of Muhammad bin Qasim also invaded Sind from the west.

One Jadagu from Gujarat is said to have been a maritime trader with Iran. [ P. 16 "Glory that was Gūrjaradeśa: A.D. 500-1300" By Kanaiyalal Maneklal Munshi ]

After Islam took over Persia, Zoroastrianism practically disappeared from the country. Some followers of the religion fled Persia and took refuge in western India. They were the ancestors of today's Parsees or Parsis in India. The Parsis began arriving in India from around 636 CE. Their first permanent settlements were at Sanjan, 100 miles north of Bombay. They are believed to have built a big fire temple at Sanjan in 790 CE with the fire they had brought from Iran with them. [`The History of Parsees of India’ paper by P.P. Balsara] According to the Parsees legend, a band of refugees settled first at Diu in Saurashtra and then at Thane near Bombay in the early 8th century. [`The History of Parsees of India’ paper by P.P. Balsara] Their connection with their co-religionists in Iran seems to have been almost totally broken until later in the 15th century. Even today, Parsis maintain a cultural relationship with Iran, travelling to the cities of Tehran, Yazd and Kerman in Iran for pilgrimage. In the modern era, the Parsi community have contributed significantly to India (and Pakistan) in the areas of politics, industry, science, and culture. Prominent Indian Parsis include Dadabhai Naoroji (three times president of Indian National Congress), Field Marshall Sam Manekshaw, nuclear energy scientist Homi Bhabha, industrialist JRD Tata and the Tata family, literary figures like Bapsi Sidhwa (in Pakistan) and others. The famous Queen rock star Freddie Mercury was an Indian Parsi born in Zanzibar.

The century following the Arab conquest of Sind was one in which Hindu culture influenced Arab Islamic and Persian Islamic culture. The scientific study of astronomy in Islam commenced under the influence of an Indian work, Siddhanta, which was brought to Baghdad by 771 through translations. [‘A Concise History of Science in India’, edited by D.M. Bose, INSA Publications, 1989, p 47] In about 800 CE, the Indian mathematician and astronomer Aryabhatta's treatise Aryabhatiya was translated into Arabic under the title "Zij-al-Arjabhar". Before that, in 772 CE, Brahmagupta "Brahmasphuta-Siddhanta" and the "Khandakhadyaka", were taken to Baghdad and translated into Arabic. The knowledge of Hindu numerals and the decimal place value system reached the Arabs along with other Indian mathematical-astronomical works rendered into Arabic in the 8th and 9th century, giving rise to the Hindu-Arabic numeral system. [Encyclopedia Britannica] In the 10th century AD, a Persian pharmacologist Abu Mansur Muwaffaq ibn Ali al Harawi of Herat wrote "Kitab’l Abniya" an "Haq’iq’l Adwiya" (book of Foundations of the True Properties of Remedies). Believed to be the oldest prose work in modern Persian, the book utilized material from Indian sources among others. [‘A Concise History of Science in India’, edited by D.M. Bose, INSA Publications, 1989, p 47]

The "Sh'ubia" movement in Iran preserved Iranian non-Arab traditions and also used their knowledge to translate Sanskrit works on mathematics, astronomy, medicine and other sciences into Arabic. They used their knowledge of Sanskrit grammar to systematize Arabic grammar. The Sahihs of al-Bukhari and the Sunan of al-Tirmidhi are collections of the Hadith, which in their Iranian version seems to have been influenced by Buddhist works. The Hadith begins with “Thus have I heard”, which is also the usual beginning of Buddhist scriptures ("evam maya srutam"). The term "srutam" implies historic sanctity and glory, as does the hadith, which for Muslims is on par with the Quran. [ ‘India and Iran: A Dialogue’, paper by Prof. Lokesh Chandra]

"Islamic Sultanate dynasties in India"

In the 11th century, Islam came to India from Persia through the conquest by Mahmud of Ghazni. The subsequent form of Islam that reached India had a rich Persian influence. The art and architecture of Iran came to be associated with Islam, and Islam became the common element that linked Persian and Indian elites. Ghaznavi brought along a number of poets, artisans and religious persons who settled down in India. Lahore (now in Pakistan) in the Punjab became an important centre of Persian literature, art and mysticism. Between 1206 CE and 1687 CE Muslim dynasties appeared in different parts of India. During this period, Turks, Tartars and some Arabs who had imbibed Iranian influence came to India. During the rule of the Khilji dynasty (14th century) several Persian scholars from Tabriz and Isfahan visited the royal courts in India. [‘Iran and India: Age old Friendship’ by Abdul Amir Jorfi, India Quarterly, October-December 1994, p 75]

During the 11th century CE, Al-Biruni, believed to be a Shia Muslim of Iranian origin born in Khwarizm in northern Iran, visited India during the Ghaznavi period. He wrote his famous "Kitab-ul-Hind" in Arabic, which involved a detailed study of Indian customs, traditions and the Indian way of life. Earlier, many Indian works on astronomy, mathematics and medicine had been translated into Arabic during the early Abbasid period, and Al-Biruni, who was also very interested in astronomy and mathematics, refers to some of these texts. Biruni was a prolific writer, and besides his mother tongue, Khwarizmi (an Eastern Iranian language), Persian and Arabic, he also knew Hebrew, Syriac and Sanskrit. [‘India by Al-Biruni’, edited by Qeyamuddin Ahmad, NBT Publication, 1995, p xvii] He studied Sanskrit manuscripts to check earlier Arabic writings on India. Al Biruni composed about 20 books on India – both originals and translations, and a great number of legends based on the folklore of ancient Persia and India. He developed a special interest in the Samkhya Yoga traditions of Indian philosophy and the Bhagavad Gita. He was possibly the first foreign scholar to have seriously studied the Puranas, specially the Vishnu Dharma. [‘A Concise History of Science in India’, edited by D.M. Bose, INSA Publications, 1989, p 49] Biruni also rendered the "al-Majest" of Ptolemy and "Geometry" of Euclid into Sanskrit. [‘Hindu-Muslim Cultural Relations’ by F. Mujtabai, NBB publication 1978, p 68 – 90]

The earliest evidence of Arabic/Persian influence on Indian astronomy is of the second half of the fourteenth century. Mahendra Suri, a court astronomer of the Sultan Feroz Shah Tughlaq (1351-1388), composed in 1370 a treatise entitled "Yantraraja". Based on Persian knowledge, it described the construction and use of the astrolabe, an instrument developed by Arab astronomers. Another Indian astronomer who made use of Arabic/Persian knowledge was Kamalakara, who wrote a treatise on astronomy called "Siddhanta-tatva-viveka". Later it was Sawai Jai Singh II who showed the greatest interest in Arabic/Persian astronomy. [Encyclopedia Britannica]

During this period several Hindu and Jain religious and philosophical texts from Sanskrit and Prakrit were translated into Persian. These include the Ramayana, Mahabharata, Upanishads, Bhagavad Gita, Nalopakhyana (Nala and Damayanti), Bhagavata Purana, Vishnu Purana, Shiva Purana, Skanda Purana, Vayu Purana, Brahmanda Purana, Brahma Vaivarta Purana, Harivamsa, Atharva Veda, Yoga Vashishtha, Sankara Bhasya, Atma Vilasa, Amrita Kunda, Prabodhacandrodaya and Vraja Mahatmya. [‘Hindu-Muslim Cultural Relations’ by F. Mujtabai, NBB publication 1978, p 65]

"Mughal-Safavid Period"

In the 16th century, Iran witnessed the rise of the Safavid dynasty after a period of upheaval and India saw the rise of the Mughal Empire. India and Iran became great powers under these two dynasties. The intercourse between India and Iran was many-faceted, covering politics, diplomacy, culture, literature, trade, and religion. The language of the Mughal court was Persian. Mughal patronage of culture constantly attracted Persian scholars; talented Persians were absorbed in the expanding services of the Mughal empire.

The ties between the Safavids and the Mughals were marked by the alliance of Shah Ismail I with Babur and the friendship of Shah Tahmasp I and Humayun. The Safavids established Shia Islam as the state religion in Iran. [‘Indo-Persian Relations’ by Riazul Islam, Iranian Culture Foundation, 1970, pg 5, 185] Babur, who was originally a Timurid from the Uzbek region of Samarkand received help from the Ismail I and established himself first in Kabul and then in Delhi and Agra. [‘Iran and India: Age old Friendship’ by Abdul Amir Jorfi, India Quarterly, October-December 1994, p 77] Ismail also returned to Babur the latter's sister Khanzada Begum, who had been recovered by the Persians from Uzbeks at Merv. It is believed that during his occupation of Samarkand (1511-1512), Babur struck coins bearing Shia legends and the name "Shah Ismail Safavi". Babur was also an accomplished Persian poet and was a patron of Persian poetry. He invited Khwand Amir, a famous historian from Herat to join his court. He also selected Bairam Beg, a Shia, to be a constant companion to his son Humayun. [‘Indo-Persian Relations’ by Riazul Islam, Iranian Culture Foundation, 1970, pg 5, 194]

Humayun, the son of Babur, after being defeated by the Afghan Sher Shah Suri, fled to Iran and was only able to return to India with the military help of the Iranian Safavid king Tahmasp I. On his way back, Humayun took over Kandahar from Mirza Kamran (his half-brother) with Persian help in 1545, but handed it over to the Persians as agreed, only to retake it later (the Persians retook Kandahar soon after his death in 1556). He then went on to take over Kabul. Humayun visited several other places including Sistan, Herat, Jam, Mashhad, Qazvin, Tabriz and Ardabil during his stay in Persia. There is an inscription of Humayun at "Turbat-I-Jam" dating back to 1544, wherein he alludes to himself as an "empty handed wanderer". [‘Indo-Persian Relations’ by Riazul Islam, Iranian Culture Foundation, 1970, pg 40] During his stay in Persia, Humayun had to accede to the demand of Shah Tahmasp of Persia to explicitly accept the Shia faith. On his return from Persia, he is believed to have reverted to being a Sunni.

"See also:" Nadir Shah#Invasion of India(more to come)

Current relations

India and Iran have friendly relations in many areas. There are significant trade ties, particularly in crude oil imports into India and diesel exports to Iran. Iran frequently objected to Pakistan's attempts to draft anti-India resolutions at international organizations such as the OIC. India welcomed Iran's inclusion as an observer state in the SAARC regional organization.

There is a small Indian community in Iran. There are still small Hindu temples in Bandar Abbas and Zahidan. They were built in the 19th century by Indian soldiers in the British Army. There are also small communities in India who trace their ancestry to Iran.

A small number of Iranian students are enrolled at universities in India. The growing Iranian film industry looks to India's Bollywood for technical assistance and inspiration. The clerical government in Teheran sees itself as a leader of Shiites worldwide including India. Indian Shiites enjoy state support such as a recognised national holiday for Muharram and are generally considered less targeted than in religiously polarized Pakistan. Lucknow continues to be a major centre of Shiite culture and Persian study in the subcontinent.

In the 1990s, India and Iran supported the Northern Alliance in Afghanistan against the Taliban regime. They continue to collaborate in supporting the broad-based anti-Taliban government led by Hamid Karzai and backed by the United States.

Economic relations

India's nuclear vote against Iran

Regarding Iran's nuclear situation in the UN, India must sooner or later come to a strategic final decision. On the one hand, Iran and India are natural allies against a potential confrontation with Pakistan. The Pakistan-Iran split surfaced during Pakistan's fullfledged support of the Taliban in Afghanistan. [http://www.iran-press-service.com/articles/2_iranpak.html] And despite the sale of centrifuges to Iran by A.Q. Khan, Pakistan denies it had anything to do with the technology transfer, implying that Khan acted alone, not to mention that the sale in no way signifies any strategic pact between the two. During a presidential visit by Iran to India, a report surfaced in which India was to gain access to Iranian airfields, should there be a breakout of tensions against Pakistan. [http://dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page=story_28-1-2003_pg3_1]

Yet India managed to vote against Iran in the International Atomic Energy Agency in 2005, which took Iran's government by surprise. A "hurt" Ali Larijani was reported as saying: "India was our friend". [http://www.rediff.com/news/2005/sep/28guest2.htm]

As the standoff continues to develop, columnists such as Joe Hirsch believe that unlike Russia and China, "India could indeed be bought off by US incentives like the nuclear deal, because its shortsighted leaders don't recognize that they are committing national suicide by entering into this nuclear deal with the US." "Jorge Hirsch, interview April 12, 2006 [http://www.payvand.com/news/06/apr/1094.html] )" Stephen Rademaker also acknowledged that India's votes against Iran at the International Atomic Energy Agency were "coerced": [ [http://www.payvand.com/news/07/feb/1214.html India's anti-Iran votes were coerced, says former US official ] ]

"The best illustration of this is the two votes India cast against Iran at the IAEA. I am the first person to admit that the votes were coerced."

However, Washington considers support from India, which is on the 35-member board of governors at the International Atomic Energy Agency, crucial in getting a sizeable majority for its proposal to refer the matter to the Security Council for positive punitive action against Iran. Greg Schulte, US ambassador to the IAEA, said "India's voice will carry particular weight...I hope India joins us in making clear our collective concerns about Iran's nuclear program" . Schulte did not deny that the Indo-US nuclear deal was conditional to India supporting the US on the Iran issue. Some officials in India are unhappy about the deal and it's effect on relations with Iran. Appraising of the situation vis-a-vis Iran, a senior U.S. official told the New York Times that "The Indians are emerging from their nonaligned status and becoming a global power, and they have to begin to think about their responsibilities. They have to make a basic choice." [http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/articleshow/msid-1237146,curpg-1.cms] .

The Socialist left parties who were previously opposed to the nuclear deal and the opposition to Iran's nuclear programme that it entails have changed their position and compromised with the government regarding this position. While the left remains hawkish about their reservations concerning the deal, the government has made an effort to address their concerns [http://www.dnaindia.com/report.asp?NewsID=1047728] . Many strategists also say that it is in India's best interests to support the United States more, on account of the fact that India's rival, Pakistan is presently an ally of the US "only by convenience", as well as technological benefits.The Bush administration, however, recognized India's interests with Iran and has tempered its position, stating that India can "go ahead with a pipeline deal involving Iran and Pakistan. Our beef with Iran is not the pipeline." [http://pinr.com/report.php?ac=view_report&report_id=452&language_id=1]

Chah Bahar port and Zaranj-Delaram highway

A highway between Zaranj and Delaram (Zaranj-Delaram Highway) is being built with financial support from India. [Pajhwok Afghan News, [http://www.pajhwok.com/viewstory.asp?lng=eng&id=44657 100-km road asphalted in Nimroz with Indian assistance] ]

References

Further reading

*Clawson, Patrick. "Eternal Iran". ISBN 1-4039-6276-6. 2005. MacMillan.
*G.L. Tikku, "Persian poetry in Kashmir", 1971, ISBN 0-520-09312-7
*Section on Persian literature in India: Jan Rypka, "History of Iranian Literature". Reidel Publishing Company. 1968 OCLC|460598. ISBN 90-277-0143-1

ee also

* Foreign Relations of Iran
* Foreign relations of India
* Iran-Pakistan-India gas pipeline
* India-Israel relations
* Iran-Pakistan relations
* Indo-Pakistani relations
* Sino-Indian relations
* Iran-China relations
* Ancient India and Central Asia

Links

* [http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=viewArticle&code=VAR20050723&articleId=729 India-Iran Relations: A farewell to the gas pipeline?]
* [http://www.nirajweb.net/mt/niraj/archives/001262.html Why India-Iran relations are growing]
* [http://www.hindustantimes.com/news/181_1296048,001301700001.htm US concerns not to sway India-Iran relations]
* [http://pd.cpim.org/2005/0918/09182005_prakash.htm India-Iran Relations Cannot Be Hostage To US]
* [http://belfercenter.ksg.harvard.edu/publication/18176/indiairanian_relations.html?breadcrumb=%2F India-Iran Relations: Key Security Implications]


Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • India–Russia relations — India Russian relations refers to the bilateral relations between Republic of India and Russian Federation. During the Cold War, India and Soviet Union enjoyed strong strategic, military, economic and diplomatic relationship. After the collapse… …   Wikipedia

  • India–Malta relations — Maltese Indian relations Malta …   Wikipedia

  • India-Kazakhstan relations — Bilateral relations between the Republic of India and the Republic of Kazakhstan have increased in importance in the 21st century after initially remaining passive in the 1990s. Both nations seek to develop an extensive commercial and strategic… …   Wikipedia

  • Denmark–Iran relations — Denmark Iran relations Denmark …   Wikipedia

  • Croatia–Iran relations — Map indicating locations of Croatia and Iran Croatia Iran …   Wikipedia

  • Cuba–Iran relations — Iran Cuba relations Iran …   Wikipedia

  • Germany–Iran relations — The relations between Germany and Iran have been some of the closest between Iran and any western nation.Official diplomatic relations between Iran and post war Germany began in 1952 when Iran opened its first mission office in Bonn. However… …   Wikipedia

  • Relations Iran-Inde — Relations entre l Inde et l Iran Relations irano indiennes …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Relations Iran -Inde — Relations entre l Inde et l Iran Relations irano indiennes …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Relations entre l'Inde et l'Iran — Relations irano indiennes …   Wikipédia en Français