Why didn’t an Indian culture emerge as the dominant culture like Han did in China due to Sinicization
I’m aware of how China became an almost homogenous nation of 1.2 bn people through Sinicization, but why didn’t India who in many ways shares similar geography produce an equivalent to Han?
I get why in Europe and the Middle East one super culture didnt form to dominate the west, mainly due to The Mediterranean sea, Sahara desert, and Syrian desert. But the Indian subcontinent, like China, isn’t broken up by a massive sea or desert like the west is. As well it had one of the few river valley civilizations and is one of the most fertile places in the world
[–]Pit_shost 1 point 3 hours ago
across many more mountains, deserts
India barely has one desert, the Thar, and it's tiny compared to the whole country.
[–]RipperNash 3 points 8 hours ago
Many off the answers here are good from a historic point of view, but fail to explain the "reason" for said lack of unification. Yes, there were mountain ranges making life difficult for marching armies to go from the North to the South, but that can never be an adequate answer as armies have marched across many mountain ranges, and even entire deserts or oceans, before. Where there is a will, there is a way. I believe the answer lies in a lack of will. The reason for a lack of will is due to the dominant religious views in the Indian plains. The Vedic religion is highly focused on avoiding materialism and conquest. There are many holy myths and tales regarding kings who sought to conquer all, and were subsequently trimmed down by the Gods. I think this notion was very prent in the minds of the rulers who subsequently chose to improve internal strength rather than bolster the land acquisition via conquest. However, the earliest and oldest of Hindu Epics, the Ramayana, has the opposing view. It promotes conquest via the "Ashvamedha Yagna" concept but the later Epic "Mahabharatha" backtracks from that notion quite heavily and denounces conquest. I wonder what occured in the period between the two Epics that changed mindset so much. However, after the Mauryas, Buddhism took hold over India and it is totally non-violent and promoted total abandonment of the material world.. Until the Mughals and other Muslim invaders came in, Buddhism was quite strong in India, and the invaders first pillaged the Buddhist centers of power before targeting Hindus. Mughals, ofcourse, came the closest to creating a pan-India empire as their religion heavily promotes it, and were it not for the British and other western colonialists, Mughals may have succeeded too.
Of course, India (the entire Subcontinent) is hugely heterogeneous in many regards. But it is also much more uniform than people think. Dravidian languages, one of two major language families in India (though there are many others), were the likely languages of the IVC, so all South Asians, north or otherwise, have a direct connection (it is essentially their “original” language).
All South Asians don’t speak Indo-European languages, like Hindi or Bengali, but they do all have genetic contributions from them, as well as cultural.
On the other hand, even the most strict Brahminical Hindu adherent is practicing a religion which has incorporated much of the more indigenous Harappan/Dravidian “folk religion”. Sanskrit, a language which only fairly recently descended into the modern tongues of North India (via various Prakrit dialects), also has a massive non-IE substratum.
[–]ajayrfhp 5 points 19 hours ago
There is plenty common across the different provinces of India. However, there were always different rulers in different parts of the country who were strong enough. I am from one of the 4 southern provinces in India. One of the kings from my province, ruled the eastern Indian coast, Sri Lanka and some parts of South East Asia. But he never ventured into Indian Mainland. We have the cultural heritage of about 7 kingdoms in these 4 provinces alone through different time periods. These different rulers and kingdoms have imparted different culture, traditions and languages. This lack of a single cohesive Indian king was the reason why the British were able to annexe India. Some kings aided the British, some were too scared, some did not care. Currently all provinces take their languages and identities pretty seriously and any push for a common language is strongly condemned from all provinces.
[–]hammersklavier 3 points 12 hours ago
States that unified India rarely lasted more than 100-200 years or so. The history of the subcontinent is one of periodic unification and fragmentation. As a consequence, the idea of a unified "Indian" culture never arose, in large part because there was never a centralized state that lasted long enough to promulgate it the way the Han, Tang, Song, Ming, and Qing dynasties all did in China.
That said, southern India is remoter and historically more fragmented than northern India. Most examples of major states that unified the bulk of the subcontinent (e.g. the Maurya, Kushan, and Mughal empires and Sultanate of Delhi) either developed in or later centered in the middle Ganges valley. It's quite common for the Indus and Ganges valley to be more unified than the Deccan Plateau, say, or the subcontinent's tip, historically.
[–]scijior 6 points 13 hours ago
I mean, the Maurya Empire (322-180 BCE) was pretty much as big as the Han Dynasty territory, with similar amounts of local pockets and such. So I don’t really know what you’re talking about (especially since there are something like 13 dialects [the most famous being Mandarin and Cantonese], and every region has a certain type of food and culture, like India).
[–]fromcjoe123 5 points 19 hours ago
Well I think the simplest answer is that the Indian subcontinent seldom had a unified state, and when it did, they never lasted as long as the contemporary Chinese empires.
Additionally, India is extremely ethnically diverse while the core areas of Han (the ethnic group, not Dynasty) China actually cover a massive amount of territory, which to me at least suggest mass conquests very early in the area prior the the initial recorded history of China. With such a large homogeneous population they could leverage, pushing South and West and subsequently homogenizing those conquered people would be less of a burden.
[–]KubrickIsMyCopilot 2 points 9 hours ago
Part of an incomplete answer would have to do with an economic and political tactic that kept China stable as an imperial state: Control of rivers for transport and political rewards/punishments - aka, the hydraulic empire.
If a region rebelled, the Emperor could divert their branch of a river, cut off their water supply, kill their crops, and starve them. Meanwhile the water would be diverted to a neighboring region that would be rewarded for its loyalty in the process.
The geography of India may have made this type of control impractical in many areas, causing regions to be more economically isolated and politically more difficult to dominate. The wealth and political dominance of the Han people in China due to their imperial strength led to it becoming virtually synonymous with Chinese culture, but it was a much more diverse place before that control was established.
Since India never had a practical, stable basis for one ethnic group to thoroughly dominate the others, one never rose to sufficient prominence to redefine India as itself and gradually absorb others by interest and influence.
Because of the economic levers available to Chinese rulers, its history was a homogenizing process; because of the relative limitations of these levers in India, its history was much more of a mosaic process.
Prior to partition, it was the same language - muslims called it urdu and wrote it in persian/arabic script. Hindus used more sanskrit words, and would write in that script. But the man on the streets of delhi spoke the same language.
With partition, politics influenced the language further - as Pakistanis injected persian, arabic, english words, while Indians injected hindi words. In the absence of empire, bollywood played a great role in pushing hindi to other parts of india. Earlier bollywood scripts were mainly urdu, songs were urdu - that is because many script writers were muslim, and hindus of that era had learned persian in school. Modern bollywood now has more localized variants of the language emerging - and the more sanskritized hindi has emerged as more dominant, with other localized languages now emerging to give flavor.
Now in india, english is dominant as language of state - because there is no other local language that has universal coverage. For many english is a good alternative, since the other alternative hindi, even in its sanskritized extreme still reeks of north india, or at its urdu-ized form of mughal empire. So it is understandable why english maybe a reasonable alternative. Also for many areas which were historically opposed to the mughals, the english maybe preferable alternative.
The muslims of north india were historically more hostile to learning english as they saw them as usurpers of their muslim mughal heyday. This is the reason following 1857 mutiny against the british, when both muslims and hindus were one against the british, that the british developed a policy of separating the two - religious movements were encouraged both within the muslims and the hindus. In the aftermath of the mutiny, muslims avoided english education to their detriment, while hindus adopted it faster - that created additional schisms.
Thus for india, english arrived as an equally alien entrant, with none of the earlier baggage of north india/mughal, and was adopted less controversially as the neutral outside language.
[–]ccc45p 1 point 15 hours ago
Instead of treating China as the norm and asking why India isn't like China it is more instructive to ask why China was more successful with spreading homogeneous culture. 2,000 years ago there was an extreme amount of cultural diversity with the Huaxia states mostly clustered around the Yellow River in the north. During the Han empire there was military expansion into the south, north and west. This part is widely known.
Chaos in the north, whether due to civil war or invasions by steppe hordes, including Mongols, Jurchens, Turks was historically a very strong driver of Huaxia migration into the southern regions. I believe this refugee based migration is the factor that most people overlook in the replacement process of indigenous cultures such as Tai, Austro-Asiatic, Miao-Yao, Austronesian, etc. In a cycle that repeated several times, the southern regions were flooded with refugees who intermarried and then in a couple hundred years, their connection to the north was reaffirmed with a new stable dynasty. Their integration into the region was made easy because of well understood long term underlying factors such as military expansion and conquest as well as cultural exchange and possibly enjoyed prestige status, similar to how most mainlanders fleeing to Taiwan were generally the richest, most educated elites with high influence under the KMT.
However, you must be careful with how you define a dominant culture. The Chinese did have a dominant culture that influenced East Asia greatly. The Indians too had a dominant culture that influenced South Asia, Southeast Asia, and parts of the Middle East (exchanges with Persia in particular). Both ancient civilizations were at the peak of dominance in their respective regions until the European colonial greed brought both to ruin.
[–]shrekchan 1 point 6 hours ago
I thought China became largely homogeneous, not form cultural domination, but rather the Han farmed Rice and other agriculture before everyone else in the area
[–]Felis1 1 point 5 hours ago
Indian culture had gone all the way to Japan in the East, and to the edge of Turkey to the West too. But then, Indian culture never needed to convert people unlike Abrahami religions.
As a result, written language gave Chinese subjects a cultural unity that Europe and India lacked - both in terms of administrative communication and shared literary culture.