Friday, March 4, 2016

Brahmin Kaundinya of Funan Kingdom of Vietnam

Brahmin Kaundinya of Funan Kingdom of Vietnam

In this article I will talk about the history of Brahmin Kaundinya of Funan Kingdom of Vietnam. 

Kaundinya (Sanskrit: कौण्डिन्य, Bengali: কৌণ্ডিন্য) is a Brahmin gotra common to many North Indians as well as South Indians. According to Skanda Purana, Kaundinya represents one of the 24 pravaras to which Indian Brahmins belong, and one of the earliest reference to Kaundinya is the Brihadaryanaka Upanishad in which a Kaundinya is the student of Shandilya. Some historians say that the founders of the Kaundinya gotra, originally belonged to Mithila region of Bihar and from there they spread to South India and south-east Asia.

The polity Funan is believed to have been established in the 1st century CE (50 AD) in the Mekong Delta in south-western Vietnam. 

Brahmin Kaundinya of Funan Kingdom of Vietnam - Geography of India and Funan

Kaundinya I of Funan Vietnam  of 50 AD

The Book of Liang records the story of the foundation of Funan by the foreigner Hùntián. He is identified with the Brahmin Kauṇḍinya who married a nāga (snake) princess named Somā, as set forth in a Sanskrit inscription found at Mỹ Sơn and dated AD 658. 

In this Sanskrit inscription of the Cham king Prakasadharma it is stated: ""It was there [at the city of Bhavapura] that Kauṇḍinya, the foremost among brahmins, planted the spear which he had obtained from Droṇa's Son Aśvatthāman, the best of brahmins. There was a daughter of a king of serpents, called "Somā," who founded a family in this world. Having attained, through love, to a radically different element, she lived in the abode of man. She was taken as wife by the excellent Brahmin Kauṇḍinya for the sake of (accomplishing) a certain task ...".

Its is said that Kaundinya came from the west in the first century A.D and that sometimes between AD 240 and AD 245 a successor of Kaundinya, named Fan-Chan sent an ambassador to India.

The arrival of Kaundinya I had a moderate impact on the people of the region and  this line continued upto 4th century AD by which time the Hindu Brahmanical culture had been completely assimilated into local Funan culture.

Brahmin Kaundinya of Funan Kingdom of Vietnam - Migration Map

Kaundinya II of Funan Vietnam of 350 AD

Qiáochénrú, also identified as Kaundinya, is mentioned in the Book of Liang in a story that appears somewhat after the story of Hùntián. Qiáochénrú was one of the successors of the king Tiānzhú Zhāntán ("Candana from India"), a ruler of Funan who in the year 357 AD sent tamed elephants as tribute to the Emperor Mu of Jin. He [Qiáochénrú] was originally a Brahmin from India. There a voice told him: ʻyou must go reign over Fúnán,ʼ and he rejoiced in his heart. In the south, he arrived at Pánpán. The people of Fúnán appeared to him; the whole kingdom rose up with joy, went before him, and chose him king. He changed all the laws to conform to the system of India."

He is credited with having introduced Indian  laws, manners and customs as well as Sanskrit and alphabet of North Indian origin which opened up the treasure of Hindu literature to the people of Funan.

The advent of Kaundinya II gave a great impetus to Indian Hindu-Buddhist culture and virtually supplanted the indigenous culture for centuries to come.

Kaundinya Jayavarman
At the end of the fifth century AD, a member of the same family was still on throne under the name of Kaundinya Jayavarman who died in 514 AD.

What else was happening at that time?
  • 1 - 100 AD: Founding and spread of Christianity; Han dynasty in China founded by Emperor Kuang Wu Ti; Buddhism introduced to China; Colosseum built in Rome
  • 101 - 200 AD: final Diaspora (dispersion) of Jews begins; Marcus Aurelius rules Rome (A.D. 161–180); Oldest Mayan temples in Central America (c. A.D. 200)
  • 201 - 300 AD: Goths invade Asia Minor; Classic period of Mayan civilization starts
  • 300 - 400 AD: Christianity legalized in Edict of Milan; Huns (Mongols) invade Europe; Roman Empire disintegrates

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Thanks for your time. Hope you enjoyed reading the life of Brahmin Kaundinya of Funan Kingdom of Vietnam. Please feel free to leave your comments and do share this post with those who might find it useful.

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