Himalayan Bridge

Niraj Kumar, George van Driem and Phunchok Stobdan

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The centrality of the Himalayas as a connecting point or perhaps a sacred core for the Asian continent and its civilisations has captivated every explorer and scholar. The Himalaya is the meeting point of two geotectonic plates, three biogeographical realms, two ancient civilisations, two different language streams and six religions.

This book is about the determinant factors which are at work in the Himalayas in the context of what it constitutes in terms of its spatiality, legends and myths, religious beliefs, rituals and traditions. The book would suggest that there is no single way for understanding the Himalayas. There are layers of structures, imposition and superimposition of human history, religious traits and beliefs that continue to shape the Asian dynamics. An understanding of the ultimate union of the Himalayas, its confluences and its bridging role is essential for Asian balance. This book is a collaborative effort of an internationally acclaimed linguist, a diplomat-cum-geopolitician and a young Asianist. The book provides countless themes that will be intellectually stimulating to scholars and students with varied interests.


Niraj Kumar is the author of a magnum opus on Asian Integration—Arise Asia: Respond to White Peril (2002). His recent works include Sriyantra and Geophilosophy of India (2014), Asia in Post-Western Age (2014) and Rainbow of Indian Civilization (2015). He received initiation from Swami RanganathanandajiMaharaj of the Ramakrishna Mission in 1992 and is associated with the Society for Asian Integration (SAI).

George van Driem is the Director of the Linguistics Institute at the University of Bern in Switzerland, where he holds the Chair of Historical Linguistics. He has conducted field research in Bhutan, Nepal, northeastern India and the western Indian Himalayas since 1983. In 2001, he produced the first major ethnolinguistic synthesis of the Greater Himalayan region—extending from Central and South Asia to Southeast and East Asia—Languages of the Himalayas: An Ethnolinguistic Handbook of the Greater Himalayan Region Containing an Introduction to the Symbiotic Theory of Language (2 vols). Nowadays, he is working on the Asian populations’ prehistory in collaboration with linguists and population geneticists in order to finally reconstruct the prehistory of the human population.

Ambassador PhunchokStobdan is a distinguished academician, diplomat, national security expert and Senior Fellow at IDSA. Ambassador Stobdan is a specialist on Asian affairs covering Central Asia and Inner Asia—including Xinjiang, Tibet, Myanmar and the Himalayan region. He served in Central Asia twice: first, as Director at the Embassy of India, Almaty (1999 and 2002) and then as the Ambassador at the Embassy of India, Bishkek (2010–2012). He has also served as Joint Director in the Indian National Security Council. He has established the Ladakh International Centre (LIC) at Leh to promote research on Himalayas.


About the Editors/Contributors





PART I: Himalayas: Geology, Genetics, Identity

1. India-Asia Collision and the Making of Himalayas

A. K. Jain

2. Challenges to the Himalayan Watershed

Uttam Kumar Sinha

3. From the Dhaulagiri to Lappland, the Americas and Oceania

George van Driem

4. Textile, Text, Terracing, Territoriality: Weaving a Pan-Himalayan Identity

Niraj Kumar and Chingngaih Biak

PART II: Prism of the Past

5. Reflection of the Himalayas in the Ancient Indian Texts: A Note

K. K. Mandal

6 Encounter and Engagement: Vignettes of the Trans-Himalayan Region

Suchandana Chatterjee

7. The Indian Frontier Administrative Service:

Romanticism and Hostile Borders Claude Arpi

8. Himalayan Buddhism Travels West

Glenn Mullin

PART III: Mosaic of Politics

9. The Trans-Himalayan Geopolitics

P. Stobdan

10. Himalayas to Unite

Akhilesh Suman

11. Why Siachen Matters to India

Nitin A.Gokhale

12. Empowering the Kashmiris

Iftikhar Gilani

13. Drug and Arms Flow in the Eastern Himalayan Region

Namrata Goswami

14. Cultural Continuity and School Education in Bhutan: Current Initiatives, Challenges and Opportunities


15. Buddhist Identity Politics in Nepal since the 1990s

Tsering Choldan

PART IV: Philosophy, Art and Culture

16. Relevance of the Nalanda Tradition for Contemporary Society: Wisdom, Non-Sectarianism and Secular Ethics 253


17. Footprints of Nalanda Master Naropa in the Himalayas

Gyalwang Drukpa

18. Sowa Rigpa: Traditional Medical System of the Himalayas

Pema Dorjee

19. Himalayan Food Culture

Jyoti Prakash Tamang

20. Art Heritage and Law: Railroading Geographical Indications Act and Kangra Miniature Paintings

Namrata Neog

21. Alchi Murals: Tracing the Multiple Traditions

Geetika Kaw Kher

22. Pre-Vaishnavite and Post-Vaishnavite Dance Forms of Manipur

SinamBasu Singh

PART V: Spiritual Odyssey

23. Rishikesh: Silent Hum of Mystery


24. The Himalayas: A Mystic’s Viewpoint

Swami Paranand Tirth



Niraj Kumar, George van Driem and Phunchok Stobdan



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