Vasco Da Gama

And the sea route to India

De Gama at the Cochin court

The mainstream narrative that most of us learned in school was that Vasco de Gama was the first European to discover the sea route to India and this is still taught in many schools around the world and astonishingly in India even when it has been disproved.

But there are many untruths in history and the influence of India can can be seen across Europe and the world today. A lesser-known point is that Indian elephants did much of the heavy lifting for the Greek and Roman empires and that Asiatic lions were more likely to feature in the Roman arena than African lions as most historical narratives are based on opinions rather than facts.

At the time of Vasco de Gama's arrival in India, Hindu sailors had a long seafaring culture with routes to Indonesia and China, up through the red Sea. Another route used the Persian haulway (todays Suez Canal route) to transport their boats from the red Sea into the Mediterranean. From Persian accounts there were highways from about five hundred BC from central Persia to the red Sea and the shores of the Bosphorus, and another trade route by ship went via the Oxus River to the Aral Sea, Caspian Sea, Black Sea and into the Mediterranean, a route by which Alexander the so-called great shipped home much of his plunder and bought out fresh troops.

While the Europeans especially the Portuguese who would later butcher tens of thousands of Hindus in the name of Christianity, the Arabs and Hindus saw him as a thug and refused him permission to establish a trading post so in revenge he turned to pirating Arab and Hindu ships and when he finally returned to Portugal made out that he was something of a hero. Subsequent Portuguese missions were met with hostility that was subdued by military force and subsequent occupation.

There was nothing grand or remarkable about De Gama, he was perhaps a foolish man trying to look good in the eyes of his own people and believed that might was right although in his diaries which still exist, he writes that he was guided from Africa India by Hindu sailors and the Hindu ships much larger than his. The Hindu method of navigation was actually available in Europe at the time of de Gama however the Europeans did not have the intellectual understanding to make use of that technology.

National Geographic and other historic publications reference Vasco-Da-Gama as a "Pirate", who was engaged in looting "Arabian Ships". Some also reference De Gama and those who came after him as conflicting with the Muslim merchants and sailors however De Gama died in 1524 and the prophet Mohammed was born in April 571 - the reference here should be Arab.

Further reading
Sakalash History
Wikipedia spreads the lie


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