Influence of Indian Culture and Literature to the Philippines

Hinduism has been a major cultural, economic, political and religious influence in the archipelago that now comprise the Philippines. The Hindu religion came to the Philippines from the Javanese empire of Majapahit.

The Kinari of Surigao. The Kinari is a Indian goddess and this gold figurine is found in Surigao, the most perfect done in the world.

Decline of Hinduism in the Philippines started with the arrival of Islam in the Philippines. After the conquest of the Philippines by Spain to the present, Hinduism is already very minority part of the Christian Philippines. It had declined through the centuries. But Indian culture and literature has traces in Filipino life especially in the ideas, language, and the arts and literature of the Filipinos.

National Psyche

  • Although Hinduism is now a minority religion in the country, some of its beliefs still pervade the national psyche; it is socially and culturally ingrained in Filipinos, most of whom are either part of the Christian majority (Roman Catholic and Protestant), or part of a significant Muslim minority. An example is that the concept of karma is readily understood by locals and forms part of native ethics.


  • Much of our language originated from the Sanskrit language. the linguistic influence left its most lasting marks on every Philippine language throughout the archipelago with the following Buddhist and Hindu concepts directly from the original Sanskrit. About 25% of the words in many Philippine languages are Sanskrit and Tamil terms.
  • Examples are budhi “conscience” from the Sanskrit bodhi, guro “teacher” from the Sanskrit guru, kalma “fate” from the Sanskrit karma, Laksamana/Lacsamana “admiral (a surname)” from the Sanskrit lakshmana, and kapas “cotton” from the Sanskrit kerpas.

Arts and Literature

Biag ni Lam-ang.

The Ramayana and the Mahabharata are the two great epics of India. Ramayana portrays the battle between good and evil. Rama, with his wife Sita and his brother Lakshmana, represent the eventual victory of good over evil, represented by Ravana, the ten-headed demon king. Rama is helped by his devotee, Hanuman and the army of monkeys under the command of the monkey king Sugriv.

Versions from the different ethnic groups of the Philippines exist. The Maranao version is the Maharadia Lawana (Mahārāja Rāvaṇa). Lam-Ang is the version of the Ilocanos. In addition, many verses from the Hud-Hud of the Ifugao are derived from the Ramayana and the Mahabharata.

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