The Ambassador of Greece to India H.E. Mr. Dimitrios Ioannou met yesterday with the members of the Greek Club Kyklos in Kolkata. Later in the evening he delivered an excellent speech on Indo-Greek relationships across the centuries in front of a huge audience at the Indian Museum.
Ujjjal Ghosh, 17 March: Greek Ambassador to India, Dimitrios Ioannou, met yesterday at noon with members of the “Greek Club Kyklos” at the Greek Consulate in Kolkata. Also present was Ismini Panagopoulou, head of the political and cultural department of the Embassy. Eleven members of the Greek Club Kyklos participated in this meeting under the direction of the Club’s President Gautam Dasgupta.
The Ambassador was informed in detail about the work of the Greek Club and was presented with some of the publications-magazines and books published by the Kyklos. He was amazed by their excellent work and activities. Praising the long relationship between the two ancient civilizations, he said: “You go on, we stand by.”
At the invitation of the Indian Museum, he gave a special speech in the evening at the Ashutosh Hall on the topic “Palimpsest of Indo-Greek contacts through the millennia: A lasting synthesis and an outlook for the future”.
The meeting started with a wonderful welcome speech by Museum Director Arijit Dutta Chowdhury. The Ambassador began his speech from Alexander the Great. The Greek historian Megasthenes wrote in his book “Indika” that when he appeared as an ambassador at the Maurya palace, Chandragupta told him: “We regard the guests as gods.” Megasthenes was surprised to hear this. He also said that the name “India” was given to this country for the first time by the Greeks. Later, in the year 113 BC, the Indo-Greek king of Taxila, Antialcidas, sent Heliodorus as an ambassador to the Raja Sabha of King Bhagbhadra of Central India. On this occasion, a pillar was built in his memory that still exists today and is known as the Heliodorus pillar. Rock-written (shilalek) edicts of Ashoka in the Greek language are even found in the southern Indian state of Kerala.
After a long historical journey, the Ambassador reached the modern era and spoke about the first Greek Indologist and Sanskritologist Dimitrios Galanos, who initially came as a teacher to the children of the Greek Community in Calcutta and Dhaka. After spending four years there, he went to Benares where he studied the Sanskrit language with particular attention and translated many ancient Indian texts into Greek. He also compiled the first Sanskrit-English-Greek dictionary. He died in Banares in 1833 AD. His tomb is still there today.
Ambassador Ioannou then spoke about the Greek Church in Kalighat, the Greek Cemetery in Fulbagan and the activities of the only Greek sister Nektaria Paradeisi who lives in Kolkata. Sister Nektaria also attended the speech.
Closing, the Ambassador thanked the audience for the warm welcome extended to him and expressed the hope that India and Greece will strengthen their long-standing relationship. “This is only possible through cultural exchanges, business partnerships and mutual brotherhood,” he said.
“Some Greek–related publications of the Greek Club Kyklos in Kolkata” by Ujjal Ghosh, INDIKA 2020.