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Tan Chung



Ramapithecus. the direct ape ancestor of humanity, was first discovered in 1932 at Rama at the Indian foothills of the Himalaya (now lying within Pakistan). In recent years, a large quantity of fossils of this species has been discovered in Yunnan, while this Chinese province has acquired a new reputation as the "homeland of Ramapithecus", in addition to its honoured place as the homeland of the earliest apeman in China called Yuanmou Man (discovered at the Yuanmou County of Yunnan). These archaeological discoveries indicate that the trans-Himalayan regions covering both India and China (and neighbouring areas) form an important cradle of human civilization. The civilizations of India and China are the twins emerging from this cradle. This is the starting point of my proposition for a Sino-Indian perspective.

After being born in the same cradle the two ancient civilizations (India and China) have followed separate courses of development which is but natural. With different lifestyles the two peoples have emerged as two separate socio-cultural systems almost entirely different from each other, at least on the surface. We have to treat India and China as two separate cultural entities even if they were initially from the same cradle of human origin. We have to gather different sets of information about their growth and development. Also we have to employ different modes in retrieving the information. This point needs to be looked into.

Unlike the traditional good Hindus who were keen to liberate themselves from the sentient dust so that they could go to Heaven where everything would be spiritual and non-materialistic (not eating real food to free the heaven from toilets), their Chinese counterparts were very particular in carrying a part of their worldly enjoyments to the after-life world. Their good descendants obliged them by burying the choicest treasures along with their dead bodies. As a result, apart from natural resources, the underground China is the richest repository of artifacts on earth. Hence, China has the largest archaeological industry of the world today. When we reconstruct Chinese history, we are able to take advantage of the archaeological discoveries of the last five decades which have virtually revolutionized our understanding of China. Indian historians are not so fortunate in enjoying such a rich archaeological harvest as their Chinese counterparts have been enjoying in the last half a century, and will also enjoy in the future years.

The Chinese descendants of Ramapithecus have travelled through the footsteps of the Yuanmou Man (who lived 1.7 million years ago), Lantian Man (who lived about a million years ago), Beijing (Peking) Man (who lived 2-700,000 years ago). Their successors were made of many other specimens of early apemen discovered at various places inside the country. On the one hand, there is almost no blank spot within the present territory of China where traces of pre-historical human ancestors are missing. On the other hand, all the various specimens of early apemen discovered within the Chinese domain show some kinship with one another, enabling historians to claim their belonging to one integral human stream in the evolution on earth.

Yellow River was known as the "cradle of Chinese civilization" because of ample archaeological evidence already known in many centuries. There were three early neolithic civilizations. The earliest was the Yangshao Civilization (which existed for about two thousand years around the period from 5000 to 3000 BC) springing from the middle stream of the Yellow River. Yangshao had two younger sisters: Majiayao Civilization (which existed around 3-2000 BC) along the upper stream, and Dawenkou Civilization (which lasted a couple of thousand years, and transformed itself into Longshan Civilization around 2600 BC) along the lower stream. Majiayao Civilization was succeeded by Qijia Civilization (which existed around 2000 BC) in the same locale, while Longshan civilization replaced both Yangshao and Dawenkou civilizations in the middle and lower streams and lasted uptill the third or second millennium BC.

Longshan Civilization spread over a much larger canvas, reaching the sea coast and the bank of the Yangtse River which, we are certain now, is another cradle of Chinese civilization. Recent archaeological discoveries inform us about the Hemudu Civilization (which existed as a living reality on earth around 4800 BC lying in the lower stream of the Yangtse along the sea coast concentrating on Jiangsu and Zhejiang provinces), Liangzhu Civilization (which was alive around 3300-2250 BC), Qingliangang Civilization (with a vintage of about 6,000 years belonging to the upper Neolithic), Majiabang Civilization (having a dating around 4750-3700 BC).

These details serve the Chinese historians to refute the earlier international premise that Chinese civilization originated from Central Asia. I wonder whether Indian historians would like to do the same. But, even without touching the contentious points about the Aryans and Dravidians it may not be out of order to treat the Indian civilization essentially as a continuous indigenous growth, no matter how much external influence it has absorbed into its cultural fabrics. Then, we have a picture of two great civilizations grown side by side just like the twins coming into their own manhood in proximity.

Such a scenario rules out any separatist approach treating the two civilizations as total strangers in their formative millennia. It is just illogical to assume that the two civilizations of such gigantic dimensions in such geographical proximity would treat each other as untouchables in the entire course of history of thousands and millions of years. Moreover, we find common things in Indian and Chinese legends like Chinese Pangu's (the creator of Heaven and Earth) bearing resemblance to Indian Purusa. These legends depict Indian and Chinese landscapes symbolic as the transformations of the bones and fluids of Purusa and Pangu (mountains made of their bones, and rivers made of their fluids). Chinese knew Kunlun as early as Indians knew Himalaya. According to a Tang scholar of the 7th century, Daoxuan (596-667), "Kunlun" and Himalaya were one and the same.1 Many scholars suspect the Chinese legend of "Xiwangmu" being a goddess of Indian origin, albeit it is difficult to convince others without historical evidence. How to get historical evidence to prove the travel and transfer of legend is the innate difficulty of cultural studies.


If we regard India and China as cultural twins from the same cradle, it is important to find the cultural affinity of the two civilizations. One common symbol is the powerful snake whose legendary image is known as Nagaraja in India, and LonglDragon in China. In Chinese Buddhist literature, these two symbols have merged into "Long". (Chinese translators, like the famous pilgrim Xuanzang, rendered the supernatural Naga in ancient Indian texts into Longldragon on purpose.) Ancient Chinese heard about the magical power of Indians to call rains whenever they wanted. Some Indian Buddhist monks, like Vajrabodhi and Amoghavajra etc., demonstrated such a power by playing with the symbol of NagalDragon. We have records of Indian monks presiding over imperial rain-invoking ceremonies when China was visited by severe drought in the years 366, 726, 772 and 889, the last occurred in independent Yunnan -the state of Nanzhao.2 Both India and China were agrocultures (I have coined the term to replace the tongue-twister "agricultural culture") for which rain-fall assumed great importance. The imaginary powerful NagamjalDragon symbol definitely had a connection with it. We can describe the two civilizations as Snake-Power Twins before the advent of Buddhism in China.

I have taken this proposition of Naga-Long twinhood to the academic fora both in China and in Taiwan, and have encountered violent opposition. My opponents argued that Long had had its independent existence for five-six thousand years, that China was always the Homeland of Dragon, and the Chinese were famous for being the "Progenies of Dragon" {Long de chuanren). Even the idea of a part of the social functions of the dragon symbol might originate from India was unacceptable because it hurt the Chinese pride in their thousand years of affinity with Long. This, in a way, underlines the daunting task of popularizing the Sino-Indian perspective among Chinese (and also Indian) scholars while studying the history and culture of India and China. The Sino-Indian perspective involved here is to treat Chinese and Indian cultures not as two separate entities developing in isolation, but as the two faces of the same culture developing in different socio-cultural surroundings constantly benefited by interface synergy. The mystification of the supernatural power of snake in India and Long in China was the product of agriculture of both the countries. While we don't have concrete evidence for the Indian input in the imagination of the pre. Buddhist Chinese Long, we certainly can trace the Indian influence on the Buddhist (and post Buddhist, if you wish) Chinese Long. For one thing, the artifacts that symbolize Long created in pre-Buddhist China are by and large free from the fierce look that typifies the Buddhist Long (like the Chinese say, "zhangya wuzhua", i.e. baring its teeth and waving its claws) which clearly demonstrate the inner social function of LonglDragon as the guardian of the imperial system. It is in this function that we clearly see the Indian contribution.

To recapitulate what I have spelt out elsewhere, during the pre-Buddhist period, even as late as the Han Dynasty, the Dragon/Long was treated as a "beast" (chu). The famous Han scholar, Wang Chong (27-97?), cited Chinese traditions like Long being reared so that people could eat its liver.3 But, in Indian legends, Siva was a Naga, Buddha was also a Naga, and the Indian traditions of Nagaraja performing the role of a guardian-angel for the God/Buddha and the sacred treasure. It was this message which was driven home in Chinese oral culture as well as literary tradition. Only after absorbing this cultural function from the Indian Nagaraja did the Chinese Long become a close companion of the Chinese imperial families in all dynasties from Sui. Tang till the Manchu. Another clear Chinese borrowing from India is the "Dragon-King" (Longwang) from the Indian Nagaraja. China scholars have found that this cult of Longwang has settled deeply in China's socio-cultural chemistry as many penetrating studies, like that of Prasenjit Duara, who has included Longwang in his projection of the "cultural nexus of power" in China.4 Longwang/Dragon King is undisputably the symbol of Sino-Indian cultural twinhood that demonstrates the existence of Snake- Power Twins of India and China.

As culture advanced, the Snake-Power Twins transformed themselves into a new and higher stage of relations. This was brought about by the "Great Carrier" Mahayana -here I use the Sanskrit word from a non-religious perspective, viewing it as the carrier of a large treasure of Indian culture to China in the name of Buddha. Before I delve into the Sino-Indian cultural synergy wrought by the Buddhist evangelic movement, let me take up the early Sino-Indian contacts from the firm ground backed by historical evidence. We are in a position to say that Indians were among the earliest foreigners to know about the Chinese silk, and also to engage in its international trade long before the famous "Silk Road" between Luoyang and Rome became a thriving international phenomenon. The first foreign words for Chinese silk were "cinamsuka" (Chinese silk dress) and "cinapatta" (Chinese silk bundle) enshrined in Kautilya's Arthasastra which goes back to the 4th century BC. There was the famous "Chinese discovery of India" in the 1st century BC by Zhang Qian (also spelled as Chang Ch'ien), personal envoy of the powerful Han Emperor Wu (reigning from 140 to 87 B.C). When he was sent to Central Asia to conclude alliances against the Hun tribes, he saw silk fabrics, the products of the southwestern Chinese province Sichuan, in the market place of "Daxia" (probably Afghanistan or north of it). He was told that the fabrics were re-exported by the Indian merchants to the hinterland of Central Asia.5

When Yunnan was annexed into the Han Empire in the 1st century AD, the Chinese authorities found that among the foreign settlers there was an Indian community named "Shendu" (perhaps a corruption of "Hindu") that was "Indians" or "India." But, the Chinese knowledge about "Shendu" went back to as early as the pre-Han days (3rd century BC) according to some ficticious historical accounts. India also loomed large in the broad rubric "xiyu" (western regions), because if we glean the data from all early Chinese narratives about Xiyu, we definitely find the depictions of India. Another ambiguous rubric is "Daqin" which was connected with India in two ways. First, India was trading with "Daqin" (denoting Roman Empire) on the sea. Second, ancient Chinese confused Europe with India and other far-away lands which they had had contacts through the sea. For instance, the Chinese records attributed elephant-teeth and rhinoceros as products of Daqin (while these were clearly Indian specialities not produced in Europe). Thus when the Han records say that Daqin was keenly interested in Chinese silk it actually indicated a triangular route of the Chinese export of silk reaching India, and also Europe via India. In 166 AD, the Chinese recorded the arrival of an embassy probably sent by the Roman Emperor, Mareus Aurelius Antonius, in the Han court. The Roman embassy arrived by sea and landed somewhere near the present Guangdong Province in southern China, and journeyed to the Han capital, Luoyang, by road. The embassy made a present to the Chinese emperor which contained ivory, rhinceros' hom (a precious ingredient for Chinese medicine) and the shell of haw"sbill turtle, all products of India.6 From these accounts, we see fairly brisk contacts between the two great civilizations across great distance either through Central Asia overland, or over the sea. This would not exclude the direct trans-Himalayan contacts as well. Only when there were contacts could legends travel between the two civilizations.

I now return to the legend of Longwang which forms a part of the "cultural nexus of power" in China. Longwang provides an interesting academic phenomenon of historical development of mythology through which an imaginary symbol has been transformed into material social power. Such a transformation is no strange phenomenon in India as well. When foreign and native tourists see historical sites in India and China they are fed with a lot of information originated from legends packaged as historical data. This commonality between India and China speaks of their shared richness of cultural traditions, and also their common possession of unscientific cultural temperament. But, as scholars of cultural studies, we scientifically recognize religion as a component of culture although religion is not science. A historian makes a scientific observation that Buddhism was spread to China, and, as a result, Chinese created some holy shrines on their soil. So, when we look at the cultural map of China we see the sanctification of mythology in China's day-to-day life as if it forms a part of China's historical development. Let me spell out a little.

Among the legends of Yunnan, there is one recorded in the Gazetteer of Yunnan Province compiled during the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644). A "Cock's Foot Hill" (Jizushan) at Binchuan County in the province was obviously christened after the Sanskrit Kukkutapadagiri -the name of the hill only 50 kilometres away from the bodhi tree under which Gautama Buddha attained his enlightenment. The Yunnan legend claims that Jizushan, too, was the place where Lord Buddha had practised asceticism. A mystic fragrance would greet a visitor, says the legend.7 Here, the duplicating effect of culture was at work. Ramapithecus split into two groups and settled on both sides of the Himalaya, Kukkutapadagiri begot its double, and Lord Buddha pursued his enlightenment twice -once in ancient Bihar (Magadha), and another time in ancient Yunnan! My observation here is a mix between archaeological findings and legends, but it is an objective assessment of the cultural reality in between the Indian and Chinese civilizations. Many, particularly the people of Yunnan, have accepted the mix as a cultural heritage.

Let me give another example. In Chinese historical and semi-historical documents: there are places called "Shang Tianzhu", "Zhong Tianzhu", and "Xia Tianzhu" which literally mean, "Upper India", "Middle India", and "Lower India". These three names actually indicate just a few square kilometres in Hangzhou City in Zhejiang Province in eastern China. How has such a mix-up come about? It is because of a legend that was the making of an ancient Indian Buddhist monk-scholar "Huili" (whose real identity is lost). In 326, this monk from western India came to Hangzhou. After seeing a hill in this area (in the vicinity of the scenic West Lake), he authoritatively proclaimed that the hill had been flown to China from Magadha (Bihar)! The Chinese believed him and, henceforth, called the hill "Tianzhushan"(the "Indian Hill") and "Feilaifeng"(the "Peak that has flown here from India").8 It was this legend that has contributed to the existence of "Upper" , "Middle" and "Lower" India on the Chinese map.

Rabindranath Tagore, who undertook a tour in China in 1924, was informed about this legend when he visited the spot at Hangzhou. He made a significant observation: "[T]he real fact is that the hill which he [Huili] had known in his own country had a Sanskrit name meaning the Vulture Peak [grdhrakuta]. When he saw a hill here so like the one he had loved in India, he felt a great delight and gave it the same name." Tagore added: "This man [Huili] ...not only discovered a resemblance between the hills here and those of his own land, but found his unity of heart with the people of this country."9

Chinese legend-makers have claimed that four Indian Bodhisattvas have settled in China: Avalokitesvara at Mount Putuo in Zhejiang Province, Manjusri at Mount Wutai in Shanxi Province, Samantabhadra at Mount Emei in Sichuan Province, and Ksitigarbha at Mount Jiuhua in Anhui Province. Now, these legends have gone beyond their originally designed substance of oral literature. They have been utilized by people of China today, particularly the tourist departments, as facts confirmed by cultural traditions as well as by history and geography. China's being a tourist attraction today (so is India) contrasts greatly to, say, America's attraction. Millions of tourists go around China climbing mountains and reaching very remote corners of the country not only to appreciate natural scenery, but also pay homage to historical memories -visiting a Tang monastery, a Song pagoda, or a Northern Wei cave etc. Ninety per cent of these historical memories are associated with the spread of Buddhism in China. When we see architectural wonders being built hundreds and more than a thousand years ago in the remote corners of China to commemorate the arrival of Buddhism we know that in historical times immense human activities were attracted to these places surmounting many folds of difficulties than the tourists do today -being beckoned by legends and mythology. In other words, legends became an important investment in China's cultural splendours. This is her gain as the Buddhist-twin of India -the country that has invented Buddhism.

It {urns out that though India invented Buddhism she benefited much less from this invention as compared with China. For Buddhism, it had a horizontal development, and for some time it was as if all the roads were leading to China -eminent monk-scholars, scriptures, artifacts, and legends. To the Chinese, the four great Buddhist Bodhisattvas (as alluded to just now) had left India for good, but not the Buddha. No Chinese account, however daring, has the audacity to claim that Buddha is no longer residing In India. Indian mythology, i.e. the Tantric traditions, however, reached a very daring and pro-China conclusion proclaiming China as the country where the true Buddha lives. The Tantric literature Taratantra in the section entitled "Rudrayamala", described an Indian ascetic, Vasistha, having failed to obtain siddhi (divine power) in India, travelled to China -the "land of Atharvaveda" where he saw Buddha having an indulgence in meat, wine and women. Vasistha emulated such behaviours of Buddha and "attained final liberation",10

All this shows that Buddhism has injected a special dynamism in our studies of the history of India, China and India-China relations, and should force us to adopt the Sino-Indian perspective, What we have cited above are indications of the non- demarcation of an international boundary between India and China in the cultural arena. As the Chinese say: "Ni zhong you wo, wo zhongyou ni," (There is me in you, and you in me,) so is there India in China and vice versa. I should think that such a holistic phenomenon surely exists independent of Buddhism, but it is Buddhism which has made the phenomenon so obvious. The study of legends has served to sharpen our awareness of this holistic vision which is the essence of the Sino-Indian perspective I am discussing.

Let me move from legend to historical records which is a strong Chinese turf. According to a recent study the term "Zhongguo" (now the Chinese name for "China") appeared 178 times in all written documents before China's unification in 221 BC. "Guo" in the bisyllable denoted "country", or "state", while the other syllable "zhong" denoting "centre", (This has given rise to the international term "Middle Kingdom", and also the international stigma of "sinocentrism".) But, politically China was not one state when these terms appeared. A detailed investigation of these 178 concepts proves that they mean different things in various contexts, and were anything but the suggestion that China lay in the centre of the universe. One scholar felt that "zhongguo" arrived as a symbol of a kind of unity in diversity,11 This shows clearly that the progenies of the Ramapithecus north of the Himalaya started an endeavour in the hinterland of present China to build up a commonwealth sharing a common cultural development, Such a commonwealth would not exclude communities from various directions who might not be the direct descendants of the trans-Himalayan Ramapithecus. It can be said that in ancient India, the same movement towards establishing a commonwealth was in action culminating in the establishment of the Maurya and Gupta empires.

To continue with the historical employment 9f the "Zhongguo" terminology. Chinese Buddhist scholars, from the early centuries of our common era onwards, attached to it a new signification, i.e. India, Daoxuan, In Shijia Fangzhi (Gazetteer of Sakyamuni World) wrote :

"When we discuss terminology we generally say 'zhongguo' is the western regions [xiyu], its another name is 'Central Tianzhu' [Central Heavenly India]. Sages of this land reiterate that the western country is Zhongguo."12

Here, Daoxuan was citing the ancient Indiar) signification of "Madhyadesa" for Magadha. That he had no hesitation in transposing the Chinese term "Zhongguo" (Central state) to Magadha, the heartland of Buddhist India (in modern Bihar) may indicate his absolute loyalty to Buddha, but also indirectly reflects the open-mindedness among Chinese intellectuals of his times. He, further, in the same text, cited a debate taken place in the court of Emperor Wen of Song (reigning from 424 to 453 AD), In the presence of the emperor, Buddhist monk-scholar Huiyan out-smarted learned scholar He Chengtian by saying that in summer in India there was no shadow which proved that India was the real "zhongguo", The emperor was pleased to hear that and offered an appointment to the monk.13 Once again, it was the Chinese ruler's being convinced, (in this case, that India, not China, was the central state and lay at the centre of the earth) that should be noted than monk Hulyan's going overboard to compliment India.

We notice that Shijia Fangzhi was a famous Chinese book penned in "High Tang", i.e. when Tang Dynasty attained highest power and prosperity, while Tang Dynasty 1s generally regarded as the "golden period" of China's cultural development. During such a period, Chinese Buddhist writers, Daoxuan and many others, used the term "Zhongguo" only to signify India, while calling China "Dong tu" (Eastern Land). In non-Buddhist literature during Tang one seldom comes across (if ever) the teim "Zhongguo" -and denoting China. But, terms like "Tianzhu" (Heavenly India), and "Xitian" ("Western Heaven" also denoting India), are replete in Tang literature, The conclusion drawn from this phenomenon is the absence of narrow feelings of nationalism, which explains how the name of India attained a special status of respect and intimacy when Chinese imperial power reached its zenith in the ancient period, Beyond doubt, this cultural intimacy was more because of the sharing of Buddhist culture as the two civilizations graduated from the stage of Snake-power Twins to a higher stage of Buddhist Twins. 


The importance of Buddhism to Chinese history cannot be over-exaggerated, and is certainly unique in the arena of international intercourse and synergy. Buddhism entered China around the beginning of the Eastern Han Dynasty (if not earlier), and was steadily gaining momentum during the post-Han period. One reason of its increasing popularity in China was the losing of control by the guiding imperial ideology, i.e. Confucianism. Intellectuals became disillusioned about its moral authority seeing the moral corruption of the ruling elite. Also, the want of epistemological depth in Confucianism drove people to other schools of thought for greater inspiration. This gave rise to an intellectual wave during the 3rd and 4th centuries which is termed "Xuanxue" (metaphysical studies). The basic inspiration to this new wave was provided by the teachings of Laozi (also spelled as Lao- Tzu) (6-5th centuries BC) and Zhuangzi (also spelled as Chuang- Tzu) (369?-286?). Incidentally, the themes like "Dao", i.e. Tao, and "Wu" which was something similar to the Indian concept of "Sunya" much talked about in the discourse of Metaphysical Studies paved the way for Chinese intellectuals to appreciate the teachings of "Abhava" (non-existence) and other tenets of a foreign religion that was Buddhism. "Dharma" was initially translated into "Dao" in Chinese, and stories about Gautama Buddha's being the reincarnation of Laozi14 were circulated widely which were tacitly accepted by the early Chinese Buddhists for the sake of integration of the Indian religion into Chinese mainstream culture.

Another important factor for Buddhism to find smooth conversion in China was the country's undergoing a process of integrating various foreign ruling families and their alien ethnic customs and habits and ways of life. The foreign rulers during the period of Sixteen Kingdoms (304-639 AD) drove hard to remove the concept of alienness (the concept of "Hu") from the Chinese minds. Promoting Buddhism greatly facilitated this task.

A third factor is that, Buddhism which stood essentially for Peace, Equality, Compassion and Spiritual Nobleness became an attractive twilight in the horizon before a China that was ravaged by war, cruelty, selfishness, and power struggle. Buddha was called "Pingdengwang" in Chinese literature which term is the Chinese translation of "Mahasamataraja" (King of Equality) of ancient Indian concepts. China has, thus, imported the concept of "equality" (pingdeng) not from the French Revolution (as it was generally believed), but from India (from the Buddhist movement). I have put forward the theory (and written elsewhere) that Buddhism gave birth to a "Struggle Ethic" to balance the ideological loner of the Confucian "Harmony Ethic", and injected a new dimension of "mahasamata" (great equality) into the Chinese idealism "Taiping" which used to denote "great harmony and peace".15

As K.M. Panikkar has pointed out, cultural influence is always a two way traffic.16 China's being indebted to India and vice versa is a worthwhile research topic that has been initiated by Bagchi, Tan Yun-shan, Ji Xianlin, etc. It is an endless field for modern scholars. While trying to counter the opinions of Hu Shih (a pioneer of the May Fourth Movement), K.M. Pannikkar made a striking observation that the eminent Indian monks went to China "to influence and not to be influenced".17 While not entirely agreeing with sich am analysis, I think, those who have been engaged in the study of the history of India-China relations do find an asymmetric scenario of Chinese culture's being far more influenced by India than vice-versa. Such an asymmetry must be looked at from some new angles.

First of all, I think we should not conceive Buddhism as an Indian cultural conquest of China. From a holistic perspective we must treat the entire course of the history of Buddhism as a Sino-Indian joint venture. We must see the interrelation between China's being heavily converted into a Buddhist country and the fading away of Buddhism in India -the cradle of its birth. When we interconnect these two developments we get a picture of Buddhism leaving India for China, and eventually settling down there. Why did Buddhism leave India? Because the development of Mahayanism which transformed an originally self-purification movement ( a movement replacing Afmagraha or ego-clinging by Dharmagraha or truth-clinging as vividly described by Prof. Feng Youlan/Fung Yulan of Beijing University) into a universal cosmology. Such a universal cosmology could prosper only when there was a universal empire on earth which existed only in China, not India. I am oversimplifying a little to say that after the Gupta period, the socio-political development in India was not conducive to the evangelism of Mahayana which had virtually eclipsed the "Hinayarla" schools of teaching.

Secondly, we should turn to China to see that while the imperial system was declining in India during the 6th and 7th century, this was the period that China succeeded in reviving the Empire. When the Sui and Tang rulers of China, and even their precursors like the Liang Emperor Wu (reigning from 502 to 549) and Topa Wei Emperor Xiaowen (reigning from 471 to 499) in divided China, took up such a revival, they discovered the deficiency of the Han imperial political legacy and diligently searched from the Indian civilization what could cement the new imperial system in China. The result was a happy marriage of the Mahayana imperial cosmo-political ideology with the socio-political reality on the soil of China. What I want to highlight is that Mahayanism was not merely the dogma propounded by Nagarjuna, Asanga and Vasubandhu, but the entire socio-political spiritualism which helped China to give her universal imperial system the second lease of life from the 6th century upto 1911. We all know that if we want to study Mahayana Buddhism we have to use Chinese literature as its depository of tenets. If we want to make our study relevant with its socio-political context, we must focus on Chinese history, instead of Indian history. So, it is clear that Mahayanism as a historical cultural movement has reached its zenith in China, and such a zenith was the creation of Chinese efforts assisted by Indian and Central Asian monk scholars. In the Chinese efforts we see a substantial input from the lay Chinese ruling elite whose utmost interest or ultimate aim was not to develop Buddhadharma in China, but to strengthen the Chinese imperial system. This explains why in China so many Buddhist monasteries and temples bear the word "guo" (state), and so many of them prided themselves on the receipt of imperial patronage and attention. While Taoism as a religion (different from the purely academic Taoist philosophy) was seldom patronized by any Chinese dynasty, Confucianism was never a religion in the strict sense of the term. But, Buddhism was embraced by the ruling elite of China for a much longer duration than those of any country. And the symbiosis between Buddhism and the Chinese political order can compare with any theocracy of world history. Yet, never was China a theocracy per se. Such a symbiosis is truly remarkable which invigorated both the Chinese political system and Buddhism. This, all the more, requires us to look at the Indian influence on China from the angle of Chinese dynamism. This Chinese dynamism and the beneficial Indian influence complemented each other in the past, and may still remain a positive factor in China's political development in the present and future.

Finally, we have a picture of not more Indian cultural influence on China, but more Chinese pro-active input to synthesize the two great civilizations. Returning to Pannikkar's observation about Indian Buddhist preachers' arriving in China "to influence and not to be influenced", the actual picture is that they, eminent among them like Kumarajiva, Bodhidharma, Amoghavajra etc., had taken China as their own country and tried to build the Tusita utopia on her soil. In contrast no Chinese Buddhist monks participated in such extraordinary altruistic international synergy (in India), hence the creation of the asymmetry. It is clear here that the two civilizations had decided to experiment cultural synergy only on Chinese soil -to marry Mahayana universalism in the mind with Chinese universalism on the ground. To conceive this Sino-Indian joint venture as a one-way traffic is out of order.

All I have alluded to above is an intercultural discourse, not comparative studies. Keeping to the lane of interculturality means not to deviate from the holistic perspective which is the soul of our Sino-Indian perspective. If we allot "X" to India, and "Y" to China as their representative symbols, the holistic perspective prevents us from separating X entirely from Y. In other words, we are seeing the totality of the cultural development of XY, not X and Y. If we see X, that is the X dimension of XY, so do we see its Y dimension. The X dimension is only a different ramification of the Y dimension, not a separate entity independent of the existence of Y. While the Indian deities have many faces, India and China are likewise bound by such a scenario: each is only one facial ramification to the deity, and both are connected with each other by an interfacial relationship. Logically, I cannot see how the cultural development of India and China going beyond this interface scenario, but to build up a comprehensive and convincing historiography requires further research efforts.

Even before building up this holistic historiography, we can try to illustrate in a disjointed manner. For instance, we see the magnificent Indian architecture of the 16th century built on stones, and we associate the reign of Akbar to its architectural magnificance. One striking feature of the architecture of the Akbar period is the prominence of pillars, beans, brackets, and arbours (with pillars supporting an umbrella-shape roof without walls) which are not structurally essential, but more functioning as decorative adornment. We know that pillars, beams, brackets and arbours belong to the wooden architectural tradition. While pre-16th century India was conspicuous in her absence of such a tradition, China was the greatest wooden edifice civilization in all centuries until recent times. The phenomenon of arbour is intriguing. While there was hardly any such architecture in ancient India, the forts and palaces built by Akbar and his successors exhibit them plentifully on top of the buildings. Again, arbour has always been an important ingredient in Chinese architecture, particularly palatial complexes. Not being a student of architecture, nor having studied it in any detail, I cannot proclaim with confidence but only wish to submit that with a great wooden architectural tradition so close to India, and with the ethnic affinity of the Moghul rulars with Timur who was a Chinese emperor of the Yuan Dynasty, one cannot imagine that the Chinese architectural styles were not reflected in the 16th century Indian edifices -hence the interesting phenomenon of constructuring stone forts and palaces by Akbar and other rulers and their aristocrats with a wooden-architectural outlook and arbour adornment.

I walk on a slippery ground while making the above submission, but return to safer turf to examine the interface scenario projected by the cultural development in China. A usual fallibility in cultural studies is to hook the cultural phenomena with socio- religious labels. People first conceive fixed categories, e.g. Confucianism, Taoism, Buddhism etc., and fit cultural phenomena into preconceived straitjacket. In this way the transfer, transformation and transposition of cultural symbols and concepts slip away from scholarly grasp. For instance, there was a very interesting text entitled Taipingjing (Canon of Taiping/Grand Peace/Grand Justice) composed in the 2nd Century A.D. Though this text which was absorbed as a part of the Taoist scripture during the 11th century may have been doctored repeatedly in the course of nearly a thousand years, it reveals a substantial development of a Chinese cosmology having a parallel existence with the orthodox Confucian cosmo-political ideology. The Taiping Canon begins with a mystic observation of "Santong zhuanlun, you qu you lai" (When the three systems turn their wheels, they go away then come back). The "three systems" (santong) was a native Chinese concept which denoted heaven, earth and humanity, but "turn the wheels" was obviously an adoption of the Indian idiom of turning the "dharmacakra" (by Buddha). Inside the text there are many allusions, such as the sage-god's being conceived when the holy mother had a dream, nine dragons having descended to baptize the new born, the sage's abandoning home to cultivate enlightenment at the age of 27 etc., which obviously lift a leaf from the Indian legend of the Buddha. There are other allusions like "renru" (which is the Chinese translation of Sanskrit Ksantyris/), "shenguang" (Chinese reference to the Buddhist symbol of devabha, i.e. the halo), "tianyu" (an adaptation of the Indian concept of naraka or hell) etc. that further illustrate the input of Indian cultural elements.

What is more important is that the Taiping Canon has a focal theme of the causative interactions between human behaviour and the mood of Heaven and Earth, as well as the humanization of Heaven and Earth. Heaven is likened to father, and Earth, mother, hence, Heaven and Earth are the parents of all beings of the world. Heaven is capable of being happy, angry, getting sick. Humanity, particularly the saints, are capable of sharing the body, heart, emotions, reasoning, love, hatred, and ways/roads of Heaven and Earth.18 Taipingjing, thus, was the first Chinese discourse that has adopted such a holistic perspective in viewing Heaven, Earth and Humanity, as if the three systems were not only symbiotic, but also interchangeable. Obviously, such a refreshing discourse could not be 1the outcome of developing the native Chinese thinking without absorbing exotic elements from a foreign cosmology. Just as I have earlier suspected the borrowing of a close-neighbour wooden architectural tradition by the 16th century Indian palace edifice, it is now equally logical to submit that the close-neighbour Indian cosmological tradition has made the discourse in Taipingjing so refreshing. Some scholars have recognized the extreme importance of this Taiping Canon, while others hesitate to quote it because of its being doctored. Granting all the likelihood of impurity this document suffers, its main thrust in totality points to a refreshing Chinese world-view that had attained maturity from the time when Han ruling ideology (call it Confucianism if you like) was on the decline.

Here is just a glimpse of the cross-cultural effect between India and China. This cross-cultural effect was developed along side the close-neighbour effect. There is a Chinese story that during ancient times there was a beautiful woman, the Western Shi (Xishi), who had a close-neighbour, the Eastern Shi (Dongshi). Western Shi was all charm and grace, but she came out of the house with an expression of illness and pain. The Easter Shi, however, was of robust health. She felt jealous that when both of them were in public the bystanders all cast their admiring eyes on Western Shi, none cared to look at her. She concluded that the source of her neighbour's attraction was sickness. So, Eastern Shi started making a feint of feeling sick and pain in public which immediately drew ridicule from the bystanders. I relate this story not to equate any country with Eastern Shi, but to illustrate that in a close-neighbour scenario, cultural influence Is automatic and spontaneous, also with compulsion. Such a close- neighbour effect has acted between India and China for all times to come, in the past, present, and future.

Returning to the new perspective of the three-in-one harmonious and symbiotic relationship between Heaven, Earth and Humanity, it is clear that such a refreshing cosmology was bound to be absorbed by the mainstream ideology of China. Han Yu (768-829), the great orthodox scholar of the Tang Dynasty said to be "anti-Buddhist" (actually not so), in a memorial to the Emperor, observed: "Your Majesty's dao [ruling virtue] merges with Heaven and Earth. Your Majesty's benevolence penetrates all animals and plants."19 Such a formulation by a mainstream Chinese/Confucian scholar synthesizing Heaven, Earth and Humanity, extending the holistic perspective to all animals and plants (dongzhl) sounds quite outlandish to orthodox Chinese discourse of the pre. Tang periods. Its connection with the refreshing Taipingjing cosmology cannot be ruled out.

I have noted the Taipingjing reference to Heaven as father and Earth as mother. We have the famous Tang Dynasty authority and commentator of the "Thirteen Classics" of Han Confucianism, Kong Yinda (574-648), making a refreshing interpretation of the ancient Chinese conception of "Tianzi" i.e. the "Son of Heaven" (a designation for the Emperor) as "fu tian mudi, ziyang xiamin" which may be translated as "Heaven be the father and Earth be the mother, while they and their agent the Emperor nurture the subjects as their children."20 Such a definition sounds quite revolutionary to Han dynasty and pre-Han Chinese imperial thinking. Viewed together, Kong Vinda and Han Vu have given enough notice about the changing Chinese ruling ideology, and such a change, as I have shown, benefited from the close-neighbour effect and cross-cultural effect with India.

I have, a moment ago, hinted at the fallability of dividing Chinese culture into water-tight compartments of Confucianism, Taoism and Buddhism. Buddhism, of course, is a religion which has its exclusive existence. So has been Taoism. But, outside these two religious institutions cultural symbols, concepts, art, literature have moved, travelled, transformed, transposed, transplanted in a free and dynamic world in China. To stick labels like "Confucian", "Legalist", "pro-Buddhist" or "anti-Buddhist" etc. seems totally meaningless. Even more important is the phenomenon that Confucian scholars (like Kong Vinda and Han Vu) had expanded their vision beyond Confucianism, beyond the boundaries set by the ancient Chinese philosopher Confucius (551-479 B.C.) and his Vivekananda, Mencius (372?-289 B.C.). Confucianism, in fact, cannot be easily defined in the same manner in which Buddhism is bound by definable religious symbols and regulations. Confucianism, being not a religion, is deficient in such symbols and regulations. If we insist on using the Confucian label, then Kong Yinda and Han Yu were neo-Confucians, and they were followed up by neo-neo-Confucians, and neo-neo-neo-Confucians endlessly. Thus, we see in "Neo-Confucianism" a misnomer that has been imposed by foreign scholars on Chinese culture. This misnomer never occurs in Chinese discourses because its Chinese equivalent never exists.

If we, for a moment, discard this misnomer and see what had transpired we discover the climax of Sino-Indian cultural synergy. We know that the so-called "Neo-Confucian" movement that emerged during the Song Dynasty consisted two mainstreams: (1) "Uxue", i.e. the "Li" school propounded by the two brothers, Cheng Hao (1032-1085) and Cheng Vi (1033-1107), and (2) "Xinxue", i.e. the "Xin" school propounded by two chief exponents Lu Jiuyuan (1139-1193) and Wang Shouren (better known as Wang Yangming) (1472-1528). H(JNever, the fountain-head of these two streams was Zhang Zai (1020-1077) whose observations reflects an eclectic mind that had absorbed Indian cultural quintessence to enrich Chinese philosophical visions.

I am no expert of Zhang Zai's philosophy which has been studied quite intensively by modern scholars from the "Neo- Confucan" perspective. Let me, for a change, point out certain Sino-Indian cultural synthesis in Zhang Zai's thinking. In the first place, Zhang categorically said that he wanted to grasp the fundamental truth of the universe for which he had delved into the discourses of Confucians, Buddhists, of Laozi (or Lao-tse) the contemporary of Confucius, and Zhuangzi (or Chuang-tse). He criticized all their epistemological findings, but created a new concept of "Taixu". The term was first coined by Zhuangzi as a mystic state beyond human reach and realization. But, the Buddhists also had "Taixu" or "Taixukong" denoting the realm which an Arhat ascends to after nirvana. By Zhang Zai's time, the Buddhist "Taixu" had stolen the limelight from Zhuangzi's coinage. The latter was beyond human comprehension, while Sunyata (which was what "Taixu" had conveyed) occupied the focal place in Buddhist epistemology. What Zhang Zai did was to adopt Sunyata to make it the starting point of his new epistemology.

Another obvious adaptation of Zhang Zai was his famous book entitled Jingxue Liku which may be translated as "The Cave of Reasoning in the Study of Classics". The book examines Chinese cultural traditions from various aspects, and there is no doubt about the author's dedication to the study of Chinese classics (call them Confucian if you like). But the title has enshrined the Indian concept of Guha (cave) which was so important a symbol in Indian classic, the Vedas, the Upanisads, and the Buddhist scriptures, as the house of god, of treasures, of enlightenment. Zhang Zai had thus put his discussion on classical Chinese traditions into "Uku" (cave of truth). He must have known that the Indian "cave" (guha) was always related to Vyoman, i.e. Heaven, so, Zhang Zai, in fact, had borrowed the Indian symbol Guha to lend support to his theory about "Taixu", taking a leaf from the Indian Guha-Vyoman binary.

An interesting Sino-Indian synergy is the perpetuation of "Devananda" in its Chinese equivalent "Letian" (Le for ananda, and tian for deva) One of the first Chinese "Confucian" elite to highlight devananda was Bai Juyi (772-849) who titled himself as "Letian Jushi", j.e. Devananda Upasaka, and in Tang poetry, the name Bai Letian (Bai Devananda) was equally known as Bai Juyi, Zhang Zai revived this "Devananda" spirit by observing "Shang da ze letian" (When we reach the height of wisdom, we become devananda". This should also be noted as a cross-cultural effect on the influential Song scholar.21

Zhang Zai made many significant observations which had always kept the Indian symbols of Sunyata and Guha in mind. He said:

"Xu (sunyata) is the source of Ren (highest virtue as spelt out by Confucius and Mencius)."

"Xu (Sunyata) gives birth to Ren, and Ren is accomplished in Li (Reasoning)."

"The sage reaches the extreme of Xu (Sunyata), that is why he can choose goodness and refines himself. When the Xin (heart) is not in the state of Xu (like a guha), it will be obstructed."22

The last quotation has, in fact, taken a leaf from the Buddhist theory of "Bodhicitta", which is translated into Chinese as "Putixin" (the heart of Bodhi). In Buddhism, "Xin" (heart or mind) occupies a central place, and the Vairocana Buddha is called "Xinwang rulai", which literally denotes the "King of the Hear/Xin". There are 60 categories of Xin (heart), one of which is "Kuxin", the "cave-heart". Here, we see another meaning of Zhang Zai's title of "Liku" (cave of reasoning) which signifies his own heart, "Xin".

Now, it becomes easier to understand the second mainstream of the new cultural movement during the Song Dynasty, viz. the "Xinxue" (the School of Heart). Lu Jiuyuan, who propounded it along with his two brothers, equated "Xin" with "li" which reminds us about Zhang Zai's title "liku". Wang Shouren, expounded this to attribute "Xin" as the fundamental essence of the universe. His advocacy of "liangzhi" (the benign knowledge) is not just the adoption of Mencius' coinage of the term, but has placed the Xinxue school in the same mould of the Buddhist advocacy of Bodhicitta.

Looking at the first mainstream i.e. the "Uxue" (the School of Reasoning), we see the founders of this school putting more input to Zhang Zai's basic propositions about U/Reasoning, which he described as the embodiment of the Confucian "Ren", and the child of sunyata. "Li" was never a vital symbol in Chinese discourse during the pre-Song period, but the Buddhist preachers used it as an important expression. There was the pre-Mahayana school which was termed "Xiaocheng" (Hinayana) with a derogatory connotation. Then: in addition to Xiaocheng (Hinayana) and Dacheng (Mahayana), a third school emerged to complete the Buddhist Triyana, i.e. "Ucheng". I don't know what its Sanskrit equivalent is, but Ucheng is the "true Bodhisattva teaching" or the "teaching of Pratyeka Buddha". The Buddhists also developed two distinct realms: "Ujie", the Realm of Li, as distinguished from "Zhijie", the Realm of Zhilwisdom. Along with this distinction come the two categories of Mandala: the one prefixed with "Li" is the Garbhadhatu Mandala, while the other prefixed with "zhi" is the Vajradhatu Mandala. Obviously Zhang Zai's fundamental symbol "Li" drew greater inspiration from the Sino-Indian Buddhist discourse than any native Chinese or Confucian discourse. Zhu Xi (1130-1200), who personified the climax of the "School of Li", developed Zhang Zai's "Li" into a new category of "Tianli" (Heavenly Li) which was one of the opposites of his dichotomous formulation of "Tianli" versus "Renyu" (human desire). Here, Zhu Xi has let the cat out of the bag, and his Tianli-Renyu dichotomy is not fundamentally different from the Buddhist discourse of maximizing the influence of dharma and minimizing the ramification of maya (desire) -that is all what Buddhism is about.

At the risk of over-simplification, we can categorize the so-called "Neo-Confucian" movement as the binary of a "Li" school which had absorbed the dynamics of the dharma's campaign against maya and also the Indian dynamics of siddhanta (which is U in its Chinese translation), and another "Xin" school which was to expound Bodhicitta by camouflage. Some historical accounts written by modern Chinese scholars on the evolution of philosophical schools in China have put Han Vu and Zhang Zai in the anti-Buddhist category which, as I have spelt out, is a totally wrong conclusion without any indepth understanding of Sino- Indian interface.

I now integrate the discussions in this section into the previous section to show that Sino-Indian cultural interface not only created a distinctive Buddhist mainstream in Chinese culture, but also extended the cross-cultural effect into the so-called "Confucian" mainstream which ultimately became Sino-Indian cultural input to the development of China's ruling cosmo-political ideology. From the thinking of Zhang Zai we can detect a new element of holistic perspective integrating Heaven, Earth and Humanity almost identical to what was advocated in Taipingjing which took its final shape during the time of Zhang Zai. The difference between Zhang Zai's writings and Taipingjing lies in the fact that while the latter was virtually an underground literature with extremely limited circulation among the exalted circles, the former joined the writings of past sages, including Confucius and Menclus, to become the exalted learned discourse, and curricula for the candidates of the Imperial Examinations. Thus, even if the Input was minute and subtle, its impact would be great. This makes it worthwhile for us to glean more from Zhang Zai's observations:

"Heaven and Earth share their virtues, sun and moon shine together."

"Sages integrate among all other people while their own entities disappear, thus peace prevails over the universe"

(This contrasts with the Confucian saying: "The gentleman makes peace but does not integrate with others.")

"When the in-group and out-group are integrated, and when the self and all beings are equal, the essence of Tao is grasped."

"There should be equality and justice between two, not partiality towards self."

"When the heart is in the state of Sunyata, equality and justice can be achieved, then it is relatively easy to see the right and wrong, then one knows what one should do and what one should not."23

From these quotations we see pre-Han concepts of "heping" (peace), and "gongping" (equality and justice) being revived which was but natural as the Buddhists were loudly campaigning "santr (peace) and "samata" (equality). Late Prof. Feng Youlan (also known as Fung Yulan) of Beijing University points out that the finest philosophical tradition be summed up by the following words of Zhu Xi which, actually, originated from the mind of Zhang Zai:

"Wei tian di li xin,

Wei shengmin li ming,

Wei wangsheng ji juexue,

Wei wanshi Kai taiping."24

(Oh, setting up the heart for Heaven and Earth,

For the life of the living masses;

Let the forgotten learning of past sages

Revive and continue for ever,

Let our posterity enjoy

The Grand Equality and Harmony.)

Here, I have translated the Chinese word "taiping" into the "Grand Equality and Harmony" because this is the nearest signification of the term. It is the "taiping" which has united the idealism of the so-called "Neo-Confucianism"with Taipingjing, the canon which was supposed to be that of Taoism. And this idealism of Taiping is a ramification of Sino-Indian cultural interface.

I have alluded a little earlier to the "Struggle Ethic" of Chinese culture which was inspired by Buddhism. Now, we find that "taiping" the "Mahasamata" idealism of the "Struggle Ethic" has also been absorbed into China's Harmony Ethic. Infact, the great Manchu ruler, Emperor Kangxi (also known as Kang-hsi) (reigning between 1661 and 1721), admired Zhu Xi so much that he got the Collected Works of Zhu Xi republished as an imperial edition, with himself writing its "Preface". For seven hundred long years after Zhu Xi had enshrined the bisyllabic "Taiping" in his works with the golden letters, and two hundred years after Emperor Kangxi had (JNned these two golden letters in his "imperial edition", no Chinese had tried to translate this Taiping idealism into practice until there rose a scholar whose mastery of Zhu Xi and other classical writing failed to earn him a place in the ruling elite of China. The scholar was Hong Xiuquan (also spelled as Hung Hsiu-Ch'uan) (1819-1864), a drop-out from the Imperial Examination System (Keju) who led millions of peasants of south China to arms and established an ephemeral rebel regime named "Taiping Tianguo" (The Celestial Kingdom of Taiping). As I have written elsewhere, this Taiping Movement had many Indian cultural input in it.25 I may just add here that though the Taiping regime was revolutionary, it still circulated Confucian classics with slight modifications. Hong Xiuquan composed a poem " Jian" (Sword) in 1843, many years before he rose in arms in (1851) which says:

"I hold the sword to bring stability to my country,

The universe is one family where we drink the dew of harmony

... ...

Tigers leap and dragons fly in a brave new world,

Unification in Maha-Samata (taiping) creates bliss and mirth."26

Hong Xiuquan's Edict issued in Nanjing in 1860 in the name of "Tianwang" (Chinese translation of "Deva-Maharaja") says: "Delivering people from misery and save people's lives", "let everyone obey the real Tao and enjoy the bliss of Taiping". Prime Minister Hong Rengan in his "Edict on New Governance" issued about the same time or later says: "We obey the Mandate of Heaven and unite us with the heart of Heaven above".27 I point out all this to sh(1N that even the Taiping rebellion (1851-1863) that marked the climax of China's Struggle Ethic can still be regarded as a part of her Harmony Ethic -on the road to realize the Taiping utopia. The uniting factor of China's Harmony Ethic with her Struggle Ethic had surely an input of Sino-Indian cultural synergy. 


Hong Xiuquan's entry into this discourse has already brought my survey of the Sino-Indian Buddhist Twinhood to the 19th century. People might wonder whether I have over-emphasized the importance of Buddhism which was virtually forgotten in India in the second millennium. This may be true, but, as I have said earlier, there was the second upsurge of Buddhism, the making and thriving of Mahayana Buddhism in China with mass Chinese intellectual participation under extensive patronage of Chinese rulers. As I have discussed just now this second upsurge also established a spiritual linkage between the Buddhist mainstream and the Chinese non-Buddhist mainstream. It was a kind of Sino-Indian cultural interaction by proxy -on Chinese soil, through Chinese exponents of Indian Buddhist culture. It must be pointed out that although the second millennium ushered in many centuries of Islamic domination to be followed by a Christian-Western domination in the last three hundred years in India, we still should treat India as a country of Buddhist and Brahmanic cultures. Therefore, the continuity of Sino-Indian Buddhist Twinhood lasted well beyond the end of the first millennium if we look from a historical perspective.

Unfortunately, such a historical perspective has evaded even scholars who have been sensitive to the Sino-Indian cultural interface and synergy. K. M. Pannikkar echoed Dr. P.C. Bagchi's views that contacts between India and China through Buddhist monks virtually ended in the 11th century. But, we know that an 85 year old Indian monk of the Nalanda Monastery by the name "Suddhasri" journeyed to China to pay homage to Manjusri's shrine at Mount Wutai through the sea with seven disciples during the Jin (Nurchen) Dynasty in the 12th or 13th century. Three of the disciples died on the way while another three turned back. But, Suddhasri and his disciple Buddhasri reached Wutai.28 That the reference to them is passed down by the imperial documentatioo network (not by Buddhist historiography as in most of the earlier cases) shows the continuity of Buddhism-friendly political atmosphere in China then. Both of them stayed back and breathed their last in China in all probability. In the 14th century, there were some eminent contacts which too were recorded in the official documents. There was an eminent monk, Dhanabhadra, who was a former prince of Magadha. He travelled extensively throughout China, and became an important missionary and spiritual guru both in the imperial Yuan (Mongol) court and in Korea. I visited the site where he had erected a temple in Chuxiong County in Yunnan Province named Shizishan (Hill of the Lion) which is now a thriving tourist spot in his memory.29 An anecdote about Dhanabhadra occurred during the great famine in Beijing (the Yuan capital) in 1359. When asked by the Crown-Prince how to find relief, the Indian monk showed a magical anticipation of supplies of food grains and advised the rulers not to panic. His prediction about the arrival of grains from the sea came true.30

There were two eminent Indian monks by the same name of "Pandita" who had made their marks in China during the 14th century. In the beginning of the century, "Dharmasri Pandita" had established his ashram in Hangzhou. He was both loved and respected by the Yuan officials and the Chinese people. The officials of the Zhejiang Province built a large temple for him.31 In the 1360s, there arrived another Pandita from Magadha. He saw the overthrow of the Mongol government, and the establishment of a new Chinese dynasty -the Ming Dynasty which was founded by Zhu Yuanzhang, a one time Buddhist monk who eventually turned into the leader of the revolutionary peasant force. This peasant ex-monk emperor not only received Pandita, but granted a title to him, appointing him as the overall head of all the Buddhist temples in China. Pandita also gave lectures to the emperor on Buddhadharma.32

It was also a wrong impression that Buddhism was not patronized in China after the Song Dynasty. The Mongol and Manchu rulers were devotees of Buddhadharma, particularly reverential to Tibetan Buddhism. The National Palace Meseum in Taipei still preserves among its Manchu palace treasures the imperial copies of Buddhist sutras written in Sanskrit, Tibetan, Manchu and Han scripts. From the 6th century onwards upto the end of imperial China in the present century there had always : been Buddhist temples within and around the Chinese palaces frequented by the imperial families for the blessings of the Buddha.

Buddhism has revolutionized Chinese way of life in many ways. It has created new institutions and "conventions from burning incense to burning the dead people, from chanting charms to chanting scriptures (which, in turn, helped Chinese to discover the tone-phonemes in their tongues). For more than a thousand years Chinese have been celebrating two festivals in the new year, one on the first day of the first month, and another 15 days later because Chinese learnt that in the "country of Buddha", i.e. India, the month commenced on the full moon which was half a month later than the Chinese practice. And the mode of celebration of the second festival (called "lantern festival") is the imitation of Diwali. Again, we have an instance of duplication.

While Buddha has assumed the highest position among all foreign gods in China, the highest native Chinese god, the Jade Emperor (yuhuang dadl) is the duplication of Indra. Bodhidharma (in China from 520? to 536? till his death} took a seat directly in the Chinese heaven after his demise. The Chinese pantheon, in fact, is crowded with Indian personalities. China has the dubious honour of having the maximum numbers (numbering thousands} of Buddhas. According to Chinese oral literature, even the Indian monkey Hanuman (Chinese name "Sun Wukong"} is a Buddha with the title of "Ever Victorious Buddha in Fighting" (Douzhansheng FO}.33

I have alluded to earlier the cartographic phenomenon of Indian/Buddhist names occupying spaces on Chinese territory. Now, even the spiritual/religio-superstitious spaces of the Chinese culture have this Indian domination. This becomes strikingly similar to the Southeast Asian scene which has evoked the rather controversial proposition of "Indianization". There exists a Chinese saying which must be a thousand years old that:

"All good words of the world have been Buddha's sayings

Most of the famed mountains are in the monks' possessions."

(Shishang haoyan Fo shuojin, tianxia mingshan seng zhanduo.)

This saying complements what I have just said and makes it a phenomenon of triple Indian domination on Chinese cultural space: the pantheon, the map, and the good sayings. "India in China", thus, is a well-proven proposition while the Sino-Indian Twin-hood in Buddhism has been expanded into the larger cultural and even material life of China.

Perhaps, no one, in modern times, has been so deeply moved by the spirit of Sino-Indian Buddhist brotherhood as Rabindranath Tagore. After commending the "great pilgrimage" between the Indian and Chinese civilizations during their Buddhist twin-hood, Tagore initiated a modern endeavour to bring back the golden period. He appealed: "It is our duty today to revive the heroic spirit of that pilgrimage following the ancient path which is not merely a geographical one but the great historical path that was built across the difficult barriers of race difference and difference of language and tradition, reaching the spiritual home whose man is one in bonds of love and co-operation."34 While Tagore saw "civilization in crisis", he also saw the dawn "from the East where the sun rises". He continued: "A day will come when unvanquished Man will retrace his path of conquest, despite all barriers, to win back his lost human heritage."35

Tagore who was a synthesis of East and West had a clear vision that humanity was leading down the garden path if the cultural heritage of India and China (also of other Asian countries) was to become entirely subservient to the Western materialist obsession embracing conquest as its hall mark. No one can accuse Tagore as an obscurantist and none did. It is, however, true that the enlightened movement launched by Tagore and others to use the traditional tonic to make up the congenital deficiency in morality and human values in our modern world has not achieved enough results to see the "sunrise from the East". The unenviable fact is that both India and China are still groping for the right direction of their cultural development. India is knocked in an endless debate between the modernists and the traditionalists unaware of the stealthy manipulation of the "modernizers"- those who equate westernization with modernization, and leave no stone unturned to replace native values by western ones. In China, the "modernizers" had already enjoyed a field day (which contributed to the Tiananmen episode of 1989), and the country now is trying to stear her way clear from the extreme courses of a "whole-hog westernization" (quanpan xihua) and "new Confucianism", This is the juncture when both the ancient civilizations need to take stock of their civilizational strength and weakness in order to plunge into the new century and new millennium which are only two years away. A holistic Sino-Indian perspective will help this stock-taking and promote the quest for the correct parth of modernization in India and China.

Modern technology and the arrival of the new information era has greatly reduced the distance between India and China. While the ancient Chinese, like Xuanzang and others, had to take a perilous journey to India to acquire materials and wisdom in quest of truth, today everything is available for the asking. The Himalayan barrier between the two countries has finally vanished. After all, it was from this Himalayan cradle that the first Indian and first Chinese were born. The cradle still stands there as an eternal symbol of Sino-Indian twin-hood. Let this be the constand reminder to the two countries when they march into the future.

1. Daoxuan did a remarkable research in the 7th century to prove this. See his Shijia Fangzhi (Gazetteer of Sakyamuni World), reprint, Beijing: Zhonghua Bookshop, 1983, pp. 8-11.

2. Information gleaned from various historical accounts by Prof. Geng Yinleng of Beijing University. Details will appear in the forthcoming book by Geng Yingzang & Tan Chung on A Chronology of India-China Interface (tentative title) to be brought out by IGNCA.

3. Yhere is a Chapter entitled "Long zu pain" (the elusive dragon) in Wang Chong's writing Lun Heng ((On Balance), considered to be one of the earliest Chinese works written with a rational, materialixtic spirit.

4. See Prasenjit Duara, Culture, Power, and The State: Rural North China, 1900-1942, Stanford University Press, 1988, pp. 31-35.

5. This famous episode was included by Sima Qian (145 or 135-87? B.C.), China's Herodotus, in Shiji (The Records of A Historian), the first of China's 24 Dynastic Annals, juan 116 & 123.

6. Hou-Han shu (The Second Annals of Han Dynasty), juan 88.

7. Information supplied by Yunnan Tourism officials. I haven't cross-checked the Ming Dynasty Gazetteer of Yunnan {)1Jnnansheng zhi). However, this Jizushan is a well-known Buddhist shrine in China.


8. Archival source of the legend is Fozu tongji (History of Buddhist system compiled by monk Zhipan of the 13th century), juan 36. But, this is a well established tradition universally accepted by the scholars of Tang Dynasty from the 7th century onwards, if not earlier.

9. Rabindranath Tagore, Talks in China, Visva-Bharati, 1925, pp.60-62.

10. Cited from Benoytosh Bhattacharyya, An Introduction to Buddhist Esoterism, Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass, 1980, pp.155-6.

11. Jiang Yihua, "Lun India yilai zhongguode guojia yishi yu zhong-wai guanxi yishi" (On China's concept of state and concept of Sino-foreign relations in modem times), in Xinhua Wenzhai (Xinha Digest), Beijing, No.9, 1997, p. 63.


12. Daoxuan, op. cit., p. 7.


13. Ibid.

14. In the famous legend known as "Laozi hua hu" (Laozi reincarnated in foreign land) which must have emerged in the early centuries, and was codified in a Taoist text entiUed Laozi hua hu jing (The sacred Book of Laozi's Reincarna~on in Foreign Land) penned by Taoist priest, Wang Fu, in the 3rd century. The Tang emperors had proscribed it and ordered the destruction of its copies but could not prevent it from secret circulation.

15. See Tan Chung, "Buddhist Incense to Chinese Mass Rebellion: A study of the Boxer Rebellion of 1900" in Triton and Dragon: Studies on Nineteenth-Century China and Imperialism, Delhi: Gian Publishing House, 1986, pp.567-90.

16. .See K.M. Panikkar, India and China, Bombay: Asia Publishing House, 1957, p.63.

17. Ibid, p. 64.

18. The complete text of the Taiping Canon is now restored. See Wang Ming (comp), Taipingjing hexiac(Restoration and annotation of Taipingjing), Beijing: Zhonghua Bookshop, 1960, passim.

19. Ma Tongbo (ed.), Han Changli wenji xiaozhu (Annotated edition of the collected works of Han Yun), Hongkong: Zhonghua Bookshop, 1972, p. 426.

20. Liji Zhengyi (True meanings of the Book of Rites), juan 4, Kong Yinda's discourse on" Jun tianxia yue "lianzi".

21. Zhang Zai ii (collected works of Zhang Zai), Beijing: Zhonghua Bookshop, 1978, p. 35.

22. Ibid, p. 325.

23. Ibid, p. 33-34, 273, 280, 285.

24. In the concluding part of the revised edition of Feng Youlan's History of Chinese Philosophy. See Feng Youlan, "Zhongguo zhexuede diyun jingsheng" (The fundamental spirit of Chinese Philosophy), in Zhongguo Wenhua (Chinese Culture), No.5, 1991 , pp. 9-11.

25. See Tan Chung, Triton and Dragon, "Chinese peasant war lor Taiping dreams", "A new look of peasant rebellion in China", pp. 443-528.


26. See Tan Chung, Classical Chinese Poetry, in "Classics of the East" Series, Calcutta: The M P Biria Foundation, 1991, p. 501, with slight modification of the translation.


27. See Jin Youfu et al (comps), Taiping tianguo shiliao (Historical source materials on the Taiping Celestial Kingdom), Shanghai: Zhonghua Bookshop, 1955, p. 51-52, 96.

28. Ji Yun et al (comp), Xu wenxian tongkao (Supplementary to Wenxian tongkao or General Reference Book of Official Documents), pu~ished by Manchu government in 1747 which revised the 1586 version of the same title compiled by Wang Oi, juan 254, "xianshi" (fairies and Buddhists).


29. Documents about Dhanabhadra will be punished by the Yunnan Academy of Social Sciences, Kunming, soon.

30. Information supplied by Prof. Geng Yinzeng.


31. Ditto.

32. Ji Yuan, op. cit.

33. Tan Chung, "The Golden Monkey" , The India Magazine, Vol. 13, Dec. 1992, pp. 82-88.

34. Tagore's message to the Chinese friends in general dated April 23, 1934. See Twenty Years of Visva-Bharati Cheena-Bhavana, Santiniketan,1957, p.37.

35. Tagore "Crisis in Civilization", in Sisir Kumar Ghose (ed), Tagore For You, Calcutta: Visva-Bharati, 1966, p. 189.



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