Knowledge transfer from India to China


Now I am coming to the knowledge transfers from India to China. A large number of Sanskrit manuscripts were carried to China either by Chinese scholars or by Indian scholars hired by Chinese kings. So, we spoke earlier about Huan-Tsang and the I-Tsing. Those were the scholars who came from China to India. But actually, from India also, a large number of scholars, Sanskrit scholars, went to China and they lived for long years there translating because for the Chinese it was considered to be a very very important job to get the Sanskrit works translated into Chinese as quickly as possible, as many as possible. So, you can literally fill a whole book with the works of translation done by the professors.

So, the first two went to China were KasyapaMatanga and Dharmaratna. So, they made a very difficult journey, they went across Chinese Turkestan, Gobi Desert and again they had a very difficult journey, and on top of that they had to learn Chinese, which was the child of totally different syntax from Sanskrit. But they did it, and when they did it, it was like this, started a deluge. Oh, so many scholars followed them Sanga Varma, Dharma Satya, Dharma Kala, Mahamalla,Vigna, Dharmapala – a whole lot of them. I could not fill in all of, fit them all here and they were not just from northern India. For example, Dharma Ruchi was a scholar from southern India. He went to China lived there for 20 years and he translated 53 works intoChinese. So, there was people knew that, you know, there is a demand for them in China. So, if they, didn’t, were not happy with what they were getting in India, they would move to China. It was not always a happy outcome because this person poor fellow called Dharmakshema was being wooed by two kings, two Chinese kings, and in the crossfire, he got shot by an assassin. This happened with some other scholars as well.

Amoghavajra was another scholar. He collected 500 texts from different parts of India and went to China and he got many titles from Chinese Kings and he is called the founder of the tantric Buddhism and he had another, there’s another incident with him. When he translated, see… he spent years and years translating. The poor fella tookleave to go back to India, the moment he stepped foot in India, he got a message that he needs to go back, because the Chinese king wants him back, and he without seeing his family, he had to go back.

Indian astronomers and mathematicians from the best universities held high positions in China’s scientific establishments. A big example is Gautama Siddha. So, his Chinese name was Kutan Siddha. One of the reasons,why you would probably not know, who is who was an Indian professor in China, is that their names should be changed, they would have a Chinese name. So that’s why, we probably don’t know all the Indians who went to China. Kutan siddha, he was called, and he became president of China’s official Board of astronomy in the 8thcentury. He translated Navagraha calendar to Chinese. He introduced Indian numerals to China and the invention of printing press is attributed to Buddhist scholars who went from India to China. Today we know that printing was invented in China, but the work was done by Buddhist scholars who went from India and printing was used as a means to spread Buddhist thought.

This is a statue of Kumarajeeva; not many of us have heard about him. But he’s well known in China. Kumarajeeva, he basically grew up in Kashmir and culture, and he translated more than 100 Sanskrit works which are considered masterpieces of Chinese literature. The ‘diamond sutra’ which is a valuable work in Buddhism was translated by him and this tattoos in Zhen Jiang in China. He was like one of the viewers, considered a very brilliant person by the Chinese, and so he, they have honored him. But we don’t know anything about him.

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