Cosmos ,Sanatan Dharma.Ancient Hinduism science.
According to Professor Huang Xinchuan
Department of Oriental Philosophy
Institute of Philosophy
Chinese Academy of Social Sciences
5, Jian Guo Men Nei Dajie Street
The religious as well as the cultural interflow between Indian and China occurred as early as over two thousand years ago. Following the Buddhist and Hindu religious activities, the Indian orthodoxy philosophy—the Six Darsanas, Vedanta in particular once flourished in China. Vedanta had exerted also some influences on Chinese Buddhism and Taoism in its own way.
In China we have preserved abundant historical records and relics of Hinduism as well as Buddhism. Since the third century AD, China has discovered numerous Hindu scriptures in Sanskrit. There are records in Buddhist and Hindu scriptures either systematic or piecemeal. For example, the Vedas and Upanishads as seen in Chinese historical record were translated freely into Chinese as Ming-Lun (the Science of Knowledge), Zhi-Lun (the Science of Intelligence) or transliterated into Chinese as Feituo, Pituo, etc. Besides, there are Chinese historical sources of Vedangas. At the stage of Mahayana Buddhism, Madhyamika drew close to Vedanta in both theory and practice. Samkaraís Advitaism was in confrontation with Nagarjunaís Sunyata. We can find out the influences on some Sects of Prajna School (Three Treaties Sect, Tiantai Sect, Mahayanasamgraha Sect etc.) in Sui and Tang Dynasties and also on some eminent Buddhist monks. At the last stage of Indian Buddhism, it mixed with Hinduism again, in other words, Vajna-yana Mixed with Sakta.
Vedantaís concept and application also directly influenced the formation of the Jo-nna Sect of Tibet. The Jo-nna Sect preached the ìdoctrine of non reality of personî. This doctrine is similar to Vedantaís theory of ìtwo kinds of Brahmans, Mayavada and Adhyasa. Jo-nna Sect was formed in the 12th century and flourished during the period of 14-17th centuries, and still exists today. Tarnathís History of Indian Buddhism and a number of Buddhist works in Tibetan versions described the arguments between Samkara and Pandits Hulisasestha, Dharmakriti, Kumaralila and Kunadarorul in Varanasi, and worth making studies. Taoism is indigence to China. Chinese Taoism has something in common with Saktism. The interflow between Taoism and Brahmanism-Hinduism rarely appeared in ancient China, nonetheless, we can find some examples. One text in which the Tung Hsuan Section of the Tao Tsung (Taoist Canon) originated goes by the name Lin Pao Ching (Book of the Marvelous Jewel). In this text, we can find the influence of Brahmanism and Upanishad (Vedanta) in particular. It has a portrait of Yuan Shih Tien Tsun (the Highest God of Taoism) based on the portrait of the Maha Brahma of Brahmanism at the numerous kalpas in the unlimited darkness of Chaos. Thus, He transforms himself into thirty-three devas, asuras,î Ten directions of the Universeî etc. Thus we can say that there existed interflow between Taoism and Vedanta.
From the historic perspective we see that vietnam’s cham hindus, the khmer, philippines, indonesia all had vibrant ‘hindu’ civilizations and their art, sculptures, temples etc were all indigenous expressions of vedic culture. despite the relatively close proximity to india compared to china these people all represented and maintained their own indigenous forms of vedic art and culture. surely if these closer regions maintained their own vibrant non-indic forms of hinduism the much further china could as well per Vrndavan Parker .
greatest river in south east asia is called Me Kong or Ma Ganga. This is its primal name of the river, and it is still at the epicenter of SE asian civilization. its not a new name given after they ‘converted’ to hinduism. there was no conversion per se rather there was a loss and a dilution. this combined with the outright hostility of later socio-political forces led to the virtual extinction of the many vedic civilizations of the region.
the shrinking of the living vedic cultures to the subcontinent of India only means india has maintained vedic civilization and not that indian civilization has shrunk. and there are thousands of examples of these native expressions of hinduism to this day. balinese hinduism is a case in point. the evidence suggests the same phenomenon existed in ancient china as well.
in the above album there are clear examples of non-indic vedic architecture and artistic style. china was home to its own vedic civilization.
as the epicenter and ancient global capital and home of the rishis the region of modern india has always been the guru to the world and the political capital as well. thus throughout history waves of indian sages and kings have revived the worlds original vedic civilization. today only india is called bharat but once the entire world was called bharat. the very word brother = bharaters, reflects this truth. thus the region of modern india sent out cultural revivers and never converters.
carvings at the kaiyuan temple are vedic. there are others as well from a hindu temple that was known to have existed in the 600s AD. also chinese records state that there were 3 hindu temples in one chinese city in the same time period. in 750 ad there were 3 monasteries full of brahmins as well. the tang dynasty was hindu for 2 generations. thre are many other examples of this chinese hinduism. regarding the kaiyuan temple carvings they are definetly influenced by tamil art but the original shiva temple and the very diety of shiva were direclty connected to the chinese as well. the temple had been there from aat least the 600s and the diety was in fact installed (according to the bilingual erroneous tamil and accurate chinese inscriptions) by a royal decree (firman) of the chinese emperor for the ‘well being’ of the chinese emperor.
we can gain a better insight by looking at this issue from the socio-politcal view. the direct imprint of hindu/vedic civilization can be found across the entire region from afghanistan to the philippines. yet rarely do we find actual kings or armies from india spreading out from india to conquer these regions. being native to the regions the vedic cultural imprint functioned organically and harmoniously and never relied upon outsiders. ankgor wat, the myson shiva temples of vietnam, indonesias epic hindu temples and cities, none of these were built by indians but rather by the natives themselves. the same phenomenon repeated itself in china, japan and mongolia as well.
theres no doubt, just as today, that indians were involved in the functioning of these non indic vedic cultures as well. thus we see many buddhist monks from india spreading buddhism but not as a new religion but a new revival and expression of sanatana dharma. this was surely not a new practice and many vedic acharyas must have also traveled widely and there is proof of this as well. as in the temple art above a tamil has been directly named as the ‘donor’ yet the inscription commemorating this is written in a tamil full of errors. so no these vedic artifacts do not represent the art of an enclosed ‘indic’ colony separate from the mainstream chinese community. this is also evident by the many other hindu artifacts found beyond the kaiyuan temple highlighted in the album.
aslo it is intersting that when the durga diety was rediscovered in the 1980s or 90s she was buried within a wall of an old building. upon her discovery the chinese people built a shrine and restablished her worship. however being separated from the original siddhanta she was installed as kuanyin. though her exact identiy was not known the proper mood of worship was established.
it is also crucial to remember that mao’s ‘cultural’ revolution is responsible for detroying thousands of vedic artifacts. many proofs have thus been lost and destroyed. a major effort was made to obliterate all evidence of vedic culture in china and in mongolia as well.
In conclusion these are examples of indigenous chinese vedic culture which was invigorated by a strong cultural interflow between ancient india and china. since time and immemorial indian saints and kings recharged china’s natural inherent dharmic foundations. that dharma however itself is the natural constitution of every human being. thus every civilization has at its core its own indigenous experiential revelation of the divine. as srila prabhupada said krsna has countless avatars and he has appeared to every species even within the ant community.
Go here to Vietnam’s Da Nang Museum of Hindu Cham Art.