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Xuan Zang to build another bridge to India

Seventh century Chinese pilgrim and scholar-monk Xuan Zang, also known as Hsüan-Tsang, is a familiar traveller-historian to Indians.

The Chinese Consulate General in Kolkata has decided to use his work at a public event here to explain the depth of China’s relationship with India over the last 1400 years and focus on “cooperation.”

The themed seminar on “Xuan Zang and China-India Friendly Interactions” next week will trace the philosopher’s role “in strengthening Indo-China relations.” It is organised by the Consulate in association with Nalanda University.

Ma Zhanwu, the Consul General, said India and China have a long history of “shared interests” and the time is just right to discuss them.

“We should not focus on differences and overlook shared interests and [should not] ignore the possibility of cooperation. We are having this seminar to send this message to the people in India,” Mr. Zhanwu told The Hindu.

Ties between the neighbours have dipped in recent months over differences on India’s entry to the Nuclear Suppliers Group, UN terror listing of Masood Azhar and campaign against Chinese goods. But the effort is to focus on “cooperation” rather than “competition.”

In the decade that began in 630 AD, Xuan Zang came to India through Kashmir after visiting Central Asia, Iran and Afghanistan. He travelled from north to east during his 14-year stay and lived in Bihar for a couple of years. At Nalanda University, Xuan Zang interacted with students and scholars, mastered local languages and discovered Buddhist stupas.

“He was offered a stay in Nalanda but he left to write, and provided detailed descriptions of 7th century India and its Buddhist links with China. The seminar will focus on Xuan Zang’s enormous contribution to connect two of the oldest civilisations,” Mr. Zhanwu said.

May fund excavations

Scholars of ancient Chinese history, Buddhist philosophy and archaeology including Professors Max Deeg of Cardiff University, Wang Banwei of Nalanda and Zhang Xing of Peking University are expected to attend. Nalanda’s Vice-Chancellor, Gopa Sabharwal and Professor Upinder Singh, Head, Department of History at Delhi University, are among other speakers.

Many of Xuan Zang’s sites are yet to be explored. The Consulate is coordinating with K.P. Jayaswal Institute, a Patna-based archaeological institution under the Bihar Government, to study stupas.

Excavation would be done in varied locations, depending on clearance from the Archaeological Survey of India and the Bihar government. “We plan to seek half of the funds from them [Chinese Government],” Institute director Bijoy Kumar Choudhury said.

Fa-shien and Yi Jing are other Chinese pilgrim-monks whose directions could point to more unexplored sites in Bihar, he added.

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Printable version | Sep 23, 2021 6:26:15 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/Xuan-Zang-to-build-another-bridge-to-India/article16086908.ece

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