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Report: Scholar Presentation For MEA Chair Of Excellence For The Study Of “India-China Civilisational Connect”

Report prepared by Mr. Varun Bhagat, Research Assistant, USI


The scholar presentation for the MEA Chair of Excellence was delivered by Shri Tarun Vijay on the first chapter of the study “India-China Civilisational Connect” titled “Indian influence on Chinese mind” on 20th April. Shri Sanjay Singh, IFS(Retd) was the External Discussant for the same. The virtual presentation began with remarks from Maj Gen RPS Bhadauria, VSM (Retd), Head CS3.

Once completed the study would provide a vital cognizance of common Chinese psyche thereby, giving a strategic insight into various spheres of bilateral relations, diplomacy,  and people-to-people ties. Moreover, the book will also showcase the prominent role played by India’s soft power in the past to make our civilization well known in the region and advance our interests..

Highlights of the presentation given by the scholar are listed below.

  • More than a thousand monks from various parts of India went to China in the last one millennium and out of them, names and works of only hundred monks are well recorded and documented. Notable names among them are Bodhidharma, Kashyap, Amoghvajra, Batuo, Kumarajiva etc.
  • Kumarajiva, is recognized as one of the greatest translators of Buddhist scriptures from Sanskrit into Chinese and it was largely due to his efforts that Buddhist religion and philosophical ideas were disseminated in China. In fact, he was all conferred the title of ‘National Teacher of China’ for his contributions.
  • Ironically, better known Chinese travelers like Xuanzang and Faxian (also Fahien) are included in many Indian textbooks. Yet Kumarajiva, who had the biggest influence on the Chinese society and culture is hardly remembered and celebrated in his native country.
  • This can be attributed to the presence of Colonialism in India, when stories and folklores about local, indigenous talent and heroes were prevented from being presented among the masses.

Indian Cultural Influence on Ancient China

The following aspects were brought out:

  • India has had contact with China from the early period through three routes. One was through the Central Asian region, the second was through Yunnan and Burma and the third was via sea to the South Indian ports. These routes played a crucial role in imparting Indian culture to China.
  • Furthermore, there have been numerous references to China in Sanskrit texts such as Mahabharata, Arthasasthra and Manu Smriti to name a few.
  • In ancient times, both Indians and Chinese divided the sky into 28 constellations in the same order, demonstrating mutual exchanges in the field of astronomy. India had significantly, influenced the Chinese in the following spheres during the ancient period:


  • Music
  • Beginning with Buddhism, Indian music was transmitted to China till the three Kingdom period. Buddhist monks who visited China brought the practice of chanting sacred texts during religious rites. In this way, Indian melody was introduced into the Chinese music.
  • The most important musical instrument that was transmitted from India was ‘Pipa’ and it also happened to be the most profound representation of foreign musical instrument entering China’s cultural sphere.


  • Literature
  • In addition to a new religion, the introduction of Buddhism into China also yielded Indian literature and civilization to the Chinese.
  • The introduction of highly imaginative literature such as the Mahayana sutras and the epics-Ramayana and Mahabharata into Chinese literature imparted the quality of imagination into the latter with the stories of Ramayana being extensively circulated particularly in Xinjiang, ‘Tufan’(Tibetan regime in Ancient China).


  • Architecture
  • The architecture of Ancient China, especially the construction of the imposing Buddhist monasteries and their exquisite structure resembles that of the Indian architecture.
  • Besides the above listed domains, with India’s Buddhist culture spreading to the East, India’s yoga was also transmitted to China.
  • India and China were always connected with the thread of spirituality, but their relationship began to experience turbulence with the establishment of Communism in China. Therefore, despite a bonded connect, peace and tranquility at the borders cannot be assumed.
  • Although, the future of Indo-Sino relationship would be based on a greater intellectual strategy, way beyond the notion of China’s mammoth GDP. Struggle is bound to happen when Chinese communist way of doing things and India’s rule based democratic principles compete for the Asian and Pacific landmass.


After an enriching Q/A session, closing remarks were given by Maj Gen BK Sharma, AVSM, SM** (Retd) Director.


Report prepared by Mr. Varun Bhagat, Research Assistant, USI

Report uploaded on 03-05-2021

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