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Chinese and Indian Perceptions of Each Other between the First and Seventh Centuries Author(s): Richard

Chinese and Indian Perceptions of Each Other between the First and Seventh Centuries Author(s): Richard B. Mather Source: Journal of the American Oriental Society, Vol. 112, No. 1 (Jan. - Mar., 1992), pp. 1-8 Published by: American Oriental Society Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/604580

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CHINESE AND INDIAN

BETWEEN

PERCEPTIONS

OF EACH OTHER CENTURIES*

THE FIRST AND SEVENTH

RICHARDB. MATHER

UNIVERSITYOF MINNESOTA

The earliest recordedperceptions of the Indian subcontinentin China are based on reports of trad-

ers, diplomats and generals. Though nothing substantive was reported about India's intellectual or cultural achievements, the accounts generally described a pleasant tropical land with exotic birds

After

and animals, that producedcolorful artifacts, and whose people were gentle and peace-loving.

theintroductionof BuddhismintoChina during thefirst centuryA.D., and especially afterthedevel-

opment of an indigenous Taoist church toward the end of the second, tensions arising from the rival claims of these two religions introduced some negative perceptions, not only concerning the incom- patibility of Buddhism with China'sown values, but also concerning the inferiority of Indianculture and the savagery of her people. These initially negative perceptions were at least partially modified by first-handcontact with Indian missionaries and by reports of Chinese pilgrims, as well as by the cogent arguments of lay Buddhist apologists, whose treatises on the subject between the third and sixth centuries have been preserved. Indian perceptions of China during the same period, as re- corded by Chinese pilgrims, are markedfor the most partby a naive ignorance, which their Chinese informants were only too happy to dispel.

THEMUTUALPERCEPTIONSof persons

living

in relative

isolation from each other, as in the case of the Indians and Chinese during the first half-millennium of our era, can vary from total absence of curiosity to wildly fan- ciful misapprehension. With the beginnings of actual contact, such as happened through trade, diplomatic and military expeditions, and finally through mission- aries and pilgrims, the initial misapprehensions gradu- ally evolved along opposite lines: on the one hand toward something approaching understanding, and on the other toward hardened misunderstanding and even hostility. The latter is especially likely if there are groups in either society who may in some way feel threatened by contact with the other. It is possible to get a first-hand glimpse into some aspects of this fasci- nating subject, at least from the Chinese side, through documents which have been preserved in two antholo- gies which now form part of the Chinese Buddhist Canon, namely, the Collection on Propagating [the Way] and Illuminating [the Teaching] (Hung-ming chi S 0 ), edited by the Buddhist monk Seng-yu ft1 (445-518), and its sequel, the Expanded Collection on Propagating (etc.) (Kuang hung-ming chi F [L} *),

* This article is a slightly revised version of an address originally presented to a plenary session of the Western Branch of the Society, meeting in Boulder, October, 1989.

edited by the monk, Tao-hsiian it _ (596-667).' In these documents, some polemic in nature,coming from defenders of China's traditional values, especially as understood by representatives of China's indigenous religion of Taoism, and some apologetic, usually writ- ten by lay Buddhist converts who shared the same val- ues as their attackers, but accepted the new religion from India as an enrichment ratherthan a destroyer of

that tradition, the underlying perceptions come dra- matically to light. How the Indians, for their part, per- ceived the Chinese during the same process would be extremely helpful to know, but we can glean only a faint impression of how they felt, and that almost en- tirely through Chinese sources. The earliest Chinese account of the Indian subconti- nent that I know of may be found in the History of the

Han Dynasty (Han-shu

in

the Kushans (Yiieh-chih

(d. 114 B.C.), had traveled as far as Bactria (Ta-hsia

1 *), edited by Pan Ku tB

Han ambassador to Chang Ch'ien 5#

the

first century A.D. The

A F),

*CX),

where he learned at second hand of the exis-

tence

valley of the Indus River.2 In his brief monograph on

of a Kingdom of Shen-tu *4 (i.e., Sindh) in the

1 Taisho shinsha daizokyao Ci:E ir ;&cR A 2102 and 2103

(52:1-361).

2 Han-shu ~I[

1

61.2689-90.

2

Journal

of the American

the Western Regions (Hsi-yii 1J A; Chinese Turkestan and lands beyond) Pan Ku describes the Kingdom of

Oriental

Society

portion

of

112.1

(1992)

T'ien-chu

known

as the

(Chung-kuo rpB), he found:

Central

Kingdom

Chi-pin

NIlE

(Kashmir)

in the following

very prosaic

terms:

The people are prosperous and happy, with no house-

t

The land is level and the climate warm and mild. There are plants like mu-su g ?t (alfalfa), various grasses and exotic trees: sandalwood, huai IX (a fra- grant tree similar to the mangrove), catalpa, bamboo, and lacquer. They plant the five cereals, grapes and various other fruits, and use night-soil for fertilization in their gardens and paddies. Where the ground is low and damp they grow rice, and in winter they eat fresh vegetables. The people are skillful at carving and en- graving, building stately buildings, weaving mats, stitching patterned brocades, and they enjoy cooking. They have gold, silver, bronze and tin utensils. Their markets are lined with shops. They use gold and silver coins for money, with equestrian figures on one side and human faces on the other. They raise gnus and wa- ter buffaloes, elephants, large work-dogs, monkeys, and peacocks, and produce pearls, coral, amber and

vaidurya (beryl, or colored

3

Later, in the History

of the Later Han (Hou-Han

shu

i

*),

edited by Fan Yeh I

*

(398-445),

we read:

(the same as Pan Ku's

The land of T'ien-chu

Shen-tu, but inclusive of all of north India) is located

several thousand li southeast of the Kushans, and they cultivate the Way of the Buddha, neither taking life nor committing aggression, which has become their cus-

produces

elephants, rhinoceroses, tortoise-shell, gold, silver,

tomary mode of behavior

^

The

land

Besides these there are

bronze, iron, lead, and tin

fine cotton textiles and excellent woolen rugs, various

perfumes, honey, pepper, ginger, and rock-salt.4

The accounts in the various Six Dynasties histories are obviously based on the Han accounts and add noth-

ing that is strikingly new.5 In none of them is there any

indication of condescension,

but only the sort of infor-

mation that might be picked up by traders. A much more vivid, first-hand record has been left

by Chinese Buddhist pilgrims, who were describing

(ac-

their own experiences. The monk Fa-hsien

tive, 399-417) relates in his travelogue, Kao-seng Fa-

t S

hsien chuan -

i

tftfR

, that when he reached the

3 Ibid., 96A.3885.

4 Hou-Han shu ^ i 88.2921.

5 See, e.g., Nan-shih J * 78.1961.

hold registration or official regulations. It is only those who cultivate the king's land who pay a tax on the profit

Those who wish to departdepart, and

they

those who wish to stay stay. In ruling the king does not use punishments or imprisonment. If there are any who commit crimes, they are only fined in money, lightly or heavily, according to what they did. Even when they re- peat the crime, or plot evil or rebellion, they only have their right hand cut off, nothing more. The king's coun- sellors, bodyguards, and attendantsare all paid wages. The population as a whole refrains from killing living

beings and drinking liquor, and from eating onions or garlic. The single exception is the candala caste. The

can.dalas are considered evil people

and live apart from

the others. Whenever they enter the city or marketplace they strike wooden clappers to identify themselves.

Otherpeople then recognize and avoid them so as not to come in contact. In the kingdom they do not raise pigs

or chickens and do not sell cattle. In the markets there are no butcherstalls or wine shops. For money they use cowrie shells. It is only the canddlas who fish and hunt

and sell meat

whose fathers were giidras, and whose mothers had

come from a higher caste.)

make from it.

6 (The can.dalas were a mixed caste,

There is no doubt that Fa-hsien

him had no desire

they had always

and all the pilgrims

the ideal-

who followed

that

the country

be, nor, for that

to

disillusion them. Some two and a half centuries after

matter,

had given

ized Utopia

to diminish

in

India

dreamed

would

Buddha to the world

did

any

of

their

informants

wish

Fa-hsien, the pilgrim Hsiian-tsang ~

traveled and lived in India for fourteen years, master-

ing Sanskrit as well as the local colloquial languages,

and studying

sity in the very area where

Univer-

He,

too, was inclined to stress what was favorable, but his

account is somewhat more objective.

t

(602-664)

Yogacara

philosophy

at Nalanda

the Buddha

had lived.

He wrote:

As for their customs, even though temperamentallythey are timid and excitable, their real intentions are pure and genuine. In matters involving material property they acquire nothing improperly, and in the matter of

6

Kao-seng Fa-hsien chuan A x

I 3-

ff&ill

Adachi

Kiroku

A/,

Hokken den

(Taisho 51:859b;

[Tokyo,

- S%t

19361, 92; H. A. Giles, 1923], 20-21).

Travels of Fa-hsien

[Cambridge,

MATHER: Chinese

and Indian Perceptions

of Each Other

3

justice they

are more than generous. Fearing the retribu-

tion of sins committed in former lives, they lighten the

karma accumulating in their present life. Treachery or deceit they will not carryout; their covenants and oaths

are always trustworthy. In their government

tion they exalt honesty, and in their customs and every-

day dealings

elements are relatively few. If from time to time anyone

violates the state laws or plots to overthrow the ruler,

always imprison the

offender, but will not administer corporal punishment.

he is no

longer regarded as a human being. If anyone violates propriety or the moral code, whether it is a breach of loyalty or of filial piety, in such cases they will cut off the offender's nose, or an ear, a hand, or a foot. Or they may banish him from the kingdom, or exile him to an uninhabitedarea. For other offenses one may be fined or made to pay a ransom.7

From that time on, whether he is dead or alive,

and the affair is exposed, they will

they exalt harmony. Violent and rapacious

and educa-

Just as modern Chinese

are sometimes

they deem to be the obsessive

nese

the

and ksatriya families.

cleanliness

was clearly

neighbors,

sanitary

Hsiian-tsang

he

habits

witnessed

He wrote:

among

awed by what of their Japa-

by

brahmin

impressed

the

They are for the most part pure and untainted,living

7

in simplicity and frugality. But the clothing of the king and his ministers is entirely different. Floral topknots and jewelled tiaras are worn as head ornaments;rings, bracelets and necklaces dangle from their bodies. In

the case of wealthy merchants or big

bracelet may be the only ornament. Nearly everyone walks barefoot; very few have anything on their feet. They stain their teeth red or black, cut their hair even, and bore their ears. Their facial features are character-

ized by long noses and large eyes. When it comes to cleanliness in their personal up- keep, they do not do it merely out of affectation or ex- ternal compulsion. Whenever they eat they must always first wash their hands. Uneaten fragments, or anything left overnight, they will not eat, nor do they share eating utensils. Utensils made from pottery or wood are discarded after use. Those made of gold, sil- ver, bronze, or iron are always refurbishedbefore reus- ing. After a meal is finished they chew on a willow twig to clean their teeth, and without first completing their ablutions they will not touch each other. Every time they urinate they always take care to wash up afterwards. They annoint their bodies with various fra-

traders a single

Ta-rang

hsi-yii chi *

2 (Taisho 51:877b).

grances, such as candana (sandalwood) or yii-chin Wi (turmeric). Whenever the king is about to take a bath, they perform music with drums, stringed instru- ments, and singing, and make offerings and prostra- tions to accompany the bathing and handwashing.8

This generally favorable perception of India, which continued in most quarters of China, was, however, se- verely challenged after the rise of ecclesiastical Tao-

ism,

influenced

by it. A popular myth, building on accounts of the phi- losopher Lao-tzu's disappearance beyond the western frontier, which had found expression in Ssu-ma Ch'ien's account in the Shih-chi -t as early as the first century B.C., went on to claim that Lao-tzu then proceeded to India and was reborn as Prince Sid- dhartha, who became the Buddha. The myth was crys- tallized in a pseudo-canonical work, known as the

an indigenous

movement which, though clearly

was also threatened

by the rival alien faith,

Scripture of Lao-tzu Converting the Barbarians

(Lao-

tzu hua-Hu ching : :t fft i s),

now surviving

only in

quoted fragments,

attributed

to

a

certain

Wang

Fu

_I j

(active ca. 300). In this pseudo-scripture

the

claim

is made that for his Chinese

incarnation

Lao-tzu

had sought to bring out the inherent goodness

of hu-

man nature by stressing "soft" virtues like "natural-

action" (wu-

the

words of a long-discredited nineteenth-century mis-

sionary

lon,

prospect pleases, and only man is vile." In India he re- alized that he must take a radically different approach,

so he formulated the monastic rules, in order to curb

the rampant poisons of lust, hatred, and ignorance. There is even a hint that his hidden agenda in the call

of the entire Indian race. The myth rears its head in many

to celibacy

ugly head of this Hua-Hu

wei

ness" (tzu-jan ? p) and "non-aggressive

,4j).

In his

Indian

applied

incarnation,

to

borrow

hymn which

them to neighboring

land

"where

Cey-

every

he looked

out on

a beautiful

was genocide

of the anti-Buddhist attacks recorded in the two anthol- ogies I have mentioned. Though it had very little rele-

vance to the real issues

separating

the

Chinese

and

Indian world-views,

the

unfortunate

result

of

such

overheated rhetoric, where actual contact between the

peoples

per-

that Indians

must have been a race of violent and uncouth barbari-

examples of this

perception.9

ans. I will cite only a few conspicuous

ception among some Chinese intellectuals

of the two areas was slight,

was a skewed

8 Ibid., 876b.

9

See E. Zurcher, The Buddhist Conquest of China, 2 vols. (Leiden, 1959), 1:290-320, for a full accountof this controversy.

4

Journal

of the American

In the late fifth century an anonymous writer, hiding

under the name of the poet Chang Jung

a "Discourse on the Triple Destruction" (San-p'o lun

de-

struction of the state through extravagant temple con-

struction and costly religious festivals, (2) destruction

of the family through cutting off the family line by cel-

ibate monks, and (3) destruction of the bodies of indi-

viduals by mutilation (e.g., shaving the head and

burning the scalp).

k6

, produced

(1)

5- VM).

By

"triple

destruction"

he

meant:

The San-p'o

lun states:

The Hu-barbarianshave no humanity (jen C). Un- yielding and violent, they are without manners and are no different from birds or animals. They do not believe in humility or deference (hsii-wu S ,S). When Lao-tzu entered the Pass [into CentralAsia and India] he inten- tionally created a doctrine of images and idols to con- vert them (perhaps on the assumption they could not

handle abstract concepts?)

The Hu-barbariansare

crude and unrefined. Desiring to terminate their evil seed, he therefore laid down rules that men should not take wives or women husbands. If the whole kingdom were to submit to his teaching, the population would disappear of its own accord.10

The same notion is reflected in a letter written by the Liu-Sung minister, Ho Ch'eng-t'ien flJ i* (370-447),

to

over

his

friend,

the

Buddhist

painter

Tsung

Ping

Vl

Be-

(375-447).

Tsung

Ping

had

expressed

another

anti-Buddhist

tract

called

"A

outrage

Dialogue

tween Mr. White (a Chinese literatus) and Mr. Black (a

Buddhist

the "Discourse

Buddha

as

on Equalizing the Good Points [of the

lun

monk)" (Pai-hei

and

the

Chinese

lun b X*),

Sages]"

also known

(Chun-shan

?

1

).11

The tract had been

written

by a renegade

Buddhist

453), and had been circulating in Chien-k'ang at the

time. Ho Ch'eng-t'ien, responding to Tsung Ping's complaint, wrote:

monk

named

Hui-lin

X

J#

(active,

424-

PJ] (d. 518), "Discourse on Extin-

N*i), Hung-ming chi

8 (Taisho 52:50c). See also Kenneth Ch'en, "Anti-

Buddhist Propaganda During the Nan-ch'ao," Harvard Jour-

nal of Asiatic Studies 15 (1952): 172-73.

1 Hui-lin's treatise appears in the section on "I and Man

Barbarians (I-Man chuan

see also K. Ch'en, op. cit., 175-76. The corre-

spondence between Tsung Ping and Ho Ch'eng-t'ien is found

in Hung-ming chi 3 (Taisho 52:17c-21c).

(97.2388-91);

10 Quoted in Liu Hsieh

guishing Delusions" (Mieh-huo lun i

*LOJ

a

ll)

of

the Sung-shu *

Oriental

Society

112.1

(1992)

The Chinese and the Western Barbarians naturally have their differences. What are they? The people of China are by natural temperamentpure and agreeable.

They are endowed with humanity (jen

brace morality (i ). It's for this reason that the Duke of Chou and Confucius illuminated a doctrine of [natu- rally good] human nature and behavior. People of for- eign countries, on the other hand, possess natures that are unyielding and violent, greedy and lustful, full of

anger and cruelty. For this reason Sakyamuni laid down the strict code of the Five Commandments

(paica-gila).12

{t)

and em-

The classic

expression

of this unflattering

stereotype

on Barbarians

was Ku Huan's (d. after 483)

been

preserved through quotations from it by indignant Bud- dhist laymen seeking to refute it. Ku begins his attack

and Chinese" (I-Hsia

"Discourse

a

IX[),

lun

which

has

with the disarming

and unmistakably

Chinese

premise

that ultimately all religions and ideologies

are

the

same.

It's

only

in

their

outward

manifestations

that

they differ from each other, because of different envi-

ronments

or other circumstances.

Ku wrote:

What the scriptures of the two traditions say are like the two halves of a tally. Tao is the Buddha; the Bud- dha is Tao. In their ideal of sageliness (sheng ?) they are identical; only in their outward manifestations (chi

One is the "tempered light" (ho-

see Lao-tzu 4) that illuminates what is

3) are they at odds.

kuang

near; the other is the "radiant spirit" (yao-ling f 1) [of the sun] revealing what is distant. The Tao sustains all under heaven; there is no quarter where it does not penetrate. [Buddha-] wisdom pervades all creation; no being is unaffected. But since their entrances have not been the same, their effects are also bound to differ. In each tradition [the adherents] fulfill their own natures (hsing 1t) and thus do not alter the things they do (shih $). Ceremonial caps and robes and tablets of office tucked in their sashes is the fashion of Chinese [officials]; shaved heads and loose garments is the habit of barbarian[monks]. Kneeling reverently and bowing from the waist are expressions of respect within the [Chinese] royal domain; crouching like foxes and squatting like dogs are deemed to be dignified postures in the wilderness. To be buried in a double coffin is the rule in China; to be incinerated on a funeral pyre or submerged under water is the custom among the West- ern Barbarians.To preserve one's body whole and ob- serve the proper rituals is the teaching that aims at

;i)

12 Taisho 52:19c.

MATHER:

Chinese

and Indian Perceptions

of Each Other

5

perpetuating goodness; to disfigure one's appearance and alter one's nature is the study that seeks to termi- nate evil. Through endless generations sages have arisen one after another. Some have expounded the

Five Classics (wu-tien

the Three Vehicles (san-sheng _ a). Among birds

[the sages] have chirped like birds, and among beasts

they have roaredlike beasts. When instructing the Chi-

nese they have spoken Chinese; when converting bar-

At

present [some misguided people] are trying to make the nature of the Chinese conform to the doctrines of the Western Barbarians.These two peoples are, on the one

hand, not entirely the same; nor, on the other, are they entirely different. [The Indians] abandon their wives and children, and have done away with ancestral sac- rifices. On the other hand, things to which they are at- tached and which they desire are promoted by their rituals;it is only the canons of filial piety and reverence

that are suppressed by their doctrines

a formula for destroying evil; Taoism is a technique for

encouraging goodness. To encourage goodness, natu-

ralness (tzu-jan 1 ,)

courageous zeal

is valued. The outward manifestations

of Buddhism are brilliant and massive, suitable for con- verting living beings. The outward manifestations of Taoism, on the other hand, are secret and subtle, beneficial for use in self-development. The superiority or inferiority of one in relation to the other lies, for the most part, in this distinction.13

fA);

others have propagated

barians they have spoken barbarian, that's all

Buddhism is

is paramount; to destroy evil,

Happily,

not

all

the

comparisons

that

were

being

made were generated

stances. A more penetrating analysis, I feel, of the per-

ceived differences between Chinese and Indian modes

of thought may be found in the friendly, and generally constructive, discussion which took place around A.D. 430 on the estate in Shih-ning M S (Chekiang) of

the

two Chinese

of

"sudden" vs. "gradual" enlightenment (tun-wu/chien- wu 'f f/jtft). This symposium was written up in ele-

gant parallel prose by Hsieh himself under the title,

"Discussion on Distinguishing

the

under

such

adversarial

circum-

poet

Hsieh

Ling-yun

Vi3g

(385-433),

among

laymen

and six monks,

on the question

Is

Essential"

in

What

is

(Pien-tsung lun

~ a

1),

Kuang hung-ming

chi.

Hsieh

and

was

preserved

the sole

protagonist

for

viewpoint. But on the question of

differences between Indians and Chinese, this is what

the

"subitist"

he had to say:

13 Nan-Ch'i shu * op. cit., 168-71.

il

54.931-32;

see also K. Ch'en,

The differences between [Buddhism and Confucian- ism] are essentially the differences that have grown out of the different localities and environments [of India and China]. To make a large overall comparison, they reflect the people [of these two lands]. Chinese people find it easy to perceive Truth intuitively (chien-li

X

), but difficult to undergo instruction (shou-chiao

|). Therefore they have closed the door to accu-

mulated bits of learning (lei-hsiieh i *), but have

opened it to grasping Ultimate Truth whole

- ). The Indians, on the other hand, find it easy to undergo instruction,but difficultto perceive Truthintu- itively. Therefore they have closed the door to sudden, total comprehension (tun-liao I T), but open it to gradual (i.e., incremental) enlightenment (chien-wu

l ti ). Although gradualenlightenment is attainable, it obscures the realization of sudden, total comprehen- sion. And although grasping Ultimate Truth whole is known to be the goal, it cuts short the hope of accumu-

lated learning. Precisely because Chinese people gain

insight (wu it)

falsely claim that the Tao is perceived without study.

The Indians, for their part, who gain insight through

learning, falsely claim that perceiving the Tao has gra- dations. Thus, even though Provisional Truth (ch'iian

5

(i-chi

into Truth without gradations, they

= sarhvrti-satya) and Absolute Truth (shih

*

=

paramartha-satya) are ultimately the same (i.e., Chi-

nese and Indians attainthe same Truth-the former ab-

solutely and whole, and the latter provisionally and by

increments), their methods of attainment (yung m) are

different from each other . 14

What Hsieh

Ling-yiin

seems to be saying is that the

Indian pandits,

at least,

are great

scholiasts

and logi-

cians. They can make hair-splitting

distinctions

and en-

numerate endless categories

and gradations,

such as the

six sense-organs with their respective faculties and ob-

the

jects

(collectively

known

as the Eighteen a bodhisattva's

Dhatu),

Ten Stages (bhumi) of

But when it comes to perceiving the goal of the whole

progress, etc.

process,

which

is,

as

it

were,

scheme

of things

entire," leave

to

"grasp

the

sorry

it to the Chinese,

who

have always been suspicious of nit-picking details. When Hsieh made this generalization, he must have been thinking of someone like Yu Ai J&/ (261-311),

of the

who once started to read the great

Taoist philosophical text, Chuang-tzu. After rapidly

one of the "Eight early fourth century,

Free

Spirits"

(pa-ta

Ait)

14 Kuang hung-ming chi .L aJ * 18 (Taisho 52:225ab); Fung Yu-lan, History of Chinese Philosophy, 2 vols., tr. D. Bodde (Princeton, 1953), 2:276-77.

6

Journal

of the American

skimming the first foot or so of the first scroll on "The

Free and Easy Excursion"

(Hsiao-yao

yu

fi

ijt),

he

laid it down and announced triumphantly,"It's not the

least

along!"15

One might say that Hsieh Ling-ytin's attitude, though a great improvement over that of the I-Hsia lun, was really only a more refined form of xenophobia, offering grudging, but still patronizing, recognition of Indian superiority in certain mechanical skills, while still

claiming to hold superiority in what really matters. However that may be, we still have not come to grips with what the contemporary Indians thought of the Chinese. All I have been able to come up with on this score are snatches of statements made by Indians and other "Western Barbarians" as they are found in Chinese sources. Under the circumstances they should probably be taken with several grains of salt, since they were

relevant to particularsituations, and probably tempered by diplomatic considerations as well. One of the great- est of all missionary translators in early medieval

China was Kumarajiva (ca. 350-ca.

should not call him a "missionary," since he was actu-

ally taken to China by force as a booty of war when a

general of one of the western states subdued the oasis

trading center of Kuchaon the

father was Indian, but his mother had been a Kuchean princess. After his capture in 385 he spent nearly thirty years in northwest China. What he personally thought about Chinese culture or the nature of the people he seems to have kept pretty well to himself, but he did have some pointed words about the language. In a con- versation with the Chinese monk, Seng Jui Mti, he is reported to have said:

bit

different from

what

I

have

thought all

413). Perhaps I

Silk Road. Kumarajiva's

in

very high regard. As for the musical intonation (kung-

of

shang 'i

a text, we consider musicality, or the possibility of be- ing set to music (ju-hsien A .), of supreme impor- tance. Every time the king holds court there will always be odes sung in praise of his virtue, and when people attend a religious ceremony, it is the songs and chants that are held in highest honor. The gathas (chi- sung Ai')), or poetic recapitulations, which occur in the sutras all have their special forms. But in the pro- cess of translating a Sanskrit text into Chinese it loses

It is customary in India to hold literary composition

j%) and formal consonance (t'i-yiin ft[")

15 Shih-shuo hsin-yii tl94ti IV, 15; R. Mather, trans., Shih-shuo hsin-yu: A New Account of Tales of the World (Minneapolis, 1976), 99.

Oriental

Society

112.1

(1992)

all its nuances. Even if the readermay still get the gen- eral meaning, he is definitely prevented from savoring the literary style. It's something like chewing cooked rice and then feeding it to anotherperson. Not only has it lost its flavor; it will also make him want to throw

up.16

Though Kumarajiva and other foreign translatorsun- doubtedly knew a great deal about the Chinese lan-

guage before they were through, there were apparently some missionaries who made a point of not doing so. One of these was the Central Asian specialist in Bud-

who is best known

by his posthumous title, "The Monk of the Lofty Seat" (Kao-tso tao-jen -i Iit A ). Though not himself from India, he may have typified many foreigners who for one reason or another refused to learn Chinese. Such a refusal did not, of course, imply condescension, or even displeasure at any presumed lack of nuance or musicality in the inflexible monosyllables that seemed to offend Kumirajiva a century later. Srimitra's self- advertised inability to use Chinese was, if we can be- lieve the Eastern Chin prince of K'uai-chi, Ssu-ma Yti A, -_ (320-372), who later became emperor (Chien- wen ti, r. 371-372), "simply to save himself the nui-

dhist chant, Srimitra (fl. 310-340),

sance of answering questions."17 Whether or not this was true, however, one does get the distinct impression that in the minds of most Indi- ans of the fourth and fifth centuries, China, if people thought about it at all, was the same sort of uncivilized hinterland that the "Western Regions" (hsi-yu fi ), which included India, were to most Chinese. When the

(active ca. 417), a na-

tive of Western Liang (401-421) in Kansu, was study-

ing meditation in a monastery in Kashmir under the

master Buddhasena (? %

k

t), the native monks, ob-

pilgrim Shih Chih-yen OtN1

serving the special deference shown him by their teacher, exclaimed with evident wonder, "So! Even in

the land of Ch'in X

Way!" The narrative goes

they no longer despised the Chinese and their ilk

distant visitors with

there are monks seeking the

on to report that "thereafter

(Ch'in-lei Xi#),

but received

respect."18

In the year 520 when the pilgrim Sung Yun 5^-

and his companions were passing through the kingdom

J*) on the Swat River north of Gan-

of Udyana (,.

dhfara,the king asked him through an interpreter,

16 Kao-seng chuan A i1 f4

17 Shih-shuo hsin-yii II, 39; Mather,Shih-shuo, 50.

2 (Taisho 50:332b).

8 Kao-seng chuan 3 (Taisho-50:339b).

MATHER:

Chinese

and Indian Perceptions

of Each Other

7

"Are you from the land where the sun rises?" Sung re-

plied, "Yes. On

is a great ocean from whose midst the sun rises, just as you have described it." The king then asked, "Has that country ever produced any sages?" Sung Yiin took the occasion to educate him aboutthe virtues of the Duke of Chou and Confucius, [the Taoist philosophers] Lao-tzu and Chuang-tzu, the lore about the silver belvederes and golden halls [of the transcendentisland] Mt. P'eng-lai X3V, the skillful diviner KuanLu : 14 (thirdcentury), the physician Hua T'o * r1 (third century), the magi- cian Tso Tz'u AE,1 (second century).19[When he had finished] the king remarked,"If things are as you say, it is indeed a Buddha-realm(buddha-ksetra) [i.e., a para- dise like Amitabha's Sukhavati]. When my present life ends, I would like to be rebornin that country."20

the eastern border of my country there

Still later, in 645, as the pilgrim Hsiian-tsang was preparing to return to China after his long sojourn, his Indian fellow-students at Nalanda University, whom

one might expect

to have been more sophisticated

than

the king of Udyana,

nevertheless

tried to dissuade

him.

"India [said they] is the land where Buddha was born. Even though the Great Sage has left the world, his leg- acy and physical traces are still here. Traveling about, participating in various religious ceremonies, should be enough to occupy you for the rest of your life. Would you have come this far only to forsake it again? Fur- thermore, China (2ES) is a land of the mleccha (i.e., unbelievers), who ridicule human beings and despise the Dharma. This is why no Buddhas have ever been born there. The ambition of the people is narrow and their contamination profound. No sages or worthies have ever gone there from here. Besides, the climate is cold and the terrain precipitous. How could you even think of going back?" 21

19 For the lives of these three technical experts (fang-shih Jg?:), whom Sung Yii does not hesitate to place with Con- fucius and Lao-tzu among China's sages, see Kenneth De- Woskin, Doctors, Diviners, and Magicians of Ancient China:

Biographies of Fang-shih (New York, 1983), 91-134, 140-

in greater detail, Ngo

Van Xuyet, Divination, magie et politique dans la Chine anci-

52, 83-86. For the latter two, see also,

enne (Paris, 1976), 118-26, 139-39.

20 Lo-yang ch'ieh-lan chi

IMRifli-i-

(written, A.D. 457),

Taisho 51:1020a; Y. T. Wang, trans., A Record of Buddhist

Monasteries in Lo-yang (Princeton, 1984), 229-30.

21 Ta Tz'u-en-ssu San-tsang fa-shih chuan t

i& liF 5 (Taisho 50:246a).

,*-,: