Chinese description of ancient India

Discussion in 'China' started by Bhoja, Feb 3, 2013.

  1. Bhoja

    Bhoja Regular Member

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    Fahein who is also known as Faxian was a Chinese traveller who had come to India to visit the holy Buddhist places and to collect sacred works connected with the life and the teachings of the Buddha. He came here in the beginning of the 5th century A.D. He came to India by land and returned by the sea-route. He started from China in 399 A.D. and crossed through the Gobi desert. He suffered great hardships while travelling through Khotan, Taskhand, Pamir, Swat and Gandhara before reaching Peshwar and Taxila. After visiting the holy places in the North-West of India he travelled through such places as Mathura, Kanauj, Kausambi, Pataliputra and Kasi etc. He also undertook pilgrimage to the holy places of the Buddhists like Kapilvastu, Gaya, Sarnath and Kushinagar. On his return journey, he visited Ceylon, Java, Sumatra before he reached home in 414 A.D. In India, he stayed for about 6 years (405-411 A.D) whatever he observed and recorded here is being summed up below:
    Fahein (Fahsien) has lavishly praised, the administration of the Gupta Dynasty. He says: (1) the administration was well-organized and liberal. The officials least interfered in the private affairs of the people. There was freedom of travel and they were not forced to attend to any magistrate or his rule. If they desired to go, they would go, if they liked to stop, they would stop. (2) Punishments were mild. In most cases, fines were considered sufficient. The capital punishment was never awarded. Only in case of persistent criminals their right hands were chopped off. (3) Public highways were safe from thieves and highwaymen. Fahein himself travelled widely without ever being robed. (4) taxes were low and people could easily pay them .(5) Land was the chief source of revenue which was collected both in cash and kind. (6) Government officials were paid wages in cash, which were both sufficient and promptly regular. It made them honest and they never did wrong to the people or accepted bribes.
    Fahein says that he people were rich, prosperous and happy. They excelled in charity and vied with one another. Caurie shells were used in buying and selling commodities. (3) People possessed high moral and were afraid of doing any sin. (4) They had built several chartable rest-houses where the wearied travelers could stay for rest. (5) They had also built charitable hospitals where the poor were given free treatment besides food and clothing. (6) People were mostly vegetarians and practiced ahimsa. Fahein writes, “Throughout the whole country, the people do not kill any living thing, nor drink any intoxicating liquor, nor wine, or eat onions. They do not keep pigs or fowls, they are not dealings in cattle no butcher shops or distilleries in their market placers.” (7) Only the Chandalas practiced hunting and ate animals flesh. They lived outside the city bounds. They had to seek permission before entering the city lest other people should get polluted by their touch. India had a prosperous trade.Foreign trade was carried through the ports of Broach, Cambay and Sopara.
    Fahein was a religious visitor and a holyman. Therefore, he gave more attention to the religious conditions of his times. He writes: (1) Buddhism flourished in the border provinces of the Punjab, Bengal and Mathura. The people followed the principle of Ahimsa and honoured the Buddhist monks. (2) Fahein nowhere observed hat Buddhism was declining. Nevertheless it is clear from his other observations that Hinduism was gaining popularity. His other observations that important Buddhist places like Gaya, Sarnath, Kapilvastu, and Kushinagar were decaying in importance sufficient to prove that gradually the religion of the Buddha was declining. (3) Though the Gupta rulers were Hindus and also built beautiful temples for the Hindu gods they observed tolerance towards other religions and treated them with equal care. Protection was offered to the Buddhist and the Jais as well. In short, the Brahmanas, the Buddhists and the Jains lived together peacefully.
     
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  3. bharata

    bharata Regular Member

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    Throughout the whole country, the people do not kill any living thing, nor drink any intoxicating liquor, nor wine, or eat onions
    :cool2:
    the Brahmanas, the Buddhists and the Jains lived together peacefully
    :thumb:
     
  4. civfanatic

    civfanatic Retired Moderator

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    So this shows that untouchables and discrimination against them existed at least since Gupta times, and possibly earlier.
     
  5. Bhoja

    Bhoja Regular Member

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    Yes, this is true. But ancient Indian society was still more liberal than medieval society.
    Anyway I was surprised when I read this sentence : "Government officials were paid wages in cash, which were both
    sufficient and promptly regular. It made them honest and they never did wrong to the people or accepted bribes
    ."
    The Gupta dynasty achieved something that todays Indian government is still struggling to achieve.
    This is embarrassing.
     
  6. parijataka

    parijataka Senior Member Senior Member

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    Perhaps Chandalas were tribals who lived in forests - who knows. Even today in states like Karnataka there are groups such as Koragas who must have been forest dwellers and live separately from towns people/villagers and eat stuff such as bandicoot. I dont think Hinduism/Brahmanism can be blamed for everything under the sun.
     
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  7. Tolaha

    Tolaha Senior Member Senior Member

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    Chandalas may not necessarily be a "low caste" person but could be a section of people outside the Vedic caste system. And that stature could be due to them following socially abhorrent practices. Just a theory!
     
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  8. sesha_maruthi27

    sesha_maruthi27 Senior Member Senior Member

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    Killing an animal is a sin and people who do that are sinners and a person who is practicing this was untouchable. May un-touchability was a kind of punishment for those who kill animals and eat. They were allowed into the city with prior permission. May be it was a law for those who kill animals and eat, as killing is a sin. BRAHMANS are not concerned with this. Why do people always blame BRAHMANS? Sarcastic behavior.... Please don't blame BRAHMANS.
     
  9. Das ka das

    Das ka das Tihar Jail Banned

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    Chandalas were neolithic tribes that subsisted on hunting and gathering. They were often admitted into the Arya fold en masse after conforming to the basic tenets of civilized society.
     
    Last edited: Feb 3, 2013
  10. Das ka das

    Das ka das Tihar Jail Banned

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    Not a single reply from our Chinese posters. Is it me or is it ingrained in the Chinese DNA to never praise another (non-White) culture...
     
  11. Bhadra

    Bhadra Defence Professionals Defence Professionals Senior Member

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    Sesha, that is contrary to established prctices of vedic age and thereafter or till recently. Animal sacrifices were almost mendatory in all Yanjyas and Havans which was the basic vedic method of worship. Sacrificing goats etc was quite common till a few years back. All ceremomies were conducted by Brahmins. So all those who killed animals were chandals theory is not correct.
    Many brahmins consumed meat / fish.
    Remember the famous story of Shakuntala who met the king Dushyant when he was hunting. Maharaja Dashrath was cursed by the parents of Sravan Kumar to grief when the former shot an arrow to kill a Deer but instead ended up killing Shrawan Kumar. There are stories of animal killing, hunting and animal sacrifices galore.

    In history speculations may not work.
     
  12. warriorextreme

    warriorextreme Senior Member Senior Member

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    Brahmins buddhists jains lived together peacefully because Buddhism and Jainism influenced Sanatan Dharma to such extent that a new religion i.e. Hinduism came into being..
     
  13. warriorextreme

    warriorextreme Senior Member Senior Member

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    No religious duty in vedas asks for sacrifice of animals and Yajnya the word itself is described as Adhwara in Nirukta where dhwara means violence...
     
  14. Shaitan

    Shaitan Zandu balm all day Senior Member

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    Tribals, forest people.
     
  15. sesha_maruthi27

    sesha_maruthi27 Senior Member Senior Member

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    The yagas, yajnas, homas all come in Yajur veda. I belong to the Yajur Veda sect. According to Yajur Veda, the sacrifice is made to a goat which is made up of rice flour and not to the animal goat. The practice of sacrificing the animals is in TANTRA and not in VEDA. According to VEDA killing is prohibited. Only the people who do not wear the yajnopavetham or the sacred thread can give sacrifice to an animal and this is according to the TANTRA and again not VEDA. One thing to remember is VEDA and TANTRA are two different subjects. The VEDA is of the satva guna and TANTRA is of thamo guna which is done for achieving one's desire. TANTRA has its own way of doing yagas and yajnas and these type of yagas and yajnas are done only by the rakshasas and not by BRAHMANAS. If you go through puranas, you will know that LORD RAM has also performed yagas and yajnas and not even for a single time has it been described that an animal was sacrificed. On the other hand take Indrajeet who performed many yagas and yajnas which require animal sacrifice. SO, the yagas, yajnas and homas according to the VEDAS do not require the sacrifice of living animals and the one which requires sacrifice of living animals is TANTRA yagas and yajnas.

    This subject is vast and very deep. As time is not sufficient, I am just giving a summary or a gist of the subject...
     
  16. G90

    G90 Regular Member

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    China have barely has any interaction in the past with the deep india, most of the interaction between Ancient China and Ancient India taken place in the north part of the south asia, e.g. the lighter-skinned south asians, including Nepal, and some of these should not even called as "indians".

    For instance there is some official historical docoment in China recorded that a fleeing group of nomads (most likely some caucasian group) who orgiinal lived in west China, get pwned by Huns, then fleed to today's Afghanstian/pakistan etc, the Chinese emproer sent a general there to persuade them to fight Huns, because the Huns killed the the leader of these nomads's father.

    However, for whatever reason, the leader refused, maybe because he was being afraid the huns too much, and instead, he lead his group to invade modern day India, I dont know whether this is where the so-called Aryan-invasion theory originated or not, but it happened around the period of West-Han Dynastry of China, which is about 2000 years ago or so.

    And there was also a brief war fought between a troop leaded by a Chinese ambassdar and a indian kingdom who founded by these nomads later, and thats pretty much all the interactions there.

    I cannot remeber any other official historical documents that mention's today's India in Ancient China, they mostly refer Nepal/south Tibet in the past.
     
    Last edited: Feb 5, 2013
  17. Das ka das

    Das ka das Tihar Jail Banned

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    There was no country called Nepal 250 years ago. And definition of "Indian" is cultural rather than ethnic. Who was Bodhidharma then?

    Aryan Invasion theory has been discredited by most reputable academics, and if it DID occur it would have been 3500 years ago, closer in date to your Shang dynasty.

    Sources please?
    You do realize that India was only briefly united in its history, but that is not to say there wasn't a distinct Indic civilization.
     
  18. hit&run

    hit&run Elite Member Elite Member

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    Then this upholds @sesha_maruthi27; 's objection i.e. Brahmins could have been more comfortable with killing animals than Buddhists.

    We are talking about Gupta dynasty when Buddhism was at peak and government was sensitive to their religious liabilities. Blaming every thing on Brahmins is a nonsense.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: May 10, 2015
  19. amoy

    amoy Senior Member Senior Member

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    Sir I beg to differ. Just take Faxian (Fahien) of Jin Dynasty for example. Pls look at his travel routing

    [​IMG]

    He departed India from Calcutta today, then traveled to Ceylon which was also part of " Ancient India" (by culture). Were they "lighter-skinned"?

    And his A record of Buddhistic kingdoms; being an account by the Chinese monk Fâ-Hien of his travels in India and Ceylon, A.D. 399-414, in search of the Buddhist books of discipline. Translated and annotated with a Corean recension of the Chinese text

    Also pls look at Zheng He's tours in Ming Dynasty - with a coverage of South India

    [​IMG]
     
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  20. t_co

    t_co Senior Member Senior Member

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    This is fascinating stuff. It's quite a pity that India was colonized; in many ways, India's uniquely nonviolent view of the world was twisted by the British into subservience and subversion. Just look at how Laski manipulated his disciple Menon.
     
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  21. amoy

    amoy Senior Member Senior Member

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    In another perspective, it's not a "pity". Had their been no British Raj there could have been an entity or identity called India being forged. Before that there were many many princedoms, nawab, khans rather than a single "India" just like China's "Spring and Autumn Period" and " Warring States Period".

    We Chinese have been fed with such communist education like "colonization is evil" or "damaging indigenous cultures" but that's not all true.
     
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