Contribution of Xufancheng for Intercultural Understanding

Start Date:30-Sep-2022

End Date:30-Sep-2022

Location:Society House


A new spirit of oneness will take hold of the human race.
-Sri Aurobindo

On the occasion of  the 75th Anniversary of India’s Independence and 150th Birth Anniversary of Sri Aurobindo, AuroBharati, Sri Aurobindo Society under its series on “India & The World” organized a lecture on "Contribution of XuFancheng for Intercultural Understanding with special reference to the works of Sri Aurobindo and The Mother” by Dr. Bikaskali Das, Director of the XuFancheng Culture Study Center, Union Territory of Puducherry on 30th September, 2022.

Speaking on the occasion, Dr. Kishor Kumar Tripathy, informed about the objective of the project “India & The World” including promotion of study of India’s cultural relations with other countries. He spoke about the contribution of Maharshi Aurobindo with special emphasis on his dreams “for the resurgence and liberation of the peoples of Asia and her return to her great role in the progress of human civilisation,” “a world-union forming the outer basis of a fairer, brighter and nobler life for all mankind” and “the spiritual gift of India to the world.” He mentioned about the vision of Maharshi Aurobindo for the promotion of International understanding including ‘international spirit and outlook,’ ‘international forms and institutions,’ ‘willed interchange or voluntary fusion of cultures’ and ‘development of world Unity.’   

Dr. Bikashkali Das spoke about Prof. Xu Fancheng, translator of Indian, Chinese and German Philosophy, Poet, Chinese Painter and Calligrapher as well as an Asian Scholar who studied the grand cultural heritage of India and China and made a significant contribution in many fields. Prof. XuFancheng was one of the great Scholars in the modern history of intercultural relations between India and Chinese-speaking nations. He was a well-known philosopher and translator in Eurasia. He was well versed in 9 languages which included Chinese (simplified, traditional), English, German, French, Sanskrit, Latin, and Greek and was a versatile scholar, who had an in-depth study of Indian culture, Chinese and western culture.

Prof. Xu Fancheng compared Sanskrit to the Changsha dialect from a phonological point to demonstrate the influence of Buddhism on native languages in China and cultural exchange and assimilation between China and India. XuFancheng was among the first Chinese scholars to translate the complete Great Upanishads and few of the major works of Sri Aurobindo's in the Classical Chinese language. In 1957 at Pondicherry, he published Kalidasa’s original Sanskrit work Meghaduta and “The Bhagavad Gita” in the traditional Chinese language. He also translated the writings of Sri Aurobindo including Essays on the Gita, Selected writings & talks of the Mother, The Synthesis of Yoga and The Life Divine.

The Mother also gave her remarks on the techniques adapted by Prof. XuFancheng for translating the works of Sri Aurobindo “To understand how he is translating Sri Aurobindo’s Synthesis of Yoga into Chinese characters—he’s had to find new characters! It was very interesting. He must have invented characters. Chinese characters are made up of root signs, and the meaning changes according to the positions of the root signs.” (Mother’s Agenda Oct 30-1962). He said that Prpf. XuFancheng is known as the First Chinese person who introduced Integral Yoga to China and he has been often credited with not only introducing Indian Philosophy to China but also inspiring Chinese Universities to teach the works of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother.

Prof. XuFancheng introduced Sri Aurobindo and Mother Mirra's philosophy to Chinese-speaking nations. He was able to recount Confucius’s thoughts represented by Lu wang’s philosophical school of the Ming dynasty, by the basing on the philosophical thought of Sri Aurobindo. Prof. Xu Fancheng introduced the Integral Yoga of Sri Aurobindo to China. He also wrote books on Confucianism, corpus of Zhao in English and translated the Nietzsche’s Ecce Homo, which was also considered as a bridge linking the people of China, India and Europe. Presenting the artistic creativity of Prof. Xu Fancheng, Dr. Das told that he was also a painter and calligrapher. He painted more than five hundred Chinese paintings, which are presently kept at Sri Aurobindo Ashram, Pondicherry. Through his artistic excellence, he highlighted the symbolic expression of artistic beauty. The Mother also wrote about him “a scholar who is at once an artist and a Yogi.” Prof. Xu Fancheng’s contribution in the area of Indo China cultural relations provides a new approach and aspiration for connecting the civilizational linkages between India and China. His collected works show that he was not only a translator of Indian Philosophical works, he was also an original writer, and even though most of his own creations are relatively short, they cover an extensive range, reflecting deeply on Hinduism, Confucianism, Taoism, Buddhism as well as classical Grecian Philosophy. In his works, Xu Fancheng adopted an original style of Chinese poetry by composing his own poems on the basis of the original meaning.

Emphasizing on the role played by Prof. XuFancheng in the area of Intercultural Understanding, Dr. Das told that Prf. Xu created a bridge and aided others to cross-cultural and linguistic boundaries. Prof. Xu’s works are highly significant in connecting people from different cultures speaking different languages. His literary activities helped to communicate the philosophical ideas and beliefs in a proper way and brought together different traditions for intercultural understanding. The lecture was followed by significant discussions on the contribution of Prof. Xu Fancheng.

“A great and living civilization like the civilizations of China, Japan and India which have understood and practised organization and self-adaptation to surrounding circumstances for thousands of years and have developed a highly intellectual and ingenious people quick to understand, to imitate and to improve.”
(Bande Mataram by Sri Aurobindo)

About the speaker: Dr. Bikaskali Das, one of the Directors of the Xu Fancheng Culture Study centre, Pondicherry. He is an International consultant, and researcher. As a medical professional, in past he had served for a brief period of 4 years (2011-2015) in Dali, Yunnan China. His expertise includes India- Eurasia relations, India_China cultural & P2P relations, Biodiversity & Environment, Cross-Culture_Study program, academic program development, XuFancheng’s life and academic achievements. He works with various organizations. He has been an International speaker for various events such as BOAO Forum for Asia 2019, BRICS Youth cultural exchange 2021, participated as an observer for the "UN COP-15 Biodiversity" event.