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 My Tribute to Tan Yun-Shan 


 Kalyan Kumar Sarkar


Let me express my profound sense of appreciation to the distinguished sons and daughters of Professor Tan for organizing their father's birth centenary. Sincere congratulations for taking this commendable initiative.

Professor Tan has been and will be recognized as the living symbol of Sine-Indian friendship. Cheena-Bhavana remains and will constantly remind us for years to come the eternal ties that bind the two countries together, namely India and China. The Sino-Indian Cultural Society, now defunct, will continue to inspire the posterity with a great ideal of human endeavour to bring together two peoples with similar aspirations.

This birth centenary celebration of Professor Tan, in my humble opinion, is also an occasion for introspection. It gives us an opportunity to reflect and reassess the true value of our dreams we cherished for a long time and reaffirm our faith not only in the noble mission of fostering Sino-Indian amity for which Professor and Madam Tan strove and made great sacrifices, but also in some eternal verities of humanity which shaped those noble ideals like peace, harmony and compassion.

For me, Professor Tan was primarily a teacher in the noble sense of the term. No wonder, this great ideal of a true teacher closely resembled in both ancient India and China. Professor Tan's life demonstrates this noble ideal in action. Indeed, he practised what he taught. His compassion and affection for his students will never be forgotten and will remain an inspiration for those who follow his line.

I think Professor Tan imbibed some of the great ideals of both China and India in a very realistic and pragmatic way. In him I found a very refined blending of Confucian, Taoist and Buddhist traditions, In our conversation it was hard to distinguish between various schools of thought, because in the ultimate analysis they tend to merge into the great ocean of humanity. The most remarkable feature of his personality was that he became spiritually an Indian without losing his Chinese identity. His personality was very classical in the real sense. At the same time he had an enormous strength of character to constantly welcome and practise in his own life the path of Mahatma Gandhi and the humanistic ideals of Poet Tagore. He never ceased to be active. A time came when he realized, in my opinion, that his active role of building in Santiniketan had been complete, he decided to move on to Bodh Gaya to initiate yet another noble dream of his life -- the World Buddhist Academy. I have noticed the foundations of both Cheena-Bhavana and World Buddhist Academy are really strong (both physically and spiritually). Obviously after the demise of Professor Tan, the functioning of the Academy suffered a lot, but that does not take away the value of that great ideal that worked behind its creation. The spirit of Professor Tan's relentless efforts to implement great ideas will never fade.

Today by paying tribute to the sacred memory of Professor Tan we are in fact honouring our own ideals and noble missions which always guide and provide light to the wayfarer in the midst of darkness.

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1999 Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts, New Delhi

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