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ACROSS THE HIMALAYAN GAP

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Preface

 

India and China between them represent the two oldest continuing civilizations in the world, covering more than one-third of the entire population of Planet Earth. This fact alone highlights the tremendous importance of inter cultural visits and studies between these two nations who have been neighbours ever since history began. Unfortunately, as a result of Western dominance, the ancient links gradually disappeared causing a vacuum which now needs to be filled. The seminar organised by the Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts recently was a welcome step in this direction, and the present volume will important contribution towards developing a closer understanding between India and China. Hopefully it will be followed in due course by a companion volume entitled “Chinese Perspective on India”.

It is well known that Buddhism, which was born in India, became the major cultural link between the two civilizations. China already had a flourishing Confucian tradition with which Buddhism interacted in a positive and non-confrontational manner. Among the many persons who carried the message of the Buddha to China was the famous scholar Kumarajiva who came from my home state of Kashmir. While it is generally known that the Buddhist influence spread from India to China, there is an inadequate appreciation regarding what we have received from China. Tea, porcelain, silk and printings are among the great gifts of China to world civilization.

We are shortly entering the third millennium A.D. For us in India and China, whose civilizations go back much further in time, the event may not be as exciting as it is to the West. Nonetheless, it does mark an important milestone in modern history. If the 19th century has been described as the century of Europe, and the 20th as the century of America, it is possible that the 21st century will be described as the century of Asia, in which China and India will inevitably be major players. A creative interaction between the Indic and the Sinic civilizations will be a major factor in this process.

It is my sincere hope that universities and other academic institutions in India will begin paying closer attention to India-Chinese relations-political, economic and cultural. The Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts has made a useful contribution in this direction.

Karan Singh

New Delhi

1st December 1997

 

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© 1998 Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts, New Delhi

All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced any manner without written permission of the publisher. 

Published in 1998 by 

Gyan Publishing House

5, Ansari Road, Darya Ganj,

New Delhi - 110 002.