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Professor Xu Fancheng: The Cultural Bridge Between India And China

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On Thursday, October 29, 2018, the Chinese envoy to India, Luo Zhaohui, stressed that both the countries are making considerable progress in strengthening their bilateral relations. Calling for greater cooperation between two neighboring nations, Zhaohui recalled eminent personalities who had influenced the culture link between the two countries.  He particularly laid stress on the contributions of professor Xu Fancheng.

October 26, 2018, marked the 109th birth anniversary of the renowned scholar. In the wake of these developments, this article attempts to throw some light on the life of Xu Fancheng.

Xu Fancheng was born on 26 October 1909, in Changsha and died on 6 March 2000, in Beijing.

Scholar Xu Fancheng’s works are the greatest cultural renascence between Pondicherry, India and China.

#Xu Fancheng at #Pondicherry
Xu Fancheng at Pondicherry

He is considered as the modern day Xuanzhang and remarked as the cultural bridge between India and China by many scholars including H.E Mr. Luo Zhaohui the Chinese Ambassador to India, who was also a student of Professor Xu.

Professor F.C Hsu is popularly known as Xu Fancheng and Hu Hsu in India.

Before he went to China in 1927, he was taught by Wang Kaiyun, the late Qing dynasty Confucian scholar.

From 1927 to 1929, he studied History at Zhongshan University (sun yat sen university) and Western Literature at Fudan University.

From 1929 to 1932, he studied Fine Art and Philosophy at the University of Königsberg, Germany.

From 1945 to 1951, he joined the cultural exchange program between India and China. He studied Sanskrit and taught the history of Chinese Buddhism at Visva Bharati Santiniketan in Kolkata.

In 1951 he went to Varanasi, India and studied Sanskrit there.

From 1951 to 1978, he lived in Sri Aurobindo’s Ashram in Pondicherry.

He returned to mainland China in 1978 and worked as a researcher at China Research Institute of World Religions in the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, Beijing, until he passed away in March 2000.

Hsu was in India during the period of the Cultural Revolution launched by Mao Zedong, formally known as the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution, the sociopolitical movement in China from 1966 until 1976.

During his 27 years stay in Pondicherry, Xu Fancheng translated many great books into Chinese, which included the major works of Sri Aurobindo such as the Life Divine, the Synthesis of Yoga, Bhagavad Gita and 50 verses of the Upanishads. He also translated Nietzsche’s, Sprach Zarathustra, Kalidasa’s lyric poem Meghadhuta, and several of Sri Aurobindo’s works into Chinese. He was familiar with Greek, Latin, English, French, Sanskrit and German. A 16-volume of his complete works was published in 2006.

On the foundation ceremony of Auroville, the Auroville Charter was read out in Chinese, translated by Hsu.

Xu Fancheng’s life has been between the three major cultural realms of China, India and the West. His spiritual coverage is great, and the scope of his translations is vast.

Xu is one of the few people in the 20th-century Chinese scholars’ middle school and the spiritual traditions of the three major cultural circles of China, the West and India.

xufancheng-huhsu

In order to support Mr. Xu’s work, the Mother sent someone to purchase a complete set of Chinese printing equipment from Hong Kong. This was the only Chinese printing office in India, at least in the past.

Hu Hsu was a phenomenal man, who travelled from Kolkata to Pondicherry in search of Sri Aurobindo’s teachings. When he first arrived in Pondicherry in 1951, he gained popularity soon – as he was the only Chinese man there. He dedicated the best of his time in translating the major works of Sri Aurobindo. 


The Mother believed Hu Hsu to be a remarkable man, and through him one day a higher purpose will be fulfilled in connecting the two countries – India and China through cultural and educational ties.

Hu Hsu is indeed the spiritual and cultural ambassador of India and China.

Mr. Xu has no after, no direct inheritor. The society owns all of Mr. Xu’s spiritual heritage in all forms of the Institute of World Religions of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.

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An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

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Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

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MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

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A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

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A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

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A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

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A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform Change.org, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on Change.org has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in Change.org’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

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