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.
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.
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.