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The Legacy of Prof. Xu Fancheng: A Bridge between Indian and Chinese Philosophies

March 6th marks the 23rd anniversary of the passing of one of the most significant Chinese-Sanskrit scholars in the contemporary history of cultural and philosophical interactions between India and China, Prof. Xu Fancheng. Born on October 26th, 1909, Xu Fancheng was a poet, Chinese painter, calligrapher, and translator of German, Chinese, and Indian philosophical works. He was a scholar who studied German, Chinese, and Indian civilizations and made significant contributions in these three cultural spheres. Throughout his life, he went by the names F.C Hsu, HuHsu, Shiquan, and Fancheng.

Prof. Xu Fancheng was the first Chinese scholar to translate the Complete Works of Sri Aurobindo into Chinese, introduce them to China, and become a disciple of The Mother and followers of Sri Aurobindo. During his time in Pondicherry, Xu Fancheng was influenced by the works of Sri Aurobindo. He studied and translated ancient Indian texts, including the Bhagavad Gita. He lived in Pondicherry, India, for 27 years and made significant contributions to the study and understanding of Indian philosophy and culture in China.

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Xu Fancheng came to India in 1945, under the India-China cultural exchange program, and joined the Chinese Institute (Cheena Bhavan) of Viswa Bharati university, Shantiniketan. He then moved to Pondicherry in 1951, became a devotee of Sri Aurobindo and a follower of The Mother. For 27 years (1951-78), he lived at Pondicherry and devoted himself to translating the works of Sri Aurobindo under the guidance of The Mother. Prof. Xu Fancheng translated most of the significant works of Sri Aurobindo and The Mother to Chinese, including The Life Divine (1984), On Yoga (1988), Integral Yoga (2005), and Yoga Letter set (2005).

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The Mother wrote about him as “A Scholar who is at once an artist and a yogi.” Prof. XuFancheng was a true visionary who went beyond traditional methods of translation. He invented new characters for Chinese characters to translate Sri Aurobindo’s Synthesis of Yoga into Chinese characters. His unique style of composing his poems based on the original meaning of ancient Indian texts was a testament to his creative approach.

In 1957, at Pondicherry, Prof. XuFancheng published Kalidasa’s original Sanskrit work Meghaduta and “The Bhagavad Gita” in the traditional Chinese language. The original handwritten Bhagavad Gita manuscript can be found at the Shanghai Museum. In 2006, the year of India China friendship Year, Prof. XuFancheng’s works were published in 16 volumes by the Shanghai Joint Publishing Company. Today, in the field of India-China relations, he is regarded as the greatest cultural bridge between India and China and regarded as the modern-day XuanZang.

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The passing of Prof. Xu Fancheng on March 6th, 2000, left a significant void in the world of Chinese-Sanskrit scholarship. However, his contributions to the understanding of Indian philosophy and culture in China will always be remembered. He was not just a translator but a true visionary who bridged the gap between cultures, and his work will continue to inspire generations to come. As we commemorate the 23rd anniversary of his passing, let us remember his legacy and celebrate his life’s work.

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