Note: Originally Written and Compiled from Facebook Comments in 2013. Some links unavailable
In an upcoming article in Hindu Today magazine I will highlight Chinese ancient Vedic Civilization. basically we know from the vaishnava perspective that lord krsna was worshiped globally. just as in india buddhism spread anywhere that vedic culture was practiced yet the same terminologies and languages and concepts were used as different methods were developed. (here i refer to mahayana buddhism not therevadan a later atheistic form). so the fact buddhism is present is a proof that an earlier vedic tradition existed. basically lord buddha was accepted as the latest avatar/revelation.
From the historic perspective we see that vietnam’s cham hindus, the khmer, philippines, indonesia all had vibrant ‘hindu’ civilizations and their art, sculptures, temples etc were all indigenous expressions of vedic culture. despite the relatively close proximity to india compared to china these people all represented and maintained their own indigenous forms of vedic art and culture. surely if these closer regions maintained their own vibrant non-indic forms of hinduism the much further china could as well.
If it were solely a case of Indians spreading Indian culture throughout the region surely the closer regions would show such evidence. rather the evidence shows that the natives considered themselves to be just as much a part of vedic civilization as the people of india. thus we see the greatest river in south east asia is called Me Kong or Ma Ganga. This is its primal name of the river, and it is still at the epicenter of SE asian civilization. its not a new name given after they ‘converted’ to hinduism. there was no conversion per se rather there was a loss and a dilution. this combined with the outright hostility of later socio-political forces led to the virtual extinction of the many vedic civilizations of the region.
The shrinking of the living vedic cultures to the subcontinent of India only means india has maintained vedic civilization and not that indian civilization has shrunk. And there are thousands of examples of these native expressions of hinduism to this day. Balinese Hinduism is a case in point. the evidence suggests the same phenomenon existed in ancient china as well. Facebook link unavailable
Ancient Chinese records reveal that there were 3 Vedic temples in one Chinese city within the same time period. In 750 AD there were 3 Chinese Monasteries full of Brahmins as well. The Tang Dynasty (618–907 AD) have been identified as being ‘Hindu’ for 2 Generations. A Deity of Lord Shiva was installed, by Royal Decree (Firman), for the ‘Well Being’ of the Chinese Emperor.
In the above album there are clear examples of non-indic vedic architecture and artistic style. china was home to its own vedic civilization.
India sent out Cultural Revivers and Never Converters. As the epicenter and ancient global capital and home of the Rishis, the region of modern India has always been the Guru to the World. India was the political capital as well. Thus throughout history, waves of Indian Sages and Kings have revived the worlds original Vedic Civilization. Today, only India is called Bharat, yet once, the entire world was called Bharat. The very word Brother = Bharaters, reflects this fact.
As I point out in my upcoming article the carvings at the kaiyuan temple are vedic. there are others as well from a hindu temple that was known to have existed in the 600s AD. also chinese records state that there were 3 hindu temples in one chinese city in the same time period. in 750 ad there were 3 monasteries full of brahmins as well. the tang dynasty was hindu for 2 generations. thre are many other examples of this chinese hinduism. regarding the kaiyuan temple carvings they are definetly influenced by tamil art but the original shiva temple and the very diety of shiva were direclty connected to the chinese as well. the temple had been there from aat least the 600s and the diety was in fact installed (according to the bilingual erroneous tamil and accurate chinese inscriptions) by a royal decree (firman) of the chinese emperor for the ‘well being’ of the chinese emperor.
We can gain a better insight by looking at this issue from the socio-politcal view. the direct imprint of hindu/vedic civilization can be found across the entire region from afghanistan to the philippines. yet rarely do we find actual kings or armies from india spreading out from india to conquer these regions. being native to the regions the vedic cultural imprint functioned organically and harmoniously and never relied upon outsiders. ankgor wat, the myson shiva temples of vietnam, indonesias epic hindu temples and cities, none of these were built by indians but rather by the natives themselves. the same phenomenon repeated itself in china, japan and mongolia as well.
There’s no doubt, just as today, that indians were involved in the functioning of these non indic vedic cultures as well. thus we see many buddhist monks from india spreading buddhism but not as a new religion but a new revival and expression of Sanatana Dharma. this was surely not a new practice and many vedic acharyas must have also traveled widely and there is proof of this as well. as in the temple art above a tamil has been directly named as the ‘donor’ yet the inscription commemorating this is written in a tamil full of errors. so no these vedic artifacts do not represent the art of an enclosed ‘indic’ colony separate from the mainstream chinese community. this is also evident by the many other hindu artifacts found beyond the kaiyuan temple highlighted in the album. Facebook link unavailable
Also it is interesting that when the durga deity was rediscovered in the 1980s or 90s she was buried within a wall of an old building. upon her discovery the chinese people built a shrine and restablished her worship. however being separated from the original siddhanta she was installed as kuanyin. though her exact identity was not known the proper mood of worship was established. Facebook link unavailable
It is also crucial to remember that Mao’s ‘cultural’ revolution is responsible for detroying thousands of vedic artifacts. many proofs have thus been lost and destroyed. a major effort was made to obliterate all evidence of vedic culture in china and in mongolia as well.
In conclusion these are examples of indigenous chinese vedic culture which was invigorated by a strong cultural interflow between ancient india and china. since time and immemorial indian saints and kings recharged china’s natural inherent dharmic foundations. that dharma however itself is the natural constitution of every human being. thus every civilization has at its core its own indigenous experiential revelation of the divine. as srila prabhupada said krsna has countless avatars and he has appeared to every species even within the ant community.
Go here to Vietnam’s Da Nang Museum of Hindu Cham Art.