The first Chinese traveler and Buddhist scholar to visit India –

Chandragupta Maurya founded a stable and vast empire in the region of India thousands of years ago. Researchers have called it a developed empire with a strong system of government after reviewing and in-depth study of the cultural relics and manuscripts of BC.

During this period, a Greek ambassador named Magasthenes came there and left a work on Indian civilization called Indica. After that, the travelogues of the Chinese travelers named Fahian and Hiun Tsang also help to understand ancient India.

Since ancient times, India has been the cradle of knowledge, literature, culture and religion. Magasthenes’ book Indica is considered an important source of Chandragupta Maurya era, with the help of which the history of ancient India is compiled. It contains all the details of Alexander the Great’s invasion of India.

This travelogue is a mirror of the Indian culture and civilization of the third century BC. Among the foreign tourists who came to India after Magasthenes, Fahyan, Hiun Tsang, Aburihan Al-Biruni and Ibn Battuta etc. are important names. Who have drawn the political, social, economic, cultural and cultural map of India during their travels.

Fahyan was a Chinese traveler who came to India during Chandragupta’s time to teach Buddhism in the 5th century AD. He stayed here for fifteen years and visited different places. He recorded his travelogue in Fahein Zuhan, which contains many things related to India.

It has also shed light on the social structure of India. According to Fahyan: “There is a long period of happiness in the country. The king is gentle, gentle and kind to his subjects. Hospitals have been built for the treatment of the poor and it is customary to give annual rewards to the workers of the kingdom. Drinking alcohol and eating meat is not seen. The law is soft and justice is easy to achieve. Buddhism is the religion of the common people, but now Brahmanism is again dominating it.” (Reference: Journey in Urdu Literature, Lahore, 1989)

The Chandals are mentioned in this manner:
” Dirty people, lepers and untouchables are called Chandals. These people live on the outskirts of the most isolated city or when they enter the market place, they announce their arrival so that people get out of the way and cannot approach them. Meat business is done only by Chandal people and that too outside the city.
(Reference: Our Ancient Society, Syed Sakhi Hasan Naqvi)

Hien Tsang came to India from China during the reign of Harshavardhana in the 7th century AD. He traveled to the kingdoms of Marupa, Gauda, ​​Magadha, Chalukyas and Pallavas besides King Harshavardhana. He has described his journey in detail in a book called Sioki. He stayed in the court of Harsh Vardhan for 8 years. He has given a special place to Harsha’s government in his book. According to Hien Tsang, Kanauj was then a fortified, well-built city. In 643 AD, Harshavardhana organized a huge religious assembly in which great kings and scholars of different religions participated. At this gathering, Hien Tsang explained the message of the Fahian sect of Buddhism.

Heungsang even wrote that King Harshavardhana used to hold a religious festival at Prayag after every five years which continued for three months continuously. All the wealth of the royal treasury was distributed among the poor, even Harsh Vardhan used to distribute his body clothing.

Hien Tsang mentions the mystery of caste in his book. He writes that nobles and Brahmins used to live in luxury. Shudras were agriculturists. There was a scourge in the society. Before entering a town or village, the untouchables had to announce their presence to the brahmins with a loud voice.

Hien Tsang’s writings also give us detailed information about a Buddhist university at Nalanda. It was a famous educational institution of that time with about ten thousand students studying in it. The expenses of which were borne by the government of the time and two hundred villages together.

He has also mentioned Kashmir Valley as a particularly controversial region in his travelogue. He has written only fifteen pages on Kashmir with great precision and comprehensiveness. They present the ancient history and civilization of India as well as the civilization of Kashmir. It gives us the first account of the Buddhist council at which the sacred scriptures of the major (Mahayana) sect of Buddhism were compiled. It was the third council of Buddhism whose literary significance is Muslim in its place. All works of this council were engraved on copper plates.

According to Dr. Mushtaq Haider:
“Until today, this magnificent cultural treasure, religious treasure, full of light scriptures and mysterious trust is quietly resting in the depths of a forest, as if waiting for a secret confidant, whose eyes are full of insight and the light of knowledge in his chest. Glowing, in front of whom it opens its still existence and emerges as a flood of light. If Hyun Sang had not provided us with information about this, an important milestone in world history would have been lost to anonymity.” (Indian civilization and culture in Urdu travelogues compiled by Khawaja Muhammad Ikramuddin)

Fahian was a Chinese traveler who was a Buddhist and a reformer, who traveled to India to visit Buddhist holy sites in what are today Pakistan, India, Bangladesh, Nepal, Bhutan and Sri Lanka. There are monuments and ruins in the borders or even their names and traces have not remained.

This journey of Fahyan is important in the history of ancient times because there is no sign and mention of any scholar and writer who came to India from China. Researchers believe that Fahyan stayed in India from 399 AD to 412 AD. .

(Excerpted from Sheikh Zahoor Alam’s article)


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