The tiny territory of Puducherry has played a quiet but symbolic role in the cultural exchange between India and China in modern times, courtesy Chinese scholar Hu Hsu, also known as Xu Fancheng, who lived in Puducherry for 27 years from 1951 to 1978.

The scholar, regarded as ‘the modern Xuanzang’, settled in Sri Aurobindo Ashram in 1951 and translated numerous major works of Sri Aurobindo and a good number of Sanskrit texts such as Upanishads and the Bhagavad Gita. “He lived a life of solitude and intense learning and seeking. He also painted in classical Chinese style and practised calligraphy besides translating Sri Aurobindo’s work and Indian Sanskrit texts,” said faculty member of Sri Aurobindo international centre of education Devdip Ganguli.

Returning to China in 1978, Hu became a faculty member of the institute of world religion, a department of the renowned Chinese academy of social sciences, Beijing. He shared his knowledge with fellow scholars and students and became known as one of the foremost scholars on Indian culture.

“Many students and researchers in China today are able to gain a deeper understanding of India’s culture through Hu’s translations, essays and other original works,” Ganguli said.

Sri Aurobindo Ashram has preserved 300 of Hu Hsu’s paintings on its premises. The Pondicherry Educational Collaboration Organization (Peco), Indian National Trust for Architectural and Cultural Heritage (Intach) and Sri Aurobindo Ashram will hold an exhibition in memory of the scholar from March 10 to June 30 at the ashram studio.

The organizers will also hold a symposium from 10am to 1pm on March 10 at Hotel Accord. Chinese ambassador to India Luo Zhaohui, who said Hu Hsu is one of the bridges between Indian and China during his visit to Puducherry in last October, will formally inaugurate the symposium at 10am on Saturday in the presence of his wife counselor Jiang Yili, former director of institute of Asia-Pacific studies Huang Xinchuan and Puducherry chief minister V Narayanasamy and others. The speakers at the symposium will highlight the life and legacy of the Chinese scholar.

“The objective is to create awareness about Hu Hsu as an Indologist, artist and cultural ambassador between India and China and to explore opportunities for exchanges in the fields of education, heritage, culture and arts between India and China,” Ganguli said.

The exhibition and symposium are supported by the Embassy of China, Puducherry tourism department, Chennai Centre for China studies and India China friendship association, Chennai.

Originally posted at The Times of India, Mar 10, 2018

Hu Hsu Exhibition at Sri Aurobindo Asharam Studio (opp Ashram Post Office), Pondicherry. From March 10 to June 30, at the ashram studio: 9am-11am and 3pm to 4pm.


See also: Xu Fancheng (徐梵澄) : a Chinese disciple of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother.

You can also read an article on Xu Fancheng (Hu Hsu) which appeared in “Auroville Today”.