Prof. XuFancheng / 徐梵澄

(26 October 1909, Changsha – 6 March 2000, Beijing)

Prof. XuFancheng (also known as F.C Hsu, HuHsu, HsuHu, Fancheng, Hu, HS, Shiquan, ), popularly known as HuHsu and Fancheng at Pondicherry (Puducherry), Prof.Xu was one of the great Chinese Sanskrit scholars in the modern history of India -China cultural relations. 

“I don’t care about appearing in the public eye, I don’t care about not hearing applause, but I just keep learning and writing until the end of my life. “

Prof. XuFancheng: 

Prof. XuFancheng was born in Changsha, Hunan. His name was “Hu”(琥) Courtesy name Jihai (季海).

He was a friend and follower of famous writer LuXun. His study in Königsberg, Germany was inspired by Lu’s advice.

Prof. XuFancheng was taught by the student of the late Qing dynasty Confucian scholar Wang Kaiyun. From 1927 to 1929, he studied History at Zhongshan University and then Western Literature in Fudan University. He studied Fine Art and Philosophy at the University of Königsberg, Germany from 1929 to 1932. 

Prof. XuFancheng was a philosopher, translator, painter, and the most well-known Indo-Sinologist. He was well versed in 9 languages which included Chinese (simplified, traditional ), English, German, French, Sanskrit, Latin, and Greek. He was also a great painter and versatile scholar, he had an in-depth study of Chinese culture as well as Indian and western culture. He compared Sanskrit to the Changsha dialect from a phonological point to demonstrate the influence of Buddhism on native languages in China and cultural exchange and assimilation between China and India, providing new approaches and aspirations for India-China culture studies. XuFancheng was among the first Chinese scholars to translate the Great Upanishads into the Classical Chinese language. He was a researcher and professor at the Research Institute of World religions of the Chinese academy of social science in the later period of his life. 

XuFancheng possessed the ability to translate Sanskrit to Classical Chinese. Both languages are archaic and not commonly spoken by the people in India and China.

Prof. XuFancheng came to India in 1945, under the India-China cultural exchange program, and joined the Chinese Institute (Cheena Bhavan) of Viswa Bharati University, Shantiniketan. XuFancheng studied and taught the Philosophy of Ouyang Jingwu 歐陽竟無 at Shantiniketan. After 3 years he moved to Varanasi and continued his study of Sanskrit literature for one year. 

(Philosophy of Ouyang Jingwu is the combination of pure Buddhism and Confucianism with original consciousness theory as the focus). 

Prof. XuFancheng came to Pondicherry in 1951, he lived at Sri Aurobindo ashram (monastery) for 27 years (1951 -78) and translated the works of Sri Aurobindo. He translated the books which included The Life divine(1984), On Yoga(1988), Integral Yoga (2OO5), and Yoga Letter set (2005). The translations of Sri Aurobindo’s thoughts on spiritual and social evolution theories were widely received by Chinese intellectuals. The Upanishads are the most important texts the World has ever known, Prof. Hsu translated the Fifty Upanishads in 1984.

The Cheena Bhavan (Chinese Institute) of Visva Bharati University was founded in 1937. Tan Yun-shan was a native of Hunan province in China, he met Rabindranath Tagore in 1927 in Singapore; at the invitation of Tagore, he traveled to India the very next year, to join the International University (Visva-Bharati) in Santiniketan.

Prof. XuFancheng was able to recount Confucius’s thoughts represented by Lu wang’s philosophical school of the Ming dynasty, by basing on the philosophical thought of Sri Aurobindo. 

original handwritten Bhagavad Gita manuscript can be found at Shanghai Museum. 

In 1957 at Pondicherry, Prof. XuFancheng published Kalidasa’s original Sanskrit work Meghaduta and “The Bhagavad Gita” in the traditional Chinese language. In his works, Prof. XuFancheng adopted an original style of Lisao and Chinese poetry by composing his own poems on the basis of the original meaning. The original handwritten Bhagavad Gita manuscript can be found at Shanghai Museum. 

The major ideas and theories contained in the Upanishads spread in China along with Buddhism. These gave a major impact on Chinese philosophy.

Prof. XuFancheng was also a Chinese painter and calligrapher He painted more than 500 Chinese paintings, which are safely kept at Sri Aurobindo ashram, Pondicherry and also some paintings can be found with few peoples who had acquaintances with Prof. Xu.

paintings are courtesy of Sri Aurobindo Ashram, Pondicherry.

The Mother wrote thus about him “… a scholar who is at once an artist and a yogi.”

 

“To understand how he (XuFancheng) is translating Sri Aurobindo’s Synthesis of Yoga into Chinese characters—he’s had to find new characters! It was very interesting. It was very interesting.
He must have invented characters. Chinese characters are made up of root signs, and the meaning changes according to the positions of the root signs.”
(Mother’s agenda Oct 30-1962 )

Auroville charter handwritten by XuFancheng kept at Auroville archives.

Soon after Mother left her body on 17 November 1973, Prof. Hsu also left Pondicherry in 1978.

In 2006 — the year of India China friendship Prof. XuFancheng’s works were published by the Chinese academy of social science, Beijing in a total of 16 volumes. 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.

5/5

Collected Works of Prof.XuFancheng (F.C Hsu)

  • Vol. 1 : Miscellaneous writings Contents: 南海新光;玄理参同;韦陀教神坛与大乘菩萨道概观;«唯识二十论»钩沉; 关于毗沙门天王等事;老子臆解;«周易»西行;«超人»论衍; 专史·新研·极成;陆王学述;梵文研究在欧西;神名释
  • Vol. 2: An etymological introduction to Chinese characters.Contents: Chinese Words (小学菁华)
  • Vol. 3 : Writings on Chinese philosophy Contents: Confucianism; The Book of Universality: A Supplement to the Book of Changes; Three Theses of Seng Zhao; On the Theory of Pure Consciousness; An Entrance into Neo-Confucianism – The Great Treatise
  • Vol. 4 : Prefaces, postscripts & other writings Contents: 序跋;文论;文事;诗论与诗存
  • Vol. 5 : Friedrich Nietzsche, Morgenröte & Die fröhliche Wissenschaft, translated from German Contents: 朝霞;快乐的智识
  • Vol. 6 : Writings on Nietzsche Contents: 苏鲁支语录;尼采自传 
  • Vol. 7 : Translations from Sanskrit & English, including works by Kalidasa (Meghadūta) & Sri Aurobindo (The Human Cycle & The Mother) Contents: 佛教述略;行云使者;社会进化论 ;神母道论;安慧«三十唯识»疏释;周天集;周天集(续集);因明蠡勺论
  • Vol. 8 : Bhagavadgītā & Sri Aurobindo’s Essays on the Gita, translated from Sanskrit & English Contents: 薄伽梵歌;薄伽梵歌论
  • Vol. 9 : Selected writings & talks of the Mother (Mirra Alfassa), Parts 1 & 2, translated from French & English Contents: 母亲的话,第一辑·第二辑
  • Vol. 10 : Selected writings & talks of the Mother (Mirra Alfassa), Parts 3 & 4, translated from French & English Contents: 母亲的话,第三辑·第四辑
  • Vol. 11 : Sri Aurobindo, Bases of Yoga & The Synthesis of Yoga (Parts 1-3), translated from English Contents: 瑜伽的基础;瑜伽论(一,二,三)
  • Vol. 12 : Sri Aurobindo, The Synthesis of Yoga (Part 4) & Letters on Yoga (Part 1 of 1970 edition), translated from English Contents: 瑜伽论(四);瑜伽书札集
  • Vol. 13 : Sri Aurobindo, The Life Divine, Vol. 1 (Book 1 & Book 2, Part 1), translated from English Contents: 神圣人生论(上卷)
  • Vol. 14 : Sri Aurobindo, The Life Divine, Vol. 2 (Book 2, Part 2), translated from English Contents: 神圣人生论(下卷)
  • Vol. 15 : Fifty Upanishads (1-15), translated from Sanskrit Contents: 奥义书 ()
  • Vol. 16 : Fifty Upanishads (16-50), translated from Sanskrit Contents: 奥义书 ()