Chinese Buddhism owes a lot to Gandhara Civilisation, envoy’s book

Daily Times, Oct 12, 2012

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan -- Pakistan’s High Commissioner to Singapore and author of the book “Chinese Made Easy” Syed Hasan Javed joined Quaid-e-Azam University faculty, scholars and students on Thursday to give an insight into the history of cultural and religious relationship between Pakistan and China.

The event, which also a seminar, on “Gandharan Buddhist Heritage: A bond between Pakistan and China”, organised by the Taxila Institute of Asian Civilisations (TIAC) at QAU, also saw the launch of “Chinese Made Easy”.

Javed encouraged students to retrace the historical context of Buddhism is vital as only limited research has been conducted on this area which still needs to be explored. “Chinese Made Easy” with its unique features is likely to become the most favourite learning Mandarin book first of its kind in Pakistan and also in the world. This book has Chinese characters, Pinyin, English translation, Roman Urdu, Urdu pronunciation and translation, in addition to rich vocabulary and specific needs based lessons. It also includes Chinese language metaphors as pearls of wisdom as an ‘icing on the cake’.

While expressing his gratitude to Javed in initiating academic collaboration abroad, QAU Vice Chancellor Prof Dr Masoom Yasinzai said, “Today’s seminar garners special importance due to two facts. First, it enlightened us about so many aspects of our history. Secondly, it is valuable in terms of contributing to our historical consciousness and in turn giving us a clear vision about our future course of action. I believe that such kind of discourses and activities can be used in our nation building process. We are looking forward for signing MoUs with the Buddhist Federation of Singapore and the Institute of South Asia, a step which will further the cause of knowledge and research in Pakistan.”

He also apprised the audience that Taxila Institute of Asian Civilisations, QAU has also signed a MoU with the IsIAO Italian Archaeological Mission aiming at the promotion of academic collaboration between the two institutes. Similarly, its MoU with the Department of the Antiquity Sciences, La Sapienza of Rome, is also an encouraging step to promote scientific co-operation between Pakistan and Italy.

Javed mentioned that knowing the Chinese language will help us in fostering the diplomatic relationship with China, undoubtedly an important country due to its economic stability in the region. He explained different sources of Chinese civilisation value systems, ancient civilisation contacts between Pakistan and China, and how ancient Chinese missionaries travelled through/ to the Gandhara regions of Pakistan; even some Buddhist pilgrims visited Fata. Author illuminated the audience how Buddhism became popular in China due to its appeal to moral, virtues, purity of life and spirituality which are basic attributes of Chinese people.

TIAC Director Prof Dr M Ashraf Khan also expressed great pleasure for hosting such a grandiose academic event. According to him, the book is of vital importance in respect to the bilateral relations between the states of Pakistan and China and the people of the two republics. “Of course, one of the great religions of the world, Buddhism reached China from Gandhara, the later being one of the great centres of this religion.

Many Buddhist teachers went to China for the propagation of Buddhism. I hope that the speech by Javed will cover the scope of this important episode of our history.” Former foreign secretary Akram Zaki referred to Javed as a man of deep passion and commitment who has well researched the Chinese civilisation. Zaki gave great importance to developing friendly relationship between China and Pakistan.

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