References to China in Sanskrit lit

Madhav Deshpande mmdesh at UMICH.EDU
Sat Nov 2 13:36:31 UTC 2002

A colleague of mine in Chinese studies was wondering how old references to China are in Sanskrit sources.  As far as I can tell, there are references to ciina in Manu, Mahabharata, Ramayana, Milindapanha etc.  My question is what would be a reasonable date for these references.  For example, if the Mahabharata covers a span from 400 B.C. to 400 A.D., where would we reasonably locate the references to ciina?  The same question about Manu and Milinda.  Evidently there is a debate about the names of China in ancient times among historians of China, and the dates of the earliest references in Sanskrit may have a bearing on some arguments.  Any suggestions are welcome.

                                                                          Madhav Deshpande

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