References to China in Sanskrit lit
lel at LEL.MSK.RU
Sat Nov 2 22:11:46 UTC 2002
But what about Kautilya Arthashastra (I AD):
02.11.114 ciinapaTTaaZca ciinabhuumijaa ?
China, in my mind, must be known in India 100-200 years before
PO> I have had to deal with this in connection to the date of Manu. I
PO> append some comments of mine in my intro to Manu.
PO> The reference to the Chinese with the work cna is problematic. The
PO> term is not used by Pata§jali or the DharmasÂtras. The word was
PO> probably derived from a central Asian language and is related to the
PO> Qin (Chin) dynasty (221-206 B.C.E.), which, although short lived, was
PO> the first to unify China. The term itself, however, may have been
PO> older, because the Qin was a state in Northwest China prior to that
PO> time with strong trade connection with Central Asia. The term
PO> China¤, like India¤ itself, is not a term of self-identification by
PO> the Chinese. The term came back to China probably from India via
PO> Buddhist monks and texts. When a people known as cna came to be
PO> known in India is difficult to estimate. The terms absence in the
PO> earlier literature, however, makes it likely that it could not have
PO> been know before the 1st century B.C.E. It was during this time or a
PO> little earlier under the Han dynasty that Chinese trade with the west
PO> began to flourish.
PO> We do have, however, the mention of aka in the compound akayavana
PO> by Pata§jali (on Pýini 2.4.10). So, the word yavana must have been
PO> in circulation by the middle of the 2nd century B.C.E. Interestingly,
PO> we have the progression from yavana in Pýini, to yavana and aka in
PO> Pata§jali, to yavana, aka, and cna in the MDh and the Mahýbhýrata.
PO> I doubt whether the term ciina could have come to India until the
PO> expansion of foreign trade under the Han dynasty. An upper limit of
PO> 1st cent BCE appears to me reasonable, unless there is strong
PO> evidence to the contrary.
>>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.
Lielukhine mailto:lel at lel.msk.ru
More information about the INDOLOGY