References to China in Sanskrit lit

Lielukhine D.N. lel at LEL.MSK.RU
Thu Nov 7 21:37:56 UTC 2002

Hello Patrick,
  100-200 years up to I cent. A.D. It, nevertheless more real date KA.
  Reflection in shastra a concrete material (and a mention of China - the concrete fact)
  hardly could take place both under laws of a genre, and for other reasons (hardly it is possible to assume,
  that the Chinese merchants for the first time have brought their goods in I cent. AD and at once this information
  has been included in KA). Opinion of K.P. Jayaswal, that ciina = Zina, in my opinion is not absolutely correct.

Monday, November 4, 2002, 12:59:06 AM, you wrote:

PO> I am not sure what you mean by "100-200 years before"  - before what?
PO> Clearly the Artha cannot be dated, at least as  we have it, to a time
PO> long before 1st cent BCE, which would be the upper limit -- I think
PO> -- for "ciina" in India.

PO> Patrick

>>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> Madhav:
>>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 c“na 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> ŽChina¤, like ŽIndia¤ 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 c“na came to be
>>PO> known in India is difficult to estimate. The terms 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 Pýžini 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 Pýžini, to yavana and —aka in
>>PO> Pata§jali, to yavana, —aka, and c“na 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.
>>PO> Patrick
>>>>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
>>Best regards,
>>  Lielukhine                            mailto:lel at

Best regards,
 Lielukhine                            mailto:lel at

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