A Photo Exhibition titled “From Gandhara and Niya: the Great Buddhist Route to China” has been inaugurated at Tsinghua University in Beijing. There could not have been a better seat of learning to hold this photo exhibition, said Ambassador Masood Khan in his remarks at the opening ceremony held at the Tsinghua University here Saturday.
He said Tsinghua University is the most prestigious higher learning institution of China and its International Center for Communication Studies has made substantial contribution, under the thoughtful and dynamic leadership of Professor Li Xiguang, head of the Pakistan Study Centre to broaden the horizons of modern day communication.
At one time, Ambassador Khan said, Gandhara civilization flourished in the areas that today constitute geographical territories of Pakistan and Afghanistan.
“Today, this ancient civilization is a symbol of inter-civilizational communication, unity and harmony between China and Pakistan,” remarked Khan.
In the early part of the first millennium, Gandhara Civilization flourished in the valleys of Peshawar, Swat, Charsadda, Taxila, and Bannu, he said.
He pointed out that many scholars from the territory that constitutes Pakistan now also travelled to China to understand and imbibe the glorious Chinese civilization. So, cross-fertilization of our civilizations took place much before the modern era.
In the early fifth century, Fa Xian undertook a journey to Chitral, Swat, Charsadda, Taxila, and Peshawar. Xuan Zang, in the seventh century, crossed the Oxus River (Amu Darya) and visited Termez, Kunduz, and Bamiyan. From there, he went on to cross the Khyber Pass and visited Peshawar, Taxila, Sialkot, Lahore and Kashmir, Khan said adding that What these pilgrims brought back was a message of peace, tolerance and harmony.
“With the modern fast means of transportation and communication available today, we are reviving the silk routes and the symbolism and spirit behind them,” Khan said.
Ambassador Masood Khan mentioned that Chinese monks and envoys also brought back the Buddhist art which symbolized the purest values of that civilization.Those seeds spread to China, Korea, Japan, and other parts of East Asia.
The travelogues of Zhang Qian, Fa Xian, Song Yun, and Xuan Zang, when translated into modern languages, created new awareness about Gandhara civilization and the links between the lands of Pakistan and China. The Silk Route of thousands of years ago is still an artery between Pakistan and China.
Earlier, on arrival at the University the senior officials welcomed Ambassador Masood Khan.
The inauguration ceremony was also addressed by Dean of International Center for Communication, Prof. Li Xiguang; Director of the Information Office of Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, Hou Hanmin; Monk from Bukkyo University Institute for Niya Studies, Kojima Yasutaka and Director of Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region Bureau of Cultural Heritage, Sheng Chunshou.
The inauguration ceremony and exhibition was largely visited by the students, research scholars and young historians.
The photo exhibition is part of Tsinghua University’s 100th anniversary celebrations as well as 60th anniversary of the establishment of Pakistan-China diplomatic ties.
In his closing remarks Ambassador Masood Khan quoted the following sentence from Premier Wen Jiabao’s address to Pakistan’s Parliament on December 19, 2010:
“China-Pakistan friendship is full of vigour and vitality, like a lush tree with deep roots and thick foliage. China-Pakistan relationship is strong and solid, like a rock standing firm despite the passage of times”.