While the cultural exchange between India and China is largely defined by the spread and development of Buddhism, certain Hindu practices and divinities also entered China, either through their Buddhist appropriation and disguise or through the maritime transmission carried by South Indian merchants. The Hindu elements in these scriptural and iconographical materials added both richness and dynamics to the historical transmission of religions, yet it remains problematic as to what extent we can still regard these “buddhified” practices as Hindu. Although the changing altitude of Chinese societies on the Hindu cultural remains reflects a rising pattern of reclaiming Indic influence in history, the Chinese government’s unwillingness to officially recognize Hinduism has shed shadow on the uncertain future of Hindu religious practice in China.
The first mention of India in Chinese records is found in Zhang Qian’s 張騫 report about the existence of a trade route linking southwestern China to...
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