Think it over
Know the mind of the Dragon
Peace and prosperity, wars and famines?they alternated throughout Chinese history. “Such is the ever-lasting law,” says Ssu Ma Chien, China´s great historian.
“The picture I have in mind of ancient China,” writes Clennel in his book on China (The Historical Development of Religion in China) is no Arcadian idyl of the Golden Age of Yao and Shun, but a very harsh and cruel state of society,where human life was held terribly cheap, where the interests of the poor and the helpless, the young and the dependent, were ruthlessly sacrificed, where oppression and violence, wars and devastations scourged men into submission to the caprice of tyrannical chieftains.
“For every stone in the Great Wall of China, China paid with a human life! So the story goes. And the Wall is thousands of miles long.
If there was a Confucius with his moral doctrines, there was also Shang Yang, the philosopher of militarism (4th c BC). He was very popular with the ruling class of China. The doctrines of Shang Yang, called the Fa-Chia School , and his legacy, codified in the treatise “Shang Chun Shuh”, absolved rulers of all moral responsibility for their actions, and sanctioned any and every means in the struggle for power. Contrast this with India´s commitment to dharmayudha.
China carried the image of a peaceful country. Thanks to the Jesuit missionaries. Unfortunately, Tagore gave credence to this belief by romanticising China. And Nehru reinforced the myth.
Shang Yang believed that men were born evil and wars were inevitable . Hence his advocacy of a military state. Mao was an ardent student of this school.
In the 3000 years between the Chu´s and the Manchu?s, China alternated between expansion and contraction, It conquered and was conquered, The mandarins were there for ever. They kept a meticulous record of every happening in the ´Celestial Empire´. China took its history more seriously than any other nation and none was so indifferent to their history as the Hindus.
China was hostile to everything foreign, More so, to its conquerors. But they were helpful. The Mongols, Tatars and Manchus were all great conquerors, and they added a good deal of territory to China.
The proper limit of Han China (3rd c BC) was the boundary, now known as the Great Wall of China. Today, beyond the Great wall lies more than half of China. Such has been its expansion. China continues to claim more territories.
The process of China´s expansion was called “tsan shih”, which means to eat gradually (the neighbour´s land) as the silk worm eats the mulberry leaves.
Nature and history made China insular (India is a total contrast). The Chinese had little interest in God or religion or anything speculative and metaphysical. They were utterly practical. “Not yet understanding life, how can you understand death?” asks Confucius. Is there any wonder, then, that the practical Chinese rejected Marxism? Promises were not enough, they said. They wanted the cat which could catch the mice. There was no place for asceticism or a contemplative life in the philosophy of Confucius. His idea was of virtuous and active citizen, engaged in devotion to his ancestors and the state.
Buddhism came under attack because it was ´foreign´, because it encouraged men to become parasitic monks and, above all , it went against the militarist doctrines of China. The Chinese were given to violence and revolution, In fact, violence was endemic in China. During the Tai Ping rebellion, the rebels devastated 600 cities and towns. The Boxer rebellion against the Christian missionaries was equally destructive. And we all know the fury and fanaticism of Mao´s ´cultural revolution´.
The Chinese are given to extremism, Mao was the worst example. He even asked the Chinese “to wipe the slate clean”. In other words, to wipe out their past.
The Chinese were highly suspicious of their neighbours and looked upon them with contempt. They did everything to bring about enmity among them. A Chinese authority of the 3rd century BC says: “The unity of the barbarians is harmful to China. Stir up feuds among them to alienate them and let them fight against each other. “Contrast this with Ashoka´s policy of friendship with neighbours. India has been an unfortunate victim of China´s policy.
(I have used the past tense in this article deliberately, The Chinese are a practical people. They can change. But we should be warned of their past?Author)