Because the Chinese put man?not God?at the centre of Chinese life. God they put at the periphery. In contrast, God was at the centre of Hindu life?at least this was true of those who were in the Bhakti movement. The bhakta surrendered to God. He refused to assert his free will. (Obviously, he has erred from the traditional Hindu path.)
God being secondary, there was no scope for a contemplative life in China. At any rate, Confucius did not permit it. China was against asceticism. Renunciation was taboo. Sadhus were out. The Chinese ideal was an active and virtuous life, engaged in devotion to one'sancestors and the State. The Hindu was neither a great devotee of his ancestors (the doctrine of transmigration of souls did not permit ancestor worship) nor of the State. This has not changed in 2000 years!
Naturally, the Chinese were opposed to Buddhist monks. They treated them as parasites on society. In 477 AD, there were as many as 77,358 registered monks in the Chinese province of Northern Wei. No wonder, the Emperor was forced to ban the practice of Buddhism. His son, however, restored the Buddhists back to favour.
But look at the Hindu scene! Here, the Hindus have sustained the life of tens of millions of sadhus, who were a drag on society. They disrupted life with their conflicts.
To the Chinese, the ideal man was a sage (like Confucius), who was totally committed to work for the people, not for his own personal salvation. As their salvation was to be realised here on earth (the goal of humanistic Confucianism was the full realisation of man'snature), the Chinese did not waste their time in pursuing objectives beyond death. The Hindu, in contrast, pursued goals, which were beyond death at the cost of his life on earth.
To work for the State was the greatest ideal of Confucius, which explains why the overseas Chinese provided billions of dollars at great risk for the reconstruction of China. In contrast, the response of the Hindu NRIs has been hesitant, full of new demands. What is worse, since the State was not important to the Hindu (society was) concepts like patriotism and nationalism made no sense to him. ?Cultural nationalism?? The expression is a creation of the 20th century. In any case, the Hindu took little interest in the defence of his country (India as a geographical entity is a British creation. But the concept of the ?Celestial Empire? has been known to the Chinese for more than 2000 years!)
The Chinese absorbed their conquerors as also their lands. What is more, they maintained their unity in the worst of circumstances. How? Confucius says: ?Study human relationships in order to organise the State well.? India had its Ramayan, which was all about human relationships. But the Hindus spawned the caste system, the most divisive system known to man. It destroyed the unity of our people. All these explain why we were under foreign rule for a thousand years! Did we learn anything from the Ramayan or from our experience? We did not.
The Chinese were against anything foreign. So they built the Great Wall of China (4000 miles long) to keep out the nomadic neighbours. We too had regular invasions. But no Great wall of India was ever built. Ashoka treated his neighbours as brothers. China treated its neighbours as barbarians. We paid heavily for our goodwill. China gained by its caution.
Naturally, the Taoists opposed the entry of Buddhism into China. Dr Hu Shih, the Chinese philosopher, confessed in a talk at Harvard that Buddhism was an ?alien? religion and that its entry was a ?national disaster.? Today China remains a united country because of its caution. But we are fragmented because we allowed the minorities to disrupt our life.
In China, the historian (Mandarin) was among the highest functionaries of the State. It was his job to record the history of China and to guide the Emperor. But the Hindu chose to remain blissfully ignorant of his history. The British historians had to tell us that the greatest emperor in human history Ashoka?lived in our land!
It is said that to know the present, we should know the past. But by choosing to remain ignorant of our past, we failed to understand the present.
Harsh comments? Yes. But we should know our strength and weaknesses. Only then we will emerge with our full powers.