A Forgotten Page

It suddenly dawned upon me that what I was reading is actually one of the pages of history which had been misplaced for nearly a millennia and a half.

In the year circa 636 A.D. the famous Chinese pilgrim, Hiuen Tsiang had visited Kathmandu, Nepal and made the following entry in his famous autobiographical journal “Buddhist Records of the Western World”:

“To the south-east of the capital (Kathmandu) is a little stream and a lake. If we fling fire into it, flames immediately arise; other things take fire if thrown in it, and change their character”. Competently translated by Rev Samuel Beal and published in 1884 but for some unknown reason Rev Samuel Beal added the following footnote to the text above:

“But the pilgrim (Hiuen Tsiang) does not appear himself to have gone into Nepal”.

Since Rev Samuel Beal has left no explanatory details, we are unable to understand how he could have arrived at this conclusion.

My understanding is that the nineteenth century was the British Century and it was their intellectual arrogance that they could write whatever pleased them comfortable in their belief that they are the sole arbiters of world heritage and that there would be none to question their work. I have expressed similar views on Sir Vincent Smith’s The Oxford History of India where he has created a vacuum by excluding the History of Nepal and more importantly, of the Buddha from the Oxford History of India, save a single sentence that the Buddha and his contemporary population of the region bore features like the Gurkhas of Nepal.

After Bharat, that is India, was awarded Independence in August 1947 by its erstwhile colonial master, ie, England, Nepalese Government had requested new Government of India to carry out geological survey of Nepal, which was promptly done. Unfortunately nothing was found and Nepal lived with the belief that the chapter is closed.

Now, fourteen centuries later, the Chinese geologists are back on the trail and lo and behold, they found the Nepalese folks have not given up on their dreams. As a matter of fact, here and there the Nepalese have found methane gas escaping from the ground where they have actually been cooking their meals. Promptly, the Chinese geologists have gone to work and as I write these lines, they are scientifically preparing to harness the methane gas for domestic consumption and have assured the Nepalese people they within months will be self-sufficient in this field.

All these confusion arose simply because an intellectually arrogant Englishman wrote that Hiuen Tsiang was only re-tweeting hearsay account of Nepal.

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