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Buddhism and Ancient Chinese States

  • 불교학리뷰
  • Abbr : Critical Review for Buddhist Studies
  • 2022, (31), pp.81-104
  • Publisher : Geumgang Center for Buddhist Studies
  • Research Area : Humanities > Buddhist Studies
  • Published : April 30, 2022

Guang Xing 1

1University of Hong Kong

Irregular Papers

ABSTRACT

This is a study of the inscriptions on various types of Buddhist images and stelae made by the common people during the Northern dynasties and Sui and Tang dynasties from the fourth to the ninth century. These inscriptions demonstrate that many common people dedicated their merits of making Buddhist images to emperors, ministers and the state apart from their present parents and parents of past seven generations. Hou Xudong thinks that this is a recognition of the state, the Northern Wei, by the common people. Satō Chisui thinks that it is the emperor worship amongst the common people as instructed by their society’s monastic teachers. But he is still not sure about the reasons why the Buddhist monks and nuns also had the mentality of emperor worship. Ishimatsu Hinako thinks that it is due to Emperor Taiwu’s persecution of Buddhism; Chinese Buddhists were afraid that such tragedy might happen again so that their faith in Buddhism became stronger and they wished that the emperor could protect Buddhism. I argue that it was the Buddhist way to pay their debt of gratitude to the Chinese emperors for their protection of Buddhism because Buddhism had faced many challenges and criticisms from Chinese people since its introduction to China in the Han dynasty and it even underwent severe persecutions. Emperor Tai Wudi of the Northern Wei, for instance, persecuted Buddhism so the monastics had a vivid memory of such events.

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* References for papers published after 2022 are currently being built.