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Chinese History - Southern Dynasties Period Religions

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Already during the Eastern Jin Dynasty 東晉 (317-420), Buddhism (fojiao 佛教) gained many followers among the nobility. The court did not only worship the Buddha, but the emperor protected monasteries (siyuan 寺院) and sponsored them. The young emperor Xiaowudi 晉孝武帝 (r. 372-396) even allowed monks and nuns meddling in state affairs. A great problem for the Buddhist community was the question of autonomy from worldy government. Among the courtiers who favoured Buddhism was the poet Xie Lingyun 謝靈運 (d. 433) who during the Liu-Song Dynasty 劉宋 (420-479) even took part in translations of books discussing the possibility of sudden enlightenment. During the Qi Dynasty 齊 (479-502), Prince Jingling 竟陵太子 (active 484-495) tried to connect the disciplinary rules of the Buddhists monasteries with the Confucian teachings on righteousness. The greatest sponsor of Buddhism during the Liang Dynasty was Emperor Wudi 梁武帝 (r. 502-549) who dissolved all Daoist monasteries (daoguan 道觀) in favour of the Buddhist communities. But the emperor who tried to gain control over the Buddhist church encountered opposition from the monk circles. Writers among the nobility like Fan Zhen 范縝 (wrote Shenmielun 神滅論 "The mortality of the soul") and Xun Ji 荀濟 protested against the state protected accumulation of wealth in the Buddhist monasteries and assumed that Buddhism was undermining the construction of the Confucian state: an early sign of Confucian revival that eventually developed during the later part of Tang Dynasty.


April 26, 2013 © Ulrich Theobald · Mail

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