Expert answer:analyze class texts from a religious tradition or


Solved by verified expert:These essays, approximately 750 words in length, will be in response to provided prompts, and both will ask you to analyze class texts from a religious tradition or a critical idea in the study of religion. Details will be provided. Your writing will be equally weighted between content and form. You are expected to use 12-point font with one-inch margins, page numbers, word count, and a bibliography. All citations and bibliographic information should be formatted according to the Chicago Manual of Style guidelines, available at: paper must include an introductory paragraph that contains a thesis statement. What is your paper about? Why is this important to you? How are you going to argue your point? Be aware that since these papers are short, you will need to choose a rather narrow topic to discuss. Choose a single question and make sure every paragraph and sentence addresses your exact topic and thesis.You can choose to either cite your work with footnotes or internal citations, so long as you remain consistent throughout the paper. As stated above, every paper should include a bibliography, which is not included in the 750 words count total.
The second essay should focus on how two religions have interacted and influenced each other. One of the religions used in the comparison should be the religion you wrote on for Essay #1. Again, you must use text(s) from the course, although you are not limited to our texts. ****i will give you two text and you choose one religion from my text and one is other maybe indianism to do this essay, please remember to write the guideline!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!*****and i m freshmen in second semester plz do not so professional .


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The Spread of Buddhism to China
The Spread of Buddhism to China:
A Re-examination of the Buddhist
Interactions between Ancient
India and China
Tansen Sen
Baruch College, The City University of New York
and Nalanda-Sriwijaya Centre,
Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, Singapore
Recent studies have significantly altered the ways in which the early history of Buddhism in China and
the Buddhist interactions between ancient India and China were perceived. The accepted views about
the route of the initial transmission of Buddhist doctrines, the early method of rendering Buddhist ideas
into Chinese and the notion of a decline of Buddhism in China after the eighth century have all come
under scrutiny. Using these analyses and arguments, this essay attempts to reassess some of the key issues
concerning the spread and successful establishment of Buddhism in China. In particular, it re-examines
the contribution of India–China interactions to these processes and argues that the diffusion of Buddhism
in China was an outcome of multi-ethnic collaborations and the ingenuity of Chinese and foreign monks
in making the doctrine adaptable to Chinese society.
Keywords: Buddhism, India–China interactions, Buddhism in China, Brahmanism
in China
There are several issues regarding the spread, acceptance and the domestication/
transformation/assimilation/Sincisation of Buddhism in China that still need detailed
study. Recent scholarship has highlighted the complexities of these processes, demonstrating, for example, that the initial spread of Buddhism may not have been a simple
linear transmission from South Asia through Central Asia to the Chinese hinterland
(Zürcher 1990, 1999). Also increasingly questioned is the role of an India–China
dialogue in the successful establishment of Buddhism in China (Sharf 2002). Similarly,
CHINA REPORT 48 : 1&2 (2012): 11–27
SAGE Publications Los Angeles/London/New Delhi/Singapore/Washington DC
DOI: 10.1177/000944551104800202
China Report 48, 1&2 (2012): 11–27
Tansen Sen
the view of a decline of Buddhism in China after the Tang period is no longer accepted
(Sen 2003). Because of these studies, Buddhist interactions between India and China
have to be re-examined and some of the misconceptions rectified.
Using these recent findings, this essay argues that a combination of factors such as
the multicultural nature of the transmission of Buddhist doctrines, the ingenuity of
the Chinese clergy to impart foreign teachings within a Sinitic framework, and even
the fact that the Buddha and his basic teachings were initially misconceived by a large
number of Chinese lay followers contributed to the successful spread of Buddhism to
China. The integration of Buddhist doctrines within Chinese culture and society and
the subsequent creation of Buddhist pilgrimage centres within China, on the other
hand, were important means through which Buddhism became recognised as one of
the three main Chinese religions, and China emerged as one of the leading centres
for the dissemination of Buddhist ideas, texts and images.
The focus on the spread of Buddhism to China often overshadows the fact that
non-Buddhist ideas and beliefs were also important part of India–China exchanges
during the pre-colonial period. Texts and ideas associated with Brahmanism, and
later the Islamic networks between India and China, are examples of such neglected
issues. Similarly, the possible spread of Daoist ideas to India is rarely investigated. In
the conclusion to this article, one such issue, the possible reasons for the failure of
Brahmanism to penetrate Chinese society, is discussed with the aim to highlight the
astonishing success Buddhism, as a foreign religion, had in China.
The spread of Buddhism to China was a protracted process that involved people from
different regions and ethnic groups. The credit should not all go to the ‘Indians’, nor
should it be perceived as an outcome of the interactions between India and China.1
In fact, Buddhist missionaries from ‘India’ may not have played a significant role in
the transmission of the doctrine before the fourth century (Zürcher 1999: 32). The
famous story about the Han emperor Ming’s (r. 58–75 CE) dream about the Buddha,
the subsequent arrival of the first two Buddhist monks from India and the building
The terms ‘India’ and ‘China’ are difficult to explain in the pre-twentieth century context. There
were several kingdoms and empires within the area that now forms the Republic of India. Some of these
kingdoms, the Mauryan Empire, for example, extended beyond the borders of contemporary India. At
other times, foreign empires, such as the Kus.ān.a, penetrated deep into the present-day Indian states. In
this article, therefore, ‘India’ does not refer to a political entity, but the geographical region that now
consists of Bangladesh, India and Pakistan. ‘China’ denotes the areas ruled by the dynasties in Chinese
history from the Shang to the Qing. The specific borders changed based on the expansion and contraction
of these dynasties.
China Report 48, 1&2 (2012): 11–27
The Spread of Buddhism to China
of the ‘first’ Chinese Buddhist monastery called the Baimasi
(White Horse
Monastery) are fabrications. The story of Emperor Ming’s dream was meant to link
the introduction of Buddhism with the Chinese court in an attempt to give legitimacy
to the foreign doctrine. As argued below, the story must not be taken as a reliable
historical record on how Buddhism first entered China. There are other commonly
accepted views regarding the path of the spread of Buddhism, the role played by eastern Central Asia in the initial transmission of the doctrine to China, and the use of
Daoist terminology by the early translators that have been re-examined by scholars.
Some of these new analyses and interpretations have bearing not only on the early
history of Buddhism in China, but also on the Buddhist interactions between ancient
India and China.
As recent as 2005, the story of Emperor Ming’s dream was used as a historical fact
in a book entitled India and China: Twenty Centuries of Civilizational Interactions and
Vibrations. The authors write:
The story begins with Han Emperor Ming dreaming of, in 64 A.D., a golden
Buddha flying over his palace. This led to China’s extending an invitation for
Buddhism to bless the country. This invitation mobilized Chinese officials and
monks to brave the hazards and perils of a long journey to the Buddhist shrines
in India. Then, this flow of pilgrims stimulated a counterflow of Indian Buddhist
preachers towards China, for helping to establish Buddhist institutions. (Tan and
Geng 2005: 93)
Despite the fact that this ‘story’ has been thoroughly discredited more than hundred
years ago (Maspero 1901; see also Zürcher 2007 [1959]: 22), it is told and re-told
by various authors, mostly by those based in India and China. The aim of many of
these writers who continue to emphasise this story is to draw attention to, in their
words, ‘the ancient bonds’ between India and China and use it in the contemporary
diplomatic discourse between the two countries.2 These writers seem to be unaware
of the fact that the tales about Han emperors encountering legendary figures in their
dreams and the subsequent interpretations of these dreams by court officials were
common themes in the Han literary tradition (Strickmann 1988; Wagner 1988). In
fact, the story of Emperor Ming’s dream related to the Buddha dates from the fourth
century (Wagner 1988: 13) and does not reflect the historical introduction of Buddhist
ideas in China.
The undue attention given to the story and the attempt to credit the spread of
Buddhism to a specific Han ruler and the Indian monks he invited conceals many
significant processes and unresolved issues related to the beginnings of Buddhism in
China. The question about when Buddhism first entered China has continued to
In fact, in order to commemorate this episode, the Indian government recently sponsored the building
of an ‘Indian Hall’, modelled after the famed Sanchi stupa, at the White Horse Monastery.
China Report 48, 1&2 (2012): 11–27
Tansen Sen
perplex scholars. A fairly reliable record on this issue is also connected to Emperor
Ming and the Han court. It concerns a cousin of Emperor Ming called Liu Ying
who had the title of the king of the Chu . Liu Ying is reported to have ‘observed
fasting and performed sacrifices to the Buddha’ at Pengcheng
(in present-day
Shandong Province) sometime in the year 65 CE (Hou Han shu 72: 1082; Zürcher
2007 [1959]: 26). An edict from Emperor Ming noted the Buddhist deeds and rituals
performed by Liu Ying in the following way:
The king of Chu recites the subtle words of Huanglao, and respectfully performs
the gentle sacrifices to the Buddha. After three months of purification and fasting,
he has made a solemn covenant (or: a vow) with the spirits. What dislike or suspicion (from Our part) could there be, that he must repent (of his sins)? Let (the
silk which he sent for) redemption be sent back, in order thereby to contribute to
the lavish entertainment of the upāsakas (yipusai
) and śraman. as (sangmen
). (Zürcher 2007 [1959]: 27)
This edict is found in the Hou Han shu
(History of the Latter Han [Dynasty])
compiled by Fan Ye
(398–445 CE) in the fifth century. The earliest account of
the event dates to the second century and is recorded in a work by Liu Zhen
(53 BCE–18 CE) and others called Dongguan Han ji
(Record of the Han
[Dynasty Compiled at the] Eastern Pavilion). Additionally, the appearance of the
word ‘sangmen’ in another Han-dynasty work called Xijing fu
on the Western Capital) by Zhang Heng
(78–130 CE) leads to the credence
of the edict and its use of Buddhist terms in the middle of the first century (Zürcher
2007 [1959]: 29). These records seem to confirm that the Han court and Emperor
Ming were aware of the existence of Buddhism at the Chinese capital. This presence
of Buddhism in first-century Han China, it must be stressed, had nothing to do with
Emperor Ming’s dream mentioned above.
Erik Zürcher (2007 [1959]: 26–27) has suggested that Liu Ying’s interest in
and Buddhism may have been connected to the desire for bodily
immortality.3 The interest in Buddhism as a source for immortality is also illustrated in
some of the earliest images of the Buddha from China. These images that date from the
late Han period (second to mid-third century) are found in Chinese tombs at Mahao
in Sichuan Province and at Hejiashan in Shaanxi Province (Rhie 1999; Wu 1986). It
seems that the notion of the Buddha as the provider or god of immortality, both for
the living and the dead, became popular in China in the first and second century CE.
One explanation for this perception of the Buddha among the Chinese might have
Huanglao was considered to be a combination of the tenets of the mythological Yellow Emperor
(Huangdi) and the shadowy Laozi (the supposed founder of Daoism); this was a school of thought adhered
to by a number of court members during the Western Han period.
China Report 48, 1&2 (2012): 11–27
The Spread of Buddhism to China
do with the fact that they initially came into contact with Buddhist images used by
foreign traders rather than religious preachers or philosophical texts.
Examples of such early Buddhist images associated with foreign traders are on display at Mount Kongwang in Jiangsu Province, in the eastern coastal region of China
(Rhie 1999). These images date from the late second century and are engraved on
the boulders of the mountain. They include figures of the Buddha in standing, seated
and parinirvān.a postures. There are also representations from the Jātaka tales, foreign
donor figures, other secular figures wearing foreign dresses (identified as of Kus.ān.a
style), and the traditional Chinese motif of moon and a toad. In addition to suggesting
the presence of Buddhist beliefs among foreign traders in the region, these images also
indicate the early amalgamation of Buddhist ideas with indigenous Chinese beliefs.
Indo-Scythians and Parthian merchants, whose commercial networks stretched from
northwest India to the Chinese cities and ports, may have introduced these Buddhist
images to China.
Indeed, diplomatic and commercial interactions between Southern Asia and the
frontiers of the Western Han Empire witnessed significant growth after the collapse
of the Xiongnu confederation in the first century BCE. This can be discerned from
the frequent embassies from Jibin
(located in present-day Afghanistan–Pakistan)
that mostly consisted of traders (Sen 2003: 3–4). Maritime trade between Southern
Asia and the coastal regions of China also developed rapidly during the same period,
with Hepu
(in present-day Guangxi Province) and Panyu
Guangzhou) as the two main ports where merchants and merchandise from Southern
Asia arrived regularly. In fact, during the first century CE, the maritime route may
have been an important conduit for the transmission of Buddhism due to military
confrontations in Central Asia, partially caused by the withdrawal of the Western Han
forces (de Crespigny 2007).
The spread of Buddhism within Southern Asia in the second half of the first millennium BCE, as scholars such as James Heitzman (1984) and Himanshu Prabha Ray
(1994) have demonstrated, was intimately linked to the movement of merchants along
the trade routes linking urban centres. Liu Xinru (1988) has argued that the same
process also facilitated the spread of Buddhism to China. However, rather than a relayed
(or ‘contact’) transmission through Central Asia or Southeast Asia, Buddhism most
likely reached China directly in form of ‘long-distance transmission’. This argument, in
the case of the transmission of Buddhism through the overland routes, has been made
by Erik Zürcher (1990, 1999; see also Neelis 2011). Zürcher aptly points out the lack
of archaeological evidence for monastic institutions in eastern Central Asia before the
third century CE. How could, he asks, a region without monastic institutions play
a major role in the transmission of Buddhism to China, where Buddhism appears to
have made significant inroads by the second century CE? The same question is valid
for Southeast Asia as well, where there is also no evidence for monastic Buddhism
before the fifth century. In other words, eastern Central Asia and Southeast Asia may
not have played the role of staging centres in the early transmission of Buddhist
China Report 48, 1&2 (2012): 11–27
Tansen Sen
doctrines to China as is commonly perceived. They were mere ‘transit’ zones. Zürcher
(1999: 13–14) notes that only in the middle of the third century, when the oasis
towns witnessed increased agricultural production, population growth and commercial
expansion, conditions were created in eastern Central Asia for the establishment of
monastic Buddhism. Only after this development, places such as Kucha and Khotan
started contributing vigorously to the diffusion of Buddhism in China.4
By the middle of the third century, the leading foreign monks at the Han capital
were Parthians, Sogdians, Indo-Scythians from western Central Asia and a few Indians.
Zürcher (1999: 31–32) suggests that because of this, the period between 150 CE
and 270 CE could be termed as ‘the era of western Central Asian dominance’, with
‘modest influx from India’. One of the prominent Central Asian monks in China
was the Parthian named An Shigao
who reached the Han capital Luoyang in
148 CE. About two decades later, an Indo-Scythian called Zhi Loujiaqian
(Lokaks.ema?) arrived at Luoyang. With him was the ‘Indian’ (indicating the region
east and south of present-day Afghanistan) monk called Zhu Shuofo
. There
was also a Sogdian named Kang Ju
. Additionally, there were also Chinese monks
who came from different parts of the Han Empire and aided the foreign monks in their
translation work.
A number of conclusions about this initial phase of the spread of Buddhism to
China can be drawn from the discussion so far. First, it seems possible that Buddhist
images started entering Han China sometime in the first century CE, which coincided
with the establishment of the Kus.ān. a Empire and the expansion of foreign mercantile
networks to coastal China and the Han cities. By the time Liu Ying performed his
ceremonies and Emperor Ming wrote his edict in 65 CE, some Buddhist followers were
already present in and around the Han capital Luoyang. Second, at the initial stage,
the Chinese elite and the common people who saw Buddhist images perceived the
Buddha primarily as a deity capable of prolonging life. This misperception most likely
facilitated the rapid inclusion of the Buddha into the Chinese popular religious tradition. Third, from the initial introduction of Buddhist images in the first century CE
to the arrival of the first foreign missionaries and translators, the transmission process
involved people from different ethnic groups, particularly those from western Central
Asia, who reached Han China either through the overland or the maritime route.
In fact, the spread of Buddhism during the Han period was not an outcome of the
exchanges between ‘Indians’ and ‘Chinese’, whatever these terms implied during that
period. Rather, the credit for the initial transmission of the doctrine should go to the
monks and merchants from western Central Asia. Monks from Southern Asia start
appearing in larger number in the late fourth century. ‘Around 380 CE’, as Zürcher
(1999: 32) notes, ‘there is a sudden influx of prominent missionaries from northern
On the role of Southeast Asia and the maritime spread of Buddhist doctrines, see Sen
China Report 48, 1&2 (2012): 11–27
The Spread of Buddhism to China
India and especially from Kashmir; it marks the beginning of a period of large-scale
input that lasts till the middle of the fifth century’.
At the initial stages, not only were monks and translators arriving in China from
different regions of Central and Southern Asia, there was also no organised transmission of the doctrine with preselected texts and proselytisers. Rather, for most part of its
history, Buddhist ideas, images and texts spread to China in a haphazard way. The early
Buddhist missionaries who worked mostly as translators did not force any doctrines
or teachings upon the Chinese followers.5 In fact, these followers, as discussed later,
freely moulded the Buddhist ideas filtering into China, produced their own apocryphal
or indigenous Buddhist scriptures and even created their unique Buddhist pilgrimage
sites. The flexibility of practicing and modifying the Buddhist doctrine should also be
considered key reasons for the success of Buddhism in China.
Finally, the timing and the historical setting in China within which Buddhist
ideas first spread needs to be addressed. It is commonly believed that the initial success of Buddhism in China was (i) due to the political chaos at the end of the Eastern
Han dynasty (in the late second and early third centuries); and (ii) because of the
ideological vacuum caused by the perceived failure of Confucianism. However, if, as
noted earlier, Buddhist terms and ideas were indeed circulating at the Han capital in
65 CE, then it would imply that the first Buddhist images and monks started entering China sometime during the first century BCE or early first century CE. In other
words, Buddhism may have reached China not during the chaotic phase at the end of
the Eastern Han dynasty, but when the Western Han was collapsing and the usurper
Wang Mang
(r. 9–23 CE) was setting up a new regime. Also a chaotic era in
Chinese history, it was marked by political disorder, rebellions, foreign invasions and
natural disaste …
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