Religious Freed Om Durin Tang Dynasty

1043 words - 5 pages

Did Han Yu’s memorial on the Bone of Buddha contributed to religious intolerance and persecution of Buddhism in the late Tang dynasty?

Chinese Buddhism reached its highest point of popularity and influence during Han Yu’s lifetime, and this matter as a Confucian greatly concerned him.
Han Yu was afraid and disappointed that the traditional Chinese value system as family ancestors worship will be lost if Buddhism’s influences will continue to thrive and gain more influence on every level in society.
He did not agree that Confucian values were excluded from Buddhist and Daoist values and to see bringing” a finger “of Buddha, (who was a foreigner to China), was blasphemy and ...view middle of the document...

His saying did not concern the ways of our ancient kings, nor did his manner of dress conform to their laws”. (Barry, 1999, p. 584). Clearly Han Yu is talking about the Chinese tradition by mentioning the Ancient Kings and respecting them. Also Han Yu, felt that bringing Buddha’s finger as a relic into the king’s palace was a foreign influence just like Yuan Chens’ claimed in his” Iranian whirling Girls” penetrating the top level of Chinese society: the king’s palace. Yuan Chen shows the seduction which was foreign when he wrote, “At the sound of the string and drums, she raises her arms, like swirling snow flakes tossed about, she turns her twirling dance. When the tune is over, she bows twice in gratitude to the Son of Heaven, and the Son of Heaven smiles a bit of a toothsome smile for her. Iranian Whirling girl, you came from Sogdiana” (Mair, p.278, 2000).Han Yu could not predict that Iranian girls will be dancing in the emperor’s palace but in his document he feared that the foreigners will take over Chinese traditions if the Buddha’s relic is worshipped. The fear of foreign influence clearly shows when he claims:” Then will our old ways will be corrupted, our customs violated, and the tale will spread to make us mockery of the world. This is no trifling matter”. (Barry, 1999, p.584),
Buddhism had flourished into a major religious force in China during the Tang period, and its monasteries enjoyed tax-exempt status. As soon as these monasteries were recognized “ they stopped engaging in useful economic activity such as agriculture and weaving, and became a burden that had to be supported by the work of others. The persecution sought to return monks and nuns to the ranks of tax-paying commoners engaged in useful economic activity”. ( Maspero , 1981, p.46). While society thrived economically and culturally, the emperor Wuzong needed finances to protect Chinese borders. Wealth, tax-exemption status and power of the Buddhist temples and monasteries also annoyed many critics. The emperor Wuzong believed Buddhism to pose a drain on the state's economy as he considered Buddhist monks and nuns to be unproductive members of society who were not contributing to the tax base. Emperor Wuzong hated the sight of Buddhist monks,...

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