THE REVIVAL OF BUDDHIST MONASTICISM IN MEDIEVAL CHINA
A DISSERTATION PRESENTED TO THE FACULTY
OF PRINCETON UNIVERSITY IN CANDIDACY FOR THE DEGREE
OF DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY
RECOMMENDATED FOR ACCEPTANCE BY THE DEPARTMENT OF
UMI Number: 3156036
Copyright 2005 by
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Copyright by Huaiyu Chen, 2005. All rights reserved.
Having recovered from political persecution and resolved problems within the sangha,
Buddhism reached a summit in its development during Sui and Early Tang China (581-
755). Daoxuan (596-667) played an unparalleled role in shaping the direction of
Buddhist history during the medieval period through both his rich writings and his
innovations of monastic rituals and regulations. This dissertation focuses on several key
issues in his work, including the veneration of Buddha-relics and its relationship to the
reconstruction and renovation of Buddhist monasteries as authoritative structures and as
ground for the monastic community, the recreation of the ordination platform and
ordination ritual, and the way in which the Buddhist community reclassified and dealt
with monastic property. First, it discusses the historical background of Chinese Buddhism
from the fifth to the seventh centuries. This study then argues that, in reinterpreting the
image of southern Buddhism as a cultural tradition, Daoxuan sought a new model for the
Chinese Buddhist tradition as a whole. More specifically, this study argues that the ritual
of venerating relics as a commemorative ceremony functioned to expand the religious
power of Buddhism in Chinese society and enhance the bonds within the monastic
community. This study also interprets the creation of the ordination platform as a crucial
element in the restoration of the Chinese monastic order. In addition, this study suggests
that Daoxuan developed his new rules to create an innovative model for the Buddhist
community as a ground for individual monks spiritual progress. He did this in part by
reclassifying monastic property as communal and individual property. In sum, Daoxuan
created a new tradition of Chinese Buddhist monasticism.
Table of Contents Acknowledgements Introduction
1. A Case Study in the Revival of Monastic Discipline ----------------------------------1 2. Theorizing Buddhist Monasticism -------------------------------------------------------7 3. Structural Overview ----------------------------------------------------------------------12
Chapter I: Buddhism in South China as a Cultural Imaginaire 1. Introduction --------------------------------------------------------------------------------15 2. Contextualizing Culture in the North and South China-------------------------------21 3. South China as the Kingdom of Culture -----------------------------------------------27 4. From the Kingdom of Culture to the Kingdom of Buddhism -----------------------34 5. Tradition and Training -------------------------------------------------------------------47 6. The Diaspora of Southern Culture ------------------------------------------------------53 7. A Son of a Southern Father and a Disciple of a Southern Master ------------------64 8. Concluding Remarks: Buddhism and Society -----------------------------------------69
Chapter II: Relics and Monasteries in Buddhist Monasticism
1. Introduction --------------------------------------------------------------------------------72 2. An Overview of the Relics in Asian History ------------------------------------------77 3. Authentication and Authority: Relics in China ---------------------------------------82 4. The Practice of Venerating Relics ------------------------------------------------------87 5. Rituals of Releasing life and Self-Destruction ----------------------------------------92 6. The Dead and the Living -----------------------------------------------------------------98 7. Manifestation of Incarnation -----------------------------------------------------------101 8. Multiple Buddhas ------------------------------------------------------------------------105 9. Concluding Remarks: The Past Becomes the Present ------------------------------110
Chapter III: Ordination Platform and Ordination Ritual
1. Introduction ------------------------------------------------------------------------------114 2. Hybridizing the Ordination Tradition: From South China to Central Asia ------121 3. The Origin of Ordination Platform ----------------------------------------------------126 4. Mahyna Interpretation on Ordination Platform -----------------------------------136 5. The Scripture of Bequeathed Teaching and Ordination Ritual --------------------144 6. The Roles in the Ordination Ritual ----------------------------------------------------150 7. Ordination Ritual as an Initiation Rite ------------------------------------------------154 8. Concluding Remarks: Dimensions of Power and Knowledge ---------------------158
Chapter IV: Property in Buddhist Monasticism
1. Introduction ------------------------------------------------------------------------------163 2. Contextualizing the Text ---------------------------------------------------------------169 3. Ownership: Private Property and Communal Property -----------------------------173 4. Classifications of Monastic Property -------------------------------------------------180 5. Laborers, Slaves and Servants ---------------------------------------------------------188
6. Animals -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------191 7. Plants --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------197 8. Books --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------201 9. Jewels and Money -----------------------------------------------------------------------206 10. Medicines and Medical Works --------------------------------------------------------209 11. Clothing -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------215 12. Concluding Remarks: Differentiating Individuals and Community---------------219
Conclusions: The Revival of Buddhist Monasticism
1. From Margin to Center -----------------------------------------------------------------224 2. Discipline and Liberation -------------------------------------------------------------- 228 3. Textual Community and Scholasticism ---------------------------------------------- 230 4. Monastic and Secular Spheres -------------------------------------------------------- 232
The Procedure of Ordination Ritual in Chinese Buddhism ---------------------------- 234 Bibliography Primary Sources
1. Works by Daoxuan -----------------------------------------------------------------------244 2. Works in Collection ---------------------------------------------------------------------245 Secondary Sources 1. Sources in Western Languages ---------------------------------------------------------246 2. Sources in Chinese and Japanese Languages -----------------------------------------268
Acknowledgements My journey to the West comes to an end. As a report of this long journey, this dissertation marks one of the last steps in the rite of passage of my academic life. It documents my transformation from a novice of Buddhist studies to a monkish scholar. It would never be in the current form without the supports of many great virtues (Skt. bhadanta, Ch. dade) at Princeton and beyond. First and foremost, I am extremely grateful to my advisor Stephen (Buzzy) F. Teiser. Buzzys supervision has profoundly reshaped the ways I read, write and think about intellectual issues. Buzzy has guided me through the treacherous water of graduate school onto the correct path with his infinite wisdom, benevolence, and patience. Professor Willard J. Peterson remains particularly inspiring and insightful, with whom I was fortunate to read both Chinese intellectual history and the tradition of Sinology in the West. I am also grateful to Professor Jacqueline (Jackie) Stone for introducing me to the field of Japanese Religions. In addition to the transfer of knowledge, she also assisted my research in Japan by kindly introducing me to many Japanese scholars in the field. I am also indebted to Professor Jeffrey Stout for giving me the first taste of studying religions at Princeton and in the West, and for his continuous support. My appreciation also goes to Professor Yang Lu for his tireless encouragement and support. As a great teacher and role model, Master Lu (Lu Daren) has not only provided many intellectual nourishments, he has also been uncommonly generous with his time and advice on matters both academic and personal. Lastly, I also would like to offer my appreciation to professors Martin Collcutt, Susan Naquin, and Robert Wuthnow for their various supports. I have also been on the receiving end of Professors Yu Ying-shihs and Zhang Guangdas invaluable guidance and encouragement. During their three years at Princeton, Professor Zhang Guangda and his wife, Professor Xu Tingyun, warmly invited me to their home many times treated me to delicious home cooking, and most importantly shared with me their experience as Chinese intellectuals and historians. I owe a great deal to many scholars outside of Princeton as well. First of all, Professor Rong Xinjiang at PKU has continuously supported my study and research since I first became his masters student in 1994. It was he who first introduced me to Buzzy and Professor Zhang Guangda, and to the academic world. Professors Wang Bangwei and Lin Meicun at PKU also showed me great generosity. Professors Cai Hongsheng, Jiang Boqin, and Lin Wushu kindly invited me to Sun Yat-sen University in Guangzhou and shared with me their insights of Tang history. In Hong Kong, Professor Jao Tsung-i put some time aside from his busy schedule to discuss with me Buddhist historiography. In Taiwan, Professor Cheng A-tsai and his wife, Professor Chu Feng-yu, offered me numerous materials on Dunhuang studies. Professors Chikusa Masaaki, Funayama Toru, Sueki Fumihiko, and Takata Tokio helped my research in Japan. In Europe, I am indebted to the supports of Professors Kuo Li-ying, Jens-Uwe Hartman, and Haiyan Hu-von Hinber. I am especially grateful to Dr. Joseph McDermott for inviting me to present a chapter of my dissertation at Cambridge University, where I was fortunate to have received comments from Professor Richard F. Gombrich, which have saved me from many errors. Dr. Henrietta Harrison, teaching in Leeds, also helped me in the early stage of my dissertation project during her stay at Institute for Advanced Study. Professor Yung Sai-hsing also extended to me his helping hands during his stay at Princeton. In the US, many
scholars have helped me in various stages of this project. Professor Victor H. Mair has kindly answered many of my questions through emails and conversations since we first met in 1997. Professor Yu Chun-fang has devoted hours of her valuable time to discuss with me my dissertation project, most importantly, she offered me an opportunity to teach at Rutgers University. Professors Shinohara Koichi and Eric Reinders and Dr. Tan Zhihui both offered suggestions on my study of Daoxuan during its earliest stage. I am equally indebted to many friends I came to know at Princeton. Ji Xiao-bin (Ji Daren), as a traditional Confucian gentleman, has patiently shared with me his research and teaching experience. Without his helps, my life and study would without doubt be much harder. I am also grateful to Wei Yang Teiser and Lucy Lo for their supports. My life and study at Princeton have also been greatly enriched by a circle of good friends (Skt. kalynamitra, Ch. shanyou). I would like to especially highlight the significance of Caitlin J. Anderson, Jessey J.C Choo, and Alexei K. Ditter for their companionship. Caitlin, Alexei, and I have been on a same boat for a seemingly endless journey of pursuing our degrees. I thank them for the sharing of sadness and happiness in the past seven years and Jessey for kindly brought me lunch and dinner while I was writing general examinations. I am also grateful to Jennifer Eichman and Lori Meeks for their support in the early stage of my graduate school life. In addition, many have helped me through various stages: Micah Auerbach, Ian Chapman, Paul Copp, Chunmei Du, Haiyan Gu, Zhigang Hu, Xiaojuan Huang, Ryan B. Joo, Kevin Osterloh, Mark Rowe, Asuka Sango, Lianying Shan, Fabien Simonis, Yinggang Sun, Tat-kee Tan, Eric Thomas, Hui-min Tzeng, Haicheng Wang, Chuck Wooldridge, Xiaojin Wu, Lanjun Xu, Stuart Young, Hui-chun Yu, Jimmy Yu, Ya Zuo. In addition, Courtney Palmbush offers great help with final proofreading. I am also grateful to many friends who kindly hosted me during my academic trips with in the US, as well as those to Asia and Europe: Chen Ming, Steve Covell, Dang Baohai, Egawa Shikibu, Lei Wen, Lin Peiying, Liu Guanglin, Liu Houbin, Meng Xianshi, Wang Chengwen, Wang Xianhua, Wong Yung, Ye Wei, Yu Xin, Zhang Lun, Zhang Mingxin, Zhang Tao, and Zhou Guanghui. My thanks also go to all institutions that funded my study and research in the past several years: Association of Princeton Graduate Alumni, Center for the Study of Religion, Council on Regional Studies, East Asian Studies Department and Program, Graduate School, Religion Department, Princeton; Japanese School, Middlebury College; China Times Cultural Foundation. I would also like to thank the following people for their assistance: Patricia A. Bogdziewicz, Richard Chafey, Lorraine Fuhrmann, Anita Klein, Kerry Smith, and Hue Kim Su. I am also grateful to Martin Heijdra and Yasuko Makino and East Asian Library at Princeton for their bibliographical support. Last but not the least, I am grateful to my family for their indispensable support: my parents, my younger sisters, my wife, my parents-in-law, and all relatives who are now struggling for better life in Jiangxi, Fujian, Hebei and Tianjin. For twenty years I have been away from home and relatives to pursue my study. It has been hard for my parents. Without their understanding and support, I would never be able to concentrate on my study. I also would not complete my dissertation without hearing my wifes voice across
the distance: Little Tiger! Hurry up and complete your dissertation. Come home! May Buddhas and Bodhisattvas bless them!
A Case Study in the Revival of Monastic Discipline This study examines the formation of Buddhist monasticism in medieval China by
analyzing the writings of one of most important Chinese Buddhist monks, Daoxuan, who
was later viewed as the founder of the Sino-Japanese Vinaya School. My interest in
Daoxuan ( 596-667) was inspired by a key figure in the modern history of Chinese
Buddhism, Hongyi ( 1880-1942).1 Both Hongyi and Daoxuan lived in periods when
Buddhism in China was thought to be in decline, and they were regarded by later
generations as reviving Buddhism through their learning and practice of Buddhist
monastic discipline. Hongyi claimed that he was a follower of Daoxuans tradition of the
Four-part Vinaya (Caturvargika-vinaya, Sifenl , usually called Dharmagupta-
vinaya in modern scholarship).2 Hongyi engaged in the extensive study of this tradition in
order to save Chinese Buddhist monastic order from decline. He engaged in strict practice
1 Before Hongyi entered the Buddhist monastic order, his secular name was Li Shutong. Before
his time, China had been forced to open up to Western powers since the Opium War (1840-1842). In the 1850s, South China, where Li was raised, experienced the devastation of the Taiping Rebellion (1856-1864). Taiping rebels destroyed many traditional Confucian and Buddhist cultural expressions and Christianity spread all over the country. Many members of the younger generation became aware of the crisis of Chinese culture and attempted to find solutions. Li Shutong went abroad and studied in Japan. He became very familiar with forms of Western arts. He even performed French dramas. After he went back to China, he became famous for his cultural activities. Yet he soon quit the cultural scene in South China and entered the Buddhist order in his forties. For a recent study of master Hongyi, see Raoil Birnbaum, Master Hongyi Looks Back: A Modern Man Became a Monk in Twentieth-Century China, in: Steven Heine and Charles S. Prebish, eds., Buddhism in the Modern World: Adaptation of an Ancient Tradition (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2003), pp. 75-124.
2 The Chinese term if Sifenl. I prefer to use the Sanskrit reconstruction of Caturvargika-Vinaya,
which is a direct back-translation of the meaning of the Chinese: Four-part Vinaya. My practice runs contrary to current practice, which usually calls the Sifenl the Dharmagupta-Vinaya, which refers to the school (Dharmagupta) of Buddhism that used the Four-part Vinaya. My reasoning is based on two arguments. One is that the Chinese who inherited and remade the tradition viewed it as a textual tradition based on the Four-part Vinaya, and did not emphasize the specific doctrines of the Dharmagupta School. The other reason is that when Chinese authors did refer explicitly to the Dharmagupta School, they tended to use another word, not associated with the Vinaya: Fazang, which was a more literal translation (Dharma treasury) of the Schools name.
of the Vinaya. He studied and commented on numerous writings by Daoxuan. He also
wrote a short sketch of Daoxuans life. He hoped to revive Chinese culture by bringing
about a revival of Buddhist monasticism and scholarship. I see Hongyi in the shadow of
Daoxuan, almost as if he were a reincarnation of Daoxuan. Like Hongyi, I have made
Daoxuan the subject of this study.3 I also believe that monasticism and scholasticism can
play a vital role in reviving Chinese Buddhism, after a period of nearly endless revolution
in the twentieth century.
My study analyzes the writings of Daoxuan, one of the greatest scholarly-monks
in the history of Chinese Buddhism. Daoxuan was born in Jingzhao (Shaanxi) in 596. His
family was from southeastern China, and his father rose to a high position in the central
government of the Chen Dynasty. As the son of a gentry family, Daoxuan would have
received a good education in the Confucian classics. His biography says that he was also
good at composing rhyme-prose (fu). His early monastic education under the supervision
of Vinaya masters Huijun (564-637) and Zhishou (567-635) took place near the Sui
Dynasty (589-618) capital, Chang'an (Shaanxi). In the Tang Dynasty (618-907) he later
studied at a variety of monasteries and traveled across China, spreading his interpretation
of the monastic code,4 collecting texts for his new interpretation of monastic discipline
and ritual, and writing histories and other works. His career in the state-controlled
monkhood flourished, and in 658 the Emperor appointed him as superintendent (Skt.
sthavira, Ch. shangzuo), the highest monastic position in the empire, and invited him to
live in the newly erected Ximing Monastery in Changan. He was very active in
3 My dissertation is limited loosely to the problem of monasticism. I hope to return to
scholasticism in a later project. 4 Skt. vinaya, Ch. l.
administering the Buddhist Church and representing its interests to the state. He died in
667. He composed many Vinaya texts and commentaries, all focusing on the ritual and
institutional life of monks and nuns. Later sectarian scholarship canonized his scholarship
on Vinaya, calling it The Five Great Books of the Vinaya School (Lzong wu dabu):
Selections with Annotations on Bhikksu Precepts of the Four-part Vinaya (Sifenl biqiu
hanzhu jieben), Commentary on the Four-part Vinaya with Annotations and Additions
(Sifenl shanfan buque xingshi chao), Occasional Karma with Deletions and Additions of
the Four-part Vinaya (Sifenl shanbu suiji jiemo), Selections from Ten Vinayas of the
Four-part Vinaya (Sifenl shi bini chao), Selections on Bhikhsuni Precepts of the Four-
part Vinaya (Sifenl biqiuni jieben). He distinguished himself as a Buddhist historian
with his Continued Biographies of Eminent Monks (Xu gaoseng zhuan), and as the
highest-ranking monk in China he defined the canon of Chinese Buddhism in his
Catalogue of Buddhist Scriptures of the Great Tang (Da Tang neidian lu).5 He also
compiled collections of miracle tales and wrote an anthology of apologetic literature
concerning debates between Buddhists, Daoists, and Confucians. Daoxuan was one of the
most important Buddhist monks of his generation and his writings were prolific. Later
generations regarded him as the founder of the Vinaya School and credited his
contributions to other schools, including Pure Land, Huayan, and Chan.6
5 For brief discussion of Daoxuans vinaya contribution in English, see Yifa, The Origins of
Buddhist Monastic Codes in China: An Annotated Translation and Study of the Chanyuan qinggui (Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 2002), pp. 23-28; and Tso Sze-bong, The Transformation of Buddhist Vinaya in China (PhD dissertation. Caberra: Australia National University, 1982).
6 If these schools existed as self-conscius institutional entities or religious movements in China, it
is still controversy. See Robert Sharf, Coming to Terms with Chinese Buddhism: A Reading of the Treasure Store Treatuse (Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 2002), p. 9.
My study is especially concerned with Daoxuans understanding of the crisis
confronting the Buddhist community. In his view, the crisis was partly caused by
shortcomings in ascetic and ritual practice of monks and nuns. My work provides a
history of the institution of the celibate monkhood. Daoxuan devoted himself to restoring
order to Buddhist monastic communities in a variety of ways. He reformed the ordination
system and wrote monastic regulations for both monks and nuns, stressing the importance
of personal asceticism and advocating changes in how the monastic community dealt
with property. These efforts were the internal side of Daoxuan's broader attempts to
assuage conflicts between secular and Buddhist communities. This perspective makes my
study different from the conventional approach to early Tang Buddhism and to Daoxuan,
which focuses on his external solutions to conflict between the state and the church.
Although Daoxuan is one of the most important scholar-monks in Chinese
Buddhist history, no comprehensive work on Daoxuan has been written in any language.
In Chinese, there is only one book on Daoxuan for general readers. In Japanese, most
articles on Daoxuan concern only small segments of his works, either his Vinaya
commentaries or his historical scholarship. These works are limited in scope, viewing
Daoxuan entirely through a sectarian lens.7 Fujiyoshi Masumi for the first time published
a book devoting to Daoxuans life. He draws a picture of Daoxuans life and work
chronically by meticulous textual studies.8 The problem with that approach is that it is not
only anachronistic since the Vinaya School did not exist as such in Daoxuans time
7 In this view Daoxuan was the founder of so-called Vinaya School. Contemporary scholarship now is more and more aware of the problem of this sectarian approach. For an example on Japanese side, Ryichi Ab criticizes the sectarian scholarship for their viewing Kkai as the founder of Shingon School; see Abe, The Weaving of Mantra: Kkai and the Construction of Esoteric Buddhist Discourse (New York: Columbia University Press, 1999), pp. 3-4.
8 See Fujiyoshi Masumi, Dsen den no kenky (Kyoto: Kyt daigaku shuppankai, 2002).
it also underestimates the breadth of Daoxuans scholarship and the variety of sources on
which we need to draw. And this study is limited within the scope of traditional sectarian
Buddhist scholarship. Thus, there is still a great need for a comprehensive study that
places Daoxuan in the context of medieval Chinese Buddhist history. In English, there
are four dissertations mostly devoted to Daoxuan's historical writings and ritual texts, but
most of them pay little attention to Daoxuan's Vinaya texts.9 Many scholars have noted
that there has not been any considerable progress in Chinese Vinaya studies.10 Following
a long tradition in Buddhology, contemporary scholarship still focuses on scriptures and
treatises. By approaching Daoxuan's Vinaya works in relation to monastic life and social
history, my work will contribute to this subject as well.
My approach broadens the traditional view of Daoxuan's scholarship, which
places him in the Buddhist tradition of Sengyou (445-518). A renowned master of
9 John Kieschnick, The Idea of the Monk in Medieval China: Asceticism, Thaumaturgy, and
Scholarship in the Biographies of Eminent Monk (Ph. D. dissertation, Stanford University, 1995), later it appeared as a book, Eminent Monk: Buddhist Ideals in Medieval Chinese Hagiography (Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 1997); Robin Beth Wagner, Buddhism, Biography and Power: A Study of Daoxuan's Continued Lives of Eminent Monks (Ph D. dissertation, Harvard University, 1995); Eric Reinders, Buddhist Rituals of Obeisance and the Contestation of the Monks Body in Medieval China (PhD. Dissertation, University of California, Santa Barbara, 1997); Tan, Zhihui. Daoxuans Vision of Jetavana: Imagining a Utopian Monastery in Early Tang (Ph.D. thesis, The University of Arizona, 2002). Friederike Assandri finished a dissertation drawing upon Daoxuans work Ji gujin fodao lunheng, but his focus is the debate between Buddhists and Daoists. See Die Debatten zwischen Daoisten und Buddhisten in der Frher Tang-Zeit und die Changxuan-Lehre des Daoismus (The Debates between Daoists and Buddhists in the early Tang and the Chongxuan Teaching of Daoism. A Study of Daoxuans Ji gujin fodao lunheng, T. 2104), Heidelberg University, Germany, 2002. Ann Heirmans dissertation deals with a section of Four-part Vinaya. It came out as a book titled The Discipline in Four Parts, Rules for Nuns according to the Dharmaguptakavinaya (Delhi, Motilal Banarsidass, 2002), 3 vols.
10 John McRae, Chinese Religions -- The State of Field: Buddhism. Journal of Asian Studies 54:
2 (1995): 354-371. Koichi Shinohara is an exception. He published many articles either dealing with Daoxuan or Vinaya. see his Buddhist Precepts in Mdeieval Chinese Biographies of Monks, in Charles Fu et al., Buddhist Behavioral Codes and the Modern World (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1994), pp. 75-94; Changing roles for miraculous images in medieval Chinese Buddhism: a study of the miraculous images section of Daoxuan's Ji shenzhou sanbao gantonglu, in Richard Davis ed., Images, Miracles, and Authority in Asian Religious Traditions (Boulder: Westview Press, 1998), pp. 141-188; The Kasaya robe of the past Buddha Kasyapa in the miraculous instruction given to the Vinaya master Daoxuan (596-667), Chung-hua Buddhist Journal 12 (2000), pp. 299-367.
monastic codes, Sengyou compiled a catalogue of the Buddhist canon and a collection of
texts regarding the debates between Buddhists, Daoists, and Confucians. Restricting
one's review to Daoxuan's place in Sengyou's scholarly tradition makes it difficult to
account for the breadth of Daoxuan's works and his involvement in broader social
movements. I will demonstrate that Daoxuan was indebted to a much broader Buddhist
heritage than that represented by Sengyou. Daoxuan first studied at Riyan monastery,
established in the late Sui Dynasty in the capital Chang'an, where he was trained in the
southern tradition under his master Huijun. He was also probably influenced by other
masters from South China in the Riyan Monastery. However, contrary to Sengyou, who
never left the South, Daoxuan lived in a period of unification that allowed him to travel
across the empire and thereby to access more diverse intellectual sources. In his travels,
Daoxuan became familiar with the practices of many monastic communities. By carefully
exploring the complex interaction between scholarly and monastic concerns in Daoxuan's
life, I will present a new picture of the social and cultural history of early Tang
Buddhism. Although scholarship has recently made some progress on the Buddhism of
the fifth to ninth centuries, it has paid little attention to the changes in Buddhism during
the transition from the late douthern and northern dynasties to the early Tang period in
the late sixth and early seventh centuries.
The main sources I will deal with in this study come from Daoxuans writings on
Vinaya, ritual, history, and miracle tales, which have been largely neglected in current
scholarship.11 These ritual texts include Record of the Miraculous Responses of the
Discipline (Lxiang gantong zhuan), Illustrated Scripture of the Establishment of the
11 Most of them can be found in the volume 45 of the Taish edition of the modern Buddhist
canon. See primary sources: part 1 for a brief listing of Daoxuans writings.
Ordination Platform within the Pass (Guanzhong chuangli jietan tujing), Methods of
Instructing Contemplation for Purifying the Mind (Jingxin jieguan fa), Rituals for
Buddhist Robes (Shimen zhangfu yi), Ritual for Measuring and Handling Light and
Heavy Property (Liangchu qingzhong yi), Ritual on Buddhist Conversion and Veneration
(Shimen guijing yi), and Regulations and Rituals for Teaching and Regulating New
Monks Travel and Safety (Jiaojie xinxue biqiu xinghu lyi).12 These ritual texts should
be read as practical manuals, aimed at simplicity and clarity. They are not doctrinally
profound and complex, unlike some of his other work, such as his commentaries on the
Four Part Vinaya (Sifenl). One of the things I attempt to show is that these practical
handbooks are just as important, as they function as commentaries on the monastic code.
Theorizing Buddhist Monasticism
Monasticism is now viewed as a cross-cultural phenomenon and has been
examined from many disciplines. However, in modern scholarship, the study of
monasticism historically derives from the study of the history of Christianity. In
Christianity, monasticism, as a term, derives from the Greek word monos, which means
dwelling alone. Monasticism as a way of life emerged in the Egyptian deserts as early
as the first century C. E. Early Christian monasticism concentrates on individual
asceticism and involves three key elements: poverty, chastity, and obedience. All three
were established on the basis of Christian faith. Later monasticism was rapidly
institutionalized with the establishment of Christian monasteries.13 Although in Victorian
12 T. no. 1892-1898. My study will only focus on several texts here. My future research will
further the discussion on asceticism by analyzing other texts including Methods of Instructing Contemplation for Purifying Mind (Jingxin jieguan fa), Ritual on Buddhist Robes (Shimen zhangfu yi), and Daoxuans commentaries on Vinayas. Moreover, I will not focus on Daoxuans text Zhong tianzhu sheweiguo zhiyuansi tujing, which has been dealt with in Tan Zhihuis Ph. D. dissertation (University of Arizona, 2002) recently.
England, Catholic missionaries frequently compared Buddhism and Christianity in terms
of monasticism,14 in the field of Buddhist Studies it has emerged only recently.15
Although the word and concept originated in the study of early Christian history,
monasticism is now understood and defined in many different ways. In the recently
published Encyclopedia of Monasticism, Editor William M. Johnston notes that
Monasticism is defined as a single-minded commitment to religious life conducted apart
from the surrounding society (almost always in celibacy and relative poverty) and
following a rule that usually involves emulating or obeying a founder.16 Although the
first two conditions usually fit the Buddhist case, the last one does not match so well. In
the same encyclopedia, in the entry on monasticism from the Buddhist perspective,
Mahinda Deegalle does not even mention the relationship of monasticism to the Buddha
as founder. Deegalle points out that the typical definition of Buddhist monasticism is
based on a pre-understanding of Christian monasticism. Deegale argues that, compared to
the Christian monastic life which was strictly regulated by monastic rules and in which
the monasteries functioned as ideal places for practicing austerities, Buddhist
13 Marilyn J. Dunn, The Emergence of Monaticism: From the Desert Fathers to the Early Middle
Ages (London: Blackwell Publishers, 2002), chs. 1 and 5. 14 Philip C. Almond, The British Discovery of Buddhism (Cambridge: Cambridge University
Press, 1988), pp. 111-132. 15 For example, aiming at Tibetan Buddhism, Georges B. J. Dreyfus says that Buddhist
monasticism attempts to create a form of disciplined life separate from the world in order to pursue the ascetic world-transcendent religious ideal. See Dreyfus, The Sound of Two Hands Clapping: The Education of a Tibetan Buddhist Monk (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2003), pp. 32-37. Monasticism has also been the focus on Buddhist traditions in other Asian areas. In 2002, there was a conference on Buddhist monasticism in Asia held at the University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada. The conference volume, tentatively titled Buddhist Monasticism: Asian Perspectives is unpublished. In 2004, a conference on Buddhist Monasticism in East Asia was held in Cambridge University, Cambridge, England.
16 William M. Johnston, ed., Encyclopedia of Monasticism (Chicago: Fitzroy Dearborn, 2000), p.
monasticism combined dwelling, traveling, and preaching. In tracing a short history of
Buddhist monastic communities in Asia, he also states that Buddhist monasticism might
be the oldest monastic system in the world. Deegalle suggests that Buddhist monasticism
does not view renunciation as the first step in religious training. He also agrees against
applying the Christian concept to Buddhism because Buddhist monks and nuns were not
hermits who lived independently. Instead, Buddhist monks and nuns received support
from human settlements and also disseminated the Buddhas teachings.17
Moreover, in Catholic monasticism, monks developed their own monastic culture,
which was independent from the culture of surrounding society. As Jean Gribomont in
New Catholic Encyclopedia notes, Monasticism is defined as an institution of ancient
and medieval origins, establishing and regulating the ascetical and social conditions of
the manner of religious life lived in common or in contemplative solitude.18 Gribomont
also concludes that,
Monasticism was a development of primitive Christian asceticism along various lines: the anchoritic and cenobitic types were not the original nucleus but rather successful forms on which others patterned themselves. The monks had their own culture; it was independent of the classical world of antiquity and often local popular traditions, Coptic and Syriac. The monks brought the church an ideal of asceticism, forms of prayer such as the use of the Psalter, a rich experience of inwardness, and new literary forms. The movement became a triumphant power that, despite its resistance to cultural changes, was to give a distinguishing character to the Middle Ages.19
Gribomont clearly suggests that monks had their own culture independent from local
traditions in early Near East. Christian monks created their tradition in Greek which was
17 Mahinda Deegalle, Monasticism, Definitions of: Buddhist Perspective, ibid., pp. 868-871. 18 New Catholic Encyclopedia, prepared by an editorial staff at the Catholic University of America
in association with Thomson-Gale (New York: Thomson-Gale, 2002), p. 786. 19 Ibid., p. 788.
different from local Coptic and Syriac cultural traditions. Their practices included
asceticism, praying the Psalter, experiencing inwardness, and using their new literary
forms. Similarly, Buddhist monks also created their own traditions in Buddhist Sanskrit
language, using their own literary forms, praying their eulogies, and practicing their
Monasticism can also be defined as an institution of communal living in order to
pursue a spiritual state. Monastic members are required to live a disciplined and ritualized
daily life. In this context, Livia Kohn emphasizes the social roles played by monastics.
For her, monasticism is always located between the need to provide optimal conditions
for the individuals attainment of holiness and the necessity to keep order and control
within the monastic community and in its interaction with normative society.20 Indeed,
the social aspects are very important.
In the Middle Ages, in many religious traditions, including Christianity,
Buddhism, and Daoism, monasticism centered on the monasteries and monks. The ideal
of spiritual practice and salvation dominated the lives of monks. In medieval Chinese
Buddhism, particularly, monasticism refers to a single-minded commitment of ascetic
religious life pursuing spiritual enlightenment, or pursuing the attainment of
Buddhahood. 21 Similar to Christian monasticism, Chinese Buddhist monks also
developed their own culture. They had their own educational and training system. As I
will show, although the Buddha played an important role in shaping the formation of
20 Livia Kohn, Monastic Life in Medieval Daoism: A Cross-cultural Perspective (Honolulu:
University of Hawaii Press, 2003), p. 1.
21 In early Buddhism, monasticism aimed to seek the attainment of nibbana, escaping from the suffering (dukka). See The Book of the Discipline (Vinaya-pataka), volume V (Callavagga), I. B. Horner trans. (London: Luzac & Company LTD., 1963), p. 219.
Buddhist monastic establishments and the ordination ritual, the monks did not strictly
obey the founder, the historical Buddha. Rather, they followed the Buddhist truth they
believed for their own spiritual cultivation. However, to me, the Buddha played an
indispensable role in authorizing the establishment of Chinese Buddhist monasteries and
in overseeing the enterance of the monk to the Buddhist monastic order.
There are numerous works dealing with monastic life in medieval China. Most of
them deal with monastic life from the perspective of social history.22 The approach of
social history successfully reveals the integration between monastic and lay communities,
especially via economic activities. However, these works might have missed the religious
implication of the monastic life that monasticism stresses. The observation that focuses
solely on the physical structure of society therefore ignores the religious mentality of the
participants as they carry out economic activities. As I will show, in dealing with
monastic property, as a master, Daoxuan has a clear sense of Buddhist ethics, including
compassion, detachment from the secular sphere, and so forth. Therefore, in the sense of
mentality, the life of monastic members was largely shaped on the basis of their religious
faith, their spiritual pursuit. 23 This is particularly true of the elite cleric class, who
concentrated on spiritual progress and the stabilization of the monastic order. They were
devoted to conferring Buddhist values and principles of an ascetic ideal over to ordinary
22 We may name a few of them, for example, Jacques Gernet, Buddhism in Chinese Society: An
Economic History from the Fifth to Tenth Centuries (New York: Columbia University Press, 1995); Hao Chunwen, Tang houqi wudai Song chu Dunhuang sengni de shehui shenghuo (Beijing: Zhongguo shehui kexue chubanshe, 1997). Both works draw upon large amount of Dunhuang manuscripts, which also largely reflect the locality of Buddhism in Dunhuang, a politically autonomous area in northwestern China. To what extent the conclusion drawn from Dunhuang materials is applicable in central China, it is still under the debate.
23 Janet Burton, Medieval Monasticism Headstart Historical Papers (Oxford: Plantagene Press,
monks, generation by generation. These goals are illustrated in their practice of Buddhist
monasticism. As my study will show, Daoxuan is one of the great cases.
My approach to Buddhist monasticism in medieval China will focus on several
essential aspects of monasticism, for example, the relationship between the veneration
ritual of the Buddhas relics and the construction of pagodas, as well as the relationship
of these practiese to the renovation of monasteries, the participation of Buddha present in
the form of his relics in the ritual of ordination, and with the way that personal and
communal property was dealt with in the monastic community. I believe that these issues
have been involved with the formation of Buddhist monasticism in medieval China.
My study of Daoxuan is divided into four chapters. Chapter one deals with
historical context. It lays a historical and structural foundation for later chapters. In this
chapter I argue that, after the Chinese empire had been in disunity for several hundred
years and was then reunified,24 the history of Chinese Buddhism followed a new path. It
essentially followed the Southern tradition, as we can see in Daoxuans writings. This
tradition puts particular emphasis on monastic practice. It also accentuates the Chinese
characteristics of Buddhist monasticism, which are different from Indian Buddhist
monasticism.25 It focuses on three issues: the worship of relics and the reconstruction of
monasteries, the construction of the ordination platform, and meditation methods.26
24 Around late third century, with the collapse of the Han Empire, China fell into three kingdoms,
and later on even more kingdoms. Only in 589 did the Sui regime reunify the Chinese empire again. 25 For Indian monasticism, see Nalinaksha Dutt, Early Monastic Buddhism (Calcutta: Firma K. L.
Mukhopadhyay, 1971). More recently, Gregory Schopen has offered a fresh approach to Indian Buddhist monasticism by focusing on inscriptional sources. See his Bones, Stones, and Buddhist Monks: Collected Papers on the Archaeology, Epigraphy, and Texts of Monastic Buddhism in India (Honolulu: University of Hawai'i Press, 1997); and Buddhist Monks and Business Matters: Still More Papers on Monastic Buddhism in India (Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 2004.
From chapter two to chapter four, I examine three aspects I have selected from
Daoxuans numerous writings. Chapter two examines the relationship between relics and
monasteries. I suggest that in Chinese Buddhism, relics always occupied a central
position in the monastic compound. Relics, as a representation of the Buddha,
participated in the reconstruction of Chinese monasteries, and therefore, the
reconstruction of the monastic order. The ceremony of venerating Buddhas relics bridges
the gap between the dead historcial Buddha and his Chinese followers, and between the
monastic community and the lay community. Chapter three moves to discuss the
ordination ritual by focusing on the design and construction of the ordination platform. I
argue that the promotion of the ordination platform is one of Daoxuans greatest
contributions to Chinese Buddhism. Daoxuans ordination platform mixes both
traditional Indian Buddhist ideas with his own creation. Its three-level design creates a
new form of ordination ritual in East Asian Buddhism. On this three-level platform,
Buddhas, Bodhisattvas, and senior masters play a crucial role in leading the ceremony,
while other monastic members are merely onlookers. In analyzing how to deal with
property in the monastic community, chapter four turns to examine how the monastic
community deals with the people and goods it owns, receives, and inherits. I argue that
Daoxuan formulated new rules for the ownership and distribution of property in the
Chinese Buddhist monastic community.27
26 More on meditation practice will be beyond the scope of this study and deserve a future project.
27 I planned to analyze the monastic practices by reading a Daoxuans manual about the method of
purifying mind. However, I realize that this is a huge topic which goes beyond the scope of this study. I will develop it in future research.
In this study, I merely focus on Daoxuans creation of a new tradition of medieval
Chinese Buddhist monasticism. This study does not cover some appealing issues in
Daoxuans works, such as his definition of canon, his view of miracles and statues, his
biographical standards, and his contributions to scholasticism. I hope to turn to them in
Chapter I: Buddhism in South China as a Cultural Imaginaire
The island barbarians lived in the Southern Region where the land was low and full of weird ether. The passion and will of people were elevated. Therefore it was called the Prefecture of Elevation (Yangzhou). The Jin regime fled to the South, thus it was called the Cultural Kingdom. And for this reason, it was said that the South was transformed from a barbarian culture to Chinese culture. Thus even Confucius who lived in the nine barbarian regions was not illiterate.28 , , , , , ,
Although Chinese culture usually appears singular and unique in modern Western
and Chinese discourse, other interpretations are possible. The assumption that Chinese
culture is unitary assumes a cultural system centered on Confucianism, which was
believed to have been dominant since the former Han Dynasty (206 BC 8 AD),
especially since the Emperor Wu (r. 140-87 BCE) promoted Dong Zhongshus ()
version of Confucianism as the official ideology. However, other cultural traditions also
played a crucial role in the life of Han people in some regions of the Han Empire. For
example, in northern Sichuan and Southern Shaanxi area, the people practiced the Five-
peck Rice Way (Wudoumi dao ). And in the Shandong area, the people
practiced the Way of Yellow Emperor and Laozi (Huanglao dao ). Thus, when we
talk about ancient Chinese culture, we should take regional diversity into account. The
Han Empire fell and divied into three kingdoms (Wei, Shu, and Wu) in the third century.
28 Guang hongmingji (chapter 6), Daoxuan, T. no. 2103, 52: 127a.
Developing out of the largest kingdom, Wei, the Jin Empire unified China and thereafter
quickly declined under the attack of nomads from the Mongolian plateau. In early fourth
century, the Jin court was forced to move to Jiankang (modern Nanjing) and there
continued its regime. Before the Sui regime unified China as an empire in the sixth
century, Chinese history seems to have been divided into two traditions: Northern
dynasties and Southern dynasties. Northern dynasties were usually established by nomads
who were called barbarians in medieval Chinese sources. Southern dynasties, however,
claimed their cultural heritage from the Han Empire. After the fourth century, following
the division of political regimes into North and South, different forms of economy and
culture developed. Although Buddhism entered China in the first century (the former Han
Dynasty), the first Chinese Buddhist community (Sangha) was not established until the
third century. These radical developments in Chinese political history beginning in the
fourth century had a strong influence on the history of Buddhism in China. As I will
show in the following pages, this change can also be discussed taking into account the
fact of regional diversity.
Modern scholarship has paid some attention to the different traditions of
Buddhism in the Northern and Southern dynasties.29 The dominant viewpoint in this
scholarship, initiated by Tang Yongtong, is that Buddhism in the South was a religion
devoted to the exegetical study (yixue ), or the study of wisdom, one of three
29 Erik Zrcher suggests that the Buddhist conquest of China was a historical development of
gentry Buddhism by focusing on how the aristocracy in this period accepted Buddhism, but his argument seems to be based on the case in the South. See The Buddhist Conquest of China: The Spread and Adaptation of Buddhism in Early Medieval China (Leiden: E. J. Brill, 1959). His sociological study is indebted to Tang Yongtongs book titled Wei Jin nanbeichao fojiao shi (Originally published in Shanghai, 1938; Beijing: Zhonghua shuju, 1982, reprinted).
divisions of Buddhist practice (morality, concentration, and wisdom).30 In this view,
Southern Buddhism was concerned with the exchange of philosophical ideas between
eminent monks and the literati, while in Northern dynasties, Buddhism was a religion
centered on meditation practice. This approach suggests that most monks in north China
focused on meditation practice, rather than doctrinal debates.31 Tang writes,
Buddhist Dharma to the east of the [Yangtze] River focused on the method of meaning [yimen]; as to meditation method, it was probably not [as strong] as it was in [North China].32
Tang explains that the focus of Buddhism in South China was the study of wisdom. He
argues that in South China, the monks and lay followers were devoted to studying the
meaning of the Buddhist scriptures and treaties, debating theoretical issues, and writing
commentaries. His strongest evidence in support of this viewpoint comes from his
reading of surviving traditional Buddhist sources, especially the biographies of monks
and histories. These biographies, typically, were written by eminent monks. In terms of
social class, these biographies were focused on eminent monks who mostly came from
big clans. Tangs viewpoint is based on selective biased biographies.33 In sum, Tangs
30 Ch. sanxue . However, when we talk about sanxue as a single word indicating three
learnings, it refers to a textual study of the three practices. So I will use practices and learnings on different occasions for different indications.
31 Erik Zrcher, The Buddhist Conquest of China: The Spread and Adaptation of Buddhism in
Early Medieval China (Leiden: E. J. Brill, 1959); Tang Yongtong. Tang Zhangru echoes Tangs viewpoint; see Wei Jin nanbeichao Sui Tang shi sanlun (Wuhan: Wuhandaxue chubanshe, 1993), pp. 224-225.
32 Tang Yongtong, Han Wei liang Jin nanbeichao fojiao shi (Shanghai: Shangwu yinshuguan,
1938), p. 799. 33 I will discuss these biographies in the context of Daoxuans scholarship in a seperate project.
For more current study on the biographies of eminent monks, see John Kieschnick, Eminent Monk: Buddhist Ideals in Medieval Chinese Hagiography (Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 1997); Robin Beth Wagner, Buddhism, Biography and Power: A Study of Daoxuan's Continued Lives of Eminent Monks (Ph D. dissertation, Harvard University, 1995).
viewpoint does not offer a comprehensive picture of Buddhist monks in the time of the
Northern and Southern dynasties.
Buddhism was not the only cultural tradition in medieval China. If its learning
manifested in different ways in the North and South, other cultural traditions might also
reflect this regional difference. Discussing Buddhist learning in a broader context may
offer us a better understanding of medieval Chinese Buddhist history in general. In going
beyond the field of Buddhist studies, we might broaden our discussion on the different
traditions of scholarly learning in Northern and Southern dynasties.
In the Sui and Tang Dynasties, scholars were aware of the different modes of
Confucian learning in the North and South. For example, Tang official historians
commented on the difference between Northern and Southern learning as follows,
Mostly the Southerners [learning] is simple and plain, grasping the essence of the learning; while Northern learning is profound and sophisticated, exhausting the details [branches and leaves].34
This observation indicates that Southern literati were interested in abstract learning. In
other words, they paid more attention to theoretical issues. In the Buddhist tradition, it
was called the exegetical study (yixue). This tradition focuses on the search for the
philosophical meaning of Buddhist concepts and opinions.35 This feature of Buddhist
34 The History of Sui (Sui shu), ch. 75: The Biographies of Confucian scholars (Rulin zhuan), p.
Many contemporary scholars have examined the relationship between Buddhism and Confucianism, as well as Daoism at this time. See Mori Mikisabur, Rikuch shidaifu no seishin (Kyoto: Dhsha, 1986), pp. 165-196.
35 In his The Buddhist Conquest of China, Zrcher translates the Chinese word yi as opinion,
theory, and interpretation (p. 100), and the word yixue as exegesis (p. 116). The first translation is fine, while the second translation does not accurately apply to this word which is composed of two Chinese characters. So I translate yixue as exegetical study. He makes no comments on other relevant Chinese words including yimen and yizong. I translate yimen as exegetical method and yizong as exegetical tradition.
learning in the South seems to correspond to features of Confucian learning in the south.
Likewise, in North China, as the Tang historian indicated, Confucian scholars were more
interested in concrete details, as were followers of the Buddhist tradition in the North.
Given this correlation to the Confucian approach to learning, it is easier to understand
that Northern Buddhists paid more attention to the concrete practice of meditation.
However, in my opinion, conventional ideas regarding the similarities and
differences between Buddhist development in the North and South do not offer a clear
logical position, nor are they an accurate reflection of the historical and cultural milieu of
Buddhism in southern dynasties. Tangs study was mostly based on textual analysis and
was written in the 1930s. Some of his observations should be read critically against
discovery of new sources and the progress of modern scholarship. On the one hand, vast
archaeological discoveries have made it possible to draw a new image of Buddhism in the
North. For example, in examining the inscriptions on Buddhist statues, Liu Shufen and
Hou Xudong have demonstrated that Buddhist beliefs and practices in the north among
the common people were more complex than originally thought. In addition to the
practice of meditation, establishing statues and making prayers were of also significant
among Buddhists in North China.36 New case studies of Buddhist figures and rituals in
south China contribute to our understanding of Buddhism in the South.37 For the South,
not many new inscriptions are available; we might not be able to reexamine its history as
thoroughly as Hou and Liu have done for the North. Nevertheless, we can still find an
36 Liu Shufen, Wu zhi liu shiji huabei xiangcun de fojiao xinyang, Zhongyang yanjiuyuan lishi
yuyan yanjiusuo jikan 63: 3 (1993), pp. 497-544; idem, Art, Ritual and Society: Buddhist Practice in Rural China during the Northern Dynasties, Asia Major 8: 1 (1997), pp. 19-46; Hou Xudong, Wu liu shiji beifang minzhong fojiao xinyang (Beijing: Zhongguo shehui kexue chubanshe, 1998).
37 For example, many scholars have studied the practice of self-immolation in the six dynasties. A
detailed discussion on this can be found in chapter two.
alternative way to approach the Buddhism in the South in general through a closer
reading of important Buddhist writings beyond the biographies of eminent monks.
Among these writings, Daoxuans writings should be given more attention.
Daoxuan has his own viewpoint about Buddhism in South China, which is quite
different from that of Tang Yongtong. In Tangs scholarship, Daoxuans voice is ignored.
Tang does not speak about how Buddhist figures throughout history viewed their own
history; rather, he applies a method of outside observation. Tang fails to think about why
these Buddhist figures had their own viewpoints about the same social facts. I attempt to
understand Daoxuans viewpoint regarding Buddhism in South China and to ask why he
had such a view. In my reading, Daoxuans perspective was formed by his observation of
the aftermath of the political persecution of Buddhism in the late Northern dynasties, and
it led directly to his search for a better model for the development of Buddhism at his
time. As I will show below, Daoxuans image of Buddhism in the South came not only
from his reading in Buddhist history, but also from his early monastic experience in the
Riyan Monastery.38 My reading also draws a picture of Southern Buddhism as a unique
tradition in Daoxuans writings.
38 The Riyan Monastery was founded in the nineteenth year of the Kaihuang period (599 AD) by
the Prince of Jin Yang Guang when he came to the capital of the Sui Dynasty to see Emperor Wen. In the following year, Yang Guang was made the Crown Prince. All sources in the Buddhist canon cite Yang Guang as the Prince of Jin while mentioning the Riyan Monastery. Yamazaki Hiroshi suggests that it was set up to host many monks from the Huiri Monastery (Daochang) in the South by Emperor Yang (Yang Guang); cf. Ydai no shidj, Ty gakuh 34 (1952), pp. 22-35; Zui-T bukky shi no kenky (Kyoto: Hzkan, 1980), p. 100. But he thought its established date was AD 601 by following no Katsutoshis opinion; cf. Ono Katsutoshi, Chgoku Zui-T Chan jiin shiry sh: Shiry hen (Kyoto: Hzkan, 1989), p. 141. Two Chinese scholars also agree with his opinion. Tang Yongtong, Sui Tang fojiao shigao (Beijing: Zhonghua shuju, 1982), p. 7. Victor Cun-rui Xiong, Sui-Tang Changan A Study in the Urban History of Medieval China (Ann Arbor: Center for Chinese Studies, the University of Michigan, 2000), p. 259 and p. 309 table. In my opinion, this monastery was established by the Prince of Jin Yang Guang in the nineteen year of the Kaihuang period (599) when he came to the capital to see the emperor Yang Jian from Jiangdu (present Yangzhou, Jiangsu province). Many biographies of eminent monks who were invited to Riyan Monastery said that they were invited by the Prince of Jin rather than the Crown Prince, which means that
Contextualizing Culture in South and North China
Daoxuan was born in a newly unified empire, the Sui Dynasty. His life, his
thoughts, and his monastic career were greatly shaped by his era. When we discuss his
ideas and thoughts, we cannot ignore the historical context. The Sui Empire seceded
from the Northern Zhou, which was founded by the nomadic Xianbei. Since the fourth
century, the first kingdom, founded by the Xianbei, Northern Wei, had developed a
process of absorbing Han cultural and political institutions. However, to a great extent
during the period of disunity, the kingdoms in the North debated whether they should
accept Han culture. In the South, this had never been a problem. For several hundred
years, therefore, in the North and South, the development of culture was shaped by the
regional differences created by the collapse of a unified empire. Once the Sui regime
unified the country, it proceeded to develop its own cultural traditions. However, the
people who survived from the collapse maintained their own memory about their own
cultural traditions, which had been developed over time in their own regions. As a well-
educated monk, Daoxuan must have been conscious of this situation.
In addition to Tang Yongtongs views, Chen Yinke makes a contribution to the
discussion of the historical context of early medieval Chinese history, offering a grand
image of Chinese history from the fourth century to seventh century. He claims that the
newly unified Sui and Tang regimes took their political institutions, rituals, and cultural
heritage from three sources: the Northern kingdoms (former Northern Zhou and Northern
Yang Guang was not Crown Prince when he established the Riyan Monastery, cf. Zhiju, T. no. 2060, vol. 50: 509b; Zhituo, 498c; Falun, 500a. According to the History of Sui Dynasty (Suishu), Yang Guang was bestowed the title of Crown Prince in the twentieth year of Kaihuang period (600) and came to Changan in the nineteenth year of Kaihuang. So the monastery must be established during his staying in Changan in the nineteenth year of Kaihuang (AD 599). Cf. Fang Xuanling et al., Sui shu (The History of Sui Dynasty) (Beijing: Zhonghua shuju, 1975), pp. 44, 45, 1469, 1559.
Qi Dynasties), the Southern kingdoms (Liang and Chen Dynasties), and the northwestern
area (former Han and Wei Dynasties). Chen traces the origin of the rituals and rites in the
Sui Dynasty back to the Southern kingdom, the Liang Dynasty.39 Chen suggests that the
culture in the Sui and Tang period was a mixture of both Southern and Northern elements.
Chens viewpoints have been accepted and elaborated by Tang Zhangru. Tang proceeds
to suggest that the Southern tradition became dominant in the Sui and Tang Dynasties.
His argument broadens many dimensions of early medieval history, and solidly explains
the Southern contributions to the formation of the political, economic, and cultural
institutions of the Sui and Tang Empires. For instance, Tang argues that Confucian
scholarship on the classics in the Tang period accepted the Southern tradition, which
focused more on philosophical interpretation than on philological exegesis. He shows that
in the Northern and Southern dynasties, Southern scholars under the influence of
mysterious learning (xuanxue ) emphasized philosophical interpretation when they
studied three classics, including the Book of Change of the Zhou Dynasty (Zhou Yi), the
Book of Documents (Shangshu), and the Zuo Commentary on the Annals of Spring and
Autumn (Chunqiu zuoshi zhuan). In the North, Confucian scholars sought the meaning of
each single character in classic texts and the technical term for each institution, place, and
person. Tang concludes that this trend of Confucian classical studies in the Southern
tradition can be understood as the natural consequence of the conquest of advanced
Southern culture after the chaos in the fourth century.40 Tang also claims that the new
39 Chen Yinke, Sui Tang zhengzhi zhidu yuanyuan luelun gao (Taipei: Liren shuju, 1994), pp. 9-
10. Chen also explores the origins of civil institutions, law system, music, military institutions, and financial institutions in the Sui and Tang Dynasties and categorizes them into three regional traditions.
40 Tang Zhangru, Wei Jin nanbeichao Sui Tang shi sanlun (Wuhan: Wuhan daxue chubanshe,
1993), pp. 460-462.
trend of focusing on philosophical issues in Confucian studies began in the Liang
Dynasty as a result of the cultural policy of the Liang Emperor Wu. Emperor Wu indeed
appeared to be a Buddhist, converting from Daoism. He was very skilled in Confucian
interpretation and the mysterious learning of Buddhism. By contrast, in the North, the
Confucian scholarly atmosphere still followed the tradition of the Han Dynasty. Tang
Zhangru supports Tang Yongtongs viewpoint on the developmental differences of
Buddhism in the North and South, which says that the Buddhists focused more on
religious practice in the North, while those in the South focused more on mysterious
learning and philosophical issues. 41 Tang Zhangrus idea is particularly important.
However, both Tang Zhangru and Tang Yongtongs arguments seem to concentrate on
the scholarly learning of Confucian and Buddhist traditions. Can we also explore other
dimensions and aspects of Confucian and Buddhist traditions in early medieval period?
My particular interest is in the practice dimension of the Buddhist tradition.42
In the early medieval period, since many Chinese eminent monks were from
cultural clans, textual learning retained its significance in monastic life. In the Sui and
Tang Dynasties, the governments organized many translation teams and supported large
scale translation work. So they invited many Northern monks to the capital, Changan. It
seems that at least in this period, these monks from North China had more experience
with translation. If, as Tang Yongtong has suggested, philosophical learning was not the
focus of monastic scholarship in the North, the monks could not have precisely
41 Ibid., pp. 212-237, esp. 222. 42 Many scholars have studied the relationship between Buddhism and the state in the early Tang
period. See, for instance, Yuki Reimon,Shot bukky no shisteki mujun to kokka kenryoku to no ksatsu, Ty bunka kenkyjo kiy 25 (1961), pp. 1-28.
understood the meaning of scriptures and translated them effectively. Hence, it is likely
that the Buddhist sources put too much emphasis on translation activities and ignored
their efforts toward philosophical learning. On the other hand, many Southern monks
moved to Changan upon the invitation of the Sui Emperor Yang (Yang Guang ).
Most of them resided in the Riyan Monastery. Most of these Southern monks were well
known in philosophical learning.43 This became the turning point where Daoxuan made
his connection to the Buddhist tradition of the South.
Modern scholarship has posited that Yang Guang played an indispensable role in
accepting the cultural tradition of South China. It is not surprising that Yang Guang had a
tight connection with south China. In Chinese history, he is portrayed as a hero because
he conquered the Chen Dynasty in the South in 589. After that, he governed in the South
for ten years. Not only was his political career connected with South China, but he was
also famous for his cultural connection with the South. Many facts point to this cultural
connection. First, his wife was the daughter of Xiao Kui ( 542-585), the Emperor
Ming of the later Liang Dynasty based in Jiangling (modern Hubei). The Xiao clan was
famous for producing the Liang Emperor Wu, who founded the Liang Dynasty; also, it
was a clan with strongly defined traditions. It was said of Yang Guangs wife that [she]
was intelligent, fond of learning and good at literary composition and [she] attempted
to assist her husband (Yang Guang). 44 Second, Yang Guang was ordained with
43 Yamazaki Hiroshi, Shina chsei bukky no tenkai (Tokyo: Shimizu shoten, 1942); ibid., Zui-T
bukkyshi no kenky (Kyoto: Hzkan, 1967). Wang Yarong, Riyansi kao Jianlun Suidai nanfang yixue de beichuan, Zhonghua foxue xuebao 12 (1991), pp. 191-203.
44 Sui shu, ch. 36, the biography of Xiao Huanghou. For study of the relationship between
notable figure from this clan Xiao Yu and Buddhism, see Atago Hajime, Zuimatsu tsho ni okeru ranry
Bodhisattva precepts by Zhiyi , a famous master based at Mount Tiantai in the
south.45 Yang Guang also exchanged some letters with Zhiyi. He invited Zhiyi to lecture
in Changan, but Zhiyi did not accept. Third, Yang Guang had close connections with
many Southern literati. He wrote many poems and essays, and exchanged them with
these Southern men.46 In sum, Yang Guang seemed to promote both Southern cultural
traditions and Southern Buddhism in the North by inviting literati and monks to
Changan. This effort must have made an impression on Daoxuan during his stay in the
Riyan Monastery, which I will document further.
Daoxuans perspective on Buddhism was also affected by the political situation in
the early Tang period. Daoxuan was forced to think about the charge of corruption made
against the Buddhist Church. The Buddhist community was curtailed during the Wude
period (618-627). In the Zhenguan period (627-649), the Tang Emperor Taizong also
expressed his concern for the corruption of Buddhism.47 In the Zhenguan period, Taizong
issued this edict:
The root of moral practice is non-action. Numerous monks and lay followers indulge in popular customs. They either artificially claim to have had divine
shuku no bukky juy shuyuku o chshin ni shite, Chgoku chsei no shky to bunka (1982), pp. 539-574.
45 Yamauchi Shunyu, Tendai Chisha Daishi to yotei to no kankei ni tsuite, Indogaku
bukkygaku kenky 9 (1957), pp. 136-137. For a general survey of the Sui policy towards Buddhism, see Asada Mamoru, Zuidai bukky seisaku ni kann suru kenky, Rykoku daigaku daigakuin kiy 9 (1988), pp. 142-143.
46 Yoshikawa Tadao, Rikuchmatsu Zui T sho no jurin to bukky, in Amaraki Noritoshi ed.,
Hokuch Zui T Chgoku bukky shisshi (2000), pp. 427-455. 47 Arthur F. Wright, T'ang T'ai-tsung and Buddhism, in Arthur F. Wright and Denis Twichett,
eds. Perspectives on the T'ang (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1973), pp. 239-263; Shigenoi Shizuka, T no tais riseimin to bukky, Bukky no rekishi to bunka: Bukkyshi gakkai sanj shnen kinen ronshu (1980), pp. 216-235. Jan Yun-hua suggests that late in his life, Taizong realized that his military conquest took too many lives and he began his confession by supporting Buddhism, see Xuanzang dashi yu Tang Taizong ji qi zhengzhi lixiang tanwei, Huagang foxue xuebao 8 (1985), pp. 135-157.
contact and communication with demons, or state medicine and magic in order to obtain wealth or they visit the offices to send dirty money, or penetrate skin and burn fingers in order surprise the common people.48
It offered some solutions, as follows:
I have asked them to follow Buddhist discipline, supplementing laws with the regulations and institutions. This is for purifying the dharma gate. The local officials should examine them. If in those regions there are any monks violating the law, and the officials do not reveal it, the local office should make a record and inform the central government. Therefore the good monks will be praised, while the evil monks should be scolded. [This is] so that the monastic land will be pure and know the taste of dharma, and the bodhi enlightened path, to cut off from the dust of meaning.49
From this passage, we see that at that time, the government believed that many monks
and lay followers did not observe the precepts very well. They might have been pursuing
fame and wealth as well as a secular life style.
This charge from the political authority might have directed Daoxuans attention
to the historical experience of the political persecution that happened in the Northern Wei
and Zhou Dynasties. For Daoxuan, all political persecution toward Buddhism happened
in the North. In his historical writing titled The kya Gazetteer (Shijia fangzhi
), Daoxuan even attempted to connect this persecution with the idea of Final Dharma
(mofa).50 Daoxuan wrote,
48 Tang taizong du tianxia seng zhao, in Guang hongming ji, Daoxuan, T. no. 2103, 52: 329b. 49 Ibid., T. no. 2103, 52: 329b. 50 About mofa in Northern and Southern dynasties, see Won Yong-sang, Nanbokujidai no
gigiky niokeru mab shiso no keisei, Indogaku bukkygaku kenky 101(51-1), (2002), pp. 197-199.
As the Maya-stra said, the Buddha Dharma will last in this world for ten thousand years. Afterwards, the scriptures will return to the Nga palace and the sculptures will collapse automatically. All monks will be equal to the secular people, different only by keeping shaved heads and wearing the robes (kaya). (The Buddha Dharma came to China, and has been persecuted three times [scriptures have been burned, and the monks have been killed]. First, Helian bobo established the so-called Xia Kingdom. This kingdom destroyed Changan and the soldiers killed every monk they met. Second, Emperor Taiwu of the Northern Wei Dynasty followed the words of Cui Hao and destroyed the three jewels. Third, the Emperor Wu of the Northern Zhou Dynasty forced monks to give up monkhood and to return to lay life. All evil people died in ways they should not have, as the record has said in details.51 ()
From Daoxuans writing, we can see that Daoxuan recorded three devastating instances
of persecution in North China. During these persecutions, Buddhist scriptures were burnt
and monks were killed. Buddhist communities were destroyed. Daoxuan connected these
persecutions to the coming of the Final Dharma.52 This connection between the idea of
degenerating dharma and the experience of Buddhism in North China inspired Daoxuans
promotion of the Buddhist tradition of South China, because Buddhism seemed more
successful in the South.
South China as the Kingdom of Culture
Daoxuans worldview is not related to his contemporary social reality. Having
finished its unification, the Sui regime started reconstructing Buddhist communities
51 Shijia fangzhi (Gazetteer of the akya Clan), Daoxuan, T. no. 2088, 51: 973c. 52 For a detailed study on Final Dharma, see Jan Nattier, Once Upon a Future Time: Studies in a
Buddhist Prophecy of Decline (Berkeley: Asian Humanities Press, 1990).
across the country. Daoxuans sensitivity came not only from his experience witnessing
the reconstruction of Buddhism in the Sui Dynasty, but also from his position as an elite
Using Daoxuan as an example, I aim to revise the conventional image of
Buddhism in South China. For traditional scholarship, Buddhism in South China was a
religion of the gentry class and a religion focused on exegetical study. I aim to show that
Southern Buddhism was also characterized by the widespread worship of pagodas with
Buddha relics, the widespread establishment of the ordination platform, the practice of
purification techniques, and the propagation of meditation practice. I argue that, in the
South, it was unlikely that Buddhism was confined to an elite class sponsoring the
monastic order or literati involved in philosophical debate. Rather, members of the lower
class were also involved with Buddhism; they too practiced Buddhism. Daoxuan writes:
The Southerners who saw the elaborate tapestry of mountains and rivers and indulged in the beautiful landscape to the south of Yangtze and Han Rivers were easily moved by these external appearances. They had passion, wisdom, courage, and brave hearts. Thus they could fully comprehend Buddhism and relied on it without any doubt or hesitation, without forgetting it.53
My hunch that Daoxuan had a pioneering understanding of Southern Buddhism
was inspired by a fascinating new term Daoxuan uses to describe South China. He calls
South China the cultural kingdom (wenguo ) at least four times in his works. For
instance, he claims that after the Eastern Jin Dynasty moved to the South, it became a
cultural kingdom. Daoxuan calls earlier Southerners by the common term island
barbarians (daoyi ), but once the Jin court moved to the South, the land was
53 Daoxuan lshi gantong lu, Daoxuan, T. no. 2107, 52: 441c.
transformed from the land of barbarians into the cultural kingdom. 54 Daoxuan
considered the regime in the North a kingdom established by barbarians, while he
regarded the Jin regime as the political orthodoxy of China. So for Daoxuan, the South
represented political orthodoxy in a period of disunity. Daoxuan also calls the Chen
Dynasty a cultural kingdom twice in his writings.55
For Daoxuan, cultural kingdom is not just a name for the South in terms of
political authority; it also signifies a superior cultural tradition, especially with regard to
Buddhism. This term is connected with the flourishing of Buddhism in the South. He
Although the historical record of the Southern kingdoms was known in the past generations, does it appear in the written record nowadays? The region of the two rivers in the Central Plain was divided into sixteen kingdoms after the Jin regime moved to the South and these kingdoms fought with each other by force. Buddhism was persecuted three times in the Northern Region where the rulers were the descendants of the Huns, rather than the descendants of the cultural kingdoms. Thus that is the reason. So the rise of the ordination platform is the grand form of the Dharma's enduring.56
Daoxuan believes that in South China both the rulers and lay people respected Buddhism,
while in North China, Buddhism faced political persecution because the rulers there
54 Guang hongmingji, chapter 6, Daoxuan, T. no. 2103, 52: 127a. 55 For example, he explicitly writes, The Chen Dynasty was called the cultural kingdom
(wenguo). See Yuanguang, Daoxuan, T. no. 2060, vol. 50: 523c. In the biography of his master Huijun (554-637), Daoxuan used the term the cultural kingdom again when he mentioned the Chen Dynasty, see Huijun, Daoxuan, T. no. 2060, 50: 533c.
56 See Guanzhong jietan tujing, Daoxuan, in T. no. 1892, 45: 814a. Daoxuan restates the same idea
in his Da Tang neidian lu, T. no. 2149, 55: 326a.
favored Daoism. The Northern people could not maintain their Buddhist belief after the
When Daoxuan uses cultural kingdom to name South China, he seems to
indicate that the culture of South China preserved the essence of Chinese culture during
the period of disunity. Daoxuans viewpoint is unique in discussion of Chinese Buddhist
history. The debate between Buddhists and Daoists (as well as Confucians) on the
relationship between Buddhism and Chinese culture has a long history. The political,
religious, and cultural debates usually centered on the issue of whether civilized Chinese
should view Buddhism as a barbarian tradition or not. This debate began with Master
Mou in the Han Dynasty. Master Mous Treatise on Removing Doubts [toward
Buddhism] (Mouzi lihuo lun ) defended Buddhism against the challenge that
it was merely barbarian.58 The modern scholar Tang Yongtong claims,
In North China the struggle between Daoism and Buddhism was about power, thus it resulted that military power which had chosen to support Daoism destroyed Buddhism. However, in South China the struggle between Daoism and Buddhism was centered on theoretical debates. The goal for both sides was to undermine each other theoretically. Southern scholars proposed two theories against Buddhism: the disappearance of the spirituality (shen mie) and the distinction between the barbarians (Yi) and Chinese (Xia).59 In the Southern dynasties, a famous Daoist scholar Gu Huan ( 420-483)
attacked Buddhism as a non-Chinese tradition. Gu wrote a work titled Treatise on
57 Guang hongming ji, Daoxuan, T. no. 2103, 52: 127a. 58 Mouzi, Mouzi lihuo lun, in Hongming ji, Sengyou (445-518), T. no. 2102, 52: 1a-7a. 59 Tang Yongtong, Han Wei liang Jin NanBei chao fojiao shi vol. 2 (Beijing: Zhonghua shuju,
1982), Chapter 13: The Southern Branch of Buddhism, especially p. 35.
Barbarians and Chinese (Yixia lun ).60 In his view, according to The Scripture of
How Laozi Transformed the Barbarians (Laozi huahu jing ), Laozi played an
important role in the rise and development of Buddhism. Thus, Buddhism came into
existence after the rise of Daoism. Second, Buddhists were accused of having customs
that were in conflict with those of Chinese culture. For instance, the Chinese kept their
hair and wore their own clothes, while Buddhist barbarians cut their hair and wore casual
clothes. Third, Buddhist rites and rituals were in conflict with those of China. For
instance, the Chinese sat straight and bowed to each other, following the rites, while the
barbarians [sat] like foxes and [stood] like dogs; Chinese funerary rites required coffins,
graves, and tombs; the barbarians burnt the bodies of the deceased or threw the bodies
into water. Gu Huan also criticized Chinese people who followed the barbarian style of
renouncing family, thereby breaking the clan lineage. This viewpoint clearly reflects that
the reaction of Southern scholars holding Confucian family values against the Buddhist
ideal of renouncing worldly life. Thus, Chinese Buddhists had to resolve the traditional
conflict between Chinese culture and Buddhism. When Daoxuan named South China a
cultural kingdom, then, he was making Southern Buddhism a part of the Chinese cultural
Although Buddhism was accepted by millions of Chinese by the time of the Tang
Dynasty, critics continued to deplore its barbarian aspects. As Daoxuans Extended
Collection of Propagating and Illustrating Buddhism documents, in the Tang period, Fu
Yi , a Daoist official in the Tang court, also accused Buddhism of being a barbarian
tradition. Fu Yi said that in Chinese history many generals including Fu Rong and
60 Yixia lun, Gu Huan, T. no. 2036, 49: 541c-542b.
L Guang betrayed their emperors because of their belief in Buddhism.61 For Fu Yi,
in the Han Dynasty, there were no Buddhists in the Central China (Central Plain); and in
the Wei and Jin Dynasties, only one-tenth of the barbarians were Buddhists. By contrast,
after Fu Rong and L Guangs rebellions in Central China, the barbarian deity was
accepted by more than half of the Chinese. He calls the Buddha a barbarian deity
(hushen ) and the Buddha Hall the hall of the barbarian deity (hushen zhi tang
).62 He attacked Buddhists for their disrespect toward the emperor and parents.
The Buddhists responded to Fu Yi by saying that only Buddhism offered compassion and
salvation for the Chinese who encountered chaos during rebellions.63 Furthermore, a
famous Buddhist master in the early Tang period, Falin, suggested that the Buddha was
the Great Sage (dasheng ) by discussing the dialogue between Confucius and the Wu
Prime Minister Bi.64 Falin also insisted that Laozi learned from the Buddha during his
trip to the West.65 In this approach, the Buddha becomes the ancient sage for both
61 Ogasawara Senshu, T no haibutsuronja fueki ni tsuite, Shina bukky shigaku 1: 3 (1937), pp.
84-93. Yoshioka Yoshitoyo, Shot ni okeru butsudrons no ichishiryo: dky gis no seiritsu ni tsuite, Indogaku bukkygaku kenky 7 (4-1) (1956), pp. 58-66.
62 Taishiling chaosandafu chen Fu Yi shang jiansheng sita fei sengni shi shiyou yitiao, in Guang
hongming ji, Daoxuan, T. no. 2103, 52: 160b. 63 Guang hongming ji, Daoxuan, T. no. 2103, 52: 160b. 64 Nishiyama Fukiko, Hrin hajaron ni tsuite, Suzuki gakujtsu zaidan nenh 9 (1973), pp. 69-
86. Takeuchi Hajime, Hrin ni okeru jia tosh no ishiki: hajaron to benshron o chshin toshite , Nihon bukky gakkai nenh 48 (1983), pp. 193-208 Miwa Haruo, T goh shamon Hrin nitsuite, Indogaku bukkygaku kenky 44 (22-2) (1974): 290-295.
65 Guang hongming ji, Daoxuan, T. no. 2103, 52: 161b. Falins strategy is to find the contradiction
between two Daoist texts. For example, he cited a Daoist text titled the Scripture of the Wisdom, Contemplating the Body and the Great Precepts (Zhihui guanshen dajie jing, actually the full title is Zhongji shangqing dongzhen zhihui guanshen dajie, which can be found in Daoist canon (Daozang: Zhengyi bu); in Zhonghua daozang, vol. 6, Section on Scriptures and Teachings of Three Schools (sandong jingjiao bu), a scripture Taishang dongxuan lingbao zhihui guanshen jing (no. 02034 in Daoist canon) has nothing to do with what Falin cited and used against the Daoist apocryphal Laozi xisheng jing.
Confucianism and Daoism. It seems that Falin tried to move the Buddha into Chinese
culture. This response did not effectively undermine the standpoint of the Chinese in the
North that Buddhism was a barbarian culture. By contrast, Daoxuans idea that Buddhism
coexisted with Chinese culture in the South was a powerful and plausible challenge to
If Daoxuan viewed Southern Buddhism as a part of the Chinese cultural tradition,
how did he view his contemporaries histories of the Northern and Southern dynasties?
Historians living in the South, like Shen Yue, wrote the history of the former dynasty
through Southern eyes, calling the Northerners barbarians with braids (suolu ). In
contrast, in the North, historians called the Southerners barbarians from the islands
(daoyi). In the early Tang period, the historian Li Yanshou realized this problem and tried
to write two unbiased histories for the Northern and Southern dynasties (Bei shi and
Nan shi respectively).66 Followed Lis lead in trying to deal with political and
cultural divisions, Daoxuan is the prime example of a Buddhist historian forced to
reconcile the regional biases of scholarship. Daoxuan believed that the South was a
civilized area and he called the South the Kingdom of Culture. Fujiyoshi Masumi
suggests that, following the order of the consequent collapse of Northern and Southern
dynasties, Daoxuan arranges the order of the biographies and Buddhist works in his
Catalogue of the Buddhist Canon of the Great Tang Dynasty and Continued Biographies
Laozi xisheng jing appeared in the Wei Dynasty and it says that Laozi went to India and kindly achieved nirvana; while the former claimed that Laozi went to the West to pay veneration to Buddha. Daoshis Fayuan zhulin also includes the Scripture of the Wisdom, contemplating the Body and the Great Precepts, see Chen Yuzhen, Fayuan zhulin suoyin waidian zhi yanjiu, Zhonghua foxue xuebao 6 (1993), p. 317.
66 About the discussion on historiography during this period, see Hu Baoguo, Han Tang jian
shixue de fazhan (Beijing: Shangwu yinshu guan, 2003). About the discussion on orthodoxy in historical writings, see Rao Zongyi, Zhongguoshi shang zhi zhengtong lun (Shanghai: Shanghai yuandong chubanshe, 1995).
of the Eminent Monks.67 As Fujiyoshi shows, arranging the biographies of monks in the
order of the collapse of each dynasty and avoiding the issue of political orthodoxy was a
good choice. Thus, even though he arranged the order of the biographies of monks
following the collapse of each dynasty, he considered the Southern dynasties to be the
From the Kingdom of Culture to the Kingdom of Buddhism
In Daoxuans eyes, how is the unique tradition of Southern Buddhism different
from that of the North? I would highlight at least four elemental differences in monastic
practice: the special method of purification, the establishment of state-sponsored
meditation centers, the construction of the ordination platform, and the establishment of
the pagodas and the wide distribution of Buddha relics. Daoxuan seems to suggest that
these practices were unique in the South and that they were not well known in the North.
These monastic rituals were central to Buddhist identity.68
Daoxuan was particularly interested in the practice of purification. In his Preface
to Buddhist Methods for Consistent and Concise Purification (Tonglue jingzhuzi
jingxing famen xu ) he tells us a story about the transmission of
the method of purification initiated by Xiao Ziliang 69 in the South. Daoxuan
67 Fujiyoshi Masumi, Dsen den no kenky (Kyoto: Kyt daigaku shuppankai, 2002), pp. 258-
260. For Chen Yuans evaluation of Feis work, see Chen Yuan, Zhongguo fojiao shiji gailun (Beijing: Kexue chubanshe, 1955), pp. 5-12.
68 For rituals in Tibetan monasticism, see Martin A. Mills, Identity, Ritual and State in Tibetan
Buddhism: The Foundations of Authority in Gelukpa Monasticism (London and New York: RoutledgeCurzon, 2003).
69 According to Daoxuan, Xiao Ziliang was the Prince of Jingling (the Duke of Wenxuan) in the
Southern Qi Dynasty and he believed deeply in Buddhism and understood Buddhist teachings. He commented on the Buddhist sutras and abhidharma texts, and he made selections from some Buddhist compositions. He closed the paths of heterodoxy and opened a way into the harbor of truth. He expanded
modified this piece to a great extent. However, Xiao Ziliangs essay is written for lay
practitioners. Given that Daoxuan was quite familiar with Xiaos work (he wrote a
preface so as to call more attention to Xiaos text), I would suggest that Daoxuan
probably adapted Xiaos text for the members of the contemporary monastic community.
He was the leader of monastic community, while Xiao was the leader of lay community.
Daoxuan starts his narrative about the origin of purification method with Xiao
Ziliangs recollection of a dream. In his dream, in the eighth year of the Yongming period
of the Southern Qi Dynasty (490), Xiao Ziliang knew that Tatagtha (rulai ), the
Heavenly King of the Eastern World of Common Light (Dongfang puguang shijie
tianwang ), had established the method of how to purify mind
(jingzhu) and body (jingxing).70 Here the purification of mind is a literal translation of
upavasatha retreat for spiritual refreshment. It also refers to progress or long-term
self-cultivation. Both Buddhist monks and lay people can practice this method. Since
purifying the body, mouth, and mind are laid down as the lasting precepts, it is called
jingzhu ( lasting purification). From the above text, we can see that Daoxuan
the one tradition (vehicle, literally) and raised the seven assemblies. He was called the Sea of Writing and the Mountain of Wisdom in his time. Sometimes he communicated with the Honored One through his dreams, and received elegant praise from the Heavenly King. Sometimes he alone was granted the music of sutras and he told of the extraordinary nature of the divinity. His virtues were beyond description, so they were not handed down. Xiao Ziliang showed great respect to Buddhism. He even asked the Daoist Meng Jingyi to worship the Buddha, and gave him Buddhist scriptures, but Meng did not worship the Buddha. Meng wrote a piece titled Zhengyi lun in response to the Buddhist teaching; see Fozu lidai tongzai, Nianchang (1282-1344?), T. no. 2036, 49: 543a-b. For modern scholarship dealing with Xiao, see Ogasawara Senshu, Nansei bukky to Sh Shiry,Shina bukky shigaku 3-2 (1939), pp. 63-76; and Tokushi Yusho, Koji bukky nitsuite, Nikkai bukky kenkykai nenho 1 (1936), pp. 16-21.
70 In Chusanzang jiji, Sengyou records a preface for Xiao Ziliangs collection titled Fa ji lu.
According to Sengyous preface, Xiao Ziliang feels the mysterious sign in explicit obscurity and communicates the awakening resonance in night dreams; See T. no. 2145, 55: 85b. Similarly, in the preface to Jingzhuzi jingxing famen, Daoxuan explicitly describes how Xiao Ziliang was enlightened by the Heavenly King; see T. no. 2103, 52: 306a.
intended to introduce to the North the method of purification that was popular in South.
Why Daoxuan introduced this method to the North remains unclear in Buddhist sources.
Limited to the scope of this study, I will not discuss Daoxuans work on
contemplation and purification, but I will discuss the influence of Xiao on Daoxuan here.
Xiaos teaching is designed for lay people. His piece begins with a section regarding
conversion to Buddhism. Once lay people convert to Buddhism, they are to remove the
results of their deeds in body, mouth, and mind by confession.71 Then they should purify
the six roots of their emotions. These acts allow concentration on Buddhist practice. But
these acts alone are not enough. A practitioner must continue to understand the four
forms of suffering -- birth, aging, sickness, and death. A practitioner should perpetually
think about why the body, mouth, and mind bring about suffering. Xiao Ziliang also
teaches that a lay practitioner should renounce the family. Whether he renounces family
or stays at home, a Buddhist should always perform good deeds and avoid bad deeds. He
should always confess his guilt. He should observe the precepts. A lay person should
worship and make offerings to the relics and pagodas and support the monastic
community and pray for others.72 These are the basic ideas in Xiaos piece.
71 For a comprehensive discussion of confession in medieval Chinese Buddhism, see Kuo Li-ying. Confession et contrition dans le bouddhisme chinois du V au Xe sicle (Paris: cole Franaise dExtrme-Orient, 1994).
72 Jingzhuzi jingxing famen, Xiao Ziliang, T. no. 2103, 52: 306b-321b.
Xiaos piece played a very important role in Daoxuans intellectual life,73 and
inspired Daoxuan with a method to train new monks. The direct result was the writing of
Methods of Instructing Contemplation for Purifying the Mind (Jingxin jieguan fa
). 74 To illustrate the impact of this piece on Daoxuans writing, a comparison
between these two pieces should be taken into account. I found that the two pieces are of
a similar literary genre, though their titles are different. The reason for this similarity is
that both texts come from Daoxuan. In many Buddhist catalogues, including Daoxuans,
Buddhist Methods for Consistent and Concise Purification was attributed to Xiao Ziliang,
and in fact it was edited by Daoxuan. In terms of genre, both texts follow the genre of
Buddhist scriptures, which include a prose section followed by a verse section of five
syllables, a literary form which was popular in the South. Thus, the Southern literary
tradition apparent in Xiao Ziliangs writing on Buddhist themes later had an impact on
The method of propagating meditation tradition in the Sui Dynasty seems to also
have come from the South. Both Liang and Sui emperors established two monasteries
with the same names in the capital or important city as meditation centers. These
monasteries remained the national, imperially-sponsored meditation centers. Many
famous meditation masters were invited to reside there. Daoxuan remarks that in the early
period of the Southern dynasties, only a few masters, such as Zhiyan and Huiguan ,
73 This piece is also relevant to Daoxuans discussion of confession in Guang hongming ji (section
about confessing sins, huizui pian). Daoxuan in his preface to this section says, A long time ago the official in charge of military affairs in the Southern Qi Dynasty and the Prince of Jingling promoted the method of upasatha and the ritual of purification practice. Those sorts of methods and rituals are very detailed (documented), which has been made explicit elsewhere. Then Daoxuan offered a shortened version for practitioners. See T. no. 2103, 52: 330b.
74 Jingxin jieguan fa, Daoxuan, T. no. 1893, 45: 819a-834a.
were famous for their devotion to meditation practice. Liang emperor Wu began to
propagate meditation by initiating a project in Yangzhou , which included erecting
two Dinglin monasteries (Shang Dinglin si and Xia Dinglin si) and inviting many great
masters to compile texts about meditation traditions.75 Following Liang Emperor Wu, Sui
Emperor Wen also established two meditation monasteries (Chanding si ) in his
capital, Changan and invited famous meditation master Tanqian to reside there.76
Moreover, the methods of meditation Daoxuan promoted might also come from
the South. Daoxuan suggests that newly ordained monks should practice five
contemplations of stopping mind before they moved on to textual learning.77 The method
of the five contemplations was introduced to South China from Central Asia in the fifth
century. In his Methods of Instructing Contemplation for Purifying the Mind (Jingxin
jieguan fa), Daoxuan clarifies the significance of five contemplations of stopping mind
(wuting guan) and teaches how to practice them.78 Daoxuan stresses that this method
should be viewed as a Mahyna Buddhist practice. All new monks should master this
75 Daoxuans comment on xichan pian, Xu gaoseng zhuan, Daoxuan, T. no. 2060, 50: 596a. 76 Xu gaoseng zhuan, Daoxuan, T. no. 2060, 50: 597a. For a study on Tanqian and Sui Buddhism,
see Chen Jinhua, Monks and Monarchs, Kinship and Kingship: Tanqian in Sui Buddhism and Politics (Kyoto: Italian School of East Asian Studies, 2002), pp. 181-211.
77 Jingxin jieguan fa, Daoxuan, T. no. 1893, 45: 827a-b. 78 Daoxuan explains the details of these five contemplations: contemplating impurity (Skt. aubh-
smrti, Ch. bujing guan) that prevents from the emotional desires to sex and wealth, contemplating compassion (Skt. maitr-smrti, Ch. cibei guan) that prevents from greed and hatred, contemplating twelve-fold chains of the dependent origination (Skt. idampratyayat-prattyasa-mutpda-mrti, Ch. yinyuan guan) that prevents from wrong understanding (wuming) or stupidity; contemplating eighteen concepts (Skt. astdaa-smrti, Ch. shibajie guan) that prevents from holding ego, and contemplating the counting of breath (Skt. npna-smrti, Ch. shuxi guan, annabanna guan) that prevents from wrong thinking (luanxiang).
method of concentration. 79 The practice of five contemplations aims to prevent the
practitioners from five kinds of wrong thinking, which is called the contemplation of
stopping mind (tingxin guan).80 Although there were many versions of this meditation
system available in Daoxuans era, 81 Daoxuans version is based on the Meditative
Scripture of Dharmatala (Damoduoluo chanjing), which was translated by Buddhabhadra
(Fotuobatuoluo, 359-429, Juexian) in the fifth century upon the request of Huiyuan.
Now what have been translated are from Dharmarata and Buddhasena. Both figures were from the Western Regions. They follow the teaching of meditation and collect the essential scriptures in order to enlighten the Mahayana [practice]. They propagate different teachings, so their versions are different in detail.82
79 Jan Yn-hua gives some comments on this practice. Jan found this practice along with Four
Applications of the Mind (sinianchu) in the biography of Seng-yung (543-631), a disciple of Seng-chou. Jan states that this term wuting can only be found in Dunhuang manuscripts and biography in Continued Biographies of Eminent Monks. And both are ascribed to Seng-chou. From his reading of Dunhuang manuscript, he says that this practice refers to the achievement of freedom of mind from material and mental objects. Because the Five Stops are mentioned in connection with the 18 dhatus or realms, my suggestion is that the term means the stopping of the five physical organs, namely eyes, ears, mouth, nose and body from external influences. These five belong to the physical category; the mind alone belongs to another category which is more crucial to spiritual cultivation.See his article Seng-chous Method of dhyna, Jans suggestion is pretty correct in the sense of that mind cultivation is very crucial, even in the case of Daoxuan. While Jan fails to locate Daoxuans piece on purifying mind and thus he misses the point about the Five Stops stated by Daoxuan. See Jan, Seng-chous Method of dhyna, in: Whalen Lai and Lewis R. Lancaster ed. Early Chan in China and Tibet (Berkeley: Asian Humanties Press, 1983), pp. 51-63, especially pp. 58-59.
80 Paul Demiville, La Yoccrabhmi de Sangharaksa, Bulletin de lcole Franaise
dExtrme-Orient 64: 2 (1954), p. 356, footnote 3. 81 For instance, the explanation of this system can be also found in Dacheng yizhang (ch. 52) by
Huiyuan (523-592); see T. no. 1851, 44: 697c.
82 Huaiyuan, Lushan chu xiuxing fangbian chanjing tongxu, in Chu sanzang jiji, Sengyou, T. no. 2145, 55: 66a. Also see Huiguan, Xiuxingdi bujingguan jing xu, in Chu sanzang jiji, Sengyou, T. no. 2145, 55: 66c. Paul Demieville, Hayashi Nobuaki trans., Essay on the Image of `Darmatra'," Zen bunka kenkyjo kiyo 12 (1980), pp. 27-50. Odani Nobuchiyo, Zenky niokeru yuga gyja daij ni kagy surumono, Bukkyogaku semeinai 63 (1996), pp. 22-34.
Studies on Buddhabhadara, see Katayama Ryosen, Buddhabadara no nyushin nitsuite, Jdgaku 5 (1933), pp. Shiga Takayoshi, Buddhabadara den k, Otani daigaku kenky nenho 36 (1984), pp. 72-97. Kodama Daien, Shigo seiki no kashumeiru ryugakus Raj, Buddhabadara, domushin,in: Nichino Akira hakushi kanreki kinen ronbunsh: Rekishi to tensh (Kyoto: Nagata bunshd, 1988), pp. 603-628. Okamoto Ippei, Budhabadara no tenki kenky Keigngy honyaku o chunshin ni, Bukkygaoku 43 (2001), pp. 51-73.
As the title Meditative Scripture of Dharmatala indicated, this system was taught by
Dharmatala (or Dharmatrata) who was from in Kapii. And Buddhabhadra studied this
system there. When a Chinese monk Zhiyan traveled to Kapii, he met Buddhabhadra
and therefore invited him to China to teach meditation. According to Zhiyans biography,
he received the Sanskrit version of this scripture in the Western Regions. In the Zhiyuan
Monastery, he translated this scripture with Baoyun.83
In my opinion, all these events are interrelated. Zhiyan must have collaborated in
Buddhist learning with Central Asian monks.84 Given that Daoxuan was pretty familiar
with Zhiyans life,85 it is not surprising that he might have borrowed the contemplation
method Zhiyan learned from Central Asia. In his Continued Biographies of Eminent
Monks (Xu gaoseng zhuan), Daoxuan explicitly says that Zhiyan and Huiguan
propagated this meditation system in South China. 86 Thus, Daoxuans focus on
meditation system for new monks is from the Buddhist Sarvstivda tradition of Kapii.87
Sengyou first states this point in his collection: Only Sapoduobu (Sarvstivda sect) was
popular in the [Southern] Qi region. [It] probably originated from India and spread to
83 Zhiyans biography is in Gaoseng zhuan, Huijiao, T. no. 2059, 50: 339a-339c; for his
contribution of translations, see Lidai sanbao ji, Fei Changfang, T. 2034, 49: 89b-c. 84 For Buddhabhadras biography, see Gaoseng zhuan, Huijiao, T. no. 2059, 50: 334b-335c. Also
see Jan Yun-hua, Zhongguo zaoqi chanfa de liuchan he tedian, Huagang foxue xuebao, vol. 7 (1984), p. 78.
85 For example, Daoxuans the Gazetteer of akya Clan (Shijia fangzhi) mentioned his story; see
Shijia fangzhi, Daoxuan, T. no. 2088, 51: 969b. 86 See Xu gaoseng zhuan, T. no. 2060, 50: 596a. Also see Jan Yun-hua, Zhongguo zaoqi chanfa
de liuchan he tedian, Huagang foxue xuebao, vol. 7 (1984), p. 78. 87 Sarvstivda tradition dominated in this area. See the Biography of Master Vanshbandu (trans.
by Paramatha, Zhendi) (Poshupantuo fashi zhuan), T. no. 2049, 50: 189a.
Kashmir. 88 Daoxuan then moves on to talk about the methods of seven skillful means
(qi fangbian fa), which include five contemplations and other six methods.89 The order
of these seven means is same as that of many other sources in other traditions. But
archaeological evidence has shed light on the geographical origin of these seven methods.
According to a manuscript found in Dunhuang, titled Commentary on Vimalakittidesa
(weimojie jing shu), this order should come from the Sarvstivda School (Ch.
sapoduobu).90 After contemplating these seven skillful means, one can achieve the stage
of holy living (Skt. Srota-panna, Ch. xutuowan guo). This is the third stage of
enlightenment in Hinayana Buddhism according to some Daoxuans contemporaries.
While in this case, Daoxuan clearly claims that if [one] first enters the path, whoever is
Mahayanist or Hinayanist, he or she should practice this contemplation.91 Hence, it is
88Sapoduobu shiziji mulu xu, Sengyou, T. no. 2145, 45: 89a. Jan Yun-hua, Zhongguo zaoqi
chanfa de liuchuan he tedian Huijiao, Daoxuan suozhu xichanpian yanjiu, Huagang foxue xuebao 7 (1984), pp. 73-74. He remarks, The meditation scripture Buddhabhadara translated is exactly The Meditation Scripture of Dharmatrata (two vols.). This scripture is also titled Xiuxing daodi, coming from the transliteration of yogcra-bhmi. Although the Sanskrit title of this scripture is the same as the Xiuxing daodi jing translated by Dharmaraka (Fahu), the genre and the content are different. This scripture is still a Hinayana text, since it does not have a chapter called Bodhisattva chapter and even does not mention bodhisattva at all. Tang Yongtong suggests that in terms of content, this scripture is close to Sarvstivda sect. see Han Wei liang Jin Nanbeichao fojiaoshi, pp. 307-309). For more on this scripture, s also Fukuhara Ryogon, Chgoku ybu kei ritsushi to ritsuhon ritsu sho, Bukkygaku (Rykoku Daigaku bukkykai) 25 / 26 (1968), pp. 69-92. The Chan text Chuanfa zhengzong lun has a different version about Chan tradition in Jibin; see T. no. 2080, 51: 776b. But this version is not reliable.
89 Here Daoxuans seven skillful means (qi fangbian fa) include five contemplations, biexiangnianchu, zongxiangnianchu, nuanfa, dingfa, renfa, and shidiyifa. See Kaiyi, et al., eds., Foguang dacidian, second ed., 8 vols. (Gaoxiong: Foguang chubanshe, 1988-1989), p. 9sb-c and 120b-c.
90 See weimojie jing shu, T. no. 2772, 85: 406c. Yang Zengwen says that the Hinayana method of concentration (xiaosheng chanfa) was tremendously influenced by the Sarvstivda sect. but he does not pay attention to this new evidence from Dunhuang. See Tang Wudai chanzong shi, p. 7. For An Shigaos introduction of meditation techniques to China, see Hirakawa Akira, A History of Indian Buddhism (Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass Publishers, 1993), p. 248; Kenneth Chen, Buddhism in China (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1973), pp. 94-103; also see Charles Willemen, "Sarvastivada Dhyana and Mahayana Prajna: Observations about their Development in India and China", Asiatische Studien 55 (2001), p. 532.
91 Jingxin jieguan fa, Daoxuan, T. no. 1893, 45: 820c.
now clear that the method originated as a traditional Hinynist meditation system from
Central Asia and later in Daoxuans writing it became a typical practice for new monks
as a Mahyna tradition.
According to Daoxuan, the establishment of the ordination platform was a
significant step in enhancing the stability of monastic society.92 Daoxuan writes that from
southern Sichuan to south of the Huai River, there were more than three hundred
ordination platforms, whereas, in the northern region of the Yellow River, within the
Xiao Pass, there were not so many. 93 Daoxuan claims that the construction of the
ordination platform is the reason why Southern Buddhism never decayed over four to
five hundred years. He argued that the Buddhist Dharma based on ordination and
precepts could not be easily destroyed. From his point of view, the ignorance of people
on both banks of the Yellow River regarding the ordination platform resulted in the
frequent political persecution of Buddhism. Thus, for Daoxuan, the construction of
ordination platform is essentially to the enduring of Buddhist Dharma.94
In addition to the establishment of the ordination platform, the flourishing of relic
and pagoda worship in the South also played a key role in Daoxuans view of Southern
Buddhism. Such practices were collective, and included both monks and lay people. I
92 A detailed study of the ordination platform can be found in chapter three. Here I only make
some comments on how the ordination platform contributed to southern Buddhism. 93 Daoxuan lshi gantong lu, Daoxuan, T. no. 2107, 52: 441c.. 94 Modern scholars have pointed out about the significance of ordination platform elsewhere. For
example, Jacqueline I. Stone demonstrates how newly organized lay Buddhist societies in modern Japan utilized Nichinens teaching about how the ordination platform (Honmon no kaidan in Japanese) should be supported by the state as an actual institution serving a legitimate purpose. See her article By Imperial Edict and Shogunal Decree: Politics and the Issue of the Ordination Platform in Modern lay Nichiren Buddhism, in Steven Heine and Charles S. Prebish ed. Buddhism in the Modern World: Adaptations of an Ancient Tradition (Oxford: Oxford University press, 2003), pp. 193-219.
will analyze the origin of relics in China and their relationship to Chinese monasteries
later; in this section I only trace how the relics in the South played a crucial role in
Daoxuans personal life.95 My discussion here centers on how the Buddhas relics were
transferred among monasteries from the South to the North.
Relic and pagoda worship can be traced back to the period of the Wu Dynasty
when for the first time a relic was reported, and the first pagoda containing one of
Buddhas relics was built for the purpose of worship in the South.96 Later in the Liang
Dynasty, under the sponsorship and propagation of the Emperor Wu (Xiao Yan ),
more relics were reported and more pagodas were constructed to house them.97 Discovery
of Buddhas relics and the construction of pagodas became a tremendous movement in
the South. In the Sui Dynasty, the Emperor Wen distributed the relics to all of the
prefectures and constructed more pagodas across the whole Sui Empire. As a witness to
95 In chapter two a detailed study deals with relics and monasteries. 96 Kosugi Kazuo, Rikucho jidai no butt ni okeru bushari no anchi ni tsuite, Ty gakuh 21: 3
(1934), pp. 111-161. 97 Apparently, during his reign, in South China, the construction of monasteries was flourishing.
For example, at least two monasteries in Sichuan were established during his time. See Wang Bo (650-676), Yizhou Mianzhuxian Wudushan Jinghi si bei, in Wang Zian ji zhu (Shanghai: Shanghai guji chubanshe, 1995), pp. 461-474. According to Wang Bos inscription, we know the Jinghui Monastery was built during the Taiqing period of Emperor Wu. Wang Bos other essay, Zizhou Feiniaoxian Baohesi bei, Wang Zian ji zhu, pp. 474-486, also claims the Baihe Monastery was built during Wudis period. Yizhou Deyangxian Shanjisi bei (pp. 487-500) indicates that this monastery was rebuilt in the Zhenguan period, based on an older one originally erected by Wudi, too. The Huipu Monastery was also built in the Datong period of Liang Emperor Wu, see Zizhou Tongquanxian Huipusi bei, pp. 500-510. Wang Bos piece Zizhou Qixian Doushuaisi bei says that this monastery was built in the Kaihuang period of the Sui Emperor Wen, see Wang Zian ji zhu, pp. 510-519, esp. 511. But actually it might have been erected in the Qi and Liang Dynasty, see Du Fu, Shang Doushuaisi, Quan Tang wen, ch. 227: 51. This poem claims that the buildings of the Tusita Monastery (Doushuaisi) were constructed in the Southern Qi and Liang Dynasties. Wang Bos Guangzhou Baozhuangyansi shelita bei indicates that this monastery was built during the Datong period of Wudi. The monk who was sent to distribute Buddhas relics arrived here in the third year of Datong period (?), see Wang Zian ji zhu, pp. 521-547, esp. p. 529. Gijun Suwa surveys the relationship between Buddhism in Sichuan and Liang Emperor Wu. See Suwa, Chgoku nanch bukky no kenky (Kyoto: Hzkan, 1997), pp. 202-228, chapter ten. He does not use the sources I have discussed. His study mostly draws upon official histories such as the Liang shu (the History of Liang).
the Renshou period (601-604), Daoxuan was relatively familiar with this movement of
distribution and construction.
In Riyan monastery, Daoxuan witnessed Emperor Yangs sending of Buddhas
relics from the Changgan Monastery (Changgan si ) and his donation of an
inscription. Daoxuan consulted some southern monks living in Riyan monastery for
information about the relics. According to Daoxuan's record, the pagoda had a three-story
brick base. In his Miraculous Records, Daoxuan writes much about the pagoda with a
three-story brick base in the Changgan Monastery. Emperor Yang dug out the relics from
this pagoda in Changgan Monastery and brought it to the newly constructed Riyan
Monastery in Changan. In the seventh year of Wude period (624), the Riyan Monastery
was abolished under the edict of the emperor and its residents were distributed among
other monasteries.98 Bring the relics, about ten masters and pupils (including Daoxuan)
from Riyan Monastery were forced to move into Chongyi Monastery (Chongyi si
). This story shows how the Buddhas relics in Changgan Monastery were transferred
to Chongyi Monastery in Changan. Daoxuan thought that the ancient pagoda in the south
of the Yangtze River still had shown its miraculous power in the North. 99 Koichi
Shinohara suggests that many miracle stories reflect that the prestige of the monastery
was served by the miracle images, and that Liang Emperor Wu was the center. He
The tradition of Aoka images appears to have developed in the South, where these images served to enhance the prestige of temples, many of which had only been recently established in areas where Buddhist missionaries had arrived
98 See Anyang jinshi lu; Quan Tang wen xinbian, ch. 914, (Changchun: Jilin wenshi chubanshe,
2000), pp. 12495-12496. 99 Ji shenzhou sanbao gantong lu, Daoxuan, T. no. 2106, 52: 405c-406a.
relatively recently. One function of the discovery and location stories would then have been to illustrate dramatically the importance of a new temple as the miraculously chosen home of a specially powerful image. In the South the concern for miraculous images later crystallized around the figure of the emperor Wu of the Liang Dynasty.100
It seems that these miracle images of Aoka and Liang Emperor Wu should be taken into
account together, since many images of Aoka developed during Liang Emperor Wus
Besides the practices discussed above, the impact of Southern Buddhism on
Daoxuan can also be seen in his work Catalogue of the Buddhist Canon of the Great Tang
(Da Tang neidian lu ). In the title of this work, Daoxuan uses neidian to
refer to the Buddhist canon. Literally, it means Inner Classics or Inner Books. The
opposite term would be External Classics (waidian ). Nei or inner as terms
referring to Buddhism derive from a Chinese understanding of Buddhism. Buddhism was
viewed by Chinese Buddhists as a solution for inner problems, or the problem of inner
nature, mind, or emotion. Following the same pattern, the learning of Buddhism was
called inner learning (neixue ). Historically, this idea seems to have been
developed in South China, especially in Southern dynasties. I would suggest that the term
inner classics (neidian ) also came from the Southern tradition of Chinese
Buddhism. In the so-called official histories, this term neidian first appeared in Shen
Yues writing in the Southern Qi Dynasty. Shen Yue wrote an essay titled Preface to the
Inner Classics (Neidian xu ).101 Later this term also appeared in an edict issued
100 Koichi Shinohara, Changing Roles for Miraculous Images in Medieval Chinese Buddhism: A
Study of the Miracle Image Section in Daoxuans Collected Records, in Richard H. Davis, ed., Images, Miracles, and Authority in Asian Religious Traditions (Boulder, CO.: Westview Press, 1998), p. 163.
by the Liang Emperor Wu in the eleventh year of the Datong period (545).102 In this edict,
the Emperor Wu used word neidian to indicate Buddhism, and another word waijiao
( external teaching) to indicate non-Buddhism.103
Thus, it might be safe to say that neidian as a term referring to Buddhist works
became known to many Buddhist scholars in South China. It is also worth noting that this
term seems to first be used by lay people.104 Furthermore, this word as a term referring to
the Buddhist canon seems to begin with Daoxuan as shown in his catalogue, though it
101 Neidian xu, Shen Yue, in Daoxuan ed., Guang hongming ji (ch. 19), T. no. 2103, 52: 231b. 102 Wudi ji, Liang shu, 3: 3. (Beijing: Zhonghua shuju, 1975), p. 89. 103 Later also in the Liang Dynasty, Yu Xiaojing wrote a book titled Comprehensive Essentials of
Buddhist Books (Neidian boyao). This title clearly appeared in many Buddhist works, such as, Daoxuans Continued Biographies of Eminent Monks (Xu gaoseng zhuan), see Sengqie poluo, Xu gaoseng zhuan, T. no. 2060, vol. 50: 426b. Interestingly, in this work, Daoxuan called Yus work Recorded Essentials of Buddhist Books (Neidian zhuanyao). Chinese characters zhuan and bo look very similar. Given other sources about this title, it is not surprising that in the circulation of Xu gaoseng zhuan this character was misprinted. It is also said that Yu changed his name to Daoming, which is inconsistent with Daoxuans other records which say that his dharma name was Huiming. Daoxuan gives a short sketch of Yus life and work. According to Daoxuan, after the Liang regime collapsed, Yu entered the Buddhist monastic order and became a monk. Yu later went to North China and also wrote extensively. And it also appears in Catalogue of Buddhist Canon of the Great Tang, see Da Tang neidian lu, Daoxuan, T. no. 2149, 55: 4. It is very close to Fei Changfangs record. Both indicate that this work was very important for understanding essential Buddhist books. But Daoxuans record has one more item of information about Yu Xiaojing: Yu changed his name to Huiming after he entered the Buddhist monastic order. For its record in Fei Changfangs Record of Three Treasures through the Ages (Lidai saobao ji), see Lidai sanbao ji, Fei Changfang, T. no. 2034, vol. 49: 100a. For its appearance in Daoshis Pearl Forest of the Dharma Grove (Fayuan zhulin), see Fayuan zhulin, Daoshi, T. vol. 2122, vol. 53: 1021c. Daoshi says that this work has forty chapters (juan). This is different from any other records. This must be wrong.
104 In Liang shu, many other biographies also use this term to indicate Buddhist works. For
example, Wang Shennian was said to understand Buddhist works very well, see Wang Shennian liezhuan, in Liang shu, ch. 39: 33 (Beijing, 1975), p. 556; it is said that He Ying went to Dinglin Monastery to listen to (lecturing on) Buddhist works, see Liang shu, ch. 51: 45 (Beijing, 1975), p. 735. Soon after the Liang Emperor Wu, Yan Zhitui (531-590?) used this term referring to Buddhist works. He said that, The starting gate of the inner classics (neidian) established five kinds of prohibitions; [while] outer classics (waidian) [has] benevolence, righteousness, rite, wisdom, and trust. All are matched [with the former]. Here Yan clearly used inner classics and outer classics to indicate Buddhist works and Confucian works. See Guixin pian, in Yan Zhitui, Yanshi jiaxun (ch. 5). For a modern annotated edition, see Wang Liqi, Yanshi jiaxun jijie (Beijing: Zhonghua shuju, 1993), p. 368.
also appears elsewhere. 105 If so, this is also substantial evidence that Daoxuan was
influenced by the Southern tradition of Chinese Buddhism.
Tradition and Training: Daoxuan on Three Learnings
Contrary to the stereotype of southern Buddhism, now it is very clear that
Buddhists in South China were not only fond of debating the philosophical meaning of
Buddhist scriptures, but they also developed many other practices. Buddhist practice is
traditionally divided into three forms: morality (la), concentration (samdh), and
wisdom (praj). How did Daoxuan view three practices?106 Daoxuan was very well
known as a Vinaya master, and as an especially a successful advocator of the Four-part
Vinaya ( Sifenl),107 which would seem to make him a specialist in morality.
However, Daoxuan did not confine his training to only one of three practices. For him,
monks should not ignore any aspect of the three learnings. Specifically, he insisted that
textual learning could not pursue independently of moral cultivation. From Daoxuans
point of view, in the period of the Northern Zhou Emperor Xuan, the emperor changed
the policy towards Buddhism after the Northern Zhou Emperor Wu. More and more
scriptures and sculptures were made and the merits of offering feasts increased in
Emperor Xuans time, yet philosophical learning was very weak. Daoxuan says that in
105 In Yiwen zhi (section of arts and literature) of Xin Tang shu, it is said that there was a
Buddhist catalogue titled Catalogue of Buddhist Canon in the Zhenguan Period (Zhenguan neidian lu), see Xin Tang shu, 59: 49: 3 (Beijing), p. 1526. However, it does not appear anywhere else. It is unlikely that it exists at all.
106 Miyabayashi Akihiko, Dsen no sangaku kan, Bukky no jisen genri (1977), pp. 189-200. 107 Matsuura Toshiaki, Dsen no ritsugaku no kenky, Watanabe Takaoki kyju kanreki kinen
ronbunj kankkai ed., Watanabe Takaoki kyju kanreki kinen ronbunj: bukky shis bunkashi rons (Kyoto: Heirakuji shoten, 1997), pp. 239-256.
this time, more Buddhist monks concentrated on textual learning than on observing
precepts. He writes,
The people who received the knowledge of Buddhist philosophical treatise (abhidharma) and practiced wrong precepts were viewed to be clever and wise; the people who heard the Lankavatara-[Stra] while enjoying food and drink were considered to be the profound and ultimate. They exaggerated and were steeped in the world, and admonished those who were previously considered wise. They ridiculed the heavenly river108 and belittled the net of prohibition.109 They called heresy wisdom on the genuine interpretation, and viewed wrong knowledge as the ultimate wisdom.110
Daoxuans position was very clear. He did not agree that textual learning and the
observation of precepts could be separated.
In early medieval China, compared to translating and learning scripture, learning
the Vinayas was considered inferior. Historically, Vinaya learning in China started with
translation. There were four canons of Vinayas in Daoxuans time. In his postscript to the
section on interpreting the Vinayas in Continued Biographies of Eminent Monks,
Daoxuan offers a short history of Vinaya learning in China.111 He describes how the
Vinayas were translated from Sanskrit into Chinese and how some masters contributed
commentaries on these Vinayas. According to him, the Vinaya-pitaka was collected
during the period when the early Sangha was split into the Olders (Sthavira) and the
Great Assembly (Mahsanghika) Schools. The first Vinaya to enter China was Ten-
108 It refers to the divinely disciplined social atmosphere in monastic community.
109 It refers to the monastic code which functioned like a net regulating the monastic community. 110 Daoxuans commentary on the section of philosophical interpretation, see Xu gaoseng zhuan,
Daoxuan, T. no. 2060, 50: 549b. 111 Xu gaoseng zhuan, Daoxuan, T. no. 2060, 50: 620a-621a.
section Vinaya (Daabhnavra-Vinaya, Shisongl ) of the Sarvstivda sect.
Shortly after it was translated into Chinese by Kumrajva ( Jiumoluoshi, 344-
413), it became the dominant Vinaya in Chinese Buddhism. It was propagated by
Vimalka ( 5th century, Ch. Beimoluocha, also as Blue-Eyed Vinaya Master,
Qingmu Lshi ) in the Jin Dynasty. Huiyuan (334-416), who lived on the
Mount Lu, continued to develop it into a school. Faju ( 5th century), Fayin ( 5th
century), Sengyou (445-518), and Fayuan (524-587) also contributed to its hegemony in
the regions of Huang and Yangtze Rivers.
The second Vinaya to be translated into Chinese was the Four-part Vinaya
(Sifenl) of the Dharmagupta sect.112 Daoxuan says that this Vinaya was translated by
Buddhayaas ( 4th century, Ch. Fotuoyeshe, Red-bearded Abhidharma Master,
Chizi Lunzhu ) in the Later Qin period, while it became popular in the Northern
Wei period. Since he did not lecture on this Vinaya, for a long time it was not very well
known until Facong (5th century) began to explain it. In the Song Dynasty, Five-part
Vinaya (Mahissaka-vinaya, Wufenl ) was translated by Buddhajiva ( ?-
423, Ch. Fodashi, Jueshou ) into Chinese in Yangzhou, the capital of the Song. This
Vinaya was translated from 423 to 424. The Vinaya canon of the Kaayapa Sect (Jiaye bu
) was also introduced to China. The Sanskrit version had been extant in China for
quite a long time, but the translation was never completed. Only the text of precepts
(Pratimksa, jieben ) was circulated. Daoxuan also says that, the Vinaya Canon of the
112 For a recent study on Four-part Vinaya in China, see Ann Heirman, Can we trace the early
Dharmaguptakas? Toung Pao 88: 4-5 (2002), pp. 396-429. She uses Dharmagupta-Vinaya to translate Sifenl.
Vtsputrya Sect (Poluofulu bu) was never introduced in China at all.113 It was listed in
the Sanghika Sect (Dazhong bu ) of the Buddhist canon. So Daoxuan concludes
that during his time, Chinese Buddhists knew that there were these five Vinaya canons,
and that four of them had been translated into Chinese. However, same as Sengyou,
Daoxuan was confused with Vinaya Canon of the Vtsputrya Sect and Mahsangika-
Vinaya. Although it originated from the former, the latter was translated into Chinese.114
In the early Tang period, Daoxuan says that the tradition of the Four-part Vinaya
(Sifen zhi zong , the tradition of Caturvargika-vinaya) was the dominant
Vinaya tradition.115 The first great master to interpret the Four-part Vinaya was Facong
(, 468-559). He orally transmitted his teachings to his disciples in the Northern
Wei Dynasty. Following the effort of Facong, Daofu wrote a six-chapter
commentary on Four-part Vinaya. At the end of the Eastern Wei and early Northern Qi
period, Huiguang became famous for lecturing on the Four-part Vinaya. Daoxuan
comments that every time Huiguang lectured on the Four-part Vinaya, about one
thousand monks were present. After Huiguangs death, his three principal disciples
Daoyun (, 570-607), Daohui ( 6th century), and Fayuan ( 524-587) --
continued to comment on the Four-part Vinaya.116 Soon after, Hongli , Tanyin ,
Daole, Hongzun ( 530-608), Shen , and Dan also lectured the Four-part Vinaya
113 Xu gaoseng zhuan, Daoxuan, T. no. 2060, 50: 620b. 114 For a discussion of this canon, see Hirakawa Akira, Ritsuz no kenky (Tokyo: Sankido
busshorin, 1970), pp. 137-142. 115 Xu gaoseng zhuan, Daoxuan, T. no. 2060, 50: 620c. 116 For Huiguang and his disciples, see his biography, in Xu gaoseng zhuan, Daoxuan, T. no. 2060,
50: 607b-608b. For Fayuans biography, see ibid, 50: 610a-b.
in the Central Plain.117 Hongli was Huiguangs disciple. Tanyin studied the Four-part
Vinaya with Daofu and wrote a four-volume commentary on it. Daofu and Daole
were famous for their study of the Four-part Vinaya tradition.118 In sum, in the late
Northern dynasties in North China, Great Assembly Vinaya was the dominant tradition.
While Four-part Vinaya was also learned to some extent.119
In his commentary on the section of Vinaya studies in Continued Biographies of
Eminent Monks, Daoxuan criticizes his contemporaries for wrong attitudes toward the
study of Vinaya. Particularly, he accuses of the contemporary attitude towards practice
and learning. Daoxuan says that even Confucianism disregards the discrepancy between
people merely commenting on the classics, without following them. By contrast,
Buddhism does not allow its followers to skip the practice of what they study in texts..
Daoxuan compares the failure to practice as directed in the scriptures with reading the
Book of Rituals (Liji ) while being arrogant, or reciting the Book of Changes (Yijing
) while overlooking the yin and yang.120
Daoxuan also criticizes the textual learning of meditation traditions. In the period
of the Liang Emperor Wu, meditation was propagated. The emperor invited all the
famous meditation masters in the country to the capital, Yangzhou, and asked them to
117 Xu gaoseng zhuan, Daoxuan, T. no. 2060, 50: 621a. In Fozu tongji, under the category of
Vinaya Learning of the Mountain [Zhong] Nan, there is a lineage of the Dharmagupta-Vinaya School. This lineage lists nine patriarchs, including Dharmagupta (Fazang, the founding patriarch), Dharmagala (Fashi, from Western India), Facong, Dafu, Huiguang, Daoyun, Daohong, Zhishou, and Daoxuan. See T. no. 2035, 49: 296c. This lineage might be based on the order Daoxuan remarked upon in his commentary on the section about Vinaya masters in Continued Biographies of Eminent Monks (Xu gaoseng zhuan).
118 For Tanyins biography, see Xu gaozeng zhuan, Daoxuan, T. no. 2060, 50: 608c. 119 Vinaya Master Zhishou made a substantial contribution to the learning of the Four-part Vinaya.
See Xu gaozeng zhuan, Daoxuan, T. no. 2060, 50: 621a. 120 Ibid., T. 50: 622b.
compile and classify what they practiced in newly constructed two Dingling Monasteries.
The debate between monks was very intense. However, in Daoxuans opinion, these
monks only cared about making themselves famous.121
Daoxuan also criticizes his contemporaries for their lack of attention to practice.
Such monks paid more attention to seeking wisdom than to anything else, and treated
monastic regulations very casually.122 Daoxuan claims that if a monk does not practice
dhyna (meditation), he separates himself from real wisdom.
The above history of the period helps us clarify some important points about the
nature of the sects, lineages, school, or traditions in which Daoxuan took part. Up
until Daoxuans time, what his contemporaries called the Vinaya tradition (lzong
) was not very popular. Prior to Daoxuan, the study of Vinaya and the observance of
the precepts by monks was not a high priority. Many felt that their identity as Mahyna
Buddhists meant that they did not need to emphasize monastic precepts. Other felt that
they should emphasize other forms of practice instead, including what Daoxuan referred
to as the concentration tradition (dingzong ) and the philosophical meaning
tradition or exegetical tradition (yizong ).
Daoxuan not only reordered these priorities, he also redefined what it meant to
study the Vinaya tradition. Not only should monks study the textual traditions of the
Vinaya which we know was a very complicated matter, with four complete Vinayas
available in translation, each with its own Chinese commentarial tradition they should
also, in Daoxuans eyes, put the Vinaya into practice. Daoxuan began his career with a
121 Ibid., T. 50: 596a. 122 Jiaojie xinxue biqiu xinghu lyi, Daoxuan, T. no. 1897, 45: 869b.
strong interest in meditation, but his teacher Huijun (564-637 who came from the
south) persuaded him to pay attention to the Vinaya. Daoxuan placed the observance of
precepts at the center of monastic practice. Thus, he transformed the meaning of the
Vinaya tradition from a more limited sense of textual (study of the Vinaya canon) to a
broader sense that included observance of the precepts laid down in the Vinaya.
This evaluation of Daoxuan also helps us understand better what exactly the
Chinese word zong meant in Daoxuans time. As we have seen, Daoxuan discusses
three different such zong: a tradition having to do with Vinaya, with concentration, and
with philosophical meaning. In this sense, zong means xue ( learning or study). When
Daoxuan refers to a Vinaya tradition (lzong ), then he does not intend a sect
with clearly articulated articles of faith or a school with its own separate social
institutions. These more exclusive understandings of zong are inventions of modern
scholarship, largely based on Japanese sectarian practice, and later Song-dynasty
historians, as many scholars are beginning to recognize.123 Rather, by emphasizing the
importance of the Vinaya tradition or the Vinaya school, he wanted first to elevate
the importance of the Vinaya, which he felt was being neglected, and second to redefine
what was meant by studying the Vinaya. For him, it meant not only learning the texts and
discussing the rules, but putting them into practice.
The Diaspora of Southern Culture
123 Tang Yongtong, Zhongguo wu shizong lun, in: Tang Yongtong xuanji (Tianjin: Tianjin renmin chubanshe, 1995), pp. 345-360; and Zhongguo fojiao zongpai wenti bulun, in Tang Yongtong xuanji, pp. 361-394. Griffith T. Foulk, Myth, Ritual, and Monastic Practice in Sung Chan Buddhism, in Patricia B. Ebrey and Peter N. Gregory eds., Religion and Society in Tang and Sung China (Honolulu: Hawaii University Press, 1993), pp. 147-208.
Why did Daoxuan stress Southern Buddhism? From the discussion above, I would
point to two reasons. First, Daoxuan believed that Southern Buddhism escaped political
persecution and regime change because it was founded on a strong institutional basis,
including the ordination platform and other practices. These practices within the monastic
community maintained the monastic order, regulated and enabled new members, forced
practitioners to think about resisting the decline of the Dharma. Secondly, Daoxuan
viewed South China as a cultural kingdom because his education and personal
experience was heavily influenced by self-consciously Southern traditions. Both his
family background and monastic training were strongly Southern.
Daoxuan was born in Changan, but his family was from the south. His father,
Qian Shen , was the Secretary of the Personnel Department in the Chen Dynasty,
serving as a powerful minister to the Chen court. After the Chen kingdom was taken over,
Qian Shen had to move to the capital of the new empire at Changan. Since the South and
North were separated for several centuries, during this time, Qian Shens move made him
an immigrant from the South.124 So Daoxuan was in fact was from a Southern immigrant
family. In my estimation, since the Qian family was a well known and powerful family in
the South over many generations, Qian Shen and his family members may have
experienced a kind of culture shock after they moved to the North. They must have been
aware that they had come to an area where the barbarians had ruled for several centuries.
Daoxuans family background and intellectual shaping made him a Southerner.
Daoxuan was born in Changan where his father occupied a high position in the
administration of the Sui government. Before his family moved to Changan, they lived
124 Fujiyosho Masumi, Dsen den no kenky (Kyoto: Kyt daigaku shuppankai, 2002), pp. 37-67.
in Jiankang, the capital of the Chen Dynasty.125 Daoxuans father was talented in literary
composition, and he probably followed his native training when he taught Daoxuan
composition and classics. Therefore, geographically, Daoxuan was a Northerner since he
was born in the North, and he exclusively traveled in the North; but culturally he was a
Southerner because he was raised in an immigrant family from the South and was
educated in the Southern cultural tradition.
It is worth noting that the Emperor Yang in the Sui Dynasty favored Southern
culture. I believe there is a connection between Daoxuans support for Southern
Buddhism the Sui Emperor Yangs favoring of Southern culture. It seems that Daoxuan
witnessed the revival of Buddhism during the reign of Emperor Yang and was much
impressed by it. In order to clarify this issue, we have to look back to the Buddhist
history that Daoxuan wrote.
The history of Buddhism during the late Southern and Northern dynasties was
very complicated. In his comment on the Section on Philosophical Interpretation in
Continued Biographies of Eminent Monks, Daoxuan traces the history of Buddhism in
this period.126 Daoxuan mentions distinguished figures that played a vital role in the
history of Chinese Buddhism. First, he remarks on the contribution of Daoan (312-385),
Zhu Daosheng (, 355-434), and Zhidun ( 314-366). He continues to reflect
on the prospering of Buddhism under the Liang Dynasty. In that era, Emperor Wu
devoted himself to Buddhist doctrines and practices. In addition, three masters Fayun (
125 Daoxuan, in Song Gaoseng zhuan, Zanning (919-1001), see T. no. 2061, 50: 790b. 126 Xu gaoseng zhuan, Daoxuan, T. no. 2060, 50: 548a-549a.
465-537), Sengmin( 482-542),127 and Zhizang ( 458-522), were singled out
for their activities. For Daoxuan, all three masters distinguished themselves among
monks, but each was different. Fayun and Sengmin were talented in philosophical
interpretation.128 Zhizang was more successful, acclaimed by both monks and lay people,
because he distinguished himself in both practice and learning. Daoxuan believed that,
for enlightening the compassion of people, there were none better than Zhizang.129
There were several reasons why Daoxuan regarded Zhizang especially highly as
master in the Liang Dynasty.130 First, Zhizang was from the Gu clan in Wujun, one of
four local great clans (Gu , Lu , Zhu and Zhang ) in South China.131 Second,
Zhizang once worked with Vinaya Master Sengyou in Upper Dinglin Monastery (Shang
Dingling si). 132 We know Sengyou had a crucial intellectual impact on Daoxuans
127 Like Zhizang, he was from Wujun. For his biography, see Xu gaoseng zhuan, Daoxuan, T. no.
2060, 50: 461c-463c, he had a very strong connection with Xiao Ziliang. 128 Fujio Kazuyo, Rydai kara Zuidai no nitaisetsu no kenky, Otani daigaku daigakuin kenky
kiy 15 (1998), pp. 55-69. Nomura Yosho, Ichibutsu no shiso, Kzo: Daij bukky 4 (1983). Tamura YoshiroHon no hokkegiki no kenky, Hokkeky no chgoku no tankai: Hokkeky kenky 4 (1972) , p. 175; Kanno Hiroshi, Hon Hokkegiki ni okeru ichi shiso no kaishaku ni tsuite, Sokka daigaku jinbun ronsh 4 (1992), pp. 3-20. Joaquim Monteiro, Ktakuji Hon ni okeru nitai to inga ni tsuite -- Hokkegiki o chushin ni, Komazawa tanki daigaku bukky ronsh 9 (2003), pp. 139-174. About Zhizang, see Fukushima Kosai, Kaizenji Chiz no nitai shis, Indogaku bukkygaku kenky 21 (11-1) (1963), pp. 150-151; Oda Yoshihisa, Tsho no jdaitoku ni tsuite, Oryo shigaku 5 (1979), pp. 51-64. Okuno Mitsuyoshi, Kichi kgaku to kegoky omekutte, Kegongaku ronsh (1997), pp. 177-190; Sato, Seijun, Jjitsuronji no shis ni kan suruichi kosatsu, Indogaku bukkygaku kenky 23 (12-1) (1964), pp. 202-205.
129 Xu gaoseng zhuan, Daoxuan, T. no. 2060, 50: 548b. 130 Andreas Janousch examines the debate between Liang Emperor Wu and Zhizang and points out
that Zhizang played a role in insisting on the self-administration of the Sangha against the secular power; see The Emperor as Bodhisattva: The Bodisattva and Ritual Assemblies of Emperor Wu of the Liang Dynasty, in Joseph P. McDermott ed. State and Court Ritual in China (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1999), pp. 136-140.
131 For these great clans in medieval China, see the biography of Liu Chong, in Xin Tang shu, ch.
199, p. 5678.
learning and scholarship. Third, Zhizang initiated the practice of receiving, upholding,
and reading and reciting ( shouchi133 and dusong) the Diamond Stra in the
South.134 In the Tang Dynasty, this practice was very influential.135 According to his
biography in Daoxuans Continued Biographies of the Eminent Monks, in his twenty-
ninth year, Zhizang met a famous fortune-teller who told him that, although he was very
wise, he would not live more than thirty-one years. Zhizang then went to the scripture
storehouse (jingzang ) and found the Diamond Stra. He upheld and recited this
sutra in a quiet room after having bathed with fragrant water. Later he heard a voice in
the air that told him that the divine power of reciting the Diamond Stra had doubled his
life span. His experience then became a model for others. For example, He Hu, a man
living in the Liang Dynasty, was a very talented scholar who studied the Commentary of
Zuo Qiuming on the Spring and Autumn Annals (Zuoshi chunqiu ). As a filial
son, he sought treatment for his mothers illness. A monk often visited his mother and
asked for vegetarian food. His mother recovered gradually. The monk left the Diamond
Stra to his family and told him that it was responsible for his mothers healing. He Hu
was indebted to the monk, and so donated his house as a monastery, which was called the
132 For his biography, see Xu gaoseng zhuan, Daoxuan, T. no. 2060, 50: 465c-467c. 133 Stephen F. Teiser suggests that many schools of Buddhist thought advocated receiving and
upholding as the sixth of ten ways to devote oneself to sacred texts. For more details, see his The Scripture on the Ten Kings and the Making of Purgatory in Medieval Chinese Buddhism (Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 1996), pp. 139-141. For the sense of this term in Buddhist philosophy as one of acts of the law which is to take possession of scriptures of the Great Vehicle with unusual devotion, see Nakamura Hajime, Bukkygo daijiten, p. 638a-b.
134 The Diamond-sutra was first translated by Kumarajva in 402. Since then till Yijing translated
the last version in the third year of Changan period (703), there are eight translations in total. 135 Zhang Guogang, Foxue yu Sui Tang shehui (Shijiazhuang: Hebei renmin chubanshe, 2002), pp.
Yuean Monastery.136 Daoxuan reports that after that, both monks and lay people in that
area began to uphold and recite this sutra, and they also experienced its divine power.
Daoxuan concludes that this is why the Diamond Stra brought divine power to help the
commoners in his time. Such migrates could resurrect the dead, as many miracle stories
in the Tang period attest.137 This practice of upholding and chanting the Diamond Stra
was also spread to Dunhuang, an oasis city in Northwest China. This is one example of
how a practice that originated in the South became popular everywhere. Fourth, Zhizang
established a reputation for preventing Emperor Wu from controlling the Buddhist
community. Emperor Wu planned to become the chief of the Buddhist community
(Sengzheng ), saying that common monks and nuns did not study the monastic code,
although he did not know much about Buddhist rules and regulations, either. Zhizang
worried that it would be too severe to use secular law to rule the Buddhist community.
Zhizang asked the emperor not to interfere in Buddhist affairs; Zhizang opposed the
sengzheng institution.138 Zhizangs opposition to the imperial control of the Buddhist
community was quite similar to Daoxuans stance against the law that required monks to
bow toward the emperor.139
136 Chapter seven of Falins Bianzheng lun cites the Biography of He Family and tells a story
about retribution for their support Buddhism. See T. no. 2110, 52: 538a. 137 Xu gaoseng zhuan, Daoxuan, T. no. 2060, 50: 466b. Cheng A-tsai has examined the acceptance
and impact of this practice in Buddhist popular literature, especially based on Dunhuang manuscripts. See his Dunhuang lingying xiaoshuo de fojiao shixue jiazhi, Tang yanjiu 4 (1998), pp. 31-46.
138 Xu gaoseng zhuan, Daoxuan, T. no. 2060, 50: 467a. 139 Eric Reinders, Buddhist Rituals of Obeisance and the Contestation of the Monks Body in
Medieval China (Ph.D. thesis, University of California, Santa Barbara, 1996).
Fayun was famous for his powerful lectures and miraculous responses.140 He had
very strong connections with Southern literati, especially Wang Rong and Shen Yue.141
Daoxuan remarks Fayuns contributions to Chinese Buddhism, which might have impact
on Daoxuans formation of monasticism in terms of creating about monastic regulations,
bringing miraculous power, and writing against anti-Buddhist attack. For instance, after
Fayun had been appointed the abbot of the Guangzhai Monastery (Guangzhai si zhu
) by the Liang emperor, he created regulations for monastic life, which become the
model for later monasteries, and particularly interested Daoxuan. Moreover, Fayun
always recited the Lotus Stra before giving lectures. During this recitation, Fayun
evoked a miraculous response: flowers rained down from heaven. His recitation also
sparked miracles seen by some who made offerings to him before his lecture.142 This
supernatural power he brought up might have also inspired Daoxuans practice.
Furthermore, Fayun played an important part in writing against Fan Zhen ( 450?-
515)s Discourse on the Destruction of the Soul (Shenmie lun ). Fayuns
powerful influence in the Liang society also impressed Daoxuan.143
140 Andreas Janousch suggests that, in establishing a direct tie with the Buddha, Fayun resistsed the capture of secular power from Liang Emperor Wu over the Sangha; see The Emperor as Bodhisattva: The Bodhisattva and Ritual Assemblies of Emperor Wu of the Liang Dynasty, in Joseph P. McDermott ed. State and Court Ritual in China (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1999), pp.133-135.
141 For example, one of his close friends was Wang Rong; see Xu gaoseng zhuan, Daoxuan, T. no.
2060, vol. 50: 464a. Wang Rong wrote a verse for the first chapter of Xiao Ziliangs Jingzhuzi jingxing famen.
142 Xu gaoseng zhuan, Daoxuan, T. no. 2060, 50: 465a. See Toshitaka Morie, Ry sandai hoshi
no kann shis, Indogaku bukkygaku kenky 43 (22-1) (1973), pp. 142-143; and Kojaku Akiba, Hon, Chigi, Kichiz no ingankan, Tendai gakuh 45 (2003), pp. 133-139.
143 Xu gaoseng zhuan, Daoxuan, T. no. 2060, 52: 464b.
An offspring of the royal family of the Wu Kingdom, Sengmin was from Wujun.
Daoxuan tells that, besides his reputation as a skillful lecturer, Sengmin also started the
tradition of reciting the Scripture of Avalokitevara (Guanshiyin jing ) before
giving lectures, and his audience gave many offerings for that purpose. His second
noteworthy activity, according to Daoxuan, was that he once built a sculpture of Maitreya
Buddha and made offerings. He worshipped this Buddha twice everyday. This dedicated
worship brought a miracle dream to him. In the dream, Maitreya Buddha sent a
bodhisattva to present him with a bodhi tree. This miraculous dream came to him as a
result of his worship of Maitreya Buddha.144 In addition, Sengmin had a connection with
some preeminent lay people, including Xiao Ziliang and Liu Xie. Like Fayun, Sengmin
was also a frequent lecturer in Hualin Garden which was sponsored by Xiao Ziliang.
Daoxuan also contributes his narrative of the Buddhist history in North during the
Northern Qi and Zhou Dynasties. In the North, the West under the control of the
Northern Zhou was quite different from the situation of the East under the control of the
Northern Qi. After the change of the regime in the North, the revival of Buddhism began.
When the Sui Emperor Wen came into power, he began to advocate Buddhism. At the
beginning of the Kaihuang period (581-600), he established Buddhist temples wherever
there were the Buddhist monks across the country. He invited monks to preach Buddhism
in Chang'an. These eminent monks were automatically classified according to their
monastic rank. There were twenty-five groups of monks in Chang'an. They enjoyed the
freedom to learn and teach under the sponsorship of the Sui government. Every day when
the emperor went to the court, there had to be seven monks sitting in attendance. These
144 Xu gaoseng zhuan, Daoxuan, T. no. 2060, 52: 463b.
monks recited scriptures and preached Buddhist teachings. Thus at that time Buddhism
was widely known, though in Daoxuans eyes it was still weaker in the Sui Dynasty than
in the Liang and Northern Qi Dynasties. It still had, however, a hope of a revival.145
Next Daoxuan explores how the Southern monks contributed to the revival of
Buddhism in the North. Huiyuan ( 523-592) was one of the most eminent monks
working toward this goal at the end of the Northern Qi and Sui Dynasties. Huiyuan once
consulted Sengchou ( 480-560), a famous Meditation Master in Hebei area, about
meditation. Consequently, Huiyuan always praised dhyana in speaking about
concentration. He wrote many commentaries and lectured widely. His abilities in
preaching Buddhism brought him a miraculous dream in which he ascended the peak of
Mt. Sumeru and saw a Buddha sculpture lying under a jeweled tree. 146 When he arrived
in Chang'an, he immediately started teaching. Daoxuan claims that his audience there
numbered seven hundred and that he personally converted at least two-thirds of the
population of the country to Buddhism.
Daoxuan next discusses other monks who contributed to the teaching of
Buddhism. Some monks were good at Buddhist scholasticism. For instance, Sengcan (
529-613) was known as a philosophical debater among the literati. Sengcan
145 Xu gaoseng zhuan, Daoxuan, T. no. 2060, 50: 549a-b. 146 For his biography, see Xu gaoseng zhuan, Daoxuan, T. no. 2060, 50: 490a-492b. For his
relationship to Sengcan, see Xu gaoseng zhuan, Daoxuan, T. no. 2060, 50: 492a. cho Enichi, Eon to Kichiz, Yki kyju shju kinen: Bukky shisshi ronj (1964), pp. 433-450; Tamaki Koshiro, Chgoku bukky ni okeru shutai no hottan, Hikata hakushi koki kinen ronbunsh (1964), pp. 389-402; Uno Sadatoshi, Jyoji Eon Kanmuryjukysho no sanjkan , Indogaku bukkygaku kenky 61 (31-1) (1982), pp. 140-141; Nitta Masaaki, Chigi ni okeru bodaishin no seiritsu konkyo ni tsuite: Jyoji Eon to no higaku nioite, Indogaku bukkygaku kenky 32 (16-2) (1968), pp. 271-277; Kamata Shigeo, Jyoji Eon no ho kannen, Indogaku bukkygaku kenky 28 (14-2) (1966), pp. 98-103; Liao Minghuo, Jingyingsi Huiyuan de panjiao xueshuo, Zhonghua foxue xuebao 6 (1993), pp. 219-235; Feng Huanzhen, Jingyingsi Huiyuan de xingchi, zhushu ji qi xianshizong, Zhonghua foxue xuebao 15 (2002), pp. 177-218.
extensively traveled all over the country.147 Huizang ( 522-605) was known for his
philological knowledge;148 Sengxiu ( Huixiu, 556-?) was familiar with the Great
Abhidharm (Dazhidu lun). In the seventh year of the Kaihuang period (587), along with
Huiyuan, Huizang, Baozhen, Hongzun, and Tanqian together, Sengxiu was appointed one
of the six Great Virtues (dade). After that he played a key role in the history of Sui
Buddhism. Most of these masters were talented philosophers of Buddhism, while
Hongzun was a master skillful in Four-part Vinaya (Sifenl). Sengxiu was invited to the
capital in the ninth year of the Zhenguan period (635) and remained in the capital for
nineteen years. When Daoxuan wrote his biography, he was still alive at the age of
ninety-eight. In this biography, Daoxuan praises his ascetic lifestyle.149 Fajing was
knowledgeable about the history of Buddhism. There were also good monks who
distinguished themselves as defenders of Buddhism. The most important of these was
Tanyan, who was so distinguished that the emperor asked him to sit on an imperial throne
and preach Buddhism to officials in court.
Daoxuan notes that, following his father, Emperor Yang continued to patronize
Buddhism and some eminent monks. He consulted Daozhuan about Buddhist and non-
Buddhist teachings. He also invited Falun( 528-605) to the newly erected Riyan
147 For his biography, see Xu gaoseng zhuan, Daoxuan, T. no. 2060, 50: 500a-501a. He is better
known as the third patriarch of Chan School. See Masunaga Reiho, Sanso Ssan to sono shis, Nikka bukky kenkykai nenh 2 (1937), pp. 36-63; Nakagawa Taka, Ssan daishi no nendai to shis, Indogaku bukkygaku kenky 11 (6-1) (1958), pp. 229-232; Matsuda Bunyu, Shijinmei ni tsuite, Indogaku bukkygaku kenky 28 (14-2) (1966), pp. 253-256.
148 For his biography, see Xu gaoseng zhuan, Daoxuan, T. no. 2060, 50: 498a-b. He was famous
for lecturing on the Huayan jing. After his death, he was buried near Zhixiang Monastery (Zhixiangsi) on Mt. Zhongnan.
149 Xu gaoseng zhuan, Daoxuan, T. no. 2060, 50: 544b-545b.
Monastery to give lectures. Falun was familiar with all Buddhist, Confucian and Daoist
classics. He was also working on the biographies of eminent monks, which he did not
Daoxuan continues his story of Buddhism in the North with Xiang and Yuan, who
were famous in the two capitals. Zhuang and Zhituo ( 538-605) 151 preached
Buddhism in the Central Plain. Zhituo was mainly active in South China, and because of
his reputation was invited by the Sui Emperor Yang to the Riyan Monastery in Changan.
Therefore, he was one of the key monks who brought the Southern teachings to the North.
He made an abridged version of the work of the Dharma Master Yan of the Liang
Dynasty and preached in the North. This abridged version was popular with
contemporary readers.152In his biography Daoxuan writes that Zhituo always received
help from Indian monks in his dreams when he faced unresolved issues during his
In Daoxuans eyes, Emperor Yang's virtue and righteousness were unsurpassed.
He established two Buddhist monasteries (Huiri and Fayun) 154 and two Daoist
monasteries (Yuqing and Jindong). Buddhism spread and Tanyan seemed to have been
resurrected. At that time, although all the different Buddhist schools taught different ideas,
150 For Faluns biography, see Xu gaoseng zhuan, Daoxuan, T. no. 2060, 50: 500a. 151 For his biography, see Xu Gaoseng zhuan, Daoxuan, T. no. 2060, 50: 498c-499c. 152 The work by Yan is titled Chengyun xuanyi, in seventeen stet. See Xu gaoseng zhuan,
Daoxuan, T. no. 2060, 50: 499b. 153 Dreams are important means for reproduction of culture. Dreams have become an important
issue in cultural studies recently. For a case in Europe, see Patricia Cox Miller, Dreams in Late Antiquity: Studies in the Imagination of a Culture (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1994).
154 For example, Jizang was active in Huiri daochang. See Nakajima Ryuzo, Kichiz kygaku
niokeru kanshin ni tsuite, Hiraishnei hakase koki kinen ronsh: Sanron kygaku to bukkyo sho shiso (Tokyo: Shunjusha, 2000), pp. 193-210.
Daoxuan states that most of them focused on nirvna. Among different texts, the
Mahynasangrahabya (Shelun , or She dasheng lun , written by
Vashbandhu, translated by Paramrtha) was richest.155
A Son of a Southern Father and a Disciple of a Southern Master
I have attempted to point out the features stressed by Daoxuan in his elaborate
vision of Southern Buddhism. Daoxuans attention to Southern Buddhism could be due to
his own personal memory of being educated in a family from the South, as well as his
reading from the collective memory of the Southern monks he worked with in the Riyan
Monastery. I would like to draw a sketch of Daoxuans cultural background inherited
from both his family and his master, as it seems to be essential factor that shaped
Daoxuans perspective. As I have discussed before, Daoxuan was born in Changan while
his family moved to Changan from Jiankang, the capital of the Chen Dynasty.
Daoxuans father taught Daoxuan following Southern cultural tradition. Culturally
Daoxuan was a Southerner.
For his training in Buddhism, Daoxuan was also indebted to his Southern masters,
especially Huijun. From his childhood, Daoxuan was indoctrinated in Buddhism, and
later he left home for the Riyan Monastery in Changan to study Buddhist thought and
practice with Master Huijun. Huijun played an important role in Daoxuans early learning,
and he also helped to shape Daoxuans professional career. Because of his influence,
Daoxuan later became a Vinaya Master. Daoxuan tells us how he changed his educational
155 Xu gaoseng zhuan, Daoxuan, T. 2060, 50: 549a-b. About Mahynasangrahabya, see Hirano
Yoshiyuki, Shdaijron ni okeru daij busetsu ron, Otani daigaku daigakuin kenky kiy 16 (1999), pp. 1-19; Katano Michio, Shdaijron ni okeru ichij shiso, Bukkygaku semenai 72 (2000), pp. 1-14.
When I first received precepts, I was fond of meditation and talked to my master (Huijun) about it. My master said, Meditation will be manifested once the precepts have become clear, and this is the order of the Buddhist teaching. So you should learn Vinaya first. If you hold to or violate the rules and precepts, and then visualize and synthesize the Vinaya, that will be enough.156
Daoxuan originally planned to learn meditation, but Huijun made him shift his direction
to the study of the Vinayas.157
Later Daoxuan was ordained under the guidance of another preeminent Vinaya
Master, Zhishou (567-635), who was particularly familiar with Four-part Vinaya
(Sifenl). 158 There is no apparent reason why Daoxuan was ordained in another
monastery rather in his home institution. One possible reason could be that many monks
went to a large monastery to get ordained, because the Great Meditation Monastery (Da
chanding si) where Zhishou lived was much bigger than Riyan Monastery.159 But the
details of Daoxuans ordination remain unclear. Considering that Daoxuan was also
familiar with the Sarvstivda tradition that was dominant in South China,160 it is possible
156 See Xu gaoseng zhuan, Daoxuan, T. no. 2060, 50: 534b. 157 For a study on precepts and meditation methods, see Shi Huimin, Jiel yu chanfa (Taipei: Fagu
wenhua shiye gufen youxian gongsi, 1999). 158 Current scholarship focuses more on Zhishous impact on Daoxuans Vinaya learning. See
Yang Zengwen, Fojiao jiel he Tangdai de lzong, Zhongguo wenhua 3 (1990): 5-17; Sato Tatsugen, Sui Tang gaoseng de jielguan, trans. Guan Shiqian, Miaolin zazhi 10: 6 (1998): 18-35.
159 For discussion of Dachandingsi, see Chen Jinhua, Monks and Monarchs, Kinship and Kingship:
Tanqian in Sui Buddhism and Politics (Kyoto: Italian School of East Asian Studies, 2002), pp. 181-211. 160 For example, I suggest that Daoxuan was indebted to this tradition in his writing about
meditation method, according to his work Jingxin jieguan fa. This tradition was spread by many great monks from Kapii (Jibin, modern Afganistan). There even was a monastery called Jibinsi (Kapiian Monastery) in the Song Dynasty. In the first year of Jingping period (423), a monk from Jibin, Buddhajva (Jueshou, Fotuoshi) came to the capital of the Song Dynasty. Some patrons constructed a monastery to accommodate him. This monastery was called Jibinsi. The name of this monastery appears once in the biography of a monk Baozhi. See Gaoseng zhuan, Huijiao, T. no. 2059, 50: 394b (also see Taiping guangji,
that Zhishou might have also taught him this tradition. Zhishou accepted the Ten-stanza
Vinaya (Sarvstivda-Vinaya, Sapoduobu piposha), which was from the South.
According to his preface to Continued Commenatry on Sarvastivada-Vinaya (Xu sapoduo
pini piposha ),161 Zhishou was interested in the Ten-stanza
Vinaya tradition, but he could not find a complete Sarvstivda-vinaya piposha. Later
he was called to live in the Chanding Monastery upon the request of the Sui Emperor
Wen. There he met a Vinaya master from Western Sichuan, Baoxuan. Baoxuan told him
that he knew there was a complete text in his hometown. This text was translated in
Sichuan, which included nine chapters. But during its dissemination in the North, because
of the persecution of the Northern Wei emperor Wu, the first and last chapters were lost.
However, the original translation was still preserved in Chengdu. So Zhishou asked many
people to search for it in Chengdu, and eventually it was found in the second year of the
Daye period (606). This complete version was brought to the Sui capital, Changan.
Zhishou sent a copy to the Dhyana Master Sengsha, who resided at the Shentong
Moanstery, Qizhou (modern Shandong).162 So this text was disseminated to Shandong.
ch. 90.). The biography of Buddhajva, see Chu sanzang ji ji, Sengyou, T. no. 2049, 50: 339a. Also see Liu Shiheng, Nanchao si kao (Taipei: Xinwenfeng chuban gongsi, 1987), p. 38.
161 A manuscript of Sapoduo pini piposha was found in Northwestern China. See Oda Yoshihisa,
Saiiki jutsudo no shaky danben ni tsuite -- tani bunko shsei chshin ni, Rykoku daigaku bykky bunka kenkyjo kiy 41 (2002), pp. 1-41; Funayama Toru, Mokunen mon kairitsu ch gohiaku kyjji no genke to hensen, Th gakuho 70 (1998), pp. 203-290.
162 This monastery was erected by the Dhyna Master Senglang in 351. For Senglangs biography,
Gaoseng zhuan, Huijiao, T. no. 2059, 50: 354b. Daoxuan was very familiar with this monastery. In his Ji shenzhou sanbao gantong lu (chapter 2), he remarks that in the Northern dynasties, many rulers sent letters of veneration to this monastery for merit. Even many foreign kingdoms, like Korea, and some Central Asian kingdoms sent golden and bronze Buddha sculptures to this monastery. See T. no. 2106, 52: 414a. In the third year of the Kaihuang period (583), it was renamed as Shentong daochang; See T. vol. 2060, 50: 507a. According to Fazangs biography in Xu gaoseng zhuan, during the relic-distribution movement launched in the Renshou period, he was sent to venerate relics in this monastery; see T. no. 2060, 50: 506c-507a. For other sources about this monastery, also see Li Jifu, Yuanhe junxian tuzhi (Beijing: Zhonghua shujum 1983), ch. 10, Qizhou lichengxian. For a modern archaeological survey, see Jin Sanlin and Zhang
But it was still not known in Jin Wei, Zhao and Yan areas. Another one of Zhishous
students, Vinaya Master Jinghong, received a copy and spread it to the Yellow River and
In deepening Huijuns intellectual impact on Daoxuan, I will document Huijun as
an immigrant with a Southern scholarly tradition. Although Daoxuan was ordained by
Zhishou, his learning of Vinaya was inspired by his master Huijun. Huijuns background
is, in my opinion, similar to Daoxuans. Huijuns family was originally from the North,
but during the political disorder in the North, his family moved to the South. Huijun was
raised and educated in the South. After the Sui Empire took over the South, Huijun
moved to Jiangdu to stay in the famous Hualin Garden (Hualin yuan ),164 where
he worked on Satyasiddhi-stra (Chenshi lun ). When Emperor Yang
established the Riyan Monastery, he was invited to Riyan Monastery with other southern
masters under the edict of the emperor. 165 Thus, Huijun shared a similar historical
experience with Daoxuan, which might be the reason why Daoxuan was more loyal to
Huijun than to Zhishou, who simply belonged to the North culturally. Huijuns biography
shows that he had an encyclopedic knowledge of both Buddhism and Daoism. Daoxuan
was not alone in being influenced by Huijun. According to Huijuns biography, Zhishou
and Daoyue (568-636) from Chanding Monastery (Chandingsi) also benefited from
Heyun, Shentongsi shiji chubu diaocha jilue, Wenwu cankao ziliao 10 (1956), pp. 28-36. For Senglang, also see Tsukamoto Zenryu, Hokugi kenkoku jidai no bukky seisaku to kahoku no bukky, Th gakuho 11 (1939), pp. 49-85.
163 See the preface to Xu sapoduobu pini piposha, Zhishou, T. no. 1440, 23: 558c-559a. 164 Fujii Teruyuki, Karinen to bukky,Bukky daigaku bukky bunka kenkyjo joh 2 (1985),
pp. 15-17. 165 Xu gaoseng zhuan, Daoxuan, T. no. 2060, 50: 533c.
Huijun.166 They often came to the Riyan Monastery to discuss monastic code and rules
with Huijun.167 Daoyue was a disciple of Dhyana Master Sengcan. He also studied
Satyasiddhi-stra, Samyuktbhidharmahrdayastra (Zaxin abidamo lun), and other
treatises with Zhinian (525-608)168 and Zhitong.
Huijun had a relatively complex family background and experience. His family
belonged to a famous clan in the North, and fled to the South during the chaos; after
reunification, Huijun was invited to a monastery in the North. Although Huijun was from
Qinghe (in present Hebei) in the North, his family became refugees and fled to Jianye
(present Nanjing, Jiangsu Province) during the Yongjia period of the Jin Dynasty (307-
312). He learned Confucian classics and other skills under the guidance of his father,
Zhang Jian, who was a famous literatus in the Chen Dynasty (557-589). The Zhang
family also had a tradition of learning and practicing Buddhism. Later Huijun left home
for monastery. At the end of the Kaihuang period (581-601), Huijun moved into the
Riyan Monastery upon the invitation of the Prince of Jin (later the Emperor Yang, Yang
Guang). Huijun read through all hagiographies, made comparisons with what he learned
about the past, and helped reform the monastic rules.169 Like Daoxuans father, Huijuns
father was also a famous literatus in the Chen Dynasty. Huijuns educational background
also covers classics and literary composition. Despite the obvious influences from the
166 Xu gaoseng zhuan, Daoxuan, T. no. 2060, 50: 534a. 167 Daoyue was from a Confucian family. He studied the Book of Songs, the Book of Change, and
the Annals of Spring and Autumn in his childhood. See Xu gaoseng zhuan, Daoxuan, T. no. 2060, 50: 527a. Given that he shared similar background with Huijun, he might have discussed Confucianism with Huijun in the Riyan Monastery. His brother Mingkuang was an expert in Mahsanghika-vinaya.
168 Xu gaoseng zhuan, Daoxuan, T. no. 2060, 50: 508b-509b. 169 Xu gaoseng zhuan, Daoxuan, T. no. 2060, 50: 533c.
north, especially his familys origins, Huijun was most strongly influenced by Southern
culture. Therefore, apparently, both Huijun and Daoxuan grew up under the influence of
Southern cultural tradition, and, Daoxuan expresses strong cultural favoritism to the
Concluding Remarks: Buddhism and Society
From all that I have discussed, it seems to me that it is very unusual that Daoxuan
called the South cultural kingdom. In Chinese tradition, the cultural kingdom indicated
the area where people accepted Confucian values. However, in Daoxuans writings, the
cultural kingdom was transformed to indicate the area where people accepted Buddhist
values and carried out Buddhist practices. Hence, we can see that Daoxuan in fact
considered the cultural kingdom (wenguo) to be the kingdom of Buddhism.
Not simply a mirror like reflection, Daoxuans image of the South also involves
his selection, subjectivity, and even distortion. He selected Southern Buddhism as a
successful model because in South China there was no political persecution toward
Buddhism. Southern Buddhism survived longer than Northern Buddhism. On the
contrary, the Buddhist community in the North had suffered from political persecution
for three times. For Daoxuan, Southern Buddhism included some practices which
northern Buddhism lacked, for instance, the veneration of Buddhas relics in the
monasteries, the establishment of the ordination platform and the performance of
ordination ritual, the practice of purifying mind, and so forth. His subjectivity came from
his family background and his monastic training. Since the Southern masters transmitted
their stories in the South orally, this oral tradition might be different from the textual
sources Daoxuan read. In the specific case of the relics from the Riyan Monastery,
Daoxuan seems to rely more on the oral tradition. Daoxuans personal experience of
collecting historical sources also has limitations, which constitute the unreliability of his
image of Southern Buddhism. As a scholarly monk, he was a follower of Sengyou in the
Liang Dynasty, which had an impact on his selecting Xiao Ziliangs text on the practice
of purification. For example, his master Huijun enlightened him to study the monastic
code first. These stories never appeared as the focus in the writings of Daoxuans
contemporaries. Daoxuan believed Xiao Ziliangs teaching of purification practice were
significant, but it was never seriously practiced by his fellow monks. Hence, Daoxuans
writings aimed at creating a renewal of monastic practice only by his subjective intention.
In drawing a new image of Buddhism in the South, Daoxuan creates a utopia of
Chinese Buddhism. In seems to me that Daoxuans image of Southern Buddhism is
tightly linked to his personal history. Daoxuan uses his cultural memory to write his
history of medieval Chinese Buddhism, in which he renews many ritual traditons.170
Daoxuans picture of the South as the cultural kingdom is very different from that of his
contemporaries, including both Buddhist and non-Buddhist historians. For example, as a
Daoxuans colleague in Ximing Monastery, Daoshi never applied the label cultural
kingdom to South China; and neither did other early Tang historians who served in Tang
court or worked on private writings. Thus, I view his image rather as a cultural
imaginaire than as a mere historical memory.
In sum, I suggest that Daoxuan visualizes Southern society as a Buddhist society
by creating an idea of a Buddhist kingdom and maintaining that each individual of the
170 For the discussion on relationship between historiography and memory in medieval Europe, see
Gerd Althoff, Johannes Fried, and Patrick Geary ed. Medieval Concept of the Past: Ritual, Memory, Historiography (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2002).
Southern society has adopted this idea. And furthermore, Daoxuan seems to create a
utopia for all Buddhists in his era by canonizing his writings. As Durkheim claims,
Society is not simply constituted by the mass of the individuals who compose it, by the territory they occupy, by the things they make use of, by the movements they carry out, but primarily by the idea of itself which it makes itself.171
Following the above statement, we have seen that, in the image of South China Daoxuan
offered to us, Buddhist society in the South is not simply constituted by the mass of the
individuals (including both ruling class and common people) who compose it, by the
South they occupy, by the relics and stupas as well as monasteries they worship and
construct, by the vegetarian practice and purification rituals they carry out, but primarily
by the idea of Buddhist society itself. This idea was created by Daoxuan, and named
cultural kingdom. This cultural kingdom refers to a Buddhist kingdom where all social
classes are devoted to Buddhist beliefs, being involved in the ritual of venerating the
Buddhas relics and reconstructing monasteries; moreover, in this society the monks were
ordained on the ordination platform and were then able to defend the ideal way of
171 Emile Durkheim, The Elementary Forms of Religious Life (New York: Free Press, 1995), p.
Chapter II: Relics and Monasteries in Buddhist Monasticism
The foundation of monasteries and pagodas originated long ago. Since the present period began and all Buddhas achieved their Buddhahood, they have guided the four forms of birth and enlightened the three kinds of saint, guided the five vehicles and united them in one ultimate.172 ,, ,,
In Daoxuans biography, the Song Buddhist historian Zanning ( 919-1001)
tells a miracle story about Daoxuan and the Buddhas relics. According to this legend,
Daoxuan slipped and started to fall while walking down the stairway in Ximing
Monastery, but suddenly felt someone supporting him. Then he found a boy before him.
This boy told Daoxuan that he actually was the Prince Nazha , the son of King
Vairavana . The boy presented Daoxuan with a tooth relic of the Buddha
and said that he had come to protect Daoxuan.173 This story does not appear in any of
Daoxuans writings, but since it appears in other Song Buddhist accounts, it seems to
have been accepted by many Song Buddhist historians.174 The popularity of this story
suggests that five hundred years after Daoxuan lived, he was linked to Buddha-relics.175
172 Zhong tianzhu sheweiguo zhiyuansi tujing , Daoxuan, T. no. 1899,
45: 882c. 173 Daoxuan, Song gaoseng zhuan, Zanning, T. no. 2061, 50: 791a. 174 Shishi jigu lue(), chapter 4, see T. no. 2037, 49: 861b, 862c, 866c, 867a, 880c.
Chen Yuan, Foya gushi, Chen Yuanan xiansheng quanji 14 (Taipei: Xinwenfeng chuban gongsi, 1993), pp. 305-314.
In fact, Daoxuan wrote much about the Buddhas relics, especially in The Record of the
Miraculous Responses of Vinaya Master Daoxuan (Daoxuan lshi gantong zhuan
, or Daoxuan ganying ji ).176 Daoxuan completed this piece in 667,
shortly before his death, although he also discusses relics in other work.177 Thus, the
circulation of the Song tale disseminated information about Daoxuans clear interest in
the subject of relics. Relics were important to Daoxuan, and they were an important
component of his understanding of Buddhist monasticism. For Daoxuan, relics
represented the Buddha, and hence played an authoritative role in the ordination ritual, as
I will show in chapter three. This chapter examines how Daoxuan used relics to authorize
the construction and reconstruction of monasteries in medieval China, and shows how
relics are related to Daoxuans understanding of the degeneration of the dharma. Relics
were helpful to Daoxuan because he believed that the Buddha was himself present in his
relics, and so via his relics, he would restore a decayed monastic order.
175 In addition to this tooth relic recorded in Daoxuans biography in Song gaosengzhuan, there
were two more famous tooth relics in Song China. The first one was called the tooth relic brought by Faxian from Khotan. This tooth relic was venerated in the Upper Monastery of Dinglin (Shangdinglinsi). For Faxians biography, see Gaoseng zhuan, Faxian, T. 2059, 50: 411c; Chen Yuan, Faxian foya yingxian ji, Chen Yuan shixue lunzhu xuan (Shanghai: Shanghai renmin chubanshe, 1981), pp. 568-578. The second one was the tooth relic venerated in the Famen Monastery (Famensi ). In the late Tang period, the veneration ceremony of Buddhas tooth relic in the Famen Monastery was a fantastic event. The story became more famous because it received first the veneration of the Empress Wu Zetian and later the Emperor Xianzong . The latter was more famous due to the protestation of Han Yu (768-828), a renowned literati-official.
176 This text tells the story about the encounter between Daoxuan and several figures in the form of
a dream. Dream is an important theme in Chinese Buddhism. A detailed account can be found in the Pearl Forest of the Dharma Grove (Fayuan zhulin ), the collection completed by Daoshi, a colleague of Daoxuan in the Ximing Monastery. According to Daoshi, there are four kinds of dreams. See Fayuan zhulin, Daoshi, T. no. 2122, 53: 533b-c. Kajihama Ryoshun, Bibasharon ni okeru yume no kenky,Indogaku bukkygaku kenky 79 (1991), pp. 21-27.
177 Tanaka Keishin, Dsen no shinikan Ninju zt yori, Indogaku bukkygaku kenky 41(21-1)
(1972), pp. 142-143; Yamazaki Hiroshi, T no Dsen no kanto ni tsuite, Tsukamoto hakushi shju kinenkai ed., Tsukamoto hakushi shju kinen: Bukkyshigaku ronj (1961), pp. 895-906.
Buddhas relics (Skt. rira, Ch. sheli ) were any physically solid remains of
the Buddha after his body was cremated, for instance, bones, teeth, flesh, and so on.178
They were usually fragmented and sometimes pearl-like, translucent, and multi-colored.
Historically, in many Buddhist traditions across Asia, relics were collected and stored and
usually enshrined in pagodas (stpas).179 For instance, a very great old pagoda at Saci,
India, contains relics of the Buddha. Later in East Asia, relics also could be stored within
a reliquary in the Buddha Hall of a monastery.
In the history of Chinese Buddhism, the Buddhas relics were always associated
with pagodas and monasteries. Roderick Whitfield offers a summary of this issue. He
The pagoda in China, though differing so much in external appearance from the Indian stpa, inherited the stpas function as the center of worship in Buddhist monasteries and the place where the relics of the Buddha were stored. In early Chinese Buddhist architecture, the pagoda occupied a central position in the monastery, as it did in Korea and Japan. Many of the finest pagodas built in major
178 As the founder legitimized by his followers, the Buddha has remained the charismatic authority
through his words and relics in the Buddhist community since he achieved nirvana. Bernard Faure says that relics are associated with a saint and create an immortal ritual body. He explores the narrow and broad senses of relics. The narrow sense indicates that the power is embodied in the Buddha or in the Buddhist saint in terms of the presence of his fragmented body. In a broad sense, relics can indicate anything that is associated with a saint--ashes, bones, flesh-body, bowl, robe, text and places. See his Substitute Bodies in Chan/Zen Buddhism, in: Jane Marie Law ed., Religious Reflections on the Human Body (Bloomington and Indianapolis: Indiana University Press, 1995), pp. 213-214. See also Brian D. Ruppert, Jewel in the Ashes: Buddha Relics and Power in Early Medieval Japan (Harvard University Asia Center, 2000), pp. 2-3, 7; Bernard Faure, Relics and Flesh Bodies: The Creation of Chan Pilgrimage Sites, in Susan Naquin and Chn-fang Y eds., Pilgrims and Sacred Sites in China (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1992), p. 166; Bernard Faure, The Red Thread: Buddhist Approaches to Sexuality (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1998) pp. 19-20; Kevin Trainor, Relics, Ritual and Representation in Buddhism: Rematerializing the Sri Lankan Theravada Tradition (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1997); Gregory Schopen, Relic, in Critical Terms for Religious Studies (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1998), pp. 259-260; Robert Sharf, On the Allure of Buddhist Relics, Representations 66 (1999), pp. 75-99; John Kieschnick, The Buddhist Impact on Chinese Material Culture (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2003), pp. 48-52. John Strong, Relics of the Buddha (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2004).
179 In Chinese Buddhism, usually monks indicate that only the architecture housing relics is
viewed as caitya. See Yiqiejing yinyi, Huiling (742-801), T. no. 2128, 54: 455b. Ratna Handurukande, Three Sanskrit Texts on Caitya Worship: In Relation to the Ahoratravrata (Tokyo: International Institute for Buddhist Studies, 2000).
Chinese cities, such as Changan and Luoyang, in the period of Buddhisms greatest prosperity in China, from the Northern Wei to the Tang Dynasty, have not survived, since they were built of wood. However, many others built of brick or stone, or with a brick or stone core and exterior parts only of wood, still stand in every part of China, even where all trace of their respective monasteries have long since disappeared...The pagoda has served as a reliquary and symbol of the nirvana of the Buddha ever since the earliest Buddhist times.
In China, reliquary deposits were probably made as early as the period of the Three Kingdoms, following the Han Dynasty in 220. The earliest to have been found date from the Northern Wei, under whose rule Buddhism enjoyed the status of a state religion. In the Chinese pagoda, relics might be enshrined in various parts of the structure, but usually in a chamber centrally sited in the foundation. From 1957 to the present, some thirty instances of such deposits have been investigated and published. 180
We know from Whitfields summary that, as in India, the pagoda in China functioned as
the center of worship, while its external appearance differed from that in India.181 It is
clear that the pagoda or stupa occupied a central position in early Chinese monasteries,
from the earliest period to the Tang period. From an architectural perspective, Whitfield
tells us that the function and the religious meaning of the pagoda were as the depository
of the Buddhas relics. In addition to these questions, we also need to consider several
large-scale, state-run movements of relic deposit in medieval China, as well as the
religious procedure and the religious implication of the ritual of deposit itself.
The deposit of relics in medieval China has been viewed as a political and
religious movement. Many scholars have made progress by approaching this issue via the
180 Roderick Whitfield, Buddhist Monuments in China: Some Recent Finds of arra Deposits,
in The Buddhist Heritage: Papers delivered at the Symposium of the same name convened at the School of Oriental and African Studies University of London, November 1985, edited by Tadeusz Skorupski (Tring: The Institute of Buddhist Studies, 1989), pp. 129-131.
181 For a discussion of the stupa in Indian and Tibetan Buddhism, see Giuseppe Tucci, Stupa: Art,
Architectonics and Symbolism: Indo-Tibetica I, edited by Lokesh Chandra (New Delhi: Aditya Prakashan, 1988, reprinted).
relationship between the imperial state and Buddhism, and more specifically, by focusing
on how the Chinese imperial state used veneration of the Buddhas relics to fulfill its
ideological needs. For instance, the distribution of the relics and the reconstruction of the
monasteries have been viewed as efforts of the imperial court of the Sui regime.182 Other
scholars have worked on relics and their deposit in China in later periods.183 These
approaches stress the political function rather than the religious meaning of this ceremony
in the Buddhist monastic community.
In closely reading Daoxauns writings, especially miracle stories about relics and
relevant rituals, along with religious practice,184 this chapter aims to contextualize relics
in the history of medieval Chinese Buddhism by focusing on the visionary experience
182 Arthur F. Wright, The Sui Dynasty: The Unification of China, A.D. 581-617 (New York:
Alfred A. Knopf, 1978); Kegasawa Yasunori, Zui niju gennen (601) no gakko shakukan to shari kyy, Shundai shigaku 111 (Tokyo: Meiji Daigaku daigakuin, 2001), pp. 17-36; Jinhua Chen, Monks and Monarchs, Kinship and Kingship: Tanqian in Sui Buddhism and Politics (Kyoto: Italian School of East Asian Studies, 2002), pp. 51-107.
183 John Kieschnick traces the introduction of Indian relics to China; see Kieschnick, The Buddhist
Impact on Chinese Material Culture (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2003), pp. 31-33; Huang Chi-chiang highlights the importance of the Buddhas bodily relics and the imperial veneration of these relics by dealing with the relic-veneration ritual performed in the palaces of the imperial dynasties from the Wei Jin period through the Tang Dynasty; see Huang Chi-chiang, Consecrating the Buddha: Legend, Lore, and History of the Imperial Relic-Veneration Ritual in the Tang Dynasty, Chung-hwa Journal of Buddhist Studies 11 (1998), pp. 483-533; Shen Hsueh-man focuses on relic deposits in the Tang, Song and Liao Dynasties from the discipline of art history; see Hsueh-Man Shen, Buddhist Relic Deposits from Tang (618-907) to Northern Song (960-1127) and Liao (907-1125) (D. Phil. Thesis, University of Oxford, 1999); and her article, Realizing the Buddhas Dharma Body during the Mofa Period: A Study of Liao Buddhist Relic Deposits, Artibus Asiae 61: 2 (2001), pp. 263-303.
184 The Buddhas relics appear in many of Daoxuans writings, both in his historical works and
miracle collections. These important works include the Record of the Miraculous Responses of Three Treasures in China, and the Record of the Miraculous Responses of Vinaya Master Daoxuan and the Continued Biographies of the Eminent Monks. Historians have been extremely cautious to bring fictions and stories to the discussion of the history. For them, only Daoxuans historical works are reliable sources to explore the history of relics. Attempts to use miracle tales for historical purpose include Glen Dudbridges effort dealing with religious experience by analyzing a story. Dudbridge develops a model of the inner and outer stories to analyze those miracles. Glen Dudbridge, Religious Experience and Lay Society in T'ang China: A Reading of Tai Fu's 'Kuang-i chi' (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1996); Robert F. Campany, Strange Writing: Anomaly Accounts in Early Medieval China (Albany: State University of New York, 1996).
Daoxuan gained through his strictly disciplined practice and comprehension of miracles
among participants in relic-veneration rituals. These miracle stories in Daoxuans
collections will also help us understand the cultural context within which these stories
were produced and maintained. In medieval China, the ritual of enshrining relics always
accompanied the construction of Buddhist monasteries. They relics they housed were
symbols of the Buddhas presence and became the source of religious authority for the
monastic community. While not denying the political meanings of relics, this approach
emphasizes the religious experience of the participants of the enshrinement ritual. In
particular, it addresses the following issues: how the participants commemorated the
Buddha by viewing his relics; how the participants of the ritual prayed, and what they
prayed for; and what religious practices the participants performed during the ritual.
An Overview of Relics in Asian History
In Daoxuans account, the Buddhas relics had been venerated everywhere in Asia
including India, Central Asia, China, and Korea.185 In akyas Gazetteer (Shijia fangzhi
), relying on Xuanzangs Records of the Western Regions in the Great Tang
Dynasty (Da Tang xiyu ji ), Daoxuan said that in ancient India, King Aoka
ordered the distribution of the relics and erection of the stupas to house these relics across
his empire. Sources show that Daoxuan was well aware that these relics were sent to
China and other places besides India. This phenomenon, which was important for
Daoxuans understanding of relics, bears further investigation. As is well known, in India,
the Buddhas body was cremated, and then the relics were distributed to eight kingdoms.
185 David Germano and Kevin Trainor eds., Embodying the Dharma: Buddhist Relic Veneration in
Asia (Albany: State University of New York Press, 2004); John Strong, Relics of the Buddha (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2004).
Later King Aoka redistributed the relics everywhere in India under his regime, and the
rituals of enshrinement were held across his empire.186 We also know that along with the
distribution and enshrinement of relics, stupas were erected everywhere in India and in
Many scholars have traced the history of Buddhas funeral ceremony, from the
cremation to the distribution of his relics from both textual and archaeological
evidence.187 Although it is said that King Aoka distributed the relics everywhere,
including Central Asia and China, and constructed the stupas in these areas, no historical
186 John Strong, Relics of the Buddha (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2004), pp. 98-123;
T.W. Rhys Davids, Aoka and the Buddha-Relics, Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society (1901), pp. 397-410; Ernst Waldschmidt, Das Mahparinirvnastra (Berlin: 1950); K. M. Srivastava, Buddhas Relics from Kapilavastu (Delhi: Agam Kala Prakashan, 1986); Andr Bareau, Recherches sur la biographie du Buddha dans les Strapitaka et les Vinayapitaka anciens. Vol. II. Les derniers mois, le parinirvna et les funrailles (Paris: cole Franaise dExtrme Orient, 1970); David L. Snellgrove, Sakyamunis Final nirvana, Bulletin of the School of Orient and African Studies 36: 2 (1973), pp. 399-411; Richard F. Gombrich, Theravada Buddhism: A Social History from Ancient Benares to Modern Colombo (London and New York: Routledge, 1988), pp. 123-124; Yael Bentor, On the Indian Origins of the Tibetan Practice of Depositing Relics and Dhras in Stpas and Images, Journal of American Oriental Society 115: 1 (1995), pp. 1-27; Christina Anna Scherrer-Shaub, Some Dhra Written on Paper Functioning as Dharmakya Relics: A Tentative Approach to PT 350." In: Tibetan Studies: Proceedings of the 6th Seminar of the International Association for Tibetan Studies, Fagernes, 1992 (Oslo: The Institute for Comparative Research in Human Culture, 1994), pp. 711-727.
187 Based on the Legend of Aoka (Skt. Aokvadna), John S. Strong describes the process of the
distribution of the Buddhas relics: after collecting the relics, Aoka has eighty-four thousand urns prepared, places the relics in them, and with the help of the yaksas, he sends off one share of the relics to every city of one hundred -thousand people throughout the earth as far as the surrounding ocean, and the dedication of the eighty-four thousand stupas must take place simultaneously since it is collectively that they represent the Buddha. see John S. Strong, The Legend of King Aoka: A Study and Translation of the Aokvadna (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1983), pp. 109-119, esp. 115. Xinru Liu writes about the significance of the ritual of worshipping relics as follows; see Xinru Liu, The Silk Road. Overland Trade and Cultural Interactions in Eurasia (Washington D.C., American Historical Association, 1998), pp. Hirakawa Akira connects the worship of relics and the erection of stupas in India to the rise of Mahyna Buddhism; see his A History of Indian Buddhism: From kyamuni to Early Mahyna, translated by Paul Groner (Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 1990), pp. 273-274. Hirakawa attempts to establish a connection between the emergence of Mahyna Buddhist order and the erection of stupas. He does not particularly emphasize the role of relics in this connection. We cannot tell if the distribution of relics resulted in the erection of stupas, and therefore resulted in the emergence of the Mahyna Buddhist order. Richard Gombrich has proven Hirakawa false; see his Organized Bodhisattvas: A Blind Alley in Buddhist Historiography, in: Sryacandrya: Essays in Honour of Akira Yuyama, eds. Paul Harrison and Gregory Schopen (Swisttal-Odendorf: Indica et Tibetica, 1998), pp. 4356. Reprinted in Studies in Hindu and Buddhist Art, ed. P. K. Mishra (New Delhi, Abhinav Publications, 1999).
evidence indicates the existence of these stupas in Central Asia and China. In examining
the stupas and monasteries in Central Asia, it seems not to be the case that the
construction of monasteries happened along with the construction of stupas in these areas.
In citing some Chinese pilgrims travel accounts, Daoxaun also informs us of some cases
involving relics in Central Asia, especially Khotan.188 Khotan was famous for its tooth
relic, which later was housed in Famen Monastery in China. However, no clue indicates
that it was from King Aokas distribution movement. In the kingdom of Kapii, there
were numerous relics venerated in three monasteries. 189 In his Extended Collection
Propagating and Illuminating Buddhism (Guang hongming ji ), Daoxuan says
that Koreans asked the Sui Emperor Wendi for relics,190 so the relics were brought to
Korea and then Japan in the sixth century.191 In early sixth century, there were many
relics in Japan.192
188 Khotan was a famous Buddhist kingdom from fourth to tenth century in both Chinese and
Khotanese sources. For Buddhism in Central Asia, see the following references: Ronald Emmerick, "Buddhism in Central Asia," Encyclopedia of Religion (ed. Mirceau Eliade), (New York: Macmillan, 1987), 2: 400-404; John McRae and Jan Nattier eds. Collection of Essays 1993: Buddhism across Boundaries - Chinese Buddhism and the Western Regions (Sanchung, Taipei: Fo Guang Shan Foundation, 1999). Marylin Martin Rhie, Early Buddhist Art of China and Central Asia, vol. 1: Later Han, Three Kingdoms and Western Chin in China and Bactria to Shan-shan in Central Asia (Leiden: E. J. Brill, 1999).
189 First, in a Chinese monastery that was established by an ambassador from the Han court there
was a huge stupa where a Buddhas bone and hair relics were venerated. These relics were contained in a gold box decorated with seven jewels. In the Northwest outside of the capital, there was a royal monastery where a small relic was venerated. In the Southwest outside of the capital there was a monastery erected by a kings concubine. The bone relic was venerated in a stupa within the monastic compound. See Pearl Forest of the Dharma Garden (Fayuan zhulin), Daoshi, T. no. 2122, 53: 589b. Daoxuan cites the Gazetteer of the Western Regions (Xiyu zhi).
190 Qing sheli ganying biao, in Guang hongming ji, Daoxuan, T. no. 2103, 52: 217a. 191 Eunsu Cho, Manifestation of the Buddha's Land in the Here and Now: Relic Installation and
Territorial Transformation in Medieval Korea, paper presented at the conference on Formation and Transformation of Buddhist Sacred Site, September 2004, at the University of British Columbia, Canada.
192 Bernard Faure offers an excellent summary of the history of relics in medieval Japan. In 588,
under the reign of the Emperor Sujun, two priests from the Korean kingdom of Paekche offered relics to the court. In 593, relics of the Buddha were placed in the foundation stone of the pillar of the pagoda of Hkji. In mid-seventh century, a Chinese master Jianzhen (Jpn. Ganjin, 688-763), founder of Tshdaiji in Nara,
In China, the distribution and veneration of the relics went rather differently.
Along with the enshrinement of the relics and the construction of the stupas, monasteries
were also constructed, reconstructed, and renovated, and more and more people joined
the monastic order.193 A stupa apparently was the most important part of the monastic
compound in the early period. Early non-Buddhist sources do not distinguish between
stupas and monasteries. The Chronicle of Buddhism and Daoism (Shilaozhi ) of
the History of Wei Dynasty (Weishu ) states:
After Buddhas death, his body was burned by fragrant wood, and his bones were split into small parts. These bones cannot be damaged and burnt. Then the luminous light manifested perfectly. These bones were called relics. Buddhas disciples collected them and made offerings of flowers and incense to the relics, and paid veneration. They built the monastery and called it stupa, (because) it is like a monastery [zongmiao]. Thus at that time, it was called stupa-monastery (tamiao). One hundred years later, King Aoka used the mysterious power to split the Buddhas relics, and forced the ghosts and deities to build eight-four thousand stupas and distribute them throughout the world in one day. Those relics were held in these stupas. Nowadays there are Aoka monasteries in Luoyang, Pengcheng, Guzang, and Linzi. They were inherited remains of ancient Aoka monasteries.194
brought to Japan thirty arra grains. See Visions of Power: Imagining Medieval Japanese Buddhism (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1996), p. 163. Faure also denotes the relationship between nuns and relics in Japan. Based on a story in Hokkeji shari engi recorded by Eizon, a nun named Jitsua in Hokkeji used to have auspicious dreams in which the empress Kmy told her about the miraculous efficacy of the Buddhas relics. Faure suggests that this case reflects the ambivalent nature of Hokkeji nuns as channels of sacred power. See his The Power of Denial: Buddhism, Purity, and Gender (Princeton, Princeton University Press, 2003), pp. 31-32. For a detailed study on relics in medieval Japanese Buddhism, see Brian D. Ruppert, Jewel in the Ashes: Buddha Relics and Power in Early Medieval Japan (Harvard University Asia Center, 2000).
193 This historical fact runs counter to the situation in India. Akira Hirakawas theory views relics
and stupas as the center of lay Buddhism. He even states that Vinayas, the legal codes for the orders, indicate that the stupas were independent of the monastic order. See A History of Indian Buddhism: From kyamuni to Early Mahyna, p. 272. I cannot agree with him at this point. Many other scholars have criticized this point; see David L. Snellgrove, kyamunis Final Nirvna, Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies 36 (1973), pp. 399-411; Gregory Schopens many articles in Bones, Stones, and Buddhist Monks. Collected Paper on the Archaeology, Epigraphy, and Texts of Monastic Buddhism in India (Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 1997); Robert Sharf, On the Allure of Buddhist Relics, Representations 66 (1999), 75-99.
194 I cite the passage from Daoxuans collection, rather than the original History of Wei; see
Guang hongming ji, Daoxuan, T. no. 2103, 52: 101b. For an English translation of the passage in Wei shu, see Leon Hurvitz, Wei Shou: Treatise on Buddhism and Taoism, an English Translation of the Original
In Indian sources, it is clear that what the King built were stupas which housed relics.
Daoxuans citation, however, indicates that in the early period of Buddhism in China,
authors did not make an explicit distinction between two forms of Buddhist architecture:
stpas and monasteries.
In China, new monasteries were constructed around these stupas. According to
the Chinese version of The Biography of Aoka (Ch. Ayuwang zhuan ), it is
said that, after Buddha achieved nirvana, King Aoka took the Buddhas relics and drove
the deities and ghosts to divide them. Then he erected eighty-four thousand stupas all
over the world, including Central Asia and East Asia, to house them. In China, these
stupas were typically called monasteries of King Aoka (Ayuwang si ). In
Chinese sources, it is said that nineteen monasteries of King Aoka were built in
Interestingly, the biography of Liu Sahe recorded in Biographies of the Eminent
Monks (Gaoseng zhuan) is the first instance of a Chinese monk finding Buddhas relics
on Chinese soil. This is also the first time that a large-scale discovery of relics was made.
He found these relics in Changgan Monastery in Jiankang the capital of Eastern Jin
Chinese Text of Wei-shu CXIV and the Japanese Annotation of Tsukamoto Zenry (Kyoto: Jimbunkagaku kenkyjo, Kyoto University, 1956).
195 Fayuan zhulin, ch. 38, gives the names of these nineteen stupas and their locations. Erik
Zrcher lists the nine cases about the Aoka monasteries in China; see The Buddhist Conquest of China: The Spread and Adaptation of Buddhism in Early Medieval China (Leiden: E. J. Brill, 1959), pp. 277-280.
Dynasty in late fourth century. The large-scale discovery of relics made the distribution
of relics possible.
Authentication and Authority: Relics in China
From Daoxuans numerous accounts, we gain a sense of the breadth of relic-belief
in China. As we have seen previously, Daoxuans biography reveals that Daoxuan
received a tooth relic from a divine prince for his extreme asceticism. In fact, this model
of encountering divine power was very popular in Daoxuans numerous accounts. It
seems that this model was well accepted in the medieval period. For instance, Indian and
Central Asian monks brought them to China, as when in the Sui Dynasty, before the
Emperor Wen had come into power, he received a bag of relics from a Brahman monk.196
Chinese pilgrims like Faxian and Xuanzang brought them from India or Central Asia to
China. We also know how the authenticity of these relics was attested and sanctioned by
monks and how the monks and local followers venerated them. Hinged on the ceremony
of veneration, many religious practices were carried out. All of these should receive a
special attention, because Daoxuan seems to have two particular monographs dedicated
to these subjects regarding the Buddha-relic.
Daoxuan notes that the discovery of relics seemed to originate in South China. In
the historical account of Chinese Buddhism, the first of the Buddhas relics to appear in
196 Arthur F. Wright, The Sui Dynasty: The Unification of China, A.D. 581-617 (New York:
Alfred A. Knopf, 1978). Based on edict issued by the Sui Emperor Wendi, John Kieschnick writes, The edict makes no mention of the provenance of the relics. Presumably they were thought to be relics of the Buddha, but the edict does not explain just how the emperor came to possess them. Another source states that the relics appeared spontaneously to the emperor and in the quarters of the palace women. If any questioned the authenticity of the relics, they left behind no record of it. It is not surprising. Monks certainly had much to gain from the campaign, giving all but the most fastidious little reason to question points of detail, and for any official to challenge the authenticity of the relics at the heart of a campaign redolent with the symbolism of political unification would have bordered on sedition, Kieschnick, The Buddhist Impact on Chinese Material Culture (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2003), p. 41.
the Wu Kingdom in the third century was not from King Aoka. One of the most
important stories concerns how relics are associated with the construction of a monastery
in the Wu Kingdom. Daoxuans Record of the Miracle Responses of the Vinaya Master
Daoxuan tells a story about how a Sogdian monk Kang Senghui (3rd century) received
relics in Jiankang, the capital of the Wu Kingdom.197 In the fourth year of Chiwu period
(248), Kang Senghui came to the Jiankang to propagate Buddhism. He built a small
house for private practice and carried a Buddhist image with him. The king of Wu, Sun
Quan, asked him about the miraculous power of Buddha. Kang said that the Buddhas
relic appears everywhere, even after the Buddha had been gone for more than one
thousand years. Sun Quan promised that he would build a pagoda to hold relics if they
appeared in his kingdom. Twenty-one days later, Kang Senghui claimed that he found a
relic. The relic had five colors, illuminating the sky. Sword could not split it, nor could
fire damage it. The king constructed a pagoda to cover it, ordained monks, and erected a
monastery as well.198
From this story, it is clear that the relic Kang received did not come from India.
Instead, it was a local manifestation. Following mythology of the time, this relic could
not be destroyed and it radiated five colors. We also know that after its discovery, a
pagoda was set up, and a new monastery was established. There are many records about
earlier relics and monasteries in China, but they do not specify where those relics came
197 This discovery was recorded in the biography of Kang in Gaoseng zhuan; see T. no. 2059, 50:
325b. 198 Guang hongming ji, Daoxuan, T. no. 2103, 52: 99. This story also appears in Shang Qinwang
lunqi (the document to the Prince of Qin), Falin, in Guang hongming ji, Daoxuan, T. no.2103, 52: 166; and T. no. 2103, 52: 170, Shi Mingqu (a monk from Zhenxiang Monastery in Mianzhou), Juedui Fu Yi fei fofaseng shi bing biao (Decisive Response to Fu Yi about Abolishing Buddha, Dharma and Sangha, and edict).
from or if the monasteries were erected because of relics. However, this story for the first
time in the history of Chinese Buddhism reveals a causal relationship between the
discovery of a relic and the construction of a monastery. More importantly, it appears in
a work written by Daoxuan. Hence, we can draw some conclusions here. First, it is
noteworthy that this relic miraculously appeared in South China, rather than in Luoyang
or other parts of North China, which usually were believed to be the center of Buddhism
at that time. Following the discovery of this relic, the first monastery was established
under the sponsorship of the Wu court in order to house the relic. Second, it is also
important to note that this relic was obtained by a Central Asian monk, rather than a
In theory, relics were for both monks and lay people. But based on sources
recorded by Daoxuan, in the early period of Chinese Buddhism, only monks found relics
and reported their discovery. At first, only enlightened monks could report the discovery
of relics, but later, ordinary monks could find relics also. This means that only monks
could access and obtain the relics, and points to a system of superiority instituted by
monks over the lay people.
Not only Central Asian monks were able to receive the relics; Chinese monks also
could receive relics. In the ninth century, the Japanese pilgrim Ennin (794-864) recorded
a story about the discovery of relics in North China. He writes:
At the entrance to the mountain was a small monastery called the Shimensi (Stone Gate Monastery), in which there was a monk who for many years had been reciting the Lotus Stra. Recently some Buddhist relics were revealed to him, and everybody in the whole city came to make offerings. The monastery was overwhelmed with monks and laymen. I dont know how many there were. The origin of the discovery of the relics [was as follows]: The scripture-reciting monk was sitting in his room at night, reciting the scriptures, when three beams of light shone in and illumined the whole room and lit up the whole monastery. Seeking
the source of the light, [he discovered that] it came from the foot of the cliff west of the monastery. Each night it lit up the room and the monastery. After several days the monk followed the light to the cliff and dug down into the ground ten feet and came upon three jars of relics of the Buddha. In a blue lapis lazuli jar were seven grains of relics, in a white lapis lazuli jar were five grains of relics, and in a golden jar three grains of relics. He brought them back and placed them in the Buddha Hall and made offerings to them. The noble and the lowly, and the men and women of Taiyuan city and the various villages, and the officials both high and low, all came and paid reverence and made offerings. Everyone said, This has been revealed because of the wondrous strength of the Priest in his devotion to the Lotus Stra. The people coming from the city to the mountain filled the roads and in great crowds worshipped and marveled.199
This is a typical legend about the origin of relics in North China. In this story, we
can see that reciting sutras will bring supernatural power, and this power will bring the
relics to the Buddhist monastic community. The ability of monks to discover the relics
was supposed to have been the result of their meditation and ascetic practice.200 And
Daoxuans biography in Song Biographies of the Eminent Monks clearly shows that
Daoxuans ascetic practice brought him into a miraculous scene in which he was
presented with a Buddhas tooth by a deity.
Lay bodhisattvas also could receive the relics. In Daoxuans Extended Collection
Propagating and Illuminating Buddhism, an essay written by Wang Shao ( 6th-7th
centuries) titled The Record of the Miraculous Response of the Stpas for Relics
(Shelita ganying ji ) indicates that even a Chinese emperor and his wife
could receive relics because of their sincerity and veneration. This story concerns the Sui
199 Edwin O.Reischauer, trans., Ennin's Diary: The Record of a Pilgrimage to China in Search of
the Law (New York: The Ronald Press Company, 1955). pp. 271-272; transcription modified to Pinyin system.
200 Paul Harrison has noted that Buddhism is a shamanic type of religion, and monastic members
play roles as masters of techniques of ecstasy. These monastic members therefore can generate power from their ascetic practices. See Searching for the Origins of the Mahyna: What are We Looking For? The Eastern Buddhist 28: 1 (1995), p. 64.
Emperor Wen (r. 589-604) and his family. It says that within ten months after distributing
the relics to thirty prefectures, he often discovered small relics under his teeth while
eating, as did his wife. The emperor placed the relics in water in a silver bowl to show to
his officials. Not only did the emperor and his wife discover the relics while eating, his
concubines and sons did too. When the emperor bestowed seafood on his two concubines
and his two sons (the Prince of Jin, Yang Zhao and the Prince of Yuzhang, Yang Jian),
relics were found in their seafood. Not more than twenty days later, there were nineteen
relics found at court. After that, discoveries of relics from local places were also reported
to the court. The emperor suspected that some relics might not be real. Several monks
came to examine them and found thirteen pieces of millet.201
This story clearly tells us that the emperor gained merit by distributing relics, and
that the act of erecting stupas and monasteries could also bring up relics. These miracles
were responses to the emperors deeds and merits. Both the emperor and his family
members were lay followers, and they received bodhisattva precepts. In other words, lay
people could discover relics through their veneration and prayers.202 On the other hand,
the authenticity of the relics was an important issue. The story states that monks were
required to verify the authenticity of the relics, because only monastic cleric members
had the authority to declare a relic authentic. This story illustrates the belief that relics
manifested themselves in response to prayer, meditation, recitation of sutras, and so on.203
201 Wang Shao, Sheli ganying ji, in Guang hongming ji, Daoxuan, T. no. 2103, 52: 216c. 202 For a discussion of relics and prayer in medieval Europe, see Thomas E. A. Dale, Relics,
Prayer, and Politics in Medieval Venetia: Romanesque Painting in the Crypt of Aquileia Cathedral (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1997).
203 It is worth noting that relics could also be brought up by meditation in Japan. Bernard Faure
suggests that relics are the effect and the proof of supernatural powers, and fluctuations in the cult of relics
The Practice of Venerating Relics
As a ritual, the ceremony of venerating relics brought both Buddhist monks and
lay people together to commemorate the Buddha. The ceremony of venerating relics in
medieval China was an important commemoration ritual for local people to reenact the
funeral of the historical Buddha in ancient India. In Daoxuans collection, Wang Shaos
A Record of the Miraculous Response of the Stpas for Relics (Sheli ganying ji)
offers us a telling of the ceremony for receiving relics.204 After the Sui Empeor Wen
came to power, he and his wife built a multiple-level stupa in Fajie Nunnery (Fajie nisi)
in order to deposit relics under the stupa. On the twentieth-third day of the sixth month, in
the first year of the Renshou period (601), in memory of his birthday and being grateful
to his parents, the emperor visited the Renshou Hall and invited the Monks of Great
Virtue (dade) to hold lectures. He planned to choose thirty pure locations to construct the
stupas for housing relics. The emperor placed the seven-jeweled container of relics on his
table, and he and the monks burned incense and worshiped the relics. They also made a
vow as follows: We, disciples (of Buddha) will protect and embrace three jewels by the
True Dharma (zhengfa ) and wish that the Three Jewels (sanbao) will offer salvation
to all sentient beings. Then these relics were put into gold vases and sealed in bronze
reflect changes in the attitudes of Buddhists toward these powers. As one example, he traces a tradition reported by Keizan in his Denkroku, when the tenth patriarch, Prva, saw thirty-seven arra grains appear in front of him in response to his meditative practice. About this story, see T. no. 2585, 82: 356c. See also Bernard Faure, Visions of Power: Imagining Medieval Japanese Buddhism (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1996), p. 162.
204 Wang Shaos collection was criticized by Wei Zheng in the Tang Dynasty; see Sui shu (Beijing:
Zhonghua shuju, 1975), 69, p. 1613; translations see Arthur F. Wright, The Sui Dynasty: The Unification of China, A.D. 581-617 (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1978), p. 19. For a detailed textual analysis of Wangs work, see Koichi Shinohara, Two Sources of Chinese Buddhist Biographies: Stupa Inscriptions and Miracle Stories, in Phyllis Granoff and Koichi Shinohara, eds., Monks and Magicians: Religious Biographies in Asia (Oakville: Mosaic Press, 1988), pp. 212-214.
and stone containers. On the fifteenth day of the tenth month, they were sent to thirty
prefectures for building stupas.205
The ceremony was very important. Chen Jinhua notes that the resulting Buddhist
practice is called the Seven-Day Observance (qiri xingdao ). During the
ceremony, Before formally engaging people in this observance, the leading monk read
the Repentance-Text (chanwen ) aloud, making clear to them the benefits of
confessing and repenting the crimes they had committed in their innumerable previous
lives. The strong religious atmosphere drew people into a ceremony in which they
worshiped the Buddha, repented their sins, and finally received the Bodhisattva
precepts.206 As Chen has suggested, this observance included many forms of Buddhist
practice: meditation (samdhi ), confession (falu ), repentance (chanhui ),
paying homage to the Buddha (lifo ), and conferment of the Bodhisattva precepts.
He states that this observance was based on the Scripture of Golden Light (Skt.
Suvarnaprabhsa-stra, Ch. Jin guangming jing ) translated by Dharmakena
(Tan Wuchan ) in the Northern Liang Dynasty. 207 Ennins account of the
ceremony dedicated to relics in Famensi makes no mention of the Seven-Day
205 Wang Shao, Sheli ganying ji, in Guang hongming ji, Daoxuan, T. no. 2103, 52: 216c. 206 Chen Jinhua, Monks and Monarchs, Kinship and Kingship: Tanqian in Sui Buddhism and
Politics (Kyoto: Italian School of East Asian Studies, 2002), p. 69. 207 Ibid. p. 68-75. I can not find any Sui confession text whose title includes this scripture in
Daoxuans comprehensive collection Guang hongming ji, but there is a confession text attributed to the Chen Emperor Wen. See Guang hongming ji, Daoxuan, T. no. 2103, 52: 333b-c.
208 Edwin O. Reischauer, trans. Ennin's Diary: The Record of a Pilgrimage to China (New York:
Ronald Press, 1955); and Ennins Travels in Tang China (New York: Ronald Press, 1955).
The ceremony of venerating relics involved both monks and lay people, both
officials and common people. Among them, the monks, as the virtuosi, played a leading
role. The monks held the relics, while the local people had to clean their houses, and the
lay people and the officials came out of the cities to wait for the arrival of the relics. All
four assemblies observed proper ritual deportment. The objects used to make offerings
included jewel-banners, flags, well-decorated altars, Buddhist carriages, incense, bowls
for incense, and all sorts of music. These offerings were similar to those used in the
ancient ceremony when the Buddhas relic was entering the city of Kuinagara. The
monk who held the relics spoke to the four assemblies as follows: The Ultimate
Honored One with his great boundless and endless compassion as a Bodhisattva shows
his pity for all sentient beings deeply from his bone. Thus his relics should be distributed
all over the world as the cause of making good merit.209 Wang also states that the monk
says that the Buddha enlightened the four assemblies.
Several other details are important to note.210 The prayers and repentance texts
were read by monks on the behalf of the emperor. In the texts, the emperor prayed for
benefits for both himself and his people. For instance, a prayer says:
I, Emperor, such-and-such, a disciple of the Buddha who has received the Bodhisattva precepts, respectfully inform all the Buddhas of the ten directions in the three periods, all the Dharmas, and all the worthy, saintly Sangha. Your disciple receives the merit and help from the Three Jewels on behalf of [sentient beings and king and father], contemplates giving it to all commoners, so that everyone can achieve enlightenment. Now I wish to distribute relics and build stpas in every prefecture, which I hope will cause everyone to cultivate good deeds and together achieve the wondrous fruits. I confess and walk on the path on behalf of myself, my empress, the crown prince, all princes, the imperial children, the inner and outer court officials, all bright and dark beings in all dharma realms
209 Wang Shao, Sheli ganying ji, in Guang hongming ji, Daoxuan, T. no. 2103, 52: 213c.
210 Chens account of venerating relics does not cover every aspect of the ritual.
(fajie), on three paths (santu) and eight disasters (banan).211 I admirably inquire of all everlasting Buddhas from ten directions, the twelve classes of stras, the profound dharma treasure, all venerable Bodhisattvas, all wise saints, I wish that all of you will receive my inquiry with your compassion and descend to the Bodhi Ground (daochang, monastery), to authenticate my confession on behalf of all sentient beings. 212
Following this confession, the monk worshiped the relics three times. From this
repentance text, we know that the monk made this confession on the behalf of lay
bodhisattvas. The lay bodhisattvas called for the merits of confession to benefit all
sentient beings. The goal of confession was to escape the cycle of rebirth and to achieve
enlightenment. In all of this, the emperor who received the bodhisattva actually claims
to represent all the people living in his country. The prayer says:
The disciple of Buddha with Bodhisattva Precepts, the emperor, universally reveals ten evil deeds done since the beginning for all sentient beings. He does not only practice himself, but he also instructs the others. He rejoices in the welfare of others while benefiting the others. This sin causes the falling into the paths of hell, animals, and the hungry ghosts. He reveals and confesses his sins before the three jewels, and he wishes that under the wisdom sun of the Buddha, all these sins will be eliminated. From now until he becomes a Buddha, he will never commit any sin like this!213
211 Mahvyutpatti, no. 2298. 212 Wang Shao, Sheli ganying ji, in Guang hongming ji, Daoxuan, T. no. 2103, 52: 213c. 213 Ibid. T. no. 2103, 52: 214a.
From the above passage, we know that the emperor made a confession for all sentient
beings. He was the representative of all sentient beings in the ceremony dedicated to the
relics. The ceremony feast therefore became an occasion for all sentient beings to reveal
their sins via the confession of the emperor.
The ceremony of venerating relics also included the practices of releasing life and
self-sacrifice. From Daoxuans many accounts, we know that in the early period, in
particular, in the Wu Kingdom, when relics were venerated, not many practices were
carried out. But in the Southern dynasties, in particular in the Liang Dynasty, Emperor
Wu developed practices in addition to venerating relics and constructing monasteries. For
Wudi, releasing prisoners was an important practice.214 Emperor Wu issued his Edict on
the Manifestation of the Relics in the Ancient Stupa of Aoka as follows:
In August, the fourth year of the Datong Period (538), the government renovated the Aoka Stupa in Changgan Monastery. There Buddhas hair and his nail were found. Aoka is the King of the Iron Wheel. He unified the country and asked the ghosts and deities to construct forty-eight thousand stupas in one day. This stupa in Changgan monastery is one of them. His Holiness came to Changgan Monastery and set up the feast without prohibition (wuzhe) now the relics in their true form (zhenxing sheli) appear in this world again, which is a precious thing, and invokes the mind of rare encounter. Now the feast without prohibition was held in Aoka Monastery, and neither the aged nor the children felt unhappy, as if people who are long hungry receive food, or [people] are reunited after a long separation. Both the hidden and the manifest converted their minds and the [people] from far and near admired this event. The literati and noble ladies all came together, their hats and banners gathered like the clouds. For this occasion virtue was spread in order to please and aid the spirits. Then [the emperor] released all prisoners, no matter whether they committed heavy or light crimes.215
214 Chu gu ayuwangta xia fo sheli zhao, Liang Gaozu (Liang Emperor Wu), in Guang hongming
ji, Daoxuan, T. no. 2103, 52: 203c. For a discussion of Liang Emperor Wu as a Buddhist who received Bodhisatva ordination, see Suwa Gijun. Chgoku Nanch bukkyshi kenky (Kyoto: Hzkan, 1997); Andreas Janousch, The Emperor as Bodhisattva: The Bodhisattva and Ritual Assemblies of Emperor Wu of the Liang Dynasty, in Joseph P. McDermott ed. State and Court Ritual in China (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1999), pp. 112-149.
215 Guang Hongming ji, Daoxuan, T. no. 2103, 52: 203c.
From this passage we know that Emperor Wu hosted a feast for monks and invited them
to celebrate the relics found in the ruins of Changgan Monastery,216 and that he released
all prisoners. Daoxaun must have been very familiar with this story, since he incorporated
the edict into his collection (Guang hongming ji). Furthermore, the relics in the Changgan
Monastery were later enshrined under the stupa of the Riyan Monastery where Daoxuan
lived. After the Riyan Monastery was abolished in the seventh year of the Wude period
(610), Daoxuan and his master brought the relics to the Chongyi Monastery.
Rituals of Releasing life and Self-Destruction
The practice of releasing prisoners started in the Liang Dynasty, and later it was
accepted by the Sui rulers. The Liang Emperor Wu released many prisoners, and then the
emperor Wendi of the Sui Dynasty did the same thing. In the Sui Dynasty, it was linked
to the practice of releasing creatures. Both aimed to earn merits for lay bodhisattvas.
Releasing life was a required duty for those who would receive the Bodhisattva
precepts.217 This duty was particularly advocated in the Stra of Brahman Net (Skt.
Brahmajlastra, Ch. Fanwang jing ). It is said that:
216 Huang Chi-chiang traces how these relics were moved to Changgan Monastery and then to
Riyan Monastery and then to Chongyi Monastery in the accounts of Daoxuan. See Huang, Consecrating the Buddha: Legend, Lore, and History of the Imperial Relic-Veneration Ritual in the Tang Dynasty, Chung-hwa Journal of Buddhist Studies 11 (1998), pp. 494-495.
217 Huang I-mei, Kaisatu Hj to Jin no shiso, Ory shigaku 13 (1987), pp. 29-55.
If one is a follower of the Buddha, he should practice the karma of releasing creatures with a heart of compassion. All men are my father, and all women are my mother. None of my lives are given but through birth from them. Therefore all sentient beings in the six paths are my parents. Then if someone is killing creatures, he is killing my parents, and also killing my previous life. All earth and water is my previous body, and all fire and wind is my original body. Thus, if often practicing releasing creatures, one will receive the method of keeping life everlasting for all lives and will enlighten others to release creatures. If they see the people in this world killing animals, one should save the animals by skillful means, and free them from suffering. One should often teach, instruct, preach, and speak of the Bodhisattva precepts in order to save sentient beings.218
The ceremony of receiving relics accompanies the ceremony of receiving Bodhisattva
precepts, according to known cases from the Liang and Sui Dynasties.219 Though the
idea was mostly propagated in the Sui Dynasty, especially due to the effort of Tiantai
master Zhiyi,220 the origin of this practice can be traced back to the Liang Dynasty, where
it was initiated by Liang Emperor Wu. This is a typical case where a practice initiated in
218 Fanwang jing, T. no. 1484, 24: 1006b. 219 Funayama Toru, Rikuch jidai ni okeru bosatsukai no juy katei: Ry S Nan Sei ki o
chshin ni, Th gakuh 67 (1995), pp. 1-135; Bernard Faure, The Will to Orthodoxy: A Critical Gealogy of Northern Chan Buddhism (Stanford, Stanford University Press, 1997), pp. 108-113; Chen Jinhua, Monks and Monarchs, Kinship and Kingship: Tanqian in Sui Buddhism and Politics (Kyoto: Italian School of East Asian Studies, 2002), pp. 68-75; Paul Groner, "The Fan-wang ching and Monastic Discipline in Japanese Tendai: A Study of Annen's `Futsu jubosatsukai koshaku,'" in Robert Buswell, ed., Chinese Buddhist Apocrypha (Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 1990), pp. 251-290.
220 In Japanese Buddhology, there are many articles dealing with the idea of releasing life in
Tiantai tradition. This tradition is centered on the founder of Tiantai School, Zhiyi. See Kuwatani Yuken, Hj shis ni okeru kysei Nihon bukky gakkai nenh 64 (1999), pp. 213-227; Chiba Shokan, Chgoku ni okeru hj shis no tenkai: seshoku shis no kannen o chshin ni, Tendai gakuh 36 (1993), pp. 89-95; Namura Takatsuna, Chigi daishi no hjchi ni tsuite, Shgakuin ronj 22 (1976), pp. 72-85. On the relationship between Zhiyi and Fanwang jing, see Fujii Kyoko, Tendai Chigi to bonmky, Indogaku bukkygaku kenky 90 (1997), pp. 241-247.
South China spread to the North and then became popular.221 In the Tang Dynasty, Yijing
even wrote a piece to propagate the meaning of releasing life. He says,
For the Holy Teaching of the Thus-Come One (Buddhism), compassion and benevolence are the root. According to the precepts and monastic code, guilt is [justified] by nature and prohibition. The prohibition is justified by the events in accord with canon. The nature is [reasoned] by the severe punishment. Of all sins, the primary one is killing. Therefore, the wise man particularly should protect lives. If he views this sin lightly, what could be worse? If people can behave according to the teaching, they will receive the reward of long life in present life, and they will be reborn into a pure land in the next life.222
In this passage, killing is cited as the principal sin of a monk, and it is promised that
releasing life will bring good retribution. Yijing also says that even if a monk has
mastered all three learnings, and has achieved the fourth stage of meditation, he will be
criticized by the Buddha for killing creatures. This connection between releasing life and
reward has been accepted since the Tang period.223
221 For example, Shi Daozhous biography in Xu gaoseng zhuan (ch. 29) tells us that he
established many pools everywhere for releasing creatures; see Xu gaoseng zhuan, Daoxuan, T. no. 2060, 50: 623a. Fachengs biography in Song gaoseng zhuan (ch. 26) says that, under Empress Wu, a monk Facheng created a releasing pool in the Western Market of the capital, Changan; see T. no. 2061, 50: 872c. Jiashang was a monk working with Xuanzang in Da cien si. His biography is in Song gaoseng zhuan (ch. 4) says that he recited the text of releasing creatures. This practice was accompanied with copying scriptures and lighting lanterns; see T. no. 2061, 50: 728b.
222 Huming fangsheng guiyi fa (), Yijing, T. no. 1901, 45: 902c. The title of
this text varies in different Buddhist sources. The biography of famous pilgrim Yijing in Song gaoseng zhuan (ch. 1) mentions that Yijing wrote a ritual manual titled Fangsheng huwu yigui, see T. no. 2061, 50. 711a. Many catalogues since the Kaiyuan period have recorded this text.
223 Many stories in Taiping guangji () support this. See chs. 467 and 472. For a later
development of the idea of releasing life, see Chn-fang Yu, Renewal of Buddhism in China: Chu-Hung and the Late Ming Synthesis (New York: Columbia University Press, 1981); Joanna F. Handlin Smith, Liberating Animals in Ming-Qing China: Buddhist Inspiration and Elite Imagination, Journal of Asian Studies 58: 1 (1999), pp. 51-84; Duncan Williams examines how this practice was carried out in medieval Japan. See his Animal Liberation, Death, and the State: Rites to Release Animals in Medieval Japan, in Mary Evelyn Tucker and Duncan Williams eds. Buddhism and Ecology: The Interconnection of Dharma and Deed (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1997), pp. 149-164.
Another distinctive practice during the ceremony of relic-veneration is self-
immolation, or burning the body (self-sacrifice).224 According to Wang Shaos record, it
did not happen in the capital, but rather in Tai Prefecture (modern Shandong province).
When the relics arrived in the Daiyue Monastery, a boy who was reciting the Lotus Stra
came to venerate the relics, and then burned his body in the field outside of monastery as
an offering. The practice of burning the body has attracted much attention in
contemporary scholarship.225 In particular, Funayana Toru suggests that burning the body
is a means to make an offering to the three jewels Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha and a
way for Mahyna Buddhists to pursue the goal of the Bodhisattva path. 226 Many
scholars have traced the scriptural source of this practice to the chapter titled The
224 When Chen Jinhua discussed how Fajin was given Bodhisattva precepts, he noted that this
monk committed to self-immolation. But Chen Jinhua does not indicate that the practice of self-immolation occurred during the Seven-Day Observance. See Monks and Monarchs, Kinship and Kingship: Tanqian in Sui Buddhism and Politics (Kyoto: Italian School of East Asian Studies, 2002), p. 71, note 58.
225 James Benn, Burning for the Buddha: Self-Immolation in Chinese Buddhism, Ph.D.
dissertation, University of California at Los Angels, 2001. Jacques Gernet, Les suicides par le feu chez les bouddhistes chinois du Ve au Xe sicle, Mlanges publis par lInstitut des hautes etudes chinoises (2, 1960); Jean Filliozat, La mort volontaire par le feu et la tradition bouddhique indienne, Journal Asiatique (1963), 1; Jan Yn-hua, Buddhist Self-immolation in Medieval China, History of Religions 4: 2 (1965); John Kieschnick, The Eminent Monk: Buddhist Ideas in Medieval Chinese Hagiography (Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 1997), pp. 35-50; James Benn, Where Text Meets Flesh: Burning the Body as an Apocryphal Practice in Chinese Buddhism, History of Religions 37: 4 (1998), pp. 295-322; Herbert Durt, Two Interpretations of Human-flesh Offering: Misdeed or Supreme Sacrifice, Kokusai bukkyogaku daigakuin daigaku kiyo 1 (1998), pp. 236-253; idem., The Offering of the Children of Prince Vivantara / Sudna in the Chinese Tradition, Kokusai bukky daigakuin daigaku kiyo 2 (1999), pp. 266-309; Reiko Ohnuma, The Gift of Body and the Gift of Dharma, History of Religions 37: 4 (1998), pp. 323-359; and her forthcoming book, Head, Eyes, Flesh, and Blood: Giving Away the Body in Indian Buddhist Literature.
Bernard Faure suggests that this practice contributed significantly to the vogue of immolation in China after the sixth century: If one does not burn ones body, ones arm, or ones finger as an offering to the Buddha, one is not a Bodhisattva; see The Red Thread: Buddhist Approaches to Sexuality (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1998), p. 93; his quotation is from J. M. de Groot, Le code du Mahyna en chine: Son influence sur la vie monacale et sur le monde laque (Amsterdam, reprinted Wiesbaden: Johannes Mller, 1976), p. 207.
226 His study is based on the sources from the Lotus Stra and the Stra of Brahma Net and many
biographies of monks. See Shashin no shiso Rokucho bukkyshi no yichi tanmei, Th gakuh 74 (2000), pp. 54-56. An early study on same topic in Japanese scholarship, see Nabata Ojun, Shina chsei o nikeru shashin ni tsuite, tani gakuh 12: 2 (1931), pp. 1-43.
Former Affairs of the Bodhisattva Medicine King of the Lotus Stra, in which burning
the body is referenced as a Dharma-offering.227 It says that,
After he (the Bodhisattva) had made this offering, he arose from samdhi and thought to himself, Though by resort to supernatural power I have made an offering to the Buddha, it is not as if I had made an offering of my own body. Straightway then he applied [to his body] various scents, candana, kunduruk, turuska [two kinds of frankincense], prkk [trigonella], the scent that sinks in water, and the scent of pine-tar; and he also drank the fragrant oils of campsaka-flowers. When one thousand two hundred years had been fulfilled, he painted his body with fragrant oil and, in the presence of the Buddha Pure and Bright Excellence of Sun and Moon, he wrapped his body in a garment adorned with divine jewels, anointed himself with fragrant oils, with the force of supernatural penetration took a vow, and then burnt his own body.228
Reciting this chapter and then burning the body as an offering to the Three Jewels was
very common in Buddhist practice in the Southern dynasties. For instance, a monk living
in the Liang Dynasty, Shi Sengman, was very skilled at lecturing on the Lotus Stra. His
biography says that he always sighed when he read the chapter about the Medicine King.
Later he made a vow and burnt his body, dedicating the action to this scripture in
Changsha Prefecture. 229 Similar stories also appear in many biographies of eminent
monks.230 Nevertheless, some scholars have suggested that the purpose of self-sacrifice in
the presence of Buddhas relics was meant to honor the Buddha. Gregory Schopen claims,
There is no distinction between a living Buddha and a collection of relics both make
227Daoxuan writes a preface for the Lotus Sutra, see Miaofa lianhua jing yiyhi xu, T. no. 262, 9:
1b-c. At his time, there were three translations: Dharmaraka in the third century, Kumarajva in the fifth century and Xuanzang in the early seventh century; but Kumarajvas version was the most popular one. Daoxuan says, From Han to Tang, the most popular scripture is no more than this scripture.
228 Fahua jing, T. no. 262, 9: 53b. Leon Hurvitz trans., Scripture of the Lotus Blossom of the Fine
Dharma (New York: Columbia University Press, 1976), pp. 293-294, chapter 23: Former Affairs of the Bodhisattva Medicine King.
229 Fahuajing zhuanji (chapter 2), Sengxiang, T. no. 2068, 51: 56c. 230 The biographies of Fayu, Huishao, Sengyu, and Huiyi, see Gaoseng zhuan, Huijiao, T. no.
2059, 50: 404c, 405a, and 405b-c.
the sacred person equally present as an object of worship. 231 But self-immolation may
not necessarily have reflected a single religious value, as Koichi Shinohara suggests in
his investigation of miracle stories. He suggests that this act may have also brought a
political message to the acting ruler, as in the case of the monk Zhuli in the Southern
dynasties.232 Thus, an alternative interpretation is possible, and necessary.
Self-sacrifice appears in many religious traditions. In Christianity, it is said that,
Jesus told his disciples, If any man would come after me, let him deny himself and take
up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, and whoever
loses his life from my sake will find it.233 This may direct us back to Indian tradition. In
Indian tradition, some scholars have suggested that self-sacrifice is not an act of worship,
but the mystery of the cosmogonic act.234 This means that a man engaging in sacrifice is
not a victim at all. Rather, he is the sacrificer.
In the case of Chinese Buddhism, the sacrificer seeks spiritual liberation by
renouncing his physical body.235 In this way, he seems to also imitate the cremation ritual
of the body of the historical Buddha. This cremation was an honor for a monk in
231 See Schopen, Bones, Stones, and Buddhist Monks (Honolulu: University of Hawaii, 1997), p.
132. John Strong, Relics of the Buddha (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2004), p. 20. 232 Koichi Shinohara, Dynastic Politics and Miraculous Images: The Example of Zhuli of the
Changlesi Temple in Yangzhou, in Richard H. Davis ed. Images, Miracles, and Authority in Asian Religious Traditions (Boulder, CO.: Westview Press, 1998), pp. 199-201.
233 Matthew 16.24-25. The New Oxford Annotated Bible (Oxford and New York: Oxford
University Press, 1989). There is also another passage in Romans 12.1: I appeal to you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.
234 J. C. Heesterman, Self-Sacrifice in Vedic Ritual, in S. Sharked, D. Shulman and G. G.
Strouma ed. Gilgul: Essays on Transformation, Revolution and Performance in the History of Religions Dedicated to R. J. Zwi Werblowsky (Leiden: E. J. Brill, 1987), pp. 91-106, especially p. 92. Heesterman writes, (Sacrifice) is performed by the gods and, when man performs sacrifice, the sacrificer and his officiants are equated with gods.
235 We know in Daoist tradition the human beings can become immortals after a long journey of
spiritual and physical practice toward final liberation.
medieval China. Unlike the traditional sacrifice of human beings in ancient China, it was
not necessary that self-sacrifice takes place before the relics or images of the historical
Buddha. Thus, the act may have an alternative interpretation, which can be linked to the
story of how the Buddha gave or renounced his head to hungry tigers in jataka stories,
because he was a compassionate Bodhisattva. Again, immolation can be viewed as a
commemorative ritual dedicated to the Buddha.
The Dead and the Living
As shown above, in ancient India, the Buddha died, and afterward, the living
commemorated him. The bodily relic was viewed as a living being.236 In medieval China,
the living dedicated their bodies to the dead Buddha. From the veneration ritual, we have
seen a communal feast dedicated to the Buddha. This feast involved both the monks and
lay people, both the dead and the living. A contemporary anthropological approach might
be helpful to understand the link between the living and the dead. As Clifford Geertz
noted, religion not only describes the social order, but also shapes the social order, like
environment, political power, wealth, jural obligation, personal affection, and a sense of
beauty.237 In his study of the syncretism of Javanese religion, he stresses that the central
ritual form is a communal feast, called the slametan. This communal feast is given on
almost all occasions of religious significance. At this feast, offerings are made to the
236 Through reading an old inscription in Northwest India, tienne Lamotte observes the
relationship between relics and two distinguished devotees: Viyakamitra and Vijayamitra. Lamotte suggests that this inscription is believed to be placed on the reliquary of Shinkot, and this reliquary was presented and placed after many years interval by two Indians, Viyakamitra and Vijayamitra, one of whom was a vassal of the Indo-Greek king Menander. For these two devotees, the bodily relic (arra) of the Buddha is more than an element (dhtu) for commemoration: it is a living being endowed with breath (prnasameta), in the presence of which one may conciliate the ancestors with offerings and water. tienne Lamotte, History of Indian Buddhism: From the Origins to the aka Era, translated by Sara Webb-Boin, under the supervision of Jean Dantinne (Louvain-la-Neuve: Universit Catholique Louvain, Institut Orientaliste, 1988), p. 431.
237 Clifford Geertz, The Interpretation of Cultures (New York: Basic Books, 1973), p. 119.
spirits, and it is intended to be the commensal mechanism of social integration for the
living. Geertz continues, the result of this quiet, undramatic little ritual is twofold: the
spirits are appeased and neighborhood solidarity is strengthened.238
The veneration of relics in a dramatic and grand ritual is also twofold: the Buddha
is memorialized, and the solidarity and coherence of the monastic community is
enhanced. The reception ritual of relics bears much resemblance to the Javanese
slametans. As the previous section shows, the veneration ritual of the relics was a
communal feast too, that involved a feast for monks, burning incense, chanting prayers,
the admission of new members to the monastic order, and the release of creatures for
On the other hand, individual and collective religious experience should also be
taken into account in the case of relic veneration.240 From the records written by the
witnesses of the ceremony, we are able to know individual experiences--for example,
how one enjoyed the ceremony, how one sacrificed, how one made offerings, how one
prayed, and so on.
This style of relic veneration recurred from the third century to the sixth century.
What was the dynamic force behind this repeated veneration ceremony? Many scholars
have suggested that the Chinese rulers used this veneration ceremony as a political
238 Ibid., p. 147. 239 Machihata Ryoshu suggests that the releasing-creatures theory is based on six Buddhist
scriptures which include The Stra of Braman Net (Fanwang jing), Mahsanghika-vinaya, Sarvstivda-vinaya, Zhengfa nian jing, Zhidulun, and Shanjian l, see Chgoku bukky shisoshi no kenky (Kyoto: Heirakuji shoden, 1979), pp. 228-248. In his study, he does not mention releasing prisoners. It seems that he does not view this as a form of releasing creatures.
240 Glen Dudbridge, Religious Experience and Lay Society in T'ang China: A Reading of Tai Fu's
'Kuang-i chi' (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1996).
ideology. If we look from another angle to understand this historical constant, we find
that the Buddhists used it as religious ideology, a religious remembrance.241 Jacques Le
Goff gives us a more plausible possibility to consider, involving memory in the medieval
period. He writes,
Memory is an essential element of what will henceforth be called individual or collective identity, the feverish and anxious quest for which is today one of the fundamental activities of individuals and societies. But collective memory is not only a conquest, it is also an instrument and an objective of power. It is societies whose social memory is primarily oral or which are in the process of establishing a written collective memory that offer us the best chance of understanding this struggle for domination over remembrance and tradition, this manipulation of memory.242
From my point of view, the reception of relics and the construction of stupas and
monasteries can be viewed as a set of practices governed by the accepted rules articulated
by Buddhist historians. These practices also could be viewed as a repetition of the
practices that reflect continuity with the past. The later generations repeatedly received
the relics, built stupas, and constructed monasteries. These activities of receiving,
241 Gerdien Jonker argues that in ancient Mesopotamian society, architectural settings were used
to be the tools of remembering gods and goddesses as well as the donors. Then the continuous events construct a cultural memory. He writes, Gifts add written accounts to the gods of temple restorations, expeditions, lawgiving and other good actions offered as a means of moving the gods to recall the givers. Statues were thought to repeat continuously the deeds of their donors in front of the god or goddess of the city. By means of such actions the deity was reminded of the existence of the donors. Moreover, the donors saw to it that the work would continue after their death by setting up funds for the care of their statues. By so doing, they created the possibility of being remembered even after their death, since the statues and written messages stood as guarantors for the preservation of the memory. See his The Topography of Remembrance: The Dead, Tradition and Collective Memory in Mesopotamia (Leiden: E. J. Brill. 1995), pp. 178-179.
242 Jacques Le Goff, History and Memory (translated by Steven Rendall and Elizabeth Claman)
(New York: Columbia University Press, 1992), p. 98. For discussions on history and memory, also see Dominick Lacapra, Writing History, Writing Trauma (Parallax: Re-Visions of Culture and Society). David Lowenthal, The Past is a Foreign Country (Cambridge University Press, 1985). Thomas Butler, ed. Memory: History, Culture, and the Mind (Oxford: Blackwell, 1989). Patrick H. Hutton, History as an Art of Memory (University Press of New England, 1993). Jeffrey K. Olick and Joyce Robbins, Social Memory Studies: From Collective Memory to the Historical Sociology of Mnemonic Practices, Annual Review of Sociology 24 (1998), 105-140. Susan Engel, Context is Everything: The Nature of Memory (Princeton University Press, 1999).
building, and constructing kept continuity with the past and invented tradition by
modifying the rituals, thereby, transmitting the values and norms of Buddhism from India
and Central Asia to China.
Daoxuan mentions the veneration rituals many times in his numerous writings. It
seems that during the degenerative period of the dharma, the relic veneration ritual
became a tool to enhance the authority of the Buddhist community. For the common
Buddhist believers, this ritual was a commemorative ceremony serving as a dedication to
the historical Buddha, the founder of Buddhism. Commemorative ceremony has been
viewed as a constituent of the communal memory. For example, Paul Connerton suggests
that, commemorative ceremonies and bodily practices are by no means the only
constituents of communal memory; for the production of informally told narrative
histories is both a basic activity for our everyday characterization of human actions and a
feature of all social memory.243 In the case of a Buddhist ceremony for venerating relics,
the ceremony is a constituent of the communal memory of the monastic community. This
ceremony allows the monastic community members to recall the funeral of the Buddha,
which was held in the fifth century before the Christian era.
Therefore, in venerating the Buddhas relics, the commemorative ceremony helps
the members of the Chinese Buddhist community recall the historical Buddhas funeral.
The sacrificial ceremony in the veneration of relics provided a powerful means of
integration and serve to enhance the monastic communitys solidarity. And as we have
243 Paul Connerton, How Societies Remember (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1989), p.
40. Olick, Jeffrey K. and Joyce Robbins, Social Memory Studies: From Collective Memory to the Historical Sociology of Mnemonic Practices, Annual Review of Sociology 24 (1998), pp. 105-140.
seen previously, the monks played leading roles in this ceremony, and in the formation of
Manifestation of Incarnation
Daoxuans Miraculous Record mentions a story involving Liu Sahe in which a
stpa with relics came out of the ground. According to the tale, in the second year of the
Jin Dynasty, Liu Sahe, a native of Lishi, Bing Prefecture, died. He returned to life, and
said that in his dream he was told by a Brahman monk that he had severe karma and he
would fall into an evil path. There were stupas erected by Aoka in Luoyang, Qicheng,
Dayang, and Kuaiji, so he could make confession at these stupas in order to free himself
from his past karma. After he was resurrected, he shaved his head and became a monk
named Huida. He went to Zou County and practiced asceticism there. One night, he heard
a bell ringing. Three days later, he saw three Brahman monks walking in the air and the
earth was rolling. An illuminated platform rose up. Then Huida dug out a box in which a
stupa with relics was found.244
This story reflects the belief that a stpa with relics could be discovered through
supernatural power if a monk made confession. The stpa was said to be the one erected
by King Aoka. Aoka was famous in mythology and was involved with emperors.
Finding his stpas is a way of localizing him and drawing on the convincing nature of his
myth to authenticate a local monastery.
Daoxuan presents a backdrop for Liu Sahe. He says that Liu Sahes previous life
was lived as Bodhisattva Libin. In his Miracle Record, Daoxuan tells us a story about
how Bodhisattva Libin converted the local people in Liang Prefecture to Buddhism by
244 Lxiang gantong zhuan, Daoxuan, T. no. 1898, 45: 878c.
venerating Buddha. According to this story, at the time of Kyapa Buddha (Pali.
Kassapa; Ch. Jiayefo),245 a Bodhisattva named Libin came to the Liang area and found
that the local people were engaged in killing. This Bodhisattva started to build
monasteries to generate merit for these people. He asked the Great King Brahma to make
a Buddha sculpture, who used his divine power to make this sculpture as authentic as
Buddha, without any deviation. Then the Bodhisattva began to preach, but the local
people did not accept him or his teachings. Therefore, the Bodhisattva decided to
manifest his miraculous power. He held a huge stone in his hand and pretended that he
would throw it. After this, the local residents began to turn to Buddhism for help. The
miraculous sculpture then manifested its divine power. Moreover, in thirteen years, the
Bodhisattva persuaded local people to build seven magnificent monasteries. In the
meantime, twenty thousand people entered the monastic order and lived in the
Three hundred years later, the local victims of murder began to seek revenge. The
dead set fire to the monasteries and villages and began killing people. At that time, the
mountain deity picked up the sculpture of Buddha and held it in the air to keep it safe
from fire. After the monastery was destroyed, the deity stored the sculpture in a stone
room underground and made offerings. Much later, when Liu Sahe worshiped the
mountain, the sculpture manifested itself because he was the manifestation of the
245 In Mahyna Buddhism, he is believed to be the sixth of seven Buddhas in the past and the
third Buddhas of a thousand Buddhas in the Bhadrakalpa period (xianjie). He was one of the previous lives of akyamuni Buddha.
246 Lxiang gantong zhuan, Daoxuan, T. no. 1898, 45: 876c.
Daoxuan tries to connect this Bodhissattva with Liu Sahe. This Bodhisattva saved
the local people from their past evil deeds. Liu Sahe was said to contribute to the
reconstruction of the monastery and the monastic order after the age of the Last
Dharma.247 Besides this legend, Daoxuan also tells us a story about himself in which he
became the manifestation of the eminent monk Sengyou in the Liang Dynasty. In his
dream, Daoxuan viewed himself as the resurrected body of Sengyou. Daoxuan thought
that the miraculous vision was the result of his diligent practice.248 His story again
illustrates the teaching of how to survive from the age of the Final Dharma.249
Like Liu Sahe, Daoxuan advocates a new style of monastery to house the relics.
Through the reconstruction of the monasteries, the set of the relics, and the reconstruction
of the monastic order, the new monasticism helped Chinese Buddhists endure the age of
247 According to Huang Chi-chiang, Daoxuans account of the Liu Sahe story contains more
additional anecdotes that are not found in the Liang shu. See Huang, Consecrating the Buddha: Legend, Lore, and History of the Imperial Relic-Veneration Ritual in the Tang Dynasty, Chung-hua Journal of Buddhist Studies 11 (1998), p. 493. For other discussions of Liu Sahe, see Jao Tsung-i, Liu Sahe shiji yu ruixiang tu, Dunhuang shiku yanjiu guoji taolunhui wenji: Shiku kaogu, 1987 (Shenyang: Liaoning meishu chubanshe, 1990), pp. 336-349; Hida Romi, Rysh bankaken zuiz no setsuwa to zkei, Bukky gejiutsu 217 (1994), pp. 33-54; Wu Hung, Rethinking Liu Sahe: The Creation of a Buddhist Saint and the Invention of a Miraculous Image, Orientations special issue on Dunhuang 2 (1996), pp.32-43.
248 Lxiang gantong zhuan, Daoxuan, T. no. 1898, 45. It might be viewed as a self-transformation.
For discussion on this perspective, See David Shulman and Guy G. Stroumsa ed. Self and Self-Transformation in the History of Religions (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2002).
249 Erik Zrcher, Eschatology and Messianism in Early Chinese Buddhism, in Wilt L. Idema ed.,
Leyden Studies in Sinology (Leiden: E. J. Brill, 1981), pp. 34-56; ibid., Prince Moonlight, Messianism and Eschatology in Early Medieval Chinese Budddhism, Toung Pao 68 (1982), pp. 1-75; Jan Nattier, Once upon a Future Time. Studies in a Buddhist Prophecy of Decline. (Berkeley, CA: Asia Humanities Press, 1991); Hubert Seiwert, End of Time and New Time in Medieval Chinese Buddhism, in: Albert I. Baumgarten ed. Apocalyptic Time (Leiden: E. J. Brill, 2000), pp. 1-14. Seiwert notes the events of apocalypticism in Chinese Buddhism as follows: The horror of the apocalyptic time is paired with the promise of a paradise-like life after the catastrophe. This paradise is of course open only to those who follow Buddhist teachings or more particularly the teachings revealed in their apocalyptic scriptures. Thus, the dichotomy of destruction and paradise is complemented by the dichotomy of the annihilation of the sinners and the salvation of the true followers of the teachings. Furthermore, there is a dichotomy of the supernatural agents in this comic battle: on the one hand, devils and demons are ravaging the world and its sinful inhabitants. On the other hand, divine powers, Buddhas and bodhisattvas fight to rescue the few that have practiced the true teachings. See p. 10.
the Last Dharma. Remembering ones former lives is an ability among five (or six)
superknowledges (abhij) in Buddhism.250 From many of Daoxuans other writings, we
know that Daoxuan criticized his contemporaries for their disregard of morality.251
By reporting the discovery of the Buddhas relics and circulating the legend about
this discovery, Chinese Buddhists granted great importance to the Buddha. This is
illustrated in Daoxuans writings. According to Daoxuans Miracle Record, at his time,
all sorts of stpas and monasteries were the remains of ancient Buddhas. For example, he
mentions Guozhongsi in Gan Prefecture, The West Corridor of the River. There is an
ancient Buddhas relic in the stupa of this monastery. Lingyansi in He Prefecture, close to
Gan Prefecture, also has relic under the Buddha Hall. Near Maiji Bank of Qin Prefecture,
there is a monastery called Lingansi where a relic is hidden under the Buddha Hall by the
mountain deity, as Daoxuan believed.
The Multiple Buddhas
The Buddhas relics could reveal the power of the Buddha everywhere, and a relic
symbolized the presence of the Buddha. Can we link this idea to the idea of multiple
Buddhas in Mahayana Buddhism? Daoxuan says in his Miracle Record that Buddha has
three bodies (Skt. trayah-kyh, Ch. sanshen ): the Dharma-body (Skt. dharma-kya,
Ch. fashen ), the reward-body (Skt. sambhoga-kya, Ch. baoshen ), and the
transformation-body (Skt. nirmna-kya, Ch. huashen ).252 The dharma-body and
250 Louis de La Valle Poussin, Le Bouddha et les Abhijs, Le Muson XLIV (1931), pp. 335-
342; Paul Demiville, Sur la mmoire des existences antrieures, BEFEO XXVII (1927), pp. 283-298. 251 For example, Jingxin jieguan fa, Daoxuan, T. no. 1893, 45. 252 A number of scholars have discussed the bodies of the Buddha, i. e. Nagao Gadjin,
Mdhyamika and Yogacra: A Study of Mahyna Philosophies (trans. By Leslie S. Kwamura; New York:
reward-body are not visible to human beings, and are transcendent. Only the
transformation-body can universally manifest in billions of forms under the heaven. Thus
there are ten billion Buddhas, who can appear as the result of the miraculous vows of
human beings.253 According to Daoxuan, these Buddhas can appear everywhere and will
manifest themselves in response to peoples veneration.
It appears that, at least in the context of the history of medieval Chinese
Buddhism, Mahyna Buddhism taught that there are many Buddhas, not only three
Buddhas or even one Buddha in this world. It follows then that a relic of Buddha
indicated the presence of one such Buddha. The discovery of relics was not just related to
the act of distribution of the relics in King Aokas time. As relics were discovered in
East Asia, they gave way to the flourishing of Buddhism and belief in the presence of
Buddhas and Bodhisattvas there. Furthermore, Mahyna Buddhism teaches that both
monastic and lay Buddhists can access the Buddha and achieve Buddhahood.254 This
theme is also present in Daoxuans work; so the relics provide both monastic and lay
Buddhists a subject of worship.
State University of New York press, 1991), pp. 103-122; Paul Harrison, Is the Dharma-kya the Real Phantom Body of the Buddha? Journal of the International Association for Buddhist Studies 15 (1992), pp. 45-95.
253 Lxiang gantong zhuan, Daoxuan, T. no. 1898, 45: 879a. 254 The origin and the nature of Mahyna Buddhism seem to be ongoing issues. See Richard
Gombrich, How the Mahyna Began, Journal of Pali and Buddhist Studies 1 (1988), pp. 29-46. reprinted in: T. Sporupski ed., The Buddhist Forum vol. 1 (London, 1990), pp. 21-30. Gregory Schopen, The Mahyna and the Middle Period in Indian Buddhism: Through a Chinese Looking-glass, The Eastern Buddhist 32: 2 (2000), pp. 1-25. Paul Harrison, Searching for the Origins of Mahyna: What are We Looking for?, The Eastern Buddhist 28: 1 (1995), pp. 48-69. Sasaki Shizuka, A Study on the Origin of Mahyna Buddhism, The Eastern Buddhist 30 (1997), pp. 79-113. Florin Deleanu, A Preliminary Study on Meditation and the Beginnings of Mahyna Buddhism, Annual Report of the International Research Institute for Advanced Buddhology at Soka University for the Academic Year 1999 11 (2000), 65-113. Jan Nattier, A Few Good Men: The Bodhisattva Path According to the Inquiry of Ugra (Ugrapariprccha) (Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 2003).
As I argue more fully in chapter three, being present in his relics, the Buddha can
be said to have participated in ordination rituals and the reconstruction of Chinese
monasteries. When the masters conducted the ritual ordination, the Buddha, like the
audience seated below the platform, could not say anything about the ritual. Buddha
could oversee the ritual, and judge the correctness of the rituals performance. He was the
spiritual witness and leader of the ritual performance, because, as in Daoxuans design,
he was placed on the top level of the platform. The ritual performers were aware of the
presence of Buddha when the relics were set up on the ordination platform. Similarly,
when some monasteries were established, Buddha was also involved in the form of relics.
The authority of the monastic community was built upon the Buddhas presence in his
relics. Here is a passage from the Record of the Ordination Platform in Tshodaiji
(Tshodaiji kaiten ki ):
Relics are the authentic body of the ancient Buddha. The authentic body is extant, the dharma is enduring, the Sangha is enduring, and then three jewels are complete.255
From this passage, we know that the relics were regarded as the body of the Buddha.
When the people saw the relics, they regarded them as the presence of the Buddha. They
saw the Buddha, and believed in the presence of the dharma. They believed in the
presence of the Sangha, and that the three jewels endure. That is why the relic of Buddha
was an indispensable element for stable monastic order. It functioned as the Buddha, and
it, as the Buddha, witnessed the construction of the monastery.
Two religious meanings of relics in Chinese monasteries should be particularly
highlighted. Relics, as the presence of the Buddha, played an indispensable role in
255 Dainihon bukky zenshu, no. 710, 85: 100b.
overseeing, guiding, and supporting the practice of monasticism. Additionally, as the
presence of Buddha, relics constituted one of the three elements of everlasting Buddhism.
We should pay special attention to Daoxuans view on Buddhas relics and their
significance for Chinese Buddhism. In Daoxuans era, Buddhist masters viewed
Buddhas relics as sacred objects superior to the remains of other sages. Daoshis writing
provides a good example of the common ideas about the superiority of the Buddha over
Chinese sages. As a colleague of Daoxuan in Ximing Monastery, Daoshi tells us that the
relic plays an indispensable role in manifesting the supreme and unparalleled virtue of
Buddha. According to Daoshi, Buddhas relics were split in order to spread his merit and
virtue to gods and other sentient beings. Daoshi argues that, in ancient times, Chinas
sage kings, including three emperors, five kings, the kings of Xia, Shang and Zhou
Dynasties, Confucius, Laozi, and Zhuangzi, were all respected and venerated, but once
they died, they had to be buried underground and would be forgotten. However,
Buddhas relics and shadows did not perish, and were bequeathed to later generations.256
Daoshi highlights the superiority of Buddha, and indicates that only Buddhas virtue can
be passed down by his relics. Without the transmission of relics, the virtue of Chinese
sage-kings cannot be passed down to the later generations.
From a Buddhist viewpoint, relics were superior to than any other physical form
symbolizing the presence of the Buddha. Although Chinese Buddhists were able to
reproduce or create Buddhas image in painting and sculpture, only relics were
indestructible and could be passed down generation to generation. On the one hand,
256 Fayuan zhulin, Daoshi, T. no. 2122, 53: 598-605. In his preface to Guang hongming ji,
guizheng pian (Section on Conversion to the Right Path), Daoxuan also states that Chinese sages can not challenge the Buddha, because these sages were still common people; see Guang hongming ji, Daoxuan, T. no. 2103, 52: 98a.
images, sculptures, scriptures and relics all had mobility, but compared to scriptures and
the other forms, relics were more powerful in preserving Buddhas teachings because
they were considered indestructible. Chinese Confucians could also produce images and
sculptures for their great sages and sage-kings, but they could not produce their sages
and sage-kings relics.257 In sum, relics were unique to Buddhism, and exclusive of any
The discovery of Buddhas relics and the construction of stupas with relics paved
the way for a new type the Chinese type of Buddhist monastery.258 We know the first
Buddhas relic was found in the Wu Kingdom in the third century. Once this relic was
found, a new monastery, named Jianchu (,literally Establishing the Beginning),
was built to contain it upon the sponsorship of the Emperor of Wu. Previous monasteries
only contained Buddhas statues, paintings, and texts. The Jianchu Monastery was the
first monastery established following the construction of a pagoda with a Buddhas
relic.259 In the Jianchu Monastery, for the first time, China had a monastery with a
Buddhas relic in which Buddhists believed.
257 Robert Sharf suggests that the allure of relics lies in what they are their corporeal essence
rather than in their representational or iconic qualities. At the same time it is clear that, unlike sentient beings, relics are what they are by virtue of how they are physically and ritually framed. See Robert Sharf, On the Allure of Buddhist Relics, Representations 66 (1999), pp. 75-99, esp. p.90. Kevin Trainor suggests that a relic is very different from an image, because a relic is regarded as an appropriate means of re-presenting the Buddha because of its historical connection with him through space and time; in other words, either it was actually part of his body or it came in physical contact with his body. See Relics, Ritual and Representation in Buddhism: Rematerializing the Sri Lankan Theravada Tradition (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1997), p. 30. Even Nestorian Christians who came to China in the Tang Dynasty produced the images and hung up paintings of emperors in their monastery; see Da Qin jingjiao liuxing zhongguo bei song bing xu, T. no. 2144, 54: 1289c.
258 Reginald A Ray presents a study on the relationship between the cults of the stpa and their
relation to monasticization. See Buddhist Saints in India: A Study in Buddhist Values and Orientations (New York and Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1994), chapters 10-12.
In the Northern Zhou Dynasty, the situation was quite different than in the South.
In one of Daoxuans works, we are told that an official suggested that the Emperor
Tianyuan should look for the people with good virtue, and preserve only one temple in
each prefecture in order to simplify the management of Buddhism. For other mountains
and cave temples, let the monks live there. Wherever there is a relic, please allow for the
erection of a stupa.260 The most important information we can obtain from this passage
is that wherever there was a relic, a stupa was to be erected.
Concluding Remarks: The Past Becomes the Present
Daoxuan recorded many accounts of Buddhas relics in his writings, and he
finally incorporated all these accounts into the official Buddhist canon defined in his
Catalogue of the Buddhist Canon in the Great Tang (Da Tang neidian lu ).
This catalogue canonizes Daoxuans accounts, making them standard materials for daily
monastic learning. Stories of miracles involving relics thus became the intellectual
sources for the next generation of the Sangha.261
As Daoxuan wrote in the preface to A Collection of the Miracle Responses to the
Three Jewels in China (Ji shenzhou sanbao gantong lu), he compiled the miracle stories
259 Daoxuans Guang hongming ji cites a passage from the History of Wu (Wu shu) which is one part of The History of Three Kingdoms (Sanguo zhi), written by Chen Shou (4th century). This piece, cited in Daoxuans Guang hongming ji, is entitled The Ruler of the Wu Kingdom talking about Buddhism and Daoism. It says that Buddhism had been spread into Central China for a long time, yet did not come to the South at the beginning of the Wu period.
260 Zhou Tianyuan li you shang shi zhe dui Wei Yuansong, Guang hongming ji, Daoxuan, T. no.
2103, 52: 158c. 261 In medieval Europe, the Christian community faced the destruction of the monastic order and
they attempted to reconstruct the monasteries in order to respond to the challenge during the period of chaos. As Patrick J. Geary states, in the custom-bound world of the eleventh century, monasteries had to reestablish ties with a distant and ill-remembered past in order to maintain dignity and importance in the present. See Furta Sacra: Thefts of Relics in the Central Middle Ages (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1978), p. 59. Also see his Living with the Dead in the Middle Ages (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1994). In the case of Chinese Buddhism, the relics were distributed by a secular authority, but they served the same goal -- rebuilding the dignity of the monastic order.
about the relics because these miracles either manifested themselves in the past or will
appear in the future. [They] either enlighten the monastics and the lay followers, or
generate faith among the deluded and the enlightened.262 In his preface to Extended
Collection Propagating and Illuminating Buddhism (Guang hongmingji), Daoxaun says
that he meticulously consulted many sources about Buddhist history and amended the
Collection Propagating and Illuminating Buddhism (Hongmingji) compiled by Sengyou.
He aimed to reveal the real history that had been neglected by many of his
My conclusions are based on Daoxuans insistence, now supported by modern
scholarship, that relics were considered to be the Buddha himself, and did not merely
symbolize him. As we have seen, according to Daoxuan, the Buddha himself actually
participated in the construction of Chinese monasteries, that is, Chinese-style monasteries
possessing Buddhas relics. Buddhas presence thus helped restore the Chinese monastic
order in the aftermath of political persecution and the decline of Buddhist institutions
under the late Northern dynasties. Secondly, in Daoxuans work we see that the
appearance and spread of Buddhas relics in China meant that Chinese Buddhists could
communicate with the Buddha directly, without going to visit the sacred sites in
Northwest India. Appearing as relics, Buddha then became easily accessible to common
monks, nuns, and lay people in China. Chinese Buddhists could obtain immediate help
and benefits from Buddha by going to visit his relics.
262 Ji shenzhou sanbao gantong lu, Daoxuan, T. no. 2106, 52: 404a. 263 Guang hongming ji, Daoxuan, T. no. 2103, 52: 97a-b.
It is worth noting that the pagoda (or stupa) was the center of a Buddhist
monastery. Later the Buddha Hall became the center of the Buddhist monastery. We will
see that the center of monastery always held the relics, no matter where it was. At the
very beginning, the relics were held in the stupa and then the relics were worshipped in
the Buddha Hall. The architectural design is then related to Buddhist doctrine the
relationship between Buddha and the community Buddha and Sangha. Livia Kohn pays
attention to the Daoist monastery and suggests that the religious architectures in China
inherited the traditional style of the Hall of Light (mingtang ). She indicates that
Buddhist architecture also followed the style of the Hall of Light, and that the main hall
played a significant role in the monastic compound.264 However, apparently, the stpa
was the center of the early monastic compound of Chinese Buddhism. Thus, relics were
an important means by which Buddhist spaces were made distinct from Daoist spaces.
264 Livia Kohn, Monastic Life in Medieval Daoism: A Cross-Cultural Perspective (Honolulu:
University of Hawaii Press, 2003), chapter five, especially pp. 88-91. The archeological evidence from Korea also helps us understand the early Buddhist compound, see Youngsook Pak, Excavations of Buddhist Temple Sites in Korea since 1960, in: The Buddhist Heritage: Papers delivered at the Symposium of the same name convened at the School of Oriental and African Studies University of London, November 1985. Edited by Tadeusz Skorupski (Tring: The Institute of Buddhist Studies, 1989), pp. 157-178; the author wrote, The ruined temple site in Chngan-ni, known as the Km-gang-sa site, located south-east of Pyngyang in the former territory of the Kogury kingdom, was excavated in 1938-1939 by Japanese archaeologists (Kim Chong-ki, Bukky kenchiku, in Yoshikawa Kbunkan ed. Shiragi ro Nihon kodai bunka (Tokyo, 1981, 108ff). This temple is important in determining the characteristic features of the Kogury monastic plan and its impact on Japanese temple layout. The Kogury temple in Chongam-ni, probably built in the fifth to sixth century, shows an octagonal pagod in the centre surrounded by three main halls in the east, north and west sides, connected by corridors to the central pagoda, with the entrance gate to the south. In this early temple layout, it is discernible that emphasis was given to the pagoda as a central sacred building, still retaining the archaic Indian conception of the stpa as the centre of religious life. However, it has also been suggested that such a plan might be based on the ancient Chinese astrological notion of the Five Stars diagram of the Heavenly Offices of the Han Dynasty which is described in the Tianguanshu chapter of the Shi Ji. (pp. 171-172) In Sri Lanka, from archaeological evidence unearthed in Mahvihra, we know stupas also play the most significant roles in the monastic compound; see R. A. L. H. Gunawardana, Robe and Plough: Monasticism and Economic Interest in Early Medieval Sri Lanka (The Association for Asian Studies, Tucson, AZ: The University of Arizona Press, 1979), p. 15.
At last, but not less significant, the Buddha in the form of his relics became the
symbolic object that connected most Chinese monasteries. Unlike Catholic Christianity in
the Middle Ages, which had a supreme Church and the Pope leading and governing all
churches, in medieval China, there was no supreme church and leader governing all
monastic communities. Chinese Buddhist society appeared as a network of monasteries
connected together by possession and veneration of relics from the same historical
Buddha. Thus, the historical Buddha remained an indispensable presence in the Chinese
Buddhist monastic network.
Chapter III: Ordination Platform and Ordination Ritual
The rise of the ordination platform is based on the precepts. Precepts are the foundation of the practice of all sages and the live root of the three learnings. Because of august awakening giving rise to compassion, common doubts come to an end through it.265 ,,,
In purely functional terms, ritual promotes social unity and cultural coherence. In
the context of medieval China, the Buddhist ordination ritual not only enhanced the
solidarity of all members of a monastic order, but also promoted a closer relationship
between monks and lay Buddhists. By reiterating the basic values of Buddhism, the
ordination ritual also strengthened the cultural coherence of the Buddhist community. For
example, in analyzing Theravada Buddhism, Ilana Friedrich Silber notes,
The most important principle of continuity in the monastic order was the lineage of ordination upasampada which required the presence of five fully ordained monks to ordain another one. As such the lineage of ordination constituted the minimal requisite, and necessary warrant, of the Sanghas continuity and purity.266
In this view, by recruiting new members through ordination, the monastic order maintains
its continuity and purity. However, as I will demonstrate below, Daoxuan redesigned the
265 Guangzhong chuangli jietan tujing (The Illustrated Text with Preface on the Establishment of
the Ordination Platform within Pass), Daoxuan (596-667), T. no. 1892, 45: 807a-819a. 266 Ilana Friedrich Silber, Virtuosity, Charisma, and Social Order: A Comparative Sociological
Study of Monasticism in Theravada Buddhism and Medieval Catholicism (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1995), p. 81.
ordination platform (Ch. Jietan, Jpn. Kaiden ) 267 and rewrote the ordination
ceremony, taking into account new interpretations of Mahyna ideas and introducing
new scriptures. Thus, he was able to not only maintain a preexisting solidarity, but also
produce new cultural forms.
The ordination platform was one of the essential elements of Daoxuans solution
to the crisis of the monastic order. As I have discussed in the previous chapters, all of
Daoxuans works aimed to construct a standard monastic order that would create a strong
monastic identity and refine the entire institution. In this chapter I argue that ordination,
as the initiatory ritual into monastic culture, was indispensable to the stability of monastic
order and the renewal of monastic culture.268 It initiated new members into a Buddhist
value system. Moreover, it is my opinion that Daoxuans standardization of the
ordination platform was central to his concept of hierarchy required in a successful
Sangha. I will argue that Daoxuan clarified the distinction between secular society and
267 In Genshi bukky no kenky (Kyoto: Hzkan, 1964), p. 373, Hirakawa Akira reconstructs the
Sanskrit name of the ordination platform as Upasampad-m-mandala, from Samantapsdik (Ch. Shanjianl biposha), meaning the place of boundaries for full ordination (Skt. upasampad, Ch. juzujie ) (Hirakawa, 2000, p. 97). The Sanskrit word sm means boundary (Ch. jie ). Hirakawa points out that the name of ordination platform jietan in Chinese is from Mahissaka-Vinaya; in Carturgika-Vinaya, it is called jiechang ( the place of ordination); yet in Daabhnavra-Vinaya, it is called as jiechang ( the place of boundaries); but in Mahsangha-Vinaya, both words jiechang and jiechang were used. Cf., Hirakawa, Genshi bukky no kyotan soshiki (Tokyo: Shunjsha, 2000), p. 94. His statement and reconstruction of the ordination platform in Sanskrit should be wrong. There should not be any ordination platform in Indian Buddhism. tienne Lamotte has a short description about ordination in his monumental monograph on Indian Buddhism without mentioning anything about ordination platform, see History of Indian Buddhism: From the Origins to the aka Era (Historie du bouddhisme indien), translated from the French by Sara Webb-Boin under the supervision of Jean Dantinne (Louvain: Universit Catholique de Louvain, Institut Orientaliste, Louvain-La-Neuve, 1988), pp. 55-57. Sukumar Dutt, Buddhist Monks and Monasteries of India: Their History and Their Contribution to Indian Culture, (London: George Allen & Unwin Ltd. 1962, reprinted in Delhi: Motial Banarsidass, 2000), p. 135 mentions that there might be an ordination hall remaining in the Amarvat. But Dutt did not mention any archaeological findings related to ordination platform; see pp. 138-161; 211-223.
268 Sato Mitsuo makes a textual analysis on the subject of ordination ritual. See his The
Ceremony of the Ordination and Its Understanding in Chinese Texts of Vinaya, Indogaku bukkygaku kenky 22 (1963), pp. 1-8.
Buddhist society, the distinction between Buddhist senior and junior monks, and the
reciprocity between these components. Finally, I will show below that Daoxuan also
successfully solved the problems raised by other masters about the Vinaya tradition by
using contemporary Mahyna ideas in his interpretation of Buddhist ordination.
This chapter focuses on Daoxuans monumental work entitled Illustrated
Scripture with Preface on the Establishment of an Ordination Platform within the Pass
(Ch. Guanzhong chuanglu jietan tujing , hereafter abbreviated as
Illustrated Scripture on Ordination Platform). Daoxuan wrote this text shortly before his
death. It is the first document about ordination ritual composed by a native Chinese
monk. It served as the foundation for later attempts to establish ordination platforms and
to develop the monastic order. Daoxuans piece on the ordination platform also had an
impact on Japanese Buddhism along with Daoxuan's other legacies after the Four-part
Vinaya tradition was introduced into Japan by Chinese monk Jianzhen ( Jap. Ganjin,
688-763) in 654.269 By titling his work a Scripture or Sutra, Daoxuan may have
intended that his book be a codification of this important practice.
Current scholarship on Buddhism has made limited progress studying the
ordination platform.270 English language scholarship has rarely touched on the issue of
ordination ritual in medieval China. Japanese scholars have discussed the ordination
269 According to Daoxuan, even in his time, the Four-part Vinaya was the dominant Vinaya text in
the Tang period; see the commentary written by Daoxuan on the section of the biographies of Vinaya masters in Xu gaoseng zhuan, Daoxuan, T. no. 2060, 50: 620a.
270 John McRae, Chinese Religions -- The State of the Field: Buddhism, Journal of Asian
Studies 54: 2 (1995), pp. 354-371. He states that there has not been much progress in the field of Buddhist Vinaya studies.
platform, but only in a sectarian context.271 Most of them describe the origin and the form
of the ordination platform based on traditional Buddhist sources in Buddhist history,
especially the Biographies of the Eminent Monks. Given that current scholarship has
largely neglected Daoxuans text, Illustrated Scripture on Ordination Platform, I will
examine the book in the context of Daoxuans discourse on the Buddhist monastic order.
Moreover, this text appeared with several other texts written by Daoxuan just before his
death. As one of the final statements made by Daoxuan on his theory of Buddhist
monasticism, it might illuminate his thinking as a whole. I will use it to examine other
texts written by Daoxuan, such as his commentary on the Four-part Vinaya (Sifenl), and
his other commentaries on Vinaya texts.
Japanese Buddhist scholarship has focused exclusively on Bodhisattva ordination
in medieval China, rather than on the conventional ordination ritual conducted by monks
within the Sangha. Traditional Japanese Buddhology argues that Bodhisattva ordination
flourished in East Asia, especially in Japan, as one of the features of Mahyna
Buddhism. 272 However, I believe that Bodhisattva ordination did not have a very
271 For example, Sato Tatsugen briefly outlines the origin of the ordination platform, see Sato,
Chgoku bukky ni okeru kairitsu no kenky (Tokyo: Mokujisha, 1986); cho Enichi tries to trace the form of the ordination platform back to the traditional Chinese altar, see, his article Kaidan ni tsuite, Shina bukky shigaku (1946); Tsuchihashi Shk also mentions the ordination platform, but he does not explain it further from the basic viewpoint of Japanese Buddhology; see Kairitsu no kenky 2 vols. (Kyoto: Nagata bunshodo, 1980-1982). The most recent work on Daoxuans ordination platform has been done by Fujiyoshi Masumi, see his Dsen den no kenky (Kyoto: Kyt daigaku shuppankai, 2002), pp. 376-387; but he only summarizes the main idea of Daoxuans piece.
272 For example, Okimoto Katsumi, Daijkai, in Daij bukky towa nannika, ed. by Akira
Hirakawa, Kajiyama Yuichi and Takasaki Jikid (Tokyo: Shunjsha, 1981), pp. 184-221; Tsuchihashi Shk, Kairitsu no kenkyu 2 vols. (Kyoto: Nagata Bunshod, 1980-82); Mori Shoji, Busatsukai to daij bukkyo kodan, Kanaoka Shy hakasei kanreki kinen ronbunsh: Daij bosatsu no seikai (1987), pp. 25-46; Takeda Choten, Chgoku bukky to bosatsu kai, Chgoku no shky shis to kagaku: Makio Rykai hakushi shju kinen ronsh (Tokyo: Kokusho konkkai, 1984), pp. 273-290; Michihata Ryoshu, Daij bodatsukai tozaike bukky zaike bosatsu to shuke bosatsu, Hokugi bukky no kenky (1970), pp. 315-336; Sato Tatsugen, Chgoku ni okeru daijkai no tankai -- Sanjujkai ni tsuite, Indogaku bukkygaku kenky 36 (1970), p. 769; Tsuchihasi Shuko, Kairitsu no zaizokusei Chgoku no bosatsu
significant impact on Buddhist monastic order. As a ritual for lay people Bodhisattva
ordination does not function within the Sangha. Rather, it functions by establishing a
strong relationship between the Buddhist monastic group and lay society. Mahyna
Buddhism also influenced the monastic order and the monk-oriented. 273 Although
Bodhisattva ordination was very popular in the Southern and Northern dynasties and
many rulers received this ordination, it was of less importance to the monastic order itself.
I would rather stress the significance of Daoxuans Mahyna interpretation of the
ordination ritual in shaping a new monastic order in medieval China.
Japanese Buddhologists have developed a systematic theory concerning
Bodhisattva ordination, based on the study of The Sutra of Brahms Net (Fanwang jing).
The principle statements of this theory can be summarized as follows. At first, this
approach claims that The Sutra of Brahms Net, as a Chinese Buddhist apocryphal text
affiliated with Mahyna Buddhism, was the origin of Bodhisattva ordination. This
scripture has been recorded in the Mahyna Vinaya (Dasheng l ) in the
Buddhist canons through the ages. Thus, textually, the type of ordination that this
scripture promoted was a typical Mahyna ordination. Moreover, since this scripture
was a Chinese apocryphal text, the popularity of The Sutra of Brahms Net indicates that
the Chinese people had accepted the Buddhist practice of Bodhisattva ordination. For
kaihon yori, Indogaku bukkygaku kenky 46 (1975), pp. 31-36; Hirakawa Akira, Chigi inokeru shmonkai to bosatsu kai, Tendai daishi senyohyaku nen goonki kenen: Tendai daishi kenky (1997), pp. 1-26.
273 Gregory Schopen suggests that from its first appearance in inscriptions, the Mahyna was a
monk-dominated movement; and that it continued to be so until the thirteenth century, the date of our last known Mahyna inscription. See his article Two Problems in the History of Indian Buddhism: The Layman/Monk Distinction and the Doctrines of the Transference of Merit, in: Bones, Stones and Buddhist Monks: Collected Papers on the Archaeology, Epigraphy, and Texts of Monastic Buddhism in India (Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 1997), p. 32. Also see his article, Mahyna in Indian Inscriptions, Indo-Iranian Journal 21 (1979), pp. 1-19.
example, many literati such as Shen Yue converted to Buddhism by receiving
Bodhisattva ordination, and many rulers in medieval China including the Sui Emperors
Wen and Yang also received Bodhisattva ordination. From this perspective, acceptance
by the ruling class of the Bodhisattva ordination highlights the importance of Bodhisattva
ordination in East Asian Mahyna Buddhism, and how the Bodhisattva ordination seems
to have taken root in medieval Chinese society. This conclusion, however, focuses on the
Bodhisattva practice of lay followers and ignores the fact that in China, the Buddhist
Sangha was also organized with Mahyna principles; Chinese monks and nuns also were
ordained with Mahyna precepts. Since early Tang period, more and more monks and
nuns were ordained on the Mahyna ordination platform that Daoxuan designed.
Contemporary scholarship in the past five decades has made great progress on the
ritual of Buddhist ordination, but most of the works in Western languages focuses on the
ritual of ordination in South and Southeast Asian countries. 274 Japanese scholarship
274 tienne Lamotte has a short introduction to ordination ritual in Indian Buddhism: The
ordination (Upasampad) is fixed down to the smallest detail by the ritual of the Karmavcans, and is conferred by a chapter of a minimum of ten monks (daavarga). The applicant, equipped with an alms-bowl and three robes, requests ordination three times. The celebrant makes sure he is free from any impediments and enquires details of his name, age and updhyya. Then follows the ordination proper: it is a japticaturthakarma, an ecclesiastic act in which the motion is fourfold. It in fact consists of a motion (japti) followed by three propositions (karmavcan) concerning the admission of the motion by the chapter; see his History of Indian Buddhism (Louvain, 1988), p. 56. Several Sanskrit fragments of Karmavcan have been found in Central Asia. A fragment belonging to Sarvstivda school has been found in Kucha; see Herbert Hrtel, Karmavcan Formulare fr den Gebrauch im buddhistischen Gemeindeleben aus ostturkistanischen Sanskrit-Handschriften (Berlin, 1956); another fragment in a Central Asian language has been found in Tumshuq; see Harold W. Bailey, The Tumshuq Karmavcan, Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies XIII (1949-1950), pp. 649-670; Ronald E. Emmerick, The Tumshuqese Karmavcan Text (Adademie der Wissenschaften und der Literatur, Mainz: Abhandlungen der Geistes- und Sozialwissenschaftlichen Klasse, Jahrgang, Nr. 2, Stuttgart: Steiner-Verlag-Wiesbaden-GmbH, 1985). On a Sanskrit fragment found in Dunhuang, see Louis de la Valle Poussin, Nouveaux fragments de la collection Stein, Journal of Royal Asiatic Society (1913), pp. 843-847. On Bhiksunkarmavcan, see C. M. Ridding & Louis de la Valle Poussin, A Fragment of the Sanskrit Vinaya, Bhiksunkarmavcan, Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies (1919), pp. 123-143; Ernst Waldschimidt, Zum ersten buddhistischen Konzil in Rjagrha, Sanskrit-Bruchstcke aus kanonischen Bericht der Sarvstivdins, Asiatica, Festschrift Friedrich Weller, (Leipzig, 1954), pp. 817-828; Hirakawa Akira, Ritsuz no kenky (Tokyo: Sankibo busshorin, 1970), pp. 58-113. For the ordination
focuses on the ritual of ordination in Japanese Buddhism, referring occasionally to
medieval Chinese precedents. 275 Ordination ritual has also been examined from
sociological and anthropological perspectives. Paul Lvy developed a theory of initiatory
ritual to explore the ritual of Buddhist ordination. 276 Lvys study focuses on the
Thervadn ordination ritual in Southeast Asia. He traces many teachings and practices
back to primitive Buddhism, based on European scholarship of his time. He attempts to
link the structure of the ordination ceremony to the life of Buddha, first by investigating
the ordination ceremony in Southeast Asia, and then by discussing the Mahyna
ordination ritual in the Himalayas, China, and Mongolia. He emphasizes ecclesiastical
hierarchy in the process of ordination ritual. He does not discuss the details of the
performance of ordination, a task which I will attempt in this chapter. Lvy analyzes the
myth of the First Council in early Buddhist history and argues that Ananda was the
prototype of the ordination. In his analysis, as Buddhist saints, Gavmpati became the
representative of Buddhist asceticism, and Kyapa played an important role in the
ordination ceremony. These roles, which frequently appear in Buddhist ritual literature,
ritual in Sri Lanka, see Richard F. Gombrich, Temporary Ordination in Sri Lanka, Journal of the International Association of Buddhist Studies 7: 2 (1984), pp. 41-65; and H. L. Seneviratne, L ordination bouddhique Ceylon, Social Compass 20 (1973), pp. 251-256. For ordination in contemporary Thailand, see Jane Bunnag, Buddhist Monk, Buddhist Layman: A Study of Urban Monastic Organization in Central Thailand (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1973), pp. 39-42 especially pp. 41-42, the author summarizes that the ordination ceremony in Thailand can be said to act as a selective mechanism in so far as it requires the consent of a number of laymen and of members of the Sangha and requirements do not demand a high level of intellectual ability or previous educational attainment. Ann Heirman, Some Remarks on the Rise of the Bhiksunisamgha and on the Ordination Ceremony for Bhiksunis according to the Dharmaguptaka Vinaya, Journal of the International Association of Buddhist Studies 20: 2 (1997), pp. 33-85.
275 Tsuchihashi Shk, Sato Tatsugen, Akira Hirakawa, and Ishida Mizumaro, Bomm ky,
Butten kza, vol. 14 (Tokyo: Daiz shuppansha, 1971); chi Enichi, Kaiden ni tsuite, Shina bukkyo shigaku 5: 1 (June 1941), pp. 15-41; Murata Jiro, Kaidan shko, Bukky geijutsu 50 (December 1961), pp. 1-16.
276 Paul Lvy, Buddhism and Mystery Religions. (London: The Athlone Press, University of
London, 1957). The author cites Mauss and other anthropologists.
will be discussed in the context of the Chinese Buddhist ordination ritual in this chapter.
Lvy argues, entering a Buddhist monastic order is not only a liberation for the monk,
but also for the promoter of the ordination, whether it be parent, master, or spiritual guide
of the candidate.277 Lvy also realizes that one of the features of primitive religious
initiation involved a specific age requirement, which meant that major ordination was
only accorded to young men who had definitely attained puberty.278 Lvy pays attention
to the fact that the ordination ritual gave importance to dress and to the prophylactic
value of clothes. Lvy concludes that the Buddhist mythologico-ritual complex centered
on ordination reflects a system of gift and exchange. These are all fruitful insights. I will
build on them below and ask which of them are applicable to Chinese Buddhism.
Hybridizing the Ordination Tradition: From South China to Central Asia
Why was Daoxuan concerned with the ordination platform? Daoxuan believed
that Buddhism had declined in North China because, unlike in South China, there were
no ordination platforms. In Record of Miraculous Responses of Vinaya Master Daoxuan,
In South China, from Yu prefecture to the south of the Yangtze and Huai rivers, there are more than three hundred ordination platforms. In the eastern region of the Xiao Mountains, the northern region of the Yellow River, within the Pass, and the region south of the Jianmen Gate, there are not as many ordination platforms. It is because of the ordination platforms that the Buddhist Dharma in the south of the Yangtze River has not decayed in the past four to five hundred years. Ordination is the beginning of Dharma. The basis is established and cannot be destroyed. Thus, on both banks of the Yellow River, the people had never heard of ordination platforms, so there Buddhism suffered persecution three times. Furthermore, to the south of the Yangtze and Han rivers, the land is such that once people see it, they forget to return home. Because people are moved by these external sources, they have passion, wisdom, bravery, and fierce bodies and
277 Ibid., p. 99. 278 Ibid., p. 101.
minds. Thus they can fully comprehend Buddhism and rely completely on it without any doubt or hesitation, and they cannot forget it or reject it.279
Daoxuan claims that ordination platforms helped sustain the Buddhist Dharma in the
South. He believed that that the persecution of Buddhism was due to a lack of ordination
platforms. Daoxuan did not have a chance to visit the South but he claimed that there
were many ordination platforms there and that these platforms prevented Buddhism from
being persecuted as it had been in the North. This reasoning indicates that Daoxuan
thought seriously about the internal problems of the Buddhist monastic order, rather than
laying blame on external and non-Buddhist sources. In other words, Daoxuan attempted
to find a way from within the monastic order to stabilize the monastic order, and he did
so by emphasizing the establishment of the ordination platform.
For Daoxuan, the ordination platform contributed to the flourishing of the
Buddhist Dharma in South China for four or five hundred years. Daoxuan recorded a
story about the prominent master Gunnavarman (),280 who was from Kapii
(modern Afghanistan). Gunnavarman arrived in Yangzhou in the seventh year of Yuanjia
period (430) and translated many stras and vinayas under the support of Emperor Wen.
He decided to stay for the rest of his life after he made a trip to the Nanlin Monastery
279 Lxiang gantong zhuan, Daoxuan, T. no. 1898, 45: 881b. 280 Kapii is referred to Jibin in Chinese historical sources. See Enomoto Fumio, A Note on
Kashmir as referred to in Chinese Literature: Ji-bin, A Study of the Nlamata. Aspects of Hinduism in Ancient Kashmir, ed. Ikari Yasuke (Kyoto: Institute for Research in Humanities, Kyoto University, 1994), pp. 357-365; Kuwayama Shoshin, Historical Notes on Kapii and Kabul in the Sixth-Eighth Centuries, Zinbun 34: 1 (1999), pp. 25-77, especially pp. 41-45.
(Nanlin si ) and found the environment supportive.281 A miracle story about
Gunnavarman in Daoxuans writing suggests that only a monk who had achieved
enlightenment could authorize an ordination platform in China. Daoxuans Illustrated
Scripture of the Ordination Platform patently links Gunnavarmans achieving
enlightenment to his authentic, full ordination. Gunnavarman once constructed an
ordination platform in front of the garden within a monastery, and there he ordained
many monks. The local people doubted his abilities as a monk because they saw no
evidence of enlightenment, so they devised a test for him. They followed the practice
described in the Scripture of Inviting Pindola.282 They furtively set flowers under the
seats of monks and they invited the monks to sit down. Later they found that only the
flowers under Gunnavarmans seat remained fresh.283 This event convinced them that
Gunnavarman had definitely achieved enlightenment. In Daoxuans eyes, receiving
ordination on the proper platform was tantamount to achieving enlightenment.
Buddhist tradition from Kapii had a tremendous influence on Chinese Buddhism,
both in Vinaya scholarship as well as on the shape of the monastic order. As a preeminent
Vinaya master, Daoxuan benefited from the Buddhist tradition from Kapii. In addition to
the burial rites for Buddhist monks, other burial rites were also brought to China by
masters from Kapii. In the eyes of Chinese authors, burial rites were connected to the
acceptance of full ordination. According to Chinese sources, in Kapii the eminent monks
281 About the platform erected by Gunnavarman, see ch Enichi, Kaidan ni tsuite, Shina
bukky shigaku 5: 1 (1941), pp. 15-41. For a new study on the relationship between the Chan school and this master, see Ishii Kosei, Zensh no senku -- Gunabatsuma sanz no denki to yuike, Zengaku kenky no shos: Tanaka Rysh hakase koki kinen ronsh (Tokyo: Dait shuppansha, 2003), pp. 63-84.
282 Qing Bingtoulu fa, trans. Huijian, T. no. 1689, 32: 784b-c. 283 Guanzhong chuangli jietan tujing, Daoxuan, T. no. 1892, 45: 812c.
who had received full ordination could be buried in a special place, while the common
monks who did not achieve enlightenment would be buried in an ordinary place. There is
story about this in Sengyous Collection of Records concerning the Translation of Three
Collections (Chu sanzang jiji ):
[The monk] Zhiyan received the five precepts before he left home at twenty, and later he went to the Western Regions to study Buddhism. He arrived in Kapii to meet the famous master Buddhabhadra. They came to central China together. When he joined the Buddhist Sangha, he received full ordination, yet for many years he worried that he did not truly receive full ordination. He had to visit India again to seek the answer from some preeminent masters there. In India, he met an Arhat who could not decide the question. The Arhat meditated to ask Maitreya in Tusita heaven, and he received the confirmation for Zhiyan. Zhiyan felt very pleased with this information. He passed away in Kapii on the journey back to China at the age of seventy-eight. As a custom in Kapii, only the monks who achieved enlightenment could be buried in a special place, which was different from the regular place for unenlightened monks. The local people in Kapii did not know whether Zhiyan had achieved enlightenment, and they decided to bury him as an ordinary monk. But they could not lift up Zhiyans body even though there were many of them. So they switched and buried his body in the place for enlightened monks. This time they felt that his body was very light and they could walk very quickly. He was successfully buried in the end.284
Kapii appears twice in this story: the first time is when Zhiyan meets Buddhabhadra
there, and the other is when Zhiyan dies and is buried there. This story clearly illustrates
284 Chu sanzang jiji, Sengyou, T. no. 2145, 55: 112c-113a. For a modern edition, see Sengyou,
Chu sanzang jiji (Beijing: Zhonghua shuju, 1995), pp. 576-578, especially 577. This story is rarely mentioned in contemporary scholarship. Li Yumin notes this story in his article Dunhuang Mogaoku erwujiu ku zhi yanjiu, Guoli Taiwan daxue meishushi yanjiu jikan 2 (1995), pp. 1-26. Current scholarship rarely touches the issue of ancient Indian burial ritual. For some discussion on this issue, see Sasaki Shizuka, Indo bukky ni okeru girei to shzoku, Bukky no rekishi teki chii teki tankai: Bukkyshi gakkai goju shnen kinen ronsh (2003), pp. 163-182; and Oda Yoshihisa,Saiiki ni okeru soso yshiki ni tsuite, Indogaku bukkygaku kenky 22 (1963), pp. 182-183.
that in Kapii, the monks who were believed to be enlightened, who in theory had
received full ordination, were to be buried separately. Thus, legitimate, full ordination
was typically linked to enlightenment. Since he was intimately familiar with the
scholarship of Sengyou ( 445-518), Daoxuan must have known this tradition of
burying deceased monks. He had read Sengyous Collection of Records Concerning
Translation of Three Collections, and he mentioned Zhiyans story in his account of
sixteen pilgrims who traveled to India (called Gazetteer of the akya Clan).285
Daoxuans effort to stabilize the Chinese Buddhist monastic order was rooted in
Southern Buddhist tradition and centered on the establishment of the ordination platform.
Since the fourth century, Chinese southern Buddhist tradition had largely followed the
massive influence of the Ten-section Vinaya.286 Monks from Kapii brought this Vinaya
tradition to South China. Though Daoxuan was mainly trained in the Four-part Vinaya
tradition, he still attempted to incorporate Ten-section Vinaya into his new theory of the
ordination platform in order to make it accessible to a wider audience.
Like most domestic monks in China, Daoxuan did not have a chance to make a
pilgrimage to Central Asia and India. This made it difficult for him to find solid
justification for his views on the ordination platform. He faced criticism from some
pilgrims who had witnessed Buddhist architecture in Central Asia and India. Daoxuan
solved the problem by basing himself on the Western tradition from Kpii, trying to
285 Shijia fangzhi, Daoxuan, T. no. 2088, 51: 969b. See Fan Xiangyong ed., Shijia fangzhi (Beijing:
Zhonghua shuju, 2000), pp. 97-98. Moreover, Daoxuan followed the model of Sengyou, who was a preeminent Vinaya master in Ten-section Vinaya, to establish his reputation in Buddhist scholarship and Vinaya learning; see Daoxuan, Song gaoseng zhuan, Zanning (919-1001), T. no. 2061, 50: 790c.
286 It was believed to belong to the Sarvstivada School (Ch. Shuo yiqieyou bu), one of the
traditional Hinayana Schools; see Charles Willemen, Bart Dessein and Collett Cox, Sarvstivda Buddhist Scholasticism (Handbuch der Orientalistik: Indien. Leiden: E.J. Brill, 1998), especially pp. 16-35.
avoid confrontation with other pilgrims like Xuanzang and Yijing. He may also have
done this because he thought that the Sarvstivda tradition from Kpii was successful
in South China, and that certain features of the tradition could be valuable to the whole
sangha if he integrated these features into his design of the ordination platform.
Memory and Imagination: The Origin of the Ordination of Platform
Daoxuan tells a legend about the origin of the ordination platform in early
Buddhism.287 The legend is important because it is one of the techniques Daoxuan uses to
create what was, in effect, a new tradition. Drawing inspiration from early Buddhist
sources, Daoxuans story takes place at the time of the Buddha in the Jetevana Garden
supported by Anathapindada. At the very beginning, three ordination platforms were
established. The first, established by the Great Brahm King (Skt. mahbrahmdeva, Ch.
da Fantian wang ), was the platform for the ordination of bhiksus defined by
the Buddha (fo wei biqiu jiejie tan ) in the eastern corner of the
courtyard where Buddha stayed. The second, established by the Demon King
Mrapapiyas (Mowang Boxun ), was the platform for the ordination of
bhiksunis by the Buddha (biqiuni jiejie tan ) in the western corner of the
courtyard.288 There is no clue about who built the third platform, the platform for the
ordination of monks by the sangha (seng wei biqiu shoujie tan ). The
first two platforms were established by the gods, not by the Buddha or by his disciples
and laymen. Daoxuan next explains how a number of Buddhas ascended the platforms,
287 In the first section of Daoxuans Illustrated Scripture on the Ordination Platform named The
Original Creation and the Rise of the Teaching of the Ordination Platform (jietan yuanjie jiaoxing); see T. no. 1892, 45: 807c.
288 Guanzhong jietan tujing bing xu, Daoxuan, T. no. 1892, 45: 807c.
and, through discussion, they established the basic rules governing the violation of the
prohibitions, the conduct of the ordinations, and so on.
The legend Daoxuan tells here illustrates how medieval Chinese Buddhists
returned to an early Buddhist myth when they speculated on the construction of the
Buddhist ordination platform. Many scholars have argued that in traditional society,
many rituals repeat an act performed at the beginning of time by a god, a hero, or an
ancestor.289 In our case, Daoxuan explains that divine kings constructed the first platform
at the founding of the Buddhist community in Buddhas time. Daoxuan repeats the tale,
thus using the founding myth to frame his own generations practice. In this way, the
myth is repeated and reinterpreted by each generation as it instructs the next generation.
In Daoxuans imagination of early Buddhist history, only Buddhas could ascend
the platforms. Daoxuans account distinguishes between the events happening on the
platforms and the events happening on the ground. The Buddhas discussion of the proper
procedure for ordination, which takes place on the elevated platform, serves as a model
for the assembly on the ground.
In Daoxuans eyes, every detail of the design of the ordination platform was a
telling reflection of fundamental Buddhist truths. He uses the technical term,
appearance (Skt. lakana; Ch. xiang ), 290 to stress how the construction of the
ordination platform conveyed the everlasting Dharma. The power of the platform to
symbolize the Dharma was based on the fact that it was Buddhas, not humans, who
289 Mircea Eliade, The Myth of The Eternal Return, or Cosmos and History, translated from the
French by Willard R. Trask (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1991), p. 22. 290 This word also refers to nimitta in Sanskrit, which means a distinctive mark, sign or
designation. In Buddhism, xiang and xing refer to form and nature, in other words, phenomenon and noumenon.
established the platform. Daoxuan implied that monks were able to grasp the Dharma
fully only by receiving ordination on a proper platform.
What were some of the important symbolic features of Daoxuans ideal ordination
platform? Daoxuans Illustrated Scripture on the Ordination Platform clearly describes
the shape and decoration of the ordination platform. First of all, Daoxuan makes a
distinction between the design of the ordination platform and that of traditional Chinese
altars for sacrificing to mountains, heavens, and ancestors. In my reading, the difference
is that the former has two sets of stairways, the latter only one.291 As noted above, there
were a pair of stairways on the southern side and one pair of stairways on the western
side of the square platform, according to Daoxuans commentary on the Four-part Vinaya.
Although no archaeological evidence about the ordination platform survives from
Daoxuans time, the ordination platforms existing in Japan, believed to have been
constructed on the basis of Daoxuans Vinaya tradition, might help us.
The extant ordination platform in Todaiji in Japan provides us with some
sense of the original shape of the old ordination platform. Although the current ordination
platform in Todaiji was reconstructed in the thirteenth century, its history, as I show
below, can be traced back to the eighth century, when Ganjin for the first time built an
ordination platform in 754. This platform had a pair of stairways connecting each level
on its southern, western, and eastern sides, and only one central stairway connecting each
level on the north.292
291 Guanzhong chuangli jietan tujing, Daoxuan, T. no. 1892, 45: 808b. So far, there are no any
archaeological reports about ordination platform in Indian or Central Asia. I assume that the problem is not whether there are any remaining sites of ordination platform; rather the problem is how to identify the architecture of ordination platform among the many ruins archaeologists found.
Figure 1: Tdaiji Ordination Platform
Figure 2: Tshodaiji Ordination Platform
292 The illustration of the Golden Hall of Kaidanin appears in Kinji Nihon Tetsudo ed. Tdaiji
(Osaka, 1963), p. 85.
Ishida Mizumaru suggests that this platform was constructed under the guidance
of Daoxuans Illustrated Scripture on the Ordination Platform, according to which the
platform would have three levels and stpa-style relic container in the middle.293 Ganjins
biography confirms that he brought Daoxuans Illustrated Scripture on the Ordination
Platform back to Japan on his sixth trip. 294 The history of the construction of the
ordination platform in Todaiji can be traced in Japanese sources. In the Record of the
Ordination Platform of Tshdaiji (founded in 759 by Ganjin), it is said that,
[Ganjin] arrived in Nanpa in the second month of the six year of Tianping shengbao period (759). In the fourth month, he arrived in Kyoto, and settled down at Todaiji. Under the edict of the emperor, the monk constructed the ordination platform at Todaiji. The clay for construction was from the clay used in Nalanda Monastery of India and the Ordination Platform in Qingguan County, Changan, Tang China.295
In this passage we learn that the construction of this ordination platform in Todaiji
followed the model of Daoxuans ordination platform in the suburbs of Changan. The
clay for this Japanese ordination platform was from India, while the design was from
Chinese master Daoxuan. This platform constructed by Ganjin was the first ordination
platform in the history of Japanese Buddhism. It is a clear example of Daoxuans legacy.
Daoxuan explained the symbolism of the three-level design of the platform. The
vertical levels symbolized the important idea of the three emptinesses. 296 The three
293 Ishida Mizumaro, Ganjin: sono kairitsu shis (Tokyo: Daiz shuppansha, 1973), pp 201-202. 294 And Kosei, Ganjin daiwajden no kenky (Tokyo: Heibonsha, 1960); Ganjin Waj, ed. Nihon
rekishi gakkai hensh, (Tokyo: Yoshikawa kbunkan, 1967), p. 163. 295 Dainihon bukky zenshu , no. 710, 85: 100a-b. For a study on the platform,
see Tokuda Myohon, Toshodaiji kaidan ko, Nant bukky (1961), pp. 30-45. 296 Guanzhong chuangli jietan tujing, Daoxuan, T. no. 1892, 45: 808b. Richard H. Robinson, Early
Mdhyamika in India and China (Madison, WI: University of Wisconsin Press, 1967); Liu Ming-Wood, Mdhyamaka Thought in China (Leiden: E. J. Brill, 1994).
emptinesses are emptiness (Skt. nyata, Ch. kong ), non-form (Ch. wuxiang )
and non-vow (Skt. apranidhna, Ch. wuyuan ). In Buddhism, the basic idea of
emptiness is that all constituent elements (dharmas) lack their own innate nature (Skt.
svabhva, Ch. zixing ) and will be manifested by a variety of natural and social
phenomena. Because all things are interdependent rather than immutable and independent,
people should avoid attachment to things. The idea of the three forms of emptiness
appears in a famous Mahyna text, the Scripture of Vimalakirti (Skt. Vimalakirtinirdea
), which was very popular in medieval China.297
Daoxuan discusses the symbolism of each level of the ordination platform,
correlating the details of each component to the various doctrinal formulations of Chinese
Buddhism. For example, the two-inch high first level symbolized the two truths (Ch. erdi
),298 and the second level of the platform, which was seven feet long and seven feet
wide, symbolized the seven means of achieving enlightenment (Skt. saptabodhyangni,
Ch. qijue ). This concept of seven means of achieving enlightenment is attested in
standard sources that Daoxuan knew, like the Samyukt-gama Stra.299 The organization
of the third level was related to the series (Skt. varga, Ch. pin ) of thirty-seven
dharmas.300 This is found in the series of thirty-seven dharmas cited in the famous text A
297 Weimojie suoshuo jing, trans. Kumrajva (344-413), T. no. 475, 14: 551b. 298 It includes the divine truth (Skt. paramrtha-satya, Pli. paramattha-sacca) and the secular truth
(Skt. samvrti-satya, Pli. sammuti-sacca). 299 Ch. Za ahan jing , chapter twenty-six. 300 Skt. bodhipkikadharm, Ch. sanshiqi pin .
Treatise on the Great Perfection of Wisdom. 301 For the fourth level, according to
Daoxuan, on the top of the ordination platform, there was an inverted-bowl reliquary that
was originally added by Indra.302 Following Indra, Brahm added an invaluable pearl to
this reliquary. Thus, in Daoxuans eyes, the ordination platform had five levels, which
corresponded to the five attributes of the dharmakya.303
Why did Daoxuan use this kind of language to analyze the ordination platform? In
Daoxuans era, Buddhism had been flourishing in China for hundreds of years. Mahyna
Buddhism had become the mainstream in Chinese Buddhist tradition, but there were also
other traditions. In my opinion, Daoxuan aimed at preaching his ideas to all Buddhists,
whatever tradition they belonged to. As part of his efforts to restore the Buddhist order,
Daoxuan, acting as the head of the sangha, used a common language to organize his ideas.
In this way, his choice of terms was a way of bridging his ideas and the world of his
audience. He chose his ideas, wherever possible, from texts his audience already accepted
More specifically, we need to consider which texts, which sub-traditions in
Buddhist thought, and which geographical areas Daoxuan drew upon. The names of
deities Daoxuan cites come from the following scriptures: The Treatise of Sudarana,304
301 Skt. Mahprajpramit-stra, Ch. Da zhidu lun , attributed to Ngrjuna. T. 1509,
vol. 25. For a French translation, see tienne Lamotte, Le trait de la grande vertu de sagesse (Louvain 1944).
302 Skt. akra-Devnmindra, Ch. Dishitian . 303 Skt. paca-dharmakya, the spiritual body of the Tathgata. See Guanzhong chuangli jietan
tujing, Daoxuan, T. no. 1892, 45: 808b. 304 Skt. Samantapsdik, Ch. Shanjian lun .
The Stra of Consecration,305 The Stra of the King Peacocks Miscellaneous Divine
Incantations, 306 The Stra on the Wise and the Foolish,307 and The Stra on the Magic of
Upasena.308 Daoxuan also cites many passages from Miscellaneous Collected gama
Sutras.309 Upasena Stra is a selection from the Samyukt-gama, but it also has a
separate short Chinese translation.310
305 Skt. Mahbhiekamantra, Ch. Guanding jing . Michel Strickmann suggests that this
stra was a Chinese apocryphal text, though it occupies a place in Chinese ritual literature. He argues that this stra appeared in the context of the development of the thought of Latter Dharma (Ch. mofa); see Michel Strickmann, The Consecration Stra: A Buddhist Book of Spells, in Robert Buswell, Jr., ed., Chinese Buddhist Apocrypha (Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 1990), pp. 75-118, especially, p. 79, 89.
306 Skt. Mahmyri[vidyrj], Ch. Kongque wang za shenzhou jing . Ch.
shenzhou, refers to Skt. riddhi-mantra, dhran, also translated as spirit-spell. mura Seigai takes the use of this spirit-spell into account in his study on Esoteric Buddhism, see Mikky hattatsu shi (1918; Tokyo: Kokusho kankkai, 1972, reprinted), pp. 128-133; and Takubo Shuyo, Shoki kujiakukyrui to sono daijn o tankai, Buzan kygaku taikai kiy 6 (1978), pp. 1-31.
307 Ch. Xianyu jing . Takahashi Moritaka translated and annotated the Tibetan version in,
Hdsaris Blun or the Stra of the Wise and the Foolish (Osaka: Kansei Daigaku, The Institute of Oriental and Occidental Studies, 1969). Sylvain Lvi, Le Sutra u sage et du fou dans la litterature de l'Asie centrale, Journal Asiatique (1925), pp. 304-332. Victor H. Mair has a comprehensive study on Xianyu jing; see his The Linguistic and Textual Antecedents of The Sutra of the Wise and the Foolish, Sino-Platonic Papers 38 (1993), pp. 1-95; and The Khotanese Antecedents of The Stra of the Wise and the Foolish (Xianyu jing), in Erik Zrcher et al. eds., Collection of Essays 1993: Buddhism Across Boundaries-Chinese Buddhism and the Western Regions (1999), pp. 361-420; see also Liang Liling, Xianyu jing yanjiu (Taipei: Dongchu chubanshe, 1997); and Ding Min, Fojiao biyu wenxue yanjiu (Taipei: Dongchu chubanshe, 1996), pp. 166ff.
308 Ch. Youposina zhou jing . 309 Skt. Samyukt-gama, Ch. Za ahan jing; see Guanzhong chuangli jietan tujing, Daoxuan, T. no.
1892, 45: 808b. The parallel Samyukt-gama, Samyutta-Nikya has been translated into English from Pali. See The Samyutta-Nikya, 6 vols., (The Pali Text Society, London, 1975-1991). A Sanskrit fragment from Central Asia has been identified. See Ernst Waldschmidt, Ein Fragment des Samyuktagama aus den Turfan-Funden (M 476), in: Nachrichten der Akademie der Wissenschaften in Gttingen. I. Philol.-hist. Kl. 3 (Gttingen, 1956), pp. 45-53; Gregory Bongard-Levin, Daniel J. Boucher, Takamichi Fukita, and Klaus Wille, The Ngaropamastra: An Apotropaic Text from the Samyuktgama. A Translation, Reconstruction and Translation of the Central Asian Sanskrit Manuscripts, in Sanskrit-Wrterbuch der buddhistischen Texts aus den Turfan-Funden Beiheft 6. (Gttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 1996).
310 Ernst Waldschmidt, Das Upasena Sutra, ein Zauber gegen Schlangenbiss aus dem
Samyuktagama, in Nachrichten der Akademie der Wissenschaften in Gttingen. I. Philol.-hist. Kl. 2
It is worth noting that, from a geographical perspective, these texts seem to
represent a single Buddhist tradition located in Central Asia. For instance, The Stra on
the Wise and the Foolish was formulated in Khotan311 by Chinese monks who heard the
stories in the remote Western Regions and translated them into Chinese in the Northern
Wei Dynasty. The translator of Samyukt-gama, Gunnabhadra, studied in Kapii and he
translated Samyukt-gama in the Zhiyuan Monastery of Jiankang the capital of the
Eastern Jin Dynasty.312 Some of the stories in The Stra on the Wise and Foolish also
appear in the collection of Vinaya (Vinaya-pitaka).
Moreover, the relationship between rimitra ( Ch. Bo shili
miduoluo, Western Jin Dynasty, 4th CE), 313 the translator of both The Sutra of
Consecration314 and The Sutra of the King Peacocks Miscellaneous Divine Incantations,
and the southern tradition of Chinese Buddhist historiography is also very interesting.
Daoxuans Catalogue to the Buddhist Canon in the Great Tang (Da Tang neidian lu)
ascribes the translation of The Sutra of Consecration to rimitra. Daoxuan also says that
rimitra was very talented with Buddhist magical techniques, which were popular in the
(Gttingen, 1957), pp.27-44; Yin Shun, Chunqi dasheng fojiao zhi qiyuan yu zhankai (Taipei: Zhengwen chubanshe, 1994), p.509.
311 On Buddhist history in Khotan, see Ronald E. Emmerick, A Guide of Khotanese Buddhist
Literature (Tokyo: Reiyukai, 1995). 312 In 435 he arrived in China and worked at translation till 443, and in 468 he died in his seventy-
fifth year. 313 Chu sanzang jiji, Sengyou, T. no. 2149, 55: 244b-c; for a modern edition, see Chu sanzang jiji
(Beijing: Zhonghua shuju, 1995), p. 522. 314 Hayashiya Tomojir argues that this stra was wrongly ascribed to the Kuchean translator
rimitra; see Iyaku kyrui no kenky (Tokyo: Ty bunko, 1945), English summary, p. 3; Michel Strickmann confirms his argument; see The Consecration Stra: A Buddhist Book of Spells, in Robert Buswell, Jr. ed., Chinese Buddhist Apocrypha (Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 1990), p. 79 and footnote 9.
capital of South China.315 While rimitra engaged in translation, he lived in Jianchu
Monastery (Jiankang), which was an important location for Daoxuan three centuries later.
Sengyou (445-518) and his friend Liu Xie (465? - 520?) lived there, and Sengyou also
wrote a biography of rimitra.316 According to a later biographer, Daoxuan modeled his
life and scholarship after that of Sengyou.317 Moreover, in his catalogue of the Buddhist
canon, Daoxuan explicitly recorded that Sengyou wrote commentaries on three texts,
including The Sutra of the Great Assembly,318 The Sutra on the Wise and the Foolish,
and The Treatise of Sudarana (Shanjian lun).319 All these texts appear in Daoxuans
Illustrated Scripture on the Ordination Platform. Therefore, Daoxuans citation of
rimitras stras is important not only in and of itself, but also because it shows that
Sengyous works had an important influence on Daoxuans writing.
In sum, these scriptures are either related to Buddhist traditions in Kapii, or
related to the Four-part Vinaya tradition. These traditions were the most two important
sources for Daoxuans scholarship. The Vinaya tradition from Kapii became a powerful
force in Chinese Buddhist circles when its texts were translated into Chinese in the early
315 Chu sanzang jiji, Sengyou, T. no. 2149, 55: 244b-c. According to Daoxuan, rimitra translated
three scriptures, eleven scrolls in total. It is said that rimitras translation of The Sutra of Consecration has nine scrolls, rather than the version with twelve scrolls Michel Strickmann deals with, which is from Kaiyuan catalogue apparently. The biography of rimitra in the Kaiyuan catalogue is closer to that in the Biographies of Eminent Monks, and much longer than that in Daoxuans catalogue; see Kaiyuan shijiao lu, Zhisheng (before 700-after 786), T. no. 2154, 55: 503a-b.
316 Chu sanzang jiji, Sengyou, T. no. 2149, 55: 244b-c; for a modern edition, see Chu sanzang jiji
(Beijing: Zhonghua Shuju, 1995), pp. 521-522. 317 Daoxuan, in Song Gaoseng zhuan, Zanning (919-1001), see T. no. 2061, 50: 790b; for a
modern edition, see Song gaoseng zhuan (Beijing: Zhonghua shuju, 1993), pp. 327. 318 Skt. Mahsamnipta-stra Ch. Daji jing. 319 Chu sanzang jiji, Sengyou, T. no. 2149, 55: 265a-b. Sengyou wrote three works as Daoxuan
ascribed: The Record of Three Stras including Mahsamnipta-Stra (Daji deng sanjing ji), The Record of The Stra on the Wise and the Foolish (Xianyu jing ji), and The Record of The Treatise of Sudarana (Shanjianl piposha ji); see Da Tang neidian lu, Daoxuan, T. no. 2149, 55: 331b.
fifth century. The Four-part Vinaya soon became so familiar to most Chinese Buddhists
that they could easily accept it as a communal heritage. The early translators of Chinese
Buddhist texts invented the tradition, basing it on a variety of textual traditions in Indian
and Central Asian Buddhism, and then Daoxuan further refined it through his
interpretation into a language that later generations could accept. Therefore, Daoxuan
played a crucial and innovative role by creating a new language through which his
generation understood the Buddhist tradition.
Mahyna Interpretation of the Ordination Platform
Contrary to some modern scholarship, I think that Daoxuan made a point of
emphasizing the Mahyna qualities of monastic ordination. In studying Daoxuans view
of the ordination platform, Japanese Buddhologists overlook its Mahyna features.320
However, I would suggest that Daoxuan integrated the ordination ritual as a feature of
Mahyna Buddhism. I offer a reading of Daoxuans Illustrated Scripture on Ordination
Platform to show how Daoxuan used contemporary Mahyna ideas to make the
ordination platform more acceptable to the Chinese monastic community.
First of all, I need to specify what Daoxuan understood as Mahyna, despite the
fact that he never addressed the question directly. In India, different scholastic traditions
(eg. Sthavira, Dharmagupta, etc.) developed their own individual Vinaya canons prior to
the birth of Mahyna movements. As Mahyna schools did develop, they maintained
the older Vinayas. As Frauwallner says,
At the time of the rise of Mahyna the followers of the new current for a long time had to adhere, from the point of view of the Vinaya, to one of the older
320 Oya Tokujo, Daij kaidan no mondai, Shina bukky shigaka 5: 2 (1941), pp. 1-7; Michihata
Rysh, Sdai no daij kaidan, Indokagu bukkygaku kenky 41 (1972), pp. 50-55; and his Daij kaidan to bosatsus, Tenky daishi kenky (1980), pp. 1405-1422; Tamura Koyu, Daij kaidan dokuritsu ni tsuite, Kairitsu no sekai (1993), pp. 695-702.
Hinayna schools. Thus the Vinaya remained at first untouched by this totally new and revolutionary development.321
In China, however, by the time Daoxuan was born in the late sixth century, most
Buddhists held the position that Mahyna was superior to Hnayna. Many of
Daoxuans contemporaries believed, consequently, that the Vinaya was unworthy of
serious study because all known Vinaya collections were derived from Hnayna
schools.322 This was a doctrinal problem Daoxuan had to overcome. Daoxuan criticized
the attitude of contemporary masters toward the study of Vinaya. He stated that the
Vinaya was also the goal of the practitioners of Mahyna Buddhism.323 He wrote:
Among those Mahynists who delight in the Mahyna, there are some whose aims are superficial and illusory and whose emotions are devoted solely to attachment. Therefore, they deviate from the net of precepts and they discard ritual and loosen deportment. They regard those who follow discipline as Hnaynists, and those who damage the pure precepts as Mahynists [People] should know Vinaya is none other than Mahyna learning. It is nowadays the complete cultivation for clarifying the beginners mind. [People] also should regard discipline and ritual as the repository of the Bodhisattva. Even more so should people comprehend the principle and the teaching, and embody [it] in order to transform [themselves] and achieve knowledge of the spirit.324
321 Ernst Frauwallner, The Earliest Vinaya and the Beginnings of Buddhist Literature (Serie
Orientale Roma viii, Roma: Is. M. E. O., 1956), p. 5. As the footnote indicates, Frauwallner restates the point of La Valle Poussin. Cf. L. de la Valle Poussin, Opinions sur les relations des deux 1chicules au point de vue du Vinaya (Acadmie Royale de Belgique, Bulletin de la Classe des Lettres et des Sciences morales et politiques, eme srie, 16.1-2 (1930): 20-39.
322 Jonathan Silk has recently discussed the debate in current Western-language scholarship on
Mahyna Buddhism, but he does not use Chinese sources. See Silk, What, If Anything, is Mahyna Buddhism? Problems of Definitions and Classifications, Numen 49 (2002), pp. 355-405; see also Richard S. Cohen, Discontented Categories: Hinayana and Mahayana in Indian History, Journal of the American Academy of Religion 63: 1 (1995), pp. 1-25.
323 Xu gaoseng zhuan, Daoxuan, T. no. 2060, vol. 50: 620a. 324 Xu gaoseng zhuan, Daoxuan, T. no. 2060, vol. 50: 621b-c. Daoxuan advocates the same idea in
his commentary on Dharmaguptavinaya, see T. no. 1428, vol. 40: 49c. Daoxuan says that three poisons (desire, hatred, and ignorance) should be seized by precepts first, and then be wrapped by meditation, and then be killed by wisdom. There is no distinction between Mahyna and Hnayna in terms of the aim for enlightenment.
For Daoxuan, studying and practicing the Vinaya were the foundation for
Mahyna Buddhism, the path of the Bodhisattva. As I will show below, by invoking
several key Mahyna texts in The Illustrated Scripture on the Ordination Platform,
Daoxuan attempted to advocate important Mahyna doctrines, a point not lost on later
generations of medieval Buddhist scholars.325 Daoxuan explicitly claimed that the Vinaya
regulations could compromise being (you) and emptiness (kong), by which he means
the Mdhyamika326 and Yogcra Schools.327The ideas commonly believed to denote
Mahyna Buddhism in Daoxuans era included the notion of multiple Buddhas and
The idea of multiple Buddhas and Bodhisattvas, a significant feature of Mahyna
Buddhism, occurs often in Daoxuans Illustrated Scripture on Ordination Platform.328 The
concept of multiple Buddhas existed in early Buddhism, but Mahyna Buddhism
325 For example, a medieval Japanese Buddhist Master Ninen (d.?) in his Essential Outline of
Eight Schools (Hassh ky) remarks, The Vinaya Master of Mount Zhongnan [Daoxuan] says that, the study of Dharmaguptavinaya is a part of Mahyna Buddhism in terms of doctrine. See Dai Nihon bukky zenshu, no. 102, 29: 16b.
326 Ch. Shuo yiqieyou bu. It refers to one of the traditional Hinayana Schools. For more details, see
Charles Willemen, Bart Dessein and Collett Cox, Sarvstivda Buddhist Scholasticism, Handbuch der Orientalistik: Indien (Leiden: E.J. Brill, 1998), especially pp. 16-35.
327 Guanzhong chuangli jietan tujing bing xu, Daoxuan, T. no. 1892, vol. 45: 817b. On these two
concepts kong and you in the work of Jizang, see Sato Seijun, Chgoku bukky shisshi no kenky (Tokyo: Sankid bushorin, 1985), pp. 141-171; on these two schools of Mahyna Buddhism, see Gadjin M. Nagao, Mdhyamika and Yogcra: A Study of Mahyna Philosophies, edited, collected and translated by Leslie S. Kawamura (Albany, NY: State University of New York Press, 1991), especially pp. 155-225.
328 Hirakawa, The Rise of Mahyna Buddhism and Its Relationship to the Worship of Stupas,
Memoirs of the Research Department of the Toyo Bunko 22 (1963), p. 57. Hirakawa says, The Mahsmghika held advanced ideas on the concept of Buddhahood. They advocated that the Buddhas are free of ssravadharma and are eternal in body and life. This approaches the concept of Sambhoga-kya in the Mahyna.
extended it significantly. As Jan Nattier remarks, In the hands of the Mahynists the
system of five Buddhas was transformed into a list of one thousand, all but four of whom
were still to appear in this age. 329 In the earlier conception, there were three periods
(past, present, and future) and there was only one Buddha existing in each period
(Dpamkaya, kyamuni, and Maitreya). However, according to some Chinese masters,
in Mahyna Buddhism, there were three periods and one thousand Buddhas in each
period. This idea clearly appears in the work of Jizang (549-623).330 Jizang wrote:
Mahyna Buddhism fully comprehends the transformation of the Buddhas of ten directions and the transformation of the Buddhas of three periods. These two kinds of ideas are what Mahyna Buddhism manifests. Therefore, this is consistent. In other words, Mahyna Buddhism fully comprehends these two kinds of transformation of Buddhas. However, Hnayna does not recognize the Buddhas of ten directions, and they only comprehend Buddhas of three periods, so there is only one Buddha in Hnayna Buddhism.331
Jizang offers an influential understanding of the distinction between Mahyna
and Hnayna Buddhism. According to Jizang, early Buddhism subscribed to the belief
that each time period (past, present, and future) had only one Buddha. So-called
Hnaynists did not follow the Mahyna schools in conceiving of space according to the
ten directions (the four cardinal points, the four points in between, zenith, and nadir),
each of which contained one Buddha or one-thousand Buddhas. Jizang was not a stranger
to Daoxuan, because he lived in the same monastery Riyan Monastery. Daoxuan wrote
329 Jan Nattier, Once Upon a Future Time: Studies in Buddhist Prophecy of Decline (Berkeley: Asian Humanities Press, 1991), p. 23.
330 See Guan wuliangshoufo jing yishu, Jizang, T. no. 1752, 37. For his biography see Xu gaoseng
zhuan, Daoxuan, T. no. 2060, 50: 513c-5151a. He was Daoxuans colleague while he was staying at Riyan Monastery under the invitation of the Sui Emperor Yang. See Liu Ming-wood, Madhymaka Thought in China (Leiden: E. J. Brill, 1994), chapter three.
331 Guan wuliangshou jing yishu, Jizang, T. no. 1752, 37: 236a.
a biography of Jizang in his Continued Biographies of Eminent Monks. Daoxuan should
have been well aware of Jizangs idea of Mahyna Buddhism.
In addition, according to Daoxuan and his contemporaries, Mahyna taught that
the relics of the Buddha could be seen as the body of Buddha, and that distributing the
Buddhas relics was equivalent to disseminating multiple Buddhas.332 In his Illustrated
Scripture on Ordination Platform, Daoxuan states that the relics of the Buddha should be
enshrined on the ordination platform. The concept of multiple Buddhas was an
indispensable doctrinal basis for the different activities involving distribution of relics. In
the late Sui Dynasty, Daoxuan witnessed the movement initiated by the emperor to
distribute the Buddha relics across the whole empire. In many places in Continued
Biographies of Eminent Monks, Daoxuan refers to this distribution movement. The
biographies of many monks who stayed with Daoxuan in Riyan Monastery located in the
southeastern corner of the Sui capital city of Changan tell us that these monks were sent
to local monasteries to distribute the relics and set up stpas.333
Mahyna Buddhists in India also worshipped Bodhisattvas, as the famous
Chinese pilgrim Yijing (635-713) explains in his travel record. Yijing, who lived about
the same time as Daoxuan, writes:
332 Hirakawa Akira states that worshipping relics can earn merits. See, Shoki daij bukky kenky
(Tokyo: Shunjsha, 1968), pp. 562-577, and 675-680 says that Dharmagupta-Vinaya has the feature of early Mahyna Buddhism. Hirakawa also found that this idea is from the Lotus Stra, see his article The Rise of Mahyna Buddhism and its Relationship to the Worship of Stupas, Memoirs of the Research Department of the Toyo Bunko 22 (1963), p. 88; Gregory Schopen, Bones, Stones, and Buddhist Monks: Collected Papers on the Archaeology, Epigraphy, and Texts of Monastic Buddhism in India (Honolulu: University of Hawai'i Press, 1997); Hakamaya Horiki, Bukky kydan shiron (Tokyo: Daiz shuppan, 2002). Although Schopen criticizes Hirakawa, they seem to agree on this point.
333 Arthur Wright: The Sui Dynasty (New York: Knopf, 1978); Kegasawa Yasunori, Zui niju
gennen (601) no gakko shakukan to shari kyoyo, Sundai shigaku 111 (Tokyo: Meiji Daigaku daigakuin, 2001), pp. 17-36. Chen Jinhua, Monks and Monarchs: Kinship and Kingship (Kyoto: Italian School of East Asian Studies, 2002).
The Buddhists of North India and the South China Sea regions follow the Small Vehicle (xiaosheng) exclusively; the Buddhists in China follow the Great Teaching (dajiao). However, in other areas they are mixed in practice. In considering the reason, the disciplines and prtimoksa of both Mahynists and Hnaynists are not different. Both of them equally follow the five Vinaya texts, and equally practice the Four Noble Truths.334 If one worships the bodhisattvas and recites Mahyna scriptures, the practice is called Mahyna; if not, the practice is named Hinayna. So-called Mahyna Buddhism includes two schools: Madhymaka and Yogcra.335
According to Yijing, in many places people did not distinguish between
Mahyna and Hnayna at all, and their practice was mixed. Both Mahyna and
Hnayna shared practicing the disciplines and prtimoksa as well as studying five
Vinaya texts. Thus, according to one early Tang figure, the distinguishing feature of
Mahyna was the worship of Bodhisattvas.336 This feature was reflected clearly in
Daoxuans Illustrated Scripture on Ordination Platform. Daoxuan says:
Ten masters (on the platform) stand at attention, cultivate an imposing manner, and broadly activate their thinking: they should invite current Buddhas of ten directions, all the great Bodhisattvas, and the sangha of rvakas to attend the gathering at the platform.337
Thus, according to Daoxuan, both the Buddhas of the ten directions as well as
Bodhisattvas were supposed to take part in the ritual of ordination.
334 Skt. catur-ryasatya, Ch. si shengdi . 335 Nanhai jigui neifa zhuan, Yijing, T. no. 2125, 54: 205c. Hirakawa Akira, The Worship of
Stupa and the Rise of Mahayana Buddhism,1963, p. 73. I modify the translation because the English translation of this passage in Hirakawas article is not precise. A detailed annotated edition in Chinese, see Wang Bangwei, Nanhai jigui neifa zhuan jiaozhu (Beijing: Zhonghua shuju, 1988).
336 H. Dayal, The Bodhisattva Doctrine in Buddhist Sanskrit Literature (London, 1932); Yamada
Ryuj, Daij bukky seiritsurun josetsu (Kyoto: Heirakuji shten, 1959), pp. 334-347. 337 Guanzhong chuangli jietan tujing, Daoxuan, T. no. 1892, 45: 815b.
In addition, Daoxuan had a relatively inclusive understanding of Mahyna
teachings in his interpretation of the ordination platform. Daoxuan incorporates
Mahyna teachings contained in the Vimalakirtinirdea into his discussion of the
ordination platform. Daoxuan mentions several key Mahyna concepts, including, as
noted above, such terms as Thirty-seven Paths to Enlightenment, 338 Three
Emptinesses,339 and Five-part Dharma Body.340 Elsewhere (The Illustrated Scripture
on Jetavana Monastery in Central India, Ch. Zhong Tianzhu sheweiyuan qiyuansi tujing
) Daoxuan invokes the doctrines of the Three Emptinesses
and Seven Enlightenments.341 According to this piece, at the southern side of Jetevana
Monastery there was a three-floor pavilion with five gates. According to Daoxuan, three
floors were supposed to symbolize Three Emptinesses.342 In the middle court of Jetevana
Monastery, there was a seven-door gate at the southern side, which symbolized the Seven
338 Weimojie suoshuo jing, T. no. 475, 14: 538b, and 542c. Takasaki Jikido points out that this
thought also appears Avatamsaka-stra. See Kogen shis no tenkai, in Hirakawa Akira, Kajiyama Yuichi, and Takasaki Jikido, eds., Kegon shis (Tokyo: Shunjsha, 1983), pp. 24-25.
339 It appears in Weimojie suoshuo jing, T. no. 475, 14: 551b. 340 Skt. paca-dharmakya, Ch. wufen fashen . It appears in Weimojie suoshuo jing, T.
no. 475, 14: 539c. It is said, The Buddha body is the Paca-dharmakya. Since all these ideas only appear together in one scripture, the Vimalakirtinirdea, it is likely that Daoxuan borrowed these ideas directly from the text.
341 For a recent study on this text, see Tan Zhihui, Daoxuans Vision of Jetavana: Imagining a
Utopian Monastery in Early Tang (Ph.D. thesis. The University of Arizona, 2002). 342 Zhong Tianzhu Sheweiguo qiyuansi tujing, Daoxuan, T. no. 1899, 45: 883c. 343 Zhong Tianzhu Sheweiguo qiyuansi tujing, Daoxuan, T. no. 1899, 45: 886c. Daoxuan also
refers to other other Mahyna texts in his Illustrated Scripture on Ordination Platform. See Paul Williams, Mahyna Buddhism: The Doctrinal Foundations (Routledge: London and New York, 1989), pp. 116-138. He also mentions Za ahan jing (Skt. Samyukta-gama). Hirakawa suggests that these texts have a kind of textual connection. He says, The majority of the Mahyna texts utilize the dvdanga and very few the navnga. And many texts carry the Sarvstivdin sequence of the dvdanga. In the Mahvibhsa-sstra, a
We also need to consider Daoxuans audience. I would suggest that Daoxuan
attempted to infuse the ordination platform with some Mahyna features in order to
make it acceptable to his contemporaries. In my opinion, Daoxuans Illustrated Scripture
on Ordination Platform targets two kinds of audiences. The first audience consists of
those masters who misread the Vinaya texts and misunderstood Buddhist practice, who
he criticizes at the very beginning of Illustrated Scripture on Ordination Platform. The
second audience is the Chinese state, whose support Daoxuan had to secure in order to
reform the sangha. Daoxuan had to face the Chinese state in his attempt to enhance the
identity of the Buddhist sangha through the institution of the ordination platform.
As a Vinaya master, Daoxuan inherited a textual tradition composed of a great
number of translations and commentaries by early Buddhist monks.344 Daoxuan believed
that many of his contemporaries underestimated the significance of the Vinaya. Tang
Yongtong suggests that prior to Daoxuans time many masters devoted themselves to
philosophical debates because monks as well as secular literati were engaged in studying
representative work of the Sarvstivdin, the dvdanga is listed, as follows: 1. stras, 2. geya, 3. vykarana, 4. gth, 5. udna, 6. nidna, 7. avadna, 8. itivrttaka, 9. jtaka, 10. vaipulya, 11. adhtadharma, 12. upadea. The characteristic feature of this sequence is that the avadna is seventh. The Chinese translation of the Samyuktgama has the same order and is thought to be of identical transmission. The following Mahyna Stras also have the same sequence: the Chinese translation of the Pacavimati-shasrik-praj-pramit-Stra, Samdhinirmocana-Stra, Mahyna-mahparinirvna-Stra, Mahsamnipta-Stra, Mahkarun-Stra, Kualamlasamgraha, Mahprajpramit-sstra, Yogcrabhmi-sstra, Prakaranryavc-sstra, Mahynbhidharma-samuccaya-vykhy, and Mahvyutpatti; see Hirakawa Akira, The Rise of Mahyna Buddhism and its Relationship to the Worship of Stupas, Memoirs of the Research Department of the Toyo Bunko 22 (Tokyo: the Toyo Bunko, 1963), pp. 61-62. Hirakawas argument on dvdanga and navnga and their relationship to Mahyna Buddhism is based on the theory of Mizuno Kogen in his article The Characteristics of Mahyna Texts in Miyamoto Shoson, ed., Daij bukky no seiritsu no kenky (Tokyo, 1954), pp. 284 ff. Interestingly, these two Stras and Daoxuans Scripture on Ordination Platform also appeared in the list of texts brought by Ganjin to Japan. Ganjins list also includes Dapin jing and Da niepan jing (Mah-parinirvana-stra) typical Mahyna texts. See And, Ganjin daiwajden no kenky (Tokyo: Yoshikawa Kbunkan, 1960), pp. 124-125; idem, Ganjin, Nihon rekishi gakkai hensh ed. (Tokyo: Yoshikawa kbunkan, 1967), p. 53.
344 Their biographies are available in Huijiaos (497-554) Biographies of Eminent Monks and
Daoxuans Continued Biographies of Eminent Monks. About Gaoseng zhuan and its author Huijiao, also see Makita Tairyo, Chgoku bukky shi kenky (Tokyo: Dait shuppansha, 1980), pp. 1-59.
metaphysics and practicing meditation. 345 Daoxuans contemporaries viewed both of
these practices as acceptable forms of Mahyna Buddhism. Daoxuan tried to draw their
attention back to Vinaya learning by reinterpreting the Vinaya and the ordination
platform in terms of Mahyna doctrine.
Speaking to his other audience, Daoxuan interpreted the ordination platform for
the state. He was the superintendent (shangzuo) of Ximing Monastery, which was
sponsored by the court, and he led a demonstration objecting to the law requiring that
monks bow to secular rulers.346 I believe that Daoxuan was aware of the crisis the
Buddhist sangha faced, and that he had a very clear sense of the criticism of the monastic
order brought by many secular literati and officials. In Daoxuans eyes, the stability of
the Buddhist monastic order in South China was a result of the establishment of the
The Scripture of the Bequeathed Teachings and Ordination Ritual
The Scripture of the Bequeathed Teachings (Yijiao jing )347 seems to play
a very important role in the ordination ritual. According to Daoxuan, it should be recited
three times during the procedure of ordination. In my opinion, not only is the text most
345 Tang Yongtongs argument is that the pursuit of wisdom was popular in the Southern dynasties,
and meditation was popular in the Northern dynasties. Tang Yongtong, Han Wei liang Jin nanbei chao fojiao shi (Beijing: Zhonghua shuju, 1982), pp. 189-252; 253-298. See my criticism of Tangs theory in chapter one.
346 Eric Reinders takes an anthropological perspective in his dissertation, Buddhist Rituals of
Obeisance and the Contestation of the Monks Body in Medieval China (PhD. Dissertation, University of California, Santa Barbara, 1997).
347 Yijiao jing, T. no. 389, 12. The translation of this scripture is attributed to Kumrajva. Fukaura
Shobun translates the text in Kokuyaku issaiky: Indo senjutsubu (Tokyo: Dait shuppansha, 1972), vol. 48. His introduction indicates that this scripture might be an apocryphal text. See Fukaura, Kaidai, especially pp. 133-139.
likely a central Asian apocryphon, but its central place in the ordination ritual is probably
This scripture aims to teach monks and nuns the basis of Buddhist monastic
practice. According to this scripture, a monk should respect the precepts (that is, the list
of offenses recited semi-monthly, the Prtimoksa) because the precepts are the foundation
for liberation.348 A monk also should follow the five (lay) precepts by controlling the five
senses.349 A monk should practice the four deeds (karmas), including food, medicine,
clothes, and so on. To control desires and develop asceticism, the scripture offers several
techniques. Monks should recite the scripture at midnight, reminding themselves that the
fire of impermanence burns in this world. The scripture also teaches the doctrines of
knowing satisfaction (Ch. zhizu ),350 separation from worldly life (Skt. vivrj, Ch.
yuanli ), vigor (Skt. vrya, Ch. jingjin ), the mental ability of not forgetting (Ch.
buwangnian ),351 concentrative state (Skt. samdhi, Ch. ding ), wisdom (Skt.
praj, Ch. zhihui ), and no needless argument (Skt. prapaca, Ch. buxilun ).
It offers a monastic version of the Buddhist path, comprising morality, mental
concentration, and wisdom. 352 Thus, the scripture offers a model for monastic life,
348 Yijiao jing, T. no. 389, 12: 1110c. 349 Skt. pacendriyni, Ch. wugen ; five organs of sense: eyes, ears, nose, tongue, and body. 350 The original passage tells us that monks who decrease their desire and know satisfaction will be
happy. A person who knows when enough is enough will feel contented even if he sleeps on the ground, while the person who does not know satisfaction will feel unsatisfied even if he lives in paradise. See Yijiao jing, T. no. 389, 12: 1111c.
351 In the text, it is said that monks should guard their memory (Skt. smrti, Ch. nian) which is a
power (Skt. smrtibla, Ch. nianli ) against delusion. This method is also viewed as one of the seven bodhyanga (Skt. sapta bodhyanga, Ch. qi puti fen ).
352 Yijiao jing, T. no. 389, 12: 1111-1112.
explaining concretely how monks should live in the community and follow the path to
This scripture narrates and hence replays for the audience the death of the
Buddha and the rebirth of a new monastic order that survives without the presence of the
Buddha. Referring to his imminent demise, the Buddha in the text says:
I am now about to achieve extinction [nirvna], which is like the curing of a bad disease. This object, worthy of being abandoned and marked by sin and evil, comes into provisional existence as a body with a name and is sunk in the great sea of birth, old age, sickness, and death. How could a wise person not be delighted with the extinction of it, which is like the killing of evil thieves?353
Next the Buddha extends the discussion from the impermanence of the self to the
impermanence of things. He tells his disciples that all elements (dharmas) of this world,
regardless of whether they are active or inactive, are unstable and bound to extinction.
Applying the doctrine to himself, he tells his disciples that he will soon achieve
extinction and that this text is his final teaching. As this text says:
You Bhiksus should always diligently seek a path to leave the world with one mind. All mutable and immutable dharmas in this world are the marks of fading, impermanence, and instability. You too will have to stop; you wont be able to speak further [with me]. I am about to cross into extinction, and this is my last teaching.354
Thus, I suggest that the recitation of this scripture in the context of the ordination ritual
reminds all participants on the platform of the death of the Buddha and their connection
to him, via the rite.
353 Yijiao jing, T. no. 389, 12: 1111b. 354 Yijiao jing, T. no. 389, 12: 1112b.
In my reading, the recitation of the scripture in the ordination ritual is intended to
bring about the rebirth of the new monk. Specifically, the ordained dies to the secular
world and is reborn into a pure monastic world. This is not a unique case in the history of
religion. In the Christian tradition, baptism is similar to the ordination ritual of Buddhism.
Some scholars also try to relate baptism to the death of Christ and the rebirth of the Holy
Spirit.355 Similarly, the text of the Scripture of Bequeathed Teachings illustrates that after
Buddha himself achieves extinction, there is a rebirth. The recitation of the text during
ordination is a way of giving new life to the Buddhas Dharma, similar to the birth of the
Holy Spirit in the baptism. The institution as a whole also undergoes rebirth, as the
sangha recruits new members to enlarge its body.
No evidence suggests that the Scripture of Bequeathed Teachings was recited in
any Buddhist ritual before Daoxuan introduced it into the ordination ritual in his
Illustrated Scripture on the Ordination Platform. Therefore, Daoxuans inclusion of this
text is a turning point for the ordination ritual. No Sanskrit version of this text is available,
nor do sources reveal whether an original version in Sanskrit or Central Asian languages
355 Lucy Bregman, Baptism as Death and Birth: A Psychological Interpretation of its Imagery.
Journal of Ritual Studies 1: 2 (1987), pp. 27-41. She believes that baptism was once a powerful and meaningful rite of initiation. To summarize the current findings on ancient Christian baptism: It was a rite of specifically Christian initiation, which often required a time of preparation and instruction so that the candidate would know what to expect from Christian life. Its imagery was linked both to Christ and his death and to a new birth from water and the Spirit. It was designed for, and performed upon, adults, although children and infants apparently were baptized in the ancient period. It was taken very seriously, by both church officials and potential candidates. Bregman concludes (p. 39), I have tried to illuminate a few of the ways being crucified with Christ and the action of the baptismal rite may have worked psychologically to evoke clusters of emotionally powerful imagery. This imagery, arising out of early experiences with death equivalents and their corresponding polarities, could have helped baptism become a transforming event for Christians in the ancient church. It provided a way to symbolize a fresh start, yet one in which being alive in Christ was balanced by an awareness of death and its power in the midst of life. It seems to have worked, not only as a rite of initiation into an unpopular religious movement, but as a symbolic expression of many of the themes Lifton and other psychologists see as critical for human beings to encounter and express.
The Chinese version of the text attributed to Kumrajva in the late fourth century
made this scripture accessible to Chinese monks. Afterwards, several Buddhist scholars
wrote commentaries on this scripture. 356 Since it was attributed to Kumrajva, it
probably circulated mostly in the North at the very beginning, and later it entered South
China. According to Daoxuans catalogue of the Buddhist canon, Xiao Ziliang (?-494),
the Prince of Jinling in Southern Qi Dynasty, wrote a commentary on this scripture.357
The intellectual connection between Daoxuan and Xiao Ziliang may also be one of the
reasons why Daoxuan incorporated this scripture in his reinterpretation of ordination
ritual.358 Evidently, Daoxuans colleague Daoshi (,7th century) in Ximing monastery
mentions this scripture in the section on bestowing precepts (shoujie ) in his
encyclopedic work The Forest of Jewels of the Dharma Grove (Fayuan zhulin
).359 Daoshis work was completed after Daoxuans death, which may indicate that
Daoxuans prescriptions were still being carried out in the main temples in the capital.
356 A master of a later generation following Daoxuans legacy, Yuanzhao, by arguing against
Avaghosas position which tries to interpret this scripture from the perspective of Mahyna Buddhism, suggests that the text is a Hinyna stra based on the following reasons: the traditional Buddhist catalogues listed it in the Hinyna section, Daoxuan also listed it into Hinyna section, Miaoxuan classified it in the gama section, the content of this stra is the Four Noble Truths, and it explicitly points out that the results of achieving enlightenment are the four fruits of rvakas. See Yuanzhao, Yijiaojing fazhu ji, Zokuzky, 1: 3: 86.
357 Da Tang neidian lu, Daoxuan, T. no. 2149, 55: 263a-b. Daoxuan gives a list of Xiaos works,
including those about rituals and practice. 358 Daoxuan portrays Xiao Ziliang as a model of Buddhist practice. According to Daoxuan,
besides this commentary, Xiao Ziliang also composed a text titled Buddhist Methods for Consistent and Concise Purification (Tonglue jingzhuzi jingxing famen). Later, Daoxuan wrote a preface for it; see T. no. 2103, 52: 306a-b.
359 Fayuan zhulin, Daoshi, T. no. 2122, 53: 921b. For an introduction to this work, see Stephen F.
Teiser, Tang Buddhist Encyclopedias: A Bibliographical Introduction to Fa-yan chu-lin and Chu-ching yao-chi, Tang Studies 3 (1985), pp. 109-128.
Moreover, many of Daoxuans contemporaries cited the Scripture of the
Bequeathed Teachings when they interpreted Mahyna teachings, which indicates the
popularity of this scripture at the time. The incorporation of this scripture into Daoxuans
works suggests that Daoxuan used a popular scripture to explain his ideas about the
ordination platform so that those who were Mahyna Buddhists could accept it.360
This scripture also appears in his other writings. Its concise format indicates that it
was targeted to new members of monastic community. It is safe to say that Daoxuan paid
particular attention to this scripture late in his life.361 First of all, canonical Vinaya texts
of the Dharmagupta tradition do not mention the Scripture of Bequeath Teachings.
Daoxuans most comprehensive text on Vinaya, Commentary on the Four-part Vinaya
with Annotations and Additions (Sifenl shanfan buque xingshi chao
), does not even mention this scripture by name, though it cites several of its
sentences, introducing them with the words, the text says (wenyue ). The
commentary was completed in 626, whereas the Illustrated Text on the Ordination
Platform, which promotes the Scripture of the Bequeathed Teachings, was completed in
the final year of Daoxuans life, 667. Nor do Daoxuans other texts mention this scripture.
360 For example, Xuanzangs disciple Kuiji (632-682) cited this scripture in his commentary on the
Diamond Stra, titled A Comprehensive Interpretation on the Treatise of Diamond Stra (Jingang bore lun huishi), see T. no. 1816, 40: 736c. See also his piece about Mahyna teachings titled the Treatise of the Forest of Principles of the Mahyna Dharma Grove (Dasheng dayuan yilin zhang), see T. no. 1861, 45: 247c, 258c. According to Daoxuans Continued Biographies of Eminent Monks, Lingyu, a master in the Sui Dynasty, also wrote a commentary on the Stra of the Bequeathed Teachings; see T. no. 2060, 50: 495b. It is not surprising that Lingyu had an intellectual influence on Daoxuan. Another master who had an impact on Daoxuan, Jizang, also cited the Stra of the Bequeathed Teachings in his piece titled A Mysterious Treatise on Mahyna (Dasheng xuanlun).
361 It might be under the inspiration of the edict issued by Emperor Taizong in the Zhenguan
period. About this edict and its influence, see Shigenoi Shizuka, T jkan ch no yuigyky shik ni tsuite, Indogaku bukkygaku kenky 51 (1977), pp. 280-283.
This suggests that this scripture was incorporated into Daoxuans text about the
ordination platform late in his life.
Since ordination required literacy of its candidates, we might say that the
Buddhist monastic order was a textual society in which ritual played a crucial role. In the
ordination ritual, by reciting the scriptures and recalling the funeral of the historical
Buddha, the Buddhist community became a textual community in which its members
realized that they belonged to a coherent unit. The text in the form of scripture in this
case became a means of social solidarity in serving the reconstruction of monastic order.
As Brian Stock writes:
An aspect of the social lives of the groups members will from that moment be determined by the rules of membership in the community. There has to be a common understanding of these guidelines, as well as mechanisms for interpretation and transmission.362
Indeed, in Chinese Buddhism, the participants of the ordination ritual should also have a
common understanding of the guidelines.
The Roles in the Ordination Ritual
In Daoxuans piece on the ordination platform, ten senior masters, consisting of
three masters and seven witnesses (sanshi qizheng ), play the main roles in
conducting the ordination ritual. These ten masters stand on the ordination platform while
the ordination ritual is being carried out. According to Daoxuan, this follows a traditional
Indian Buddhist ordination ritual, in which only ten masters stood on the platform.363 The
three key masters include the principal master (Skt. upajjhya, Ch. heshang ), the
362 Brian Stock, Listening for the Text: On the Uses of the Past (Baltimore: the Johns Hopkins University Press, 1990), p. 150.
363 Daoxuan writes, For the ordination rituals in Central India, only ten masters stand on the
ordination platform. See T. no. 1892, 45: 815b.
master in charge of karma (Skt. karmakraka, Ch. jiemoshi ) and the
instructor or master in charge of deportment (Skt. rahonusaka, Ch. jiaoshoushi
or weiyishi ). Daoxuan has selected these names from Four-part Vinaya,
based on his study of the Vinaya tradition of the Dharmagupta School, although the same
names are used in the Sarvstivda-Vinaya.364
Paul Lvy draws a clear picture of how three principle ordinants play vital roles in
the ordination ceremony, and how these masters are chosen in Mahyna tradition:
The roles of the three principal ordinants, the updhyya, the crya and the master of ceremonies (who is the equivalent of the abbot in lands further to the south), is clearer here than in the Theravadin canon. The first one is chosen by the candidate, whom he shaves. After this, he presides at the ceremony, in which he plays an almost silent part. The second (the crya), who is chosen by the sangha, questions the candidate is in the midst of the ordinants; in addition he will have him admitted to the sangha and acquaint him with the major prohibitions and obligations of monastic life. The first of these three ordinants is a person from outside the sangha who vouches for the candidate. The second is the specially appointed representative of the community, and he interviews the candidate in order to ascertain whether he is properly prepared. The third, who is an administrator of the sangha, speaks only on behalf of the assembly and in its presence.365
364 Contemporary scholarship has paid much attention to the names of the three masters and their
selection, and their function. For example, Hirakara Akira found out that the names of three masters in Dharmagupta and Sarvstivda vinayas are the same, yet in other Vinaya traditions, these names of three masters are slightly different. See his Genshi bukky no kytan soshiki II (Tokyo: Shunjusha, 2000), pp. 194-195. However, Hirakawa does not pay attention to the names of the three masters used by Daoxuan specifically.
365 Paul Lvy, Buddhism and Mystery Religions (London: The Athlone Press, University of
London, 1957), pp. 40-41. Recently, Jan Nattier offers a picture of monastic Bodhisattvas internal relationship. See A Few Good Men: The Bodhisattva Path According to the Inquiry of Ugra (Ugrapariprccha) (Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 2003), pp. 82-83. A detailed study about Daoxuans discourse on the relationship between master and disciple in Chinese monastic community in general will be presented in chapter four.
In this passage, Lvy argues that the Mahyna ordination ceremony had a clearer image
of the roles of the three key masters -- updhyya, crya, and abbot than did the
ceremony of the Theravadin tradition.
What all of these analyses miss is the fact that in Daoxuans understanding of the
ordination ritual, there are other important participants in the ritual also standing on the
platform. As mentioned above, in Daoxuans legendary story about the origin of the
ordination platform, the Buddhas ascended the platform to conduct the ordination ritual
in the early period of Buddhism. In his instructions, he writes that once the ten masters
ascend the platform, they should invite the Buddhas and bodhisattvas to attend also. The
coming of the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas should be accompanied by the ringing of a bell,
the singing of eulogies, and the reciting of scriptures.366 The performances create the fare
bella figura (making beautiful figures) of senior members of the Buddhist monastic
community. In my reading, the ten masters stand at center stage, while the Buddhas and
Bodhisattvas invoked through scripture-chanting and eulogies stand in the background.
The ten masters are part of the ceremony, but Daoxuan makes it clear that the Buddhas
and Bodhisattvas are present for participants, too. The participation of these Buddhas and
Bodhisattvas enhances the authority of the ordination ritual. Daoxuans legacy regarding
the participation of Buddhas and Bodhisattvas in the ordination ritual had an impact on
366 In this case, bell, song, and scriptures can be seen as Buddhist components in the scene like
other parts of the social drama. 367 Bernard Faure suggests that Bodhisattva precepts involved the participation of three Buddhas
and even Buddhas of the ten directions. He says that in the Heian period, the Bodhisattva ordination ritual required three invisible preceptors (kyamuni, Majur, and Maitreya) instead of three masters, and all the Buddhas of the ten directions instead of seven witnesses. Bernard Faure, The Red Thread: Buddhist Approaches to Sexuality (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1998), p. 95. Faure evidently found three invisible preceptors in the new ordination ritual of Bodhisattva precepts. My examination of Daoxuans
In detail, we should review the process of the ordination ritual. According to
Daoxuan, the instructor368 carries the incense burner and leads the ten masters to ascend
the platform, walking along the eastern walkway from south to north. Then the
candidates for ordination follow the instructor around the platform once. The
superintendent (shangzuo) stands in the west and worships the Buddha three times. Then
the ten masters stand on the platform and invoke all Buddhas and all Bodhisattvas as well
as all monastic order members from the ten directions to come to the platform. While this
is occurring, gods, ngas and other members of the eight groups of beings (tianlongbabu
) are flying in the sky. This scene reconstructs the story of how early Buddhism
started its ordination ritual. Moreover, the ten masters can be viewed as the original
monastic order who witness the presence of Buddhas and deities on the platform.
In sum, I would suggest that for Daoxuan, the ten masters invited the Buddhas to
attend the ordination ritual through their mediation. The Buddhas occupy the highest
position, with the highest among them, akyamuni Buddha, appearing in his relics on the
highest level of the platform. All figures on the platform-- including akyamuni Buddha
or in the form of material including masters, Buddha, and ordination candidates, are
historical, which means they currently exist or once existed in a specific period of human
history. Daoxuan creates a legend to demonstrate that the Buddha himself attended the
first ordination ritual and in the form of his relics attended ordination rituals from the design of the ordination platform further demonstrates that the Buddhas of ten directions oversaw the ordination ritual, even if it was a traditional ordination ritual from Faures perspective. Faure correctly points out the attendance of Buddhas and Bodhisattvas to the ritual, but he doesn't discuss the mechanic force behind these figures coming, leaving the question unresolved whether Buddhas come by some kind of force or by themselves; nor does he provide an explanation about the their position in the hierarchal structure of this ritual. For discussion on social drama, see Victor Turner, Social Dramas and Stories about Them, Critical Inquiry 7: 1(1980), pp. 141-168; Victor Turner, On the Edge of the Bush: Anthropology as Experience (Tucson, AZ: The University of Arizona Press, (1985), p. 196.
368 Skt. rahonusaka, Ch. weiyishi or jiaoshoushi.
time of his death. Other comic Buddhas than the historical Buddha, and Bodhisattvas
called by the ten masters through their meditation are ahistorical, transcendental, and they
can appear in any situation if requested to participate in the ritual.
Summarizing the above discussion, the three masters use their authority to make
manifest Buddhas and Bodhisattvas.369 Additionally, these masters exhibit familiarity
with the monastic code as well as the rituals. According to the Four-part Vinaya, the
masters should have been ordained for at least ten years.370 They should have five deeds,
which means that they should distinguish themselves in the practice of precepts (jie),
concentration (ding) and wisdom (hui), liberation (jietuo), and the knowledge and
insights toward liberation (jietuo zhijian). 371 So the masters should have sufficient
wisdom in order to bestow the complete ordination to the disciples. They instruct the
assembly and inspire the ordination candidates with the recollection of the communal
memory of early Buddhism and initiation into monastic life during the procedure of the
Ordination Ritual as an Initiation Rite
I view Daoxuans ordination platform as an attempt to reconstruct the monastic
order of Chinese Buddhism. The Buddhist monastic order in Daoxuans era was
undergoing political persecution and secular attack, and Daoxuan sought a new model for
its future development. In composing the piece on ordination platform, Daoxuan seems to
369 Paul Harrison suggests that the power of monastic members come from their ascetic practices,
especially meditation, Searching for the Origins of the Mahyna: What are We Looking for? The Eastern Buddhist 28: 1 (1995), pp. 64-65. It seems to me, that in the case of ordination ritual narrated by Daoxuan, masters also did meditation to make Buddhas and Bodhisattvas present, because these masters were supposed to have been successful in doing meditation, possessing morality and wisdom.
370 Sifenl, T. no. 1428, 22: 800b-c. 371 Sifenl, T. no. 1428, 22: 806b.
want to ensure that the members of the monastic order would seriously receive ordination
on a genuine platform, because Daoxuan felt that use of the ordination platform in South
China over the past several hundred years had played an essential role in preserving the
monastic order there. Furthermore, Daoxuan created a new structure for the ordination
platform and used new language that appealed to Chinese Buddhists from various
The analysis of rites of passage suggested by Van Gennep and others is useful,
with some modifications, for analyzing ordination as Daoxuan understood it. 372
According to Van Gennep, life-crisis rites display a three-stage sequence: separation,
transition, and incorporation.373 Through this sequence of activities, rituals effect the
personal removal from one social grouping, dramatize this change by holding the person
in a suspended betwixt and between state for a period of time, and then reincorporate
him or her into a new identity and status within another social grouping. As Catherine
The first stage, separation, is often marked by rites of purification and symbolic allusion to the loss of the old identity: the person is bathed, hair shaved, clothes are switched, marks are made on the body, and so on. In the second or transition stage, the person is kept for a time in a place that is symbolically outside the conventional socio-cultural order: normal routines are suspended while rules distinctive to this state are carefully followed. In the third stage, symbolic acts of incorporation focus on welcoming the person into a new status: there is the conferral of a new name and symbolic insignia, usually some form of communal meal, and so on.374
372 Turner, Victor, The Ritual Process: Structure and Anti-Structure (New York: Aldine de Gruyter,
1985). 373 Arnold van Gennep, The Rites of Passage (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1960).
See also Pierre Bourdieus comment that, rites of passage (ordination) are above all rites of demarcation, Bourdieu, Language and Symbolic Power (Cambridge: Polity in Association with Basil Blackwell, 1991), p. 118; and Bernard Faure, The Red Thread: Buddhist Approaches to Sexuality (Princeton, Princeton University Press, 1998), p. 70.
In my opinion, the ritual of ordination is indeed a rite of the three-stage pattern.
Through being ordained, a person is removed from a prior secular life and is incorporated
into a new social order Buddhist order. The different stages of ordination correspond to
different stages in building up status as a member of the Buddhist order. For example,
being ordained with five precepts is the most elementary stage of acceptance by the
Buddhist sangha. After that, being ordained fully means full acceptance into the Buddhist
group.375 Between these steps, the monk-to-be is a novitiate, not yet confirmed in his new
Originally, the theory of Van Gennep was designated to analyze the rites of birth,
marriage, and funeral in particular, but I suggest that the ritual of ordination in Buddhism
might be interpreted with Van Genneps pattern if we revise his theory to the extent that
we clarify the issues about the rites of Buddhist death, mortuary, and rebirth. For
Daoxuan, ordination involves a kind of funeral ritual for the Buddha. He says:
In the center of top level of (the ordination platform in Uddyana) there is a Buddhas relic set up and covered by an inverted bowl, as I have said previously. On the day of bestowing ordination the monks gather together as it is said above. A high seat is set on the platform. At first, [a monk] recites the Scripture of
374 Catherine Bell, Ritual: Perspectives and Dimensions (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1997),
p. 36. 375 John Holt takes the ordination (upasampad) as an example of the transition stage of a ritual.
He argues that upasampad represents a spiritual rebirth. See Discipline: The Canonical Buddhism of the Vinayapitaka (Columbia, MI: South Asia Books, 1983), p. 124. It seems that Holt does not take the change of the life style of the ordination receiver during the ordination for granted. For instance, he does not pay attention to how ordination candidate experienced stepping on the ordination platform to see the Buddhas relics. However, John S. Strong argues against the traditional viewpoint of Buddhist ordination ritual as an initiation from the perspective of Buddhist soteriology. He suggests that the upasampad is the end of death and rebirth. His emphasis on arhatship in the case of the ordination platform might not apply to the case of ordination platform in Medieval China, because in Chinese Buddhism, the Stra of the Bequeathed Teaching is recited three times, which means that the death of Buddha was repeated. See his, The Legend and Cult of Upagupta: Sanskrit Buddhism in North India and Southeast Asia (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1992), p. 89.
Bequeathed Teaching, all the bhiksus, listening to the recitation, weep and cry. After receiving ordination, the Stra of Bequeathed Teaching is recited again.376
The assembly reiterates the story of the nirvana of the historical Buddha, and as the
scripture is recited, the monks were moved to tears. Other aspects of the rite that
Daoxuan mentions elsewhere ringing of bells, chanting of eulogies, burning of incense
help to recreate the scene recorded in the Mah-parinirvna-stra. In this scene
ordination is a ritual marking both the death of the Buddha in the past and presence in the
present. The monks involved in the ritual symbolically experience the Buddhas death
and rebirth, and are moved to tears. In the meantime, the new monk who receives
ordination also experiences his own spiritual death and rebirth and joins the monastic
community once he has attended the feast for the ceremony, wearing his new Buddhist
robes.377 The feast includes both new and old members of monastic community, and it
marks the end of the ceremony and the reincorporation of the new monk to the
In the Buddhist monastic order, ordination is a ritual to welcome new members to
the order. Via the ritual, the ideals and values of the order are passed down from one
generation to the next. New members learn new relationships among members of the new
order, for example, the relationship between masters and disciples.378 Masters should
376 Guanzhong chuangli jietan tujing bing xu, Daoxuan, T. no. 1892, 45: 810b. 377 Mircea Eliade, Rites and Symbols of Initiation: the Mysteries of Birth and Rebirth (Dallas:
Spring Publications, 1958). C. J. Bleeker, Initiation: Contributions to the Theme of the Study Conference of the International Association for the History of Religions held at Strasburg, September 17th to 22nd 1964 (Leiden: E. J. Brill, 1965).
view their disciples as their sons, teaching them monastic codes for five years. Disciples
should take care of their master in daily life, cleaning the bathhouse, washing bowls,
caring for the ill, and so forth. So rather than simply dying, the new monk is taught how
to be a member of a new social group. 379 Part of joining a new group involves learning
the rules of interaction based on the new groups hierarchy.
Concluding Remarks: Dimensions of Power and Knowledge
Daoxuans ordination platform created a way of redistributing power and
knowledge. 380 I suggest that Daoxuan designed an ordination ritual within a well-
disciplined social organization, and that the ritual was a kind of social drama.381 If we
view ordination ritual as a social drama, we can see how the ritual functioned to enhance
shared values among monastic order members, to spread meaning in both horizontal and
vertical dimensions, and to redistribute power.
It can be argued that Buddhist communities are different from secular
communities. In the Buddhist community, members practice Buddhist rituals and
maintain their disciplines full-time in order to achieve enlightenment. In the case of
378 Sato Tatsugen examines the method dealing with the relationship of monk and novice (heshang
fa and dizi fa) in terms of textual studies. See Chgoku bukky ni okeru kairitsu no kenky (Tokyo: Mokujisha, 1986), English summary, pp. 1-2.
379 Some scholars have argued that communities can be revived from time to time, within
institutions, thanks to rituals and other means for what has been called the symbolic construction of community. Peter Burke, History and Social Theory (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1992), p. 57. Anthony P. Cohen, The Symbolic Construction of Community, (Chichetser, E. Horwood; London; New York: Tavistock Publications, 1985).
380 Andr Groogers proposes a three-dimensional model for the study of power relations in a
Christian community; see The Power Dimensions of the Christian Community: An Anthropological Model, Religion 33 (2993), pp. 263-280.
381 Social drama is defined by Victor Turner as an eruption from the level surface of ongoing
social life, with its interactions, transactions, reciprocities, its customs making for regular, orderly sequences of behavior; see Social Dramas and Stories About Them, Critical Inquiry 7: 1(1980), pp. 141-168.
ordination ritual, in my opinion, a series of settings based on Buddhist traditions are
designed by a senior master so that the creation and the distribution of the power and
knowledge can be handed over to the next generation. By the concept of social drama, I
am trying to single out two kinds of settings: physical setting (illustrated by the
architectural designation of the ordination platform) and spiritual setting. Two kinds of
power derive from these settings. One is religious power; the other is political power.
Religious power is based on the wisdom and practice of the monastic members. For
example, they have more knowledge any other participants in the case of ordination ritual;
moreover, they have more experience practicing Buddhism than other participants; and
finally, but not less important, they have a closer relationship with Buddha in terms of
physical proximity on the ordination platform. The other is political power arising from
their position in the Buddhist community. They oversee the deportment of members and
keep the order of assembly in the course of the ordination ritual, like military police.
They bestow the precepts on the new ordination candidates, like teachers in schools.
They make decisions about how the process of the ordination ritual should progress, like
policy-makers. They supervise and define boundaries.
My analysis of the physical setting is based on the social function of architecture.
The physical setting of the ordination platform also had a social function in controlling
the roles performed on it. Michel Foucault takes Jeremy Bentham's plan for the
Panopticon (1791) as an example to explain how social control functions through specific
architectural design.382 Foucault suggests that space design can be viewed a means for the
382 Michel Foucault, Discipline and Punish: The Birth of the Prison (Vintage Books, 1995), p. 200.
Steven Collins takes a similar position, writing If we are to believe Foucaults claim in Discipline and Punishment, the monastic model, with its timetables, separation and individuation of subjects and rigorous
operation of power and manifestation of social structure. Before we move on to analyze
the similar structure of monastic community, I would rather take a moment to clarify in
what sense this model might be useful.
Some monks might not view their society as part of Foucaults wordly society,
because although they live in the physical world, they feel they do not share societys
mentality. In their view, the monastic community is a divine, heavenly community; from
a spiritual standpoint, it is not a part of normative society. However, in my opinion, in
any organization of human beings or in Buddhist terms, sentient beings -- no matter
what spirituality a community claims, that spiritual power is created and distributed
through the space, setting, and the positions community members occupy. Furthermore,
the spiritual structure taken for granted is a construction of the community members
themselves. As scholars have long recognized, renunciation is itself a social choice and
leads to its own form of social organization. In this light, I will probe the horizontal and
vertical structure of the ordination platform to consider the operation of spiritual power
among the participants in ordination.
Horizontally, we can distinguish the marginal or peripheral realm, middle realm,
and center of the ordination platform architecture. In each of these realms, we can see the
placement of different groups of monastic order members. Common monks or ordination
members of the order occupy the peripheral realm. Ten senior masters who play a leading
role in the ritual occupy the middle realm. Buddhas, represented by relics, are placed in
control of the body, was applied from the latter half of the 18th-century onwards to the practical development of such institutions as hospitals, schools, prisons and factories, and finally to the organization both imagined and real of society as a whole. This view of the history of the gradual individuation of members of society as autonomous subjects involves just as much the existence and apparatus of bureaucratic surveillance and control as it does freeing the individuals independent powers of rational choice; See Collins, Monasticism, Utopias and Comparative Social Theory, Religion 18 (1988), p. 119.
the center of the platform, and Bodhisattvas, produced by visualizations of the ten
masters, occupy the center of the platform. Vertically, we can distinguish three levels of
the platform: ground level, middle level, and top level. On the ground level, common
monks gather to watch the procedure of the ordination ritual. On the middle level, ten
senior masters as a group oversee the ritual. Finally, on the top level, where the relic
container is set up, Buddha watches the ritual.
Thus, the procedure of the ordination ritual identifies three differently ranked
groups in Buddhism: common monks, senior monks, and Buddhas (Bodhisattvas,
specifically for Mahyna Buddhism). In terms of education, the senior monks seem to
be closer to Buddhas and Bodhisattvas than the common monks. According to Daoxuan,
these masters should fulfill the following three requirements: firstly, they should have
been ordained for at least ten years; secondly, they should have a certain amount of
wisdom; thirdly, they should be devoted to supervising their disciples. Daoxuan cites The
Treatise of Sudarana (Shanjianlun) in which it is said that if the masters have a good
understanding of the scriptures (stras) and treatises (stras), but not monastic codes
(Vinayas), they cannot ordain novices.383
The top level of the structure was restricted to Buddhas. From the top, Buddhas
with complete knowledge and senior masters with a high degree of knowledge observed
the common monks, lay people, and ordinants below them. Common monks and senior
masters could not access the highest level not only because it was too small, but also
because it was beyond their capabilities as defined in Buddhist regulations. From the
383 For Daoxuan, a master must know four teachings: what conduct violates the rules, what conduct does not violate the rules, what is light guilt, and what is heavy guilt. Only those who knew all these were eligible to be masters (heshang). See Sifenl shanfan buque xingshi chao, Daoxuan, T. no. 1804, 40: 32c.
bottom to the top, from the periphery to the center, the figures become more
knowledgeable, more powerful, more respected, more dependable, more disciplined, even
more sacred. Power here derives from knowledge and discipline.
In sum, in the Buddhist ordination ritual, the relics do not simply symbolize the
Buddha, they are the Buddha. The structure of the ordination platform symbolizes the
basic principles of Buddhism, for example, the Three Emptinesses and Seven
Enlightenments. The monastic order stretching over many generations and including
Buddhas and Bodhisattvas takes part in the ordination. In pure functionalist term, we
could say that the ordination ritual strengthens the social and cultural bonds of the
monastic community through obedience of the common monks to the senior monks, and
of the senior monks (and all members) to Buddhas and Bodhisattvas, within a framework
of the distribution of power and wisdom. But beyond that, by analyzing the spatial and
temporal aspects of the ordination ritual, we see that ordination in Daoxuans eyes
recreates the ideal Buddhist community.
Chapter IV: Property and Buddhist Monasticism
[If] words are not helpful to the Way, they can be violated even though they are spoken by Buddha; yet there are common words, not from Scriptures, and they should be followed. Thus the Buddha said, even though what is not made by me should not be violated, if they purify the rest of all quarters.384 , ; , : , ,
Buddhist monasticism advocated the ideals of renunciation, poverty, and
chastity, but at the same time, the Buddhist monastic community had to be supported
materially, for example, with land for monastic buildings, food and clothing for monks,
and so forth. In early Buddhism, at least in northwest India in the several centuries BCE,
monks were not involved in daily labor to produce goods. Instead, they often received
goods from donors by offering ritual services. This promoted a relationship of reciprocity
between the monastic and lay communities and ensured the survival of the Buddhist
monastic community.385 If the goods given were beyond the minimum needs of the
monks, the rest would be stored and therefore became communal property. In several
early Buddhist monastic codes (Vinayas), there were numerous regulations developed to
deal with property. 386 For example, in examining Mlasarvstivda-Vinaya, Gregory
384 Liangchu qingzhong yi, Daoxuan, T. no. 1895, 45: 854b. 385 For a discussion on the reciprocity between monastic and lay communities, see Ilana Friedrich-
Silber, Virtuosity, Charisma, and Social Order: A Comparative Sociological Study of Monasticism in Theravada Buddhism and Medieval Catholicism (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1995).
386 For some preliminary observations about dealing with property in monastic codes, see He
Ziquan, Fojiao jingl guanyu siyuan caichan de guiding, Zhongguo shi yanjiu 1 (1982), pp. 68-78; He
Schopen gives an image of the economic governance of early medieval Indian Buddhist
monasticism. He writes,
We now know that the Buddhist monks who wrote or redacted it [Mlasarvstivda-vinaya] in early medieval North India did not share our assumptions about Buddhist monks and the renunciation of private wealth or property, and we under the enormous influence of St. Benedict think that this is an important element of any monastic ideal. Those same monks also apparently did not have the same attitude that we do in regard to monks involvement with money. They either knew monks who did, or wanted monks to do, all sorts of things that do not fit our assumptions: pay debts and tolls and transport taxable goods; own their own furniture and have the means to pay for any damage they might do to that of other monks; carry personal seals; pay for their own medicine and healing rituals; leave estates, sometimes huge; borrow money from laymen; inherit property from both other monks and laymen; accept and service permanent endowments; make loans and charge interests; accept and use negotiable securities; provide care for sick and dying laymen, with the understanding that, when the layman died, his estate would go to the monastery; and receive precious and semiprecious materials, sell books, receive gold in various forms, accept money, sell the property of deceased monks, hire and oversee laborers, and buy food. And this, of course, is only a provisional list of the sorts of things that Mlasarvstivdin monks were in most cases not only expected but also required to do by their own monastic rule.387
Thus it seems that in the Mlasarvstivdin order, common monks were involved in
many economic activities in the Buddhist community. They had to deal with issues of
property, debts, payment, and so forth.
When Buddhism spread to other Asian regions, the monastic codes were
translated into other languages and interpreted by local Buddhist masters. Therefore, the
regulations for monastic economic activities varied code by code, region by region, and
historical period by historical period. In Chinese Buddhist monasticism, the formation of
regulations dealing with economic issues also experienced long-term historical
Ziquan ed. Wushi nian lai Han Tang fojiao siyuan jingji yanjiu (1934-1984) (Beijing: Beijing shifan daxue chubanshe, 1986).
387 Gregory Schopen, The Good Monk and His Money in a Buddhist Monasticism of the
Mahyna Period, Buddhist Monks and Business Matters: Still More Papers on Monastic Buddhism in India (Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 2004), pp. 14-15.
development.388 As I have shown before, Chinese Buddhist masters had translated four
monastic codes in Daoxuans era. Theoretically, there would be four different traditions
developed for regulating the daily activities of the monastic community based on these
four codes. However, even within one tradition following one code, each master had his
own interpretation of this tradition. Many masters produced more and more regulations
deriving from their personal understanding and interpretation of various Vinaya traditions.
Moreover, given the fact that Chinese Buddhism developed in a vast land, Chinese
masters had to deal with different economic issues. Thus, following same code, these
masters might still have disagreement on many points. In the historical period of disunity,
these disagreements might not have caused problems to Buddhist communities in North
and South China, but once China was reunified in the sixth century, if Buddhist
communities could not engage in a consistent system of monastic regulation concerning
properties donated by lay society, the identity of Buddhist society would be damaged by
criticism from outside the Buddhist monastery. Thus, an effort toward instituting a
consistent and solid system of monastic regulation to deal with properties would enhance
and protect the coherence of Buddhist monastic society.
388 Many contemporary scholars have made efforts to reveal that the monastic community was
closely connected with the local society in an economic relationship. For example, drawn from the documents found in Dunhuang, Jacques Gernet and Hao Chunwen demonstrated how local society developed a mutual relationship with the Buddhist community. However, this scholarship represents a scholarly approach from outside observation. From the viewpoint of the inside, some Buddhist masters, such as Daoxuan, might have drawn a different image of monastic community. They aimed to develop many regulations to formulate a community for spiritual pursuit. Jacques Gernet, Buddhism in Chinese Society: An Economic History from the Fifth to the Tenth Centuries (New York: Columbia University Press, 1995); Hao Chunwen, Tang houqi wudai Song chu Dunhuang sengni de siyuan shenghuo (Beijing: Zhongguo shehui kexue chubanshe, 1997). For earlier discussions of Buddhism and Chinese economy, see Yang Lien-sheng, Buddhist Monasteries and Four Money-Raising Institutions in Chinese History, Harvard Journal of Asiatic Studies 13: 1-2 (1950), pp. 174-191, reprinted in Studies in Chinese Institutional History (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1961), pp. 198-215; Twitchett, Denis C. The Monasteries and Chinas Economy in Medieval Times, Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies 19 (1959), pp. 526-549.
As a famous master and a leader of the Buddhist community in the capital,
Changan, Daoxuan made an effort to write regulations for all Chinese monastic
communities, crossing the boundaries of many different Vinaya traditions. Daoxuan was
not the only master who made this effort. He explained that he once consulted another
master, Fali, who also wrote works dealing with monastic property. Nevertheless,
Daoxuans work Ritual for Measuring and Handling Light and Heavy Property (Liangchu
qingzhong yi) successfully achieved the goal and became the foremost influential system
in tandem with the rise of his reputation as a Buddhist monastic leader after his death.389
In Daoxuans words, his work aimed to effectively remove the doubts of his
contemporaries about how to deal with the monastic property, and to essentially help
Chinese Buddhists improve the quality of monastic life.390 Thus, analyzing Daoxuans
discussion on how to deal with property in monasteries will help us clarify how the laws
in Chinese Buddhist monasticism were formulated since Daoxuans era. Specifically, I
would clarify the significance of Daoxuans work Ritual for Measuring and Handling
Light and Heavy Property from a broader context of East Asian Buddhist monasticism.
As the extant earliest ritual text dealing with monastic property, Daoxuans work remains
one of the most comprehensive documents available for our understanding of medieval
Chinese monasticism. It should become the textual basis of discussions of the economic
history of Chinese Buddhism. Although in the medieval period there might have been
many documents about similar subjects composed and produced by other Chinese Vinaya
389 Liangchu qingzhong yi, Daoxuan, T. no. 1895, 45. The title of this text also appears as Shimen
wangwu qingzhongyi, see Da Tang neidian lu, Daoxuan, T. no. 2149, 55: 282a; and Xin Tang shu (ch. 59), Section of Arts and Literature (Yiwenzhi), Liu Xu et al. (Beijing: Zhonghua shuju, 1975), p. 1527.
390 Alan J. Berkowitz, Patterns of Disengagement: The Practice and Portrayal of Reclusion in
Early Medieval China (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2000).
masters, only Daoxuans work is currently extant. Daoxuans interpretation of Four-part
Vinaya tradition became hegemony after his death. Therefore, his work is more important
than any others that came later. Furthermore, Daoxuans work also had an impact on the
Japanese Vinaya School. It was first brought by Jianzhen (Jp. Ganjin) to Japan. Later,
Japanese Vinaya master Chenchun proofread and published it. Chenchun asked his fellow
master Ciguang in Nara to write a preface for this new edition. Ciguang expressed his
wishes in his preface that this text might contribute to the Buddhist monastic community
in the era of degenerating dharma.391 Therefore, this text is also integral to understanding
East Asian Buddhist monasticism in general.392
Moreover, Daoxuans work Ritual for Measuring and Handling Light and Heavy
Property is important for its practical feature. Daoxuan was famous for his five
commentaries on Four-part Vinaya (Sifen l). However, from my point of view,
compared to his scholastic and exegetical commentaries, Daoxuans Ritual for Measuring
and Handling Light and Heavy Property can be seen as a practical manual for a monastic
community to deal with property. As Daoxuan explained, this ritual document was based
on his commentary, but many new viewpoints which he adopted during his learning and
travel were added. For this reason, the Ritual for Measuring and Handling Light and
Heavy Property provided historical information along with Daoxuans understanding and
interpretation of monastic economic features. Daoxuan explained the many reasons that
led him to write such a piece. He claimed he wrote this piece for his contemporaries, who
391 Lianghchu qingzhong yi, Daoxuan, T. no. 1895, 45. 392 Ishida Mizumaro touches many issues about Daoxuans legacy in Japanese Buddhism, but he
rarely mentions this text. See his Wagakuni ni okeru Ganjin torai izen no kairitsu ni tsuite, Shky kenky 125 (1951), pp. 1-20; Ganjin no kairitsu, Kanazawa bunko kenky 96 (1963), pp. 1-5.
were awkward when it came to dealing with property. From a practical standpoint,
Daoxuan also wrote this piece to accuse some administrative masters (zhishi) 393 of
wrongly charging some properties to the monastic community, and some common monks
of wrongly possessing communal property for themselves. In addition, Daoxuan
indicated that different monastic property had different names and served different
purposes in respective cultural traditions. 394 These differences should be regulated
appropriately. Thus, Daoxuan decided to create a system of classification and codes to
help the monastic community deal with its properties.
Terminologically, Daoxuans classification of the monastic properties based on
their ownership was not different from the traditional system of Buddhist monastic codes.
Following a scholastic tradition in the Chinese translations of monastic codes (Vinayas)
and commentaries on these codes, Daoxuan used two words to classify monastic property
and reflect ownership: light (qing) and heavy (zhong). The former term refers to property
that is light enough to be owned by individual monk, while the latter refers to property
that should belong to the monastic community.395 Classifying property as light and heavy
was very important as these terms appeared in the title of Daoxuans work, Ritual for
393 Skt. Karmadna. See Zokuzoky, 150: 302c. Also see Nanhai jigui neifa zhuan, Yijing, T. no.
2125, 54: 226b. 394 Gregory Schopen, Deaths, Funerals, and the Division of Property in a Monastic Code, in:
Donald Lopez ed. Buddhism in Practice (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1995), pp. 473-502; reprinted in Buddhist Monks and Business Matters: Still More Papers on Monastic Buddhism in India (Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 2004), pp. 91-121.
395 In Indian Buddhism, two Sanskrit words refer to these two forms of properties: smghika and
paudgalika. The former refers to communal property; the latter refers to individual property. For a discussion on these two terms of property in Mlasarvstivda-vinaya, see Gregory Schopen, The Good Monk and His Money in a Buddhist Monasticism of the Mahyna Period, Buddhist Monks and Business Matters: Still More Papers on Monastic Buddhism in India (Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 2004), pp. 4-5.
Measuring and Handling Light and Heavy Property.396 Daoxuan claimed that it was a
crime for monks to keep heavy property which rightfuly belonged to the sangha.397 Based
on this idea, property was classified as light and heavy.
Contextualizing the Text
Before moving into a discussion of some essential issues in Daoxuans work dealing
with monastic property, contextualizing Daoxuans work in its historical and intellectual
background is necessary. According to Daoxuan, at least two masters implausible
interpretations in dealing with property inspired Daoxuan to complete his work Ritual for
Measuring and Handling Light and Heavy Property. These two masters were Zhishou and
Fali. In his youth, Daoxuan traveled around and attended many lectures on Vinaya in
Changan. He was ordained in the Four-part Vinaya tradition under the supervision of
famous Vinaya master Zhishou. Zhishou wrote a great number of commentaries on
Vinaya and attracted a lot of disciples to work with him. However, Zhishou did not
satisfy Daoxuan with his explanation of how to make a proper judgment regarding light
and heavy property. One of his instructions to Daoxuan was that he should not confine
his learning to one tradition of monastic code. In the fourth year of Zhenguan period
396 About the distinction between these two properties in Theravada tradition, see Thanissaro
Bhikkhu translated and explained, The Buddhist Monastic Code (volume II) (2002), chapter seven: Monastery Buildings & Property. In a glossary for Pali monastic code, Garubhnda refers to a heavy or expensive article. Garubhnda belonging to the Sangha includes monasteries and monastery land; dwellings, land on which dwellings are built; furnishings such as couches, chairs, and mattresses; metal vessels and tools; building materials, except for such things as rushes, reeds, grass, and clay; and articles made of pottery or wood. Lahubhnda: a light or inexpensive article. Lahubha.n.da of the Sangha includes such things as cloth, food, and medicine; small personal accessories such as scissors, sandals, and water strainers; and light building materials, such as rushes, reeds, grass, and clay. I. B. Horner, trans. The Book of Discipline. 6 vols. (London: Pali Text Society, 1970-86). Oskar von Hinber, "Khandhakavatta. Loss of Text in the Pali Vinaya," Journal of the Pali Text Society 15 (1990), pp. 127-138.
397 Nandasena Ratnapala, Crime and Punishment in the Buddhist Tradition (New Delhi: Mittal
(630), Daoxuan traveled to the Central Plain to learn from another Vinaya master, Fali.
He found that Fali was not helpful concerning the issue of monastic property, either. Thus
Daoxuan decided to write his own ritual document. Given that Four-part Vinaya learning
was the dominant tradition in China, Daoxuan wrote his ritual document based on this
tradition. Daoxuan wrote,
Nowadays in China the Four-part Vinaya (Dharmagupta-vinaya, Sifen l) is well circulated all over the country. Within the pass, the Great Assembly Vinaya (Mahsanghika-vinaya, Senzhi l) was popular at first; while in Southeast China, Ten-section Vinaya (Sarvstivda-vinaya, Shisong l) was popular. Yet for practicing receiving ordination and other rituals, the rituals of Four-part Vinaya were conducted.398
In addition, Daoxuan frequently criticized other masters viewpoints in dealing with
property. According to his preface and postscript, Daoxuan wrote this text in the eleventh
year of the Zhenguan period (637) after he came back from a trip to the Central Plain
(Zhongyuan) and realized that his contemporaries were very confused about dealing with
property. He revised this ritual document once again in the second year of the Qianfeng
period (667) before he passed away.
Daoxuans interpretation was based not only on his understanding of the monastic
life; but also upon on scriptures and treatises. In his words, in the case that the monastic
codes did not offer an explanation, a doctrinal judgment (yiduan, literally: a judgment of
meaning) should be applied.399 Doctrinally, he classified monastic property based on a
three-category system. These three categories referred to the nature of (materials)
(xing), matters (shi), and functions (yong). According to Daoxuan, ownership of
398 Liangchu qingzhong yi, Daoxuan, T. no. 1895, 45: 839c. 399 Ibid., T. no. 1895, 45: 849b; 850a-b. As a term, yiduan surely comes from yixue. I translate
it as doctrinal judgement. It can also be translated as philosophical judgement, if we understand that yixue refers to the Buddhist learning mainly dealing with philosophical issues. As Daoxuans work shows, he cites many scriptures and treatises including Da zhidu lun, Zhong ahan jing, Chishi fozang jing, and so on.
some monastic properties should be determined by the elemental nature of the property,
i.e. metal or wood. These terms apparently are the opposite of another set of three terms
in the Chinese Buddhist philosophical system: forms (xiang), principles (li) and
substances (ti). Daoxuans application of these categories indicated that he was surely
familiar with such categories, and he used material, matter, and the function of goods to
justify ownership rather than attending to specific form and substance. Daoxuan based his
system on his Buddhist principles (li), which should serve the Way (Dao) of Buddhist
practice leading to enlightenment. However, Daoxuan did not offer a clear philosophical
interpretation of all these terms; he confined himself to Vinaya learning. He did not
further discuss philosophical issues. However, it is worth noting that he did apply
philosophical categories in his interpretation of monasticism.
Daoxuan was also concerned with authority as he formed a new interpretation of
monastic regulations. He did not view the Buddha as the ultimate authority in teaching
monastic regulations. Daoxuan stated that if the Buddhas words did not help one pursue
the Buddhist Way (Dao), they should not be followed, while if some words did not come
from scriptures, but they taught about the Way, they should be followed.400 Here it is very
clear that Daoxuan could adjust his interpretation of Buddhist teaching to accord with the
situation, rather than unquestioningly rely upon the authority of the Buddha or the
Scriptures. At the same time, Daoxuan indicated that his authority had been sanctioned
by a heavenly being. Daoxuan mentioned that he met a heavenly being with miraculous
power in the second year of the Qianfeng period.401 This heavenly being is a figure from
400 Liangchu qingzhong yi, Daoxuan, T. no. 1895, 45: 854b. 401 Daoxuan lshi gantong lu, Daoxuan, T. no. 1898, 45: 844c-845a.
Sichuan (Shu) with a surname Fei. Daoxuan claimed that Fei was born in the Xia
Dynasty as an attendant to the heavenly king in the South Heaven (nantian). He was
familiar with the miracles of Vinaya. He told Daoxuan that Daoxuans commentaries and
rituals as well as his records were rigorous, while his work on weight and lightness was
more informal.402 In sum, Daoxuans authority was not only of his own making, but
given him by a heavenly being. In the meantime, Daoxuan put the Way (Dao) in the
highest position. For him, the Way is superior to the Dharma, which was manifested in
monastic codes and scriptures taught by the Buddha. Although Daoxuan seems to
indicate that the Way means the personal enlightenment, he did not offer an explicit
interpretation of the Way anywhere in his numerous writings.
Daoxuans Ritual for Measuring and Handling Light and Heavy Property aimed
to deal with the goods left by dead five assemblies (wang wuzhong wu, the goods left by
dead monks and lay people). I will give an overview of the issues Daoxuan discusses in
his work. These issues include how to make a donation to the Buddhist community, how
the donation is accounted for as monastic property, and how to classify these properties,
how to deal with communal properties, how and when to accept outside donations , how
monks pay debt and interest, how to distinguish between personal and communal
properties, how to distribute personal goods on different occasions, how to value and
award labor, how to differentiate between light and heavy properties, and how to classify
all goods in general. In my study, I will focus on some essential issues in Ritual for
Measuring and Handling Light and Heavy Property, such as the ownership of property,
the means of dealing with property, and the classifications of property. My discussion
402 Liangchu qingzhong yi, Daoxuan, T. no. 1895, 45.
will broaden, moving into the issue of the internal economic structure of the monastic
community and the relationship between religious ideas and the economic environment in
the Chinese monastery.
Ownership: Private Property and Communal Property
The issue of ownership has been essential in the study of Buddhist monastic
institutional history. It informs of the economic structure of Buddhist society. In
analyzing ownership, we can gain a better understanding of the natural and human
resources that Buddhist society could own and direct for their economic and religious
activities. My study will analyze how Daoxuan classified the ownership of monastic
properties, and the implications of his classification through a close reading of his Ritual
for Measuring and Handling Light and Heavy property.
Daoxuan first discussed the ritual of determining monastic properties, and in this
ritual, how the authority of this determination functioned. He indicated that the
determination of ownership of monastic properties was a ritual shaped by the communal
lifestyle of Buddhist society. Daoxuan wrote this text for the monastic assembly assigned
to deal with monastic properties.
When dealing with property, Daoxuan stated that the community should ring the
bell and call all monks together. Then all pending property (xiancai) should be collected,
recorded, and documented. The documented list should be declared to all monks so that
they all know the properties to be discussed. A detailed handling activity followed, at the
start of which the authority figure of the community asked what property was shared
property, and made a judgment about it. Next, the authority figure asked if any property
had been inherited under a contract or authorization, and then made a judgment. Third,
the authority figure dealt with the debts of dead monastic members. The idea of
communal possession in Daoxuans writing indicates that Daoxuan was targeting
Buddhist society rather than a few individual monks who lacked certainty about what
they should own and what they should not own. It also provides evidence of having been
drawn from Daoxuans catalogue of the Buddhist canon in the Tang Dyansty. Since
Daoxuan incorporated this writing about communal possession into the catalogue, it
would appear that Daoxuan intended that all monastic members would read his text.403
In Buddhist monasticism, ownership had a particular meaning which differed
from concepts developed in modern economics. Modern readers might easily understand
this classification as the way of modern economic ownership of which there are two types:
private ownership and communal ownership. Following this model, it is easily assumed
that in Buddhism, if an individual monk could own some property, then such a monk
would have ultimate control over his property. In other words, private property could be
transferred or sold from one monk to another, or to lay people or other social
organizations, or destroyed by its owner. However, in Chinese Buddhism, such ultimate
control could not be guaranteed. Enormous regulations were made to deal with private
property, case by case. Even though the properties were owned by individuals, all trading,
selling, and storing activities were based on these regulations. This was a feature of a
403 As Jan Nattier comments, the early monastic community established a series of rules to
regulate its members daily activities because it faced social pressure. She writes: (Once again) they are criticized by the general public, and the Buddha instituted the biweekly recitation of the prtimoksa rules in response. (Vinaya I. 101-102). Here too we no doubt have the traces of an actual incident (or series of incidents) reflecting the Buddhist communitys gradual adjustment to prevailing norms as the result of public pressure. See A Few Good Men: The Bodhisattva Path according to the Inquiry of Ugra (Ugrapariprccha) (Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 2003), p. 66.
In his text Ritual for Measuring and Handling Light and Heavy Property,
Daoxuan frequently mentioned two owners, which he called two sanghas (Ch. er-
seng).404 The first one appeared as permanent dwelling sangha (Ch. chang-zhu seng),
referring to the Buddhist community.405 It also meant the sangha of four directions (Ch.
sifang seng). This community referred to not only a present community in a certain
region, but also to a historical and future Buddhist community. This community was
created by the historical Buddha and his followers in ancient India. The form of this
social organization was introduced to China in the Han Dynasty. It seemed to Daoxuan
that this community existed in the early period when Buddhism entered China, and it still
existed in his own era, and would be flourishing after his era. In other words, this
permanent dwelling sangha should be an enduring Buddhist community in both
abstract and concrete senses.
The second sort of owner was called present sangha (Ch. xianqian seng). It
exclusively involved the present residents in a certain monastery, which could include the
regular monks dwelling in a certain monastery, and the visiting and short-term students,
404 In his commentary on Four-part Vinaya, Daoxuan seems to use seng to refer to the property
of the sangha. And he said that there were four types of properties: permanent property belonging to permanent dwelling sangha, permanent property belonging to the sangha of ten directions, present property belonging to present sangha, and present property belonging to the sangha of ten directions. See Sifenl shanfan buque xingshi chao, Daoxuan, T. no. 1804, 40: 55c.
405 Chinese term changzhu usually refers to the property belonging to the sangha, which also
appears as changzhu sengwu in Chinese. This is clearly stated in a Mahyna scripture, The Sutra of the Great Assembly (Skt. Mahsamnipta-sutra Ch. Daji jing). See T. no. 397, 13: 292c. Changzhu also appears inchangzhu baixing in some monastic archives from Dunhuang, which means permanent dwelling ordinary people. See P. 2187 Duanhuang zhusi fengshiya chufen changzhu wenshu. For a detailed discussion, see Jiang Boqin, Tang wudai Dunhuang sihu zhidu (Beijing: Zhonghua shuju, 1987), chapter three. Jiang notes that the permanent dwelling ordinary people as a term frequently appeared in Dunhuang monastic archives after the political persecution during the Huichang period (841-845). These people should be protected by the secular law under the regime of the Guiyijun government. While it seems that Jiang only deals with Daoxuans commentary on Dharmagupta-vinaya. He does not mention Daoxuans Liangchu qingzhong yi.
who might have been regular dwellers in other monasteries. It was very common in
medieval China for a monk to travel around and stay and learn in many monasteries at
different ages. For example, Daoxuan always lived in various monasteries, such as Riyan
Monastery, Chongyi Monastery, Fengde Monastery, Zhixiang Monastery, and Ximing
Monastery.406 In short, for Daoxuan, some property should belong to the permanent
dwelling sangha, while some other property could be owned by the present sangha.
Daoxuans classification of the two owners may convey further implications. The
ownership of the permanent dwelling sangha was permanent, while the present
community had only temporary ownership of it property. If a property belonged to the
permanent dwelling sangha as Daoxuan defined, it seemed that this property should
belong to a universal sangha in a broad sense, thus belonging to all Buddhist monks and
nuns, regardless of race, nationality and region, or gender. Furthermore, these properties
could also be owned by the Buddha, or the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas. In other words,
ownership of the property belonging to the permanent dwelling sangha was divided by
the historical and present sangha, and both the dead and living members of the sangha.
The present sangha was composed of only the living of a certain community in a
certain period, not the historical and the dead.
Daoxuans classification was confined within the tradition of monastic codes,
despite the complexity of the terminology used in his ritual text. This complex
terminology can be analyzed by a modern critical reading. Daoxuan stated that there were
generally two owners in Buddhist society, sangha and monks. Sangha as an owner should
be examined more carefully. In particular, it seems to me that there were three levels of
406 A detailed account of Daoxuans life, see Fujiyoshi Masumi, Dsen den no kenky (Kyoto:
Kyt daigaku shuppankai, 2002).
ownership in Chinese monasticism. First, the level of sangha in general; second, the level
of the monastic community; and third, the level of the individual monk. The sangha
seems like a modern nation which namely and abstractly had ownership, while actual
ownership belonged to the monastic authority. The monastic community seems to have
had incorporate ownership. There was no a highest church to regulate all monasteries.
One monastic community in a certain region did not follow the order of any other
monastic community. Therefore, at the level of monastic community, it looked like a
private, incorporated unit. In Buddhist monasticism, even though a monastic community
claimed the ownership of its property, the communal authority actually governed these
properties. Thus, the distinction among owners should be explicitly clarified. The third
level is the one of individual ownership. Monks could own their daily food, robes, bowl,
and other small things, but they were not encouraged to sell them or exchange them for
pleasure and profit.
Furthermore, not only the ownership of the sangha caused confusion, but also the
role of Buddha in study of the ownership. Given that many sources have illustrated that
donations were addressed to the Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha, the role the Buddha
played in the ownership of monastic property must be clarified. From a historical
perspective, the Buddha could be viewed as the founder of the sangha, the monastic
community. He was not the owner of the monasteries; instead, he was one of members of
the monastic community. Daoxuan did not specify the role of the historical Buddha in the
ownership of property in the Chinese Buddhist monastery. In no case, did he indicate that
property in Chinese monasteries should belong to the Buddha. 407 For Daoxuan, the
historical Buddha only played a role in initiating the regulations and legitimizing the code.
The Buddha was viewed as the first teacher to set up the rules about how to deal with
property in the monastic community. 408 Like the Buddha, Daoxuan also delivered
regulations regarding monastic property. As he attempted to initiate a new system of
regulations in China to deal with monastic property, he imitated the role played by the
historical Buddha, and so established himself as an authority able to make rules for the
Chinese monastic community.
Daoxuan taught that the owners of monastic property had six means of dealing
with donations. First, some property should be given to the monastic community.
Daoxuan uses a word, entering as heavy property (ruzhong). It meant that such
property should be charged as communal property, including lands, gardens, houses,
slaves, money, animals, and so on. Second, some property should be distributed to
individual monks. Daoxuan uses a word, entering as light property (ruqing). It meant
that such property could belong to individual monks, including three Buddhist robes,
Buddhist scriptures, small tools for daily life, a small bathing vessel, and so on. The third
way of dealing with property was returning. In the case of servants, if donated by lay
owners for short-term labor, they should be returned their original owners after finishing
their duty in the monastic community. The fourth way of dealing with property was
selling.409 If a monastic community received musical instruments, drama decorative tools,
407 Gregory Schopen, The Buddha as an Owner of Property and Permanent Resident in Medieval
Indian Monasteries, in: Bones, Stones, and Buddhist Monks: Collected Papers on the Archaeology, Epigraphy, and Texts of Monastic Buddhism in India (Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 1997), pp. 258-289.
408 At least, there are two cases. See Liangchu qingzhong yi, Daoxuan, T. no. 1895, 45: 840c,
drama clothes, and game tools,410 these four kinds of property should be sold and the
income should be given to the community. This selling necessitated commercial contact
with lay society or even beyond. This could be viewed as a trade activity. It is imaginable
that monks in charge of these properties would measure the value of these properties for
sale. The fifth way of dealing with property was releasing. According to Daoxuan, a
monastic community should release wild animals if it received these animals from lay
donors. If these animals were small, monks were to feed them food and raise them until
they were big enough to be released. However, the ethical foundation of this releasing did
not simply derive from compassion; rather, in Daoxuans (metaphorical) understanding,
releasing came from the idea that these animals were like obstacles on the Buddhist
path.411 The sixth means of dealing with property was destruction. If weapons were
donated to a monastic community, they should not be charged into community, nor
should they be sold. Instead, they should be destroyed by fire.412 If the cages or trunks for
confining animals were donated to the monastic community, they should be destroyed by
fire too. From the discussion of the six means of dealing with property, it is also very
clear that the income from selling goods was not regular, but rather an occasional income.
This occasional income, in the form of money, was generated only when goods needed to
409 We do not know if they would make a profit from this sale. But in Europe, profit economy had
a connection with the religious community. See Lester K. Little, Religious Poverty and the Profit Economy in Medieval Europe (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1978).
410 Liangchu qingzhong yi, Daoxuan, T. no. 1895, 45: 842c. The drama could be played by lay
people. Monks did not really get involved in playing drama as actors, though they might have appeared as guests during the drama. In medieval China, all kinds of games seem to have been very popular. For example, playing go became a fashion among literati class. About games in the Tang Dynasty, see Niu Zhiping, Tangdai youyi (Xian: Sanqin chubanshe, 1988). Among many games Daoxuan mentioned, Touhu was another popular game. See Wen Duobin, Liang Han Sanguo zhi Sui Tang Wudai shiqi de tou (BC 206-AD960), Taidong daxue jiaoyu xuebao 14: 1 (2003).
411 Liangchu qingzhong yi, Daoxuan, T. no. 1895, 45: 845c. 412 Ibid., T. no. 1895, 45: 849c.
be sold. The regular income for a monastery, in the form of goods and money, came from
donations, services, and products from gardens, fields, and inheritances.
In addition, authority to deal with the property came from the propertys owners.
This meant that the monastic community administration owned most of the wealth of the
community. The administration controlled the ownership of all property, distributing
property, selling property, and destroying property, under the guidance of the monastic
code by way of their understanding. Individual monks were not to get involved in trade
activities, and therefore they could not profit from commercial exchange and trade,
whether goods or money. Although, as Daoxuan claims, all monks came together while
dealing with property and participated in discussion regarding the property, the authority
of making decisions still remained with the senior monks, especially the three top
administrative monks: superintendent (shangzuo), abbot (sizhu), and discipline master
(weina). Legally, the community owned all communal property; the monastic economy
could be viewed as a monastic communism.413 Common monks could only accept what
the monastic administration, or the monastic community, in Daoxuans words, distributed
to them. This was quite different from Buddhist monasticism in ancient North India.
However, in medieval Chinese monasticism, at least as Daoxuan envisioned it, the
monastic authority held these rights.
Classifications of Monastic Property
As I have shown above, ownership of monastic properties was determined by
their classification. The classifications of monastic properties were different accorcing to
413 The difference between the monastic communism and secular communism is that in monastic
communism, common monks are not working class. In modern communism, legally, all citizens are the owners of all property; but in the meantime, they are also all working class.
different Buddhist traditions. They varied time by time and place by place. Therefore,
providing an overview of how Daoxuan classified monastic property will help us
understand how Daoxuan inherited the tradition of the Four-part Vinaya, and how he
understood and interpreted the ownership of property in his own way. Generally,
Daoxuan classified the monastic properties into thirteen categories based on the Four
part Vinaya tradition he inherited. However, he also offered a renovated classification
system based on his own understanding and interpretation. His classification of monastic
properties is a significant part of understanding Daoxuans overall idea about
monasticism in medieval China. First, Daoxuans categorization of the property in a
monastic community explicitly reflects his new formulation of the relationship between
materials owned by the monastic community and the Buddhist monastic ideal. For
example, Daoxuan suggests that as individuals, monastic community members should not
possess any property with commercial values, but they could possess some trivial
property for daily life necessities, such as medicines in the case of unpredictable illness,
or Buddhist books for daily learning and training. Second, Daoxuans classification also
aims to bridge the gap between the differences of the material world in Indian and
Chinese Buddhist monasticism. It is likely that Daoxuan found a strategy to reconcile the
conflict in Buddhist monasticism between Indian heritage and Chinese context. Daoxuan
realizes that many properties have different names and serve different purposes in India
and China as well as other places. For instance, Indian and Chinese monks used different
materials to make Buddhist robes, even though they shared the same Buddhist value of
In terms of inheriting an Indian Buddhist tradition, Daoxuan first classified
property into four categories based on the ownership of these properties. These four
categories include property belonging to the certain permanent dwelling sangha (juxian
changzhu senwu),414 the property belonging to the permanent dwelling sangha of four
directions (sifang changzhu senwu),415 the property belonging to the present sangha of
four directions,416 and the distributable property belonging to the present sangha (dangfen
xianqian senwu).417 This classification is based on Daoxuans commentary on Four-part
Vinaya (Sifenl), so its basis is ownership. The first category actually includes fields,
gardens, mountains, woods, ponds, and humans, as well as animals. These properties
exclusively belonged to a certain monastery, and were not to be used by other
monasteries. Daoxuan also described the punishment for violation. If any monk stole
anything from this category, he was convicted of a second-level crime. If he was
convicted of a fifth-level crime, he would be removed from the monastic community.
Otherwise, he would be punished in public by the community.418 The second category
included prepared food (sushi) which served the daily needs of the monks. Daoxuan
states that the historical Buddha made the rule for all monks that food should be supplied
only when it was time for food. At that moment, the receivers should uphold their bowls
414 Liangchu qingzhong yi, Daoxuan, T. no. 1895, 45: 848a-b. Juxian here means the limitation.
It refers to a limited monastic community whose property might not be open to the members of other monasteries.
415 Ibid., T. no. 1895, 45: 848b-849a 416 Ibid., T. no. 1895, 45: 849a 417 Ibid., T. no. 1895, 45: 849a 418 Ibid., T. no. 1895, 45: 848a
with respect, while the benefactors distributed the food with joy.419 In this situation, it
means that monks should not own food. The third category includes the donations from
seven assemblies, inheritance from dead monks, and other light property.420 The fourth
category includes the daily living supplies, for example, clothes.
Moreover, based on the Four-part Vinaya, Daoxuan also offers a detailed
classification which includes thirteen sorts of property in medieval Buddhist society.421
The first category refers to the sanghas monasteries (seng qielan), including small
monasteries, houses, shops, and markets. In the case of houses, Daoxuan indicates that
monks could receive the houses donated by lay people, but these houses should belong to
the monastic community. However, Daoxuan did not indicate in this text if monks could
live in these houses.422 The second category includes gardens, fields, fruit trees belonging
to the monasteries, and involves seven categories. For example, it includes vegetables
planted in the gardens and fields, five-fruit trees, agricultural tools (for example, a
plough), granaries and storehouses, tools for making food (stone rollers, grindstone, dry
terrain), five types of food to be eaten immediately, and four types of needed medicines.
All of these items supported the survival of monks. The third category includes private
houses. The fourth one includes all property belonging to the private houses (for example,
windows, doors, walls, beds, curtains and so on). The fifth one includes copper vessels,
419 Ibid., T. no. 1895, 45: 848b. 420 Ibid., T. no. 1895, 45: 849a 421 The list in Caturvargika-vinaya is in the section of the Skanda of Robes (no. 3). See T. no. 1428,
22: 859b. 422 Hao Chunwen suggests that many monks actually lived with their families in their own houses.
See his Tang houqi wudai Songchu Dunhuang sengni de shehui shenghuo (Beijing: Zhongguo shehui kexue chubanshe, 1997).
copper jars, choppers, and lamp platforms. The sixth one refers to all kinds of heavy
property, including eight categories: for example, five sorts of tools for making clothes,
all kinds of art crafting materials for decorating clothes, tools for healing illness, (such as
needles and knives, medical books, four medicines), Buddhist and non-Buddhist books,
musical instruments, miscellaneous decoration tools including tools for making paintings
and tools for daily entertainment, all kinds of jewels and money, and other heavy
property (including stone, crystal, shell, teeth, tile, horn, copper, colored earth). The
seventh one includes rope beds, wood beds, sleeping and sitting mattresses; the eighth
one includes the skins and hairs of the deer.423 The ninth one includes laborers and
animals in the monasteries, including six categories: laborers and supplied personals,
slaves, and servants, offspring and property of these slaves and servants, domesticated
animals, wild animals, and other animals prohibited by monastic code. The tenth one
includes vehicles, including three categories: boats and bull and sheep vehicles, tools for
funerals (coffins, funeral clothes, tombs, tomb bricks, pine trees, steles, epigraphy), and
tools for offering sacrifice and making offerings. The eleventh one includes water vessels,
bathing jars, tin sticks, and fans. The twelfth one includes all other tools made by five
materials: iron, pottery, skin, bamboo, and wood. And the final category included
Buddhist robes, bowls, sittings mats, needle containers, and boxes for storing clothes.424
In Four-part Vinaya, all these thirteen kinds of property should belong to the
monastic community. Daoxuan inherited this tradition and agreed with it in most cases.
423 They came from the Western Regions (xiyu) and India. There was no such thing in China.
While Daoxuan indicated that they were curtains and scrolls for the walking path while the ceremony was held. See Liangchu qingzhong yi, Daoxuan, T. no. 1895, 45: 844c.
424 Ibid., T. no. 1895, 45: 846b.
But he made some slight modifications. His modifications were either based on the size
of the property, or based on his justification of various situations. For example, Daoxuan
suggests that unprepared medicine (wei daozhi yao) should belong to the community,
while the other medicine (shengyu yao) drunk by a monk could be owned by an
individual monk.425 In the case of furniture and tools, he suggests that any utensil made
of copper could be owned by individual monks if their size was limited to two pecks
(dou).426 So there was an exception based on size. The high seats (gaozuo) were allowed
to be owned by the Dharma masters, regardless of the size and height of these seats. The
high seat was for the use of reciting scriptures and preaching Buddhist teaching. 427
Daoxuan also classified the property left by five dead assemblies. According to
his classification, there are three categories for these properties. The first category is
property which is allowed by Buddhas regulations. It includes three Buddhist robes,
bowls, and sitting mats. These properties are allowed to belong to an individual monk,
but only in the case that the individual monk can hold them in his hand (suishen). The
second category is property which is not allowed by regulations. This category includes
five groups of property: fields, gardens, and plants within them;428 people and animals;
musical and entertainment instruments; five kinds of weapons; and money, grain, and
seven gems.429 Daoxuan seemed to be very familiar with the secular attitude toward the
425 Ibid., T. no. 1895, 45: 842a-b. 426 Ibid., T. no. 1895, 45: 844b. Peck is an ancient Chinese measurement. 427 Ibid., T. no. 1895, 45: 844c. 428 Lambert Schmidthausen, Plants as Sentient Beings in Earliest Buddhism (The A. L. Basham
Lecture for 1989, Canberra: Australia National University Press, 1991) 429 Liangchu qingzhong yi, Daoxuan, T. no. 1895, 45: 849b-c.
fields and gardens. He indicates that even Confucian literati would not intend to own
much by way of fields and gardens. He states that the entertainment instruments should
be burnt and the weapons should be broken and burnt since they were the obstacles on the
path toward enlightenment. The third category refers to those properties which are not
strictly regulated by Buddha. It means that those properties may or may not be allowed to
be held by an individual monk. Under this category, Daoxuan makes more complicated
Besides following Buddhist intellectual tradition, Daoxuan also developed his
own classification system based on his own interpretation. He uses three philosophical
notions in his classification: the nature of materials (xing), matters (shi), and functions
(yong).430 Thus in this classification, the properties within the monastery are classified as
properties of three types of heavy properties and three types of light properties. The
former includes properties made of heavy materials, the properties involved in heavy
matters, and the properties used for heavy functions; while the latter includes the
properties made of light materials, the properties that involve light matters, and the
properties used for light functions. The properties made of heavy materials were made of
metal, stone, earth, and wood. Daoxuan states that these materials should not be
possessed by monks who pursue the Buddhist path. The properties involving heavy
matters refer to the properties which are involved in non-Buddhist path secular business.
The properties for heavy functions refer to the properties that are made of either heavy or
430 In Chinese philosophy, yong (function) usually is listed with ti (substance) together. See Wing-
tsit Chan trans., A Source Book in Chinese Philosophy (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1964), p. 791. According to Chan, the term ti-yung originated from Wang Bi (226-249) in his commentary on Lao-tzu (chapter 38). In Wangs interpretation, ti was provided with a metaphysical meaning. And later it became one of the most preeminent terms in Buddhism and Neo-Confucianism. For a recent examination of these two terms, see Antonio S. Cua, On the Ethical Significance of Ti-Yong Distinction, Journal of Chinese Philosophy No. 2 (2002), pp. 163-170.
light materials, but function as heavy properties. The heavy-material property had five
divisions. The first division refers to the properties owned within house and room,
including windows, doors, beds, mats, mattresses, lamps, stoves and so on. The second
division means miscellaneous tools made of iron.431 The third division means containers
that are allowed, including vessels, bathing tools, laundry tools, eating tools, and so on.
Daoxuan says that all stuff made of stone, tile, and copper should be viewed as heavy
property.432 The fourth division refers to other property for use on the body. Daoxuan
said that if a monastic member is too old to walk, the use of a vehicle or carriage is
allowed. If a monastic member walks on the path and worris about being bitten by small
worms, he or she can use a tin stick (xizhang) to shake them away. The fifth division
includes funeral and mortuary property, for example, tombs, pagodas, and offerings
dedicated to pagodas and tombs.
Daoxuans own classification also reflected some typical Chinese characteristics.
Since Daoxuan wrote his regulations for the Chinese monastic community, in his list he
mentions many kinds of property that reflect features of the Chinese monastic community.
For instance, Daoxuan lists five grains, including grains served as the main staples of the
Chinese, for example, millet, barley, wheat, and paddy, beans, and hemp. Daoxuan also
listed many musical instruments that should not be owned by individual monks; rather,
they should be sold. While classifying them, Daoxuan uses a term, the music of eight
sounds (bayin zhi yue). This is a pre-Buddhist traditional term for Chinese music.
Daoxuan also lists many game tools that should be sold, too. These tools include many
431 Here Daoxuan cites a story about how the Buddha allowed a smith to make his bowl in iron
while entering the order. Liangchu qingzhong yi, Daoxuan, T. no. 1895, 45: 850c. 432 Ibid., T. no. 1895, 45: 850c.
Chinese traditional games or games imported to China from Western Regions. They were
not from India.433
Laborers, Slaves and Servants
In early medieval China, laborers and slaves as well as servants constituted the
main labor force which kept the daily economic activity running in the monastic
community. From Tsukamoto Zenry, Jacque Gernet, He Ziquan, Jiang Boqin, and Hao
Chunwen, modern scholarship has made great progress on the issue of the workforces
used in the monastic society.434 Their studies have exhausted both Buddhist canonical
and historical sources, plus numerous manuscripts from Dunhuang. Tsukamoto, Jiang,
and Gernet consequently trace the development of the institutional history of the
monastery households (sengqi hu, or sihu) and the Buddha households (fotu hu).435
However, I would highlight some disagreements I have with them. One of the significant
issues I must single out is that in Daoxuans concrete guidelines about how to deal with
laborers, slaves, and servants in a monastery, he lists laborers, slaves, servants, and
animals together.436 This is very unusual. Daoxuan claims that both slaves and animals
433 Ibid., T. no. 1895, 45: 842c. For an explanation of these games, see Tiantai pusa jieshu, Zhiyi,
Mingkuang edited, T. no. 1812, 40: 2. 434 Tsukamoto Zenry, Chgoku bukkyshi kenky (Kyoto: Hzkan, 1964); Chikusa Masaaki,
Chgoku bukky shakaishi kenky (Kyoto: Hy shoten, 2002, revised edition). He Ziquan ed. Wushi nian lai Han Tang fojiao siyuan jingji yanjiu (1934-1984) (Beijing: Beijing shifan daxue chubanshe, 1986). Jiang Boqin, Tang wudai Dunhuang sihu zhidu (Beijing: Zhonghua shuju, 1987).
435 Tsukamoto Zenry, Chgoku bukkyshi kenky (Kyoto: Hzkan, 1964), pp. 165-218. Jiang
Boqin, Tang wudai Dunhuang sihu zhidu (Beijing: Zhonghua shuju, 1987), pp. 20-22. He cites Ritual of Measuring and Handling the Light and Heavy Property. But mostly he deals with Dunhuang local monasteries. Jacque Gernet, Buddhism in Chinese Society: An Economic History from the Fifth to the Tenth Centrueis (New York: Columbia University Press, 1995), pp. 98-112. Gernet categorizes the economic relationship between these households and monasteries as a part of Buddhist colonization.
436 Gregory Schopen discusses slaves and servants in Indian Buddhist monasticism, see his article,
The Monastic Ownership of Servants or Slaves: Local and Legal Factors in the Redactional History of
are a source of income in the monastic communities. Many scholars deal with the issue of
workforces in monastic communities, but fail to pay attention to the fact that Daoxuan
lists these workforces with animals.
Many contemporary scholars have dealt with the workforce by focusing on the
relationship between households and the monasteries. Aiming at a complementary
analysis, my reading of Daoxuans work Ritual of Measuring and Handling the Light and
Heavy Property would categorize the slaves in a monastic community into three
categories: monastic employees, shelter seekers, and donated slaves and servants. This
categorization might help make better sense of Daoxuans idea about the workforces in
the Buddhist monastery. From this perspective, I will deal with the relationship among
four groups: monasteries, monks, workforces, and lay people. The first category,
monastic employees, indicates laborers (shili) and supplied personnel (gongji) in
Daoxuans writing.437 The employees do not have to sign a contract with the monasteries,
but are hired by the monastic community for a fixed term. If the employment is
terminated and the personnel decide not to stay longer, the monastic community should
allow them to leave. These employees might also have come to the monastery as a form
of offering from a lay person. If so, they should be sent back to the lay people once their
employment is over. Some of the workforce were shelter seekers. They came to offer
their labor in order to avoid the tax or military duties outside the monastic communities.
In Daoxuans view, they legally become the property of the monastic community. If they
come to the monastic community temporarily for special political, economic, and military
Two Vinayas, Journal of the International Association of Buddhist Studies 17: 2 (1994), pp. 145-173. But he does not mention if these workforces were listed with animals together.
437 Huiyuan (Jingying monastery)s Daban niepan jing yiji (ch. 5) teaches that monks should not
own slaves and servants, food utensils, and five types of vegetables. See T. no. 1764, 37: 730c.
reasons, they should be released if they requested; otherwise, they can stay as long as
they wish.438 There are also slaves (buqu) and male and female guests (ken) in the
monasteries.439 If the monastery community receives some slaves from lay donors, the
monasteries should grant these slaves normal status, and bestow them formal titles as
normal residents. But if they keep the status of slave to their original owners when they
enter the monasteries, it is still possible for them to become the property of the permanent
dwelling sangha (changzhu) once the original donors die. In other words, they could
theoretically belong to the sangha, but might not concretely belong to certain monasteries.
In the meantime, their clothes, personal properties, and everything in hand should belong
to themselves. The monastic community should not seek ownership of this property from
the workforce. The sons and daughters of these slaves will belong to the permanent
dwelling sangha. If they die and no relatives survive from them, their property will
remain in the permanent dwelling sangha. These slaves can be sold by their owners, but
the monastic community should not and can not sell them. In any sense, the monastic
community should not be involved in selling any human being at all.
Some principles seem to be observed in the regulations formulated by Daoxuan.
The sangha, or the monastic community, and not the monks, owned the workforce
donated by lay people. And therefore the monastic communities rather than the concrete
assemblies or monks were the employers. If this was a capitalist economic system, the
438 Liangchu qingzhong yi, Daoxuan, T. no. 1895, 45: 845b. 439For discussion on these slaves (buqu) in ancient China, see Yang Zhongyi, Buqu yange
luekao, Shihuo 1: 3 (1935). Zhou Yiliang, Wei Jing Nanbeichao shi zaji (Beijing: Zhonghua shuju, 1985). Tang Zhangru, Wei Jin Nanbeichao shiqi de ke he buqu, Wei Jin Nanbeichao shi lun shiyi (Beijing: Zhonghua shuju, 1983). Li Bozhong, Tangdai buqu nubi dengji de bianhua jiqi quanyin, Xiamen daxue xuebao 1 (1985). Jiang Boqin, Tang Wudai Dunhuang sihu zhidu (Beijing: Zhonghua shuju, 1985). For other servants or slaves, see He Ziquan, Zhonggu dazu siyuan linghu yanjiu, Shihuo 3: 4 (1936).
communities rather than the monks were the capitalists. The monks did not legally hold
the ownership of the lands, the gardens, the fields, and agricultural and industrial
workshops and tools. Second, usually the workforce used by the monastic community
belonged to the permanent dwelling sangha, rather than the present sangha. In other
words, a certain monastery should not own the workforce. However, since theoretically
and legally, the workforce belonged to the permanent sangha while being used by the
present sangha, they were also consecutively passed over to the next present sangha when
the monastic communities changed generation by generation. Furthermore, the monastic
community could not break the affiliated relationship of the slaves to the lay donors in
the non-Buddhist monastic social world. For instance, they could only accept the slaves
after their original owners died. But the monastic community could grant the slaves
normal status if they were completely donated by lay people to the monastic community.
Finally, the monastic community seems to naturally have had the ownership of the
offspring of the slaves and the property of these offspring. Whether the monastic
community could sell or exchange this property remains unknown. Daoxuan kept silent
on this issue.440
Since the medieval Chinese monastic community was not isolated from the
natural world, it was not to be designed as a separate space for human beings only.
Animals always took part in the daily activities of Buddhist monastic members.441 Many
440 Jacques Gernet, Buddhism in Chinese Society: An Economic History from the Fifth to the
Tenth Centrueis (New York: Columbia University Press, 1995). Hao Chunwen, Tang houqi wudai Song chu Dunhuang sengni de shehui shenghuo (Beijing: Zhongguo shehui kexue chubanshe, 1997).
441 Animals, Skt. tiryaa, Pali. tiracchna, Ch. chusheng, bangsheng, or hengsheng.
social historians have viewed this participation as merely an economic matter. However,
in my opinion, this participation should be examined in a larger context. Therefore,
scrutiny should be carried out in multiple dimensions, among which are religious ethic,
economic, and even biological considerations. Apparently, in terms of religious ethics,
dealing with animals remains a very significant subject.442 In early Buddhism, animals
were viewed as inferior intellectually.443 In the theory of reincarnation, although animals
were viewed the same as human beings and could be reborn based on their karmas, the
path of animals was considered inferior to the path of human beings.
In medieval Chinese Buddhism, Daoxuan also offered some regulations for
dealing with animals. Some points from his text should be marked here. First, he lists
slaves, servants, and animals together. Though it is not surprising to list animals and
human beings together, since in Buddhist cosmology animals are also sentient beings, in
the case of Daoxuans list it seems that economic status is the principle basis of
classification. Daoxuan seems to view both animals and slaves as the same kind of
income received from donors. Plants were also the income of the monastic community,
442 Sakya Trizin, A Buddhist View on Befriending and Defending Animals (Portland: Orgyan
Chogye Chonzo Ling, 1989); Christopher Chapple, Karma and Creativity; Nonviolence to Animals, Earth, and Self in Asian Traditions (Albany, New York: State University of New York Press, 1993); Mary Evelyn Tucker and Duncan Williams eds., Buddhism and Ecology: The Interconnection of Dharma and Deeds (Harvard University Center for the Study of World Religions, 1997); Eric Reinders, Animals, Attitude toward: Buddhist Perspective, in William M. Johnston ed. Encyclopedia of Monasticism (Fitzroy Dearborn, 2000), pp. 30-31; Paul Waldau, The Specter of Specieism: Buddhist and Christian Views of Animals (Oxford University Press, 2001), chapters 6 and 7; and his article, Buddhism and Animals Rights, in Damien Keown ed., Contemporary Buddhist Ethics (The Curzon Critical Studies in Buddhism Series. Richmond, Surrey, England: Curzon Press, 2000), pp. 81-112; Paul J. Waldau and Kimberley Patton (eds.), A Communion of Subjects: Animals in Religion, Science and Ethics (New York: Oxford University Press, 2004).
443 Lambert Schmithausen, The Early Buddhist Tradition and Ethics: VI. The Status of Animals,
Journal of Buddhist Ethics (1997). James P. McDermott, Animals and Humans in Early Buddhism, Indo-Iranian Journal 32: 2 (1989), pp. 269-280. Bimal Churn Law, Animals in Early Jain and Buddhist Literature, Indian Culture 12: 1 (1945), pp. 1-13.
but they were produced from the lands and fields owned by the monastic community,
rather then offered by donors.
Daoxuan placed the animals which could be owned by the monastic community in
three categories: domesticated animals, wild animals, and the animals which are rejected
in monastic code.444 In observing the first two categories, it is clear that this classification
is based on the relationship between animals and human society. 445 In particular,
Daoxuan classifies animals based on whether they can be used for economic purposes.
The third category reveals that this classification was particularly based on the
regulations governing the Buddhist community which were shaped by the monastic ethics.
We can tell from this list that this classification must have been justified by the
traditional Buddhist view of animals and the contemporary situation in Daoxuans era.
Brian. K. Smith examined the animals of ancient India, and suggested that they were
classed as either domesticated (grmya, of the village) or wild (ramya, of the
jungle).446 Based on Baudhyana-rauta-Stra (24: 5), The seven village animals are
the cow, horse, goat, sheep, man, ass, and camel as the seventh; some say that mule [is
the seventh]. The seven jungle animals are [wild] cloven-hoofed animals, animals having
feet like dogs, birds, crawling animals, elephants, monkeys, and river animals as the
444 Current scholarship on animals in traditional China rarely touches on the issue of how Chinese
religions classified animals. For a recent example, see Guo Fu, Li Yuese (Joseph Needham), and Cheng Qingtai, Zhongguo gudai dongwuxue shi (Beijing: Kexue chubanshe, 1999); Gou Cuihua, Zhongguo gudai de dongzhiwu fenlei, Kejishi wenji 4 (1980), p. 43;Gou Cuihua et al., Ye tan zhongguo gudai de shengwu fenleixue sixiang, Ziran kexueshi yanjiu 1: 4 (1982), p. 167; Gou Cuihua et al., Zhongguo gudai shengwuxue shi (Beijing: Kexue chubanshe, 1989).
445 George G. Simpson, Principles of Animal Taxonomy (New York: Columbia University Press,
1962). 446 Brian K. Smith, Classifying Animals and Humans in Ancient India, Man 26: 3 (1991), pp.
527-548; and his book Classifying the Universe: The Ancient Indian Varna System and the Origins of Caste (New York: Oxford University Press, 1994), p. 241.
seventh.447 Roswith Conard examined archaeological evidence and listed the following
domestic animals in ancient Indus civilization: cattle, sheep, goat, pig, horse, camel, dog,
and fowl. He also listed animals such as the bull, buffalo, elephant, cat, dove, and
peacock as possibly domesticated animals. The dove, peacock, tiger, and rhinoceros
played an important role in the religious life of ancient India.448 From the lists above, we
know that all five sorts of domestic animals in Daoxuans list were the same as the
domestic animals classed in ancient India: camels, horses, asses, sheep and goats, and
In Daoxuans classification, domesticated animals included camels, horses,
donkeys, bulls, and sheep, and so forth. All of these animals could legally belong to the
permanent dwelling sangha. Their affiliated saddles, saddle blankets, ropes, railings,
folds, mangers, and stables could belong to the monastic community, too. But if there
were any whips and sticks, the monastic community could not own them. Instead, the
monastic community was to burn these whips and sticks and destroy them, for they were
used to torture the domestic animals.
Some animals were domesticated in Daoxuans era, but were not used for
economic purposes. Daoxuan classified them as wild animals. In Daoxuans list, wild
animals included apes, monkeys, river deer, deer, bears, ringed pheasant, rabbits,
mountain cocks, and wild geese. Among these, apes, bears, and geese are also listed as
wild animals in ancient India. 449 These wild animals and their affiliated cages and
447 Brian K. Smith, Classifying the Universe: The Ancient Indian Varna System and the Origins of
Caste (New York: Oxford University Press, 1994), p. 248. 448 Roswith Conard, The Domestic Animals in the Cultures of India, Journal of Indian History
52 (1974), pp. 76-78.
frameworks were not to be accepted by the monastic community even if donated. If the
monastic community received these animals, they were to release them, because these
animals were obstacles to the Buddhist path.450 At this point, Daoxuan does not claim the
value of compassion; rather, he emphasizes the necessity of an austere life for monastic
members. He prevented them from keeping these animals which required more than
could be provided by the monastic community.
Daoxuan also discusses hens, ducks, and pigs.451 He points out that these animals
could bring pollution to pure Buddhist monastics. All cages and frameworks used to
confine these wild animals should be destroyed by fire. The third category includes
animals which are prohibited by the monastic code. These animals included cats, dogs,
eagles, and mice. It seems that this category mainly refers to pets. Daoxuan also points
out that the monastic community should destroy bows and arrows as well as other
weapons, because these weapons could be used to hunt the animals. Interestingly,
animals such as hens and pigs are classified as domestic in non-Buddhist society. So this
category seems to be a Chinese Buddhist invention. Daoxuan states the Buddhist
monastic code prohibits monks from owning these animals.
In Daoxuans interpretation, the monastic community should not be involved in
killing and trading animals. Otherwise, the bad deeds accumulated from killing and
trading would bring terrible retribution to the monks. For Daoxuan, selling animals was
even more evil than simply killing them. For the monastic community, the principle of
449 Brian K. Smith, Classifying the Universe: The Ancient Indian Varna System and the Origins of Caste (New York: Oxford University Press, 1994), p. 248.
450 For more study on releasing creatures, see Chapter two. 451 But Daoxuan does not mention how to deal with birds. Birds were important to medieval
Chinese society, at least in Dunhuang. See Lewis Mayo, The Order of Birds in Guiyi jun Dunhuang, East Asian History 20 (2000), pp. 1-59.
compassion was to be strictly obeyed in dealing with animals. As Daoxuan said, the
monastic community should erect its sacred house of compassion (cibei shengzhai).452
Unlike Confucianism, in medieval Chinese Buddhism, the animals were not to be
used for sacrifice, not even to the Three Jewels: the Buddha, Dharma and sangha.453 Thus,
the animals donated by lay people were not to be dedicated to the Buddha or the sangha.
Rather, they were donated for the daily use of the monastic community.454 Current
scholarship on animals from the Confucian perspective has suggested that in ancient
China, Confucians may have viewed animals in light of their values of benevolence and
It seems that in Chinese Buddhist monasticism, Vinaya masters played a role in
classifying animals. Daoxuan is such an example. He classified everything a monastic
community might have owned. The classification of animals seems to be mainly based on
the monastic code or Vinaya, which surely came from ancient Indian tradition. However,
there were many Chinese translations of a variety of Vinaya traditions available.
Therefore, Chinese Vinaya masters had to justify their classifications to accord with
changing situations. In pre-Buddhist Chinese society, rulers or sage-kings had authority
452 Liangchu qingzhong yi, Daoxuan, T. no. 1895, 45: 845c. 453 In chapter two, we have seen that during the ceremony of venerating the Buddhas relics, some
Buddhists sacrificed their bodies. But the Buddhist never sacrificed the bodies of the animals to venerate the relics of the Buddha. In some Jataka stories, we can even find that the Prince of Bodhisattva even donated his body to feed the hungry tigeress. See Vyaghri Jataka, Jatakamala No.1. This story does not occur in the Pali Jataka.
454 In South Asian tradition, some animals were also viewed as sacred. Trilok Chandra Majupuria,
Sacred Animals of Nepal and India (Lashkar, 2000). 455 Donald N. Blakeley, Listening to the Animals: The Confucian View of Animal Welfare,
Journal of Chinese Philosophy 30: 2 (2003), pp. 137-158. The main source Blakeley uses in his article is the works of Confucius, Mencius, Zhu Xi and Wang Yangming. He does not touch the sources from Han to Tang periods.
to classify the animals.456 It is still debateable to what extent Chinese taxonomy of
animals borrowed from the Indian tradition, and it is an issue that deserves a deeper
Although in medieval Chinese Buddhist monasteries most monks did not engage
in farming activities, many plants were donated and cultivated. Buddhist masters faced
the problem of dealing with these plants as monastic property. In order to determine the
ownership of these plants, the masters first had to classify the plants and account for them.
Unlike his economic classifications of laborers and animals, Daoxuan classified the
plants in the Buddhist monastic communities mainly based on empirical principles.
Daoxuans system covers five kinds of vegetables, five fruit trees, and five grains.458 It is
worth noting that all these plants are considered economic plants today.459 Since they
were economically valuable, their significance in the monastic community was no less
than in a non-monastic community. In other words, they served the daily living needs of
456 Roel Stercx, Animal Classification in Ancient China, East Asian Science, Technology and
Medicine (2004), forthcoming; also see his book The Animal and Daemon in Early China (Albany: State University of New York, 2002), chapter three; and his article, Transforming the Beasts: Animals and Music in Early China, Toung Pao 86: 1-3 (2000), pp. 1-46.
457 Very few works have touched issue of the taxonomy of animals in medieval China. An early
attempt has been done by Zhang Mengwen, see his Zhongguo shengwu fenleixue shi shulun (1940). Zou Shuwen, Zhongguo gudai de dongwu fenleixue, in: Li Guohao, Zhang Mengwen, Cao Tianqin ed. Zhongguo kejishi tantao (Hongkong: Zhonghua shuju xianggang fenju, 1986), pp. 511-524.
458 For plants in ancient India, see Trilok Chandra Majupuria, Religious and Useful Plants of
Nepal and India: Medicinal Plants and Flowers as Mentioned in Religious Myths and Legends of Hinduism and Buddhism (Lashkar, 1988; revised by D.P. Joshi, 1989); Lambert Schmithausen, The Problem of the Sentience of Plants in Earliest Buddhism (Studia Philologica Buddhica, Monograph Series 6, Tokyo: The International Institute for Buddhist Studies, 1990), and his Plants as Sentient Beings in Earliest Buddhism (Faculty of Asian Studies, Australian National University, Canberra, 1991).
459 For economic plants in China, see Hu Xiansu, Jingji zhiwuxue (Beijing: Zhonghua shuju,
1953). For a study on the origin of cultivated plants, see N. I. Vavilov, The Phyto-geography Basis for Plant-breeding, Origin and Geography of Cultivated Plants (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1992).
monks. According to Daoxuan, the ownership of all plants belonged to the monastic
community.460 Individual monks were not to own any plants.
As I have noted previously, certainly Daoxuans classification was based on his
learning of Four-part Vinaya, and his classification was justified by the context in which
he was situated. For example, some geographical and historical elements might have had
an impact on Daoxuans assessment of the monastic plants. More specifically, Daoxuans
list illustrates that most plants, including both vegetables and grains as well as fruit trees,
were plants mostly cultivated in North China and served as food staples for the
Northerners. Therefore, it might be safe to say that Daoxuans list reflects the social-
historical situation of the monastic community in North China, and seems have been
aimed at the monastic community in the North, also.
Why can we conclude that most plants were cultivated in North China? We can
take a close look at what plants Daoxuan discusses. We will find that some plants were
dominantly cultivated in the North and their names appear in Daoxuans list with the
terms often used in North China. In Daoxuans classification, following a tradition of the
Buddhist monastic codes, the five kinds of vegetables are ordered by five-birth types
(wusheng zhong).461 They include the type of root (genzhong), the type of stalk or stem
(jingzhong), the type of knot (jiezhong), the type of miscellania (zazhong), and the type
of seed (zizhong). The five-fruit trees include the fruit of shell (keguo), the fruit of skin
(fuguo), the fruit of core (heguo), the fruit of horn (jiaoguo), and the fruit of cart
460 Xie Chongguang, Jin Tang siyuan de yuanpu zhongzhiye, Zhongguo she jingjishi yanjiu 3
(1990), pp. 1-7. 461 Li Hui-lin, The Vegetables of Ancient China, Economic Botany 23 (1969), pp. 253-260.
(yuguo).462 The five grains (wugu) include the grain of the house (fanggu), loose grain
(sangu), the grain of horn (jiaogu), the grain of miscanthus sinensis (manggu), and the
grain of cart (yugu).463 The names of the five grains certainly appear in Buddhist tradition,
at least according to Chinese translations of Buddhist scriptures. Yet they also come from
indigenous Chinese tradition, appearing as early as the Zhou Dynasty (5th century, B.C.).
The specific names of five grains used together do not appear anywhere except in this
text written by Daoxuan. In Huilins Pronounciation and Meaning of All Scriptures
(Yiqiejing yinyi), citing from Yang Chengtians dictionary Assembly of Characters
(Zitong), the names of five grains appear as suigu, sangu, jiaogu, qigu, and shugu.464
Futhermore, in Daoxuans ritual text, these five grains included many present grains:
foxtail millet (su), sorghum (shu, or gaoliang), broomcorn millet (shu, or ji), paddy (dao),
wheat (mai), perilla (ren),465 all kinds of beans (dou), even linseed (ma).466 Interestingly,
in Daoxuans classification, both perilla and linseed are listed as grains. This certainly
comes from indigenous Chinese tradition. Specifically, perilla was recorded in a
462 The name of five fruits appears in Foshuo yulanpen jing, trans. By Zhu Fahu (3rd, century) see
T. no. 685. vol. 16: 779b. While modern monk Cizhou comments on Foshuo yulanpen jing and identifies these five fruits as keguo, heguo, fuguo, huiguo and jiaoguo. For a discussion of this scripture, see Stephen F. Teiser, Ghost Festival in Medieval China (Princeton: Princeton Univeristy Press, 1988), pp. 48-56.
463 In Tantric Buddhism, five grains included barley (Hordeum vulgare, Ch. damai, Skt. yava),
wheat (Triticum aestivum, Ch. xiaomai, Skt. godhma, paddy (Oryza, Ch. daogu, Skt. sli), small bean (Ch. xiaodou, Skt. masra), and oriental sesame (Sesamum indicum, Ch. huma, Skt. atas). See Foguang dacidian (Taipei), pp.
464 Yiqiejing yinyi (ch. 16), Huilin, T. no. 2128, 54: 403b. Modern scholarship rarely touches this
issue. For example, Liang Jiamian traces the tradition of Chinese botanical taxonomy back to am ancient dictionary Erya. Liang Jiamian, Zhongguo gudai zhiwu xintaixue fenleixue de fazhan, in Ni Gengjin ed. Liang Jiamian nongshi wenji (Beijing: Zhongguo nongye chubanshe, 2002), pp. 413-423.
465 Nowadays it is well known as an oil plant. 466 In Yuan Dynasty, planting beans and sesame together was recorded in a work titled Zhongyi
biyong by Wu Yi, supplemented by Zhang Fu, edited and annotated by Hu Daojing (Beijing: Nongye chubanshe, 1962), p. 15.
botanical work titled Illustration Scripture of Botany (Tujing bencao) by Su Song in the
Song Dynasty. Perilla, according to this work, was called su in South China; while it
was called ren in North China. It seems that Daoxuan used its name often in North
China. Sesame was a popular food in early medieval China.467 The grain of horn indicates
all kinds of beans (zhudou) and linseed (jusheng).468
Though Daoxuan does not mention what sources he used for classifying these
plants, it seems that his classifications benefitted from various Vinaya traditions. Given
that he was ordained in the Four-part Vinaya tradition, it is natural to conclude that his
classification of economic plants was based on the Four-part Vinaya tradition. Yet some
his names for plants are different from Four-part Vinaya, which he might have done for
the sake of his Chinese readers. For example, in Four-part Vinaya, type of stalk
(jingzhong) appears as type of branch (zhizhong),469 while in Great Assembly Vinaya
(Mahsanghika-vinaya) it is exactly as Daoxuan termed it.470
Daoxuans classification is different from traditional botanical taxonomy in China.
In the Tang Dynasty, some works about Chinese medicinal plants also offered
467 Jia Yingxie, Qimin yaoshu, huma, 13 ch. 2 468 Linseed (modern botanical name: Linum usitatissimum) was called jusheng in Daoxuans list.
This Chinese name also appeared in an ancient Chinese botanical work titled Scripture of Medical Plants (bencaojing). While in this work, linseed or jusheng was viewed as the same plant with oriental sesame or huma which was believed to be imported by Han general Zhang Qian, which has been recorded in the section about Western regions (Xiyu zhuan) of History of Han (Hanshu). However, later on many scholars made distinctions between jusheng and huma. For instance, Tao Hongjing (456-536) says that the square-stalk one is jusheng; while the round-stalk one is huma. See his commentary on Shennong bencaojing. Ge Hong suggests that jusheng is one kind of huma, because it has two pods on one horn. Li Shizhen, Bencao gangmu.
469 Sifen l, T. no. 1428, 22: 641c. 470 Mahsanghika-vinaya mentions five types of plants, with slight differences. For example, there
is no zazhong; instead, it uses a name of type of heart (xinzhong). See Mahsanghika-vinaya (Mohe senqi l), T. no. 1425, 22: 339a-b.
classifications. Tao Hongjings work Variorum of Herbological Scripture (Bencao jing
jizhu) classifies plants into five categories: grasses, trees, fruits, grains, and vegetables,
based on the principles of the forms and uses of the plants. Each category includes three
classes (sanpin): high, medium, and low classes. In early Tang period, the Tang
government sponsored a project to compile a work titled Newly Edited Herbology
(Xinxiu bencao), which also followed this system.471 Daoxuans classification focuses on
the main economic plants used in monastic communities, which include vegetables,
grains and fruits. He did classify some trees, but his classification seems to limit trees to
the category of trees bearing fruit. Still being confined as a Buddhist master, Daoxuan
did not follow traditional taxonomy and list grasses and trees in separate categories. He
does not even mention the medicinal herbs that played a significant role in traditional
botanical learning in medieval China. Daoxuan does not intend to work on plant
taxonomy; his classification only serves to deal with plants of economic value to the
Buddhist monastic communities.
As a textual community, the Buddhist monastic community played a crucial role
in storing, producing, and reproducing books. However, the storage, possession, and
production of books in the Buddhist monastic community were regulated by monastic
codes. Daoxuan, in his Ritual of Measuring and Handling the Light and Heavy Property,
wrote some regulations about the classification of books and the possession of these
books. These regulations illustrate the Buddhist view on books and their use in Buddhist
471 Zhongguo zhiwu xuehui ed., Zhongguo zhiwu xue shi (Beijing: Kexue chubanshen, 1994), p.
41. Modern phytotaxonomy was only introduced to China in mid-nineteenth century (p. 145). Here we can only discuss traditional Chinese botanical taxonomy because in premodern China, scholars did attempt to classify the plants and animals.
monasticism. By examining these regulations, we can make a better sense of the use of
texts and the ethical value of possessing books in monastic learning.
Daoxuan taught how to deal with Buddhist and non-Buddhist books and related
tools.472 In order to determine the ownership of the books and related tools, Daoxuan
classifies all books as Buddhist books and non-Buddhist books. In Daoxuans list, there
are five categories of monastic property which could be possessed by individual monks
for the benefit of their spiritual cultivation. The first category refers to the Buddhist
scriptures. These scriptures include so-called Indian scriptures, or in other words,
Chinese translations of Indian scriptures.473 However, Daoxuan listed the apocryphal
texts in this category. As I have shown previously, Daoxuan might still have respected
the authority of some apocryphal texts for their popularity among lay followers.474 The
second category indicates Chinese works, referring to the books written by both monks
and lay scholars. Unlike the first category, which only includes three genres (scripture,
monastic codes, and treatises, as three baskets), this category covers various genres:
treatises, essays, eulogies, and biographies. For example, Daoxuan gives an example of
some essays composed by Kumarajva and Sengyou, and some collections written by
Xiao Ziliang and the Liang Emperor Jianwen, and so on. The third category indicates
miscellaneous Indian and Chinese works. Daoxuan describes these as both the
interpretations of the scriptures and commentaries on scriptures, or the records of the
472 Liangchu qingzhong yi, Daoxuan, T. no. 1895, 45: 842a. Cao Shibang, Zhongguo fojiao
shizhuan yu mulu yuanchu lxue shamen zhi tantao (part 1), Xinya xuebao 6: 1 (1960), pp. 415-486; part 2, Xinya xuebao 7: 1 (1961), pp. 305-361; part 3, Xinya xuebao 7: 2 (1962), pp. 79-158. Cao Shibang, Zhongguo fojiao shixueshi Dong Jin zhi Wudai (Taipei: Fagu wenhua chuban gongsi, 1999).
473 Daoxuan lists several kinds of these scriptures: single translation, repeated translation, the
translation of selections, apocryphal texts, and even forgeries. 474 I will dicsuss Scripture on Trapusha and Bhallika (Tiwei boli jing) further in a separate paper.
lives and works of both Indian and Chinese eminent monks, and sacred places for
pilgrimages.475 This is a vague category. It seems that Faxians Record of the Buddhist
Kingdom (Foguoji), Xuanzangs Record of the Western Regions in the Great Tang (Da
Teng xiyu ji) could belong to this category. What makes the difference between the
second category and the third category is unclear, in Daoxuans writing. However, the
third category seems to include more historical records left by monks and lay people;
while the second category refers to the works of apologetics. The fourth and fifth
categories Daoxuan takes into account included the tools for writing and copying books
and tools for storing books. The former includes paper, brush pen, desk, scroll, and tools
for decoration, as well as some others; the latter includes drawers, boxes, containers, and
shelves. These five sorts of books and tools made it possible for the monastic community
to be a textual community.
Although there are few exceptions, this classification of Buddhist works is very
similar to Daoxuans classification in his Catalogue of the Buddhist Canon in the Great
Tang (Da Tang neidian lu) in many ways. In his Catalogue of the Buddhist Canon in the
Great Tang, Daoxuan also lists Chinese translations of Indian Buddhist works first. These
translations include both complete works and selections. In his catalogue, Daoxuan
records Mahyna texts first and then Hinayna texts. This order does not appear in his
Ritual of Measuring and Handling the Light and Heavy Property where he only loosely
categorizes them as works composed in India (Indu zhuanshu). Daoxuan in his catalogue
also discusses the issues surrounding translations, in classifying them as single
translations, repetitive translations, translations without translators names, and so forth.
475 Chen Yuan, Zhongguo fojiao shiji gailun (Beijing: Zhonghua shuju, 1962).
Following the Indian works, Daoxuan lists the commentaries and treatises written by
monks and lay people, such as the works of Sengyou, Zhi Daolin, Huiyuan, and others.476
The differences are that Daoxuans catalogue did not give a list of genres (translations,
commentaries, eulogies, and biographies) under the category of Indian works, since
Daoxuans catalogue to a great extent follows the cataloguing tradition of previous
dynasties. Daoxuans catalogue arranges the topics chronically, which is not same in his
Besides the Buddhist books, Daoxuan also lists some secular books which were to
be used by the monastic community, and restricted to individual monks.477 In Daoxuans
classification, these books are mainly biographies of emperors and officials.478 These
books taught how people should venerate the heavenly and earthly deities and serve the
government, how people should fulfill their obligations of filial piety to their parents, and
how people should survive in secular world. According to Daoxuan, first, this secular
collection can include books about Daoism, Confucianism, logic, legislation, Mohism,
political affairs, Ying-yang, agriculture, and other miscellaneous topics. In addition,
secular histories, philosophies, and literary works should be possessed by the monastic
community, and not by individual monks. In the case of Dunhuang, if the cave for storing
manuscripts was a library of the Sanjie Monastery,479 then it is not surprising that this
476 Da Tang neidian lu, Daoxuan, T. no. 2149, 55: 326b ff. 477 Cao Shibang, Zhongguo shamen waixue de yanjiu Han mo zhi Wudai (Taipei: Dongchu
chubanshe, 1994). 478 On the history of Chinese catalogues, see Yao Mingda, Zhongguo muluxue shi (Shanghai:
Shangwu yinshuguan, 1936; Taipei: Taiwan shangwu yinshuguan, 1981, reprinted) 479 Rong Xinjiang, Dunhuang cangjingdong de xingzhi ji qi fengbi de yuanyin, Dunhuang
tulufan yanjiu 2 (1996), pp. 23-48. For English translation, see The Nature of the Dunhuang Library Cave
monastic library stored all kinds of books, including Buddhist books, Daoist books, even
Manichean scriptures and Nestorian scriptures. As reflected in the case of Daoxuan
himself, usually monks read secular books, as well. Lingyu is a good example. After the
political persecution, Buddhism declined in the Northern Qi Dynasty. Lingyu and his
fellow monks collected in the village to read secular books.480
This collection also includes calligraphies and paintings. Monks were not to
possess these art collections; he could be punished for his wrong conduct in holding these
properties. For instance, a Tang monk Mingjie died of a serious illness for his indulgence
in non-Buddhist books.481 Third, containers for these secular books were also to belong to
the monastic community.482
Compared to the rich collection a monastic community could hold, only certain
Buddhist books could be distributed to individual monks. Some books were to be
possessed by the monastic community only and could not be possessed by individual
monks. In medieval China, numerous books stored in the monasteries served both the
monastic community and local community. Essentially, these collections played a very
important role in the literacy and education of young monks.483 Most monasteries had
their own libraries, which were called Treasury of Scriptures (jingzang). Later on this
and the Reasons for Its Sealing, translated by Valerie Hansen, in: Cahiers dExtrme-Asie 11 (1999-2000), pp. 247-275.
480 Xu gaoseng zhuan, Daoxuan, T. no. 2060, 50: 496a. 481 See Tang jingshi Puguangsi mingjie badao shensi tuomeng qiufu shi, in Shimen zijing lu, T.
no. 2083, 51: 810a-b. 482 Liangchu qingzhong yi, Daoxuan, T. no. 1895, 45: 842c. 483 John Kieschnick, The Impact of Buddhism on Chinese Material Culture (Princeton: Princeton
University Press, 2003), pp. 164-184.
name changed to the Hall of Conserving Scriptures (Cangjing ge).484 Young monks could
read and learn basic Buddhist scriptures and other liturgical books. 485 As Marcia L.
Colish noted, according to the Benedictine Code, medieval Christian monks and nuns
were required to be literate in order to read service books, liturgical texts and spiritual
texts. In achieving this literacy, the monastic community established schools to train their
monks and nuns and nearby monkhood candidates, as well as local people who needed
education. 486 The books in Buddhist monasteries also served the local community,
especially local Confucian students where the Confucian schools were demolished. This
became very common in the late Tang period.487
Thus, we can see the difference between the books owned by a monastic
community and books owned by a monk in medieval Chinese Buddhist monasticism. A
monastic community should be the owner of all books, including both Buddhist works
and secular books. However, non-Buddhist books should not be owned by individual
Jewels and Money
As many monastic codes indicate, Buddhist monks pursued an austere lifestyle
and required that the monks did not possess and circulate valuable jewels and money.
484 For a discussion on the catalogue of Buddhist library, see Tejima Isshin. A Study on a
Catalogue of Buddhist Library in Tangs China, in: Shgo hakushi koki kinen ronsh: Higashi ajia bukky no sho mondai (Tokyo: Sankibo busshorin, 2001), pp. 179-193.
485 For Buddhist education in Tang China, see Erik Zrcher, Buddhism and Education in T'ang
Times, in: Neo-Confucianism and Education: the Formative Stage (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1989), pp. 19-56. In medieval Europe, Christian monasteries also had books for monks to read and circulate.
486 Marcia L. Colish, Medieval Foundations of the Western Intellectual Tradition 400-1400 (New
Haven: Yale University Press, 1997, 1998, reprinted), pp. 54-55. 487 Yan Gengwang, "Tang ren dushu shanlin siyuan zhifeng," in: Zhongyang yanjiuyuan lishi
yuyan yanjiusuo jikan (Bulletin of Institute of History and Philology) 30: 2 (Taipei: 1959), pp. 689-728.
However, the monastic community often used abundant jewels and money to decorate
their monastic buildings and sculptures. From my reading, I would suggest that at the
communal level, the Chinese Buddhist monastery attempted to obtain and possess jewels
and money while the individual monk was required to live an extremely austere life. This
is especially illustrated in Daoxuans Ritual of Measuring and Handling the Light and
Daoxuan offers instructions for dealing with jewels and metals. Generally,
Daoxuan views everything that was called jewel (bao) as heavy property. Jewels were
considered the origin of greed, which was one of three poisons to bring suffering to
sentient beings.488 According to Daoxuan, preventing monks from holding jewels was a
necessary feature of the Buddhist monastic community. Daoxuan argues that all Buddhist
monks are different from other practitioners because Buddhist monks do not hold any
jewels and money. So the prohibition of money and jewels helps Buddhist monks to
preserve their religious identity. Daoxuan particularly targets the social value of pursuing
money and jewels, teaching monks to keep a distance from jewels and money.489 In
Daoxuans opinion, once the monastic community and monks receive jewels and money,
all should be given into the monastic community. He states that many Vinayas prohibited
individual monks from owning any of the seven jewels. However, Daoxuan also indicates
that if small pieces of any of the seven jewels were inserted into utensils for daily life,
488 Daoxuan specially cites Mahparinirvana-stra that teaches eight impure goods in ten ways. 489 Liangchu qingzhong yi, Daoxuan, T. no. 1895, 45: 843b. In this case, Daoxuan expresses his
opinion of non-Buddhists refusal of money. For instance, he cites Guan Ning as an extreme example. Guan Ning was a moral hero in Chinese traditional society. His story is in Liu Yiqings Shishuo xinyu (ch. 1: 11). See Shih-shuo hsin-yu: A New Account of Tales of the World, with commentary by Liu Chun, translated with introduction and notes by Richard B. Mather (Center for Chinese Studies, Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2002), p. 5. Guan Nings fame also made him appear in Buddhist works Gaosen zhuan, see T. no. 2059, 50: 386a.
they were allowed to be owned by individual monks, being a part of those utensils.
Concerning metals, Daoxuan taught that gold and silver should not be distributed or
owned by individual monks. Some light metals, like tin, were allowed to be owned by
individual monks, because tin could be used for repairing bowls.490
Dealing with money is another issue that Daoxuan discusses. Daoxuan first
classifies four kinds of money: heavy jewels, light jewels, money jewels, and the other.
Daoxuan calls gold, silver, pearl, mani, and so on the seven jewels.491 These could only
be owned by the monastic community. These jewels were very precious, and only used to
decorate the sculptures and monasteries.492 Light jewels (qingbao) refer to those metals
and stones other than the seven jewels. These included bronze, iron, and non-pearl stones.
Third, coins, no matter what material they were made of, should belong to the monastic
community.493 It meant that money should belong to the sangha and could be used by
every monk in the community.494
Some miraculous stories might reflect the historical context in which money was
restricted to Chinese monks. From these stories, we can say that in Chinese Buddhism, a
monk should not accept and possess money. Even if a monk collected a lot of money, he
490 Liangchu qingzhong yi, Daoxuan, T. no. 1895, 45: 843a-b. 491 Skt. saptaratnni, Ch. qibao. Seven jewels include gold, silver, lapis lazuli, crystal, mother-of-
pearl, red pearls and carnelian. See Kumarajva trans., The Scripture of Amitabha (Amitabha-stra), T. no. 364, 12: 331c.
492 In Lotus Sutra, it says that seven jewels were used to decorate the stupas. See T. no. 263, 9:
102b. 493 Liangchu qingzhong yi, Daoxuan, T. no. 1895, 45: 843a. 494 For money in ancient China, see Yang Lien-sheng, Money and Credit: A Short History
(Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1952); Buddhist Monasteries and Four Money-Raising Institutions in Chinese History, Studies in Chinese Institutional History (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1961). For money in medieval Europe, see Peter Spufford, Money and its Use in Medieval Europe (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1988).
would lose it. There is a miraculous story about how a monk lost the money he collected.
In the Northern Qi Dynasty, a monk Daohui collected about 2500 guan Chinese coins. In
his dream, a Buddhist master told him that he should donate this money to a lay person,
Li Desheng, for his merits. When Daohui awakened, he found that his money was gone.
Later, he found the money and transported it to Li. Though Li returned 1000 guan back to
Daohui, Daohui would not possess the money any more.495
In sum, we may conclude that in medieval Chinese Buddhism, austerity was
required for individual monks; they were not allowed to possess any jewels and money.
These so-called jewels not only included pearls and other jewels, but also precious metals
and stones. This austerity in renouncing jewels and money derived from early Buddhism.
The regulation preventing monks from possessing money is the same as what the Pali
monastic code suggests. According to one of the Pali rules for monks, a monk could
accept material things offered by lay people, but he could not accept any money.496 In
chapter two, we have seen that during the ceremony of venerating Buddhas relics, lay
people donated a lot of money to the monasteries. They also donated gold, silver and
other metals to monastic communities. This gold, silver, and other metal would be used
to decorate Buddhas images and sculptures. The case was certainly the same for both
Theravada Buddhism and Chinese Buddhism.
Medicines and Medical Works
495 Qi Qizhou Daohui qian ye yizou shi, in Shimen zijing lu, T. no. 2083, 51: 808b-c. 496 Mohan Wijayaratna, Buddhist Monastic Life: According to the Texts of the Theravada
Tradition, translated by Claude Grangier and Steven Collins (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1996), pp. 77-78. This rule used by Wijayaratna is Nissaggiya Paacittya 10, Vinaya III 219-223.
Dealing with medicine and medical tools was one of four matters a Buddhist
monk should take care of. Generally speaking, Daoxuans discussion focuses on three
categories of medical matters: medicines, medical books, and medical tools. I would
discuss medicines and medical tools first, and then focus on medical books. Medicines
were very important for the monks in Buddhist tradition. According to the Pali canon, in
early Buddhism, the Buddha allowed monks and nuns to consume medicinal foods for
their own sake.497 For Daoxuan, the Chinese Buddhist community needed to make a
distinction between communal and individual medicines. In his opinion, there are four
kinds of medicines: daily medicine (shiyao), including rice, wheat, sauce, and vegetable;
non-daily medicine (feishiyao), including fruits and juices; seven-day medicine (qiriyao),
including butter, honey, oil, and fat; lifetime medicine (jinxingyao), including salt,
vinegar, pepper, ginger, and so forth. All of these medicines should be kept as communal
property. Daoxuan stated that these medicines should not be distributed to individual
monks (xianqianseng) or be kept by them. Rather, they should belong to the sangha, to all
monks (changzhuseng). The first category in this list, the daily medicine, should belong
to the community. The reason is the indispensability of these medicines in the daily life
of all monks. The other three categories, as Daoxuan says, could inspire a drive for
worldly benefit by possessing them.498 Daoxuan also lists books and tools for medical aid
as communal property. These properties include medical tools, medical books, and
lifetime medicines. For Daoxuan, medical property is only necessary in the case of saving
497 Jean Filliozat, La doctrine classique de la mdecine Indienne: ses origines et ses parallles
grecs (Paris: cole Franaise dExtrme-Orient, 1975); Mohan Wijayaratna, Buddhist Monastic Life: According to the Texts of the Theravada Tradition, translated by Claude Grangier and Steven Collins (Cambridge: Cambridge University Pres, 1996), pp. 74-75; Kenneth G. Zysk, Asceticism and Healing in Ancient India. Medicine in the Buddhist Monastery (Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass, 1998).
498 Liangchu qingzhong yi, Daoxuan, T. no. 1895, 45: 841b.
lives. Of the lifetime medicines, those medicinal materials should be possessed by the
monastic community, but the treatments can be possessed by individuals. Monks also can
possess lifetime medicines if they can not stop taking these medicines while ill. Daoxuan
explains that the medicinal materials were so precious as to inspire greed in the monks.
This was the doctrinal foundation for preventing monks from possessing medicinal
materials.499 Therefore, though these properties benefited the human body, they were not
to be possessed by individual monks on a permanent basis.
Daoxuan pays special attention to the medical texts. He suggests that the medical
books should be communal property. Individual monks should not own the medical
books. He gives a list of the medical works which include prescriptions or recipes
(yifang), herbology (bencao), Acupuncture (mingtang), the book of circulating (liuzhu),
the classic of channels (maijing), and medical secrets (yijue). 500 He says that these
medical books belong to secular learning, and should be held by the monastic community.
This opinion seems to be based on Four-part Vinaya; because Mlasarvstivda-vinaya
has a different opinion on this issue. Many monks were medical experts, or were familiar
medical literature. For example, Lingyu wrote a commentary on the medical secrets
(yijue).501 Given the list Daoxuan offers, he might have been very familiar with secular
499 Liangchu qingzhong yi, Daoxuan, T. no. 1895, 45: 842a-b. More discussion on medicines, see
Sifenl shanfan buque xingshi chao, Daoxuan, T. no. 1804, 40: 117c-124c. 500 Li Liangsong, Fojiao yiji zongmu tiyao (Xiamen: Lujiang chubanshe, 1997); for Bencao jing,
see Shang Zhijun, Shennong bencaojing jiaodian (Beijing: Huaxia chubanshe, 1994); Ma Jixing, Shennong bencaojing jizhu (Beijing: Renmin weisheng chubanshe, 1995); Wang Jiakui and Zhang Ruixian, Shennong bencaojing jianjiu (Beijing: Beijing keji chubanshe, 2001).
501 Xu gaosen zhuan, Daoxuan, T. no. 2060, 50: 497c.
Although he must have gained his medical knowledge from Buddhist Vinaya
literature, his list mentions a lot of indigenous commentaries of Chinese medical works,
rather than Indian medical works. Since most books Daoxuan mentions are traditional
Chinese medical works, it seems that he was concerned with preventing Chinese monks
from holding Chinese medical books. He does not specify if Chinese monks could
possess Indian Buddhist medical books, or the Chinese translations of Indian medical
books. However, he does attribute these works to secular learning, meaning that these
books did not aid the Buddhist spiritual progress of monks. Clearly, the intellectual
foundation of Daoxuans statement comes from his own knowledge and understanding of
Chinese medical books. Interestingly, among all the genres of medical books Daoxuan
lists, bencao (herbology) as a term indicates medical work, and first appeared in
Buddhist scriptures in the Eastern Han Dynasty. 502 In the Liang Dynasty, Tao Hongjing
(452-536) wrote a comprehensive commentary titled Variorum of Herbological Scripture
(Bencaojing jizhu) or Herbology. This commentary then became the most influential
work in the Southern and Northern Dynasties. Taos intellectual background mixed both
Daoist and Confucian thoughts. Herbology as a medical work also reflected many
Confucian values, such as loyalty to rulers and Confucian righteousness.503 Moreover, in
the third year of the Xianqing period of the Tang Dynasty (658), Su Jing and other
officials reedited the Herbology and formulated a new work titled Newly Edited
Herbology (Xinxiu bencao). Many high ranking officials such as Li Ji, Xu Jingzong, and
Li Chunfeng were involved in this project. Thus, the new version of Herbology became a
502 Wang Jiakui and Zhang Ruixian, Shennong bencaojing yanjiu (Beijing: Beijing kexue jishu
chubanshe, 2001), pp. 18-22. 503 Ibid., pp. 42-46.
sort of official work sponsored by the Tang government. Being in conflict with
Daoxuans Buddhist ideal, Herbology was set aside by Daoxuan and could not be
accepted as the personal property of individual monks.
It is also worth noting that Daoxuans Chinese medical knowledge might have
benefited from his friend Sun Simiao, a famous hermit. In Daoxuans biography
composed by Zanning, he was said to be a friend of Sun Simiao.504 Sun was an expert in
Daoism and Chinese traditional medical knowledge. For instance, Sun Simiao wrote a
thirty-volume Recipes of Thousand Gold (qianjin fang).505 Furthermore, Daoxuans idea
about medical works seems to have come from a Southern tradition of Chinese medicine.
He lists mingtang and liuzhu together. According to the catalogue of medical works in
the Sui History (Suishu) compiled by a Tang historian, only in the Liang Dynasty was
there a work titled Mingtang Liuzhu. This work was later lost, and Sui scholars did not
have a chance to look at it.506 Modern scholarship has suggested that Mingtang liuzhu is
another title for Mingtang, and it might not have been compiled until the late Han
Dynasty, not becoming well known among Chinese scholars until the government
sponsored a revision in the Tang Dynasty. It was also brought to Korea and Japan.507
However, it seems that Mingtang was a general term for a group of medical works about
504 Daoxuan, Song gaoseng zhuan, Zanning, T. no. 2061, 50: 790c. 505 Xin Tang shu, 59: 49: 3, yiwenzhi; Jiu Tang Shu, 171: 121, p. 4450. His biography is in Jiu
Tang shu, 191: 141, pp. 5094-5095. He was also very familiar Daoist and Buddhist scriptures. 506 Sui shu, 34: 29: 3, jingjizhi, Liu Xu et al. (Beijing: Zhonghua shuju, 1975), p. 1040. Earlier,
in the fourth century, a famous Daoist master Ge Hong (283?-363) mentioned in his work Baopuzi (ch. 15: zaying) that there was a work titled Mingtang liuzhu yanze tu. See Wang Ming edited and annotated, Baopuzi neipian jiaoshi (Beijing: Zhonghua shuju, 1985), p. 272. But it does not appear anywhere else.
507 Huangdi mingtang jing jijiao, edited and annotated by Huang Longxiang (Beijing: Zhongguo
yiyao keji chubanshe), pp. 239-266.
acupuncture technology in the middle period.508 Both Daoxuan and Sun Simiao seem to
have known these works well. Sun mentioned them in his preface to the Recipes of
Thousand Gold (Qianjin fang). Furthermore, according to a Daoist work titled Seven
Slips of a Cloudy Satchel (Yunji qiqian), Sun Simiao also composed a medical work
titled Scripture of Channels (Maijing).509 This work was disseminated across the country
in the Sui Dynasty, so that the Sui Emperor Wen invited Sun to be the official of the
national academy. But Sun denied this invitation. Interestingly, his work Scripture of
Channels also appeared in Daoxuans list of medical works. Hence, it is likely that
Daoxuan profited in his medical knowledge from Sun.510
To sum up the discussion above, Daoxuans knowledge of medical works mainly
came from his learning in the traditions of monastic codes. Among these traditions, the
Four-part Vinaya certainly played an important role. Furthermore, Daoxuans knowledge
of medical works was influenced by indigenous Chinese medical traditions and Daoist
medical traditions, especially by people like Sun Simiao. For Daoxuan, individual monks
could possess some medicine for daily health care, but they should not possess medical
works which might inspire them to pursue non-Buddhist goals. For Daoxuan, the
prevention of owning medical works would help monks stay free of greed and keep
508 A manuscript titled Mingtang wuzang lun is found in Dunhuang. This text recorded the similar idea about five essential organs to that in Sun Simiaos works. See Ma Jixing ed. Dunhuang gu yiji kaoshi (Nanchang: Jiangxi kexue jishu chubanshe, 1988), pp. 10-16.
509 Sun Simiao, Yunji qiqian (ch. 113), Zhang Junfang (11th century), Jizhuanbu (Section of
Biographies), see Yunji qiqian (Beijing: Shumu wenxian chubanshe, 1992), p. 820. 510 It seemed to be a reciprocal process between Chinese traditional medicine and Buddhist
medicine. Sun Simiao also profited in his medical knowledge from Buddhism. For a discussion on the Buddhist impact on Sun, see Zhu Jianping, Sun Simiao qianjin fang zhong de fojiao yingxiang, Zhongguo yixueshi yanjiu (Beijing: Zhongyi guji chubanshe, 2003), pp. 302-308.
Robes played a very significant role in shaping monastic order. Robes became
one of the key elements of Buddhist identity.511 Renouncing secular clothing was the
starting point for Buddhist monks. During the initiation, changing robes was a very
important step, which symbolized the separation between the old life style and the new
life style. Robes became a boundary between the two worlds, symbolizing membership in
the Buddhist world. Since Buddhism viewed robes as one of the most important elements
of Buddhist identity, dealing with clothing became a very important issue in Buddhist
monasticism.512 Daoxuan taught that wearing Buddhist robes would earn a monk five
virtues.513 For instance, if someone entered into the Buddhist order with severe sins, he
could remove these sins by wearing robes and confessing with a single mind. Heavens,
dragons (nagas), human beings, and deities, would not fall into the three bad paths by
wearing Buddhist robes. Human beings could also receive sufficient food and drink by
wearing robes. Sentient beings could evoke in their minds compassion by wearing
Buddhist robes. Sentient beings could be protected from weapons and war while wearing
robes. If a person dealt wrongly while wearing a Buddhist robe, he or she would be
punished. There is a miracle story about how a woman received retribution for her wrong
dealings with dharma robes. This story occurred in the fifth year of the Zhenguan period
511 For Daoxuans interpretation, see A Ritual Manual dealing with Buddhist Robes (Shimen
zhangfu yi), T. no. 1894, 45. . 512 John Kieshnick discusses Buddhist robes, but he does not touch the issue of how a monastic
community dealt with clothing in general. See The Impact of Buddhism on Chinese Material Culture (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2003), pp. 86-115.
513 Koichi Shinohara discusses Daoxuans idea about five virtues of wearing robes. See his article
The Kasaya Robe of the Past Buddha Kasyapa in the Miraculous Instruction Given to the Vinaya Master Daoxuan (596~667), Chung-Haw Buddhist Journal, No.13.2 (May 2000), pp. 315-316.
(631). 514 In brief, for Daoxuan, wearing robes could aid spiritual progress toward
Daoxuan offers a meticulous classification of the type of clothing that a monastic
community and its members can receive from outside. He also offers regulations about
how to deal with these clothes. His regulations largely come from early Buddhist
traditions based on monastic codes. In early Buddhism, the idea about Buddhist cloth was
that the original value of the cloth should be minimized, because this cloth was meant to
help the wearer keep the spirit of renunciation.515 This original value, as I understand it,
meant both commercial and aesthetic value. Commercial value would inspire greed, one
of the three poisons which bring about suffering. Aesthetic value would also bring invite
greed through sensual pleasure. Keeping away from greed was the goal of a monastic
member. In Chinese Buddhist monasticism, as Daoxuan shows, the cloth should lose its
commercial and aesthetic value.
In his discussion on clothing in the monastic community, Daoxuans classification
first makes the distinction between clothes for renunciants and clothes for non-
renunciants. He uses two phrases: what a person who renounces her or his family wears
(chujia suofu) and what a person who does not renounce her or his family wears (fei
chujia suofu). Under the category of clothes for renunciants, there are four categories
classifying clothes and affiliated things. For Daoxuan, Buddhist clothing includes three
robes, clothes for covering sores (fuchuangyi), a rain coat, a water bag, and two kinds of
belts. All these can be distributed to individual monks and be owned by individual monks.
514 Xu gaoseng zhuan, Daoxuan, T. no. 2060, 50: 694a. 515 Mohan Wijayaratna, Buddhist Monastic Life: According to the Texts of the Theravda
Tradition (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1996), p. 36.
It seemed relatively common for monks to distribute Buddhist robes. For example,
Lingyu, a famous master in Northern Qi Dynasty, received three hundred robes from the
court for his service of lecturing Buddhist scriptures. He distributed these robes to his
fellow monks.516 The second category indicates those things affiliated with Buddhist
clothes, for example, hook and ribbon, a clothes bag, and a clothes case. They might be
made of copper, iron, bamboo, wood, or tin. These items could be distributed along with
the three robes to individual monks. Small bags distributed to individual monks were to
be as short as half the human body. The bags and cases should not be decorated to look
like secular ones; otherwise, they should not be distributed to individual monks. The third
category refers to the materials used to make clothes. All plain-color cloth could be
distributed to individual monks. Silk cloth should be charged into monastic community.
The greed of the individual monk toward the clothes would bring trouble to him; in
Northern Qi Dynasty, a monk Daoxie possessed and stored all kinds of cloth, and died for
his greed.517 The fourth category refers to all kinds of thread. According to Daoxuan, all
needles and thread could be distributed. However, silkworm cocoons should be charged
as communal property.
Non-Buddhist clothes were called the clothing of the external way (waidao,
refers to other religious practitioners) and white clothes (baiyi). Daoxuan did not invent
these words himself. The Chinese word waidao was used to refer to other religions in
early Buddhist translations in China. Although in ancient India Buddhist literature named
about ninety-six other religions, in medieval Chinese Buddhist literature, it particularly
516 See Xu gaosen zhuan, Daoxuan, T. no. 2060, 50: 496a. 517 See Qi Qingzhou Daoxie kencai pinde zhongbing shi, in Shimen zijing lu, Huaixin, T. no.
2083, 51: 808a-b.
indicated Daoism. Since Daoist clothes were not discussed in Buddhist Vinayas,
Daoxuan suggested that they should be charged as communal property and should not be
distributed to individual monks. On the other hand, he suggests that if the color (se) and
form (xiang) of these clothes were changed, it was possible for individual monks to keep
them. Moreover, in Northern and Southern Dynasties, white clothes became a common
word to address non-Buddhists; while black clothes (heiyi or ziyi) as a Chinese term
referred to monks. Thus, Daoxuan uses the phrase what the white clothes wear to
indicate non-Buddhist clothing. Under this category, there are five sub-categories.518
Buddhist Vinaya did not discuss these clothes either. Daoxuan makes his own judgment
based on his wisdom and his understanding of Buddhist teaching. The first sub-category
refers to general robes, shirts, hats, skirts, scarves, and shoes. Daoxuan suggests that, if a
monk receives general robes, he can keep them to make Buddhist robes. If the color and
form of these clothes are not changed, they should be charged as communal property,
along with other shirts, hats, skirts, scarves and so on. Actually, in the medieval period, at
least in the Northern Qi Dynasty, monks might have also worn some secular clothing. For
example, Lingyu wore a skirt (his skirt was short enough to have four fingers away from
his ankle) and a shirt (it was also very short, just reaching his elbow).519 If a monk wears
any of these, he could not be identified as a Buddhist monk by his clothing. The second
sub-category refers to summer rain coats. They can be brown cloth (heyi), sheep cloth
(yangzhuang), palm-bark rain cape (suoyao), umbrella cover (sangai), and so on. These
clothes could not be distributed to individual monks. The third sub-category refers to
518 Shen Congwen, Zhongguo gudai fushi yanjiu (Shanghai: Shanghai shudian chubanshe, 2002). 519 See Xu gaoseng zhuan, Daoxuan, T. no. 2060, 50: 497c.
clothes resistant to the cold (yuhan zhi fu). Most of these clothes are made of fur or
leather. They should be owned by individual monks. The fourth one refers to decorative
clothes. Since Buddhist Vinayas prohibited secular entertainment and sensual pleasure,
these clothes absolutely belonged to the monastic community, rather than to individual
monks. The fifth one refers to secular official uniforms and sacrificial robes. According
to Daoxuan, small robes could be owned by monks for making Buddhist robes; however,
other official uniforms and sacrificial robes should be charged as communal property.
From the above discussion, for the Buddhist monasticism Daoxuan advocates, a
detailed classification of Buddhist clothing was very essential for the monastic
community and for monks. The Buddhist monastic community could accept and possess
both Buddhist robes and secular clothing, but individual monks should not possess non-
Buddhist clothing. Otherwise, the spiritual progress of individual monks would be
damaged. Wearing robes was also a crucial part of the austere life of individual monks.
Concluding Remarks: Differentiating Individuals and Community
Daoxuans idea about the distribution and the possession of monastic property
undoubtedly illustrates the poverty of the individual monk in Buddhist monastic
asceticism. At the communal level, it seems that the Buddhist community did not refuse
the possession of any properties. As we have seen from the discussion above, in medieval
Chinese Buddhist monasticism, there was light property and heavy property in the
monastic community. The former referred to the property which could be distributed to
individual monks and be possessed by individual monks. The latter, however, referred to
the communal property exclusively belonging to the monastic community. In order to
determine the ownership of monastic property, Daoxuan classified these properties in
many ways. The classifications minimized individual monks possession of property.
Individual monks only could possess several goods for minimum life needs. Poverty as it
was manifested in medieval Christian monasticism was also required of medieval
Chinese monks. Medieval Chinese monks were to pursue austere lives, although their
monasteries might be very wealthy. At this point, I cannot agree with Jacques Gernet.
The Vinaya did not prohibit monks and communities from owning worldly goods. They forbade them the contact with and the management and direct use of such goods. There was much subtlety in this rule, and of kind that was lost on the Chinese. Without this defense against worldly temptation, the Chinese monks strove with little success for austerity.520
My discussion has shown that Daoxuans new rule did prohibit individual monks from
possessing most monastic properties for their worldly nature. Gernet does not make a
distinction about the ownership of monastic properties between individual monks and
communities. This is a typical problem in the contemporary scholarship of social history,
which ignores the internal complexity pf monastic communities. In medieval Chinese
monastic communities, according to Daoxuan, theoretically and legally, the individual
monks and communities differed in terms of ownership. Communities could claim the
ownership of all heavy goods and claim their right to manage and trade all heavy goods.
Individual monks only could possess and manage an amount of private goods for
minimum needs. It is true indeed that the vow of personal poverty automatically
converted all wealth into organizational possessions, to be plowed back into communal
property.521 Although some monks might not have observed the precepts strictly and
520 Jacques Gernet, Buddhism in Chinese Society: An Economic History from the Fifth to the
Tenth Centuries (New York: Columbia University Press, 1995), pp. 78-79.
illegally owned some heavy properties, they would be punished according to Daoxuans
rules. Daoxuan, at least in terms of the ideal of monastic life, attempted to establish the
rules to prevent individual monks from contact with heavy goods. Indeed, the monastic
community enjoyed prosperous wealth, while the monks still were required to exhibit
This austere life model for individual monks was designed by Daoxuan, not the
historical Buddha. Daoxuan inherited some Indian traditions based on his reading of the
monastic codes. However, the new life model was largely amended by Daoxuan with
many historical and local elements. For example, Daoxuan introduced the concept of five
grains in Chinese indigenous tradition into Buddhist monasticism. His concept of five
grains seemed to come from his knowledge about the economic plants in North China.
However, his intellectual background seemed to be mainly based on Southern scholarship
with regard to plants. From both intellectual and historical considerations, Daoxuan
developed a new model of dealing with monastic properties in Chinese Buddhist
monastic society by reinterpreting some monastic codes and initiating some new
The monastic regulations regulated the daily economic activities of the monastic
community and its members. These monastic regulations were advocated by Daoxuan for
the sake of aiding the pursuit of enlightenment of individual monks, not for the
community. Therefore, these regulations entered Daoxuans newly compiled Buddhist
canon. Their entering the canon indicates their authority in monastic learning. So
Daoxuan established his authority in dealing with property. He was not the only master
521 See Randall Collins, Weberian Sociological Theory (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press,
1986), p. 68.
who wrote such rules for monastic community; many masters made a similar attempt.
Thus the masters applied guidelines to regulate the community and individual monks in
receiving and dealing with enormous lands, houses, gardens, slaves, attendants, animals,
plants, money, secular books, and clothing. In the case of Daoxuan, his authority seemed
to contradict his intention. He accused some administrative monks of wrongly judging
some properties as properties belonging to the monastic community. However, he also
claimed most properties to be communal properties. He claimed that he made such a
judgement for the sake of the standardization of the monastic regulations; but he actually
created the regulations for judging the ownership of the monastic properties for the sake
of the enlightenment of individual monks.
Daoxuans principles of dealing with monastic property clearly aimed to promote
Buddhist values of poverty and solitude among individual monks. These values
advocated spiritual progress through poverty. A monastic community should be able to
offer an environment of solitude in order to foster survival of individual poverty and
spiritual progress. Commercial and sensual goods should be kept from individual monks.
For Daoxuan, the principles of poverty and solitude aimed to guard against the allure of
worldly pleasure and profit. Daoxuans principles also included reasonable compassion
on the part of the monastic community toward sentient beings. Showing compassion
toward sentient beings was very important for the monastic community. Daoxuan taught
that the monastic community should release slaves, wild animals, and they should destroy
the tools used to imprison or torture animals.
From Daoxuans regulations about books, we can see that the Buddhist
community was a textual community. On a communal level, the medieval Chinese
Buddhists could accept and possess any books, including both Buddhist books and non-
Buddhist books. It was possible for many monasteries to develop their own libraries and
to keep their own collections covering all religious and non-religious traditions. These
monastic libraries and collections served both monastic members and local people.
Moreover, although monks could not own books on an individual basis, they could read
non-Buddhist books and extend their learning in non-Buddhist dimensions. In medieval
Chinese Buddhism, from the viewpoint of Daoxuan, even owning secular books could
inspire the greed of monks as book holders. However, studying Buddhist books seems to
be substantial for both new monks and common monks for their religious pursuits.
Buddhist scriptures could be used on a daily basis to foster the progress of each monk.
In the monasteries of the medieval period, literacy was a basic requirement for a
monk, which marked a monastery as a textual community. Literacy allowed a monk to
read Buddhist scriptures, to understand the daily recitations, and to write ritual texts for
lay people in order to earn merits. Many manuscripts written as exercises have been
discovered in Dunhuang. These manuscripts reveal that the pupils studied how to write
characters in the monastery, and young monks had to practice copying scriptures.522
522 Erik Zrcher, Buddhism and Education in Tang Times, in Wm. Theodore de Bary and John
W. Chaffee eds. Neo-Confucian Education: The Formative Stage (Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 1989); pp.
Conclusions: The Formation of Chinese Buddhist Monasticism
After his death, Daoxuans legacy became the most influential monastic tradition
in the history of Chinese Buddhism. Since the Late Tang period, through the ages,
Daoxuan was granted many titles by the governments to acknowledge his contributions to
monastic rules and regulations. Daoxuans contributions to monasticism have shaped
Chinese monastic community to be a ritual community and a textual community.523
From Margin to Center
Compared to the popularity of Daoxuans legacy after his death, while he was
alive it was largely marginized in the Chinese monastic community. He became the
leader of the Ximing Monastery only when he was nearly seventy years old. Thus,
Daoxuan seems to experience a long journey to receive the recognition in Chinese
Daoxuan received ordination from Zhishou, but he did not distinguish himself as
a famous disciple of Zhishou until his late age. Early in his monastic career, Daoxuan
spent more listening to other maters. In Zhenguan period (627-649), he traveled around
central China to collect materials and consult other masters. Moreover, Daoxuan only
spent the beginning and end of his monastic career in Changan. In his early monastic
career, he apparently stayed in the newly established Riyan Monastery and Chongyi
Monastery, which were not the focus of the highest levels of the Sui central government.
Although the Riyan monastery was donated by the Crown Prince, Yang Guang, it was
full of monks newly emigrated from south China, and it was not fully supported by the
523 For a discussion of ritual communities, see Georges B. J. Dreyfus, The Sound of Two Hands
Clapping: The Education of a Tibetan Buddhist Monk (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2003), pp. 44-47.
Sui Emperor Wen. After Yang Guang came into power, he did not pay much attention to
the Riyan Monastery. In 624, the Riyan monastery was abolished and Daoxuan moved to
the Chongyi Monastery, which had been erected by the Tang princess. Chongyi
Monastery was a small monastery that had no importance in early Tang political-religious
interaction. Thus, both of the monasteries where Daoxuan spent his early career were not
among the most influential monasteries in Changan.
In late Sui and Early Tang period, it seems that Daoxuan mainly lived with monks
from the south and his Buddhist education was essentially shaped by the southern
tradition of Chinese Buddhism. In Changan, southern monks did not dominate the
scholastic and monastic communities. Except for Sui emperor Yang, most emperors were
not interested in the southern tradition of Chinese Buddhism. Instead, they focused more
on the projects of translating scriptures and commenting on them, rather than sponsoring
debates on the philosophical meaning of those scriptures.
In Daoxuans time, monks who specialized in Vinaya were not influential. Most
scholar-monks were engaged in translating scriptures or writing commentaries. So it is
not surprising that Daoxuans scholarship in Vinaya learning was considered marginal to
the main academic tradition of the period.524 In his Ritual of Measuring and Handling
Light and Heavy Property (Liangchu qingzhong yi), Daoxuan admitted that Fali was a
famous master, but criticized Fali for his ignorance in dealing with monastic property. At
least, he found that the teaching of Vinaya Master Fali was well-known and well-
accepted in the circle of Vinaya learning in Central Plain, especially in Shanxi.525
524 By contrast, there were many strong vinaya traditions in India at the time. See L Cheng,
Zhujia jieben tonglun, L Cheng foxue lunzhu xuanji, vol. 1(Jinan: Qilu shushe, 1988), pp. 89-141. 525 Liangchu qingzhong yi, Daoxuan, T. no. 1895, 45: 839c.
Judging from his criticism of other masters, I would hypothesize that Daoxuan
struggled to gain recognition for his teachings. Only late in his life was he asked to join
the translation team led by Xuanzang.526 But even then he was listed only as a common
team member and his status and knowledge of Buddhism seem not to have been
recognized. His reputation could not compete with Xuanzang at that time, because unlike
Xuanzang he never received the donation from the emperor.
Although Daoxuan was erudite in both Buddhist and non-Buddhist learning, he
claimed to concentrate more on practice of observing precepts, rather than bookish
learning. He was critical of the fashion of the time, and pointed out that indulgence in
learning texts does not help spiritual progress.527 He believed his contemporaries were
largely interested in gaining fame through scholarly argument. In Daoxuans eyes,
however, such study does not contribute to spiritual progress and salvation. Daoxuan
suggests that new monks should concentrate on the practice of morality and concentration,
rather than speedily reading texts.528 He even criticized a monk who wrote a ten-volume
commentary for one chapter of the Flower Adornment Stra (Huayan jing).529 These
criticisms, and perhaps the lack of recognition, demonstrate Daoxuans distance from the
center of monastic life in Changan. He even dared not to reveal his ideas about daily
discipline taught in Methods of Teaching Contemplation for Purifying Mind (Jingxin
jieguan fa) to others. He warned his disciples that this method was restricted. This secret
transmission reflects his marginal position in the monastic network.
526 Da Tang neidian lu, Daoxuan, T. no. 2149, 50. 527 Jingxin jieguan fa, Daoxuan, T. no. 1893, 45: 833c.
528 Ibid., T. no. 1893, 45: 833c. 529 Skt. Avatamsaka-stra. See Jingxin jieguan fa, Daoxuan, T. no. 1893, 45: 821b.
Daoxuan emphasizes the importance of studying the monastic code and applying
it daily in practice. His two manuals, Regulations and Rituals for Teaching and
Regulating New Monks Travel and Protection (Jiaojie xinxue biqiu xinghu lyi) and
Methods of Teaching Contemplation for Purifying the Mind (Jingxin jieguan fa),
reflected his basic principles. Daoxuan notes that the vinaya requires monks to depend on
their teachers for five years. This period of dependence is devoted largely to study of the
monastic code. In both manuals, Daoxuan disregards the differences between Mahyna
and Hinayana practices. In Regulations and Rituals for Teaching and Regulating New
Monks Travel and Protection, Daoxuan criticizes people who mistakenly view monastic
codes as the methods of Hnayna. Daoxuan says that this attitude deviates from the
mind-state of the bodhisattva internally and lacks the behaviors of the sound-hearers. In
other words, a monk should view himself as a Bodhisattva in the mind and act as a
follower of the Buddha. He notes again that people study doctrine too much and follow
practice too little, lacking dedication to monastic codes and rituals. From this perspective,
we see that, for Daoxuan, practicing monastic discipline should not be limited to
Hnayna Buddhists; rather, Mahynists should also pay attention to monastic codes and
rituals. Daoxuan wrote many pieces to advocate his ideas about the practice above.
However, only after Daoxuan became the leader of the Ximing Monastery, he
incorporated his writings into his catalogue of Buddhist canon. This canonization of his
writings becomes the landmark of the acceptance of his ideas about Buddhist learning.
From above discussion, some conclusions could be found here. First, Daoxuans
efforts to formulate new monasticism based on southern tradition seem to deviate from
what was then considered mainstream of his contemporary Buddhist learning. Second, in
his late period, his learning and his practice seems to be accepted by more and more
masters and Buddhists. For instance, the monks who celebrated the construction of the
ordination platform came from a variety of monasteries across the country. Third, he
himself finally became the leader of one of the top monasteries in Changan.
Discipline and Liberation
For Daoxuan, the Chinese Buddhist monastic community was a disciplined
community in which monks exercised minimal freedom in their daily behaviour in order
to gain maximal spiritual liberation. When an ordinand became a monk and entered the
monastic order, he would go through an ordination ritual. Afterwards, every step in his
daily routine would be ritualized toward spiritual progress. For Daoxuan, this was the
basis for the revival of the monastic community.
Although in recent scholarship treats the southern tradition of Chinese Buddhism
as one focused on metaphysics, I have demonstrated that for Daoxuan, the southern
tradition of Chinese Buddhism was quite different. In his opinion, the southern tradition
emphasizes rituals, especially the ordination ritual and relic-veneration. Having been
educated in his early twenties in a community composted mostly of southern monks,
Daoxuan later earned a reputation for strictly observing discipline, and founding a new
ordination ritual by designing the ordination platform. Daoxuan advocated extreme
asceticism as the ideal way of training new monks. He urged that monks should renounce
secular attachments, including wealth, women, and any social relationships. He focused
on poverty, chastity, and other renunciations. He also advocated that monks minimize
their goods in order to prevent secular pollution.
Specifically, in his Methods of Teaching Contemplation for Purifying Mind
(Jingxin jieguan fa), Daoxuan teaches that a monk should never think about secular
pleasures, such like fame, sexual pleasure, and earning a lot of money. This claim might
have been a response to challenges from secular authorities. The Tang emperor Taizong
issued an edict criticizing monks for engaging in secular affairs and ingoring their
religious practice.530 Daoxuan believe that many of his conyemporaries pursued fame and
profit while wearing Buddhist robes and performing Buddhist rituals. In his view, they
mimich serious deportment (weiyi), invited and sought distinction by lecturing,
performaing grand rites, and engaging in secular affairs.531
In the history of Chinese Buddhism, many monks were involved in politics. For
example, in the Yuanjia period (424-453) of the Song Dynasty, the monk Huilin often
talked about political affairs with officials and was called as the Black-Robe Prime
Minister (heiyi zaixiang).532 According to Daoxuan, such examples damaged Buddhist
ideals. As a Buddhist leader, Daoxuan saw the danger in this involvement. He rejected
bowing to the ruler. This point of ritual performance had broader implications, teaching
all that monks should cultivate indifference to worldly authority and cautioning rules not
to intervene in Buddhist affairs.
In terms of ritual community, Daoxuans formulation of monastic rules indeed
had an impact on daily life in Chinese Buddhist monasteries.533 Although many scholars
530 See Stanley Weinstein, Buddhism under the Tang (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press),
pp. 15-16. 531 Jingxin jieguan fa, Daoxuan, T. no. 1893, 45: 823a. 532 Fozu tongji, Zhipan (1220-1275), T. no. 2035, 49: 344b. It says that the Song emperor Wen
often talked to Huilin about political affairs. Kong Yi called Huilinblack-robe prime minister.
have traced the lifestyle of the Chinese monastic order of later periods back to the Chan
(Zen) tradition, Daoxuans contribution should not be ignored. For example, he
emphasized the significance of meditation practice for new monks and wrote a manual to
teach new monks how to practice concentration. Second, he taught new monks how to
behave in daily life. He reformulated the relationship between monks and lay people, as
well as relationship between new monks and masters. He also taught that monks should
not indulge in textual learning; rather, they should focus more on practice.
Textual Community and Scholasticism
Daoxuan was raised in a traditional literati family and worked with an erudite
Buddhist master Huijun, so his background was very strong in both traditional Confucian
education and Buddhist leraning. Daoxuans ideas about Buddhist monasticism derived
from his encyclopedic knowledge of the Buddhist scholarly tradition. He was familiar
with Buddhist history and non-Buddhist history, Indian and central Asian Buddhist
traditions. Daoxuan never had a chance to visit India and Central Asia. However, his
knowledge about them equipped him to be able to establish the authority in creating a
new form of ordination platform. This is the natural consequence of his familiarity with
texts. Never having visited south China, his image of the southern tradition of Chinese
Buddhism was derived from the texts he read and the monks he regarded highly. Through
texts, he discovered the old practice of purifying mind, written by Xiao Ziliang. Based on
Xiaos text, he wrote his own piece on the method of purifying the mind.
Daoxuan emphasizes the importance of daily practice, rather than textual learning.
But he also insisted that a new monk should depend on a vinaya teacher and, during his
533 The study of monastic daily practice is beyond the scope of this study, and will be dealt with in
my future research.
first five years, master the monastic code as well as scriptures. Therefore, he did not
ignore textual learning Daoxuan pointed out that monks should keep Buddhist scriptures
for daily study, and he suggested that temples should collect books from all sources. He
introduced the recitation of the Scripture of Bequeathed Teaching into the ordination
ritual. From a variety of angles, then, Daoxuans ideal Buddhist monastic community was
a textual community. Its members were supposed to study deeply among a wide range of
literary traditions, and they were taught to make books a significant part of their daily
lives. People from outside the monastic community could gain access to the monastic
library. In this literary way, the monastic community became a textual community
serving both inside and outside readers.
The Buddhist monastic emphasis on literacy is similar to that of medieval
Christian monasticism. Modern scholarship has recognized the importance of learning as
one of three main tasks of monks and nuns in medieval Christian monasticism. In
Christianity, this learning was called lectio, referring to the study of texts and private
meditation. The monasteries were the centers of scholarship and literary production from
the eighth century until the eleventh century.534 In medieval China, Buddhist monasteries
also developed many literary and cultural productions. For example, in Buddhist library,
there were many letter models, which helped local people to write letters.
In sum, Daoxuan viewed himself as a traditional Vinaya master, advocating the
integration of textual learning into a broader and more fundamental program of monastic
practice. Thus his legacy later became the dominant tradition in Chinese Buddhist
534 Lutz, Kaelber, Schools of Asceticism: Ideology and Organization in Medieval Religious Communities (University Park, PA: The Pennsylvania State University Press, 1998), p. 64.
monasticism, the focus of Chinese monks in textual leraning also to decline. The
scholasticism which had been fourishing since the six dynasties gradually declined too.
Ironically, although Daoxuan criticized other masters for their indulgence in meticulous
commentaries on Buddhist texts, he himself wrote extensively about Vinayas. This
textual tradition reflected in Daoxuans learning was inherited from his masters,
Daoxuan surely was an encyclopedic scholar-monk. In his commentaries on
Vinaya and his other ritual works, his citations come from hundreds of texts in the
Buddhist canon. He was deeply learned in all three collections: stras, vinayas, and
stras. He was also no amateur to non-Buddhist texts.
Monastic and Secular Spheres
Daoxuan was very much concerned with boundaries between the monastic sphere
and the secular sphere. The Buddhas presence defined the monastic sphere. The Buddha
was present in his relics, which were venerated in Chinese monasteries. The historical
Buddha thus oversaw the daily activity of Chinese monks and nuns. In being venerated
on the ordination platform, the historical Buddha also witnessed the admission of new
monks to the monastic order. The historical Buddha also attracted lay people when
ceremonies were held to celebrate to venerate his relics. Furthermore, in venerating the
historical Buddha, the monks and nuns were not allowed to venerate the contemporary
secular rulers. That is why Daoxuan insisted on demonstration against bowing the
The interaction between monastic and secular spheres is manifested from both
spiritual and socio-economic dimensions. Modern scholarship of social history has
demonstrated how the monasteries interacted with social spheres outside in many ways.
However, the spiritual interaction also should be taken into account more profoundly,
especially in the context of medieval Chinese Buddhism. In the spiritual dimension, the
monks, according to Daoxuan, had obligations to awaken other peoples bodhi mind and
to enlighten their Buddha nature. Moreover, monks had authority and duty to help lay
people to testify the relics they discovered. Only monks could verify the authenticity of
the Buddhas relics. Furthermore, though the monastic carried out the ordination ritual,
lay society offered the feast for all monks as the concluding step for the ritual. Through
performing ordination ritual, monks manifest the Buddhist teaching to lay people.
Reciprocally, lay people earn merits in observing the ritual and offering the feast. Thus
ordination ritual offers an opportunity for the interaction between monastic and lay
Although Buddhism seriously suffered from the political persecution in the
Northern Zhou Dynasty, specicially during the regime of the Emperor Wu (r. 561-578), it
seems that Buddhism experienced a revival in the early Tang period. As a self-conscious
leader of Buddhist community, Daoxuan documented this revival, and more importantly,
contributed to this revial.
Appendix: The Procedure of Ordination Ritual in Chinese Buddhism
Daoxuan wrote intensively to formulate a new ordination ritual for Chinese
Buddhism. His commentary on the Four-part Vinaya (Caturvargika-Vinaya, Sifenl) and
Illustrated Scripture on the Ordination Platform (Guanzhong chuangli jietan tujing) offers
a detailed description of the procedure of ordination ritual. Giving a sketch of the
ordination ritual will help us better understand how the ritual was actually carried out in
the medieval period.
1. Defining Boundaries
According to Daoxuan, the first step in carrying out ordination ritual was to define
the boundaries (jiejie ). The action of defining boundaries draws a line between
secular and Buddhist realms. Daoxuan explains his ideas on the order of defining larger
and smaller boundaries and establishing the platform by clarifying concepts like
boundaries (jie), marks (xiang), ground (chang ) and platform (tan ). In early Indian
Buddhism, a Buddhist monastic community was organized in a specific place whose
boundaries had been defined by a series of rituals.535 Each Buddhist tradition has its own
regulations on performing rituals in order to define these boundaries.
Daoxuan argues that the ordination platform should be created within a larger
boundary (dajie). According to Daoxuan, the ordination ground should be defined first
and the large place (dajie) surrounding the ordination ground should be defined
535 Hirakawa Akira discusses various types of gathering for monks in the primitive sangha
described in the early Vinaya pitaka of the Theravda school. He suggests that there are five types of gatherings for monks: Four-monk sangha: catuvaggo bhikhusangha; Five-monk sangha: pacaggo bhikhusangha; Ten-monk sangha: dasavaggo bhikhusangha; Twenty-monk sangha: vsativaggo bhikhusangha; and more than twenty-monk sangha: atirekavsativaggo bhikhusangha. See Hirakawa Akira, Genshi bukky kytan soshiki II, (Tokyo: Shunjusha, 2000).
second.536 Based on the Great Assembly Vinaya (Mahsangha-Vinaya, Mohe sengqi l)
and the Four-part Vinaya (Caturvargika-Vinaya, Sifenl), Daoxuan explicitly points out
that the platform for the ordination place (jiechang ) is within a large place.537 Thus
two spaces, including an inner space for ritual (with ritualized boundaries, zuofajie) and
an outer space for general gathering (with natural boundaries, ziran jie) were created. The
ordination platform was erected on the ritualized space.
In Daoxuans writings we see a growing concern with defining the place of
ordination properly. General terms for the broader space seem to have included tanchang
(literally ground for the platform), as in a Dunhuang manuscript, 538 and jiechang
(literally ground for precepts). Within this area the ordination platform (jietan) itself
should be built. In his preface to a eulogy dedicated to the establishment of the ordination
platform in Jingye monastery, Daoxuan says that he set up the ordination place within the
monastery first, and he erected a platform and stpa (tan and ta ) within the
ordination place. The platform and stupa on the platform square attracted the respect from
the commoners and sages.539
The ordination platform is established for the ten masters to carry out the
ordination ritual. The smaller space around it separates the place for the ordination ritual
from the other parts of the monastic compound. The larger space separates the monastic
compound and non-Buddhist space.
536 Guanzhong chuangli jietan tujing, Daoxuan, T. no. 1892, 45: 817b.
537 Guanzhong chuangli jietan tujing, Daoxuan, T. no. 1892, 45: 814b.
538 The Sila text selected from Daabhnavravinaya (Skt. Daabhnavravinaya, Ch. Shisong l
biqiu jieben ). See Inokuchi Taijun, Chuo ajia bukky no gengo to bukky (Kyoto: Hzkan, 1995), p. 437.
539 Guanzhong chuangli jietan tujing, Daoxuan, T. no. 1892, 45: 818a.
2. Chanting marks
Chanting the marks (Ch. changxiang ), or announcing the boundaries of
the ordination platform, is one of the key rituals in the procedure of defining
boundaries.540In his Illustrated Scripture on the Ordination Platform, Daoxuan says that
the boundaries can only be defined through chanting the marks. He criticizes his
contemporaries for their empty practice of performing this chanting while outside the
ordination platform. In his view, ordination carried out on an improperly defined
ordination platform would not bring the Buddhist Dharma to the ordination candidates.
Daoxuan describes how to chant the marks in his commentary on Four-part
Vinaya. First, Daoxuan teaches that after all the monks have gathered in a natural space,
one monk should carry himself properly and chant the marks of small ritual space. The
monk should finish a round of chanting. Then the marks of the small spaces are
chanted.541 After this step, the karma master (karmadana, jiemoshi) and other monks
come to participate in the ritual of creating a ritual ground within the smaller boundaries.
Once all monks have gathered, the monk announces that now the assembly has created
the ordination ground within the smaller boundaries.542
540 The details about chanting marks also appear in Sifenl shanfan buque xingshi chao, Daoxuan,
T. no. 1804, 40: 16a-c.
541 He chants, From here, inside of the mark in the southeastern corner, go along the rope west to the mark in the southwestern corner; from here, go along the rope north to the mark in the northwestern corner; then, go along the small wall east to the inner corner in the northeast; from here, go along inside of the small wall south to the mark in the southeastern corner. See Sifenl shanfan buque xingshi chao, Daoxuan, T. no. 1804, 40: 16c.
542 He chants, Listen, oh Monk of Great Virtue! We monks call this place the small ritual space of the four directions. Now the monks create the ordination space in the small ritual space of the four directions. Listen, all you senior monks! Now the monks create the ordination space in the small ritual space of the four directions. All monks should keep silent. If someone cannot endure the silence, rebuke him. Sifenl shanfan buque xingshi chao, Daoxuan, T. no. 1804, 40: 16c.
Daoxuan explains that four kinds of monks are involved in the procedure of
chanting marks for defining the ordination ground. The first one is the monk chanting
the marks and giving the instruction. This monk might be the instructor of rituals. The
second group is composed of monks of Great Virtue (Skt. bhadanta, Ch. dade )
following the instruction to deal with the marks in order to define the space. The third
group is the Karmakraka (jiemo seng ), who asks questions of the instructor. The
fourth group is composed of other monks in silence during the conduct of this ritual.
3. Building the Ordination Platform
After defining the boundaries of the large place and the ordination ground, the
next step is to build the ordination platform. The decoration of the ordination platform
and its symbolic meaning are very important to our understanding of the ordination
ritual.543 I would argue that the ordination platform draws a line between the senior
ordained monks and common Buddhist monks who stepped in different places in the
ordination ritual. According to Daoxuan, the ordination platform should be built on a
basis of square, with three levels. Each level is five Buddhas elbows high. The relics of
the Buddha are set up on the top level. On the second level, one high seat for the
instructor is set up at the southern side. At the same side, three empty seats are set up for
the worship of three bodhisattvas. At the western side, the image of the Buddha is set
up.544 Each side has two walkways. In addition, each level is decorated with various gods
and deities for the protection of the ordination ritual.
4. Receiving Ordination
543 For information, see chapter three. 544 Guanzhong chuangli jietan tujing, Daoxuan, T. no. 1892, 45: 816a.
Daoxuan prescribes the process of ordination in the ninth section of his Illustrated
Scripture on the Ordination Platform named The Ritual of Receiving Ordination. I
divide this procedure into several steps as follows, using some of Daoxuans terms for the
a. Dengtan : Ten masters ascend the platform.
The instructor (Skt. rahonusaka, Ch. jiaoshoushi ), 545 carrying the
incense stove leads the group to ascend to the second level from the eastern ladder in the
south. They walk one circle around the platform from the east to west, and stop in front
of the sculpture of Buddha to whom they bow three times. Ten masters speculatively
inquire about the coming of all Buddhas, great Bodhisattvas, and all rvakas to the
platform, as if recalling the ritual in the time of Buddha. Then the instructor leads them
all toward the west, and asks them to stop at the south. The instructor carrying the incense
stove leads ten masters to the west, and they ascend to the third level from the western
ladder in the south. On the top level of the platform, ten masters follow the instructor and
walk east in a circle around the platform, coming back to the south. There they bow to the
three empty seats, symbolizing three bodhisattvas546 who asked Buddha to set up the
ordination platform in the early period.547 After having worshipped three empty, the
545 For different names given to the instruction, see Paul Lvy, Buddhism: A Mysterious Religion? (London: The University of London, the Athelone Press, 1957), p. 40; and Hirakawa Akira, Genshi bukky kyotan soshiki II (Tokyo: Shunjsha, 2000), pp. 198, 212.
546 According to Mahyna Buddhism, there are three worlds, including the past world, this world, and the future world, and there are one thousand Buddhas in each world. Rudita is the last Buddha in this world. See Guan yaowang yaoshang er pusa jing, T. no. 1161, 20; Sanqian foming jing (The Stra of the Names of Three Thousands Buddhas). The idea of Buddhas in three World (Skt. trydhva-vyavasthith sarva-buddhh, Ch. sanshi zhufo) also appears in many Mahyna texts, such as Jingang boruo poluomiduo xin jing (Heart Stra), T. no. 251, 8: 848c; Miaofa lianhua jing (Lotus Stra), T. no. 262, 9: 10a.
547 These three bodhisattvas deserve more study, since as so far there is no specific article offering a clear picture about them.
group sits down in order. A monk sitting in the highest position next recites the Scripture
of Bequeathed Teaching (Yijiao jing).548 While reciting this sutra, a bell is ringing,
incense is burnig, and the assembly sings eulogies dedicating merit to the Buddha. The
monks receiving ordination sit silently in their places and listen to the recitation.
b. Shexi : Setting up the mat for bestowing the robes.
After all the participants settle down in their positions, the instructor leads the
ordinands to the east ladder in the south and stands to the west. At this time, the ritual
instructor comes down the east ladder in the south and leads the applicants to the west
ladder in the south to ascend the platform. After ascending to the first level of the
platform, the instructor leads the applicants along the east. They come back to the south
and worship the sculpture of Buddha549 three times. The applicants then kneel and listen
to the recitation of the Scripture of the Bequeathed Teachings (Yijiao jing). The instructor
leads the applicants to the east ladder in the south and descends to the ground. Then the
applicants are led out of the ritual boundary.550
When the masters finished questioning the applicants about monastic discipline,
the instructor leads the applicants to the ritual space. Just before the east ladder in the
south of the ritual space, a mat is set up for masters to ask the applicants questions about
548 I discuss this sutra in detail in chapter three. 549 There is an image of Buddha, though the original Chinese text says that the object of worship is
Buddha. But according to the context, as Daoxuan mentioned before, a sculpture of Buddha is viewed as equivalent to a Buddha. In the meantime, there is the relic of Buddha just in the center of the ordination platform. About the functional equivalence of the relic and the living Buddha, see Gregory Schopen, Bones, Stones and Buddhist Monks (Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 1997), pp. 131ff.
550 It seems likely to be the small space, rather than the large space, because the applicant will come back very soon under the guidance of the instructor. The latter might not be able to go too far away from the platform and his duty. But it is worth studying in detail.
discipline. The applicants come close to the mat and carry their robes and bowls toward
the north.551 The instructor comes down from the east ladder in the south and sits in the
seat on the mat for screening orders.
c. Shouyi : The instructor bestows the robes to the applicants.
Once the instructor sits down on the mat, he picks up the robes from the hands of
the applicant on whom they are to be bestowed. Then the instructor asks the applicant to
take off his shoes and sit on the mat. First, he bestows the mat (Skt. nisdana, Ch. nishitan
) to the applicant, and asks the applicant to sit on it. Second, he bestows the waist
coat (Skt. antarvsak, Ch. anduohui ) on the applicant and asks the applicant to
wear it. Third, he bestows the outer garment (Skt. uttarsangha, Ch. yuduoluoseng
) on the applicant placing it over his shoulder. Fourth, he bestows the patch-robe or
great robe (Skt. sanght, Ch. sengjiali ) on the applicant. The three robes
(including waist coat, outer garment, and great robe) were only used by Buddhist monks.
The mat symbolizes the foundation of the stupa. Once the applicant accepts these robes,
according to Daoxuan, he has obtained the foundation for the five attributes of the
dharmakya. Along with bestowing the robes, the instructor also teaches the meaning of
d. Wennan : The instructor (duweina weina ) screens the ordination
applicants for full orders.
551 It is not clear in this section of the ordination platform text who prepares the robes and bowl for the applicant. But we could find the answer in Daoxuans other texts, especially his text Ritual on Buddhist Ceremonial Dress, Shimen zhangfu yi, Daoxuan, T. no. 1894.
After having bestowed the robes on the applicants, the instructor ascends on the
platform from the east ladder again. He walks toward the west and ascends on the second
level in the south from the west ladder. Then he walked toward the east, stops before the
relic of the Buddha and worships the image of the Buddha three times. He keeps walking
toward the east and comes back from the north. Then he stands just in front of the
karmakraka and asks for discipline. After having asked, he goes to the west ladder in the
south. The applicants are directed to ascend the platform and bow the three empty seats.
In addition, they worship the ten masters. The ritual master asks them to kneel in front of
the karma master to ask for ordination. After sitting back down, the karma master alone
screens the applicants for full orders. Then the karma master ordains the applicant. Then
the karma master asks the applicant to kneel and bow ten masters. After finishing, the
ordinand bows the image of the Buddha while facing the north. He kneels to listen to the
recitation of the Scripture of the Bequeathed Teaching and then stands up.
e. Xiatan : Descending the platform.
After everything is done, the instructor carrying the incense stove walks to the
north ladder in the west of the platform and leads ten masters in descending from the
platform. They walk toward the east and stop in the south to worship the sculpture of
Buddha three times. In the meantime, the deacon leads the newly ordained monk to the
east and they descend from the platform along the south ladder in the east. They walk one
circle around the platform from the north to the south, and stop at the west ladder in the
south. They walk to the east and bow the image of the Buddha while facing north. When
other masters see that the newly ordained monks have arrived, they descend to the ground
from the east ladder in the south, and walk like a flock of hawks (Skt. hamsa) to the
forest of flowers. The ordinands follow these masters to the forest of flowers. Once
entering the forest, the ordinands go before the masters. Then the instructor leads the ten
masters out of the ordination place and enters into the large space. The whole process is
5. Feasting Buddhist Assembly
The last stage of the ordination ritual is the feast offered by the local lay
community to the Buddhist assembly once the ordination ritual has ended. According to
Daoxuan, after the receiving ordination, the instructor guides all monks to the dining hall
and to have a vegetarian feast. Other lay men and lay women also come to the monastery
and fill the whole monastic compound. They all close their palms and praise virtues of
In his text on the ordination platform, Daoxuan only mentions lay people in the
portion dealing with the celebratory feast. In his view, the whole ordination ritual occurs
largely within the sangha and has nothing to do with lay people. Daoxuan does not say
whether lay people witness the ordination ritual within the monastic compound. But it
seems that lay people were not in the monastic compound because in calling the assembly
of monks means, only novices and monks are mentioned, not laymen. But after the
ordination ritual, the feast held in the monastery could be sponsored by lay supporters.
Daoxuan does not offer a clear explanation of how the feast was made possible or explain
the relationship between monks and lay people. The ordination ritual thus ends with the
appearance of lay people. This suggests a close relationship between the monastic sangha
and the lay community.
Interestingly, Daoxuan lists in his Illustrated Scripture on the Ordination Platform
a lot of masters who attended the fantastic ceremony to establish a gorgeous platform in
Qingguan County, Shanxi. Grouping these monks will be helpful to our understanding of
the witnesses of this ordination ritual as designed by Daoxuan in his new interpretation of
the ordination ritual. What were the geographical and professional backgrounds of these
masters? The thirty-nine masters came from fifteen prefectures throughout the empire
including eleven prefectures in the North, and four prefectures in the South. They
represent all three practices of Vinaya (20), meditation (13), and dharma (5).552 Many
masters were from the monasteries located on Mount Zhongnan. It seems that masters
from both urban areas and rural areas took part in this ordination ritual.553 Daoxuans
brief note is the earliest surviving evidence for the actual implementation of his ritual
552 Guanzhong chuangli jietan tujing, Daoxuan, T. no. 1892, 45: 816c. 553 At least three masters whose names appear in Daoxuans Continued Biographies of Eminent
Monks belong to the Four-part Vinaya tradition. Vinaya master Zhenyi was from Ximing Monastery of Changan. Vinaya master Daocheng was from Yaotai Monastery of Zhaoling, and Vinaya master Huaisu was from Hongji Monastery of Changan. Zhenyi was one of the four distinguished disciples of vinaya master Huijin who followed the famous vinaya master Zhishou with whom Daoxuan also worked on vinaya texts. Daochang was master Daozhes disciple. His name appears in the biography of Daozhe, see Xu gaoseng zhuan, Daoxuan, T. no. 2060, vol. 50: 589a. For Huijins biography, see Xu gaoseng zhuan, Daoxuan, T. no. 2060, 50: 615a.
1. Works by Daoxuan Da Tang neidian lu (Catalogue of Buddhist Canon of the Great Tang) 10 chs. 664 AD. T.
no. 2149. Daoxuan lushi gantong lu (Records of Miraculous Responses of the Vinaya Master
Daoxuan) 1 ch. 667 AD (?). T. no. 2107. Famen wenji (Collection of Buddhist Essays). Xianqing period (656-660 AD). Not extant. Fohua dongjian to zan (Illustrated Eulogy of the Spread of Buddhism to the East). 1 ch.
660 AD. Not extant. Guano hongming ji (Extended Collection Propagating and Illuminating Buddhism). 30
chs. 664 AD. T. no. 2103. Guanzhong chuangli jietan tujing bingxu (Illustrated Scripture with Preface on the
Establishment of Ordination Platform in Central China). 1 ch. 667 AD. T. no. 1892. Hu sanbao wu yi (Ritual of Protecting Buddhist Property). 1 ch. 659 AD. Not extant. Hu seng wu yi (Ritual on Protection of Monks).1 ch. 659 AD. Not extant. Ji gujin fodao lunheng (Collection of Debates between Buddhism and Daoism). 4 chs.
661-664 AD. T. no. 2104. Ji shenzhou sanbao gantong lu (Record of the Miraculous Responses of the Three
Treasures in China). 3 chs. 664 AD. T. no. 2106. Jiaoiie xinxue biqiu xinghu luyi (Discipline and Ritual on Teaching New Monks Travel
and Protection). 1 ch. 634 AD, revised in 648 AD. T. no. 1897. Jiaosu shishe zhaiyi (Feast Rituals for Lay People and Buddhist Gentry). 1 ch. 659 AD.
Not extant. Jingxin jieguan fa (Method of Instructing and Contemplating the Purification of the
Mind). 1 ch. 659 AD. T. no. 1893. Liangchu qingzhongyi (Ritual on Measuring and Handling Heavy and Light Property). 1
ch. 637 AD. T. no. 1895. Luchao liaojian (Simplified Selections from Vinaya Texts). 1 ch. 627 AD. Not extant.
Luxiang gantong zhuan (Records of the Miraculous Responses to the Manifestations of
the Vinaya). 1 ch. 667 AD. T. no. 1898. Shijia fangzhi (kyamuni Gazetteer). 2 chs. 651. T. no. 2088. Shijia shipu (The Genealogy of the kya Clan). 1 ch. 665 AD. T. no. 2041. Shimen guijing yi (Buddhist Rites on Obeisance and Veneration). l ch. 661 AD. T. no.
1896. Shimen ji sengguidu tujing (The Collected Buddhist Illustrated Texts on Regulations of Monks). 1 ch. 624 AD. Not extant. Shimen zhangfu yi (Ritual on Buddhist Ceremonial Dress). 1 ch. 659 AD. T. no. 1894. Sifenl biqiuni jieben (Selection on Bhikhsuni Precepts of the Curturvagika-Vinaya). 1
ch. 635 AD. Not extant. Sifenl shanfan buque xingshi chao (Commentary on the Curturvagika-Vinaya with
Annotations and Additions). 12 chs. 626 AD. T. no. 1804. Sifenl shanbu suiji jiemo (Occasional Karma with Deletions and Additions of the
Curturvagika-Vinaya). 4 chs. 635 AD, revised in 647. T. no. 1808. Sifenl shi bini chao (Selection from Ten Vinayas of the Curturvagika-Vinaya). 6 chs.
627 AD. Z. la, 71:2. Xu da Tang neidian lu (Continued Catalogue of Buddhist Canon of the Great Tang). 1 ch.
665 AD. T. no. 2149. Xu gaoseng zhuan (Continued Biographies of Eminent Monks). 30 chs. 645 AD. T. no.
2060. Zhongtianzhuguo zhiyuansi tujing (Illustrated Scripture on Jetavana Monastery in Central
Indian). 2 chs. 667 AD. T. no. 1899.
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IntroductionA Case Study in the Revival of Monastic DisciplineTheorizing Buddhist MonasticismStructural OverviewChapter I: Buddhism in South China as a Cultural ImaginaireChapter II: Relics and Monasteries in Buddhist MonasticismConcluding Remarks: The Past Becomes the Present
Chapter IV: Property and Buddhist MonasticismIntroductionOwnership: Private Property and Communal PropertyLaborers, Slaves and ServantsAnimalsJewels and MoneyClothingConcluding Remarks: Differentiating Individuals and Communit
title -- abstract.pdfIntroductionChapter I: Buddhism in South China as a Cultural ImaginaireChapter II: Relics and Monasteries in Buddhist MonasticismChapter III: Ordination Platform and Ordination RitualChapter IV: Property in Buddhist Monasticism
Conclusions: The Revival of Buddhist MonasticismBibliography