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Ancient China: How was Buddhism, originally an Indian religion, adapted to Chinese culture - Essay Example

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Adaptation to culture from the religious perspective is the toughest of the options for an individual as well as for the society. Buddhism arrived in China from India through the good work by the missionaries and the supportive role of the traders…
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Ancient China: How was Buddhism, originally an Indian religion, adapted to Chinese culture
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Download file to see previous pages This major development that left deep impact on the cultural life of China shaped during the Han Dynasty rule from 202 BC—220 AD. Though it made the introductory start during the reign of Han Dynasty, it has to wait till the decline of this dynasty to take roots challenging the strict Confucian beliefs. As it happens with most of the religions, there are several divisions within Buddhism. The division that took roots in China was Mahayana Buddhism with further subdivisions like Zen Buddhism, Pure Land Buddhism and Tibetan Buddhism - also known as Lamaism. The social conditions in China were ripe when Buddhism began to spread in China as it directly addressed the concept of human suffering and its possible solutions. After the fall of Han Dynasty, chaotic conditions prevailed in China, resulting in political vacuum. The various states were fighting each other for political and economic control and the country had turned directionless and destination-less. Many ethnic minorities and foreigners in China adopted Buddhism, as they thought it was the best option to distinguish them from the native Chinese. The initial competition of Buddhism was against Taoism, which was the native religion of China. Nevertheless, Taoism is as old as Buddhism. The two systems of beliefs spread together, and they were mutual competitors and they borrowed teachings from each other, with the result many Chinese today practice elements of both the schools of thought. As Buddhism became popular with the people, as the later Chinese rulers converted to Buddhism and the succeeding Sui and Tang Dynasties all adopted Buddhism as their religion. Political maneuvering also contributed to the spread of Buddhism. The foreign rulers of China like the Yuan Dynasty and the Manchus, used religion to justify their rule and connect with the Chinese people. The religion was also used by foreign rulers of China, such as the Yuan Dynasty and the Manchus, to connect with the Chinese and justify their rule. The Machus strived to draw a comparison between Buddhism, a foreign religion, and their own reign as foreign leaders. Buddhism gains foothold in China: One of the most standard figures in Chinese Buddhism is the Bodhisattva Guan Yin (the one who identifies the lamentations of the world). He is a superior being who helps to remove the suffering of the world and he is the important figure in the devotional practices of the Chinese Buddhists and followers of Taoism. Some of the biggest statues of Buddha in the world are in the mainland China. Mount Wutai is the most popular tourist site in Shanxi. Guan Yin means “Observing the Sounds (or Cries) of the (human) World." Apart from China, Guan Yin is highly respected in Asian Cultures thus a cultural affinity is established between China and other Asian countries like, Hong Kong, Japan, Korea, Thailand, Vietnam etc. He symbolizes the highpoint of mercy, compassion, kindness and love. His mission is to save all children of God and he is the ultimate enlightenment and is destined to become Buddha. Along with the arrival of Buddhism in China in the first century AD, Guan Yin’s worship was also introduced. His representations were masculine in appearance prior to the Song Dynasty (960-1279 AD). Since his preaching matched with that of Taoism, it appealed to the hearts of the Chinese people. With the increase in popularity of Buddhism later Chinese rulers converted to Buddhism. Sui and Tang Dynasties embraced Buddhism and declared it as their state religion. The religion was ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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