There are multiple reasons why and how Buddhism spread in China. I feel that factors like, religion, politics, and social, played a major part in spreading Buddhism throughout China. The factors mentioned are usually a contributor in global changes and has definitely played its part in China’s adapting a new belief. Of course there were other reasons, like economic, that caused the people of China to gravitate to the Buddhist ways. People reconsidering their faith, due to many of life downfalls or the weight of participants in something that’s new, gained recognition and spread due to popular demand.
During the political chaos from 221 to 589 that came with the collapse of the Han Dynasty, Buddhism started to become a strong existence in China. So in other words, during the Tang dynasty, Buddhism started with curiosity and after the fall of the Han dynasty, it seem as if the people of China yawned for change of good and looked to Buddhism to lead the way. The following paragraphs are going to briefly explain some ways, religion, politics, and society induced the spread of Buddhism.
In reference to our history textbook, the religious contribution towards Buddhism progressed when the Han dynasty of China extended power towards central Asia, causing the ties between China and central Asia to grow. A Chinese monk by the name of Xuan Zang went to India, returning with 500 crates of Buddhist literature. Buddhism became more widely known and a Chinese monastery for Buddhist teachings was formed. People began to relate to Buddhism, but due to poor translations, Taoist had to be used like fillers to understand and grasps the material about Buddhism.
After the fall of Han, Buddhism started to attract more people because of the moral fabric and passion it presented and seemed to open a door a better and happier life. But at the time, the people of China were experiencing many challenges like war and even a very demanding political regime, that may put a damper on their religious exploration. In other words, politics was a driving force on spreading Buddhism as well. Political contributions for Buddhism came during the Tang dynasty. The emperor Taizong gave money to monasteries, sent for more Buddhist books, and created art and statues honoring the Buddhist religion.
The empress Wu compose the ultimate dedication to the new faith. She not only created more Buddhist artifacts, but she gave monk more political and social power and requested different scholars to come and teach more of this religion. Wu also injected a law which made Buddhism supersede any other beliefs. So based on the information presented in this paragraph, you can clearly see the political influence on Buddhism and China. Now let’s go over some social effects that helped with the continuous spread of Buddhism through China and central Asia.
Buddhist temples and monasteries provided many services, contributing greatly to the society. Monasteries and temples had medical care and academic facilities, gave seeds for families to harvest for food and crops, press oil, and temporary housed the traveling public. When people came to take advantage of the services provided, they were than introduced to the Buddhist ways. They were also taught to believe that by giving their sons unselfishly to Buddhism, the rest of the family would greatly benefit.
The monks and monastery staff members also used pictures, assisting non-educated people, in understanding fables, which explained and emphasized the Buddhist teachings. As a final note, Buddhism has done great things for the society and in return won people over with all the services they provided to all. In conclusion, there are different reasons why and how Buddhism spread in China and central Asia. I’ve learned that when people question the faith they have, they are quick to adapt a new one if it appears to produce a soulful expression of life’s tranquility—religiously.
People are sometimes forced into a belief by the rulers’ hands and the rulers use it to enforce their power of control, well very much leading a country in dictatorship—politically. And, lastly when there is the presence of a religion that is pure and graceful to society, it allows them to have a belief in something good, therefore, gaining hope for things to get better. When the religion is good to the people, in return the people will pose a devout following of its teachings. To the practical Chinese, Buddhism was both strange and fascinating.
1) Douglas Carnine, Carlos E. Cortes, Kenneth R. Curtis, & Anita T. Robinson, 7th Grade World History Medieval and early Modern Times, Student Handbook, McDougal Littell/Houghton Mifflin, 2006, Updated Information-Author: Herman, Clay; Publisher: LAUSD, 2002 2) Title page illustration from website: http://184.108.40.206:82/medina/courses/cm0910/group3/pages/poc.php?ID_POC=11&ID_Lang=1&ID_PathWay=4