AP World History
14 Jan. 2012
Spread of Buddhism and Its Appeal in China
Buddhism is a well-known major religion in today’s society. It originated in India, after Siddhartha Gautama (Buddha), left his palace and finally achieved enlightenment. It reached China around the 1st century C.E and continued to spread throughout Asia. Buddhism was at its highest point after the fall of the Han dynasty in 220 C. E. The spread of Buddhism in China sparked several religious, ethical, and controversial issues; however it was accept by a large majority of the Chinese people and scholars. Buddhism was more prominent in times of upheaval, but it slowly declined in the 9th century C.E.
Attitudes toward Buddhism were negative in the eyes of many Confucian scholars and those who were higher on the social latter (4, 6). Han Yu, a Confucian scholar and official in the Tang imperial court did not approve of Buddhism or its spread. He wrote a letter to his emperor about his watching of the finger of Buddha being brought into the palace. He believes that Buddhism is barbaric; it does not conform to the traditions of china, and is blasphemous (1). Emperor Wu, of the Tang dynasty, wrote an edict on his thoughts of Buddhism. He did not agree on the spread of Buddhism either. He believed it pilfered the wealth of china, caused children and servants to abandon their lords and parents, which was a taboo of unspeakable shame, to go and study in temples. He also stated that it severed the act of marriage because it preached being monastic (6). Many officials felt Buddhism was wrong due to its denial of a strict government and did not have a strict social standard or strict social hierarchy. This means followers of Buddhism put their power and authority at risk, which was slightly stated by Emperor Wu when he talked of servants leaving their lords and children leaving their parents (6).
While many officials did not agree with Buddhism, many scholars...