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of Buddhism and Hwang- Lao. Meanwhile the
ephemeral southern dynasties of Sung, Ts'i, and
Liang were becoming more and more intensely
Buddhist, and priests from South India had a
hospitably warm reception at the Nanking court.
In 499 the new Toba emperor turned to Buddhism
once more; there were 13,000 monasteries in his
dominions, and 3000 western bonzes in his capital
alone (modern Ho-nan Fu). The Empress, his
wife, despatched the celebrated envoy Sung YUn
to the Cabul Valley In order to secure more sutras :
he went over much of Fah Hien's old ground, but
did not cross the Indus ; at (modern) Wakhan,
Kapl9a, Chitral, Peshawur, etc., he found the
Indo-Scythians ruling under the new name of
Eptal. The founder (502 - 549) of the Liang
dynasty in the south was a very learned man,
but a Buddhist bigot. He caused a tremendous
commotion among the Confucianists by prohibit-
ing the ancient sacrifices of animals and flesh,
substituting vegetables, " because it was cruel to
take life." He himself surrendered his person to
the disciplines ; besides being a strict vegetarian

92 BUDDHISM [chap.

at all times and a regular faster, he even abandoned
the imperial robes in favour of a priestly cowl,
mounting the pulpit and expounding the Nirvana
Sutra with his own royal voice. " His ministers
and people followed him like an avalanche ; they cut
their bodies and allowed the blood to sprinkle the
ground, or even used the blood as ink for copying
the sfitras. The sramana used to hang themselves
up by iron hooks, keep a thousand lamps alight,
and sit a whole day and night rigid and motionless.
From ancient times Buddha had never before been
worshipped with such absolute devotion." The
founder (557-559) of the Ch'en dynasty which
succeeded the Liang at Nanking also submitted
to the vows ; his successors surrendered their
persons, and the last monarch actually "sold
himself to Buddha " as a slave. Meanwhile the
northern empire was going from bad to worse ;
to escape conscription the people became nominal
sramana ; the monasteries and religious establish-
ments ran up to 30,000, and by the year 530 there
were 200,000 bonzes and nuns. The Hiung-nu
tribe newly known as "Turk" now appeared on
the scene ; the northern Chinese empire split up
in two, one supported by the Turks, the other by
the nomad Joujan (Gibbon's Geougen^) from whose
suzerainty the Turks had rebelled, destroying the
last of their masters in the year 556. The Joujan

^ Gibbon, following the lead of Deguignes, identifies these with
the Avars, and Chavannes has also accepted this interpretation, which,
however, is almost impossible from every point of view.


rulers are mentioned as being subject to Buddhist
influences as early as 508, the Turkish Khan about
575 ; their allies of North China were both deeply,
if fitfully, Buddhistic; in 574, however, the Emperor
of the western one (at Si - an Fu) fixed the
precedency of Confucianism over Taoism, and of
Taoism over Buddhism, but ended by "abolish-
ing " the two last — for the first time in China's
history ; all books and images were destroyed,
and all bonzes and Taoist priests had to return
to lay life. After conquering his eastern rival
in 577, this foolish monarch abdicated in 579,
celebrating the event by reintroducing images of
Buddha and Laocius ; he gave a grand entertain-
ment in which his deified self sat "facing south"
between the two gods ; thus Laocius had at last
become a vulgar " idol " instead of a Spartan
philosopher. In 580 Buddhism and Taoism were
formally reintroduced.

In 581 the remaining northern empire was
suppressed by one of its Chinese generals, who
founded the powerful dynasty of Sui, passing on
to conquer the southern empire in 589, and thus
to reunite all China once more. The new dynasty
favoured Buddhism ; any one was permitted to take
orders ; subscriptions were opened for books and
images ; bonzes, nuns, and Taoist priests formed
part of imperial processions, and were feasted by
the Emperor. But, like the Ts'in dynasty which
had united China in B.C. 221, this Sui dynasty
was too hasty and too eager to endure long. The

94 BUDDHISM [chap.

second emperor, a sort of Chinese Caligula, had
heard through the Turks of the Franks and
Corea ; he made efforts to get envoys through to
the Byzantine empire and India ; sent envoys to
Siam (now partly in the Menam Valley) ; punished
Corea for coquetting with the Turks ; and kept
himself so constantly and restlessly under the
lime-light of publicity that his discontented courtiers
at last got rid of him, making way for the great
imperial house of T'ang, which was founded upon
the ruins. As Mazdeism, Manicheism, Nestorianism,
and possibly Islam, all put in religious claims shortly
after this, it will be more convenient to trace
the further vicissitudes of Buddhism in China
under these separate heads. In the year 615
there were over 100,000 bonzes and nuns in the
Sui empire.

The experiences of Buddhism in China during
the 300 years' rule of the T'ang dynasty (618-908)
will therefore be found described in the chapters
on Manicheism and Nestorianism, which two
religions were to a certain extent confused with,
and, in a measure, shared the fate of Buddhism,
of which, partly with Manichean connivance, they
were vaguely considered "outside" or schismatical
forms. During the half century which elapsed
before (960) the Sung dynasty reunited the greater
part of China, the whole empire was split up into
almost as many ephemeral dynasties as there were
provinces, the extreme northern part being mean-
while in the hands of the Cathayan Tartars.


During this wretched period of anarchy some of the
so-called emperors, whether pure Chinese reigning
in the south and west, or hybrid-Turkish reigning
in Central China, were Buddhomaniacs ; or others,
again, discouraged the growth of monasteries :
meanwhile the more or less barbarous Cathayans
decreed the establishment of Confucian temples,
Buddhist monasteries, and Taoist shrines imparti-
ally ; and, like the Japanese of that day, adopted
Chinese religions along with other Chinese culture ;
the Emperor who died in 1056 was both a Taoist
and a Buddhist admirer ; but the universal war
and accompanying misery was too great all over
China to permit of men's minds paying much
attention to spiritual affairs ; religion was a court
luxury. The great literary dynasty of Sung
(960-1260) which reigned, first south of the Yellow
River, and then (1127) south of the Yangtsze
River, whilst the Cathayans, Niichens, and
Mongols successively ruled in North China, seems
to have been perfectly tolerant to all religions,
whilst patronising none. Only one Sung emperor
(i 100- 1 126) was a Buddhomaniac, and he was
carried off to Manchuria by the Nuchen Tartars,
who also conquered the Cathayan empire the same
year. On the whole. Buddhism under the Sung
family seems to have been gently discouraged, but
without aggressive energy, or any thing whatever
in the shape of harshness and persecution. Con-
fucianism, on the other hand, reached its acme
of development. The philosopher Chu Hi

96 BUDDHISM [chap.

(i 130-1200), after first, during his youth, studying
with ardour the doctrines of Buddhism and Taoism,
at last abandoned these heterodox systems as being
valueless, and threw himself heart and soul upon
the work of Confucian exegesis, which, already
for a century back, had occupied the best energies
of the most learned and statesmanlike Chinese
minds. Paternal government and social order
were his chosen mottoes, and their cardinal points
in the Confucian doctrine he applied to all the
practical administrative questions of the day.
Naturally this purely social and political view of
Confucianism was, and has ever since been, viewed
with extreme favour by that and each successive
dynasty ; and to this day Confucianism, as inter-
preted and coloured by Chu Hi, is as much the
Orthodox Church of China as the Greek Church,
developed under Peter the Great's direction by
the Holy Synod, is the Orthodox Christianity of
Russia ; that is, it is a mere political tool.

On the whole, the legislation of the Niichen
Tartars (early Manchus) was rather anti-Buddhist ;
but they do not appear to have concerned them-
selves much with religion of any kind, except in
so far as it could be made subservient to political
ends ; the Manchu mind seems particularly well
capacitated for taking an objective and detached
view of all religion. The Mongol conqueror, Genghis
Khan, showed an inclination for pure Taoism, but
his wars left him no time to decide personally upon
a religion evidently beyond his intellectual calibre.

4. .ITT,

The Daibutsu, /.(■. Ta-tuh, or " Cireat Buddha
of Kamakura near Tokyo.

p. 96.


His decrees were issued under the protection of
Mengke Tengri, or " Eternal Heaven " ; yet he
officially empowered a Chinese Taoist recluse to
take charge of all relig-ions in China, Under the
head of Roman Catholicism some remarks will be
made about what his successors Ogdai, Kayuk, and
Mangu did : the bucolic Mongol mind soon fatigued
of pure philosophy, and sought congenial refuge
in coarse Tantric worship, seasoned with gross
indulgence. Kublai Khan, even before he came
to the throne in 1260, had already fallen under
the influence of the Tibetan lama Pagspa, whom
he subsequently constituted State Hierarch and
head of the whole Buddhist Church. Pagspa's
younger brother, Ilinchin or Rintchen, succeeded
to the honour in 1274, and in 1280 there was yet
another successor. Buddhism reached during the
Mongol dynasty an extravagant height in court
influence, and the " commands " of the Hierarch
even ran concurrently with the decrees of the
Khan ; Pagspa was often accommodated with a side
seat next to Kublai in full public durbar. On one
occasion at least (1281), the Emperor arranged for
a polemical tournament between Buddhist and
Taoist priests, the loser to accept the victor's
religion. The Buddhists gained the day, and the
unfortunate Taoist disputants, seventeen in number,
were ordered to accept the Buddhist tonsure on
the spot; moreover, 270 old Buddhist monasteries,
then in the possession of the Taoists, were
restored to the bonzes, and an order was issued


98 BUDDHISM [chap.

for the destruction of all Taoist literature in the
empire except the original pure classic of Lao-tsz.
This exception, made 1800 years after Lao-tsz'
disappearance, emphasises the unbroken reverence
for the pure doctrine, the genuineness of the book,
and the abyss separating vulgar from pure Taoism.
These drastic measures in favour of the Buddhists
brought forth a strong remonstrance from the
Mussulman Aisie, who will be mentioned again
farther on in this work in connection with the
subject of Islam. The worst form of corrupt
Tantric Buddhism, coupled with every form of
lust and abuse on the part of the bonzes, seems
to have had a free run in China, and more
especially at court, throughout the Mongol
dynasty, most of the monarchs of which were to
the last moment abject slaves of the priesthood.
As a Chinese work says : —

" The high esteem for the Buddhist faith shown
by the Mongol dynasty produced corresponding
greed and licence on the part of the bonzes,
whose wealth in property of all kinds exceeded
that of the imperial princes and royal personages.
The domineering use they made of their power
was greater than that of the most powerful princes
and the most arrogant ministers ; they meddled
in matters of State and squandered the wealth of
the empire. It has been said, indeed, of the
Mongol empire that ' it perished half through
bonzes,' — which ought to be a salutary warning to

When Marco Polo speaks of "idolaters," no


doubt he refers to Buddhists — a name he never
once mentions.

The Ming dynasty (1368- 1644) seems to have
been the most successful of all Chinese dynasties
in relegating religion of all kinds to a proper
obscurity so far as interference in State matters
goes. The rulers of this house, following the
example of the distinguished founder, who was
himself an ex-Buddhist priest, made a point,
however, of humouring and conciliating the
hierarchy of Tibet ; not concealing their motive,
which was anxiety to avoid the religious complica-
tions which had given so much trouble to China
under the T'ang (618-908) and Mongol (1206- 1367)
dynasties. The third emperor (1425-1435) said : —

"It is only human nature to desire long life.
But who ever heard of spiritual beings in connec-
tion with the long reigns of our [semi-historical]
ancient kings ? After them the First Emperor
(b.c. 210) and Han Wu-ti (b.c. 100) searched in
turn for immortality. The Liang emperor [died
of grief, 549] and Sung emperor [carried off by the
Tartars, 11 26] got nothing for their prayers. I am
fain to sigh with despair when I see that in our
own day men are just as superstitious as ever."

The Ming emperor who was reigning (152 1- 1566)
when the first Portuguese reached Peking "caused
to be burnt all the Buddhist sanctuaries in the
palace precincts, together with hundreds, and even
thousands, of gold-printed books and images of
Buddha. All the relics of Buddha in the shape of

lOO BUDDHISM [chap. iv.

bones and teeth were thrown away, almost without
an exception."

None of the Manchu emperors has ever shown
the slightest affection for or belief in Buddhism ;
the two first might have been Christians if the
Jesuits and the Popes had been more cautious ;
the third was somewhat of a Taoist mystic, but
his son K'ien-lung got rid of all the alchemists
and charlatans who had practised on his father's
credulity with their degenerate Taoism the instant
he came to the throne. Since then Buddhism
and Taoism {i.e. the corrupt later Taoism) have
been contemptuously and good-naturedly tolerated
as popular requirements. Pure Taoism is still



Shocking impressions left on the Chinese mind by Tartar religious
practices. — Enumeration of marriage, funeral, and other rites. —
Early Corean and Japanese religious notions. — Gradually
increasing knowledge in China of the religious customs of the
nations on the great Asiatic high roads. — Introduction of a new
Chinese word to signify " Heaven-spirit (of foreigners)." — Indica-
tions of early Tersaiy or Christians, in the Samarcand region. —
Fire-worship widely extended. — Polyandry among the later Indo-
Scythians or Eptals. — Doubtful Buddhism in Persia itself. —
Development of religion in the Transoxiana region subject to
the Western Turks. — Wars between the Turks and Persia. —
Establishment of Mazdean and Manichean temples in the
Chinese capital. — Flight of a Persian prince to China. — Chinese
confusion of the two Persian religions with Nestorianism, and
of all three with Buddhism. — Chinese definition of Manichean
tenets. — Tesh, the One-eyed, sends a mathematician from Tokhara
to discuss religion. — The Ouigours admit Manicheism into
Tartary ; they obtain permission to extend the religion into
Central China. — Indebtedness of the Chinese to the Ouigours,
who were protectors of Manicheism. — Object probably to provide
religious services for Persian traders coming by sea. — Manicheans
act as diplomatists in arranging diplomatic marriages between
Ouigour and Chinese princely pairs. — Ouigours burn the most
ancient Buddhist monastery. — At least seven Manichean
monasteries in China.— The Kirghiz crush the Ouigour power ;
vae victis for the Manichean sectaries. — Persecution of other
religions at the same time. — Disappearance of Manicheism
from China. — Continues for several centuries in Ouigour land.

In considering how the Persian religions found
entry into China, we must first examine the



impressions which the observances of the Tartars
had left upon the early Chinese mind : most of
these were shocking. For instance, the Hiung-nu
(ancestors of the Turks) despised and neglected
the aged, used personal names without scruple,
and married their own mothers (except the natural
mother) ; all in opposition to the Duke of Chou's
exogamic and tabu principles. The first really
historical Jenuyeh (Khagan) of whom the Chinese
had cognizance murdered his own father, and
jokingly offered to marry the widowed Empress
of China (b.c. 190). These Chinese Scythians
wore no mourning, and used to turn their enemies'
skulls into drinking bowls ; such bowls were also
used in solemn treaties, when the parties had to
drink the blood of a white horse sacrificed for
the occasion with a special scimitar (as is mentioned
of Herodotus' Scythians too). On the other hand,
some customs were like those of the Chinese ;
the official worship of the sun in the morning and
the moon in the evening ; the new year's assembly
at the Court Shrine ; the grand meeting in the
fifth moon at ''Dragon City"; the three annual
sacrifices to the Spirit of Heaven on these two
occasions, and also in the ninth moon when the
ceremony of riding round and shooting at a willow
bush took place ; and the burial of slaves or hand-
maids with distinguished dead. Coftins were in use.
Of the more easterly nomads (lying between
the Tunguses proper and the Turks, and apparently
corresponding to the later Mongols) some other


customs are mentioned which may or may not
have been common to other races. The mother
was considered the fountain of kinship, and was
always safe from personal injury ; whilst a father
or elder brother might be killed with comparative
impunity, having no one in the shape of kinsmen
to avenge them. Wives taken over by step-sons,
younger brothers, or uncles reverted to their first
husbands in the next world. Instead of using
medical or surgical remedies in times of sickness, they
invoked the spirits of Heaven, Earth, Mountain,
and Valley for relief At the funeral wakes (which
in many respects strongly resemble the modern
Manchu and Corean ceremonies) arrangements
were made to escort deceased's soul to a certain
mountain if possible, without incurring the obstruc-
tion of evil spirits. In addition to nature worship,
sacrifice was offered to the vianes of distinguished
chieftains. Eating and drinking were preceded
by thank-offerings and libations. As, on getting
the upper hand, these easterly tribes dug up and
desecrated the tombs of the first-mentioned and
more westerly Scythians, it is evident that burial
places were held sacred.

The northernmost of the Corean tribes
worshipped Heaven at the end of the year, amidst
feasting, rejoicings, and general clemency. Cadets
took over elder brother's wives, and criminals were
fed up or kept in stock for burying with the dead.
Farther south the Coreans proper sacrificed to
the spiritual powers, the gods of the land, and


certain stars ; in the tenth moon they worshipped
Heaven. In both cases the ancient worship was
preserved after the introduction of Buddhism. A
Httle further north, on the coast, to the worship
of Heaven in the tenth moon was added the cult
of the tiger, which suggests some Hnk of connection
with the still existing bear-worship of the Ainos
(North Japan). In the true peninsula (of modern
Corea), the sacrifices to the Spirit of Heaven were
more organised and elaborate, and there seems
to have been a sanctuary or Alsatia connected
with it. The early Japanese do not appear to
have had any religious ideas deserving special
mention ; but, like most of the Corean and Eastern
Pacific groups, they evidently studied the arts of
divination. Even Confucius did this, and it seems
that most of the Tartar races did so too.

It will be seen that there was nothing; what-
ever in the above practices, so far as they were
novel, to attract the respect or imitation of the
Chinese : where the customs did not clash with
their own notions, the more cultured nation, in
recording them, had no call to make a change :
where, as in most cases, the foreign practice
seemed barbarous, self-complacency had all the
more reason to be thankful in a Pharisaic spirit.
Buddhism, with its vast spiritual literature, had
enough difficulty to make headway in intellectual
China ; not to speak of Tartar, Corean, and
Japanese grossness, unredeemed by even the
faintest knowledge of letters — beyond a smattering


of Chinese. After the two spurts of comparatively-
intimate intercourse with High Asia, which were
really limited to about fifty years during the first
century B.C. and fifty years during the first century
A.D., the political influence of China practically
disappeared from the West ; and nothing very
new concerning the religious notions of foreigners
transpired until the middle of the fifth century,
when, after considerable hesitation, the Toba
Tartar emperors of North China decided to re-
open relations — of course by land — with Turkestan
and beyond. Meanwhile Buddhism, as already
shown, had already obtained a firm footing all
over Asia, from the Indus, Cabul Valley, and
Oxus, to the Pacific Ocean. The southern or
purely Chinese dynasties had a monopoly of
Buddhism, mixed with S'ivaism, coming by sea.
But there are, about now, growing indications
that other rehVious notions are beeinnine to
attract attention in China. Thus of (modern)
Harashar it is stated that the serving of the Spirit
of Heaven is practised concurrently with Buddhism ;
that there was a written character in use "similar
to the Brahman " ; and that there were great
Buddhist fasts and " walks " or fetes on the eighth
day of the second moon and the eighth day of the
fourth moon. The dead were first burnt and
then buried ; mourning lasted seven days. Turfan
(modern) was also a place where the worship of the
Spirit of Heaven existed together with Buddhism.
Passing on to the first half of the sixth century,


we find the Joujan Tartars, two of whose Khagans
bore purely Hindoo names, cultivating the Spirit
of Heaven along with Buddha, and trying at a
solemn function to recover from Heaven a young
prince who was supposed to have died, and whose
voice was heard (through a piece of priestly hocus-
pocus) explaining to the anxious family his position
in Heaven. One of the Eptal states (corresponding
to the Chitral of to-day) did not believe at all in
Buddha's Law, but abided by the "serving of
the gods": the envoy Sung Yiin (515-517) tried
in vain to reach this place. The practice of the
Persians was to worship the Fire Spirit and the
Spirit of Heaven ; their written character was
different from the "Hu" (a vague word for
"Tartar" and " Indian " taken together) ; the dead
are exposed, and funerals are looked after by
a pariah class who live outside, and sound bells
when they enter the city. Mourning lasts a
month ; the sixth moon is the first of the year,
and there are great fetes on the seventh of the
seventh moon and first of the twelfth. On the
twentieth of the first moon, besides, every one
sacrifices to ancestors. In (modern) Samarcand
they serve Buddha and write in " Hu " character;
but there are also ancestral state sacrifices in the
sixth moon, and all the other sub-states assisted at
them : there is preserved a " Hu " code, placed in
the hien^ shrine, and it is from this that criminal
or penal decisions are taken.

^ It is around this specially introduced and quite new Chinese


There can be no question of Islam as yet, for
the above all refers to the sixth century at the very
latest. Khoten is described at length and in detail
as being purely Buddhist ; but a place near it
(modern Borasan) is pointed out where "tradition
says Laocius converted the Hu, and himself
became Buddha." Kashgar, Kuch^, and Tokhara
are Buddhist. Udjana "mostly so"; but the
" Brahman Hu " are there the upper caste — pro-
bably alluding to S'ivaic or Brahmanic admixtures.
A state hereditarily governed by a woman, in the
Tibeto - Kashmir region, was given to demon
(Asura) worship. A state belonging to the
Samarcand system, apparently Ishtikhan, south
of the Zarafshan River, worships the Teh-sih
Spirit; "and the various countries eastward from
the West Sea all venerate and serve it ; this spirit
has a gold image 15 feet high, and every day
thousands of people are fed on the camels, horses,

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Online LibraryEdward Harper ParkerChina and religion → online text (page 8 of 23)