The 9th International Conference Buddhism & Australia
Chinese Buddhist Encyclopedia Illustrations
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Introduction of Buddhism into China
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Indian Buddhism was established in the 6th century BC. As inhabitants in the Indian River valley had frequent contacts with people in Yutian of Xinjiang, China, Buddhism was introduced into Yutian via Kashmir in the 1st century BC. Chinese copied Sanskrit lections on their unique writing materials, but without translating the Sanskrit. Actually, before this Indian Buddhists had been to Xianyang, the ancient Chinese capital, however, Indian Buddhism had not chances to spread in China.
As stated above, during the Western Han Dynasty (206BC-8AD), Emperor Mingdi sent 18 people to Darouzhi of India to learn Buddhism, and got The Buddha portraits and sutras, then returned to Luoyang together with Indian Buddhists Kashyapamtanga and Dharmaraksha. They built the White Horse Temple in which were world famous basso-relievos of six horses, but now two of which had been stolen by imperialists and are exhibited in the library of Pennsylvania University, USA. Kashyapamtanga and Dharmaraksha translated five Buddhist sutras, which are still stored in the Pagoda of White Horse Temple. During the reign of Han Emperor Huan Di (158-166), Buddhism was advocated, which made translation of Indian sutras necessary. At that time, famous monks of different countries came to China, cooperated with Chinese monks in Luoyang, and translated Sanskrit lections. From the Han Dynasty (206BC-220AD) to the Tang and Song dynasties (618-1279), translation of sutras became the most important translating career. There were many famous translators such as Youchen and Youqian (form Darouzhi), Anqing and Anxuan (from Parthia), Kangju and Kang Mengxiang (from Kangju), who translated substantive sutras.
During late Eastern Han Dynasty (25-220), Chinese scholars began to study Buddhism. During the reign of Han Emperor Xian Di, Confucian scholar Mou Rong wrote On Buddhism Confusions composed of 37 articles, which was the first Buddhism work in China and the prelude of popularization and climax of Buddhism study all over the country during the following Wei, Jin, South and North dynasties (220-581).
The translation and spread of Buddhist sutras brought into the Chinese language many expressions deprived from Buddhism, especially figuration and legendary stories, which produced great influence on literature and history of China. Figuration was first absorbed by high-ranking officials, which was proved by examples found in Cao Cao's and Cao Zhi's poems.
Some classical literature directly quoted legendary stories in Sutra. For example, Liezi, which was written between the Wei Dynasty and the Jin Dynasty, adopted a story in Sutra about five princes. After Buddhism was introduced into China, figures of Buddha had across-knee arms and hands, large ears, long hair, as well as white and clean teeth. Feudal superstitious historians modeled feudal emperors' images after these figures and apotheosis emperors. From this, we could find that Buddhist literature had great influences on China's feudal history.