Beginner’s Guide to Chinese History #3: The Developmental History of Buddhism in China

中国历史新手指南

Beginner’s Guide to Chinese History

 

第三集:佛教在中国的发展历史

#3: The Developmental History of Buddhism in China

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Beginner’s Guide to Chinese History #3: The Developmental History of Buddhism in China

Episode Transcript

汉代以来,佛教对中国历史、文化和社会一直有着深远的影响。虽然佛教并不是起源于中国,但它跟道教和儒教的历史地位一样高,三者通常合称为“三教”。经过长期的翻译、讲习,逐渐与中国本土文化结合,佛教形成具有民族特点的各种学派和宗派,并且传播到朝鲜、日本和越南等地区。

Since the Han dynasty, Buddhism has had a profound impact on Chinese history, culture and society. Although Buddhism did not originate in China, its position in history is as prominent as Taoism and Confucianism, with the three religions often forming the umbrella term sanjiao. After undergoing sustained periods of translation and scholarship, and gradually integrating with China’s indigenous culture, Buddhism formed various schools and sects characterised by different ethnic groups, and spread to regions such as Korea, Japan and Vietnam.

 

佛教的发展历程,本身就非常复杂,学者们也对此抱有不同观点。鉴于播客——《中国历史新手指南》的听众朋友们中初学者居多,因此我们将只会讨论一些基本常识。如果听众朋友们想了解更多关于中国佛教历史的相关信息,可以前往百度或者维基百科进一步阅读相关资料。

The developmental process of Buddhism is in fact extremely complicated, and scholars hold a number of different views. Since most listeners of this podcast Beginner’s Guide to Chinese History are beginning students of Chinese history, today we will simply discuss some basic facts. If our listeners would like to learn more about the history of Buddhism, they can check out Baidu or Wikipedia to read the relevant materials.

 

佛教源于印度恒河流域一带,是世界三大宗教之一。古代印度孔雀王朝时期(公元前322~185年),阿育王奉佛教为国教,大量建造佛塔,在摩崖和石柱上刻法令——内容大多数是为了宣扬佛教。

Buddhism originated in the Ganges region of India, and is one of the three major world religions. During the Maurya Empire of ancient India (322-185 BC), Emperor Ashoka made Buddhism the state religion, constructed large numbers of stupas, and on cliff faces and stone pillars inscribed decrees, most of which promoted Buddhism.

 

从此,佛教开始传遍南亚次大陆。同时,阿育王又派僧尼到周围国家传教,东边到今天的缅甸,南边到今天的斯里兰卡,西边到今天的叙利亚和埃及,北边到今天的阿富汗和巴基斯坦,使佛教逐渐成为世界性的宗教。

Thereafter, Buddhism started to spread throughout the South Asian Subcontinent. At the same time, Ashoka sent Buddhist monks and nuns to neighbouring countries to do missionary work – in the East, to modern-day Myanmar; in the South, to modern-day Sri Lanka; in the West, to modern-day Syria and Egypt; and in the North, to modern-day Afghanistan and Pakistan. This gradually allowed Buddhism to become a global religion.

 

佛教在发展和传播中,逐渐形成了南传和北传两大系。南传一系包括斯里兰卡、缅甸、泰国、柬埔寨、老挝和中国云南省的傣族地区。这一系属上座部,俗称小乘,即巴利语系佛教。北传一系包括中国、朝鲜、日本、蒙古和越南。这一系俗称大乘。

During its development and dissemination, Buddhism gradually formed two branches – the Southern and Northern branches. The Southern branch includes Sri Lanka, Myanmar, Thailand, Cambodia, Laos and the Dai ethnic minority region of Yunnan province, China. This branch is categorised as Theravada Buddhism, commonly known as Hinayana. The Northern branch, which includes China, Korea, Japan, Mongolia and Vietnam, is commonly known as Mahayana.

 

就佛教在中国的发展而言,由于传入的时间、途径和地区的不同,中国佛教形成三大系。第一是汉传佛教,用汉语传播和记载的;第二是藏传佛教,用藏语传播和记载的;第三是云南地区上座部佛教,用巴利语传播和记载的。

As for the development of Buddhism in China, due to differences in time, method and region of introduction, three branches of Buddhism were formed. The first, Chinese Buddhism, was disseminated and recorded in the Chinese language. The second, Tibetan Buddhism, was disseminated and recorded in the Tibetan language. The third, Theravada Buddhism of the Yunnan region, was disseminated and recorded in the Pali language.

 

西汉武帝时期(公元前141―87年),有一位著名冒险家叫张骞,他被派遣去西域(玉门关以西之地,即现在的中亚)担任外交使命。

During the reign of Emperor Wu of the Western Han dynasty (141-87 BC), there was a famous adventurer by the name of Zhang Qian who was sent on a diplomatic mission to the Western Regions (that is, the regions west of Yumen Pass, namely, Central Asia).

 

张骞到中亚古国大夏的时候,见到从天竺(即古代印度)贩运去的商品,说明当时中印之间已经有民间往来,可能佛教也随之传入汉人地区,虽然佛教的传入时间和途径仍然是一个争论的焦点。

When Zhang Qian travelled to the ancient Central Asian region of Bactria, he saw goods being transported for sale to Tianzhu (that is, ancient India). This demonstrates that there was already exchange between the peoples of China and India at that time. It is possible that Buddhism was introduced to the regions in which Han people lived in the same way, although when and how it spread is still a point of contention.

 

近年考古资料显示,东汉时的四川墓葬中有佛像,在江苏也发现刻有佛像的属于东汉时期的摩崖。而且,根据文献记载,东汉早期(大约公元65年),皇帝赐给楚王的诏书中提到过佛陀。这些都可以证明当时佛教已经传入中国。

Recent archaeological data has revealed images of the Buddha in Han dynasty tombs in Sichuan province, while in Jiangsu province there have been discoveries of cliff engravings of the Buddha belonging to the Eastern Han period. Furthermore, according to historical records, during the early Eastern Han period (circa 65), there were mentions of the Buddha in imperial edicts presented to the king of the state of Chu. All of this demonstrates that Buddhism had already found its way to China by that time.

 

佛教经典的传入,根据传说,始于西汉晚期(公元前2年)。当时有一个古国叫大月氏,大月氏的国王派遣僧人以口授的方式把佛典传给博士景卢。但佛典的具体内容,却早已失传了。汉明帝统治时间(公元58~75年)从西域取回的《四十二章经》被视为是第一部传入中国的佛典。

According to legend, the introduction of Buddhism to China began during the late Western Han period (2 BC). At the time there was an ancient state by the name of the Greater Yuezhi. Its King sent monks to transmit the Buddhist scriptures to the court academician Jing Lu by oral transmission. However, the actual content of those scriptures is lost to history. The Sutra of Forty-two Chapters, which was retrieved from the Western Regions during the reign of Emperor Ming of Han (58-75), is considered the first Buddhist scripture introduced to China.

 

佛教在中国传播的地区以长安(位于今天的陕西省西安市)、洛阳(河南省)为中心。当时有人认为佛教是一种类似于道教的神仙方术,因此,汉桓帝把黄帝、老子和佛陀放在一起祭祀。

The regions in which Buddhism spread in China centred on Chang’an (modern-day Xi’an, Shaanxi province) and Luoyang (Henan province). There were those at the time who believed that Buddhism was a kind of supernatural art, like that of Taoism. As a result, Emperor Huan of Han offered sacrifices to the Yellow Emperor, Laozi and Buddha simultaneously.

 

三国时,天竺、安息和康居(今天的印度、伊朗和中亚地带)先后把沙门(即出家人)派遣到魏都洛阳,从事翻译佛经的工作。高僧前往吴都建业(位于今天的江苏省南京市)弘扬佛法。他们收到吴国皇帝的礼遇,被拜为博士,并允许建立佛塔。

During the Three Kingdoms period, Tianzhu, Anxi and Kangju (that is, modern-day India, Iran and Central Asia) sent Sramanas (Buddhist monks) to the Wei capital Luoyang to work on the translation of Buddhist scriptures. Eminent monks journeyed to the Wu capital Jianye (modern-day Nanjing, Jiangsu province) to promote Buddhist teachings. They received a courteous reception by the emperor of Wu, were acknowledged as court academicians and allowed to build pagodas.

 

南朝宋、齐、梁、陈各代帝王大都崇信佛教。特别是梁武帝,他忠实地信仰佛教,有几次准备放弃皇位,出家为僧,后来,朝廷说服他回来继续做皇帝——代价是赐给寺庙大量的金钱。梁武帝建立了大批寺庙,甚至亲自宣讲佛经。

During the Southern Dynasties period, the emperors of the Song, Qi, Liang and Chen period mostly revered Buddhism. This was especially the case for Emperor Wu of Liang, who was a fervent believer of the religion. He was prepared to give up his status as emperor several times to become a monk. Afterwards, the imperial government persuaded him to return to continue on as emperor, the price being a generous bestowal to the temple. Emperor Wu of Liang established a large number of temples, and even preached the scriptures himself.

 

梁朝有2846座寺庙,82700余僧尼,在建康(位于今天江苏省南京市)就有700余所大寺和大约有10000僧尼。北朝虽然发生过禁止佛教事件,但总的来说,历代帝王都提倡佛教。

During the Liang dynasty, there were 2,846 temples and around 82,700 Buddhist monks and nuns. In Jiankang (modern-day Nanjing, Jiangsu province) there were around 700 major temples and approximately 10,000 Buddhist monks and nuns. Although there were incidents during the Northern Dynasties in which Buddhism was banned, generally speaking, successive emperors advocated the religion.

 

北魏早期,文成帝下令在大同(位于今天的山西省)开凿云冈石窟。孝文帝迁都洛阳后,为了纪念父母,下令开凿龙门石窟。这些石窟,与今天甘肃省敦煌莫高窟和天水麦积山石窟,并称为中国四大石窟艺术宝库。它们造像气势宏伟,内容丰富多彩。

During the early Northern Wei dynasty, Emperor Wencheng ordered the construction of the Yungang Grottoes in Datong (in present-day Shanxi province). Emperor Xiaowen, after moving the capital to Luoyang, ordered the construction of the Longmen Grottoes to commemorate his parents. These grottoes, along with the Mogao Caves in Dunhuang and Maijishan Grottoes in Tianshui – both in Gansu province – are known as the Four Major Grotto Art Treasure Troves of China. They are magnificent in form, and rich and varied in nature.

 

北魏晚期,佛经一共有415部,1919卷,寺院大约有30000余座,僧尼约200余万人。在北齐,有400余万僧尼和40000余座寺庙。在南北朝期间(公元420年~589年),有大批外国僧人到中国弘法,也有一批信徒去印度游学。

In the late Northern Wei period, there were a total of 415 scriptures and 1,919 scrolls, approximately 30,000 temples and around 2 million Buddhist monks and nuns. During the Northern Qi dynasty, there were around 4 million Buddhist monks and nuns and 40,000 temples. During the Northern and Southern dynasties period (420-589), large numbers of foreign monks came to China to propagate Buddhist teachings; a group of disciples also went to India to study.

 

佛教经魏晋南北朝的发展,为隋唐时期创立具有中国特色的佛教宗派创造了条件。隋文帝统一中国后,下令在五岳(即中岳嵩山、东岳泰山、西岳华山、南岳衡山、北岳恒山),修建寺院各一座,并修复和重建了在北周禁佛时期所破坏的佛像。

The development of Buddhism during the Wei, Jin and Northern and Southern dynasties created the conditions for the founding of Buddhist sects with Chinese characteristics during the Sui and Tang dynasties. Emperor Wen of Sui, after realising the unification of China, ordered the construction of a temple for each of the Five Sacred Mountains (namely, the central mountain Mount Song, the eastern mountain Mount Tai, the western mountain Mount Hua, the southern mountain Mount Heng in Hunan and the northern mountain Heng Shan in Shanxi). He also restored and rebuilt figures of the Buddha that had been destroyed during the period in the Northern Zhou dynasty in which Buddhism was banned.

 

在首都大兴城(位于今天的陕西省西安市),皇帝下令建立了执行佛教政策的国家寺院——大兴善寺。此后,在全国建立了111座舍利塔,并大规模建立翻译学校,召集高僧进行翻译和解释佛典工作。

In the capital Daxing (modern-day Xi’an, Shaanxi province), the emperor ordered the construction of the national temple Daxing Shansi which could carry out Buddhist policies. Afterwards, 111 stupas were constructed throughout the nation. Large-scale construction of translation academies also went ahead, and eminent monks were called together to begin the task of translating and expounding Buddhist scriptures.

 

炀帝继承了文帝的保护佛教政策,并在扬州(位于今天的江苏省)建立了著名的慧日道场,作为传播佛教的中心,因此佛教在当时十分兴盛。仁寿年间(601~604),全国重要寺院有3792所,僧尼23万人,写经46藏32万8616卷,修理旧经3853部,修复和兴建佛像150万8940尊。

Emperor Yang inherited the policies of Emperor Wen which allowed for the protection of Buddhism, and constructed the famous Huiri Monastery (Huiri Daochang) in Yangzhou (in modern-day Jiangsu province) to act as a centre for the propagation of Buddhism. Thus, Buddhism at that time greatly flourished. During the Renshou era (601-604), there were, throughout the nation, 3,792 major temples and 230,000 Buddhist monks and nuns. 46 scriptures made up of 328,616 scrolls were written, 3,853 sutra collections were restored and 1,508,940 figures of the Buddha were restored and rebuilt.

 

唐代是中国佛教的鼎盛时期。唐朝帝王自称是道教创始人老子的后裔,因而尊崇道教。但实际上,唐朝皇帝大多采取道佛并行的政策。

The Tang dynasty was a period of great prosperity for Buddhism in China. Emperors of the Tang claimed themselves the descendants of Laozi, the founder of Taoism, and thus were venerators of Taoism. Yet, in reality, most Tang emperors adopted policies in which Taoism and Buddhism ran parallel.

 

唐太宗在消灭割据、平息叛乱时,得到过僧兵的帮助;他即位后,命令在全国建立寺庙,并在大慈恩寺设立译经院,邀请国内外名僧进行译经、宣传佛教事业,培养出了大批高僧和学者。

Emperor Taizong received help from warrior monks in the elimination of separatist forces and suppression of rebellions. After ascending the throne, he ordered the construction of temples throughout the nation, and established a scripture translation academy at the Great Monastery of Compassionate Grace (Daci’ensi). He invited both domestic and foreign monks to translate scriptures and propagate Buddhism, and trained large numbers of eminent monks and scholars.

 

高宗继位后,在帝都和各州设立国家寺庙,祈祷国家平安;武则天下令各州设立大云寺。唐代统治三百年间,佛教僧人十分受尊重,经常受到朝廷的赏赐。名僧一批接一批地出现,对佛教的理解比前代更加深刻,随后出现大量不同的宗教派别,同时佛教信仰深入民间。

Emperor Gaozong, after succeeding to the throne, founded national temples in the imperial capital and in each of the prefectures, and prayed for the stability of the empire. Wu Zetian ordered the establishment of Dayun temples (Dayunsi) in each of the prefectures. During the Tang dynasty, which ruled for 300 years, Buddhist monks were held in high esteem, and often received bestowals from the court. Large numbers of famous monks emerged one after the other, all of whom had a deeper understanding of Buddhism than those of previous generations. Afterwards, large numbers of different sects arose, while belief in Buddhism became popular among the common people.

 

佛教在建筑、雕刻、绘画、音乐等方面造诣颇高,极大地丰富了中国民族文化艺术。在中国有众多诸如玄奘、义净等曾远赴印度游学的高僧,这些大师的生平事迹可谓是相当有趣的。

The accomplishments of Buddhism, for example in the fields of architecture, engraving, painting and music, were considerable, and remarkably enriched the art of the ethnic cultures of China. There were also many eminent Buddhist monks such as Xuanzang and Yijing who made the long journey to India for study. The life stories of these great masters are also fascinating.

 

唐代时,中国佛教宗派开始传入朝鲜、日本、越南和印度尼西亚,加强了中国与其他国家的宗教、文化和商业的关系。但是,到了会昌五年(845年),发生了禁佛事件。唐武宗下令没收寺院土地财产,毁坏佛寺和佛像,淘汰沙门,勒令僧尼还俗。

During the Tang dynasty, Buddhist sects from China started to spread to Korea, Japan, Vietnam and Indonesia, all the while strengthening religious, cultural and commercial relationships between China and other countries. However, there were incidents during the 5th year of the Huichang era (845) in which Buddhism was banned. Emperor Wuzong ordered the confiscation of monastery land and property, destroyed Buddhist temples and images of the Buddha, eliminated Sramanas and compelled Buddhist monks and nuns to leave their monastic orders.

 

隋唐佛教义学蓬勃发展,促成大乘各宗派的建立。其中,弘忍的弟子神秀和慧能创立了禅宗,分别为北派禅宗和南派禅宗。唐代中叶时,禅宗又陆续出现了五种派系,被称作“禅门五家”,即沩仰、临济、曹洞、云门和法眼五派。

Buddhist doctrine thrived during the Sui and Tang dynasties, which facilitated the establishment of various Mahayana sects. Among them, the disciples of Hongren – Shenxiu and Huineng – established the Chan (Zen) sect, which is further broken down into the Northern and Southern Schools. Midway through the Tang dynasty, five more sects emerged within Chan Buddhism, which became known as the Five Houses of Chan, namely the Guiyang, Linji, Caodong, Yunmen and Fayan schools.

 

高僧法藏创立了华严宗;此外,印度僧人善无畏、金刚智、不空和惠果创立了密宗。隋唐时期,中国对外交流的空前发达,这些宗派创立后,不久便传到海外。

The eminent monk Fazang established the Huayan school, while Indian monks Śubhakarasiṃha, Vajrabodhi, Amoghavajra and Huiguo established their own esoteric schools. During the Sui and Tang dynasties, China’s exchange with foreign countries developed at an unprecedented pace, and these sects spread overseas not long after their founding.

 

北宋初期,朝廷对佛教采取保护政策。建隆元年(960)有新僧8000人。宋太祖继续派人到印度学习佛教,并派人镂雕大藏经版。

During the early Northern Song dynasty, the imperial court adopted policies to protect Buddhism. In the first year of the Jianlong era (960) there were 8,000 new monks. Emperor Taizu of Song continued to send people to India to study Buddhism, as well as order the woodblock printing of the Chinese Buddhist canon.

 

太平兴国元年(976)又有新僧17万人。五年后,政府设立译经院,恢复了从唐代元和六年(811)以来中断了170年的佛经翻译工作。同时,西域、印度携带佛经到中国的僧人不断增多,到了景祐(1034~1038)早期已经有80余人。

In the first year of the Taiping Xingguo era (976) there were another 170,000 new monks. After five years, the government set up translation academies and renewed the translating of the Buddhist scriptures, an undertaking that had been suspended for over 170 years since the sixth year of the Yuanhe era of the Tang dynasty (811). At the same time, the number of monks transporting scriptures from the Western Regions and India to China continued to increase; by the early Jingyou era (1034-1038) there were already around 80 of them.

 

天禧五年(1021),天下僧尼近46万余人,寺院近4万所,为北宋佛教发展的高峰。徽宗时(1101-1125), 由于朝廷笃信道教,曾一度下令佛道合流,改寺院为道观。

In the fifth year of the Tianxi era (1021) there were almost 460,000 Buddhist monks and nuns and approximately 40,000 temples throughout China. This is generally considered the peak of the development of Buddhism during the Northern Song. In the Huizong era (1101-1125), the emperor ordered that Buddhism and Taoism be treated as one, and that Buddhist temples be converted into Daoist shrines. This was on account of the fact that the imperial court were fervent followers of Daoism.

 

到了南宋时期(1127-1279),虽然佛教在当时的江南(即现在的长江以南地区)仍然保持着长期的繁荣稳定,但是由于官方限制佛教的发展,除了禅宗和净土宗外,其他各宗均已日益衰落。

By the Southern Song dynasty (1127-1279), although Buddhism in Jiangnan (that is, the region to the south of the Yangtze River) still maintained a level of prosperity and stability, due to official restrictions placed on the development of Buddhism, each of the sects started to decline, with the exception of the Chan and Pure Land sects.

 

禅宗不依靠文字和经书来传承,因此,在唐武宗禁佛和五代战乱时所受影响较小。净土宗也是如此,因为它的修行方式简单易行,只需不断诵念阿弥陀佛即可。并且,辽代以后许多禅教僧人皈依净土宗,所以净土宗能够流传不断,直到近世,仍然十分繁荣。

Since the Chan sect did not rely on a written language or scriptures for its transmission, it was not severely impacted during the prohibition period imposed on Buddhism during the reign of Emperor Wuzong, or during the wartime chaos of the Five Dynasties period. This was also the case for the Pure Land sect, since it practiced Buddhism in a simple and straight-forward way, simply requiring followers to repeat the Amitābha mantra. Additionally, after the Liao dynasty, many Chan Buddhist monks converted to the Pure Land sect. In this way, its teachings could continue to be passed down to the present day, where it continues to thrive.

 

两宋时期,理学,作为具有广泛影响力的哲学流派,以儒家学说为中心。理学兼容佛道两家的哲学理论,论证了三纲五常(即中国封建社会的伦理标准,三纲,指君臣、父子、夫妇之道;五常,指仁、义、礼、智、信)。到了南宋,理学被采纳为官方哲学。理学汲取佛教华严宗、禅宗的思想,从而丰富了佛经的内容。

During the Song dynasty there was an extremely influential school of philosophy called Lixue (Neo-Confucianism) which had at its core the Confucian doctrine. Neo-Confucianism accepted the philosophical theories of both Buddhism and Taoism, while expounding the Three Principles and Five Virtues (that is, the ethical standards of Chinese feudal society, the Three Principles being Ruler and Subject, Father and Son and Husband and Wife, and the Five Virtues being Benevolence, Justice, Rites, Knowledge and Integrity). By the Southern Song period, Neo-Confucianism had been accepted as the official philosophy. Neo-Confucianism drew from Buddhism, for example from the Huayan and Chan sects, and this in turn enriched the content of the Buddhist canon.

 

元代的统治者崇尚藏传佛教,但对汉传佛教也采取保护政策。禅宗和律宗等宗派继续流传和发展。寺院众多,僧尼21.3万人。中央和地方政府都设有专门机构——僧官制度,对寺庙和僧尼进行严格监督。此外,政府下令雕印著名的普宁寺版大藏经。

The rulers of the Yuan dynasty venerated Tibetan Buddhism, but also adopted policies to protect Chinese Buddhism. Sects such as the Chan and Lüzong (Risshū) sects continued to spread and develop. There were many temples, and the number of Buddhist monks and nuns amounted to 213,000. Both the central and local governments set up special organisations – that is, a system of monk officials – to strictly supervise temples, monks and nuns. In addition, the government ordered the woodblock printing of the famous Puning Temple edition of the Buddhist canon.

 

明万历后,佛教深受士大夫与平民百姓的信仰。士大夫和僧侣进一步发展了各种宗派的融会;与此同时,融通儒、释、道三家的风气。

After the reign of the Wanli Emperor, Buddhism was practiced by government bureaucrats and common people alike. Government bureaucrats and Buddhist monks further developed the integration of various sects, while harmonising Buddhism with Confucianism, Buddhism and Taoism.

 

清初皇室崇奉藏传佛教,对汉传佛教采取限制政策。康熙时禁令稍微放松。由于战乱导致隐居山林的高僧,此时又重返京师,使已经衰落的佛教一时又呈现出活跃的气象。

In the early Qing dynasty, the imperial family worshipped Tibetan Buddhism and adopted policies to restrict Chinese Buddhism. The prohibitions were somewhat relaxed during the reign of the Kangxi Emperor. Eminent monks who had been living in seclusion during wartime returned to the capital, revitalising the once declining religion.

 

总而言之,起源于印度的佛教,是世界三大宗教之一。大约在公元一世纪传入中亚,随后传入中国。经过上千年时间自身教义的调整,以及与中国本土儒教、道教的融合,最终形成了今天中国化的佛教。虽然,在印度佛教的地位早已被印度教取代,但佛教依然在东亚,特别是中国拥有崇高的地位,对中国的传统文化产生极其深远的影响。

In short, Buddhism, with its origins in India, is one of the three major world religions. It spread to Central Asia around about the 1st Century AD and, thereafter, to China. After undergoing over a thousand years of doctrinal change, and integrating with the indigenous teachings of Confucianism and Taoism, it formed the Sinicized version of Buddhism we are familiar with today. Although the position of Buddhism in India has long been superseded by Hinduism, Buddhism continues to be venerated in East Asia – and especially China – and its impact on traditional Chinese culture has been profound.

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