Introduction of Buddhism
Buddhism in ChinaBuddhism was introduced to China from India around the first century AD, since the fourth century AD, it was widely spread and gradually became the most influential religion in China. Because of varied introduction time and channel as well as regional, historic and social backgrounds, Buddhism in China is divided into three branches, namely Chinese Buddhism, Tibetan Buddhism and Pali Buddhism. At present, there are about 200,000 monks and nuns under these three branches. China has more than 13,000 Buddhist temples that are open to the public, 33 Buddhist colleges and nearly 50 types of Buddhist publications.
Buddhism Influence in China
The influence of Buddhism on Chinese culture is profound, not only in terms of religion, but also literature, art, traditional customs, etc.
Chinese literature, such as novels, lyrics and even artistic creation have close interrelationship with translated Buddhist sutra. Many Chinese literati loved reading sutra to get inspired in their imagination and writing skills, which imposed direct influence on the development of Chinese literature. Masterpieces such as A Dream of Red Mansions (Hong Lou Meng) and Journey to the West (Xi You Ji) are influenced by sutra in terms of structure and writing technique, and are of great literal value.
Ancient Chinese architecture, being exquisite and magnificent, especially Buddhist temples, had its configuration originated and imitated from primitive Buddhism of India. The development of sculpture, painting and murals accelerated due to the prosperity of Buddhism in China. Yungang Grottoes located in Datong City of Shanxi province, for example, represents outstanding Chinese Buddhist Grottoes Art during the 5th and 6th century with 51,000 Buddhist statues in 252 grottoes.
The introduction of Buddhism also exerted subtle influence on China's traditional customs and social mores. It helped improve people's view on life and the further spreading of filial piety. The principle of "Bad deeds, as well as good, may rebound upon the doer." is deeply rooted in the society, causing people to do good deeds in order to pursue a better afterlife. The advocacy of filial piety in Buddhism makes people go after virtues and pay respect to other people, forming a society of amicability.
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