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Hualin International Journal of Buddhist Studies 2.1 (2019): 172–228;
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Faxian)

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Faxian and Liu Yu’s Inner Circle: Interactions between Society and Buddhism during the Eastern Jin Dynasty

LIU Yuan-ju 劉苑如
Academia Sinica

Abstract: This article discusses the interaction between Faxian (338?–423?) and Liu Yu (363–422) and his circles, especially the relations within the sangha in Qingxu and Jingzhou, from the point of geo-relationship and of dharma-associated practices, to remodel the social networks and Buddhist background of the Eastern Jin and the Sixteen Kingdoms, to discuss the protection of Buddhism by Liu Yu’s circles, and to highlight the contribution of Faxian to it. There are some important hints as to that. First, Faxian came back to Qingzhou, which coincided with the time when Liu Yu had reclaimed the provinces of Qing, Yan and Si, and planned to establish the kingdom of Song. As soon as Faxian reached land, he was invited by Liu Yu’s younger brother, Liu Yan (Dao Lian, 368–422) to build a monastery called Longhua in Pengcheng. Second, he translated sutras and vinaya texts together with Buddhabhadra (359–429) at Daochang Monastery in Jiankang, during the twelfth and fourteenth year of the Yixi period, with the support of the benefactors from Liu Yu’s clique Meng Yi and Chu Shudu (378–424). Lastly, he went to Xing Monastery in Jingzhou for his last days, this was also a consequence of Liu Yu’s power. During his lifetime rich in travel, with the spread of Buddhism to the east, Faxian was connected to several important places of the Buddhist sangha, which is also closely related to the choice and acceptance of the Buddhist doctrine in China, and which constructed a complicated circle of Buddhist believers.

Keywords: Faxian, Liu Yu and his circle, Longhua monastery, Daochang Monastery, Xing Monastery


About the Author: Liu Yuan-ju is Research Fellow at the Institute of Chinese Literature and Philosophy, Academia Sinica. She was a 2005–2006 HYI visiting scholar. Her current research focuses on war writing and intertextuality between Northern and Southern writers in medieval China. Her research interests revolve around religion and literature, traditional Chinese philology, and the Digital Humanities. Her main publications include Toward a Literary Interpretation of Life- World–The Body Practice in Six Dynasties Religious Narratives and Space Writing (2010), and Bodies, Gender, Class: the Narrative of Normal/Nonnormal and the Aesthetics of Fiction in Six Dynasties Zhiguai Tales (2002).


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