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Hualin International Journal of Buddhist Studies 5.1 (2022): 407–439;
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Text and Image & Buddhist Biography)

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Protection of the Dharma: Daoxuan and Three Types of Hufa in the Continued Biographies of Eminent Monks

ZHAO Shanshan (Alice) 趙珊珊
McMaster University

Abstract: This paper provides a discussion on the category of hufa 護法 (‘protection of the Dharma’) in the Xu gaoseng zhuan 續高僧傳 [Continued Biographies of Eminent Monks], which was compiled by Daoxuan 道宣 (596–667 CE), one of the most influential masters of Buddhist Vinaya (lüshi 律師) in the Tang dynasty (618–907 CE) and the history of Chinese Buddhism. Compared to the previous Buddhist biographies, hufa is a new category added by Daoxuan. In this paper, I discuss three types of hufa: enhancing the saṅgha-emperor relationship, upholding Vinaya, and presenting miraculous responses. While enhancing the saṅgha-state relationship was the primary type of hufa among elite monks against external persecution in the capital city, upholding Vinaya was a way to protect the Dharma from internal decay of the saṅgha, and manifesting miracles was how Buddhists protected the Dharma and proselytized Buddhism in local society.

Keywords: Daoxuan, Dharma, Xu Gaoseng zhuan, Vinaya, miracle


About the Author: Zhao Shanshan (Alice) 趙珊珊 received her M.A. in Religious Studies from McMaster University (2019) and B.A. in Asian Studies from the University of British Columbia (2017). She was a news reporter of the Canadian Journal of Buddhist Studies (2016–2019), and is currently a freelance translator. Her research interests include Chinese Buddhist biographical writing, Dharma protection and protectors in the Continued Biographies of Eminent Monks, and especially how females were portrayed in the context of Dharma protection in Buddhist biographies.


This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.