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Colloquium on Asian Religions | Venerable Yuanying and the Narrative of Chinese Buddhist Modernity

When:Mo 29-02-2016 16:00 - 17:30
Where:Oude Boteringestraat 38, Court Room, Faculty of Theology and Religious Studies

Speaker: Dr. Andrew Wormald (University of Groningen)

In recent years a great deal more attention has been paid to the historical context in which Buddhists in China attempted to respond to the social and political changes which took place in the early decades of the twentieth century. Much of this work has sought to move beyond the picture painted by Holmes Welch in his 1968 book The Buddhist Revival in China, and yet a great deal of focus still remains on the reformist monk Taixu, who is often presented as the embodiment of Chinese Buddhist Modernity. In order to move beyond this somewhat limited picture, this paper will look at the life and work of the Buddhist monk Yuanying, examining the important role that he played in the debates and reforms which were taking place at this time. Yuanying is often referenced as Taixu’s primary opposition within the various Buddhist associations which arose and disappeared during the Republican era, but it is apparent that the two shared many similar ideas regarding Buddhism’s ability to help society and the need for education reform. One might, moreover, argue that it was Yuanying rather than Taixu who found success in defending Buddhism from the religious sanctions being enacted against it. In order to address these points the paper will look at Yuanying’s arguments for the benefit of Buddhism to society, the educational reforms that he enacted, and the manner in which he presented traditional Buddhist doctrines to a modern audience.