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Buddhism in China

Murals of Buddha in Tashilhunpo Monastery, Shigatse, Tibet

In the Han Dynasty (206 BC --- 220 AD), Buddhism spread into China and soon prospered. Buddhism played an important role in Chinese culture and history.

Generally, Buddhism in China can be categorized into Han Buddhism, Tibetan Buddhism and Southern Buddhism. Han Buddhism and Tibetan Buddhism are important divisions of the religion, since they keep many important Buddhist scriptures translated from the Sanskrit editions, which are extinct in India due to demolition happened there many years ago. Namas Amitabha!


 Southern Buddhism

Southern Buddhism refers to Pali Buddhism introduced into Yunnan province from Myanmar in the 7th century. At the beginning, there was no Buddhist temple and its scriptures were spread orally. In the 11th century, Buddhism faded due to warfare. After wars ceased, Buddhism was reintroduced into Dai majority tribes from Thailand and Myanmar. Pattra sutra written in Dai language started to appear after the language was invented in 1277. When a Myanmar princess was married to the 19th Yunnan magistrate in 1569, the King of Myanmar sent a Buddhist mission to Yunnan, bringing with them Buddhist scriptures and statues. Soon, temples were built up and Dai people and a few other minorities converted to the Pali Buddhism.

Now Southern Buddhism can be divided into four sects. Dai boys must spend a monastery life when they reach school age. They will be taught in monasteries and may drop out when they reach their adulthood. The outstanding ones may stay for further studying and become formal monks. The Southern Buddhists can be gradually ranked and the one sits on the top of the pyramid is the religious leader.

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