Talk on Buddhist Monasteries and Temples in Ancient Capitals of China
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The Vivekananda International Foundation (VIF) organised a lecture by Dr. Shashibala, Dean at the Centre of Indology, Bhartiya Vidya Bhavan, New Delhi. The topic of the lecture was ‘Buddhist Monasteries and Temples in Ancient Capitals of China. Dr. Arvind Gupta, Director, VIF chaired the proceedings.

In her presentation, Dr. Shashibala emphasized on the prominence of Buddhist Temples and Monasteries as centers of learnings in Ancient China. There are traditionally four historical capitals of China, collectively referred to as the “Four Great Ancient Capitals of China”. These four are Beijing, Nanjing, Luoyang and Xi'an (also known as Chang'an). Buddhist temples and monasteries have survived in large number in these ancient Chinese cities because of the royal patronage under which they flourished as the center of Buddhists learning. Dr. Shashibala said that Chinese temples and monasteries were quite similar to the Chinese Palaces in their styles and architectural details because they were primarily built by the emperors in order to receive Buddhists scholars and monks who travelled to ancient China. When Buddhist monks started going to China from India, Khotan and other places, they were overwhelmingly received by the Chinese Emperors and the respective patron emperor ensured that these monks get all the facilities they required. They were so much fascinated by these monks that sometimes these temples were built inside the royal palaces as emperors had the desire to listen to the wisdom of these monks, said Dr. Shashibala. Dr. Shashibala has also exhibited some pictures of these monasteries and temples and described their architectural and historical significance.

It was not only the architecture of these temples and monasteries which had made them so significant for historical references but also they were source of information by preserving sculptures, paintings, scriptures etc. in these Buddhist temples, there are sheer emphasis on wisdom, said Dr. Shahshibala, because the Chinese emperors had not only considered these temples and monasteries as the places of Dharmodaya (religious) but also a place of Gyanodaya (learning). Buddhist monasteries in Khotan considered to be the most significant center of Gyanodaya. Manuscripts have also been preserved in these temples which made them very significant from the historical point of view.

The talk generated good interest and there were many points of discussion.

(By Dr Pravesh Kumar Gupta)

Event Date 
June 13, 2019

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