Talk on ‘Faith and Empire-Tombs to Temples in 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 being, ‘Faith and Empire-Tombs to Temples in China’. Dr. Arvind Gupta, Director VIF chaired the proceedings.

This discussion underlined that the the concept of other world or life after death was predominant in China among the rulers and the nobles. They had a faith in a life after death. But they also followed the core Buddhist philosophy that lays emphasis on ‘this worldliness’. This concept has developed from building Tombs to Monasteries with the arrival of Buddhism in Ancient China mainly in Xia’n, the ancient Capital of China which was a center of learning for Buddhist philosophers and monks.

Dr. Shashibala said that the Chinese emperors believed in longevity and immortality which was impossible to attain. Therefore, they built tombs with all the luxury and extravagant of royalty buried beneath them. Terracotta images of different types of warriors, horse, Chariots etc. have also been unearthed from some of the ancient Chinese sites which support the concept of other worldliness. But as soon as Buddhism reached China, these emperors began to build monasteries and enshrined them with beautiful statues and painted the interiors exquisitely to convey the philosophy of life as Buddha never talked about the other world or life after death.

While showing pictures of some of the temples and monasteries, Dr. Shahsibala beautifully described their importance and historical significance. White Horse Monastery was built for accommodating Buddhist masters, Famen temple was built for preserving the relics of the Buddha. Moreover, Daxingshan temple was established for translation of Buddhist scriptures and Shaolin temple was built as a seat of Ch’an Buddhism. Yongling temple was built for preservation of Buddhist scriptures and statues and Mahavira hall built to honor soldiers. This establishes the fact that Buddhism had deep impact on Chinese emperors which led them to devote their energies to build the Buddhist temple and monasteries.

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

Event Date 
May 24, 2019

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