China played ‘pivotal role’ in promotion of Buddhism globally: Monk

BEIJING, Apr 4:China has held a major conference of influential Asian Buddhist monks where its top monk has affirmed that Beijing has played a “pivotal role” in the promotion of Buddhism globally.
The conference on Buddhism was part of the Boao Forum for Asia Annual Conference held in Boao, Hainan province in the last week of March.
In this year’s forum, the Chinese Buddhist monks held an interactive session organised for the first time with their counterparts from Sri Lanka, Nepal, Japan, Vietnam, Cambodia and South Korea, according to a report from the official media here.
At the conference organised by the Chinese think tank, there was no representation from India, from where Buddhism came to China in 68 AD.
In recent decades, the ruling Communist Party of China (CPC) has permitted the Sinicised or Chinese version of Buddhism to be practised at home after the crackdown on Buddhist temples during its founder leader Mao Zedong’s Cultural Revolution from 1966 to 1976 aimed at purging remnants of capitalists and traditional elements from the society.
Beijing also seeks to project it globally as part of its efforts to tap into Buddhism’s global influence.
Speaking at the meeting in Boao, Yan Jue, president of the Buddhist Association of China said “Chinese Buddhists have, through the large-scale translation of scriptures, elucidation of Buddhist thought, establishment of sects, institutional innovation and cultural integration, embodied the original intention of the Buddha, inherited the essence of Buddhism, enhanced the compatibility of Buddhism with East Asian cultures, civilisations, societies and people, and promoted the spread of Buddhism to countries such as Japan, South Korea, and Vietnam”.
His deputy Yin Shun said China played a “pivotal role” in promoting the religion globally, state-run China Daily reported this week.
“Buddhism, followed by a significant portion of Asia, is the oldest religious tradition advocating peace”, he said.
“When Buddhism was introduced to China, it integrated with native Confucian and Taoist philosophies, creating a uniquely Chinese form of Buddhism. This tradition spread to Japan, Korea, Southeast Asia, Europe, the Americas and beyond, becoming an influential force in promoting global peace. Throughout history and today, China has played a pivotal role in the spread of Buddhism,” he said.
China as part of its promotion of Buddhism made Sanskrit and Buddhist studies as part of academic courses in its prominent universities.
Sanskrit studies in China are on the upswing, over 2000 years after the ancient Indian language came to the country along with Buddhism, according to Wang Bangwei, a well-known Chinese scholar in Sanskrit and Director of Sino-Indian Buddhist studies, Institute of Oriental and Indian Studies of Peking University a senior Professor of Peking University.
The Indian Buddhist monk Kumarajiva was instrumental in translating Buddhist sutras into Chinese language during his stay in China over 2000 years ago and earned the royal title of “National Teacher of China”.
He was the first among the numerous scholars who laid a firm foundation for civilisational links between the two countries, scholars from both countries said here.
The Sanskrit tradition and its development were kept alive by numerous Chinese scholars like Fa Xian and Xuan Zang and others who visited India. (PTI)