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Empress Wu and Buddhism: A Symbiotic Relationship

analytical Essay
2294 words
2294 words
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Wu Zhao, the first female emperor of China, rose to power during the Tang Dynasty and her active role with Buddhism fabricated a perpetual impact in the Chinese society as a whole. There is no doubt that Buddhism and the Tang administration, under Wu’s reign, formed a symbiotic relationship with one another. She is considered to be one of the most prominent advocators of the religion during the era. Her efforts to spread of Buddhism and the monetary support help Buddhism to expand throughout the people significantly, which provide the religion another source of financial income to spread even further. Regardless of Empress Wu’s intention, she has furnished the religion in numerous ways, but what did she receive in return? This proposes the question: To what extent did Empress Wu’s support of Buddhism, politically and financially, help Wu and better her empire overall?

There is no simple answer to this question, especially with the convoluted and entwining relationship between Buddhism and Wu, so we focus on how the religion assisted Wu in grasping power and its indispensable role in the Chinese economy. The close connection between government and religion is not a new concept to the Tang era as it has been well-established prior to its time, and it even survived long after. In the case of Buddhism and Empress Wu, the religion played a pivotal role in justifying her rule, which could explain her special interest in it. Among the Buddhists followers, she was identified as the bodhisattva Maitreya, which helped her gain a sense of legitimacy to her reign, especially in a male-dominant society (Smarr Feb. 17 2012). The association of Buddhism with Wu helped spur Wu’s benevolent policies towards the religion, who benefitted handsome...

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...ntly influenced more than just the expansion of the Chinese economy, it has brought in new ideas and cultures from foreign countries that have an everlasting impact on China as a whole.

Works Cited

Bentley, Jerry H., and Herbert F. Ziegler. Traditions & Encounters: A Global Persepective on the Past. Ed. Jessica Portz. 5th ed., 2011. 290-295. Print.

Yu, Han. “Memorial on Buddhism”. Making of the Modern World 12: Classical & Medieval Tradition. Trans. Richard F. Burton. Ed. Janet Smarr. La Jolla: University Readers, 2012. 111-112. Print.

“A Pilgrim’s Visit to The Five Terraces Mountains”. Making of the Modern World 12: Classical & Medieval Tradition. Trans. Richard F. Burton. Ed. Janet Smarr. La Jolla: University Readers, 2012. 108-110. Print.

Smarr, Janet. “Emperor Wu”. Making of the Modern World 12. Ledden Auditorium, La Jolla, CA. 17 Feb. 2012. Lecture.

In this essay, the author

  • Analyzes how wu zhao, the first female emperor of china, rose to power during the tang dynasty and her active role with buddhism fabricated a perpetual impact in the chinese society.
  • Analyzes how buddhism helped empress wu grasp power and its indispensable role in the chinese economy. the relationship between religion and state is clearly identified by wu's unambiguous relationship with buddhism.
  • Analyzes how wu's interdependence with buddhism blooms as early as her overtaking of the imperial rule of china. wu is resourceful and violent in securing her title, and cunning in gathering support from the ordinary masses.
  • Analyzes how wu's allying herself with the religion is a monumental and imperative first step that is needed to justify wu’s reign.
  • Analyzes how the blossoming relationship between empress wu and buddhism attracts converts and provides another source of fiscal income for the monastic communities.
  • Analyzes how the symbiotic relationship between buddhism and wu's administration is beneficial to the overall prosperity of the chinese economy.
  • Analyzes how buddhism and its monasteries have benefitted wu's bureaucracy in the tang dynasty, legitimizing wu’s crown and building the chinese economy.
  • Explains that empress wu establishes a close relationship with buddhism during the tang dynasty. the recurring symbiotic relationship between religion and state throughout the chinese dynasties has been beneficial for wu and buddhism.
  • Cites bentley, jerry h., and ziegler. traditions & encounters: a global persepective on the past. yu, han.
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