How did Buddhism Start in China?

How did Buddhism Start in China?

Society

From the Han dynasty, the ideas of Buddhism spread into China through the trade routes,  Silk Road.

After the initial landing in the land of China, Buddhism spread greatly throughout China in later dynasties with support from the ruling class and acceptance from the public. The term “Sinicization” refers to the process by which a foreign concept or religion is strongly influenced by Chinese local culture after its entrance.

A Chinese version is created based on the original ideas and needs of local people. The Sinicization of Buddhism is a localization process to develop a new school of Buddhism which is better adapted to Chinese culture. In my opinion,  the fact that the main idea of Buddhism is related to the ideas from the major school of ideas in  China such as Daoism and Confucianism is one of the reasons that the Chinese could assimilate Buddhism in a short period and for Buddhism to reach such popularity in China later. The concept of Karma has a long history in the belief of the Chinese. 

Buddhism could not achieve such prosperity in China without support from the elite class.
Massive Tang dynasty statues of a bodhisattva Guanyin, an arhat Kshitigarbha, and Vairocana BuddhaLongmen GrottoesHenan province, China

One of the most important steps is the translation of the Buddhist sutra. Combining the transliteration and sense-for-sense translation. The works from major translators including  Lokaksema, Kumarajiva, and Xuanzang developed a solid foundation for the widespread adoption of Buddhism in China. Another important factor is the Sinicization of Buddhist scriptures, which is  known as “Apocrypha”, the “fake sutras”.

Although we could not find the origin of many popular sutras from Indian Buddhism, this localized documentation also has a great effect on the Chinese public. Compared to the translators and scholars who translated and localized the  Buddhist concepts and sutras, the loyal family of the Tang Dynasty directly patronized Buddhism and supported Xuan Zang’s pilgrimage to India. 

On the public side, people converted popular Buddhist concepts into the form of folk  literature including Bianwen, Zhiguai, and Baojuan to gain popularity in the Chinese public.  Since only the elite class have the access to a copy of sutras and their translation, these formats  including plays and oral stories are much easier to spread to the public. The public received  many key concepts of Buddhism through these tales. 

Society

How did Buddhism Start in China?