Organizer and Chair: Eric Reinders, University of California, Santa Barbara
Discussant: Allan Grapard, University of California, Santa Barbara
There are dangers in over-estimating the epistemological separation of Buddhist and state institutions as separate entities, as Wright's paper makes clear. However, the two terms are obviously not synonyms. Our first question: is there any generic sangha-state relationship, beyond local conditions? Certainly, throughout Asia, Buddhism offered an articulated and versatile symbolism of rule which helped to define the ruler-as Cakravartin, as bodhisattva, etc. Pankaj's paper addresses the transmission and adaptation of this symbolism, particularly in the Renwangjing, from North China into Silla. The sangha is often described as legitimating state power, as in imperial patronage of Buddhist clerics to "protect the nation" and for territory-formation. Less studied, however, is how the state (especially its legal and ritual practice) legitimated and defined the sangha. The role of the state in the construction of the sangha is a theme in Dunnell's paper, and the status of the sangha as one set of institutions among many is taken up in both Wright's and Reinders' papers. In its historical specificity, the clerical institution took shape within local patterns of patronage, ritual practice, legal codification and negotiation of the relative jurisdictions of cleric and ruler; so, we will also address the questions: what were the legal, institutional and ethnic implications of different classifications of Buddhist clerics and tests? How were sangha-state boundaries created, and how did these boundaries between ordained and laity change, over time and/or across cultures?
Renwang Jing (The Benevolent King Sutra) and its Political Uses in Early Silla
Narendra M. Pankaj, Australian National University
Renwang Jing, one of the three great nation-protecting Sutras, together with the Lotus Sutra and the Suvarnaprabha Sutra, exerted immense influence on the Silla royalty and contributed towards subjugating Buddhism to the interest of the state. Assemblies to recite the Renwang Jing were held throughout East Asia, but it was the Silla that first invoked the authority of this apocryphal canon for sacralisation of power and authentication of its political objectives. The paper discusses the historical background of fifth century North China where the Sutra was presumably created, and then moves on to the political stage of sixth century Silla. During the reign of King Chinhūng (540-576), when the first Renwang Assembly was held, the royalty of Silla faced the internal challenges of the conservative aristocracy, and the external challenges of two powerful neighbors, Koguryō and Paekche, who were waging an aggressive war of peninsular conquest. Rituals based on the authority of the Renwang Jing containing effusive references to the virtues of a cakravarti king reinforced the sacred character of Silla kingship. And as the sutra with its invocation of the power of gods and spirits to ensure domestic stability and victory beyond the borders was reminiscent of the political prerogatives of Shamanism, it might have appealed to and appeased the conservative aristocracy. Study of the political use of Renwang Jing in Silla demonstrates the process through which Buddhism arrogated to itself some of the functions of Shamanism, and Buddhism and state mutually interpenetrated and forged a commonality of interest.
Sangha-State Relations in 12th-Early-13th-Century Xia as Revealed in the
Tiansheng Law Code
Ruth W. Dunnell, Kenyon College
The immediate sources of Tangut Buddhism and the sangha-state relationship in Xia were diverse: central Asia, Tibet, and North China. Like many other East Asian polities, Tangut state-builders patronized Buddhists and made Buddhism an integral and salient part of the official religion, not only for its apotropaic powers. Buddhist conceptions and symbols of kingship and community also shaped the language of political legitimacy.
The Xia sangha came into being, in fact, as a construction of the state; state and sangha defined and empowered each other. The particular ways in which this occurred in Xia are partially revealed in the extant law code of the Tiansheng era (1148-1169). My paper will survey articles in the code which address issues of sangha composition, regulation, legal status and privileges.
Especially intriguing are provisions for gaining entry into the monkhood. Separate (but overlapping) lists of required examination texts are prescribed for Han candidates on the one hand, and Tangut and Tibetan candidates on the other. Did this practice arise from longstanding local traditions? Was it a device whereby the court cultivated its ritual needs? What do the lists reveal about the ritual practices and priorites of the court, the relationship between state and sangha, and the role of ethnicity in the sangha of the very status-conscious multiethnic Xia state? (Candidates to the Daoist monkhood had a uniform examination curriculum, suggesting that most if not all would-be Daoist monks were Han Chinese.)
The Translation of Rank: Monk, Sacrificer, Ambassador, Soldier, Convict
Eric Reinders, University of California, Santa Barbara
Medieval Chinese Buddhist monks and nuns claimed the right not to bow to the emperor, and this exceptional claim was debated repeatedly. In 662, for example, over 1,000 civil officials attended the imperial debate on this issue. The Buddhist monk Yenzong documented this debate, and added his own summation of the arguments. Arguments in favor of the clerics emphasize the otherness of the Sangha. To emphasize the profound distinction between laity and the ordained, Yenzong compares the monk to (a) a performer of ancestral sacrifices; (b) a foreign ambassador attending the funeral of the emperor's parent(s); (c) a "soldier in armor" and (d) a chained convict. This paper is an investigation of the logic of this particular set of homologies, in order to address questions of the functioning of several institutions: monastic, civil, military, penal, and national. The linking of monk and convict is especially puzzling, and I interpret it as a rhetorical point about the limitations of state control of the physical body.
I suggest that what these analogies share is the symbolism of an institutional otherness (an otherness to the imperium), displayed and embodied in obeisance practice. Assuming patterns of obeisance correspond to, and help constitute, the structure of the perceived social order, I analyze legitimated and claimed exceptions to the dominant pyramidal "ritual topography" of high and low. The goal is to demonstrate the relative stratification of institutionalized bodies-or rank, and the translation of rank between institutions.
"Divorce Temples" (Enkiridera) as Religio-Political Institutions: The
Symbiotic Relationship Between State and Sangha in Kinsei Japan
Diana E. Wright, University of Toronto
Kinsei period (1603-1868) Buddhism remains stereotyped as weak and totally corrupt, its religionists (sangha) being merely "powerless tools of the [Tokugawa] State." However, throughout the Kinsei period, the Tokugawa promoted specific temple-shrine (and shrine-temple) complexes out of the belief that support-whether apparent or real-of those institutions was required to legitimatize and reinforce shogunal rule. That the communities of these particular complexes fulfilled such a religio-political role is not always apparent at first glance; certainly this is true in the case of the nuns operating the temple-shrine complexes of Mantokuji and Tokeiji, the only formally-recognized "divorce temples" (enkiridera). Enkiridera have been interpreted as "purely" religious institutions, their raison d'źtre being divorce procedures which had evolved out of altruistic concern for the plight of women. I argue instead that the significance of both these convents and their clerics extends beyond this singular, societal function; indeed, these temples' ability to operate as governmentally-sanctioned divorce brokers was but an unintended by-product of their primary role. Enkiridera were first and foremost religio-political organizations which legitimized Tokugawa rule, not merely by performing power-generating rituals for the State, but also by enabling the Tokugawa family to co-opt the proper shogunal lineage (Mantokuji) and an Imperial cachet (Tokeiji). When the Mantokuji-Tokeiji temple-shrine paradigm is correlated with the shrine-temple paradigm of Nikko-Ise, it becomes clear that during the Kinsei period, specific segments of the sangha both legitimated and defined the Tokugawa State.