Buddhist Contribution to the Socialist Transformation of Buddhism in China: Activities of Ven. Juzan during 1949–1953

Xue Yu


This paper examines the role played by Chinese Buddhists, especially the so-called "progressive Buddhists," in the socialist transformation of the sangha at the early stage of the People’s Republic of China (PRC). I concentrate on the case of Ven. Juzan (1908–1984). While the focus on one individual does not reveal the whole story about Chinese Buddhists’ involvement in the Chinese Communist Party’s project of reshaping the sangha, the career of Juzan does provide a window on the issue. By exploring various sources, including Modern Buddhist Studies (Xiandai foxue) and government documents, I investigate how Juzan urged his fellow Buddhists to work with the Communist leadership, and how he justified government policies on Buddhism by reinterpreting Buddhist doctrines. In so doing, this study intends to show that Chinese Buddhists’ collaboration with the Communist regime was a significant dimension of the socialist transformation of the Chinese sangha, a process that laid the foundation for full-scale persecution of Buddhism during the Cultural Revolution (1966–1976).

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5281/zenodo.1306878


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