Buddhism and state formation in nara, Humanities

Buddhism and State Formation in Nara

Geopolitical threats One was Japanese pirates. The other was that even in Korea, there was trend towards unification, and it made the Yamato clan nervous. Yamato clan tried to assert power over other clans.

Fragile Yamato authority Domestic vulnerabilities: tenuous authority of Yamato state vs. autonomy of provincial clans: key benefit of centralized role is taxation. Corruption came when there was not a steady flow of tax revenue.

Soga Clan immigrant group from Korea, emerged in power. Rival was the Mononobe and Nakatomi. Yamato on the sideline deciding who to ally with. Soga: big population and had reliable source of revenue. Adopted Buddhism as its clan kami.

Hata community Descendents of immigrants, refers to Korean immigrants. Very active in maritime commerce: Buddhism came by trade, and people practiced Buddhism secretly.

Shiba Tatto relates to immigrant community of Japan that was already worshipping Japanese deities.

Buddha as clan kami Soga faction adopt the Buddhism as its clan kami: significant move, politically and religiously because of its ties with the immigrant community. Prestige coming from India and China, tradition of centralized rule. Religion had a lot of cultural and social implications; Buddhism: trendy, cosmopolitan, etc. Bandwagon effect: "look hip." Yamato allowed Soga to worship privately, to test its potency and power: pestilence and plague broke out, and Buddhism was pointed finger at - temple was burnt. Soon after, a fire broke out in the palace and emperor fell to illness; Buddhism points finger at anti-Buddhists.

Empress Suiko From Soga, ascended the throne because there was no successor. Appointed her nephew as the emperor, and now we begin to see Soga taking center stage of power, by intermarriage into a Yamato family.

Prince Shotoku (573-621) left institutional legacy in 7th century: implement all centralized bureaucratic structures. Marked embryonic stage of state formation: assert imperial authority through the adoption of Confucianism as state ideology and Buddhism as state religion. Buddhism was also an active force as to how to orgnize society.

         Centralized infrastructure Modeled after China. Organized court ranks, strict

         hierarchy. Adopted the Chinese calendar and Confucian cosmology - relationship

         between heaven and earth. Actively sent students to Korea and China to study

         Buddhism. Set up a national system of highways: facilitated commerce and

         unification. As a way of asserting power, sent a letter to the Sui emperor of China,

         signing, "from the emperor of rising sun to emperor of setting sun."

         Seventeen Article Constitution (604). More of a plea than a decree: moral

         injunction. Shotoku trying to use Confucian ideology as a way to compensate

         human propensity of greed, etc. minimize human flaws. Buddhist ethics to

         transform those human flaws.

Capital at Nara (710) Miniature Chang'an. East and Western sectors. Early stages of Japanese state formation: not that much wealth, not as extravagant. Not as big, very rustic. Lacked architectural/technological know-how. Bureaucracy focused more on court matters than on provincial administration. Different from Chinese system of government: China was more reliant on meritocracy, Japan more on birth and marriage alliance.

Principle of Divine Descent Direct descendent from Amaterasu vs. Mandate of Heaven which believes not in that emperor is directly descended from heaven but that they were appointed by heaven. Explains why Japan today has the longest lasting of imperial lineage. Contest for power were behind the scenes. However, emperor were merely ceremonial figueheads.

Temple of Todaiji  (728). Contributed to the formal establishment of state religion. Under Emperor Shomu. Temple of the East realm: immense structure, largest wooden structure. 50 feet bronze statue in the temple. Functioned like "a national cathedral." Built on public funds, from commoners. Believed to provide protection for the people because they had a part in it: stonger sense of connection, source for national identification.

Emperor Shomu is under whom the temple of Todaji was built.

Lochana or Vairocana Buddha Lochana: erected in 743, also known as Daibatsu Buddha. Vairocana: Sanskrit referring to sun-buddha. Cosmic, universal.

Sun-Goddess Shrine at Ise Shomu was careful, and asked permission for the shrine of Amaterasu. Buddhism and Shintoism was well integrated. Amaterasu: shintoist, shrines: Buddhist.

Decree of 741 Every provincial must have a Buddhist temple. Assure protection of state. Todaji: mothership, and a lot of other satellite temples.

Penetration of Buddhist rituals into society The temples played a role to protect the state and the health of emperor through prayer.

Taiho Code of 702 legal, or penal codes and administrative codes as the foundation of the country's legal system until the 15th century. It provided the legal framework for Shoen to emerge.

Appointment of Dokyo

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