How Did Buddhism Spread to China?

Based on the teachings of the venerable Buddha, Buddhism is one of the three major religions in the world. Originated in India, Buddhism gradually spread to other Asian areas, like Sri Lanka, Tibet, China, Korea and Japan.

Buddhism first came to China during the first and second centuries by way of the Silk Road. The practitioners from India traveled along the Silk Road, spreading their faith in Buddhism as well as various goods from the West. In this respect, the Silk Road played a key role in transporting trade and exchanging distinct cultures between countries in the Middle East, India, Central Asia, China and Japan. As a result, Buddhism influenced Chinese life and culture in the later centuries.

Confucianism is a dominant principle in China. Because of the contradiction between Buddhism and Confucianism, Buddhism witnessed a lot barriers in its course of development. Meanwhile, Taoism, another major religion in China, has some differences from Buddhism in that Taoism seeks harmony with nature, while the latter seeks to control the inner world.

So, in order to survive in China, Buddhism adapted itself to Chinese way of life, by observing the worship of ancestors and China’s hierarchical system.

The Tang Dynasty witnessed the popularity of Buddhism. There were numerous Buddhist caves like Mogao Caves, the Longmen Grottoes and the Yungang Grottoes representing the thriving periods in Sui and Tang Dynasties. Buddhist religion was gradually accepted into Chinese visual art and culture throughout the country.

Along with the collapse of the Tang Dynasty, Buddhism declined. Many Buddhist statues, paintings, sculptures and temples were destroyed.

Buddhism is the first external religion in China and it exerts a significant influence on Chinese culture, politics, literature and philosophy.

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