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Monks for hire: Liang Wudi's use of household Monks (jiaseng 家僧)

Tom De Rauw (UGent) and Ann Heirman (UGent)
(2011) MEDIEVAL HISTORY JOURNAL. 14(1). p.45-69
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Abstract
Throughout history, Chinese monastic Buddhism has been characterised by a dichotomy between its religious ideal of austerity and the actual wealth of its monasteries. While this contradiction often formed the basis for criticism of Buddhism and/or its institutions, it appeared to be unproblematic to most early Chinese Buddhist commentators, who frequently idealise the (conceptual) poverty of monks, whilst writing on the lavish adornments of their monasteries. The potential tension between an idealised detachment from material possession and the accumulation of wealth was dissolved by making a distinction between the personal wealth of individual monks, and the collective wealth of the monastic community. However, during the reign of Liang Wudi (r. 502–549), we see the emergence of an interesting form of personal financing of monks, namely, the practice of imperially paid household monks (jiaseng). This article investigates this unique institution. What were the motives for hiring monks on a personal basis and how did this tie in with Wu’s political use of Buddhism? Who were these monks, and what was their function? Was there any opposition against them on the basis of their payment?
Keywords
Liang Wudi, Chinese Buddhism, jiaseng

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Chicago
De Rauw, Tom, and Ann Heirman. 2011. “Monks for Hire: Liang Wudi’s Use of Household Monks (jiaseng 家僧).” Medieval History Journal 14 (1): 45–69.
APA
De Rauw, T., & Heirman, A. (2011). Monks for hire: Liang Wudi’s use of household Monks (jiaseng 家僧). MEDIEVAL HISTORY JOURNAL, 14(1), 45–69.
Vancouver
1.
De Rauw T, Heirman A. Monks for hire: Liang Wudi’s use of household Monks (jiaseng 家僧). MEDIEVAL HISTORY JOURNAL. 2011;14(1):45–69.
MLA
De Rauw, Tom, and Ann Heirman. “Monks for Hire: Liang Wudi’s Use of Household Monks (jiaseng 家僧).” MEDIEVAL HISTORY JOURNAL 14.1 (2011): 45–69. Print.
@article{1214465,
  abstract     = {Throughout history, Chinese monastic Buddhism has been characterised by a dichotomy between its religious ideal of austerity and the actual wealth of its monasteries. While this contradiction often formed the basis for criticism of Buddhism and/or its institutions, it appeared to be unproblematic to most early Chinese Buddhist commentators, who frequently idealise the (conceptual) poverty of monks, whilst writing on the lavish adornments of their monasteries. The potential tension between an idealised detachment from material possession and the accumulation of wealth was dissolved by making a distinction between the personal wealth of individual monks, and the collective wealth of the monastic community. However, during the reign of Liang Wudi (r. 502--549), we see the emergence of an interesting form of personal financing of monks, namely, the practice of imperially paid household monks (jiaseng). This article investigates this unique institution. What were the motives for hiring monks on a personal basis and how did this tie in with Wu{\textquoteright}s political use of Buddhism? Who were these monks, and what was their function? Was there any opposition against them on the basis of their payment?},
  author       = {De Rauw, Tom and Heirman, Ann},
  issn         = {0971-9458},
  journal      = {MEDIEVAL HISTORY JOURNAL},
  keyword      = {Liang Wudi,Chinese Buddhism,jiaseng},
  language     = {eng},
  number       = {1},
  pages        = {45--69},
  title        = {Monks for hire: Liang Wudi's use of household Monks (jiaseng \unmatched{5bb6}\unmatched{50e7})},
  url          = {http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/097194581001400103},
  volume       = {14},
  year         = {2011},
}

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