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Behaving Badly in Early and Medieval China$
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N. Harry Rothschild and Leslie V. Wallace

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780824867812

Published to Hawaii Scholarship Online: January 2018

DOI: 10.21313/hawaii/9780824867812.001.0001

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A “Villain-Monk” Brought Down by a Villein-General

A “Villain-Monk” Brought Down by a Villein-General

A Forgotten Page in Tang Monastic Warfare and State-Saṃgha Relations

(p.208) 12 A “Villain-Monk” Brought Down by a Villein-General
Behaving Badly in Early and Medieval China

Jinhua Chen

University of Hawai'i Press

Through a case study of a little-known monk, Faya 法雅‎ (?-629), a favourite of Gaozu who played an active role in the defense of the newly-founded Tang against Turk encroachments, this essay attempts to analyze some new features and patterns of early Tang state–saṃgha relations. Additionally, this essay aims to shed new light on the apparent contradiction between Buddhism’s general prohibitions against violence on the one hand and the saṃgha’s frequent and profound involvement in warfare on the other, whether to protect its own property or to court and enhance secular patronage. Finally, Faya, along with the fortune and misfortune he encountered during the final decadent years of the Sui and the first decade of the fledging Tang dynasty, presents an excellent case of how medieval Chinese Buddhist monks (and occasionally nuns) were placed under the general rubric “yaoseng/yaoni” 妖僧‎/妖尼‎ (“evil monks/nuns”), or eseng/eni惡僧‎/惡尼‎ (“villainous monks/nuns”).

Keywords:   Faya 法雅, Tang Gaozu 唐高祖, Tang Taizong 唐太宗, Buddhism and violence, monk-warrior, State-samgha relations

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