A History of China eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 559 pages of information about A History of China.
This religion did not gain a footing in China; only traces of it can be found in some Buddhistic sects in China.  Mahayana Buddhism, on the other hand, developed into a true popular religion of salvation.  It did not interfere with the indigenous deities and did not discountenance life in human society; it did not recommend Nirvana at once, but placed before it a here-after with all the joys worth striving for.  In this form Buddhism was certain of success in Asia.  On its way from India to China it divided into countless separate streams, each characterized by a particular book.  Every nuance, from profound philosophical treatises to the most superficial little tracts written for the simplest of souls, and even a good deal of Turkestan shamanism and Tibetan belief in magic, found their way into Buddhist writings, so that some Buddhist monks practiced Central Asian Shamanism.

In spite of Buddhism, the old religion of the peasants retained its vitality.  Local diviners, Chinese shamans (wu), sorcerers, continued their practices, although from now on they sometimes used Buddhist phraseology.  Often, this popular religion is called “Taoism “, because a systematization of the popular pantheon was attempted, and Lao Tz[)u] and other Taoists played a role in this pantheon.  Philosophic Taoism continued in this time, aside from the church-Taoism of Chang Ling and, naturally, all kinds of contacts between these three currents occurred.  The Chinese state cult, the cult of Heaven saturated with Confucianism, was another living form of religion.  The alien rulers, in turn, had brought their own mixture of worship of Heaven and shamanism.  Their worship of Heaven was their official “representative” religion; their shamanism the private religion of the individual in his daily life.  The alien rulers, accordingly, showed interest in the Chinese shamans as well as in the shamanistic aspects of Mahayana Buddhism.  Not infrequently competitions were arranged by the rulers between priests of the different religious systems, and the rulers often competed for the possession of monks who were particularly skilled in magic or soothsaying.

But what was the position of the “official” religion?  Were the aliens to hold to their own worship of heaven, or were they to take over the official Chinese cult, or what else?  This problem posed itself already in the fourth century, but it was left unsolved.

(D) The Toba empire in North China (A.D. 385-550)

1 The rise of the Toba State

On the collapse of Fu Chien’s empire one more state made its appearance; it has not yet been dealt with, although it was the most important one.  This was the empire of the Toba, in the north of the present province of Shansi.  Fu Chien had brought down the small old Toba state in 376, but had not entirely destroyed it.  Its territory was partitioned, and part was placed under the administration of a

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A History of China from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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