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Chinese Communist Scholars' View of Buddhism



Parallel abstracts

This article originates from my reading of Fan Wenlan's work, Buddhism in Tang Dynasty, in which the author slanders Buddhism with abandon from a Marxist point of view. Similar abuses or misunderstandings are also rampant in works written by Fan's contemporaries such as Ren Jiyu, Hon Wailu and Tang Changru. Although the academic merit of these writings remains to be defined, from the historical perspective of academic development, a careful scrutiny of these publications provides an opportunity to better understand how Chinese Communist scholars undertook the research on Buddhism. Taking Fan's book as a case study, this article also takes into consideration other essays by Fan's contemporaries for giving a comprehensive outline of Chinese scholars' view of Buddhism under Communist rule. The main issues in this article include how Buddhism was investigated and interpreted within the context of Marxism, and how Buddhism research evolved since the introduction of the reform and opening policies in China. Through these key issues, the article seeks to inquire into the theoretical framework adopted by Chinese Communist scholars to interpret Buddhism, and gives an overview how Buddhism was shaped in such a context. The article concludes that, in recent years, Chinese Communist experts on Buddhism have been gradually liberated from the fetters of Marxist-Leninist dogma and gain outstanding research achievements in both quality and quantity standard, despite the fact that there is still room for further improvement.