The Three Disasters of Wu (Chinese language: 三武之禍; pinyin sān wǔ zhī huò) were three major persecutions against Buddhism in Chinese history. They were named as such because the posthumous names or temple names of all three emperors who carried out the persecutions had the character Wu (武) in them.
Chinese is a group of related, but in many cases not mutually intelligible, language varieties, forming the Sinitic branch of the Sino-Tibetan language family. Chinese is spoken by the Han majority and many minority ethnic groups in China. About 1.2 billion people speak some form of Chinese as their first language.
Hanyu Pinyin, often abbreviated to pinyin, is the official romanization system for Standard Chinese in mainland China and to some extent in Taiwan. It is often used to teach Standard Mandarin Chinese, which is normally written using Chinese characters. The system includes four diacritics denoting tones. Pinyin without tone marks is used to spell Chinese names and words in languages written with the Latin alphabet, and also in certain computer input methods to enter Chinese characters.
Buddhism is the world's fourth-largest religion with over 520 million followers, or over 7% of the global population, known as Buddhists. Buddhism encompasses a variety of traditions, beliefs and spiritual practices largely based on original teachings attributed to the Buddha and resulting interpreted philosophies. Buddhism originated in ancient India as a Sramana tradition sometime between the 6th and 4th centuries BCE, spreading through much of Asia. Two major extant branches of Buddhism are generally recognized by scholars: Theravada and Mahayana.
The first Disaster of Wu started in 446, when Emperor Taiwu of Northern Wei, a devout Taoist who followed the Northern Celestial Masters, was fighting the Xiongnu rebel Gai Wu (蓋吳). During the campaign, weapons were located in Buddhist temples, and he therefore believed that Buddhists were against him. With encouragement from his also devoutly Taoist prime minister Cui Hao, Emperor Taiwu ordered Buddhism abolished under penalty of death, and slaughtered the Buddhists in the Guanzhong region, the center of Gai's rebellion.The ban against Buddhism was relaxed in Emperor Taiwu's later years, and formally ended after his grandson Emperor Wencheng of Northern Wei, a Buddhist, took the throne in 452.
Emperor Taiwu of Northern Wei ( 魏太武帝) (408–452), personal name Tuoba Tao (拓拔燾), nickname Bili (佛貍), was an emperor of Northern Wei. He was generally regarded as a capable ruler, and during his reign, Northern Wei roughly doubled in size and united all of northern China, thus ending the Sixteen Kingdoms period and, together with the southern dynasty Liu Song, started the Southern and Northern Dynasties period of Chinese history. He was a devout Taoist, under the influence of his prime minister Cui Hao, and in 444, at Cui Hao's suggestion and believing that Buddhists had supported the rebellion of Gai Wu (蓋吳), he ordered the abolition of Buddhism, at the penalty of death. This was the first of the Three Disasters of Wu for Chinese Buddhism. Late in his reign, his reign began to be cruel, and his people were also worn out by his incessant wars against Liu Song. In 452, he was assassinated by his eunuch Zong Ai, who put his son Tuoba Yu on the throne but then assassinated Tuoba Yu as well. The other officials overthrew Zong and put Emperor Taiwu's grandson Tuoba Jun on the throne as Emperor Wencheng.
The Northern Celestial Masters type of the Way of the Celestial Master Daoist movement existed in the north of China during the Southern and Northern Dynasties. The Northern Celestial Masters were a continuation of the Way of the Celestial Masters as it had been practiced in Sichuan province by Zhang Lu and his followers. After the community was forced to relocate in 215 CE, a group of Celestial Masters established themselves in Northern China. Kou Qianzhi, from a family who followed the Celestial Master, brought a new version of Celestial Master Daoism to the Northern Wei. The Northern Wei government embraced his form of Daoism and established it as the state religion, thereby creating a new Daoist theocracy that lasted until 450 CE. The arrival of Buddhism had great influence on the Northern Celestial Masters, bringing monasticism and influencing the diet of practitioners. Art produced in areas dominated by the Northern Celestial Masters also began to show Buddhist influence. When the theocracy collapsed, many Daoists fled to Louguan, which quickly became an important religious center. The Northern Celestial Masters survived as a distinct school at Louguan until the late 7th century CE, when they became integrated into the wider Daoist movement.
The Xiongnu were a tribal confederation of nomadic peoples who, according to ancient Chinese sources, inhabited the eastern Eurasian Steppe from the 3rd century BC to the late 1st century AD. Chinese sources report that Modu Chanyu, the supreme leader after 209 BC, founded the Xiongnu Empire.
The second Disaster of Wu was carried out in two separate attempts, one in 574 and one in 577, when Emperor Wu of Northern Zhou banned both Buddhism and Taoism, for he believed that they had become too wealthy and powerful. He ordered the monks of both religions to return to civilian life, to add to the military manpower supply and the economy.Compared to the first Disaster of Wu, the second was relatively bloodless. When it officially ended was difficult to gauge, but it was probably over by the time that his son Emperor Xuan of Northern Zhou took the throne in 578.
Emperor Wu of Northern Zhou ( 周武帝) (543–578), personal name Yuwen Yong (宇文邕), nickname Miluotu (禰羅突), was an emperor of the Xianbei dynasty Northern Zhou. As was the case of the reigns of his brothers Emperor Xiaomin and Emperor Ming, the early part of his reign was dominated by his cousin Yuwen Hu, but in 572 he ambushed Yuwen Hu and seized power personally. He thereafter ruled ably and built up the power of his military, destroying rival Northern Qi in 577 and annexing its territory. His death the next year, however, ended his ambitions of uniting China, and under the reign of his erratic son Emperor Xuan, Northern Zhou itself soon deteriorated and was usurped by Yang Jian in 581.
Emperor Xuan of Northern Zhou ( 周宣帝) (559–580), personal name Yuwen Yun (宇文贇), courtesy name Qianbo (乾伯), was an emperor of the Xianbei dynasty Northern Zhou. He was known in history as an erratic and wasteful ruler, whose actions greatly weakened the Northern Zhou regime. As part of that erratic behavior, he passed the throne to his son Emperor Jing in 579, less than a year after taking the throne, and subsequently entitled not only his wife Yang Lihua empress, but four additional concubines as empresses. After his death in 580, the government was taken over by his father-in-law Yang Jian, who soon deposed his son Emperor Jing, ending Northern Zhou and establishing Sui Dynasty.
The third Disaster of Wu started in 845, when Emperor Wuzong of Tang, a devout Taoist, ordered that Buddhist temples and statues be destroyed and their properties confiscated to state treasury. The ban was not a complete ban; two Buddhist temples were permitted in both the main capital Chang'an and the subsidiary capital Luoyang, and the large municipalities and each circuit were each allowed to maintain one temple with no more than 20 monks. More than 4,600 temples were destroyed empirewide, and more than 260,000 monks and nuns were forced to return to civilian life.The disaster affected not only Buddhism, but also Nestorian Christianity and Zoroastrianism. It appeared to end after Emperor Wuzong was succeeded by his uncle Emperor Xuānzong of Tang in 846.
Emperor Wuzong of Tang, né Li Chan, later changed to Li Yan just before his death, was an emperor of the Tang Dynasty of China, reigning from 840 to 846. Emperor Wuzong is mainly known in modern times for the religious persecution that occurred during his reign. In addition, he was known for his successful reactions against incursions by remnants of the Huigu Khanate and the rebellion by Liu Zhen, as well as his deep trust in the chancellor Li Deyu.
Chang'an was an ancient capital of more than ten dynasties in Chinese history, today known as Xi'an. Chang'an means "Perpetual Peace" in Classical Chinese since it was a capital that was repeatedly used by new Chinese rulers. During the short-lived Xin dynasty, the city was renamed "Constant Peace" ; the old name was later restored. By the time of the Ming dynasty, a new walled city named Xi'an, meaning "Western Peace", was built at the Sui and Tang Dynasty city's site, which has remained its name to the present day.
Luoyang is a city located in the confluence area of Luo River and Yellow River in the west of Henan province. Governed as a prefecture-level city, it borders the provincial capital of Zhengzhou to the east, Pingdingshan to the southeast, Nanyang to the south, Sanmenxia to the west, Jiyuan to the north, and Jiaozuo to the northeast. As of the final 2010 census, Luoyang had a population of 6,549,941 inhabitants with 1,857,003 people living in the built-up area made of the city's five urban districts, all of which except the Jili District are not urbanized yet.
The Shaolin Monastery, also known as the Shaolin Temple, is a Chan ("Zen") Buddhist temple in Dengfeng County, Henan Province, China. Believed to have been founded in the 5th century CE, the Shaolin Temple is the main temple of the Shaolin school of Buddhism to this day.
The Northern and Southern dynasties was a period in the history of China that lasted from 420 to 589, following the tumultuous era of the Sixteen Kingdoms and the Wu Hu states. It is sometimes considered as the latter part of a longer period known as the Six Dynasties. Though an age of civil war and political chaos, it was also a time of flourishing arts and culture, advancement in technology, and the spread of Mahayana Buddhism and Daoism. The period saw large-scale migration of Han Chinese to the lands south of the Yangtze. The period came to an end with the unification of all of China proper by Emperor Wen of the Sui Dynasty.
Shaolin Kung Fu, also called Shaolin Wushu or Shaolin quan, is one of the oldest, largest, and most famous styles of wushu or kungfu. It combines Zen Buddhism and martial arts and originated and was developed in the Shaolin temple in Henan province, China during its 1500-year history. Popular sayings in Chinese folklore related to this practice include "All martial arts under heaven originated from Shaolin" and "Shaolin kung fu is the best under heaven," indicating the influence of Shaolin kung fu among martial arts. The name Shaolin is also used as a brand for the so-called external styles of kung fu. Many styles in southern and northern China use the name Shaolin.
The Śūraṅgama Sūtra is a Mahayana Buddhist sutra that has been especially influential in Chan Buddhism. The general doctrinal outlook of the Śūraṅgama Sūtra is that of esoteric Buddhism and Buddha-nature, with some influence from Yogacara. There have been questions regarding the translation of this sutra as it was not sponsored by the Imperial Chinese Court and as such the records regarding its translation in the early eighth century were not carefully preserved ; however, it has never been classified as apocrypha in any Chinese-language Tripitakas including the Taisho Tripitaka where it is placed in the Esoteric Sutra category (密教部). The sutra was translated into Tibetan during the late eighth to early ninth century and a complete translation exists in Tibetan, Mongolian and the Manchu languages. Current consensus is that the text is a compilation of Indic materials with extensive editing in China, rather than a translation of a single text from Sanskrit. A Sanskrit language palm leaf manuscript consisting of 226 leaves with 6 leaves missing was discovered in a temple in China; if verified, the perennial questions regarding the authenticity of the Śūraṅgama Sūtra can be put to rest.
Kou Qianzhi (365–448) was a Taoist reformer who reenvisioned many of the ceremonies and rites of the Way of the Celestial Master form of Taoism and reformulated its theology into a new movement known as The Northern Celestial Masters. His influence was such that he had Taoism established as the official state religion of the Northern Wei dynasty (386–534); this act, however, embroiled Taoism in long and often bloody factional political struggles. There was a saying Kou Qianzhi once secluded in Mount Huashan for his taoism meditation.
Lê Thánh Tông was the 5th emperor of Đại Việt during the Later Lê dynasty and is one of the greatest emperors in Vietnamese feudal history. He reigned for 38 years from 1460 to 1497; his era was eulogized as the Prospered reign of Hồng Đức (洪德之盛治).
Cui Hao (崔浩), courtesy name Boyuan (伯淵), was a prime minister of the Chinese/Xianbei dynasty Northern Wei. Largely because of Cui's counsel, Emperor Taiwu of Northern Wei was able to unify northern China, ending the Sixteen Kingdoms era and, along with the southern Liu Song, entering the Southern and Northern Dynasties era. Also because of the influence of Cui, who was a devout Taoist, Emperor Taiwu became a devout Taoist as well. However, in 450, over reasons that are not completely clear to this day, Emperor Taiwu had Cui and his cadet branch executed.
Tuoba Huang (拓拔晃), formally Crown Prince Jingmu (景穆太子), later further formally honored as Emperor Jingmu (景穆皇帝) with the temple name Gongzong (恭宗) by his son Emperor Wencheng, was a crown prince of the Chinese/Xianbei dynasty Northern Wei. He was the oldest son of Emperor Taiwu, and was created crown prince in 432 at the age of four, and as he grew older, Emperor Taiwu transferred more and more authority to him. However, in 451, he incurred the wrath of his father due to false accusations of the eunuch Zong Ai, and many of his associates were put to death. He himself grew ill in fear, and died that year.
The Great Anti-Buddhist Persecution initiated by Tang Emperor Wuzong reached its height in the year 845 AD. Among its purposes were to appropriate war funds and to cleanse China of foreign influences. As such, the persecution was directed not only towards Buddhism but also towards other religions, such as Zoroastrianism, Nestorian Christianity, and Manichaeism.
The Four Commanderies of Han were Chinese commanderies located in northern Korean Peninsula and part of the Liaodong Peninsula from around the end of the second century BCE through the early 4th CE, for the longest lasting. The commanderies were set up to control the populace in the former Gojoseon area as far south as the Han River, with a core area at Lelang near present-day Pyongyang by Emperor Wu of the Han dynasty in early 2nd century BC after his conquest of Wiman Joseon. As such, these commanderies are seen as Chinese colonies by some scholars. Though disputed by North Korean scholars, Western sources generally describe the Lelang Commandery as existing within the Korean peninsula, and extend the rule of the four commanderies as far south as the Han River. However, South Korean scholars assumed its administrative areas to Pyongan and Hwanghae provinces.
Yunju Temple is a Buddhist temple located in Fangshan District, 70 kilometers southwest of Beijing and contains the world's largest collection of stone Buddhist sutra steles in the world. Yunju Temple also contains one of only two extant woodblocks for the Chinese Buddhist Tripitaka in the world and rare copies of printed and manuscript Chinese Buddhist Tripitakas. It also has many historic pagodas dating from the Tang and Liao Dynasty.
Dǒumǔ, also known as Dǒumǔ Yuánjūn, Dòulǎo Yuánjūn and Tàiyī Yuánjūn, is a goddess in Chinese religion and Taoism. She is also named through the honorific Tiānhòu, shared with other Chinese goddesses, especially Mazu, who are perhaps conceived as her aspects. Other names of her are Dàomǔ and Tiānmǔ.
Cao Yu, courtesy name Pengzu, was a prince of the state of Cao Wei during the Three Kingdoms period of China. He was a son of Cao Cao, a warlord who rose to power towards the end of the Han dynasty and laid the foundation of Wei. Cao Yu's son, Cao Huan, was the fifth and last emperor of Wei.
Zhu Youyuan, a prince of the Ming dynasty of China. He was the fourth son of the Chenghua Emperor.
Lushan Temple, is a Buddhist temple at Yuelu Mountain, Changsha, Hunan, China. It includes the Entrance, Hall of Great Heroes, Zazen room, and dining room, etc.
The unnamed daughter of Emperor Xiaoming of Northern Wei was briefly the emperor of Northern Wei (386–534), a Xianbei dynasty that ruled Northern China from the late fourth to the early sixth century AD. She bore the surname Yuan, originally Tuoba. Yuan was the only child of Emperor Xiaoming, born to his concubine Consort Pan. Soon after her birth, her grandmother the Empress Dowager Hu, who was also Xiaoming's regent, falsely declared that she was a boy and ordered a general pardon. Emperor Xiaoming died soon afterwards. On 1 April 528, Empress Dowager Hu installed the infant on the throne for a matter of hours before replacing her with Yuan Zhao the next day. Xiaoming's daughter was not recognised as an emperor (huangdi) by later generations. No further information about her is available.
The Four Heavenly Ministers , also translated as the Four Sovereigns, are four of the highest sky deities of Taoist religion, and subordinate only to the Three Pure Ones. They assist the Three Pure Ones in administering all phenomenon of the universe.
Daxingshan Temple is a Buddhist temple located in Yanta District of Xi'an, Shaanxi, China.
Sanzu Temple is a Buddhist temple located on Mount Tianzhu, in Qianshan County, Anhui, China. Originally builtin 505 in the Northern and Southern dynasties (420–589), the temple has a history of over 1,550 years, but it was destroyed and rebuilt many times because of war and natural disasters. The present version was completed in 1944.