Yongzheng Emperor, an Eminent Buddhist Scholar

Update: 23/10/2015
The Yongzheng Emperor (1678 - 1735), born Yinzhen. He reigned for 14 years from 1722 to 1735, he was the fourth son of Kangxi Emperor and his father was Qianlong Emperor.

Yongzheng Emperor, an Eminent Buddhist Scholar


The prosperousness of the three kings of Kangxi, Yongzheng and Qianlong can be compared to the prosperousness of Han dynasty and Tang dynasty of Chinese history. Not many people know that the prosperousness has deep cause that mostly emperors of Qing dynasty are the masters of Zen Buddhism, especially the Yongzheng Emperor.

Yongzheng loved in reading Buddhist books from a child, creating large relationship to the Sangha and having a good command of Buddhist doctrine. He studied Zen practice with his master Zhangjia and was sealed of approval by him. The later generation supposed that he was the only one among the Chinese leaders had reached the enlightenment through practice Zen.

After inauguration to the throne, beyond his political accomplishment, he immersed in practicing and preaching doctrine under the name of Yuanming Jushi. His royal family and even some of great Buddhist monks also came to learn Buddhism with him. Almost the important books of Zen Buddhism were red by him such as Zhiyuelu, Shōbōgenzō, Chanzongzhengmai, Jiaowaibiechuan. In the Yongzheng 11th (1733) he published a Records of the Zen sect which had the most valuation at that time named Yongzheng’s quotation book.

Yongzheng emperor also appointed some of Great members of the sangha to the state affairs. He invited Ven. Wenjue, one of the great Zen master into the palace for discuss about the most important and secret affairs of state. In 11th Yongzheng, Master Wenjue made a trip to Jiangnan with a very imposing guard of honour which is not so different from the high ranking manderins. Yongzheng also ordered for all the high ranking mandarins to respect and bow down Ven. WenJue wherever he passed. This shows how is important position of Ven. Wenjue at that time. Not only appointed the monk for state affairs, Yongzheng also supported and protected the Buddhist temples. In the Yongzheng I, the war happened in Qinghai province, the General NianGengYao was ordered to put down the revolt, he asked all Lama of the DanGeEr temple for moving out to leave the 1500 rooms for solders’ housing. The attitude made arising of unhappiness from these Lama. Having this information, Yongzheng ordered NianGengYao immediately returned the Lamas’ dwelling and moved out. There was another thing that related to bad behaviours of the chairman of TangShan province including rejecting Buddhist activities, dismissing the sangha members and altering monasteries to the lay house. After getting this news, Yongzheng ordered to hold him then endowed a proper punishment, who would  be asked to mitigate less penalty.

For few years of ending life, Yongzheng gave an order to restoring and rebuilding some of famous and historical value monasteries such as Chongyan temple in JingXi, JiangNan temple in JiangNan, Baoyan temple in ShaoXing, ZheJiang, PuYi and FaYu temples in Mount. PuTou ofZheJiang province.

Related to Buddhology, YongZheng had composed as well as compilated many works as Teaching of categories of Buddhism, YongZheng’s quotation book, Compilation of Hundred questions,

Luyện ma biện dị lục, Duyệt tâm tập, Phá Trần CÆ° Sỹ ngữ lục, Ngá»± tuyển ngữ lá»±c, Phiên dịch danh nghÄ©a tuyển, Thiền sÆ° tâm phú tuyển chú, Đại Giác thiền sÆ° lục, Vạn thiện đồng quy tập, Đương kim pháp há»™i, Kinh hải nhất trích, Tông kính đại cÆ°Æ¡ng…These works had been showed that YongZheng does not only take refuge in Buddhism, faith in Buddhim but really deeply researching on it. After those writings was publishcated it had a great influence on Chinese Buddhism. For those contributions to China in general people can said that it is hardly to find another one who can do such as him. 

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