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DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of Literatures, Languages and Cultures : Asian Studies

Postgraduate Course: Buddhism and the Statutory State in Eighth and Ninth Century East Asia (ASST11073)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of Literatures, Languages and Cultures CollegeCollege of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 11 (Postgraduate) AvailabilityAvailable to all students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryThis course deals with the manner in which politics and philosophy, ritual and cosmology are intertwined in the legitimation and administration of state power, by examining the origins of the statutory state (lüling, ritsuryo) in Sui and Tang China and tracing its adoption first on the Korean peninsula and then in the early Japanese state (Nara and Heian periods, viz. eighth and ninth centuries). The changes brought about in early ninth-century Japan by the activities of two monks in particular, Saicho (767-822) and Kukai (774-835) will form the focus of the course, as they provide, through radical deviation from ritsuryo norms, intriguing illustrations of how issues of government intertwined with ideology and cosmology.
In the background are of the standards of government exemplified by Tang China and the relations developed and nurtured by the prominent sovereign states of East Asia. An analysis of the religio-political implications of Saicho's petitions for adoption of the Mahayana precepts and of Kukai's introduction of Esoteric Buddhism will be the focal point for gaining an understanding of the importance of cosmology and ontology for the religio-political matrix. The religious, philosophic and ritual aspects dealt with thus offer a complement to courses otherwise available, and should attract the interest of students in other subjects such as religious studies, politics or philosophy.
Course description 1. The political aspects of the eastward spread of Buddhism
Huiyuan and Kumarajiva (Robinson, 1967); Tamura 1985; Best 1995, 2002. Excursus: The Three Jewels: What constitutes a Buddhist country? Bechert 1984.
2. Lüling/ritsuryo: The Tang state and the integration of Buddhism. Orzech 1998; Miller 1971.
3. Translating the Buddha's word (Xuan Zang); and the technology of Esoteric Buddhism (Amoghavajra). Fuchs 1930; Chou 1945; Ch'en 1976; Orzech 1989; Davidson 2003; Orzech et al. 2011.
4. Japanese embassies to China and the Chinese influence on
the first Japanese state Borgen 1982; von Verschuer 1985, 2000; Tono 1995.
5. Nara: The state, its cosmology, its Buddhism and its material culture. Orzech et al. 2011; Bogel 2010; Astley 2011; Dolce 2006.
6. The transfer to Heiankyo [Kyoto] in 794CE and the emergence of Saicho and Kukai. van Goethem 2008;Toby 1985; Abe 1995, 1999; Hakeda 1972; Swanson 1989; Groner 2000.
7. Saicho's Mahayana precepts and his debates with the Nara establishment. Groner 2000.
8. Kukai: From the periphery to the centre. Abe 1999; Astley 2004; Orzech et al. 2011.
9. Kukai's Esoteric Pitaka: cosmos and state. Abe 1999; Bogel 2010; Orzech et al. 2011.
10. The nitto monks (travellers to Tang China) after Saicho and Kukai. Reischauer 1955; Sueki 1994; Hunter 1995.
11. Reflections on Buddhism and the polity in comparative perspective. Anderson 2006; LaMarre 2000 (Intro, pp. 1-10).

- The development of the lüling system, especially in the Tang dynasty, and the role of state ritual in maintaining the state;
- Buddhist interaction with the political sphere in East Asia, including translation activities, ritual networks, and the formation of the Huayan (J.: Kegon), Tiantai (J.: Tendai) and Esoteric (Ch.: Zhenyan, J.: Shingon) lineages;
- The role of diplomatic activity in the ancient East Asian context, including embassies and semi-official visits by scholars and clerics to Tang China;
- The role of philosophic speculation, cosmology and ritual;
- The careers of Saicho and Kukai in early ninth-century Japan and the changes wrought by them (Mahayana precepts, Esoteric Buddhism).
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements None
Information for Visiting Students
High Demand Course? Yes
Course Delivery Information
Academic year 2019/20, Available to all students (SV1) Quota:  15
Course Start Semester 2
Timetable Timetable
Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 200 ( Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 4, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 196 )
Assessment (Further Info) Written Exam 0 %, Coursework 100 %, Practical Exam 0 %
Additional Information (Assessment) One essay of 4000 words (100%)
Feedback Formative assessment in the form of a detailed plan for the course essay (approx. 1,200 words, including the main sources to be used) will be assigned around the mid-point of the course. Written and, if necessary, personal feedback will be given.
No Exam Information
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. Solid understanding of the origins and development of the lüling system in Sui and Tang China and its adoption in Japan in particular
  2. Critical ability in assessing of sources and documents related to systems of government in ancient East Asia and the specifically Buddhist background to the changes in early ninth-century Japan which have been selected for detailed attention
  3. Knowledge of major issues in the influence of ethos, ideology and cosmology in the organization and exercise of state power, and the distinctive practice of ritual in that context
  4. Masters-level sophistication in academic writing and oral presentation
  5. The ability to apply the insights gained, to other contexts
Reading List
Most of the original primary texts are available on-line for those students with the relevant linguistic background. Others will be provided either as photocopies or electronically as appropriate. A list of secondary works on the relevant Buddhist background, historical and philosophic, will also be distributed.
- Primary materials in translation are found in the Columbia sourcebooks: China (Vol. 1, 1960 and reprints), Japan (Vol. 1, 1958 and reprints), and Korean Civilization (Vol. 1, 1993); and in David Lu, Japan: A Documentary History, 1997.
- Relevant essays in The Cambridge History of China and The Cambridge
History of Japan.
- C. D. Orzech, Esoteric Buddhism and the Tantras in East Asia, Handbook of Oriental Studies, vol. 24 [Section four: China]. Leiden: E. J. Brill, 2011.
- C. D. Orzech, Politics and transcendent wisdom: The Scripture for Humane Kings in the Creation of Chinese Buddhism. University Park PA:
Pennsylvania State UP, 1998.
- R. Abé, The weaving of mantra: Kukai and the construction of esoteric Buddhist discourse. New York: Columbia University Press, 1999.
- F. Hérail, La cour et l'administration du Japon ŕ l'époque de Heian, vol. 40 of École pratique des hautes études. IVe Section, Sciences historiques et philologiques II. Hautes études orientales. Genčve: Librairie Droz, 2006.
- E. van Goethem, Nagaoka, Brill 2008.
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills Not entered
Additional Class Delivery Information One two-hour seminar weekly.
KeywordsBuddhism,statutory state,pre-modern East Asia,Tang China,Korea,Japan,Saicho,Kukai
Course organiserDr Ian Astley
Tel: (0131 6)51 1358
Course secretaryMiss Charlotte McLean
Tel: (0131 6)50 4114
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