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Every society has certain inclination towards a higher super natural power. This inclination forms the basis for a religion. Religion can be termed as man in an attempt to reach out to God. Similar to other dynasties, the people of tang believed and practiced different religions.
History is not silent about unveiling the various religious practices present in the land of the Tang. History sets clear records about the Tang dynasty been Chinese second greatest dynasty (Ning 123). Its influence and impact spread not just across its immediate borders but also reaching far lands.
One conspicuous element about this dynasty was its ability to unify the large territory. Another interesting fact about the tang dynasty was that a great part of it was made up non-Chinese. The main occupants of the land were merchants from inner Asia, and persons with Turkish background. To add. also the Persians and the Sogdhians lived at some areas of the Tang territory. This paper presents a detailed discussion of how religion affected the Tang Dynasty.
To begin this discussion, we have to outline some key questions. One of these questions is how significantly religion affected livelihood in the Tang Dynasty. To take us off, let us have a brief glimpse at the background of the Tang Dynasty. A major aspect of the Tang Dynasty was its religion. The dynasty was known for its geographical expansion, its cultural values and its deep roots in religion.
This solidifies the point that religion was one of the strongest pillars of this Dynasty. Several religious groups were found here. They included the Buddhism. The religion of Buddhism was one of the large religious groupings, spreading from Korea to Japan (David 456). Apart from these big and well known religions, the presence of Islam and Christianity was also evident.
For the longest time, known the rulers of the Tang dynasty exercised religious tolerance. Apart from Buddhists, other religions present here include the Daoism (Lewis 23). For example, during the time in power of Taizong, the Emperor, proverbial Buddhist cleric Xuan Zang, travelled to look for the Buddhist Sutra in India.
When he arrived, he was able to get 657 sutras that included the large untamed Goose Pagoda, which was built for conservation. In the path of interpreting the sutras, the Buddhist monks developed a well established approach of philosophy which had different faction of Buddhism.
Religion and Politics
The influence and impact of religion in the affairs of the Tang Dynasty cannot be understated. If we have a keen look right from start, the religion took critical positions in the politics of the land. For example, in his power search, Li Yuan drew majority followers by asserting that he was a kin to the respected Daoist Sage Laozi who existed in the 6th century BC. This trend was used regularly all along history.
Politicians took advantage of their relationships and interactions with the key personnel in society to have their way into power. The Tang dynasty was not an exception in this sense (Ning 156). Therefore, as we wake up to the reflection of similar trends, there is no wonder to history. Witnessed severally persons with vested interest on public office would have Buddhist cleric pray for them in public congregation. If the leaders made it power, they would reward the participating partners.
Holistically, the interaction of religion and politics leaves very interesting concerns. These include looking at how various leaders in power used religion to their advantage. There by separating the two elements becomes practically impossible. They work hand in hand, whether for good or for bad.
It is a matter of case by case interpretation. For instance in the Tang dynasty, while religion took vital part in politics, the reverse was also a reality (David 345). Politics played vital part in religion. At one time, Emperor Xuanzong prohibited merchants in the capital from trading with Buddhist sutras.
Religion and Commerce
Religion had its influence on commerce and trade. The facts that some selected people were allowed to trade while others were prohibited, echoes religious intrusion into the way of doing business. In a different case, the same Emperor had gone ahead to liquidate the highly profitable inexhaustible Treasury, which was operated by a well known Buddhist monastery in the Tangan capital, Changan (Lewis 90).
The monastery took the opportunity to amass huge sums of money, wealth, and silk. The Emperor issued out a decree to abolish the treasury because of manipulative businesses. It was believed that they collected the riches, and spread it to various monasteries.
Religion and cohesion and integration
Another way in which religion affected the Tang Dynasty was national cohesion and integration. Essentially how people lived with each other. Key to note, before the great persecution of Buddhists in the 9th century, the key religions embraced each other. For example, the Emperor Xuanzong of Tang invited clerics and monks from both camps to his palace.
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Around the same time, Xuanzong lifted the ancient Laozi by giving him splendid titles, and even went ahead to writing commentary on the Daoist Laozi, and setting up a school that was to serve the purpose of preparing candidates for Daiost scriptures, and then went ahead to call the Indian monk by the name Vajrabodhi to do Tantric rites to prevent a drought in the year 726 (Ning 189). This incident paints a picture of favoritism towards a selected group of people. This weakens the principle of balanced bill of rights.
From the above discussion, it is crystal clear how the religion played major role in the livelihood of the Tang Dynasty. History is open about the size and impact of Tang dynasty. It is recorded that it was Chinese second greatest dynasty. Its influence and impact spread not just across its immediate borders but into far lands.
Religion was conspicuous aspect of the dynasty. This solidifies the point that religion was one of the strongest pillars of this Dynasty. Different rulers especially used the religion card to play their game. The religion of Buddhism was one of the large religious groupings, spreading from Korea to Japan. If we have a keen look right from start, the religion took critical positions in the politics of the land.
As the debate progresses, it is clear that religion affected not just the politics of the land but also commerce and trade (Lewis 78). Another way in which religion affected the Tang Dynasty was national cohesion and integration. Essentially, how people lived with each other. The role of religion to a society remains a point to ponder especially as we look at our case study, the Tang Dynasty. The same can be said even of the present society.
David, Tien. Discursive Resources and Collapsing Ploaries. New York: The Free Press, 2009. Print.
Lewis, Mark. China Cosmopolitan Empire. New York: W.W.Norton & Company Ltd, 2010. Print.
Ning, Quin. Art, Religion, and Politics in Medieval China. New York: John Wiley and Sons, 2008. Print.