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Making Saints in Modern China$
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David Ownby, Vincent Goossaert, and Ji Zhe

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780190494568

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: December 2016

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780190494568.001.0001

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The Charismatic Monk and the Chanting Masses

The Charismatic Monk and the Chanting Masses

Master Yinguang and His Pure Land Revival Movement

1 (p.30) The Charismatic Monk and the Chanting Masses
Making Saints in Modern China

Jan Kiely

Oxford University Press

This chapter analyzes the first Buddhist mass movement in modern Chinese history. The movement took place in and around Shanghai, China’s most cosmopolitan city during the 1920s and 1930s, and its leader was Yinguang, a Pure Land Buddhist master who emphasized discipline and simplicity. Yinguang was conversant with the new print technology that was changing China’s social and intellectual landscape. He also received the enthusiastic support of Shanghai’s influential and wealthy lay Buddhist elites, who were comfortable with the West but remained loyal to China’s cultural traditions and wary of the iconoclasm of the May Fourth revolutionaries. Kiely charts both the surprising growth of the movement, as well as its limitations: Yinguang’s wealthy patrons were distrustful of the mass enthusiasm generated by the monk, and by the “superstitious” practices associated with Yinguang’s mass following.

Keywords:   Yinguang, Pure Land, Buddhism, Shanghai, Jiangnan, Print Technology

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