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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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Subtle Erudition and Compassionate Devotion

Subtle Erudition and Compassionate Devotion

Longlian, “The Most Outstanding Bhiks·un·i¯” in Modern China

8 (p.272) Subtle Erudition and Compassionate Devotion
Making Saints in Modern China

Ester Bianchi

Oxford University Press

The chapter chronicles the life experiences of Longlian, who is often referred to as modern China’s “most outstanding nun.” Drawn to Buddhism at a young age, Longlian became, over the course of her long career, an outstanding scholar and translator. These skills enabled her to carve out a place in the Chinese Communist Buddhist establishment, although she, like others, suffered during the Cultural Revolution. In the case of Longlian, scholarly achievements are recognized even if Buddhist religion is merely tolerated, providing a common language for clergy and secularizing officials. Although Longlian consistently discouraged popular devotion to herself, many followers were nonetheless drawn to her saintly presence, which they celebrated along with her perceived miraculous powers—powers which Longlian herself denied possessing.

Keywords:   Longlian, Nuns, Buddhism, Scholarship, Miracles

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