Buddhist Statecraft in East Asia


Buddhist Statecraft in East Asia explores the long relationship between Buddhism and the state in premodern times and seeks to counter the modern, secularist notion that Buddhism, as a religion, is inherently apolitical. By revealing the methods by which members of Buddhist communities across premodern East Asia related to imperial rule, this volume offers case studies of how Buddhists, their texts, material culture, ideas, and institutions legitimated rulers and defended regimes across the region.
The volume also reveals a history of Buddhist writing, protest, and rebellion against the state.
Contributors are Stephanie Balkwill, James A. Benn, Megan Bryson, Gregory N. Evon, Geoffrey C. Goble, Richard D. McBride II, and Jacqueline I. Stone.
Open Access
Download PDF

Prices from (excl. shipping):

Stephanie Balkwill, Ph.D. (2015), McMaster University, is Assistant Professor of Chinese Buddhism at the University of California, Los Angeles. She publishes on the social, political, and intellectual history of Buddhist women in early medieval China.
James A. Benn, Ph.D. (2001), University of California, Los Angeles, is Professor of Buddhism and East Asian Religions at McMaster University. He is the author of Burning for the Buddha: Self-immolation in Chinese Buddhism (University of Hawai‘i Press, 2007) and Tea in China: A Religious and Cultural History (University of Hawai‘i Press, 2015).
"The contributors have succeeded in creating a volume that is as accessible as it is thought-provoking. [...] This volume would therefore be of particular use in the classroom and to those who are new to the study of Buddhism. More experienced students of Buddhism would also benefit from the well-researched and diverse case studies."
– Joseph Chadwin, Religious Studies 48. 2 (June 2022)
List of Figures
Notes on Contributors

Stephanie Balkwill and James Benn

1 Metropolitan Buddhism vis-à-vis Buddhism at the Metropolis: How to Understand the Ling in the Empress Dowager’s Name
Stephanie Balkwill

2 Silla King Chinhŭng Institutes State-Protection Buddhist Rituals
Richard D. McBride II

3 The Commissioner of Merit and Virtue: Buddhism and the Tang Central Government
Geoffrey C. Goble

4 Images of Humane Kings: Rulers in the Dali-Kingdom Painting of Buddhist Images
Megan Bryson

5 Buddhism and Statecraft in Korea: The Long View
Gregory N. Evon

6 Refusing the Ruler’s Offerings: Accommodation and Martyrdom in Early Modern Nichiren Buddhism
Jacqueline I. Stone

Researchers in the fields of Buddhist Studies, Religions Studies, and premodern history of East Asia. It may also be of interest to practitioners of Buddhism.
  • Collapse
  • Expand