Freda Bedi Cont'd (#2)

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Re: Freda Bedi Cont'd (#2)

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Part 1 of 2

Chapter 2: The Sound of the Tide for a New China [Taixu/Tai Hsu] [Bodhi Society] [Right Faith Buddhist Society of Hankou]
Excerpt from Toward a Modern Chinese Buddhism: Taixu's Reforms
by Don Alvin Pittman



The Society’s prehistory goes back to the nineteenth century, and I would like to begin by mentioning the Theosophical Society. It was and is a strange and interesting Society, that has a global multinational reach. It did an enormous amount in its own way to bring Eastern culture to the West, but it did not necessarily follow either a strictly intellectual or an entirely comprehensible approach. The two things we can say about its members is that they were true seekers after understanding, knowledge, wisdom and compassion and that, most of all, they wanted to solve the problem of human existence. They did this in their own idiosyncratic manner, and some of them have taken much criticism from academics. However, we are not interested in that. We are interested in the heart of these people and in what motivated and inspired them and what ultimately came out of the work and commitment they made in their individual lives, and their devotion.

The Buddhist Society’s roots are in the Theosophical Society. Some years ago, when we were doing renovation work here, it was decided to clean the Buddha-rupa in the shrine room. When it was emptied out, to some people’s horror a photograph of Madame Blavatsky was found inside. This caused consternation among some members of the Council but it was stealthily put back in again.

The three objects of the Theosophical Society are to form a nucleus of the universal brotherhood of humanity without distinction of race, creed, sex, caste or colour; to encourage the comparative study of religion, philosophy and science; and to explore the unexplained laws of nature and the powers latent in humanity. These are clearly worthy goals, and it would be good if more of us could put more effort into attaining them.

Let us explore the history of the Theosophical Society a little more, starting with Madame Blavatsky....

An important figure in bringing Buddhism to the West is Anagarika Dharmapala, previously Don David Hewavitarne (1864–1933)....

Another visitor to Bodh Gaya was Sir Edwin Arnold, who went there in 1880....

The next important figure is Ananda Coomaraswamy, who was educated in London and trained as a geologist...

Another important figure is Ananda Metteyya....

Next is the Venerable Tai Hsu, who was the third Buddhist missionary to come to England and is acclaimed by many as a leading figure in the revival of Buddhism in China. Tai Hsu was a friend of Christmas Humphreys and gave money to the Buddhist Society at a time when it was really struggling.

-- The 90th Anniversary of The Buddhist Society 1924–2014, by The Buddhist Society

To understand the mental universe of many religious leaders, it is important to know something about the fabric of their lives. In such cases, interpretation requires a sense not only of the person's historical context but of how he or she experienced and engaged it. Thus biographical accounts and autobiographical reflections are crucial to appreciating the diverse forms of piety represented by spiritual guides such as Augustine (396-430), Nichiren (1222-1282), Moses Mendelssohn (1729-1786), Mohandas Gandhi (1869-1948), Dietrich Bonhoeffer (1906-1945), and the Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini (1902-1989). The modern Buddhist reformer Taixu was also such a figure.

The Chinese monk lived and taught in a time of revolution and renaissance, a complex and turbulent period of change for China and the entire world. During Taixu's lifetime, the Chinese people experienced the end of dynastic rule and the beginning of a republican experiment. They entertained grand dreams for the country's future and suffered the grim nightmares of social, political, and economic upheaval. They engaged in bitter civil strife and were enveloped in a devastating global war. Taixu sought to serve as a transformative agent within that context. He heard "the sound of the sea tide" (i.e., the Buddha's voice) calling for a new Buddhism for a new China. He firmly believed that the propagation of that modern form of Buddhism held the keys not only to the salvation of his country but to the emergence of a just and peaceful global civilization. Accordingly, he commended to the Mahayana community an ethical form of piety that centered bodhisattva practice not on exercises of religious philosophy, sitting meditation, or ritual observance but on expressions of enlightened social responsibility within the world. Highlighting the reformer's religio-historical context, Frank Millican once commented:

To understand Taixu we need to see him as a lad among a group of droning priests at Tiantong Monastery, situated in the seclusion of the beautiful hills of Zhejiang, near Ningbo city. Here he lived under the shadow of the images of Buddha and the many Buddhist worthies and learned to chant his prayers, make his prostrations, and share in the daily routine of a typical monastery. There must have been In his veins some blood different from that of his fellow priests, or, to speak in the language of the school of thought in which he was trained, the person of a previous existence whose "karma" was reborn in him must have lived a life which merited much, that he alone of hundreds should have risen above the humdrum existence of his fellow priests and have emerged as interpreter of Buddhism to this age.1

There were, of course, many other influential and competent voices within the Chinese sangha interpreting the Dharma in relation to the challenges of the modern world. Yet because of the force of Taixu's charismatic personality, the breadth of his academic interests, the timeliness of his ecumenical concerns, and the scope of his vision for a reenergized and missionary form of Buddhism, he left a lasting impression on many both within and outside of his own religious community. Just as the firebrands of the late Qing and early Republican years called for a thoroughgoing political revolution and the creation of a "new people" (xin min), so in a parallel manner did Taixu call for a "Buddhist revolution" (fojiao geming) and the creation of "new monks" (xin sing). To achieve this end, he proposed a reorganization of the sangha through broad structural, educational, and economic reforms, called for closer ties between the monastic and lay communities, and proposed new measures of cooperation in global mission. Sometimes his ideas were rejected; sometimes what was rejected was Taixu the man. His critics perceived not only errors in judgment but personality flaws; his disciples rarely acknowledged either.

Taixu's story, therefore, consists of both ideas and events, concepts and confrontations, opinions and opponents. Despite the fact that Taixu was never recognized as a brilliantly original Mahayana theoretician, the contours of his map of the bodhisattva path in and through the modern world continue to inform the practice of many Buddhists in East Asia and around the world. Taixu is remembered most for his unique embodiment of one compelling perspective on what it might mean to be a Chinese patriot, a Buddhist devotee, and a global citizen.


Taixu (original school name: Lu Peilin) was born in the village of Chang' an in the Haining county of northern Zhejiang province on January 8, 1890, in the fifteenth year of the Qing emperor Guangxu's reign. His father was a bricklayer who died when his son was only a year old. Two years later, when his mother remarried into the Li family, he became the responsibility of his maternal grandmother. A devout woman who was well versed in poetry and literature, she cared for the young boy and introduced him to Buddhism through frequent visits to nearby temples. Although Taixu suffered from remittent fevers and was frequently ill, his maternal uncle, a local schoolteacher, made certain that he received a sound primary education in the Chinese classics.

Venerable Master Taixu. Source: Yinshun Cultural and Educational Foundation (Yinshun wenjiao jijin hui). Xinzhu County, Taiwan

When Taixu was eight, his grandmother began to take him on pilgrimages to some of the more famous Buddhist centers in the sacred mountains of east-central China. He was fascinated with the rituals performed by the monks of Anhui's Jiuhua Shan and the large and impressive Jin Shan monastery near Zhenjiang in Jiangsu province. Eventually he also accompanied his grandmother to the famous Buddhist center on Putuo Shan on the coast of Zhejiang, as well as to the Yuwang (Asoka) and Tiantong monasteries near Ningbo. These religious pilgrimages were formative journeys during which Taixu began to develop an interest not only in Buddhism but in the ideals and daily rhythms of the monastic life.

In 1901, Taixu accepted a business apprenticeship in Chang'an, but this was soon interrupted by the unexpected death of his mother and further health problems of his own. Although in time he returned to his duties as a shop clerk, recurring illnesses presented considerable difficulties for both his professional responsibilities and personal study. According to Yinshun, in 1903, for the very first time, Taixu "began to long for the carefree life of the Buddha's way."2

Just a year later, in the spring of 1904, as the impoverished Qing government was authorizing the confiscation of monastic property to support new educational ventures, Taixu was actively contemplating joining the sangha. At the age of fourteen, influenced by his grandmother's piety, grieved by the death of his parents, and anxious about his physical health and stamina, he decided to renounce lay life. His original plan was to travel by river boat to Putuo Shan via Shanghai. However, when he realized that he had mistakenly boarded a boat heading to Suzhou, he got off at Pingwang and walked to the nearby Xiao Jiuhua si, which he and his grandmother had visited briefly when on a pilgrimage to temples near the city of Zhenjiang, at the intersection of the Grand Canal and Yangzi River.3

Judging his karma to be in harmony with his ultimate aim, Taixu presented himself to Master Shida, the prior of the monastery (jian yuan), and explained his intent. The prior received him, but because the Xiao Jiuhua si was a public monastery (shifang conglin) that was not permitted to tonsure and train novices, he soon arranged to conduct the young man's tonsure ceremony at a small hereditary temple in Suzhou. There Shida gave him the Dharma name Weixin (Mind Only). Remembering the occasion at a later date, Taixu confessed, "I renounced the lay life, longing for the supernatural powers of the immortals (xian) and Buddhas (fo)." In fact, he noted, "still not distinguishing between the immortals and the Buddhas, but thinking of attaining their supernatural powers, I entered the sangha."4

Several months later, Shida escorted the novice to meet the Buddhist Master Zhuangnian, who was the head monk of the Yuhuang temple near Ningbo. It was Master Zhuangnian who gave the young monk the style or courtesy name Taixu (Supreme Emptiness) to forever remind him that he "existed in the midst of supreme emptiness."5 The elderly master also provided the herbal medicines that finalIy helped cure the novice of his persistent fevers. In the late fall of 1904, Zhuangnian accompanied Taixu to the Tiantong si at Ningbo, where he officially took the Buddhist precepts and was ordained under the revered old Chinese master and poet Jichan, also widely known as Eight Fingers (Bazhi Toutuo).6

In light of Taixu's intellectual promise, Eight Fingers soon recommended that he begin studies with the respected Buddhist master Qichang, abbot of Ningbo's nearby Yongfeng si. Master Qichang undertook to instruct Taixu in meditational disciplines using the hua tou ("critical phrase") method of Chan, posing enigmatic questions for contemplation.7 He also guided the young monk's introduction to Buddhist history and literature. In his studies of famous Buddhist texts such as the Zhiyue lu (Record of Pointing at the Moon) and Gaoseng zhuan (Record of the Lives of Eminent Monks), Taixu proved himself an earnest and able pupil.

In his early studies of the Chinese Tripitaka, Taixu was especially attracted to the Lengyon jing (Surangama Sutra) and Fahua jing (Lotus Sutra), the study of which helped him recognize the fundamental differences between Buddhist and Daoist teachings. It was during this initial period of Buddhist training that Taixu first met Yuanying (1878-1953), a disciple of Eight Fingers who came to visit Master Qichang in the summer of 1906.8 Twelve years Taixu's senior, Yuanying would become an important leader within the sangha and serve as the first president of the Chinese Buddhist Association of 1929. Acknowledging their common interests, Taixu and Yuanying established a friendship and pledged to work with each other for a revitalized religious tradition in China. Because of differences of opinion and personal style, it would turn out to be a difficult relationship to maintain. Many years later, in fact, Taixu wrote in his autobiography, "Although afterwards he and I were constantly engaged in conflict, when I think back on those days of scriptural studies, ... I shall always remember his friendship."9

Taixu benefited not only from Qichang's instruction but also from private interviews with Eight Fingers at the Tiantong si nearby, as well as from opportunities to meet other respected Chinese Buddhist masters who visited the Ningbo area monasteries, including the Venerable Daojie (1866-1932), another of Eight Fingers' disciples.10 Yet in the fall of 1907, inspired by lectures on the scriptures given by Daojie and strongly encouraged by Yuanying, the young monk bid farewell to Qichang and departed for Cixi to pursue more advanced studies at the Xifang si, which maintained one of the larger Buddhist libraries in Jiangsu. It was there, while concentrating on the Prajnaparamira (Perfection of Wisdom) literature, that Taixu had a powerful religious experience that was to prove a milestone in his spiritual progress. For Taixu, this represented the arising of the thought of enlightenment (bodhicitta) and was the real beginning of his bodhisattva career. He testified that it enabled him to slough off the "pollution of the world" and gave him "new life."11 He later recalled, "After some time, knowledge of the Buddha came to me like a pearl, lost and found again, and as with a mirror, I was enabled to see clearly through the changes of this life and the world."12

In the spring of 1908, when Taixu was eighteen years old, the reformist monk Huashan came to the Xifang si, where Taixu was staying. According to Yinshun, Huashan was actually "the first person to start modernizing the sangha."13 Impressed with Taixu, Huashan told him about those working for revolutionary political and social changes within China, asserting that the monastic order itself must modernize and promote educational reform. Initially, Taixu was uncertain about Huashan's ideas; indeed, the two monks argued for more than ten days about what such modernization efforts would require. Challenging Taixu to broaden his reading, Huashan gave him a wide variety of provocative books with which he was unfamiliar, including Kang Youwei's utopian classic Datong shu (The Book of the Great Community), Liang Qichao's Xinmin shuo (On New People), Zhang Taiyan's (1868-1936) Gao fozi shu (Letter to Followers of the Buddha) and Gao baiyi shu (Letter to Lay Buddhists), Yan Fu's Tionyan lun (On Evolution), and Tan Sitong's Renxue (An Exposition on Benevolence).

Deeply influenced by these writings, Taixu soon aligned himself with Huashan's modernist stance. Committed to both political reform for the nation and religious reform for the Buddhist community, he formalized a special alliance of friendship with Huashan and began to consider how in practical terms a "new Buddhism" could be created in China to parallel the creation of a new nation. Writes Yinshun, "Because of Taixu's great resolve to save the world through Buddhism, he moved forward from that point and could never again restrain himself. Turning from the kind of religious path that seeks to transcend the human realm in order to enter the Absolute, rather he chose to distance himself from the Absolute in order to confront the world of humankind."14 The vow to pursue this kind of path to transform the world, Taixu stated, was a direct result of his close relationship with Huashan.15

Soon thereafter, at the Xiao Jiuhua si near Pingwang, Taixu met Qiyun, the revolutionary monk from Hunan. Qiyun was a former student of Eight Fingers who, during studies in Japan, had become an early member of the Tongmeng hui (Chinese United League) founded by Sun Yat-sen in 1905. An iconoclastic spirit, Qiyun was associated with Xu Xilin (1873- 1907), Qiu Jin (1879-1907), and other revolutionaries intent on the overthrow of the Qing government. 16 Yinshun notes that, according to the demands of each particular situation, Qiyun wore either western clothes with leather shoes or Buddhist monastic garb. When Taixu first encountered him, he was wearing the monastic robes that permitted him to hide from government officials in the monastery. It was through Qiyun's influence that Taixu was first encouraged to read political materials such as Sun Yat-sen and Zhang Taiyan's Minbao (People's Journal), Liang Qichao's Xinmin congbao (New People's Review), and Zou Rong's (1885-1905) Geming jun (Revolutionary Army). Influenced deeply by Sun's three principles of the people (sanmin zhuyi), he became filled with optimism about revolutionary proposals for broad Chinese political and social reforms. Comments Yinshun, "This was the beginning of Taixu's associations with political partisans (dangren)."17

In the fall of 1908, Taixu went to Ningbo to work with Eight Fingers. The elderly master was serving as director of the Ningbo Sangha Educational Association (Ningbo seng jiaoyu hui), which he had founded earlier that year. When Taixu learned that Qiyun had been arrested on suspicion of involvement in subversive activities, he immediately sought Eight Fingers' help in pleading for Qiyun's release. After the monk was freed from prison, Taixu, Yuanying, and Qiyun assisted Eight Fingers with the promotion of his newly established educational association. The association in Ningbo was only one of a number of ideas for expanding monastic education that had been developed since the Qing government had suspended the imperial examination system in September 1905. That governmental decision had resulted in renewed efforts to confiscate Buddhist property by many local officials throughout China, because each locality faced the daunting expense of creating new educational institutions at which students could become qualified for official service. Buddhist leaders intended to counter such confiscations of property in part by highlighting their own attempts to improve education within the sangha.

Taixu's introduction to such efforts through the Ningbo Sangha Educational Association gave him a glimpse of the promise of educational reforms not only for enhancing the public image of the sangha but for advancing broad reforms of Buddhist thought and practice. Moreover, the organization gave Taixu some of his first opportunities to lecture on contemporary trends within Chinese society and religion, as well as to test the support for his views among the established leaders of the sangha. Thus, observed one commentator, by design and good fortune, Taixu had by his eighteenth birthday already made the acquaintance of "the most celebrated Buddhists in China and obtained a profound view of Buddhism." 18

In the spring of 1909, Yuanying and Zhuangnian recommended that Taixu go to Jin Shan to practice meditation. Nevertheless, Taixu later confessed, "By that time my thoughts were already directed toward modern studies."19 Thus he traveled instead to Nanjing, with the encouragement of Huashan and Qiyun, to begin studies at the Jetavana Hermitage (Zhihuan jingshe) operated by Yang Wenhui, later often called "the father of the Buddhist revival." 20 As noted in Chapter 1, Yang was a well-educated Buddhist layman who had devoted himself to publishing and distributing Buddhist literature through his Jinling Scriptural Press. In addition, as an aspect of his special alliance with the Ceylonese lay devotee Anagarika Dharmapala, he had founded a new kind of school on his estate for all those interested in Buddhism's global mission. Yang himself lectured on the Buddhist scriptures, especially on the Surangama Sutra, which he judged to be especially compatible with modern science.

Olcott left one further legacy. Authority in Buddhism is often a matter of lineage, traced backwards in time from student to teacher, ideally ending with the Buddha himself. If one were to imagine a lineage of modern Buddhism traced forwards in time, one might begin with Gunananda (who clearly saw himself as representing the original teachings of the Buddha) to Colonel Olcott, to a young Sinhalese named David Hewaviratne, better known as Anagarika Dharmapala (1864-1933).

Hewaviratne was born into the small English-speaking middle class of Colombo. His family was Buddhist; at the age of nine he sat with his father in the audience of the Panadure debate, cheering for Gunananda. But like many middle-class children, he was educated in Catholic and Anglican schools. He met Blavatsky and Olcott during their first visit to Ceylon in 1880 and was initiated into the Theosophical Society four years later. In 1881 he changed his name to Anagarika Dharmapala ('Homeless Protector of the Dharma') and, although remaining a layman until late in life, wore the robes of a monk. In 1884, when Blavatsky departed for the Theosophical Society's headquarters in Adyar, India, after a subsequent visit to Ceylon, Dharmapala accompanied her. Upon his return to Ceylon, he became Colonel Olcott's closest associate, accompanying him on a trip to Japan in 1889. In 1898 he worked with Olcott to found the short-lived Dravidian Buddhist Society, dedicated to converting (or, according to Dharmapala, 'returning') the untouchables of south India to Buddhism. Clearly more political than Olcott in both Ceylon and India, he declared that 'India belongs to the Buddhas'.

In 1891, inspired by Edwin Arnold's account of the sad state of the site of the Buddha's enlightenment and by his own trip to the site that year, he founded the Maha Bodhi Society, whose aim was to wrest Bodh Gaya from Hindu control and make it a place of pilgrimage for Buddhists from around the world. Dharmapala achieved international fame after his bravura performance at the World's Parliament of Religions, held in conjunction with the Columbian Exposition in Chicago in 1893. His eloquent English and ability to quote from the Bible captivated the audience as he argued that Buddhism was clearly the equal, if not the superior, of Christianity in both antiquity and profundity, noting, for example, its compatibility with science. While in Chicago, he met not only the other Buddhist delegates to the parliament, such as the Japanese Zen priest Shaku Soen, but American enthusiasts of Buddhism, including [url=x]Paul Carus[/url].

The lineage of modern Buddhism was passed to China, when Dharmapala stopped in Shanghai in 1893 on his journey back from the World's Parliament of Religions, where he met Yang Wen-hui (1837- 1911). Yang was a civil engineer who had become interested in Buddhism after happening upon a copy of The Awakening of Faith, an important Mahayana treatise. He organized a lay society to disseminate the dharma by carving woodblocks for the printing of the Buddhist canon (a traditional form of merit-making). After serving at the Chinese embassy in London (where he met Max Muller, editor of the 'Sacred Books of the East' series, and his Japanese student Nanjo Bun'yu), he resigned from his government position to devote all of his energies to the publication of Buddhist texts.

Accompanying Dharmapala to Shanghai was the famous Baptist missionary Reverend Timothy Richard, who had also attended the parliament in Chicago. After an unsuccessful attempt by Dharmapala to enlist Chinese monks into the Maha Bodhi Society, Reverend Richard arranged for him to meet Yang Wen-hui.
Yang did not think it possible for Chinese monks to go to India to assist in the cause of restoring Buddhism in India, but he suggested that Indians be sent to China to study the Buddhist canon. Here, we note another element of modern Buddhism. Dharmapala felt that the Buddhism of Ceylon was the most pure and authentic version of the Buddha's teachings and would have rejected as spurious most of the texts that Yang had been publishing. Yang, on the other hand, felt that the Buddhism of China was the most complete and authentic, such that the only hope of restoring Buddhism in India lay in returning the Chinese canon of translated Indian texts (including many Mahayana sutras) to the land of their birth. The ecumenical spirit found in much of modern Buddhism does not preclude the valuation of one's own form of Buddhism as supreme.

Yang and Dharmapala seem to have begun a correspondence that lasted over the next fifteen years, in which they agreed on the importance of spreading Buddhism to the West. Towards that end, Yang collaborated with Reverend Richard in an English translation of The Awakening if Faith, and in 1908 established a school to train Buddhist monks to serve as foreign missionaries, with Yang himself serving on the faculty, perhaps the first time in the history of Chinese Buddhism that monks had received instruction from a layman. Yang's contact with figures such as Muller and Dharmapala had convinced him that Buddhism was a religion compatible with the modern scientific world.

The situation faced by Buddhist monks in China was different from that in Ceylon. The challenge came not so much from Christian missionaries, although they were also a strong presence in China, but from a growing community of intellectuals who saw Buddhism as a form of primitive superstition impeding China's entry into the modern world. Buddhism had periodically been regarded with suspicion by the state over the course of Chinese history, and such suspicions were intensified in the early decades of the twentieth century (especially after the Republican revolution of 1911) when Buddhism was denounced both by Christian missionaries and by Chinese students returning from abroad imbued with the ideas of Dewey, Russell and Marx. In 1898 the emperor had issued an edict ordering many Buddhist temples (and their often substantial land holdings) to be converted into secular schools. Although the order was rescinded in 1905, a number of Buddhist schools and academies for the training of monks were founded at monasteries in an effort to prevent the seizure of the property and the establishment of secular schools. The monastic schools set out to train monks in the Buddhist classics, who would in turn go out in public and teach to the laity (as Christian missionaries did). Yang's academy was one such school. Although most were short-lived, they trained many of the future leaders of modern Buddhism in China, who sought to defend the dharma through founding Buddhist organizations, publishing Buddhist periodicals and leading lay movements to support the monastic community. One of the students at Yang's school was the monk T'ai Hsu [Taixu], later to become one of the most famous Chinese Buddhists of the twentieth century. New organizations included the Buddhist Pure Karma Society, founded in 1925 in Shanghai, which ran an orphanage and a free outpatient clinic, sponsored public lectures on Buddhist texts, published the Pure Karma Monthly and operated radio station XMHB, 'The Voice of the Buddha'. The Chinese Metaphysical Society was founded in 1919 in Nanjing. Originally intended for laymen, monks were later allowed to attend, on the condition that they not meditate, recite the Buddha's name, or perform services for the dead. Here Buddhism was presented as a philosophy rather than a religion, and the emphasis was placed not on the recitation of the scriptures (sutras) but on the study of the scholastic treatises, especially those of the Fa-hsiang school, regarded as a form of Buddhist Idealism. For many who participated in these groups, the support and study of Buddhism served as a means of maintaining their Chinese identity during a period of sometimes chaotic social and political change.7

-- A Modern Buddhist Bible: Essential Readings from East and West, by David S. Lopez

Otto Franke reported that the bylaws for the school were carefully articulated in thirty-five articles.21 The school was designed to have three levels of education, with a total curriculum of eight years of academic work. At each level. there were requirements in Buddhist textual studies, modern Chinese literature, and English language and literature, with a minimum of forty-two hours of class time each week. The bylaws called for a limitation of enrollment to twenty-four students, monks, and laymen. All those selected for admission were to have as their ultimate goal the propagation of Buddhism throughout the world. Although Yang's innovative school was forced to close for financial reasons at the end of the academic year, Taixu's brief experience at the Jetavana Hermitage further fueled his optimism about possibilities for real social, political, and religious reformation in China.

By this time, Yuanying had become head monk of the Jiedai si at Ningbo, while Daojie had assumed similar responsibilities at the Fayuan si in Beijing. On Huahan's recommendation. Taixu served for a semester on the faculty of the Huayu Primary School at Putuo Shan. Staying at the famous monastery gave him an opportunity to meet many leaders within the sangha whom he did not know, including the Pure Land master Yinguang, whose conservatism would always set the two at odds.22 Although Taixu returned to the Xifang si in Coo to continue his studies of the Tripitaka, only a month later, early in 1910, he accepted Qiyun's invitation to help him organize in Guangzhou an Association for the Education of Monks (Seng jiaoyu hui), as encouraged by his friend Yuebin, the head monk of the Shuangxi si, which was located on White Cloud Mountain (Baiyun Shan) outside the city. At the time, Guangzhou was a major center for anti-Qing revolutionary activity. In fact, during the period when Taixu was in Guangzhou, radicals staged an unsuccessful uprising in the city, while in Beijing others plotted the assassination of the prince regent.

In the summer of 1910, Taixu, Qiyun, and Yuebin were all invited to lecture at the Hualin si in Guangzhou. While there, Taixu visited the Shizi lin (Lion's Grove), where he helped organize a new center for Buddhist studies (fojiao jingshe). Because several of his lectures at the Shizi lin were eventually edited and published, Yinshun claims that "this was the beginning of Taixu's scholarly writing." 23 Indeed, it was Taixu's first opportunity to publish some of his ideas about the path of a modern-day bodhisattva and the necessity for a comprehensive reformation within the sangha. For example, stressing the need for developing an attitude that is open to religious change, he wrote in "Jiao guan zhuyao" (An Introduction to Buddhist Teaching and Meditation), "The good student of Buddhism relies on his heart and mind, not on ancient tradition, relies on the essential meaning of words, not on the words themselves. The good student is constantly adapting to circumstances and cleverly provoking people to think." 24 And in "Fojiao shi lue" (An Outline of Buddhist History), Taixu asserted that Buddhism's failure to remain a vital force in modern China was due to the otherworldliness of the sangha and the tendency of Buddhists to hold onto the externals of their religion without understanding its essence. Claimed Taixu, "China has entered the era of a world community. Government, religion, and science have all changed. Therefore Buddhism must change or it will definitely not survive!" 25


Although Taixu was only in his early twenties, he was already beginning to be recognized within the Chinese Buddhist community for his personal charisma and modernist positions. Indeed, because he was respected by many prominent government officials and gentry in Guangdong and Jiangxi provinces, Taixu was selected in the fall of 1910 to undertake for the first time in his career the heavy responsibilities of a head monk (zhuchi). When his colleague Yuebin resigned as head monk of the Shuangxi si near Guangzhou, Taixu was called to the position. Within a year, in which he was constantly lecturing both in the monastery and in the city of Guangzhou, Taixu prompted the transformation of the monastery into a "Great Lecture Center" (Mohe jiangyuan). His educational goal was to emphasize the equality of all Buddhist schools and yet the special characteristics of each.26

In the months preceding the successful revolt at Wuchang in October 1911, which led to the downfall of the Qing dynasty, Taixu cultivated his many dose relationships with known socialists and revolutionaries in Guangdong. Among his friends were political radicals such as Pan Dawei, Liang Shangtong, and Mo Jipeng, the latter "a well known anarchist of this period who was associated with the 'assassination teams' that specialized in killing government officials in South China." 27 Together they read the controversial works of Peter Kropotkin (1842-1921), Mikhail Bakunin (1814-1876), Pierre-Joseph Proudhon (1809-1865), and Karl Marx (1818-1883). In discussing China's political future, they debated a broad spectrum of views proposed by advocates of anarchism, socialism, democracy, and constitutional monarchy. Although there is no evidence of Taixu's participation in any overtly subversive activity, it was said that he met almost daily in secret with radicals plotting revolution. Their common anxiety about being discovered was justified when Qiyun was arrested again in April 1911 . Soldiers were soon dispatched to the Shuangxi si to arrest Taixu as well. According to Yinshun, when Qiyun was taken into custody, a eulogy that Taixu had written in memory of the revolutionary martyrs who had died in the unsuccessful 1910 Guangzhou uprising was discovered among Qiyun's papers. Taixu was able to escape by hiding at the newspaper offices of his associate Pan Dawei. Because of these difficult circumstances, he decided to return to Zhejiang as soon as possible.

Accordingly, Taixu resigned as head monk of Shuangxi si that summer, then traveled to Ningbo to consult with Zhuangnian and Eight Fingers before going on to Putuo Shan for the remainder of the season. In the early autumn, he responded to Eight Fingers' urgent request to return to the Tiantong si at Ningbo. At the time, new attempts to confiscate Buddhist property by force had led Buddhist leaders in Shanghai to ask the elderly master to carry a petition to Beijing in protest. Taixu helped write the petition beseeching the Qing government to help protect Buddhist institutions. He even planned to accompany Eight Fingers to the capital to present the plan, hoping to have an opportunity to explain his own ideas about the revitalization and reform of Buddhism, but revolutionary activities along the rail line made the lon2 trip to the capital too dangerous.

Taixu soon decided, however, to travel up the coast as far as Shanghai to meet with the gifted revolutionary monk. Zongyang (1861-1930?), who was then at work on a major publication project designed to contribute to the education of the sangha: a newly edited edition of the entire ChineseTripitaka.28 Zongyang was a close associate and supporter of Sun Yat-sen, with whom he had become friends during an earlier period of residence in Japan. At this time he was living as a layman and using his lay name, Huang Zongyang.29 He was settled at Hardoon Gardens (Ai li yuan), the large estate in the French Concession of Shanghai owned by his devoted and wealthy follower, Mrs. Silas Hardoon (Luo Jialing). It was there that Taixu heard the exciting news of the Wuchang revolt that precipitated the fall of the Qing dynasty. Jubilant at the reports, he considered with colleagues the future of the country and the precarious situation of Buddhism.

At the time of the 1911 revolution, Taixu noted that some monks actually organized monastic troops (seng jun) to support and participate in the military struggle against the Manchus.30 According to Yinshun, in addition to the monk Quefei, who organized monastic troops at the Yufo si in Shanghai, "Tieyan of the Kaiyuan si in Shaoxing [in Zhejiang province] used monastic assets for troop provisions, organized monastic forces, and appointed Dixian, the head monk of the Jiezhu si in Shaoxing, as commander." 31 In Wuhan, Welch reports, sangha troops were actually formed by order of revolutionary military commanders, although such quasi-military activities by Buddhist monks were, without exception, short-lived and insignificant.32

The Republic of China was officially founded in January 1912, when Sun Yat-sen accepted the provisional presidency in Nanjing. Taixu, who had spent the previous few months visiting monasteries in Zhejiang, also traveled to Nanjing to organize an Association for the Advancement of Buddhism (Fojiao xiejin hui). With help from associates in the Socialist Party, he obtained permission from the office of the president to initiate operations from the Pilu si. As Taixu was just beginning his organizational efforts, the radical monk Renshan (1887-1951), whom Taixu had known as a fellow student at Yang Wenhui's Jetavana Hermitage, came to Nanjing and met with him.33 The discussions between the two monks bent on reform were significant because the immediate result would soon become widely known as "the invasion of Jin Shan" (danao Jin Shan). Indeed, the dramatic events that subsequently unfolded at the famous Jin Shan monastery marked a most important chapter in Taixu's career. As he later declared, "From this incident, the reputation of my Buddhist reformation spread, and since then it has been either respected, feared, despised, or admired by the people."34

Renshan had come to Nanjing with the intention of petitioning the Ministry of Education to change the well-endowed Jin Shan monastery -- a large and traditionally conservative monastic institution -- into a modern school for monks. When he heard about Taixu's plans for an Association for the Advancement of Buddhism, Renshan told him that there were many monks and lay devotees who resided in nearby Zhenjiang, just down the Yangzi River from Nanjing, who would be interested in a modern program of Buddhist education. Thus he encouraged Taixu to travel with him to Jin Shan to open and establish such an association there. When they reached the monastery, they stayed at the Guanyin ge, a hereditary temple in the large Jin Shan complex where Renshan had first entered the sangha. With the knowledge of Abbot Qingquan, Prior Yinping, and Guest Prefect Shuangting, Renshan and Taixu prepared to hold the opening conference of the new association in the meeting hall. They printed and sent out invitations to the monks in Zhenjiang, Yangzhou, Nanjing, and as far away as Shanghai. Invitations were also sent to potential lay supporters, who were members of the army, government officials, merchants, or scholars in the Zhenjiang area.

When the conference opened, Taixu estimated that there were two to three hundred monks in attendance plus three to four hundred lay guests. Many of the latter were reportedly members of the Socialist Party in Zhenjiang. Taixu was chosen to serve as chairman, and he set forth briefly his basic principles of religious reform. As Howard Boorman summarizes,

He [Taixu] believed that Buddhist land holdings were the common property of all followers of the religion and should be dedicated to the promotion of social welfare. particularly education. In a statement that aroused strong controversy, he advocated the adoption in religious communities of the principle that each person should be judged by his abilities and rewarded according to his work. Moreover, he argued for the rede6nition of Buddhist doctrine because he believed Buddhism to be a religion for this world.35

Taixu also discussed the aims and purposes of the new association at Jin Shan and read its proposed bylaws. After Renshan made a supporting speech, a monk from Yangzhou named Jishan offered a sharply critical response. Angered, Renshan replied by recounting in detail the autocratic ways of Qingquan, Jishan, and other monks. Furthermore, he proposed that the entire Jin Shan monastery be turned into a modern school by using its considerable resources to cover the school's operating expenses. At this, according to Taixu, most of the guests clapped enthusiastically. However, shouting between opposing forces ensued, and the whole crowd became agitated. Renshan's proposal was ultimately accepted, and he and Taixu were elected to transform the Jin Shan monastery into the headquarters of the Association for the Advancement of Buddhism with a modem monastic school. Taixu later acknowledged that the struggle certainly did not end there:

That evening Renshan led more than twenty fellow students into the monastery to designate rooms for the association's offices. The next morning, when the association began to function. they went into the monastery's business office to examine its 6nancial ledgers, and then into the meditation hall to announce the opening of the school. However, Qingquan, Yinping, Shuangting, Jishan and others had already left the monastery and were posting notices and even making appeals to government offices in order to oppose and stop the association .. . .

Entrusting affairs in Zhenjiang to the care of Renshan, I went to Nanjing .... One night thereafter, Shuangting and others led more than ten workmen in fighting their way into the association's offices. Renshan and a number of others were wounded with knives and dubs. Afterwards, they initiated legal action, and in several months it was decided that Qingquan, Shuangting, plus five or six others be imprisoned for terms ranging from several months to several yean. Because of this whole incident. the association's activities as well as the operation of the Jin Shan monastery were equally disrupted and the result was a confused situation that could not be straightened out. 36

As Yinshun points out, Taixu maintained throughout his life that his intent at Jin Shan was only the very worthy one of providing modern educational opportunities for the monks of the Zhenjiang area. Taixu later wrote, "The association's bylaws did contain the revolutionary socialist idea of utilizing Buddhist property to operate a public Buddhist enterprise, but [what was] intended were peaceful, progressive steps," 37 He also stated, "It was with a peaceful attitude that I announced the preparation for these events." 38 Naturally, however, staunchly conservative opponents to modernization efforts within the sangha, as well as many moderates, fully sympathized with the monks of Jin Shan. While eschewing the violence, many Buddhists thought that the convicted monks had acted only to defend their monastery from an illegal takeover attempt that was substantially no different than those encouraged by hostile military and government officials.

Among traditionalists, therefore, Taixu soon came to represent the radical modernism and aggressive tactics that they feared and resisted. At the same time, he was embraced by the more progressive spirits within the Buddhist community as a promising young leader for reform.39 Comments Welch, "Whatever the motives of its perpetrators, the 'invasion of Jin Shan' epitomizes the shock with which the Republican era burst upon the Buddhist establishment, It drastically foreshadowed the long conflict ahead between conservatives and radicals in the sangha." 40

On April 1, 1912, less than two months after the abdication of the child Xuantong emperor later known as Puyi, Taixu responded to a call from Eight fingers and traveled to Shanghai to participate in the establishment of the Chinese General Buddhist Association (Zhonghua fojiao zonghui). The old master had been very upset by the intemperate actions of the progressive young Buddhist leaders that had led to the serious events at Jin Shan. He was also concerned about the threateningly far-reaching charter of the Chinese Buddhist Association (Zhongguo fojiao hui), founded in Nanjing some weeks earlier by several radical Buddhist laymen who had little respect for the monastic order. The most prominent among these lay leaders was the scholar Ouyang Jingwu, who had been Taixu's fellow student at Yang Wenhui's Jetavana Hermitage. 41 The charter of the Chinese Buddhist Association claimed for itself extensive and unprecedented religious authority: the right to superintend all Buddhist properties, to reorganize and promote all Buddhist financial affairs, and to arbitrate all disputes within the Buddhist community. According to the monk Weihuan, the association's charter promised the government, in return for such broad powers and organizational independence, that the association would not sanction activities beyond the religious sphere proper to Buddhism. The charter was actually submitted to and approved by Sun Yat-sen, the provisional president of the Republic, in the early months of 1912.42

Welch asserts that Ouyang's organization never actually represented more than the audacious plans of a small group of his close friends and colleagues." Nevertheless, it did challenge Eight Fingers to seek the help of Yuanying, Dixian, Xuyun (1840-1959), Taixu, and other monastic leaders to organize a more representative and responsible Buddhist association that was supportive of the sangha." Hoping to promote reconciliation and harmonious order, Eight Fingers persuaded Taixu to cease any further promotion of his own Association for the Advancement of Buddhism in order to merge it with a new organization, the Chinese General Buddhist Association.45 He invited monks from seventeen provinces to convene at Shanghai's Liuyun si for the inaugural meeting of a new association. The result was the first truly broad-based national Buddhist organization established in China.

The Chinese General Buddhist Association proposed to improve the quality of the sangha through the close supervision of ordination, educational standards. leadership selection, and social work activities. Some monks wanted the new association to pursue special agreements with the military to guarantee protection for Buddhist property in exchange for direct financial contributions. Taixu persuasively opposed the plan, however, arguing that "it is the government's natural responsibility to protect the sangha's property. With regard to the sangha contributing directly to the military, that is rather an obligation of all the citizenry. The sangha ought not use its contributions to obtain the government's protection, and the government should not we protection of property as a way to elicit direct financial support from the sangha."46

Such a potentially powerful national Buddhist organization had never existed before, requiring all Chinese monks and nuns to join and to abide by its regulations. Yet the leaders of the sangha believed that the times called for new measures. Because the proposed organization was basically the product of moderate voices within the sangha, it received wide support. Xuyun states that he accompanied Eight Fingers to Beijing to present the chaner of the Chinese General Buddhist Association to representatives of Yuan Shikai's newly established government.47 According to Yu-yue Tsu, the charter's basic provisions included the following:

1. This society is formed by the union of all Buddhist monks.

2. With branches all over the country, it exercises supervision over all the monasteries and monks.

3. All monks, formally admitted into the Order, are given certificates attesting to their membership in the society.

4. No monk is permitted to receive any pupil [candidate for the Order) unless the candidate is a bona fide applicant and of good family.

5. No monastery is permitted to alienate any of its property without authorization from the society.

6. Observance of monastic rules should be strictly enforced; for violation of the same rules, monks are to be punished.

7. Seminaries for the training of candidates for the Order are to be established, and in them Buddhist scriptures and Chinese classics are to be taught.

8. Persons under twenty years of age are not to be admitted into the Order; also those who have not had three years' theological training.

9. For monks to hire themselves out for the performance of funeral services. especially appearing in funeral processions, is considered derogatory to the dignity of the monastic order, and so the practice is to be strictly prohibited.48

Although Eight Fingers was rudely rebuffed by officials of the Ministry of the Interior, the charter was eventually ratified, even as Ouyang Jingwu's rival association ceased to exist. Before the charter's ratification, however, the elderly master became ill and died in Beijing's Fayuan si, on November 10, 1912, believing that he had failed in his mission.49 Taixu was deeply grieved by the death of the teacher whom he respected so much. Moreover, without Eight Fingers' strong leadership within the sangha, the new association for which the master worked so hard during the last year of his life functioned for only two short years. Yet the continuing need to defend Buddhist property and to address the infighting between the more conservative and radical factions within the Buddhist community contributed to the creation of more than a dozen other Buddhist organizations through the 1920s. Taixu himself was soon promoting the Buddhist Society of the Great Vow (Fojiao hongshi hui) from Ningho's Yanqing si. To facilitate reform, he also considered trying to organize a specifically Buddhist "Tongmeng hui" (Buddhist Chinese United League), which he named the League for the Support of Buddhism (Weichi fojiao tongmeng hui).50

Speaking at Eight Fingers' memorial service at Shanghai's Jing'an si in February 1913, Taixu spoke of the urgent need for three revolutions: an organizational revolution (zuzhi geming), an economic revolution (caichan geming), and an intellectual revolution (xueli geming). In consonance with these three revolutions, Taixu argued, in the founding policy statement of the League for the Support of Buddhism, for five essential elements that he judged would be absolutely necessary for the revivification and preservation of the Buddhist faith in China: first, a religious community freely organized; second, a spirit as fearless as that of sacrificial animals; third, a desire to learn and to seek education; fourth, a plan for putting into actual practice compassionate action toward all; and fifth, a dedication marked by peace of mind and a sense of vocation. 51

When the first national assembly of the Republic began meeting in Beijing that year, Taixu was arguing publicly that religious practice founded on such elements deserved freedom of expression. In a petition to members of the assembly, he declared boldly that, "based on the principle of religious freedom, we should recognize in practice the separate jurisdictions of government and religion." 52 At the same time. he emphasized to members of the Buddhist community that the struggle for religious freedom from government intervention was something about which they could never become complacent. Indeed, that struggle would be joined again soon because of the expansive new regulations of the Buddhist establishment approved by Yuan Shikai's government in 1915.

In early 1913. Taixu took up residence at the Qingliang si in Shanghai, where the editorial offices of the Chinese General Buddhist Association were located. There he helped with the editing responsibilities for the association's new journal, Fojiao yuebao (Buddhist Monthly). Along with like-minded colleagues at the Qingliang si and Jing'an si, the site in Shanghai of the official headquarters of the association, Taixu considered the possibilities for Buddhist reforms and the divisive political debates within the fledgling Chinese republic. The summer months brought the national turmoil of what became known as "the second revolution," as a number of provinces declared independence from the Republic in the clash between parliament and the provisional president Yuan Shikai. Although the rebellion was quickly crushed by Yuan's army, attempts to check presidential powers continued well into the fall, when Yuan actually dissolved the Guomindang and assumed dictatorial authority.

New intrusions into Buddhist monasteries were reported in relation to the fighting. Taixu and his friends Zongyang, Yuexia (1857- 1917), and others considered the dangers ofcheir political radicalism in view of Yuan's reactionary style of leadership.53 In response to the heated political debates on China's future at the time, Taixu himself asserted, "The political perspectives of anarchism and Buddhism are very close. yet beginning from the stage of democratic socialism we can make gradual progress toward anarchism."54 In the fall of 1913, the Fojiao yuebao ceased publication because of lack of funds. At age twenty-four, Taixu had reached what he later considered to be a pivotal point in his life.
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In the summer of 1914, Taixu elected to travel to Putuo Shan near the coast of the East China Sea, where he stayed at the Xilin temple. World War I, with its disillusionment about human capacities for progress and mutuality, had just begun in Europe. In addition, the distrust and enmity aroused by the Jin Shan incident remained acute in certain circles of the sangha. According to the monk Xuming (1919- 1966), upon recognizing the failures of his own reformist endeavors within the Chinese Buddhist community and the war-torn state of his country and the world, Taixu actually began to have doubts about Buddhism's ability to be an effective and universal healing force.55 Unwilling and unable to back away from his long-term aims, Taixu nevertheless considered a period of strategic retreat appropriate. He was later to recall:

The wish gradually formed within me of applying the law of Buddha for the harmonizing of the philosophies of ancient and modern times and of the east and the west, and of leading the nations of the whole world to follow the teachings of Sakyamuni. Since then, during the past decade, through circumstances favorable and unfavorable, whether traveling abroad or staying at home, whether engaged in mundane affairs or retired in lonely hermitage, this wish has not for one moment been permitted to leave my mind.

Then the European War broke out. Added to the rottenness of the inward life of man, was the brutal struggle of the outward world. I was convinced of the magnitude of the human calamity. which like a wagonload of hay on fire could not be extinguished with a cupful of water. Since it was ordained that I should wait until the ripe time to carry out my wish, I decided to make use of the waiting to exercise my religion [contemplation], and so I "shut myself" on Putuo Island for three years.56

In October, Taixu entered a voluntary three-year period of isolated study and meditation known as "sealed confinement" (biguan). Such self-isolation was a highly respected religious practice of self-discipline for Chinese monks, during which they were released from the usual expectations associated with communal living and permitted to read and meditate on their own. Small cells or huts for monks so dedicated were often erected and provided for as an act of merit-making by lay supporters. The initiation of biguan was normally accompanied by elaborate rituals in which the monk's quarters were sealed with bright red banners announcing his inspirational example of commitment to the Dharma.57 In Taixu's case, it was the Venerable Yinguang who presided over the formal ceremonies that sealed Taixu in his cloister.

The Christian missionary Karl Ludvig Reichelt, who became well acquainted with the monk, describes Taixu's surroundings at Putuo Shan in his book The Transformed Abbot, a biography of one of Taixu's disciples who eventually converted to Christianity:

The idea of biguan is that a monk may be given opportunity to rehabilitate himself by concentrated meditation and thorough study of the Buddhist scriptures. Long meditations were not according to Taixu's mind but studies were simply life to him and he looked forward to having time for writing too. From the monastic library he had brought Buddhist writings. Paper and Chinese ink he regularly obtained through the little trap-door that opened and shut whenever food was pushed in for him. In the cell were a bed, a bench to sit on, a table with writing instruments and chopsticks, an extra table for books and a small altar in one corner with an image of Buddha. In the yard, just large enough to allow him a little exercise. were a small flower-bed and a few water jars. The water supply came through a long bamboo pipe from the mountain stream beyond. A couple of poles were set up with a string for laundry and in one corner of the yard the necessary "little room" had been erected. 58

According to Reichelt, the silence and tranquillity of the place were accentuated by the sound of the sea tide as it rushed in and out among the sandbanks of Putuo Island. The profound influence of this setting on the development of Taixu's career, he points out, was reflected in the title of the most significant and long-lasting Buddhist periodical originating in the Republican period, namely, Haichao yin (The Sound of the Sea Tide), which Taixu founded in 1920.

During his three years of sealed confinement, Taixu devoted himself to an extensive reading program. In his autobiography, he claims that he kept firmly to a daily schedule that called for meditation and veneration of the buddhas (li fo) upon arising; the study of Buddhist literature in the morning; additional reading and writing in the afternoon, with attention not only to the Chinese classics but to modern literature as well; and, each evening, veneration and a final period of meditation before retiring. 59 Within his broad-ranging program of studies, Taixu was especially intrigued by the writings of Zhang Taiyan and the scholar-translator Yan Fu. both of whom maintained an active interest in Buddhism.60 His reading included works in western history, philosophy, and science, although he spent most of his time studying the sacred scriptures of Buddhism, with special attention given to the Lengyan jing (Surangama Sutra), Dasheng qixin lun (*Mahayana- sraddhotpada Sastra), and Cheng weishi lun (Vidya-matra-siddhi Sastra).

During his period of confinement, Taixu wrote such diverse pieces as "Fofa daolun" (An Introduction to the Buddhist Dharma), "Jiaoyu xinjian" (New Conceptions of Education), "Zhexue zhengguan" (Proper Perspectives on Philosophy), "Lun Xunzi" (On Xunzi), "Lun Zhouyi" (On the Book of Changes), and "Lun Hanyu" (On Hanyu). Throughout his various works he called for a globalized form of modern education, individual freedoms in the context of a community committed to the welfare of all, and Buddhist wisdom and compassion as the basis for a new world civilization. According to Yinshun, in many of these works readers could easily see how "Taixu blended socialism (shehui zhuyi) with Buddhist teachings."61

Although in seclusion for three yean, Taixu continued to monitor political developments in China and overseas. In May 1915,Yuan Shikai, hoping that affairs with foreign governments would not interfere with his bid for presidential powers chat extended beyond even the extraordinary privileges granted in the revised constitution of May 1914, accepted the infamous Japanese "Twenty-one Demands." As Immanuel C.Y. Hsu notes, these called for "(1) recognition of Japan's position in Shandong; (2) special position for Japan in Manchuria and Inner Mongolia; (3) joint operation of China's iron and steel industries; (4) nonalienation of coastal areas to any third. power; and (5) control by Japan of China's several important domestic administrations."62 Additional agreements were signed with Russia and Great Britain for their special interests in Outer Mongolia and Tibet, respectively. These humiliating actions, along with Yuan's shocking announcement in December 1915 that he would assume the full powers of a monarch, led to a series of revolts throughout the country.

Taixu was also made aware while in seclusion of the adoption by the parliament in October 1915 of the Regulations for the Control of Monasteries and Temples (Guanli simiao tiaoli) promulgated through the parliament with Yuan's full support. The regulations were not only more restrictive than those adopted by the Ministry of the Interior in 1913, but extended supervision well beyond the Qing codes. As Tsu comments, the act was particularly troublesome for Buddhism:

While these regulations were supposed to apply to Buddhist and Daoist institutions without discrimination. it was clear that owing to the fact that Buddhist institutions far outnumber those of the Daoist faith and that Daoism has no monks anyway. the regulations would fall more heavily upon the Buddhists -- in fact. that was the intention of the government. The government justified itself by arguing that temples and monasteries are public institutions and many of them are of historic and artistic importance, and so supervision was necessary to prevent their falling into private hands. The chief features of the regulations are: (1) registration of temples and monasteries, monks and nuns; (2) taxation of temple property; (3) non-alienation of temple property; (4) subjection of religious activities and preaching services to police regubtion.63

Welch notes that the final sweeping element of the policy aimed to limit any public statements by monks and nuns "to doctrinal exegesis, moral exhortation, and 'stimulating patriotic thoughts.' "64 The government also reasserted its right to monitor and control ordination through required certificates issued by the Ministry of the Interior. Yet it went even further, claiming the authority to dismiss abbots for infractions not only of the civil code but of monastic rules as well. Paul Callahan reports that these actions resulted. in vehement opposition in China "from both Buddhists and Christians." On the sangha's reaction, he remarks:

The Buddhist National Society [Chinese General Buddhist Association (Zhonghua fojiao zonghui) founded in Shanghai in 1912] set up a lobby, a preaching hall, near the National Assembly and worked zealously to influence the populace and delegates against the government. In retaliation. the government declared the society. inimical to p-blic safety. and closed it. Though Yuan's schemes failed and the Society was reorganized after his fall, it was again closed by the government in 1917. 65

The confrontations with the government that continued during Taixu's period of sealed confinement eventually led him to reflect further on the Sangha's relation to the world and its inability to speak with one voice. He came to believe that these issues were not unrelated to the diversity within the Buddhist community itself. Thus he began to argue that those pursuing the bodhisattva path needed to understand deeply -- and actually integrate -- the different emphases and diverse forms of piety associated with what he had customarily spoken of as two basic approaches to the Dharma: the intuitive approach of Chan, which was not founded on special scriptures (buli wenzi), and the teaching approach adopted by the Vinaya (Lu), Tiantai, Huayen, Yogacara (Weishi, or Mind-Only), Pure Land (Jingtu), and Tantric (Zhenyan) schools.

Taixu came to claim that since no one school encompassed the entire canon and none was without a sound foundation in the Buddha's Dharma, practitioners would benefit from a synthetic approach to enlightenment based on a broad study of scripture and tradition. Nevertheless, Xuming observes, while the reformer began to advocate forging a new religio-philosophical synthesis and was convinced that each school's perspectives were grounded in a "pure mind" (jing xin), he was always extremely appreciative of the idealistic philosophical perspectives that he discovered in the Weishi tradition. Thus, on the one hand, as Xuming asserts, it was most clearly in the terms of this tradition that Taixu "grasped the fundamental principles of Chinese Buddhism." 66 On the other hand, as Shengyan indicates, his stance was clearly that of a Chan master:

Taixu studied Chan in his early yean; and although Taixu later judged the eight schools to be of equal importance, he did state, "When one reaches understanding, one naturally comes to the Prajna (Sanlun) School and the Chan School of Bodhidharma." ... He emphasized the application of Yogacara philosophy and constantly used its terminology to explain Buddhist texts. Hence. he often has been mistaken for a scholar of the Yogacara School, when in fact he only borrowed its terminology as a matter of expediency. 67

Concurring that Taixu came to stress the unity of Buddhism early in his monastic career, Gao Yongxiao argues that one can discern in the monk's writings three distinct stages of reflection on the issue of the unity and diversity of Buddhist teaching (fofa de panshe).68 In the first period of the reformer's religious life, Gao says, from about 1908 to 1914, Taixu followed the traditional method of distinguishing between a zong or "lineage," and a jiao, or "school." A zong primarily emphasized the transmission of enlightenment experiences, while a jiao focused on certain highly prized scriptures and the transmission of enlightened undentandi0S' about the human situation and the nature of reality.

During the second phase of Taixu's career, from 1915 to 1923, after extensive studies of the Chinese Tripitaka during his biguan, the monk began to emphasize the fundamental interrelationship between Nikaya Buddhism and Mahayana Buddhism." Indeed, notes Gao, Taixu began to highlight the teaching of the Lotus Sutra that in fact "there is only one Dharmic vehicle, not two or three." 70 The Sravakayana (shengwen sheng), the Pratyekabuddhayana (yuanjue sheng), and the Bodhisattvayana (pusa sheng) were just expedient expressions of the one Buddhayana (fo sheng). The eight schools of Buddhism, Taixu thought, represented only di1ferent aspects of the one true Dharma. which is adapted according to the various needs of its hearers. Shengyan observes:

According to Taixu, "There are many tributaries of the Dharma, yet the source is one." True Suchness, being the essence of the Dharma, is one and undifferentiated. Differences among the treatises are for promoting the effect of preaching. Taixu divided the teachings into the Prajna (Sanlun [Madhyamika]) School emphasizing "Selectivity," the Yogacara [WeishiJ School emphasizing "Existence," and the True Suchness Schools (Chan, Tiantai, Xianshou [Huayan), and Esoteric [Zhenyan]) emphasizing "Emptiness." He also explained these three emphases in terms of the three natures noted in Yogacara: the Prajna School emphasizes the nature of wrong discrimination. the Yogacara School emphasizes the nature of dependence on others, and the True Suchness Schools the nature of perfect knowledge. All three are perfect teachings, despite their different functions.71

John Blofeld once remarked, after a conversation with Taixu about the great diversity of traditions within the Buddhist household, "I comfort myself with the words of the Venerable Taixu who declared that the various sects are like beads in the same rosary and that each one of them is the best approach for certain individuals."72 Although Taixu acknowledged that every person must begin his or her pilgrimage through earnest study of one particular school's teaching about the truth, he judged that all practitioner.; would finally realize that the same goal could be reached by different routes. Thus, he concluded. "Upaya (fangbian) has many gates, but in returning to the origin (gui yuan), there are not two roads."73

According to Gao. during the third phase of Taixu's career, from 1923 to 1947, he "distinguished between 'schools' (jiao), 'doctrines' (Ii), and 'actions' (xing) in order to organize a comprehensive presentation of Sakyamuni's transmission of Dharma."'· As Chou Hsiangkuang shows in outlined detail, in his teaching Taixu used "schools" as a category for explaining the historical development of the various Nikaya, Mahayana, and Vajrayana traditions, as well as for introducing Pali, Chinese, and Tibetan, the languages that he judged to be most critical for advanced Buddhist studies. Under the category of "doctrines," Taixu explored with his students basic Buddhist teachings about karma, Samsara, nirvana, and conditioned origination. as well as the more difficult Mahayana doctrines of buddha-nature, mind-only, and so forth. The category of normative Buddhist "actions" provided Taixu with a framework for a detailed discussion of Buddhist morality in terms of the five vows (wu jie), the ten forms of good action (shi de), and the great career of the bodhisattva in wise and compassionate service to all. 75

As Yang Huinan points out, it was also in this third. period, after 1923, that Taixu began frequently to refer to an important threefold distinction within Buddhism to embrace the scope of its doctrine -- namely, the Dharma common to the Five Vehicles, the Dharma common to the Three Vehicles, and the distinctive Dharma of the Great Vehicle (Mahayana).76 As discussed in Chapter 4, his central points were that the basic moral precepts required of all beginners on the path toward enlightenment remain significant for more advanced followers, and that reliance on only one part of the teachings is unproductive.

Just as Taixu had entered sealed confinement in 1914 with a certain amount of fanfare, so he came out of seclusion on February 4, 1917 with more than the usual attention. Reichelt says that. on the appointed day for the monk's return to society, a number of abbots, Buddhist scholars, and dignitaries gathered at Putuo Shan, formed a procession, and proceeded to Taixu's cloister. "Salvoes of firecrackers were discharged," he writes, "and a solemn mass was offered in front of his cell. Then the red seal was removed by the abbot and the hero was led out and acclaimed with enthusiasm." n Acutely aware of the great conflagration that raged on in Europe, of China's own instability, and of disorder within the sangha, the twenty-seven-year-old Taixu immediately began traveling to important monasteries throughout central China and visiting colleagues among the more conservative monastic leaders, such as Yuanying, as well as the more radical, like his old colleague Renshan.

Invigorated by the experience of confinement and more determined than ever to make a difference in advancing the Dharma in an age of confusion, Taixu also accepted invitations to travel to Japan and Taiwan (then a Japanese colony) to consult with other Asian Buddhist leaders about the present and future condition of their religion. He talked constantly about the dilemmas of a war-weary world, the bankruptcy of western culture, the certain demise of Christianity, the problems of Buddhist sectarianism, and the possibilities for the development of a "new Buddhism." Yet as Xuming has emphasized, Taixu never used the term "new" in any popular sense of the term (i.e., to mean "western," "foreign," "ultramodern," or "anti-traditional"). Rather. he claims, the reformer always intended "new" in the sense of the true, original essence of Chinese Buddhism. which needed to be rediscovered. 78

That rediscovered essence of wisdom and compassion, embodied by the bodhisattva, was for Taixu the hope of all sentient beings. History had shown that neither western humanism nor western religion could adequately support the creation of a global culture. Yet Mahayana Buddhism, Taixu confidently proclaimed, could provide the foundation for a lasting world peace that would be an Asian gift to the rest of the world. As he concluded in a lecture at the Yunhua tang, in the city of Zhanghua in central Taiwan, in October 1917:

Buddhism is representative of East Asian civilization. Now Christianity, which is representative of contemporary Western civilization, has already at this point lost its religious power in Europe and America. Europeans and Americans have thus lost their basis for a secure life and the fulfillment of their destiny. It is because of this fact that the great World War is now taking place. We ought to proclaim our East Asian good word of peace and spread Buddhism universally throughout the world in order to change their murderous perversions and save all beings from great disaster. 79

Organizing and Educating "New Monks"

After his travels through Japan and Taiwan, and after consultations with Zhang Taiyan and Wang Yiting, Taixu instigated his reformist movement with the founding in Shanghai, in August 1918, of the Bodhi Society (Jue she). During his biguan, Taixu had spent considerable time on imaginative plans for reorganizing the Chinese sangha, a project he considered as necessary as it was difficult. The first of several versions of his Zhengli sengqie zhidu lun (The Reorganization of the Sangha System) was written in 1914, in response to the threat presented by the Regulations for the Control of Monasteries and Temples. Yet Taixu recognized that the ultimate reception of such a controversial proposal would require the establishment of bases of monastic and lay support that could serve as effective organs of propaganda. The Bodhi Society -- so named, said Taixu, "because of my long-cherished hope that the world could be saved through Buddhism" -- was to be one such base. According to Xuming, the founding of the organization constituted "the beginning of Taixu's new Buddhist movement." With its creation, the number of the reformer's followers began to increase rapidly. The society's explicit purposes, noted Taixu, were "to publish research, edit collected works, sponsor lectures on Buddhism, and encourage religious cultivation." The monk himself later recalled:

The next year [1918], I was invited to visit the South Sea Islands [where there are colonies of prosperous Chinese emigrants]. I formed the idea of building a National Monastery. My observation leads me to feel that the monastic institutions in our country have fallen away from ancient pure ideals and are corrupt beyond reform. If I could raise the funds from people abroad, I would build the national monastery [as a model of renewed and purified monasticism]. If I should fail to attain my object I would reconcile myself to the life of a wandering mendicant and, leaning upon Buddha's mercy, thus travel to my life's end.

When I was at Putuo, some of my earnest devotees requested me to lecture on "Weishi lun." ... I talked to them about my wish to reform monastic institutions and my plan to go south. They also saw the works I have written. They strongly advised against the southern trip at the time as the European War was at its height, and it would be difficult to raise money there, but urged me to publish my works and to organize a society for the promotion of Buddhism in China as the first step of my larger plans. And so we organized the "Bodhi Society" in Shanghai.

The initial announcement of the Bodhi Society reveals the organization's aim to promote "self-enlightenment and the enlightenment of others" and its rules designed to nurture those on the bodhisattva path. The basic bylaws read as follows:

I. Purpose:

A. To set forth the true principles of Mahayana Buddhism to cause those who slander the truth to repent, those who doubt to have faith and understanding, those who believe and understand to put their faith into action, and those who understand and practice their religion to witness to others; to transform fools and common people, radicals and ultraconservatives into sages, saints, and buddhas.

B. To proclaim the true principles of Mahayana Buddhism to turn those who are cruel and evil into benevolent people and those who are greedy and belligerent into righteous people; so that the wise will rejoice in the way and the strong will honor morality; to turn this war-torn and suffering world into a place of peace and happiness.

II. Regulations for members …”

A. Rules for self-cultivation:

1. Required practices:

a. To take refuge in the Three Jewels of Buddha, Dharma and Sangha and take the four universal vows of a bodhisattva to make definite one’s faith and resolve.

b. To observe the ten great precepts for the laity as found in the Brahmajala Sutra. If a member is not immediately able to observe all of the precepts, then he should select one or two of them and gradually increase the number until he is in compliance with all the right actions.

c. To reflect on perfect knowledge, investigate the essence of the mind, study the Buddhist scriptures, and practice bodhisattva behavior in order to develop your own wisdom.

2. Special regular practices:

a. To reflect on the [teachings of the] Chan school,

b. To support the teachings of the Zhenyan school,

c. To chant the Mahayana scriptures,

d. To recite the name of Amitabha,

e. To practice one form of meditation (zhiguan),

f. Or to engage in several of these practices simultaneously.

3. Things to be done at one's convenience: to worship, offer repentance, and make donations. Practice all these things properly as opportunities arise in all times and places.

B. Regulations about group activities for the entire membership ... :

1. On the eighth day of the fourth month, members should gather for one day to observe the birthday of Buddha by fasting, offering penance, releasing living beings, making donations, and doing other meritorious deeds.

2. Beginning on the evening of the eleventh day of the eleventh month, and continuing for seven days, members should hold a meeting for reciting the name of Buddha (nian fo hui). The time should be limited so as to attain a oneness of mind without confusion.

3. Each year, from the first to the eighth day of the twelfth month, members should hold a meeting for meditation (can chan hui). The time should be limited so as to become enlightened to the original Mind from which all things arise. 85

Late during the next year, following the Beijing demonstration in May 1919 at which students protested the government's humiliating policy toward Japan and the outcome of the Versailles peace negotiations, the headquarters of the Bodhi Society were moved from Shanghai to Hangzhou, as Taixu moved to the Jingfan yuan near the West Lake. Shortly thereafter, in early 1920, the Jueshe congshu, the organization's quarterly magazine that Taixu edited, was renamed Haichao yin and became a monthly publication. In a relatively short time, it was to become the most important and widely read Buddhist periodical of the Republican period. Its goal was the exploration of models for the organization and education of "new monks." Although Taixu was obviously directing events to achieve his long-range goals, his own recollection, not surprisingly, is self-deprecating. He wrote in 1920.

Lately I have been living in Jingfan yuan monastery, on the side of the Western Lake, Hangzhou. Here I had desired to live quietly for the practice of contemplation, but the members of the Bodhi Society have asked me to edit a new magazine, called Haichao yin [The Voice of Sea Waves] to meet the needs of the time. I have consented to do it for one year, as the work is congenial to my original wish, and so for this year, I have decided to lay aside other work. and devote myself to editing the magazine. But at the close of ten thousand years, the Tathagata will surely raise up men to establish the Law and spread it throughout the world of the living.86

The society's publishing effort -- for which Taixu was able to secure financial assistance from interested laypersons -- aimed both at religious instruction and institutional reform. The ultimate goal of Haichao yin was no less than a modernizing transformation of Chinese Buddhist piety and of the institutional structures that could encourage and support an expression of that piety. Observed Tsu:

It aims to lift the voice of Mahayana Buddhism for the guidance of mankind tossed as it is by the waves of modern thought. The magazine contains (1) exposition of Buddhist doctrines, as for instance a new commentary of "Mahayana-sraddhotpada-sastra" (Awakening of Faith); (2) apologetics or defense of the faith in face of modern criticism; (3) advocacy of reformation, as reorganization of the monastic order; (4) testimonials: stories of conversion experience, lives of saintly devotees, etc.; (5) critical review of works on religion and philosophy, especially on Buddhism. It is of high quality and is edited by Taixu Fashi himself. 87

The significance of the appearance of the innovative Chinese Buddhist periodical was soon acknowledged by the Japanese editors of the international journal, The Eastern Buddhist, who wrote:

The Kaichoou (Haichao yin), a Buddhist monthly, published at Wuchang under the editorship of Rev. Taixu is full of interest and information. This we wish to be the real beginning of a general re-awakening of interest in Buddhism throughout the length and breadth of the Middle Kingdom, which produced in the past so many saintly souls and spiritual leaders contributing to the ever-upward progress of Eastern civilization, and where Buddhism, fully assimilated by the native genius and mode of feeling. has resulted in the creation of its special form now designated as Zen or Chan. 88

One of the first articles published in 1920 in Haichao yin was from Taixu's Zhengli sengqie zhidu lun (The Reorganization of the Sangha System), composed in first draft during his period of sealed confinement. According to Callahan, the essay "took the Chinese Buddhist world by storm."89 Although the specifics changed slightly in later revised versions, as discussed in Chapter 5 below, Taixu's plan called for Chinese Buddhism to be reshaped institutionally with new model monasteries, benevolent organizations, and educational ventures. It required higher levels of education for all monks and nuns in view of the increasing levels of education in the general populace. It proposed productive physical labor by all able-bodied monastics so that the community could be self-supporting, eliminating the need for the decadent commercialism of masses for the dead. Taixu also envisioned monasteries and temples more as places of study and meditation than as centers for esoteric rites. Accordingly, an exemplary national monastery was to be established, complete with a massive library and a museum of Buddhist art and artifacts open for research. Affiliated with it would be a network of related institutes for Buddhist studies, as well as centers for Dharma proclamation and meditation.

As Taixu refined his plan in the years that followed, he chose to address not only the issue of the sangha's functional organization but the question of how many monastics were needed to propagate Buddhism in China. His recommendations eventually called for drastic reductions in the size of the monastic community, while redefining the sangha's role vis-a-vis society to reflect his own form of ethical piety. Under his controversial scheme, a moderate number of professional monks would perform good works for the benefit of society as a whole (such as operating schools, orphanages, and hospitals) under the direction of a small cadre of highly educated scholar-monks who were experts in Buddhist doctrine, and complemented by an almost equally small number of elderly monks who specialized in spiritual cultivation through meditation and chanting. The great majority of monks, who Taixu thought shouldn't really be called monks at all, would engage in manual labor to support the propagation of the religion by those most able to do so in a modern society. Welch comments:

Between 1915 and 1947 he produced seven more versions [of his plan for reorganizing the sangha], each representing an evolution over the last. None was ever put into practice: they were, in fact, so impracticable and so grandiose that it is hard to see how they could have been taken seriously. Rather, as if he were a child deploying regiments of toy soldiers, Taixu divided up the sangha into departments, each with its own specialty. For example, according to one of his later schemes, China was to have ten thousand scholar monks, who earned academic degrees in four grades according to the number of years they spent at study. The highest grade would consist of eight hundred monks with the Ph.D., each of whom had studied for nine years. Twenty-five thousand monks were to engage in good works (nine thousand teaching Buddhism, seven thousand running hospitals, orphanages, and so on). Finally, a small number of elders would run sixty centers of religious cultivation (xiu lin). at which a thousand monks would meditate and recite Buddha's name. This accounted for only thirty-six thousand of China's half a million monks. What would have happened to the rest is unclear. Perhaps Taixu expected that many of them would disrobe to avoid manual labor and military service, both of which he is said to have favored for monks. With the sangha reduced to scholars and functionaries, there would not have been funerary specialists to perform rites for the dead, but this objection carried no weight with Taixu, for such rites were something of which, by now, he tended to disapprove. Indeed, he seems sometimes to have had grave doubts about monkhood itself. 90

Taixu, with his "utopian propensity," was convinced that Buddhism could revitalize itself in the twentieth century through educational modernization, social service, and international cooperation. His greatest accomplishment in the area of monastic education was the Wuchang Buddhist Institute (Wuchang foxue yuan), founded in 1922. According to Earl Herbert Cressy, Taixu moved in that year from Hangzhou in Zhejiang province to the Wuchang and Hankou area in Hubei province because "he found the monasteries in Hangzhou too conservative to welcome his more up-to-date attitude."91 In Hankou, in contrast, his lectures on modern Buddhist reform soon inspired the establishment of a new lay organization, the Right Faith Buddhist Society of Hankou (Hankou fojiao zhengxin hui), for which Taixu served as "Guiding Master" (daoshi). The society soon built a large three-story complex for its publishing and educational activities, and by 1933 claimed a membership of thirty thousand.92 Still, Taixu's principal concern at the time was the creation of his new type of monastic school across the Yangzi River in the neighboring city of Wuchang. Cressy reports:

Upon the arrival of the Monk Taixu in Wuchang, in 1922, there was an emphasis upon securing better educated leaders for Buddhist monasteries and associations. Accordingly a college was established which had a plant consisting of three main buildings and ample accommodations for classrooms, service departments, and living quarters for faculty and students.

About $60,000 was expended in establishing the school. For the first two years it was conducted on a modest basis, but later it was divided into a number of departments. The writer visited this school in 1925 and interviewed Taixu, its head. The seventy students in residence were middle-school graduates and were a very intelligent and keen group of young men.93

With the generous support of lay Buddhist leaders Li Yinchen, ChenYuanbai,Wang Senpu, Li Kaicheng, and others, Taixu's seminary in Wuchang became a pioneer in Buddhist education. The school adopted the western educational format of lecture and discussion classes. It employed monastic and lay instructors, provided blackboards for use by teachers and students, and required academic course work not only in Buddhist studies and languages but in secular subjects, such as history, literature, and psychology, as well.94 Its excellent library was renowned for a collection that eventually included more than forty thousand books. Because of the success of Taixu's innovations, the Wuchang Buddhist Institute gained recognition as an educational model for Buddhist seminaries throughout China. James B. Pratt, who visited the seminary in 1923, reported attending one of the lectures after a pleasant private interview with the master:

At the lecture were sixty-three students, all but five of them being monks. Taixu lectured without notes and very easily, making constant use of the black board. Each student had a copy of the sutra that was being expounded, and followed the lecture eagerly, taking careful notes. I gathered from what my interpreter told me that his lectures were less abstruse than those of Mr. Ouyang [Jingwu]. His influence must be considerable. If sixty monks, or half that number, can be sent out every year with his impress upon them, there is still hope for Chinese Buddhism.

Taixu's aim, he told me, is chiefly to make Buddhism known as it really is. He is the more hopeful that his effort in this direction will bear fruit, because it is in response to a real demand. Chinese students are returning every year from Europe and America, or graduating from colleges in China, and demanding to know what Buddhism is. The question, he insists, must be answered from Chinese sources -- from the great Mahayana sutras -- and in a scholarly and philosophical way. His primary aim is, therefore, scholarly and philosophical. Solid knowledge and solid thinking must form the basis of anything lasting in the way of a Buddhist revival. Only indirectly does he hope to spread Buddhism among the common people. 95

Taixu's modernization extended well beyond the five seminaries that eventually came under his direct authority. Conservative leaders disparaged the broader scope of education available in Taixu's seminaries, maintaining that it served only to distract monks and nuns from the more essential elements of a uniquely Buddhist style and content to learning. Yet many Chinese Buddhists found a more comprehensive form of education especially relevant given the intellectual challenges in the wake of the "May Fourth Movement" and the anti-religion activities of the 1920s. While others debated his methods, Taixu never altered his course or wavered in his insistence that students seek to understand the Dharma in relation to the social and political issues of the day. Nevertheless, after 1934, financial difficulties forced the closure of the groundbreaking school at Wuchang, and the plant was occupied by soldiers, as it had been for a brief period in 1929. Attempts to revive the school by transferring it to Beijing ultimately failed to continue its operation beyond 1937, when the war with Japan made funding extremely scarce.

Meanwhile, Taixu founded and directed other monastic schools. each theoretically a part of his World Buddhist Institute. The seminary in Beijing at the Bolin si (Bolin si jiaoli yuan), which, like the Wuchang Buddhist Institute, was to specialize in English-language studies, functioned only for the 1930-1931 academic year.96 Taixu's important South Fujian Seminary (Minnan foxue yuan) in Xiamen (Amoy), which specialized in Japanese-language study, functioned from 1925 to 1939. His seminary in Chongqing, Sichuan (Han Zang jiaoli yuan), specializing in Tibetan studies, was in operation from 1932 to 1949. And in Xi'an, Shaanxi, the seminary that he established at the Daxingshan si (Bali sanzang yuan), specializing in Pali studies, functioned for only a short period after its founding in 1945.97

Taixu was not only a pioneer administrator concerned with new structures for monastic education but a popular Buddhist lecturer who was able to adjust the tone and content of his messages to the special character of different audiences. On the one hand, he could explicate for his students in the classroom the difficult metaphysical theories of Weishi idealism. On the other hand, though he viewed Buddhist devotionalism as a upaya (skillful means), he could speak impressively for the laity on the glories of the pure lands. In fact, when Taixu had been appointed head monk of the West Lake's Jingci si in the spring of 1921, he had urged the transformation of the traditional meditation hall (chan tang) into a "horned tiger hall" (jiaohu tang), "so as to continue the complementary practice of Chan and Pure Land Buddhism that was the custom of Yongming Yanshou [904-975]."98 Moreover, Taixu and his seminarians from Wuchang effectively wed Protestant-style worship services in brightly illuminated street chapels to attract potential followers. Describing Taixu's accomplishments in Hankou in the 1920s, Reichelt commented:

A new and interesting scene was revealed when darkness fell. A door had been opened wide and people from the street poured in to the preaching-chapel where an imposing image of Amitabha stood at the rear. The niche where the image was set up was brilliantly illuminated by electric bulbs. The radiant figure of Amitabha and the music from the organ soon had their effect and the hall became completely filled. A sermon began, followed by short "testimonies" from the students. Taixu had impressed upon his assistants that on such occasions it was best to concentrate upon the message of the Pure Land School, because this was all the ignorant people could understand. In this way Buddhists could compete better with Christians who had made so much progress in China especially through evangelism in street chapels.99

Taixu was good at planning for his mission ventures and often sent disciples ahead of his scheduled visits to different areas to prepare the community for his preaching and teaching activities. In addition, his disciples frequently engaged in mission trips of their own when the master could not be present. For example, A. J. Brace, a YMCA official in Chengdu, reported that efforts to increase membership in his own Christian organization had been "seriously hurt" by the visit to the city in 1922 of some of Taixu's students. Providing us with a helpful picture of the new form of missionary endeavors that the Buddhist reformer actively encouraged, Brace wrote:

In the summer of 1922 disciples of the famous monk, Taixu journeyed from Shanghai to Chengdu in Sichuan Province to bring the modernized message of Buddhism as taught by their master. Their coming was the occasion of great rejoicing, and a real revival of Buddhism was the result. They had been heralded for more than a year and their way was prepared by a wide circulation of Taixu's popular magazine, "Haichao yin" -- "The Voice of the Sea," or "The Sound of the Tide." Very carefully edited articles had prepared the people for the visit of the missionaries, and the new message found a ready response even before their arrival. It brought a message of peace for the troubled days, and the magazine clearly stated that the new message was destined to lift the sublime teachings of the Mahayana Doctrine for the help of the people tossed about in the sea of modern doubt. The message was essentially spiritual and taught, or stood for, three propositions, (1) a real desire to reform monasticism, (2) a plan to reconstruct Buddhist theology along lines of modern philosophy, (3) to use the teachings of Buddha to elevate the people and improve social conditions.

On the arrival of the missionaries, they were welcomed officially by the Governor of the Province. The sixteen daily papers all joined in a welcome, and gave columns to the new teaching, thus supplying a liberal supply of advertising. The opening meetings were attended by large crowds who listened attentively to the new program, and large numbers voluntarily enrolled themselves for the daily course to be given. In fact, a real program was gotten out, much like a university course, or a summer school curriculum, and fees charged for the course. Then daily the large hall in the Public Garden of the Manchu City was thronged with auditors to hear the public addresses, and the class rooms were filled with eager students to listen and follow the course throughout.

A thorough course was given in the history of Buddhism, what it had done for the world, and how it had become encrusted with many superstitions. Now all was changed. The old simple story of the Enlightened One and how he found the way of salvation was declared. Idolatry was opposed, and in bygone days it was only tolerated as an accommodation to the weakness of the ignorant people. Now education was to be stressed, the priests had always been ignorant. A Buddhist university was to be established. The monks were to be encouraged to be busy as learners and servants of the people rather than follow the lazy lives of the past. The mercy of Buddha was taught and enjoined so that the wicked might be led to kindness, the selfish to righteousness. the hungry to find satisfaction in the doctrine. Most emphasized were the daily hours for fasting and meditation.

A real revival was effected along these lines. and many of the foremost business and professional men took the vows and followed the course of meditation regularly. Many men who had not been interested in religion came under the sway of the new-found faith, and personally told me of the value of the hours of meditation and how their faith had been strengthened. The course on reading was followed widely. The students burnt incense daily as they read and meditated. At the meetings singing was indulged in, and often tunes quite similar to Christian tunes were used, and one song with the refrain. "Take the name of Buddha with you." They even organized a Young Men's Buddhist Association which is going strong. 100

Taixu also began enthusiastically to involve his seminarians and lay supporters in social service ministries. He asserted that the non-differentiation of self from others was the very basis of a bodhisattva's compassionate activities in the world, and that helping another person was coterminous with helping one's self. As a result, after Taixu's weekend sermons in Hankou, his students would commonly usher people in need of health care to rooms where physicians, who were among his lay disciples, provided free treatment and medicine, exemplifying a long tradition of Buddhist concern for healing.101 He helped his disciples Miaoji and Hualin establish a modern school for children and a welfare program for the diseased, destitute, and jobless. It was reported that they "used to go around to the sick with medicines, dressing wounds and distributing articles to the needy."102

The previously mentioned Right Faith Buddhist Society of Hankou became one of the most socially active lay Buddhist associations in the country. In accord with Taixu's emphasis on social responsibility, the society operated a clinic that provided free medical treatment for the poor, administered a free primary school for children of low-income families, donated coffins to families who could not afford them, funded a non-Buddhist social service agency that provided assistance to indigent widows, distributed food to needy families on holidays, served meals in fire catastrophes, and rescued people and animals in flood crises.103 Most of the major cities of China developed similar lay Buddhist organizations, with laity (jushi) active in a variety of religiously motivated pursuits, in order "to propagate the Dharma and to benefit humanity."104 Seeking to characterize the type of lay believers who were often attracted to Taixu's teachings and whose devotion was a driving force in aspects of the effort at Buddhist revitalization, John Blofeld once wrote:

The jushi (lay devotees) are often men of considerable learning as well as faith and piety, they sometimes exhibit a more profound understanding of Buddhist philosophy than many of the monks and nuns. To this learning they add active observance of the teaching that the utmost compassion should be shown to all sentient beings ....

The jushi is usually a cultured person. He prefers to wear the dignified Chinese gown of blue, gray or bronze-coloured silk, and by his habits and gestures, exhibits his fondness for and understanding of the traditional culture of his country. He is often a poet or painter as well as a philosopher and metaphysician, and may be something of a historian or possess a knowledge of Chinese herbal medicine in addition ....

They often show themselves to be far above the vulgar superstitions which have done much to lower the tone of the great moral and metaphysical system created by the Indian sage Gautama. 105

In the early 1920s, Taixu also initiated a new program of Buddhist visitation to prisons, encouraging students at his seminary in Wuchang to minister to the incarcerated. It was recognized as an innovative program by most Buddhists, although the charter of the 1912 Chinese General Buddhist Association, founded in Shanghai, had at least called for prison visitation.106 Perhaps Taixu's program was interpreted as new because there had been little or no actual response to this element of the association's 1912 charter. Emphasizing the Christian precedents for such activities and describing Taixu's program as merely imitative, the missionary-scholar Reichelt comments:

Taixu had noticed that Christian missionaries and some Chinese evangelists had obtained permission from the authorities to visit the public gaols in order to speak to the prisoners. It was even described in the newspapers because quite a number of prisoners had become converted and had left the gaols as new men. This challenged Taixu. Why should not Buddhists do the same? He placed the matter before his students, and of course everybody offered for service. Taixu applied to the authorities and permission was given ....

Prisoners used to gather in a large room and young Buddhist monks in their dignified robes performed with the greatest eloquence as "teaching masters" to this mixed audience. They too were "written up" in the newspapers.107

After a time, enthusiasm waned among students at the Wuchang Buddhist Institute, and the prison program lost much of its momentum. Yet despite Taixu's eventual disappointment with this development in Wuchang, the idea of prison miniseries did spread to other Buddhist groups and to other parts of China.108

Through all these educational and human service activities, Taixu sought to respond to the demands of the time while recalling what he considered to be the true nature of his religious tradition. He wanted Chinese Buddhists to build on an essential dimension of their Mahayana heritage that had been overlooked and inadequately developed. In view of criticisms by Christians who facilely contrasted their own tradition's social consciousness with the blatantly self-centered spirituality of Buddhists, the reformer tried to present those on the bodhisattva path as members of a socially responsive and morally responsible religious community.

In large measure, of course, Taixu shared with Christian missionaries a critical outlook on "real" Chinese Buddhism -- that is, the religion as "commonly practiced" in the Republican period. At the same time, however, he envisioned an "ideal" Chinese Buddhism that could change forever not only the future of Asia but that of the entire world. Indeed, it was to the task of articulating more clearly aspects of that projected global religion that Taixu was to give much of his time and energy during the last half of his monastic career.
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Postby admin » Tue Aug 11, 2020 12:09 pm

'Protestant Buddhism' of the West emphasises scientific over monastic
by Paul Fuller
Myanmar Times
April 1, 2015



In 1880, Henry Olcott took it upon himself to restore true Sri Lankan Buddhism and "to counter the efforts of Christian missionaries on the island." In order to accomplish this aim, he adopted some of the methods of Protestant missionaries. An American scholar of religion Stephen Prothero stated that in Ceylon Olcott was performing "the part of the anti-Christian missionary." He wrote and distributed anti-Christian and pro-Buddhist tracts, "and secured support for his educational reforms from representatives of the island's three monastic sects." He used the Christian models for the Buddhist secondary schools and Sunday schools, "thus initiating what would become a long and successful campaign for Western-style Buddhist education in Ceylon."

-- Christianity and Theosophy, by Wikipedia

The modern Western understanding of Buddhism is sometimes in conflict with those forms of Buddhism practised in Asia. There is the expectation that all Buddhists -- monks and Iaypeople -- will regularly engage in meditation. For those who practise Buddhism in the West, meditation is an essential element. Buddhism will often be described as a spiritual path, more of a philosophy than a religion. This representation of Buddhism has become so entrenched in the modern Western imagination that it is not usually challenged.

Modern forms of Buddhism popularly practised in the West are not always concerned with important themes prominent in Asian Buddhism. Modern Buddhism lessens the focus on cosmology and the protective value of the Buddha and his teachings. Instead, it emphasises the rational and scientific aspects. The claim is often made that Buddhism is essentially scientific and rational, although the validity of this claim is far from clear. In a sense, our modern understanding of Buddhism is based on what Buddhists say they do, rather than on what they actually do.

The term used to describe this phenomenon is "Protestant Buddhism" because it resembles many of the key features of Protestant Christianity, following the bias of many original scholars of Buddhism. This romantic notion has influenced much of our understanding of Buddhism since the late 19th century.

The defining characteristic of Protestant Buddhism is the importance given to the laity and the subsequent lessening of the importance of the Sangha, the Buddhist monastics. The laity is given this enhanced importance, and this is arguably somewhat different from all previous forms of Buddhism. This movement is then lay in leadership.

Another feature of Protestant Buddhism is a suspicion of hierarchies. By this I mean that it focuses on a supposed egalitarian philosophy in Buddhism. Buddhism, in this understanding, has no religious elites in the Sangha who are closer to Nibbana than other members of Buddhist society. All are of an equal standing on the religious path. In Buddhist culture there is a structure in which the monastic is a field of merit and on the path to Nibbana, and the layperson aspires for a future rebirth in which the life of the monastic might be possible.

As I have said, Buddhism in this modern manifestation is all about meditation. Meditation is the essential practice of the modern Buddhist. However, traditionally lay Buddhists did not meditate. Those who wished to do so became monks, and even then relatively few monks devoted their lives to meditation. In Protestant Buddhism, as pioneers in its description like Richard Gombrich have explained, meditation is learned from a book, not from a teacher.

Protestant Buddhism tends toward a type of fundamentalism that is sometimes in conflict with traditional forms of Buddhism. It teaches that Nibbana is a goal that can be achieved in this life, rather than being a distant aspiration. The layperson can strive toward Nibbana and is not dependent on the monastic for either religious instruction or merit.

Also, Protestant Buddhism has the persistent mantra that the Buddha was an ordinary man who overcame all suffering. In conflict with this understanding is the traditional idea that a Buddha is not an ordinary human being. A Buddha lives for countless lives as an animal, a human or a god in order to generate enough merit to be born a person who can become a Buddha.

An interesting feature of Protestant Buddhism is its use of certain symbols that are relatively new in Buddhist history. Notable among these is the so-called Buddhist flag (sometimes called the sasana flag). This flag, well known throughout Buddhist Asia, was designed by a Sri Lankan JR de Silva, and an American, Henry S. Olcott, to mark the revival of Buddhism in Ceylon, now Sri Lanka, in 1880. One could say it is an anti-colonial or even an American invention. It was accepted as the international Buddhist flag by the 1952 World Buddhist Congress. The flag itself is an uncomfortable creation, if I can use these terms, involving many historical, political and religious ideas.

The primary text of Protestant Buddhism is the Kalama-sutta with its supposed scientific and empirical advice to rely on "reason" and "logic" in the search for truth and salvation. The text is often described as containing the Buddha's advice on the superiority of reason and scientific enquiry. However, this is a highly selective reading of the text, which more correctly focuses on the nature of ethical and wholesome actions.

U Nu, the first prime minister of independent Burma, was a devout Buddhist, but his understanding of Buddhism shows many of the trademark themes of "Protestant Buddhism".

In interviews, U Nu described his understanding of his faith. He explained that many practices, such as making offerings, acquiring merit, and performing acts to counteract ill luck, are not important parts of what Buddhism is really about. For U Nu, the focus of Buddhism is meditation "which will deliver one from all suffering". U Nu stated that he became a "true Buddhist" only when he learned that "the truths of Buddhism can be tested" as in the selective reading of the Kalama-sutta. He stated that the Buddha said, "You must not believe anything that you cannot test yourself:

In this sense, Buddhism is not based on a set of true doctrines, but a set of theories comparable to scientific theories that can be empirically tested and accepted or rejected. One is a "genuine Buddhist" when one understands Buddhism in this way, and this is what attracted U Nu to Buddhism. Doctrines are tested in meditation. Further, meditation need not take place in a monastery but can be practised at home. One need not be a monk to meditate. However, in his private practice it is well known that U Nu practised more devotional forms of Buddhism.

U Nu also argued that anyone can become a Buddha -- a version of the "Buddha was an ordinary man" or "the scientific Buddha" idea explored most recently by the American scholar Donald Lopez. Buddhism is reduced to a set of key theories that are comparable to scientific ones, and the Buddha to an ordinary man, not a perfected ethical being.

In some ways, none of these tendencies that are prominent in Protestant Buddhism are surprising. However, one must stress that the rational, scientific, egalitarian version of Buddhism is a recent phenomenon emphasising themes either latent, or more likely unimportant, in traditional forms of Buddhism. At worst, they might be incredibly misleading and perplexing to those observing Buddhism as practised in Asia and lead us to ridicule elements in Asian Buddhism that are not scientific, rational and egalitarian.

In the current religious climate, such preconceived notions about the nature of Buddhism might lead observers to misunderstand the underlying reasons that explain why one can be involved in blasphemy against Buddhist sacred objects.


Protestant Buddhism
by Oxford Reference
Accessed: 8/11/20

Term introduced by the scholar Gananath Obeyesekere referring to a phenomenon in Sinhalese Buddhism having its roots in the latter half of the 19th century and caused by two sets of historical conditions: the activities of the Protestant missionaries and the close contact with the modern knowledge and technologies of the West. In 1815 the British become the first colonial power to win control over the whole of Sri Lanka and signed the Kandyan convention declaring the Buddhist religion practised by the locals to be inviolable. This article was attacked by Protestant evangelicals in England and the British government felt obliged to dissociate itself from Buddhism. The traditional bond between Buddhism and the government of the Sinhala people had effectively dissolved while official policy favoured the activities of Protestant missionaries and the conversion to Christianity had become almost essential for those who wished to join the ruling élite. Leader of the movement that started as a result of these conditions was Anagārika Dharmapāla. The movement can be seen both as a protest against the attacks on Buddhism by foreign missionaries and the adoption in the local Buddhism of features characteristic of Protestantism. In essence, Protestant Buddhism is a form of Buddhist revival which denies that only through the Sangha can one seek or find salvation. Religion, as a consequence, is internalized. The layman is supposed to permeate his life with his religion and strive to make Buddhism permeate his whole society. Through printing laymen had, for the first time, access to Buddhist texts and could teach themselves meditation. Accordingly, it was felt they could and should try to reach nirvāṇa. As a consequence lay Buddhists became critical both of the traditional norms and of the monastic role.


A Protestant Buddhism?
by Andrew Olendzki
Barre Center for Buddhist Studies
Spring 2011

‘Protestant Buddhism’ is a label that has been applied to certain progressive elements in the Theravāda tradition, first in Sri Lanka in the 19th century, and more recently to modernist Buddhism in this country and around the globe. It is sometimes used as a pejorative, to the extent the enterprise is regarded as tainted with orientalist and colonialist attitudes, along with the historical Euro-centrism that led the first western Buddhists to immediately begin the task of “improving upon” the traditional manifestations of Buddhism in Asia. Another point against it is its tendency to downplay or even marginalize the role of the ordained Sangha.

Yet there is also much to be said in favor of modernist trends in contemporary Buddhism, and I wonder if we might find a way of rehabilitating Protestant Buddhism to the satisfaction of its critics. A crucial first step in the process is to recognize that new forms of Buddhism, at their best, are based upon creative ways of synthesizing meaning rather than upon undermining the beliefs or practices of others. In other words, while it is not okay to say others have got it wrong and this is the right way of looking at things, it is entirely appropriate (even natural) to say “Here is an interesting new way of understanding things that I find particularly meaningful.”

Let’s look at some of the parallels. In ancient India the Brahmins held specialized sacred knowledge of the Vedic hymns, and were the only ones qualified to perform the rituals needed for the well being of the population. The entire Śramaņa movement was a rebellion against this privileged information, and the Buddha, like other wandering ascetics, taught that anyone can gain direct access to spiritual understanding by practicing meditation and understanding the Dhamma for themselves. This is much like the Protestants in Europe by-passing the Church and empowering people to study the Bible for themselves and forge their own meaning from it directly.

Over twenty-five centuries an orthodox Theravāda establishment grew and flourished in many Buddhist countries, built upon a preservation of the Pāli texts and their explication in commentaries such as those by Buddhaghosa. The monks (and nuns?) had direct access to the teachings through the study of Pāli and the practice of meditation, while the laity was cast in a supporting role of sustaining the monastics and practicing generosity and ethical behavior. In the twentieth century some Burmese teachers encouraged householders to practice meditation intensively on ten-day retreats, thus making the insights deriving from such practice directly available to them. This is one of the forms in which Theravāda Buddhism was imported to the West, where such regular meditation practice became popular among convert Buddhists.

Another development that gained momentum over the course of the twentieth century was the study of Buddhist texts and languages, including the complete translation of the Pāli canon. Good editions of these texts are now readily available to all in the English-speaking world, and even tools for learning Pāli are within easy reach. While we have not quite arrived at the point of finding a copy of the Dhammapada in one’s hotel room drawer, certainly almost every bookstore carries some selection of primary Buddhist texts, with many freely available on the internet. And people are reading them.

One of the more foundational insights of Buddhism, aligning it with the post-modern world view, is that a world of meaning is constructed anew each moment by each individual mind/body organism. The “world” is not “out there,” but is constructed in “this fathom-long body.” As information flows into the various sense doors, mediated by the structures of our sensory apparatus and the functions of our mental aggregates, views form about who we are and what sort of environment we inhabit. These views are often mistaken (distorted by delusion, clouded by defilements, and beset with ignorance) but we do the best we can each moment to gradually clarify and deepen our understanding. The process is aided by both hearing the Dhamma (or, nowadays, reading it) and investigating its meaning in personal meditative experience.

This being the case, having direct access to the teachings of the Buddha, and being encouraged and supported in the regular practice of meditation, can only be a good thing. Even if we get it wrong once in a while, better to be actively inquiring into the meaning of the Dhamma at every opportunity than to passively accept a tradition in a given form. How many times has the Buddha said “Listen carefully, and I will speak…,” and how many times do we find the phrase “Here are the roots of trees. Meditate!”

Care must be taken to avoid the pitfalls. We are not necessarily better at understanding these teachings than all the Buddhists before us just because we are moderns or westerners or humanists or typing on keyboards. We cannot assume that the troubling bits, about miracles, rebirth, and hell realms, for example, must not be “true” and that we, of course, know better. It is possible to hold the greatest respect for all those who think differently than ourselves, for all those who construct their own meaning of these teachings differently than we do, and simply say at some point that we are not capable of seeing it that way. There is a huge difference between thinking differently from another and considering the other to be mistaken.

So by all means let us keep reading the texts, very carefully, and see how creatively and meaningfully we can allow the teachings they contain to guide the way we live our lives and shape our world. Let’s also engage in the careful investigation of experience, moment by moment, and allow the insights so gained to inform and inspire our understanding. As part of this practice, let us be very watchful over our own attitudes to ensure that toxins such as pride, intolerance, or prejudice about other opinions do not spill out and reveal how much work has still to be done. And, let’s continue to honor and learn from the Elders.


Protestant Buddhism Explanation: What It Is; What It Isn't
by Barbara O'Brien
Learn Religions
Updated August 27, 2018

You may stumble into the term "Protestant Buddhism," especially on the Web. If you don't know what that means, don't feel left out. There are lots of people using the term today who don't know what it means, either.

In the context of a lot of current Buddhist criticism, "Protestant Buddhism" appears to refer to a tepid western approximation of Buddhism, practiced mostly by upper-income whites, and characterized by an emphasis on self-improvement and rigidly enforced niceness. But that's not what the term originally meant.

Origin of the Term

The original Protestant Buddhism grew out of a protest, and not in the West, but in Sri Lanka.

Sri Lanka, then called Ceylon, became a British territory in 1796. At first, Britain declared it would respect the people's dominant religion, Buddhism. But this declaration raised a furor among evangelical Christians in Britain, and the government quickly backtracked.

Instead, Britain's official policy became one of conversion, and Christian missionaries were encouraged to open schools all over Ceylon to give the children a Christian education. For Sinhalese Buddhists, conversion to Christianity became a prerequisite for business success.

Late in the 19th century, Anagarika Dharmapala (1864-1933) became the leader of a Buddhist protest/revival movement. Dharmapala also was a modernist who promoted a vision of Buddhism as a religion compatible with science and western values, such as democracy. It is charged that Dharmapala's understanding of Buddhism bore traces of his Protestant Christian education in the missionary schools.

The scholar Gananath Obeyesekere, currently an emeritus professor of anthropology at Princeton University, is credited with coining the phrase "Protestant Buddhism." It describes this 19th-century movement, both as a protest and an approach to Buddhism that was influenced by Protestant Christianity.

The Protestant Influences

As we look at these so-called Protestant influences, it's important to remember that this applies mostly to the conservative Theravada tradition of Sri Lanka and not to Buddhism as a whole.

For example, one of these influences was a kind of spiritual egalitarianism. In Sri Lanka and many other Theravada countries, traditionally only monastics practiced the full Eightfold Path, including meditation; studied the sutras; and might possibly realize enlightenment. Laypeople were mostly just told to keep the Precepts and to make merit by giving alms to monks, and perhaps in a future life, they might be monastics themselves.

Mahayana Buddhism already had rejected the idea that only a select few could walk the path and realize enlightenment. For example, the Vimalakirti Sutra (ca. 1st century CE) centers on a layman whose enlightenment surpassed even the Buddha's disciples. A central theme of the Lotus Sutra (ca. 2nd century CE) is that all beings will realize enlightenment.

That said -- As explained by Obeyesekere and also by Richard Gombrich, currently president of the Oxford Centre for Buddhist Studies, the elements of Protestantism adopted by Dharmapala and his followers included the rejection of a clerical "link" between the individual and enlightenment and an emphasis on individual spiritual effort. If you are familiar with early Protestantism vis à vis Catholicism, you will see the resemblance.

However, this "reformation," so to speak, was not with Asian Buddhism as a whole but with Buddhist institutions in some parts of Asia as they existed a century ago. And it was led primarily by Asians.

One Protestant "influence" explained by Obeyesekere and Gombrich is that "religion is privatized and internalized: the truly significant is not what takes place at a public celebration or in ritual, but what happens inside one's own mind or soul." Notice that this is the same criticism leveled by the historical Buddha against the Brahmins of his day -- that direct insight was the key, not rituals.

Modern or Traditional and East Versus West

Today you can find the phrase "Buddhist Protestantism" being used to describe Buddhism in the West generally, particularly Buddhism practiced by converts. Often the term is juxtaposed with the "traditional" Buddhism of Asia. But the reality is not that simple.

First, Asian Buddhism is hardly monolithic. In many ways, including the roles and relationship of clergy and laypeople, there is a considerable difference from one school and nation to another.

Second, Buddhism in the West is hardly monolithic. Don't assume that the self-described Buddhists you met in a yoga class are representative of the whole.

Third, many cultural influences have impacted Buddhism as it has developed in the West. The first popular books about Buddhism was written by westerners were more infused with European Romanticism or American Transcendentalism than with traditional Protestantism, for example. It's also a mistake to make "Buddhist modernism" a synonym for western Buddhism. Many leading modernists have been Asians; some western practitioners are keen on being as "traditional" as possible.

A rich and complex cross-pollination has been going on for more than a century that has shaped Buddhism both East and West. Trying to shove all that into a concept of "Buddhist Protestantism" doesn't do it justice. The term needs to be retired.


Protestant Buddhism
by David Chapman
June 24, 2011

Many Western Buddhists would consider the following ideas obviously true, and perhaps as defining Buddhism:

1. Everyone can potentially attain enlightenment
2. Religious practice is your personal responsibility; no one can do it for you
3. You don’t necessarily have to have help from monks to practice Buddhism effectively
4. Non-monks can teach Buddhism; celibacy is not essential to religious leadership
5. Ordinary people can and should meditate; meditation is the main Buddhist practice
6. Careful observation of your own inner thoughts and feelings is the essence of meditation
7. Ordinary people can, and should, read and interpret Buddhist texts, which should be available in translation
8. Ritual is not necessary; it’s a late cultural accretion on the original, rational Buddhist teachings
9. Magic, used to accomplish practical goals, is not part of Buddhism
10. Buddhism doesn’t believe in gods or spirits or demons; or at any rate, they should be ignored as unimportant
11. Buddhism doesn’t believe in idols (statues inhabited by gods)
12. Buddhist institutions can be useful, but not necessary; they tend to become corrupt, and we should be suspicious of them
13. Everyday life is sacred

These ideas come mainly from Protestant Christianity, not traditional Buddhism. They are not entirely absent in traditional Buddhism. However, mostly, in traditional Buddhism:

1. Only monks can potentially attain enlightenment
2. Religious practice is mainly a public, ritual affair, led by monks; the lay role is passive attendance
3. There is no Buddhism without monks
4. Only monks can teach Buddhism, and celibacy is critical to being a monk
5. Only monks meditate, and very few of them; meditation is a marginal practice
6. Meditation is mainly on subjects other than one’s self
7. Only monks read Buddhist texts, their interpretation is fixed by tradition, and they are available only in ancient, dead languages
8. Essentially all Buddhist practice is public ritual
9. Much of Buddhist practice aims at practical, this-world goals, by magically influencing spirits
10. Gods and demons are the main subject of Buddhist ritual
11. Buddhists worship idols that are understood to be the dwelling-places of spirits
12. All reverence is due to the monastic, institutional Sangha, which is the sole holder of the Dharma
13. Everyday life is defiled, contaminating, and must be abandoned if you want to make spiritual progress

Buddhism is still understood and practiced this way in much of Asia.

So what?

I want to call some of the Protestant Buddhist ideas into question. Mostly, I think the “Protestant Reformation” of Buddhism has been a good thing. However, I find some aspects problematic.

My point is not that Protestant ideas should not be mixed with Buddhism, or that we should return to tradition. Rather, I will suggest that some of these ideas don’t work. Buddhists will need to find alternatives.

When Protestant ideas are misunderstood as essential to Buddhism, they cannot be challenged. Knowing they have only been added recently makes it possible to question them.

Most of the rest of this page discusses the history of the merging of Protestant ideas into Buddhism. Near the end, I begin to raise questions about whether it was good thing.

I’ll start by recounting a bit of the history of the Christian Protestant Reformation. Then I’ll look at Buddhism as it was in the mid-1800s, and the motivations for reform.

The Catholic Church before the Reformation

Before the Reformation, priests had a special, irreplaceable spiritual role. Only they could perform the public rituals that are the central religious practices: Mass, confession, extreme unction, and so forth. The Church functioned as intermediaries between lay (ordinary) people and God. Lay people had no direct access to the sacred.

Lay people attended rituals passively. The rituals were performed in Latin, which only priests knew. No one other than priests was authorized to teach the Gospel. The priesthood was (in theory) entirely and necessarily celibate.

The Bible was not available to ordinary people, and it was also written only in ancient dead languages. The interpretation of the Bible was fixed by institutional tradition; the ultimate source of religious authority was the Church itself.

“This world” (life on earth) was seen as defiled. The proper focus of religion was the “next world” (heaven or hell).

Despite that, religion provided this-wordly magical benefits to lay people. Particularly by praying to patron saints, one might receive practical benefits or protection. (There is a similarity between the role of Catholic saints and the many gods and spirits of Buddhism.)

The Church could also provide specific next-world benefits. It sold “indulgences,” which were widely understood as forgiving sins, and getting you out of purgatory, by transferring “merit” from the Church’s account to yours. (The theory of merit transfer is the main basis for lay donations to the Buddhist monastic Sangha. In Buddhism, too, its function is to improve your situation after death.)

The Protestant Reformation was a reaction to the wide-spread belief that the Church had become corrupt. It was immensely wealthy. It was seen as more concerned with pursuing money and power than proper religious matters. The selling of indulgences was seen particularly as abusive. The Church also licensed brothels, and instituted a tax specifically on priests who kept mistresses.

Moderate attempts at reform, from within the Church, failed.

The Protestant Christian Reformation

The Protestant Reformation was a radical solution: it cut the Church out of the deal altogether. The central theoretical change was to give lay people direct access to God. That eliminated the special role of the Church.

According to Protestantism, each man can be his own priest. The Reformation rejected a separate priestly class, rejected monasticism, and closed monasteries where it could. (Similarly, Protestant Buddhism has extended the word “Sangha” to refer to lay believers as well as monks, and allows lay people to teach.) Protestantism rejected the theory of merit transfer.

According to Protestantism, lay people can access God in two ways: through scripture, and through prayer. It is the right, and the duty, of every layman to own a Bible written in his native language, and to read and understand it. The word of the Bible itself is the ultimate spiritual authority, not the Church’s interpretation of it.

Lay people also accomplish a direct, personal relationship with God, through private prayer. (This is analogous to the role of meditation in Protestant Buddhism. It supposedly gives you a direct connection with Ultimate Truth.) In silent contemplation, one should constantly examine one’s soul for impulses to sin. (This is analogous to the type of meditation in which one attends to ones’ own concrete thoughts and feelings, rather than contemplating often-abstract external matters—the more common practice in traditional Buddhism.)

Because you can have a direct relationship with God, you shouldn’t pray to saints. (Protestant Buddhism deemphasizes or eliminates celestial Buddhas, bodhisattvas, and so forth.)

Protestantism strips magical elements from the sacramental rituals (to varying degrees, according to sect). Ritual is often understood as providing a focus for community and an opportunity for personal experience, rather than being an irreplaceable sacred function.

Protestantism was iconoclastic, meaning that it encouraged the smashing of religious sculptures and paintings, because they were seen as false idols. It also opposed the wearing of priestly “vestments” (special clothes); this is mirrored in Protestant Buddhist contempt for Buddhist robes.

Some strains of Protestantism see everyday life as sacred. There should not be a special part of life set off for religious activity; the faithful should bring religious attention and intention to every part of the day. This is a major theme of Protestant Buddhism, too. It’s not usual in traditional lay Buddhist practice.

Protestant Buddhism

Here’s the Oxford Dictionary of Buddhism‘s take:

Protestant Buddhism… denies that only through the [monastic] Sangha can one seek or find salvation. Religion, as a consequence, is internalized. The layman is supposed to permeate his life with his religion and strive to make Buddhism permeate his whole society. Through printing laymen had, for the first time, access to Buddhist texts and could teach themselves meditation. Accordingly, it was felt they could and should try to reach nirvana. As a consequence lay Buddhists became critical both of the traditional norms and of the monastic role.

A classic definition is from Gombrich and Obeyesekere’s Buddhism Transformed:

The hallmark of Protestant Buddhism, then, is its view that the layman should permeate his life with his religion; that he should strive to make Buddhism permeate his whole society, and that he can and should try to reach nirvana. As a corollary, the lay Buddhist is critical of the traditional norms of the monastic role; he may not be positively anticlerical but his respect, if any, is for the particular monk, not for the yellow robe as such.

This kind of Buddhism is Protestant, then, in its devaluation of the role of the monk, and in its strong emphasis on the responsibility of each individual for her/ his ‘salvation’ or enlightenment, the arena for achieving which is not a monastery but the everyday world which, rather than being divided off from, should be infused with Buddhism.

Forces for Reformation

The Protestant-style reformation of Buddhism began in Asia, in the 1860s. Protestant missionaries were aggressively preaching Protestant ideas to Buddhists. Some Buddhists accepted key Protestant ideas, while rejecting Christianity overall, and used them to reform Buddhism.

The Buddhist Sangha, like the Catholic Church, was an immensely powerful, rich institution, which naturally opposed change. In both cases, Reformation was possible only due to an alliance among other classes, who were newly increasing in power. It was the same three groups in both cases:

• Reformation occurred when national rulers centralized state power and built effective bureaucracies. The Church/Sangha previously had secular power equal to, or surpassing, kings. Newly powerful rulers used the Reformation to break the power of the Church/Sangha, and to subordinate it to the state. Once they brought the Church/Sangha under control, they used it to impose a new, homogeneous national culture on the masses.
• The rise of a new, educated middle class was a key to Reformation. The middle class resented religious taxation, economic competition from the Church/Sangha, and its arbitrary, self-interested economic regulations. Intelligent, literate people also didn’t see why they should be excluded from direct religious practice; especially because much of the priesthood was neither intelligent nor literate nor had any interest in religion.
• Radicals within the Church/Sangha opposed its corruption, and wanted to return it to a purely religious function.

I’ll write more about this when I look at specific case histories (on Japan and Thailand).

The “Protestantization” of Buddhism has continued in the West in the past half-century. I’ll cover that as part of the recent history of “Consensus Buddhism.”

There are other important Protestant doctrines that have been partly imported into Buddhism. These include God and Christian ethics. I’ll write about God in Buddhism in my post on Japan, and about Christian influences on Buddhist ethics in a whole slew of posts later in this series. (Jeez, I’m issuing a lot of IOUs here!)

• I am skeptical about merit transfer, and I don’t believe lay people get their money’s worth when they pay for incomprehensible Buddhist rituals
• I don’t think monks have any intrinsic, exclusive powers; I don’t believe celibacy is dramatically valuable
• I do think lay people can benefit from personal practice, particularly meditation
• I think lay people can understand Buddhist scripture, and reading it can be spiritually helpful
• I don’t believe in magic or spirits (at least not in a straightforward, literal sense); and I think those beliefs can be counter-productive
• I am wary of religious institutions, which do often become corrupt
• I do think everything is sacred

Problems with Buddhist Protestantism

I also see some problems in the merger of Protestant ideas into Buddhism. I’ll write about those in my next several posts. A preview:

• Problems with scripture: who gets to decide what they mean?
• Problems with priests: “every man his own priest” doesn’t actually work
• Problems with meditation: what does it really do?

Further reading

There’s a large academic literature that discusses Protestant influences on Buddhism. Unfortunately, I haven’t found a single, comprehensive presentation. This post may be the first attempt to set out parallels between the Christian and Buddhist Protestant Reformations systematically.

This post was prompted by David L. McMahan’s The Making of Buddhist Modernism, in which Protestantism is a major theme.

The term “Protestant Buddhism” was introduced by Gananath Obeyesekere. His book with Richard Gombrich, Buddhism Transformed, has an extensive discussion. Unfortunately, the book considers only Sri Lanka, which is atypical in some ways. Also, they introduce some confusion by using “Protestant” to refer both to ideas imported from Protestant Christianity and to protest against colonialism.

If this post proves “controversial,” I would guess that it is more because of the parallels between traditional Buddhism and the pre-Reformation Catholic Church, than for the parallels between Protestant Christianity and contemporary Western Buddhism.

Protestant-style Buddhist reformers have found quotations from Buddhist scripture that suggest the Protestant ideas have always been Buddhist doctrine. It’s true that they are not entirely alien to Buddhism. However, in practice, they have almost always been marginal, almost everywhere. Buddhist scripture is vast, extremely diverse, and contradictory. You can find quotations in it to support almost anything, especially if you take short pieces out of context.

In any case, you can’t learn about traditional Buddhism, as practiced by lay people, from Buddhist texts. Scripture describes what ought to happen, rather than what does happen; and it is almost entirely about the Sangha, rather than lay people. And, the scriptures were written centuries ago, when things were often quite different.

To learn about traditional Buddhism, you either need to go to Asia and see for yourself, or read anthropology. If you have been to a Buddhist country, and observed lay practice (especially in rural areas where modern influences are least), you will probably recognize my description.

Otherwise, Melford Spiro’s Buddhism and Society is a classic study of Theravada Buddhist practice in Burma, and an excellent starting point. The Gombrich and Obeyesekere book is good for Sri Lanka. For Tibet, I recommend Geoffrey Samuel’s Civilized Shamans. All these books specifically address the nature of lay practice and the relationship between lay people and monks.

If anything in this post prompts incredulity, I will try to provide a citation to a reliable academic source.

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Tan Sitong
by Wikipedia
Accessed: 8/11/20

Tan Sitong 谭嗣同
Born: 10 March 1865
Died: 28 September 1898 (aged 33)
Era: Qing Dynasty
Region: Chinese Philosopher and Reformist
Influences: Kang Youwei, Liang Qichao

Tan Sitong (simplified Chinese: 谭嗣同; traditional Chinese: 譚嗣同; pinyin: Tán Sìtóng; Wade–Giles: T'an2 Ssu4-T'ung2, March 10, 1865 – September 28, 1898), courtesy name Fusheng (復生), pseudonym Zhuangfei (壯飛), was a well-known Chinese politician, thinker and reformist in the late Qing Dynasty (1644–1911). He was executed at the age of 33 when the Reformation Movement failed in 1898.[1] Tan Sitong was one of the "Six gentlemen of the Hundred Days' Reform" (戊戌六君子) and occupies an important place in modern Chinese history. To many contemporaries, his execution symbolized the political failure of the Qing Dynasty's reformation, helping to persuade the intellectual class to pursue violent revolution and overthrow the Qing Dynasty.

Early life

Tan Sitong was one of nine siblings and was born in Beijing, although his family originally came from Liuyang, Hunan Province. His father, Tan Jixun (谭继洵), was the governor of Hubei Province. His mother, Xu Wuyuan (徐五缘), a traditional Chinese housewife, was very strict with her children.

Tan Sitong spent his childhood in Beijing and his youth in Liuyang. He began his formal education at 5 and was tutored by a famous scholar called Ouyang Zhonggu (欧阳中鹄) when he was 10. Although he was talented at essay writing, he objected to the conventional form of the essay that was required for examinations. As a result, he only achieved the title of "student member" (shengyuan - 生員), a very low educational level.

At the age of 12, Tan Sitong lost his mother, his eldest brother, and his second eldest sister, who all died within a span of five days due to diphtheria that had spread during a visit to a cousin. Tan Sitong also fell gravely ill but recovered three days later, which many people deemed to be a miracle. After Tan Sitong lost his mother, his father’s concubine treated him badly.

In 1879, Tan Sitong studied under another scholar, Xu Qixian (徐启先), with whom he began a systematic study of representative works in Chinese, as well as natural science.

In 1884, he left his home and traveled to several different provinces of China, including Hebei, Gansu, Xinjiang, Shaanxi, Henan, Hubei, Jiangxi, Jiangsu, Anhui, Zhejiang, Shandong, and Shanxi. He composed more than 200 poems during the trip.

At the age of 19, Tan Sitong married a woman named Li Run (李闰) and had a son named Tan Lansheng (谭兰生), who died within a year of being born.

Reforming campaign


National isolationism (闭关锁国) in the late 18th century resulted in a wide technological gap between China and the Western world, which had exacerbated corruption among the feudal authorities. One effect of this gap was a push by Western countries to develop and invest in underdeveloped nations, including China. This led to the First Opium War between China and Britain, which ushered in a period of foreign invasion and colonization in China, at the time ruled by the Qing Dynasty. During this time, Chinese intellectuals and officials sought ways to improve Chinese life and national prospects. In 1895, after a defeat by Japan in the First Sino-Japanese War, China was forced to sign the unequal Treaty of Shimonoseki, under which Taiwan was occupied and 250 million taels (then Chinese currency) were paid to Japan.

Astonished and indignant by the defeat, Tan Sitong began to realize the necessity of a thorough reformation in China. He and his colleagues began to search for new approaches to improve national standing. In 1896, he wrote the poem My Feelings (《有感》):


Nothing in this world can withstand the longing for Spring,
These longings join together until they reach the shadowy netherworld in tears.
The wailing 400 million people are owning the same question:
Oh Where, oh where on this earth can we find our divine China?

Between 1896 and 1897, he finished writing a famous book called Ren Xue (仁学, Theory of Benevolence), which was considered to be the first philosophical work of the Reformation. In this book, he said absolute monarchy greatly oppressed human nature. In 1898, he founded a new academy called the South Academy, which attempted to introduce Reformation ideals in southern China, specifically the Hunan district. Later, he also created the newspaper “Hunan Reporter” (湘报) to publicize the advantage of Reformation policies.[2]

Hundred Days Reform

Early in 1898, Tan Sitong was introduced to Emperor Guangxu, who was considering enacting Reformation policies. Tan was appointed a member of the Grand Council, and within two months the Hundred Days' Reform began with the issuing of an Imperial order called Ming Ding Guo Shi (明定国是诏). However, some of the new policies appeared to challenge the existing interests of many government officials, which led to objections from Manchu aristocrats, including Empress Dowager Cixi. At the time, Cixi held more dominant political power in the central authority than the current emperor, even though Emperor Guangxu had been in throne for more than two decades. As a result, the Reform policies did not gain wide and effective support.

In September of 1898, Tan Sitong became aware the Dowager was planning to interfere with the Reformation campaign and immediately visited general Yuan Shikai, hoping Yuan's army might support the Reformation Movement and defeat the opposition forces headed by Cixi. However, after returning to Tianjin, Yuan immediately betrayed the Reform movement and divulged the conspiracy to overthrow Cixi’s power. As a result, Cixi swiftly returned to the Forbidden City from the Summer Palace and led a coup, in which she seized the throne power from Emperor Guangxu and ordered the arrest of all those involved in the Reformation. The short-lived Reformation movement effectively ended 103 days after it began; as a result, it has been known ever since as the Hundred Days' Reform. Emperor Guangxu was imprisoned, allowing Cixi to consolidate her public standing and authority. All the Reformation policies were abolished except for Jing Shi Da Xue Tang (京师大学堂), the first government-established tertiary educational institution in China’s history, which later on became Peking University.

Tan Sitong was arrested at the "Guild Hall of Liuyang" (浏阳会馆) in Beijing on September 24. He had been encouraged to escape to Japan, where the government had expressed sympathy for Reformist scholars, but he refused to go, hoping his death would serve as a catalyst for Reformation ideals among the people of China. His words on this were as follows:

Seen from the world, no successful transformations were made without sacrificing. So far, within China, it has never been heard that anyone was bleeding from their efforts to reform the nation, for which this country lacks prosperity. If there is anyone to be, just start from me.

After being caught, Tan Sitong was put in the Xing Bu Da Lao (刑部大牢), a jail belonging to the Ministry of Justice, and charged with treason and attempting a military coup. The legal process was interrupted by an Emperor’s order (from Empress Dowager Cixi) calling for an immediate execution due to the severity of his crimes. Consequently, Tan was escorted to the Caishikou Execution Grounds (菜市口刑场) outside Xuanwu Gate (宣武门) of Peking on the afternoon of September 28, 1898, where he was executed by beheading along with five others (杨深秀, 林旭, 刘光第, 康广仁, 杨锐; Yang Shenxiu, Lin Xu, Liu Guangdi, Kang Guangren, and Yang Rui). Historically, these men are called the six gentlemen of the Hundred Days' Reform.

Tan Sitong's last words on the execution ground are famous in China, translated as follows:

Having got the intention to kill the robbers though, I lacked the strength to challenge the fate. Sacrificing at the place where I should die, it is an exciting thing! Exciting thing!

Death and legacy

After the execution, Tan Sitong's remains were collected and stored by some of his friends. In 1899, the remains were sent to and buried in his hometown, Liuyang (浏阳), Hunan (湖南). His father, despite his disagreement with his son's Reform efforts, was stripped of all official duties. He returned to his hometown and died three years later. Tan Sitong's wife, Li Run, became active in promoting girls’ education and also volunteered as a foster mother in Hunan in her later years. Li passed away in 1925, 14 years after the collapse of Qing Dynasty and 27 years after her husband’s death.

Shortly before his execution, Tan Sitong wrote a farewell letter to his wife, in which some of his principles and values are expressed:




My love Run as you see my face here,

You see, we had promised our 15-year marriage to finish the life hand in hand but heartbreakingly, I may have to break the promise now! When I was writing this, I was still alive in the world; however, you, as the reader, are facing a ghost in the netherworld. A long separation is standing ahead, deserving no extra words. Though I am gone, our affections exist as usual. My small ego perished though, long lives my super ego. Life after life, a lotus is accommodating us, we are something like inseparable king birds there - always flying together and making jokes on each other. My last hope, here for you, is to endow glory and wealth with unreal illusions while defining the daily life largely as sacrifice and humiliation. Better to discard extreme happiness and sorrow and, just let everything go. I, along with our dead son, am sincerely waiting for our another reunion in heaven some time after you. We will not go too far away from home, where we are still accompanying your soul and dream, for which nothing will be different for you.

Sep 24 1898

Tan Sitong has become a symbol of courage, patriotism and anti-feudalism among Chinese people, for which he is always portrayed in a positive light in literature and film. His life and accomplishments are part of popular cultural knowledge and well known to most of the Chinese population.

See also

• Tan Sitong's Former Residence
• Six gentlemen of the Hundred Days' Reform
• Hundred Days' Reform
• Lin Xu
• Tang Caichang


2. Wright, David (1994). "Tan Sitong and the Ether Reconsidered". Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London. 57 (3): 551–575. ISSN 0041-977X.


• 仁学
• 谭嗣同年谱
• "T'an Ssu-t'ung," in Hummel, Arthur William, ed. Eminent Chinese of the Ch'ing Period (1644-1912). (Washington: United States Government Printing Office, 1943), Vol II, pp. 701–705. Online at Qing Studies Workshop (link at left).
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Re: Freda Bedi Cont'd (#2)

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Yan Fu
by Wikipedia
Accessed: 8/11/20

Yan Fu
Born: 8 January 1854, Houguan county (now Minhou), Fujian, Qing China
Died: 27 October 1921 (aged 67), Guanhang, Fuzhulang, Fuzhou, Fujian, Republican China
Alma mater: Royal Naval College, Greenwich
Notable work: Gong Jin'ou
Title: President of Fudan University
Term: 1906-1907
Predecessor: Ma Xiangbo 馬相伯
Successor: Xia Jing'guan 夏敬觀
Political party: Kuomintang
This is a Chinese name; the family name is Yan.

Yan Fu (simplified Chinese: 严复; traditional Chinese: 嚴復; pinyin: Yán Fù; Wade–Giles: Yen² Fu⁴, IPA: [jɛ̌n.fû]; courtesy name: Ji Dao, 幾道; 8 January 1854 — 27 October 1921) was a Chinese scholar and translator, most famous for introducing western ideas, including Darwin's "natural selection", to China in the late 19th century.


On January 8, 1854, Yan Fu was born in what is modern day Fuzhou, Fujian Province to a respectable scholar-gentry family in the trade of Chinese medicine. In his early years, Yan Fu’s father greatly encouraged Yan Fu to obtain a high education and prepare for the Imperial examination. However, the death of his father in 1866 caused an abrupt change to these plans. A year later, Yan Fu entered the Fujian Arsenal Academy (福州船政學堂) in Fuzhou, a Western school where he studied a variety of subjects including English, arithmetic, geometry, algebra, trigonometry, physics, chemistry, astrology and navigation. This was a turning point in young Yan Fu’s life as he was able to experience first-hand contact with Western science, thus inspiring the enthusiasm that carried him through the rest of his career.

After graduating with high honors in 1871, Yan Fu went on to spend the next five years at sea. He first served aboard the training ship Jianwei (建威) and later on the battle cruiser Yangwu (陽武). In 1877–79 he studied at the Royal Naval College, Greenwich, England. During his years there, he became acquainted with China’s first ambassador Guo Songtao, and despite their age difference and status gap developed a strong friendship. Benjamin Schwartz mentions in his biography that "they often spent whole days and nights discussing differences and similarities in Chinese and Western thought and political institutions".[1]


Guo Songtao (Chinese: 郭嵩焘, also written 郭崧濤; pinyin: Guō Sōngtāo; Wade–Giles: Kuo Sung-t’ao; 11 April 1818 – 18 July 1891) was a Chinese diplomat and statesman during the Qing dynasty. He was among the first foreign emissaries to be sent abroad by the Qing government, as a result of the Tongzhi Restoration.

Guo was born in Xiangyin, Hunan in 1818. As a young man, Guo studied at the Yuelu Academy in Changsha, where befriended Zeng Guofan. In 1847, Guo was awarded the highest degree in the imperial exams and soon afterwards he became a bachelor in the Hanlin Academy. In 1853, he was called to assist Zeng Guofan in joining the Xiang Army to suppress the Taiping Rebellion in their native province of Hunan. During the suppression of the Taipings Rebellion, Guo distinguished himself as a prominent advocate of the local likin tax as a means of financing the campaigns. In 1852 his forces recaptured Nanchang, Jiangxi from Taiping forces. He later also assisted Li Hongzhang's Huai Army in their campaigns against rebels in the Anhui province.

He called for foreign languages to be taught at a government school in 1859.

Guo became an important member of China's Self-Strengthening Movement in the 1860s and 70s and distinguished himself for his advocacy of a moderate and peaceful foreign policy. Guo became the first Qing minister to be stationed in a western country. He served as Minister to Britain and Minister to France from 1877 through 1879 as part of the United Kingdom's demands after the Margary Affair for an Imperial commissioner to be posted to Britain...

In July 1877 while serving as Chinese Minister to Britain, Guo led an entourage of legation officials on a visit to the Ipswich engineering works of Ransomes and Rapier to see the manufacture of steam locomotives, railway equipment and other engineering products. He travelled from London to Ipswich by train and expressed his deep admiration for Britain’s railway system, commenting that the distance travelled during the two-hour train journey would have taken two or three days in his own country.

He subsequently became a great proponent of railways and other modern engineering development in China, incurring the wrath of conservative and anti-railway Court officials, who resented his representations. In early 1878 he was also appointed Minister to France (concurrent with his British appointment) and moved to Paris, but in late 1878 he was ordered to return to China. Upon his return, fearful for his life because of his pro-foreign views, he returned to his home province and virtually retired from public life, spending his time writing and teaching in an academy.

-- Guo Songtao, by Wikipedia

His return to China, however, did not bring him the immediate success he was hoping for. Though he was unable to pass the Imperial Civil Service Examination, he was able to obtain a teaching position at the Fujian Arsenal Academy and then Beiyang Naval Officers' School (北洋水師學堂) at Tianjin. During this time, Yan Fu succumbed to the opium addiction that had sprung up in China.[2]

It was not until after the Chinese defeat in the First Sino-Japanese War (1894–95, fought for control of Korea) that Yan Fu became famous. He is celebrated for his translations, including Thomas Huxley's Evolution and Ethics, Adam Smith's The Wealth of Nations, John Stuart Mill's On Liberty and Herbert Spencer's Study of Sociology.[3] Yan critiqued the ideas of Darwin and others, offering his own interpretations. The ideas of "natural selection" and "survival of the fittest" were introduced to Chinese readers through Huxley's work. The former idea was famously rendered by Yan Fu into Chinese as tiānzé (天擇).

Yan Fu served as an editor of the newspaper Guowen Bao.[4] He became politically active, and in 1895, he was involved in the Gongche Shangshu movement, which opposed the Treaty of Shimonoseki ending the First Sino-Japanese War.

The Gongche Shangshu movement (simplified Chinese: 公车上书; traditional Chinese: 公車上書; pinyin: Gōngchē Shàngshū) was a political movement in late Qing dynasty China, seeking reforms and expressing opposition to the Treaty of Shimonoseki in 1895. It is considered the first modern political movement in China. Leaders of the movement later became leaders of the Hundred Days' Reform...

Although the movement was unsuccessful in asking the Qing Government to start reforms, many people in the traditional Chinese community began to realise the importance of reforms. Leaders of the movement such as Kang Youwei, Liang Qichao, Tan Sitong and Yan Fu started publishing newspapers in Beijing, Shanghai, and other cities, thus raising the attention of the emperor, who later invited them to enter the government to implement reforms. Although both the movement and later the reforms in 1898 failed, many scholars in big cities turned from supporting the traditional thinking to support reforms or revolution.

-- Gongche Shangshu movement, by Wikipedia

In 1909 he was given an honorary Jinshi degree.[5] In 1912 he became the first principal of National Peking University (now Peking University). Today the university holds an annual academic conference in his honor.[6]

He became a royalist and conservative who supported Yuan Shikai (袁世凱) and Zhang Xun (張勛) to proclaim themselves emperor in his later life.


Yuan Shikai (Chinese: 袁世凱; pinyin: Yuán Shìkǎi; 16 September 1859 – 6 June 1916) was a Chinese military and government official who rose to power during the late Qing dynasty. He tried to save the dynasty with a number of modernization projects including bureaucratic, fiscal, judicial, educational, and other reforms, despite playing a key part in the failure of the Hundred Days' Reform. He established the first modern army and a more efficient provincial government in North China in the last years of the Qing dynasty before the abdication of the Xuantong Emperor, the last monarch of the Qing dynasty, in 1912. Through negotiation, he became the first official president of the Republic of China in 1912.

This army and bureaucratic control were the foundation of his autocratic rule as the first formal President of the Republic of China. He was frustrated in a short-lived attempt to restore hereditary monarchy in China, with himself as the Hongxian Emperor (Chinese: 洪憲皇帝). His death shortly after his abdication formalized the fragmentation of the Chinese political system and the end of the Beiyang government as China's central authority.

-- Yuan Shikai, by Wikipedia


Zhang Xun (simplified Chinese: 张勋; traditional Chinese: 張勳; pinyin: Zhāng Xūn or; Wade–Giles: Chang Hsün; September 16, 1854 – September 11, 1923), courtesy name Shaoxuan, was a Qing loyalist general who attempted to restore the abdicated emperor Puyi in the Manchu Restoration of 1917. He also supported Yuan Shikai during his time as president...

Zhang served as a military escort for Empress Dowager Cixi during the Boxer Uprising. He later served as a subordinate of General Yuan Shikai in the Beiyang Army. He fought for the Qing at Nanjing in 1911, and then after the fall of the Qing, he remained loyal to Yuan Shikai. Despite serving as a general in the new Republic, he refused to cut his queue, as a symbol of his loyalty to the Qing. He was called the "Queue General". He seized Nanjing from the KMT in 1913, defeating the Second Revolution. Despite allowing his troops to savagely loot the city, Zhang was named a field marshal by Yuan.

Between 1 July 1917 and 12 July 1917, Zhang Xun proclaimed himself Prime Minister of the Imperial Cabinet by entering Beijing to reinstate the deposed Puyi as Emperor of the Qing dynasty. However, Zhang Xun's proclamation in July 1917 was never recognized by the Government of the Chinese Republic, most of the Chinese people, or any foreign countries. Other generals loyal to the Republic subsequently thwarted Zhang and forced Puyi to abdicate again. Zhang then took refuge in the Dutch legation and never participated in politics again.

-- Zhang Xun, by Wikipedia

He also participated the foundation of Chouanhui (籌安會), an organization which supported restoring monarchy. He laughed at "New Literature Revolutionaries" such as Hu Shih (胡適).


Hu Shih (Chinese: 胡適; pinyin: Hú Shì; Wade–Giles: Hu Shih; 17 December 1891 – 24 February 1962), also known as Hu Suh in early references, was a Chinese philosopher, essayist and diplomat. Hu is widely recognized today as a key contributor to Chinese liberalism and language reform in his advocacy for the use of written vernacular Chinese. He was influential in the May Fourth Movement, one of the leaders of China's New Culture Movement, was a president of Peking University, and in 1939 was nominated for a Nobel Prize in literature. He had a wide range of interests such as literature, philosophy, history, textual criticism, and pedagogy. He was also an influential redology scholar and held the famous Jiaxu manuscript (甲戌本; Jiǎxū běn) for many years until his death.

Hu became a "national scholar" through funds appropriated from the Boxer Indemnity Scholarship Program.

The Boxer Indemnity Scholarship (Chinese: 庚子賠款獎學金; lit.: '[Year] Gengzi Indemnity Scholarship') was a scholarship program for Chinese students to be educated in the United States, funded by the Boxer Indemnity [zh]. In 1908, the U.S Congress passed a bill to return to China the excess of Boxer Indemnity, amounting to over 17 million dollars. Despite the fierce controversies over returning the excess payment, President Theodore Roosevelt's administration decided to establish the Boxer Indemnity Scholarship Program to educate young Chinese generation. President Roosevelt recognized this program as a chance for “American-directed reform in China” that could maximize U.S's profit by improving the U.S- China relations, bridging China with American culture, and promoting U.S's international image...

Since its inception, the Boxer Indemnity Scholarship Program has been called "the most important scheme for educating Chinese students in America and arguably the most consequential and successful in the entire foreign-study movement of twentieth century China."

-- Boxer Indemnity Scholarship, by Wikipedia

On 16 August 1910, he was sent to study agriculture at Cornell University in the U.S. In 1912 he changed his major to philosophy and literature, and was elected to Phi Beta Kappa. After receiving his undergraduate degree, he went to study philosophy at Teachers College, Columbia University, where he was greatly influenced by his professor, John Dewey. Hu became Dewey's translator and a lifelong advocate of pragmatic evolutionary change, helping Dewey in his 1919–1921 lectures series in China. He returned to lecture in Peking University. During his tenure there, he received support from Chen Duxiu, editor of the influential journal New Youth, quickly gaining much attention and influence.

La Jeunesse[a](or New Youth, Chinese: 新靑年) was a Chinese magazine in the 1910s and 1920s that played an important role in initiating the New Culture Movement and spreading the influence of the May Fourth Movement. Founded by Chen Duxiu during the early Republic of China period, the publication was both an instrument of and witness to the revolutionary changes that swept through China during the era. Over its history, the magazine became increasingly aligned with the Chinese Communist Party, eventually becoming its official theoretical journal. It was shut down by the ruling Nationalist government in 1926...

Influenced by the 1917 Russian October Revolution, La Jeunesse increasingly began to promote Marxism. The trend accelerated after the departure of Hu Shih, who later became the Republic of China's Education Minister. Beginning with the issue of September 1, 1920, La Jeunesse began to openly support the communism movement in Shanghai, and with the June 1923 issue it became the official Chinese Communist Party theoretical journal. It was shut down in 1926 by the Nationalist government. La Jeunesse influenced thousands of Chinese young people, including many leaders of the Chinese Communist Party.

-- New Youth, by Wikipedia

Hu soon became one of the leading and influential intellectuals during the May Fourth Movement...

The May Fourth Movement was an anti-imperialist, cultural, and political movement which grew out of student protests in Beijing on 4 May 1919.

Students protested against the Chinese government's weak response to the Treaty of Versailles, they especially protested against its decision to allow Japan to retain territories in Shandong that had been surrendered by Germany after the Siege of Tsingtao in 1914. The demonstrations sparked nation-wide protests and spurred an upsurge in Chinese nationalism, a shift towards political mobilization, a shift away from cultural activities, a move towards a mass base and a move away from traditional intellectual and political elites.

Many radical, political, and social leaders of the next five decades emerged at this time. In a broader sense, the term "May Fourth Movement" is often used to refer to the period during 1915–1921 more often called the New Culture Movement.

-- May Fourth Movement, by Wikipedia

and later the New Culture Movement.

The New Culture Movement was a movement in China in the 1910s and 1920s that criticized classical Chinese ideas and promoted a new Chinese culture based upon western ideals like democracy and science. Arising out of disillusionment with traditional Chinese culture following the failure of the Republic of China to address China's problems, it featured scholars such as Chen Duxiu, Cai Yuanpei, Chen Hengzhe, Li Dazhao, Lu Xun, Zhou Zuoren, He Dong, Qian Xuantong, Liu Bannong, Bing Xin, and Hu Shih, many classically educated, who led a revolt against Confucianism. The movement promoted:

• Vernacular literature
• An end to the patriarchal family in favor of individual freedom and women's liberation
• The view that China is a nation among nations, not a uniquely Confucian culture
• The re-examination of Confucian texts and ancient classics using modern textual and critical methods, known as the Doubting Antiquity School
• Democratic and egalitarian values
• An orientation to the future rather than the past

The New Culture Movement was the progenitor [parent] of the May Fourth Movement. On 4 May 1919, students in Beijing aligned with the movement protested the transfer of German rights over Jiaozhou Bay to Imperial Japan rather than China at the Paris Peace Conference (the meeting setting the terms of peace at the conclusion of World War I), transforming what had been a cultural movement into a political one.

-- New Culture Movement, by Wikipedia

He quit New Youth in the 1920s and published several political newspapers and journals with his friends. His most important contribution was the promotion of vernacular Chinese in literature to replace Classical Chinese, which was intended to make it easier for the ordinary person to read. The significance of this for Chinese culture was great—as John Fairbank put it, "the tyranny of the classics had been broken". Hu devoted a great deal of energy, however, to rooting his linguistic reforms in China's traditional culture rather than relying on imports from the West. As his biographer Jerome Grieder put it, Hu's approach to China's "distinctive civilization" was "thoroughly critical but by no means contemptuous." For instance, he made a major contribution to the textual study of the Chinese classical novel, especially the 18th century novel Dream of the Red Chamber, as a way of establishing the vocabulary for a modern standardized language. His Peking University colleague Wen Yuan-ning dubbed Hu a "philosophe" for his wide-ranging humanistic interests and expertise.

Hu was the ROC ambassador to the U.S. between 1938 and 1942. He was recalled in September 1942 and was replaced by Wei Tao-ming. Hu then served as chancellor of Peking University, which was then called National Peking University, between 1946 and 1948. In 1957, he became the third president of the Academia Sinica in Taipei, a post he retained until his death. He was also chief executive of the Free China Journal, which was eventually shut down for criticizing Chiang Kai-shek.

-- Hu Shih, by Wikipedia

On October 27, 1921, after returning to his home in Fuzhou only a year earlier to recuperate from his recurring asthma, Yan Fu died at the age of 67.

Translation theory

Statue of Yan Fu at Tianjin

Further information: Chinese translation theory

Yan stated in the preface to his translation of Evolution and Ethics (天演論) that "there are three difficulties in translation: faithfulness, expressiveness, and elegance" (譯事三難:信達雅). He did not set them as general standards for translation and did not say that they were independent of each other. However, since the publication of that work, the phrase "faithfulness, expressiveness, and elegance" has been attributed to Yan Fu as a standard for any good translation and has become a cliché in Chinese academic circles, giving rise to numerous debates and theses. Some scholars argue that this dictum actually derived from Scottish theoretician of translation, Alexander Fraser Tytler.

Though Yan Fu's classical prose did its best to meet the standards of "faithfulness, expressiveness, and elegance", there were those who criticized his works for not being accessible to the younger generations. In particular, a famous liberal from the May Fourth Movement, Cai Yuanpei, stated in an article written in 1924: "...[Yan Fu's translations]...seem to be old-fashioned and his literary style is difficult to comprehend, but the standard with which he selected books and the way he translated them are very admirable even today".[7] Other critiques of his work arose as Chinese scholars became more aware of Western learning.

Translated works

Yan Fu's translation of Evolution and Ethics

Yan Fu was one of the most influential scholars of his generation as he worked to introduce Western social, economic and political ideas to China. Previous translation efforts had been focused mainly on religion and technology. Yan Fu was also one of the first scholars to have personal experiences in Western culture, whereas many prior scholars were students in Japan who then translated Western works from Japanese to Chinese. Yan Fu also played an important role in the standardization of science terminology in China during his time serving as the Head of the State Terminology Bureau.

In 1895 he published Zhibao 直報, a Chinese newspaper founded in Tianjin by the German Constantin von Hannecken (1854-1925), which contains several of his most famous essays:

• Lun shi bian zhi ji 論世變之亟 (On the Speed of World Change)
• Yuan qiang 原強 (On the Origin of Strength)
• Pi Han 辟韓 (In Refutation of Han Yu)
• Jiuwang jue lun 救亡決論 (On our Salvation)

Later, from 1898 to 1909, Yan Fu went on to translate the following major works of Western liberal thought:

• Evolution and Ethics Thomas Henry Huxley as Tianyan lun 天演論 (On Evolution) 1896-1898
• The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith as Yuan fu 原富 (On Wealth) 1901
• The Study of Sociology by Herbert Spencer as Qunxue yiyan 群學肄言 (A Study of Sociology) 1903
• On Liberty by John Stuart Mill as Qunji quanjie lun 群己權界論 (On the Boundary between the Self and the Group) 1903
• A System of Logic by John Stuart Mill as Mule mingxue 穆勒名學 (Mill’s Logic) 1903
• A History of Politics by Edward Jenks as Shehui tongquan 社會通詮 (A Full Account of Society) 1903
• The Spirit of the Laws by Montesquieu as Fayi 法意 (The Meaning of the Laws) 1904-1909
• Primer of Logic by William Stanley Jevons as Mingxue qianshuo 名學淺說 (An Outline of Logic) 1909

See also

• Translation


• Benjamin I. Schwartz (1964). In Search of Wealth and Power: Yen Fu and the West. Cambridge: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press.
• (in Chinese) Shen Suru 沈蘇儒 (1998). Lun Xin Da Ya: Yan Fu Fanyi Lilun Yanjiu (論信達雅:嚴復翻譯理論硏究 "On faithfulness, understandability and elegance: a study of Yan Fu's translation theory"). Beijing: Commercial Press.
• Wang, Frederic (2009). “The Relationship between Chinese Learning and Western Learning according to Yan Fu (1845-1921).” Knowledge and Society Today (Multiple Modernity Project) Lyon, France.


1. Benjamin I. Schwartz (1964). In Search of Wealth and Power: Yen Fu and the West. Cambridge: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press. Pg 29
2. Benjamin I. Schwartz (1964). In Search of Wealth and Power: Yen Fu and the West. Cambridge: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press. Pg 32
3. Yan Fu.
4. Hegel, Robert E. "The Chinese Novel at the Turn of the Century" (book review). Chinese Literature: Essays, Articles, Reviews (CLEAR), ISSN 0161-9705, 07/1983, Volume 5, Issue 1/2, pp. 188–191 - Cited p. 189.
5. Lin, Xiaoqing Diana. Peking University: Chinese Scholarship and Intellectuals, 1898-1937. p. 41.
6. First Yan FU Academic Forum held at PKU. Peking University.
7. Huang, Ko-wu (2003). "The Reception of Yan Fu in the Twentieth-Century China." University Press of America. 25-44

External links

• (in Chinese) Detailed biography and with related essays
• (in Chinese) Some of his works on-line, including the translation of Evolution and Ethics
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Re: Freda Bedi Cont'd (#2)

Postby admin » Wed Aug 12, 2020 5:52 am

Tongmenghui [Chinese United League] [United League] [Chinese Revolutionary Alliance] [Chinese Alliance] [United Allegiance Society]
by Wikipedia
Accessed: 8/11/20

Zhongguo Tongmenghui 中國同盟會 中国同盟会
Also known as: Chinese United League, Chinese Revolutionary Alliance, United Allegiance Society
Leader(s): Sun Yat-sen, Song Jiaoren
Foundation: 20 August 1905
Dissolved: 25 August 1912
Merger of: Revive China Society, Guangfuhui
Country: Qing dynasty China
Ideology: Republicanism; Mínshēng; Anti-Qing sentiment
Notable attacks: Xinhai Revolution
Size c. 50,000–100,000
Succeeded by: Kuomintang

Sun Yat Sen together with the members of the Singapore Branch of Tongmen Hui

The Tongmenghui (or T'ung-meng Hui, variously translated as Chinese United League, United League, Chinese Revolutionary Alliance, Chinese Alliance, United Allegiance Society, 中國同盟會) was a secret society and underground resistance movement founded by Sun Yat-sen, Song Jiaoren, and others in Tokyo, Japan, on 20 August 1905.[1][2] It was formed from the merger of multiple Chinese revolutionary groups in the late Qing dynasty.

Sun Yat-sen (/ˈsʌn ˌjætˈsɛn/; born Sun Wen; 12 November 1866 – 12 March 1925) was a Chinese philosopher, physician, and politician, who served as the provisional first president of the Republic of China and the first leader of the Kuomintang (Nationalist Party of China). He is referred as the "Father of the Nation" in the Republic of China for his instrumental role in the overthrow of the Qing dynasty during the Xinhai Revolution. Sun is unique among 20th-century Chinese leaders for being widely revered in both mainland China and Taiwan.

Sun is considered to be one of the greatest leaders of modern China, but his political life was one of constant struggle and frequent exile. After the success of the revolution in which Han Chinese regained power after 268 years of living under the Manchu Qing dynasty, he quickly resigned as President of the newly founded Republic of China and relinquished it to Yuan Shikai.

He soon went to exile in Japan for safety but returned to found a revolutionary government in the South as a challenge to the warlords who controlled much of the nation. In 1923, he invited representatives of the Communist International to Canton to re-organize his party and formed a brittle alliance with the Chinese Communist Party. He did not live to see his party unify the country under his successor, Chiang Kai-shek in the Northern Expedition. He died in Beijing of gallbladder cancer on 12 March 1925.[4]

Sun's chief legacy is his political philosophy known as the Three Principles of the People: Mínzú (民族主義, Mínzú Zhǔyì) or nationalism (independence from foreign imperialist domination), Mínquán (民權主義, Mínquán Zhǔyì) or "rights of the people" (sometimes translated as "democracy"), and Mínshēng (民生主義, Mínshēng Zhǔyì) or people's livelihood (sometimes translated as "socialism" or "welfare"; he explained the difference between his concept and Karl Marx's concept of socialism in his book....

-- Sun Yat-sen, by Wikipedia


Revolutionary era

Credential of Tongmenghui.

The Tongmenghui was created through the unification of Sun Yat-sen's Xingzhonghui (Revive China Society),...

The Hsing Chung Hui or Xingzhonghui translated as the Revive China Society (興中會), the Society for Regenerating China, or the Proper China Society was founded by Sun Yat-sen on 24 November 1894 to forward the goal of establishing prosperity for China and as a platform for future revolutionary activities. It was formed during the First Sino-Japanese War, after a string of Chinese military defeats exposed corruption and incompetence within the imperial government of the Qing dynasty. Kuomintang recognize the establishment of Revive China Society as the establishment of the party.

Because Sun was in exile from China at the time, the society was founded in Honolulu, Republic of Hawaii. Those admitted to the society swore the following oath:

Expel Tatar barbarians [Manchu People], revive Zhonghua [Nation of Han Chinese People], and establish a unified government.

When Sun Yat-sen returned to Hong Kong in early 1895, he met up again with Yeung Ku-wan, president of the already existing Furen Literary Society, whom he had first met in 1891.

Yeung Ku-wan (19 December 1861 – 11 January 1901)[1] was a Chinese revolutionary of the late Qing dynasty. In 1890, Yeung started the Furen Literary Society (輔仁文社) in British colonial Hong Kong to spread ideas of revolution against the Qing Dynasty and to establish a republic in China.

The Furen Literary Society, also known as the Chinese Patriotic Mutual Improvement Association, or the 'Furen Cultural Society Restoration Association (Foo Yan Man Ser Kwong Fook Hui)', was founded in Colonial Hong Kong in 1892 to spread ideas of revolution against the Qing dynasty and establishing a republic in China.

It was founded by Yeung Ku-wan, together with Tse Tsan-tai and others, with Yeung as their leader. The guiding principles of the society were: "Open up the people's minds" (開通民智) and "Ducit Amor Patriae" (盡心愛國, "Love your country with all your heart"). Other tenets were:

• To purify the character in the highest possible degree
• To prohibit indulgences in the vices of the world
• To set an example for future young Chinese
• To improve in all possible ways Chinese and foreign knowledge both in a civil and a military point of view
• To obtain a good knowledge of western science and learning: and
• To learn how to be and act as a patriot and how to wipe out the unjust wrong our country has suffered.

The society met in Pak Tsz Lane, Central, Hong Kong, and released books and papers discussing the future of China and advocating the overthrow of the Qing dynasty government and establishment of a republic in China.[/b]

In November 1894, Sun Yat-sen founded the Revive China Society in Honolulu, Hawaii, and, in 1895, the Furen Literary Society was merged into the Hong Kong chapter of the Revive China Society, with help from Yau Lit. Yeung Kui-wan and Sun became respectively President and Secretary of the Revive China Society.

-- Furen Literary Society, by Wikipedia

He became the first President of the Hong Kong Chapter of the Revive China Society in 1894 and was, with Sun Yat-sen, in charge of planning an uprising in Canton (now Guangzhou) in 1895 and in Huizhou in 1900.[/b] Yeung was assassinated in 1901 in Hong Kong by an agent sent by the Qing government.

-- Yeung Ku-wan, by Wikipedia

As they both wanted to take advantage of the uneasy political situation due to the First Sino-Japanese War, on 18 February 1895, the Furen Literary Society was merged into the Revive China Society, with help from Yau Lit, a close friend of Sun and member of Furen. Yeung and Sun became the President and Secretary of the Society respectively. They disguised their activities in Hong Kong under the guise of running a business called "Kuen Hang Club" (乾亨行).

In October 1895, the Revive China Society planned to launch an uprising in Guangzhou, with Yeung directing the uprising in Hong Kong where funds and training location were provided by Li Ki-tong.

Li Ki-tong (1873-6 October 1943) (Chinese: 李紀堂; Sidney Lau: Lei5 Gei2 Tong4) (formerly Li Po-lun) was a Hong Kong publisher and key financial backer of the revolutionary movement leading to the 1911 Revolution which overthrew the Qing dynasty in China...

Li's father was considered among Hong Kong's wealthiest Chinese, with vast landholdings. Consequently, Li became a substantial landholder, particularly in the New Territories, holding hundreds of acres in Castle Peak, Ha Pak Nai and Long Valley.

Li was the primary financier for the China Daily, founded to promote the revolution, published in Hong Kong from 1900 to 1911.

He spent his entire fortune in support of the revolution and ultimately spent time in debtors' prison and was bankrupted.

-- Li Ki-tong, by Wikipedia

However, plans were leaked out and more than 70 members, including Lu Haodong, a schoolboy friend of Sun Yat-sen, were captured by the Qing government.

Under pressure from the Qing government in mainland China, the British colonial authorities in Hong Kong forced Yeung and Sun Yat-sen to leave, barring them from entering Hong Kong over the next five years. Yeung travelled to Johannesburg, South Africa, via Singapore and later to Japan, where he stayed from 1896–1899, to expand the Revive China Society and spread its ideas.

The group lost its vigour after the failed uprisings in 1895 and 1900, according to the Concise History of Hong Kong.

It was later merged into the Tongmenghui, which in turn became the Kuomintang.

-- Revive China Society, by Wikipedia

the Guangfuhui (Restoration Society) ...

Guāngfùhuì (光復會 "Revive the Light Society"), or the Restoration Society, was an anti-Qing organization established by Cai Yuanpei in 1904. Many members were from Zhejiang.

Members included:

Qiu Jin


Qiu Jin (Chinese: 秋瑾; pinyin: Qiū Jǐn; Wade–Giles: Ch'iu Chin; November 8, 1875 – July 15, 1907) was a Chinese revolutionary, feminist, and writer. Her courtesy names are Xuanqing (Chinese: 璿卿; pinyin: Xuánqīng) and Jingxiong (simplified Chinese: 竞雄; traditional Chinese: 競雄; pinyin: Jìngxióng). Her sobriquet name is Jianhu Nüxia (simplified Chinese: 鉴湖女侠; traditional Chinese: 鑑湖女俠; pinyin: Jiànhú Nǚxiá) which, when translated literally into English, means "Woman Knight of Mirror Lake". Qiu was executed after a failed uprising against the Qing dynasty, and she is considered a national heroine in China; a martyr of republicanism and feminism.

Born in Xiamen, Fujian, China, Qiu spent her childhood in her ancestral home, Shaoxing, Zhejiang. While in an unhappy marriage, Qiu came into contact with new ideas. She became a member of the Tongmenghui secret society who at the time advocated the overthrow of the Qing and restoration of Han Chinese governance.

In 1903, she decided to travel overseas and study in Japan, leaving her two children behind. She initially entered a Japanese language school in Surugadai, but later transferred to the Girls' Practical School in Kōjimachi, run by Shimoda Utako. Qiu was fond of martial arts, and she was known by her acquaintances for wearing Western male dress and for her nationalist, anti-Manchu ideology. She joined the anti-Qing society Guangfuhui, led by Cai Yuanpei, which in 1905 joined together with a variety of overseas Chinese revolutionary groups to form the Tongmenghui, led by Sun Yat-sen.

Within this Revolutionary Alliance, Qiu was responsible for the Zhejiang Province. Because the Chinese overseas students were divided between those who wanted an immediate return to China to join the ongoing revolution and those who wanted to stay in Japan to prepare for the future, a meeting of Zhejiang students was held to debate the issue. At the meeting, Qiu allied unquestioningly with the former group and thrust a dagger into the podium, declaring, "If I return to the motherland, surrender to the Manchu barbarians, and deceive the Han people, stab me with this dagger!" She subsequently returned to China in 1906 along with about 2,000 students.

Whilst still based in Tokyo, Qiu single-handedly edited a journal, Vernacular Journal (Baihua Bao). A number of issues were published using vernacular Chinese as a medium of revolutionary propaganda. In one issue, Qiu wrote A Respectful Proclamation to China's 200 Million Women Comrades, a manifesto within which she lamented the problems caused by bound feet and oppressive marriages. Having suffered from both ordeals herself, Qiu explained her experience in the manifesto and received an overwhelmingly sympathetic response from her readers. Also outlined in the manifesto was Qiu's belief that a better future for women lay under a Western-type government instead of the Qing government that was in power at the time. She joined forces with her cousin Xu Xilin and together they worked to unite many secret revolutionary societies to work together for the overthrow of the Qing dynasty.

She was known as an eloquent orator who spoke out for women's rights, such as the freedom to marry, freedom of education, and abolishment of the practice of foot binding. In 1906 she founded China Women's News (Zhongguo nü bao), a radical women's journal with another female poet, Xu Zihua. They published only two issues before it was closed by the authorities. In 1907 she became head of the Datong school in Shaoxing, ostensibly a school for sport teachers, but really intended for the military training of revolutionaries.

On July 6, 1907 Xu Xilin was caught by the authorities before a scheduled uprising in Anqing. He confessed his involvement under torture and was executed. On July 12, the authorities arrested Qiu at the school for girls where she was the principal. She was tortured as well but refused to admit her involvement in the plot. Instead the authorities used her own writings as incrimination against her and, a few days later, she was publicly beheaded in her home village, Shanyin, at the age of 31. Her last written words, her death poem, uses the literal meaning of her name, Autumn Gem, to lament of the failed revolution that she would never see take place:

"秋風秋雨愁煞人" ("Autumn wind, autumn rain — they make one die of sorrow")

-- Qiu Jin, by Wikipedia

• Tao Chengzhang


Tao Chengzhang (January 24, 1878 – January 14, 1912) was a Chinese political leader during the Xinhai Revolution period. He was one of the founders of the Restoration Society, along with Cai Yuanpei and others. In 1905 he founded the Datong Normal School to educate the revolutionaries. In 1908, he founded the Revolutionary Association, willing to build a society without classes. Tao was a long time opposer of Sun Yat-sen, finally he was assassinated by Chiang Kai-shek under the order of Chen Qimei.

-- Tao Chengzhang, by Wikipedia

• Woo Tsin-hang


Wu Zhihui (Woo Chih-hui, Chinese: 吳稚暉; 25 March 1865 – 30 October 1953), also known as Woo Tsin-hang or Wu Shi-Fee, was a Chinese linguist and philosopher who was the chairman of the 1912–13 Commission on the Unification of Pronunciation that created Zhuyin (based on Zhang Binglin's work) and standardized Guoyu pronunciation.

Wu became an Anarchist during his stay in France in the first decade of the 20th century, along with Li Shizeng, Zhang Renjie, and Cai Yuanpei. With them, he was known as one of the strongly anti-communist "Four Elders" of the Nationalist Party in the 1920s.

He served at the Nanyang College Preparatory School Hall (now the Shanghai Nanyang Model High School). In 1903 in the Subao newspaper, Wu criticized the Qing government and derided then ruling Empress Dowager Cixi as a "withered old hag" and a "whore."

After this incident, Wu fled by way of Hong Kong to London. His official status enabled him to travel and live in Scotland and France. He attended university lectures in Edinburgh. In 1903, he went to Paris, where he renewed his friendship with Li Shizeng, the son of a high official he had met in Beijing, and with Zhang Renjie, well-connected son of a prosperous merchant. Although Wu was their elder by more than a decade, the three young scholars, although well-versed in the Confucian philosophy which dominated Chinese thought, were impressed by the doctrines of anarchism which flourished in France. Together with Li and Zhang, he formed the Shijie She (World Society), which became a center of anarchist thought and recruitment for several decades.

Together they joined the Tongmenghui, the precursor to the Chinese Nationalist Party (GMD), in 1905. Wu declared himself an anarchist the next year. He later founded influential revolutionary organizations like the Society to Advance Morality and supervised radical journals like New Era and Labor, China's first syndicalist magazine. He promoted science, rationalism, language reform, and the abolition of marriage. His ideas were revolutionary, but he estimated that it would take 3,000 years to achieve his vision of a utopian society. Wu was instrumental in the Diligent Work-Frugal Study Movement in France. Among his students were a large group of anarchists – and future communists...

In the 1920s, along with Li Shizeng, Zhan Renjie, and Cai Yuanpei, was one of the so-called "Four Elders" of the GMD and led the anti-communist campaign which drove leftists and communists from the party and supported Chiang Kai-shek. In accordance with his anarchist principles, Wu Zhihui declined any government office.[9]

In 1943, National Government Chairman Lin Sen died in provisional wartime capital of Chongqing, Chiang Kai-shek inviting Wu to be the new President, but Wu declined, citing "three no's":

• I usually wear very casual clothes, but the heads of state wear tuxedos. I would feel uncomfortable.
• My ugly face, like a big shock.
• My people love to laugh. To see something funny makes me laugh, When foreign diplomats deliver credentials, I could not help but laugh. This would not be decent.

In 1946, Wu was elected to the National Assembly, which drew up a new constitution. He administered the oath of office to Chiang Kai-shek in May 1948, shortly before the government left the mainland for Taiwan.

He moved to Taiwan and was the teacher of Chiang Kai-shek's son, Chiang Ching-kuo. He died in Taipei at the age of 88. Chiang Ching-kuo carried out Wu's directive that his ashes be lowered into the sea off the island of Quemoy.

-- Wu Zhihui, by Wikipedia

Xu Xilin
Zhang Binglin
• Liu Shipei

The organization was merged into Tongmenghui one year later.

-- Guangfuhui, by Wikipedia

and many other Chinese revolutionary groups. Among the Tongmenghui's members were Huang Xing, Li Zongren, Zhang Binglin, Chen Tianhua, Wang Jingwei, Hu Hanmin, Tao Chengzhang, Cai Yuanpei, Li Shizeng, Zhang Renjie, and Qiu Jin.

In 1906, a branch of the Tongmenghui was formed in Singapore, following Sun's visit there; this was called the Nanyang branch and served as headquarters of the organization for Southeast Asia. The members of the branch included Wong Hong-kui (黃康衢; Huang Kangqu),[3][4][5] Tan Chor Lam (陳楚楠; Chen Chu'nan; 1884-1971)[6] and Teo Eng Hock (張永福; Zhang Yongfu; originally a rubber shoe manufacturer).[7] Tan Chor Lam, Teo Eng Hock and Chan Po-yin (陳步賢; Chen Buxian; 1883-1965) started the revolution-related Chong Shing Chinese Daily Newspaper (中興日報, 中興 meaning China revival),[8] with the inaugural issue on 20 August 1907 and a daily distribution of 1,000 copies. The newspaper ended in 1910, presumably due to the Xinhai Revolution in 1911. Working with other Cantonese people, Tan, Teo and Chan opened the revolution-related Kai Ming Bookstore (開明書報社, 開明 meaning open wisdom)[9] in Singapore. For the revolution, Chan Po-yin raised over 30,000 yuan for the purchase and shipment (from Singapore to China) of military equipment and for the support of the expenses of people travelling from Singapore to China for revolutionary work.[10][11]

In 1909, the headquarters of the Nanyang Tongmenghui was transferred to Penang. Sun Yat-Sen himself was based in Penang from July to December 1910. During this time, the 1910 Penang Conference was held to plan the Second Guangzhou Uprising. The Tongmenghui also started a newspaper, the Kwong Wah Jit Poh, with the first issue published in December 1910 from 120 Armenian Street, Penang.

In Henan, some Chinese Muslims were members of the Tongmenghui.[12]

Republican era

After Shanghai was occupied by the revolutionaries in November 1911, the Tongmenghui moved its headquarters to Shanghai. After the Nanjing Provisional Government was established, the headquarters was moved to Nanjing. A general meeting was held in Nanking on 20 January 1912, with thousands of members attending. Hu Hanmin, who represented the Provisional President Sun Yat-sen, moved that the Tongmenghui oath be changed to "overthrow the Manchu government, consolidate the Republic of China, and implement the Min Sheng Chu I". Wang Jingwei was elected as Chairman, succeeding Sun. Wang resigned the following month, and Sun resumed the chairmanship.[13]

After the establishment of the Republic of China, the Tongmenghui transformed itself into a political party on 3 March 1912, in preparation for participation in constitutional and parliamentary activities. It issued a Provisional Constitution of the Republic of China, which consisted of 34 articles, meaning it had 10 more than the constitutional proposal made when the Tongmenghui was a secret society. The leadership election was held on the same day, with Sun Yat-sen elected as Chairman, Huang Xing and Li Yuanhung as Vice-Chairmen. In May 1912, the Tongmenghui moved its headquarters to Beijing. At that time, the Tongmenghui was the largest party in China, with branches in Guangdong, Szechuan, Wuhan, Shanghai, Hangzhou, Suzhou, Anqing, Fuzhou and Tianjin. It had a membership of about 550,000.[13] In August 1912, the Tongmenghui formed the nucleus of the Kuomintang, the governing political party of the republic.

Slogan and motto

In 1904, by combining republican, nationalist, and socialist objectives, the Tongmenghui came up with their political goal: to expel the Manchu people, to revive Zhonghua, to establish a Republic, and to distribute land equally among the people. (驅除韃虜, 恢復中華, 創立民國, 平均地權 Qūchú dálǔ, huīfù Zhōnghuá, chuànglì mínguó, píngjūn dì quán).[2] The Three Principles of the People were created around the time of the merging of Revive China Society and the Tongmenghui.[14][15]

See also

• China portal
• Revive China Society
• Gelaohui
• Kuomintang
• History of the Republic of China
• Huaxinghui


1. "The Manchu Qing Dynasty (1644–1911), Internal Threats". Countries Quest. Retrieved 26 September 2011.
2. 計秋楓; 朱慶葆 (2001). 中國近代史. 1. Chinese University Press. p. 468. ISBN 9789622019874.
5. 尤列事略补述一. (in Chinese). Phoenix New Media.
6. 陈楚楠 [Chen Chu'nan]. Baidu Baike (in Chinese). 3 December 2011.
7. 张永福 [Zhang Yongfu]. Baidu Baike (in Chinese). Baidu. 6 May 2012.
8. 中兴日报 [ZTE Daily]. Baidu Baike (in Chinese). Baidu. 8 December 2011.
9. 张冬冬 (21 October 2011). (辛亥百年)探寻同德书报社百年坚守的"秘诀" [Xinhai Century: exploring the Tongmenhui publisher's hundred-year secret]. China News (in Chinese). Singapore. China News Service.
10. Chan Chung, Rebecca; Chung, Deborah; Ng Wong, Cecilia (2012). Piloted to Serve.
11. "Piloted to Serve". Facebook.
12. Allès, Elisabeth (September–October 2003). "Notes on some joking relationships between Hui and Han villages in Henan". China Perspectives. 2003 (49).
13. Zhang, Yufa (1985). Minguo chu nian de zheng dang 民國初年的政黨. Institute of Modern History, Academia Sinica.
14. Sharman, Lyon (1968). Sun Yat-sen: His life and its meaning, a critical biography. Stanford: Stanford University Press. pp. 94, 271.
15. Li Chien-Nung; Li Jiannong; Teng, Ssu-yu; Ingalls, Jeremy (1956). The political history of China, 1840-1928. Stanford University Press. pp. 203–206. ISBN 9780804706025.

External links

• Tongmenhui activities in the US
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Sun Yat-sen
by Wikipedia
Accessed: 8/11/20

This is a Chinese name; the family name is Sun.

Sun Yat-sen 孫中山 / 孫逸仙
Sun Yat-Sen in 1900
Provisional President of the Republic of China
In office: 1 January 1912 – 10 March 1912
Vice President: Li Yuanhong
Preceded by: Puyi (Emperor of China)
Succeeded by Yuan Shikai
Premier of the Kuomintang
In office: 10 October 1919 – 12 March 1925
Preceded by: Position established
Succeeded by Zhang Renjie (as chairman)
Personal details
Born: Sun Wen (孫文), 12 November 1866, Cuiheng, Guangdong, Qing Dynasty
Died: 12 March 1925 (aged 58), Beijing, Republic of China
Resting place: Sun Yat-sen Mausoleum, Nanjing, Jiangsu, People's Republic of China
Political party: Kuomintang
Other political affiliations: Chinese Revolutionary Party
Spouse(s): Lu Muzhen (m. 1885; div. 1915); Kaoru Otsuki (m. 1903⁠–⁠1906); Soong Ching-ling (m. 1915⁠–⁠1925)
Domestic partner: Chen Cuifen (concubine) (1892–1925); Haru Asada (concubine)(1897–1902)
Children: Sun Fo; Sun Yan; Sun Wan; Fumiko Miyagawa
Mother: Madame Yang
Father: Sun Dacheng
Alma mater: Hong Kong College of Medicine for Chinese (MD)
Occupation: Philosopher, physician, politician
Military service
Allegiance: Republic of China
Branch/service: Republic of China Army
Years of service: 1917–1925
Rank: Grand Marshal
Battles/wars: Xinhai Revolution; Second Revolution; Constitutional Protection Movement; Guangdong-Guangxi War; Warlord Era

Sun Yat-sen (/ˈsʌn ˌjætˈsɛn/; born Sun Wen; 12 November 1866 – 12 March 1925)[1][2] was a Chinese philosopher, physician, and politician, who served as the provisional first president of the Republic of China and the first leader of the Kuomintang (Nationalist Party of China). He is referred as the "Father of the Nation" in the Republic of China for his instrumental role in the overthrow of the Qing dynasty during the Xinhai Revolution. Sun is unique among 20th-century Chinese leaders for being widely revered in both mainland China and Taiwan.[3]

Sun is considered to be one of the greatest leaders of modern China, but his political life was one of constant struggle and frequent exile. After the success of the revolution in which Han Chinese regained power after 268 years of living under the Manchu Qing dynasty, he quickly resigned as President of the newly founded Republic of China and relinquished it to Yuan Shikai.


Yuan Shikai (Chinese: 袁世凱; pinyin: Yuán Shìkǎi; 16 September 1859 – 6 June 1916) was a Chinese military and government official who rose to power during the late Qing dynasty. He tried to save the dynasty with a number of modernization projects including bureaucratic, fiscal, judicial, educational, and other reforms, despite playing a key part in the failure of the Hundred Days' Reform. He established the first modern army and a more efficient provincial government in North China in the last years of the Qing dynasty before the abdication of the Xuantong Emperor, the last monarch of the Qing dynasty, in 1912. Through negotiation, he became the first official president of the Republic of China in 1912.

This army and bureaucratic control were the foundation of his autocratic rule as the first formal President of the Republic of China. He was frustrated in a short-lived attempt to restore hereditary monarchy in China, with himself as the Hongxian Emperor (Chinese: 洪憲皇帝). His death shortly after his abdication formalized the fragmentation of the Chinese political system and the end of the Beiyang government as China's central authority.

-- Yuan Shikai, by Wikipedia

He soon went to exile in Japan for safety but returned to found a revolutionary government in the South as a challenge to the warlords who controlled much of the nation. In 1923, he invited representatives of the Communist International to Canton to re-organize his party and formed a brittle alliance with the Chinese Communist Party. He did not live to see his party unify the country under his successor, Chiang Kai-shek in the Northern Expedition. He died in Beijing of gallbladder cancer on 12 March 1925.[4]

Sun's chief legacy is his political philosophy known as the Three Principles of the People: Mínzú (民族主義, Mínzú Zhǔyì) or nationalism (independence from foreign imperialist domination), Mínquán (民權主義, Mínquán Zhǔyì) or "rights of the people" (sometimes translated as "democracy"), and Mínshēng (民生主義, Mínshēng Zhǔyì) or people's livelihood (sometimes translated as "socialism" or "welfare"; he explained the difference between his concept and Karl Marx's concept of socialism in his book[which?]).[5][6][7]


Main article: Names of Sun Yat-sen

Sun was born as Sun Wen (Cantonese: Syūn Màhn; 孫文), and his genealogical name was Sun Deming (Syūn Dāk-mìhng; 孫德明).[1][8] As a child, his pet name was Tai Tseung (Dai-jeuhng; 帝象).[1] Sun's courtesy name was Zaizhi (Jai-jī; 載之), and his baptized name was Rixin (Yaht-sān; 日新).[9] While at school in Hong Kong he got the art name Yat-sen (Chinese: 逸仙; pinyin: Yìxiān).[10] Sūn Zhōngshān (孫中山), the most popular of his Chinese names, is derived from his Japanese name Nakayama Shō (中山樵), the pseudonym given to him by Tōten Miyazaki while in hiding in Japan.[1]

Early years

Birthplace and early life

Sun Wen was born on 12 November 1866 to Sun Dacheng and Madame Yang.[2] His birthplace was the village of Cuiheng, Xiangshan County (now Zhongshan City), Guangdong.[2] He had a cultural background of Hakka[11][12] and Cantonese. His father owned very little land and worked as a tailor in Macau, and as a journeyman and a porter.[13] After finishing primary education, he moved to Honolulu in the Kingdom of Hawaii, where he lived a comfortable life of modest wealth supported by his elder brother Sun Mei.[14][15][16][17]

Education years

At the age of 10, Sun began seeking schooling,[1] and he met childhood friend Lu Haodong.[1] By age 13 in 1878, after receiving a few years of local schooling, Sun went to live with his elder brother, Sun Mei (孫眉) in Honolulu.[1] Sun Mei financed Sun Yat-sen's education and would later be a major contributor for the overthrow of the Manchus.[14][15][16][17]

Sun Yat-sen (back row, fifth from left) and his family

During his stay in Honolulu, Sun Yat-sen went to ʻIolani School where he studied English, British history, mathematics, science, and Christianity.[1] While he was originally unable to speak English, Sun Yat-sen quickly picked up the language and received a prize for academic achievement from King David Kalākaua before graduating in 1882.[18] He then attended Oahu College (now known as Punahou School) for one semester.[1][19] In 1883 he was sent home to China as his brother was becoming worried that Sun Yat-sen was beginning to embrace Christianity.[1]

When he returned to China in 1883 at age 17, Sun met up with his childhood friend Lu Haodong again at Beijidian (北極殿), a temple in Cuiheng Village.[1] They saw many villagers worshipping the Beiji (literally North Pole) Emperor-God in the temple, and were dissatisfied with their ancient healing methods.[1] They broke the statue, incurring the wrath of fellow villagers, and escaped to Hong Kong.[1][20][21] While in Hong Kong in 1883 he studied at the Diocesan Boys' School, and from 1884 to 1886 he was at The Government Central School.[22]

In 1886 Sun studied medicine at the Guangzhou Boji Hospital under the Christian missionary John G. Kerr.[1] Ultimately, he earned the license of Christian practice as a medical doctor from the Hong Kong College of Medicine for Chinese (the forerunner of The University of Hong Kong) in 1892.[1][10] Notably, of his class of 12 students, Sun was one of the only two who graduated.[23][24][25]

Religious views and Christian baptism

In the early 1880s, Sun Mei sent his brother to ʻIolani School, which was under the supervision of British Anglicans and directed by an Anglican prelate named Alfred Willis. The language of instruction was English. Although Bishop Willis emphasized that no one was forced to accept Christianity, the students were required to attend chapel on Sunday. At Iolani School, young Sun Wen first came in contact with Christianity. In his work, Schriffin speculated that Christianity was to have a great influence on Sun's whole future political life.[26]

Sun was later baptized in Hong Kong (on 4 May 1884) by Rev. C. R. Hager[27][28][29] an American missionary of the Congregational Church of the United States (ABCFM) to his brother's disdain. The minister would also develop a friendship with Sun.[30][31] Sun attended To Tsai Church (道濟會堂), founded by the London Missionary Society in 1888,[32] while he studied Western Medicine in Hong Kong College of Medicine for Chinese. Sun pictured a revolution as similar to the salvation mission of the Christian church. His conversion to Christianity was related to his revolutionary ideals and push for advancement.[31]

Transformation into a revolutionary

Four Bandits

Sun (second from left) and his friends the Four Bandits: Yeung Hok-ling (left), Chan Siu-bak (middle), Yau Lit (right), and Guan Jingliang (關景良, standing) at the Hong Kong College of Medicine for Chinese, circa 1888

During the Qing-dynasty rebellion around 1888, Sun was in Hong Kong with a group of revolutionary thinkers who were nicknamed the Four Bandits at the Hong Kong College of Medicine for Chinese.[33] Sun, who had grown increasingly frustrated by the conservative Qing government and its refusal to adopt knowledge from the more technologically advanced Western nations, quit his medical practice in order to devote his time to transforming China.

Furen and Revive China Society

In 1891, Sun met revolutionary friends in Hong Kong including Yeung Ku-wan who was the leader and founder of the Furen Literary Society.[34] The group was spreading the idea of overthrowing the Qing. In 1894, Sun wrote an 8,000 character petition to Qing Viceroy Li Hongzhang presenting his ideas for modernizing China.[35][36][37] He traveled to Tianjin to personally present the petition to Li but was not granted an audience.[38] After this experience, Sun turned irrevocably toward revolution. He left China for Hawaii and founded the Revive China Society, which was committed to revolutionizing China's prosperity. Members were drawn mainly from Chinese expatriates, especially the lower social classes. The same month in 1894 the Furen Literary Society was merged with the Hong Kong chapter of the Revive China Society.[34] Thereafter, Sun became the secretary of the newly merged Revive China society, which Yeung Ku-wan headed as president.[39] They disguised their activities in Hong Kong under the running of a business under the name "Kuen Hang Club"[40]:90 (乾亨行).[41]

First Sino-Japanese War

In 1895, China suffered a serious defeat during the First Sino-Japanese War. There were two types of responses. One group of intellectuals contended that the Manchu Qing government could restore its legitimacy by successfully modernizing.[42] Stressing that overthrowing the Manchu would result in chaos and would lead to China being carved up by imperialists, intellectuals like Kang Youwei and Liang Qichao supported responding with initiatives like the Hundred Days' Reform.[42] In another faction, Sun Yat-sen and others like Zou Rong wanted a revolution to replace the dynastic system with a modern nation-state in the form of a republic.[42] The Hundred Days' reform turned out to be a failure by 1898.[43]

From uprising to exile

First Guangzhou uprising

Plaque in London marking the site of a house at 4 Warwick Court, WC1 where Sun Yat-sen lived while in exile

Letter from Sun Yat-sen to James Cantlie announcing to him that he has assumed the Presidency of the Provisional Republican Government of China, dated 21 January 1912

In the second year of the establishment of the Revive China society on 26 October 1895, the group planned and launched the First Guangzhou uprising against the Qing in Guangzhou.[36] Yeung Ku-wan directed the uprising starting from Hong Kong.[39] However, plans were leaked out and more than 70 members, including Lu Haodong, were captured by the Qing government. The uprising was a failure. Sun received financial support mostly from his brother who sold most of his 12,000 acres of ranch and cattle in Hawaii.[14] Additionally, members of his family and relatives of Sun would take refuge at the home of his brother Sun Mei at Kamaole in Kula, Maui.[14][15][16][17][44]

Exile in Japan

Sun Yat-sen spent time living in Japan while in exile. He was supported by the Japanese politician Tōten Miyazaki. Most Japanese who actively worked with Sun were motivated by a pan-Asian fear of encroaching Western imperialism.[45] While in Japan, Sun also met and befriended Mariano Ponce, then a diplomat of the First Philippine Republic.[46] During the Philippine Revolution and the Philippine–American War, Sun helped Ponce procure weapons salvaged from the Imperial Japanese Army and ship the weapons to the Philippines. By helping the Philippine Republic, Sun hoped that the Filipinos would win their independence so that he could use the archipelago as a staging point of another revolution. However, as the war ended in July 1902, America emerged victorious from a bitter 3-year war against the Republic. Therefore, the Filipino dream of independence vanished with Sun's hopes of collaborating with the Philippines in his revolution in China.[47]

Huizhou uprising in China

On 22 October 1900, Sun launched the Huizhou uprising to attack Huizhou and provincial authorities in Guangdong.[48] This came five years after the failed Guangzhou uprising. This time, Sun appealed to the triads for help.[49] This uprising was also a failure. Miyazaki, who participated in the revolt with Sun, wrote an account of this revolutionary effort under the title "33-year dream" (三十三年之夢) in 1902.[50][51]

Further exile

Sun was in exile not only in Japan but also in Europe, the United States, and Canada. He raised money for his revolutionary party and to support uprisings in China. While the events leading up to it are unclear, in 1896 Sun Yat-sen was detained at the Chinese Legation in London, where the Chinese Imperial secret service planned to smuggle him back to China to execute him for his revolutionary actions.[52] He was released after 12 days through the efforts of James Cantlie, The Globe, The Times, and the Foreign Office; leaving Sun a hero in Britain.[note 1] James Cantlie, Sun's former teacher at the Hong Kong College of Medicine for Chinese, maintained a lifelong friendship with Sun and would later write an early biography of Sun.[54]

Heaven and Earth Society, overseas travel

A "Heaven and Earth Society" sect known as Tiandihui had been around for a long time.[55] The group has also been referred to as the "three cooperating organizations" as well as the triads.[55] Sun Yat-sen mainly used this group to leverage his overseas travels to gain further financial and resource support for his revolution.[55] According to the New York Times "Sun Yat-sen left his village in Guangdong, southern China, in 1879 to join a brother in Hawaii. He eventually returned to China and from there moved to the British colony of Hong Kong in 1883. It was there that he received his Western education, his Christian faith and the money for revolution."[56] This is where Sun Yat-sen realized that China needed to change its ways. He knew that the only way that China would change and modernize would be to overthrow the Qing Dynasty.

According to Lee Yun-ping, chairman of the Chinese historical society, Sun needed a certificate to enter the United States at a time when the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 would have otherwise blocked him.[57] However, on Sun's first attempt to enter the US, he was still arrested.[57] He was later bailed out after 17 days.[57] In March 1904, while residing in Kula, Maui, Sun Yat-sen obtained a Certificate of Hawaiian Birth, issued by the Territory of Hawaii, stating that "he was born in the Hawaiian Islands on the 24th day of November, A.D. 1870."[58][59] He renounced it after it served its purpose to circumvent the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882.[59] Official files of the United States show that Sun had United States nationality, moved to China with his family at age 4, and returned to Hawaii 10 years later.[60]



Main article: Tongmenghui

A letter with Sun's seal commencing the Tongmenghui in Hong Kong

In 1904, Sun Yat-sen came about with the goal "to expel the Tatar barbarians (i.e. Manchu), to revive Zhonghua, to establish a Republic, and to distribute land equally among the people" (驅除韃虜, 恢復中華, 創立民國, 平均地權).[61] One of Sun's major legacies was the creation of his political philosophy of the Three Principles of the People. These Principles included the principle of nationalism (minzu, 民族), of democracy (minquan, 民權), and of welfare (minsheng, 民生).[61]

On 20 August 1905, Sun joined forces with revolutionary Chinese students studying in Tokyo, Japan to form the unified group Tongmenghui (United League), which sponsored uprisings in China.[61][62] By 1906 the number of Tongmenghui members reached 963 people.[61]

Malaya support

Main article: Chinese revolutionary activities in Malaya

Interior of the Wan Qing Yuan featuring Sun's items and photos

The Sun Yat-sen Museum in George Town, Penang, Malaysia, where he planned the Xinhai Revolution.[63]

Sun's notability and popularity extends beyond the Greater China region, particularly to Nanyang (Southeast Asia), where a large concentration of overseas Chinese resided in Malaya (Malaysia and Singapore). While in Singapore, he met local Chinese merchants Teo Eng Hock (張永福), Tan Chor Nam (陳楚楠) and Lim Nee Soon (林義順), which mark the commencement of direct support from the Nanyang Chinese. The Singapore chapter of the Tongmenghui was established on 6 April 1906,[64] though some records claim the founding date to be end of 1905.[64] The villa used by Sun was known as Wan Qing Yuan.[64][65] At this point Singapore was the headquarters of the Tongmenghui.[64]

Thus, after founding the Tong Meng Hui, Dr Sun advocated the establishment of The Chong Shing Yit Pao as the alliance's mouthpiece to promote revolutionary ideas. Later, he initiated the establishment of reading clubs across Singapore and Malaysia, in order to disseminate revolutionary ideas among the lower class through public readings of newspaper stories. The United Chinese Library, founded on 8 August 1910, was one such reading club, first set up at leased property on the second floor of the Wan He Salt Traders in North Boat Quay.[66][citation needed]

The first actual United Chinese Library building was built between 1908 and 1911 below Fort Canning – 51 Armenian Street, commenced operations in 1912. The library was set up as a part of the 50 reading rooms by the Chinese Republicans to serve as an information station and liaison point for the revolutionaries. In 1987, the library was moved to its present site at Cantonment Road. But the Armenian Street building is still intact with the plaque at its entrance with Sun Yat Sen's words. With an initial membership of over 400, the library has about 180 members today. Although the United Chinese Library, with 102 years of history, was not the only reading club in Singapore during the time, today it is the only one of its kind remaining.[citation needed]

Siamese support

In 1903, Sun made a secret trip to Bangkok in which he sought funds for his cause in Southeast Asia. His loyal followers published newspapers, providing invaluable support to the dissemination of his revolutionary principles and ideals among Chinese descent in Thailand. In Bangkok, Sun visited Yaowarat Road, in Bangkok's Chinatown. It was on this street that Sun gave a speech claiming that overseas Chinese were "the Mother of the Revolution". He also met local Chinese merchants Seow Houtseng,[67] whose sent financial support to him.

Sun's speech on Yaowarat street was commemorated by the street later being named "Sun Yat Sen Street" or "Soi Sun Yat Sen" (Thai: ซอยซุนยัตเซ็น) in his honour.[68]

Zhennanguan uprising

On 1 December 1907, Sun led the Zhennanguan uprising against the Qing at Friendship Pass, which is the border between Guangxi and Vietnam.[69] The uprising failed after seven days of fighting.[69][70] In 1907 there were a total of four uprisings that failed including Huanggang uprising, Huizhou seven women lake uprising and Qinzhou uprising.[64] In 1908 two more uprisings failed one after another including Qin-lian uprising and Hekou uprising.[64]

Anti-Sun movements

Because of these failures, Sun's leadership was challenged by elements from within the Tongmenghui who wished to remove him as leader. In Tokyo 1907–1908 members from the recently merged Restoration society raised doubts about Sun's credentials.[64] Tao Chengzhang (陶成章) and Zhang Binglin publicly denounced Sun with an open leaflet called "A declaration of Sun Yat-sen's criminal acts by the revolutionaries in Southeast Asia".[64] This was printed and distributed in reformist newspapers like Nanyang Zonghui Bao.[64][71] Their goal was to target Sun as a leader leading a revolt for profiteering gains.[64]

The revolutionaries were polarized and split between pro-Sun and anti-Sun camps.[64] Sun publicly fought off comments about how he had something to gain financially from the revolution.[64] However, by 19 July 1910, the Tongmenghui headquarters had to relocate from Singapore to Penang to reduce the anti-Sun activities.[64] It is also in Penang that Sun and his supporters would launch the first Chinese "daily" newspaper, the Kwong Wah Yit Poh in December 1910.[69]

1911 revolution

Main articles: Wuchang Uprising and Xinhai Revolution

The Revolutionary Army of the Wuchang uprising fighting in the Battle of Yangxia

To sponsor more uprisings, Sun made a personal plea for financial aid at the Penang conference held on 13 November 1910 in Malaya.[72] The leaders launched a major drive for donations across the Malay Peninsula.[72] They raised HK$187,000.[72]

On 27 April 1911, revolutionary Huang Xing led a second Guangzhou uprising known as the Yellow Flower Mound revolt against the Qing. The revolt failed and ended in disaster; the bodies of only 72 revolutionaries were found.[73] The revolutionaries are remembered as martyrs.[73]

On 10 October 1911, a military uprising at Wuchang took place led again by Huang Xing. At the time, Sun had no direct involvement as he was still in exile. Huang was in charge of the revolution that ended over 2000 years of imperial rule in China. When Sun learned of the successful rebellion against the Qing emperor from press reports, he returned to China from the United States accompanied by his closest foreign advisor, the American, "General" Homer Lea. He met Lea in London, where he and Lea unsuccessfully tried to arrange British financing for the new Chinese republic. Sun and Lea then sailed for China, arriving there on 21 December 1911.[74]

The uprising expanded to the Xinhai Revolution also known as the "Chinese Revolution" to overthrow the last Emperor Puyi. After this event, 10 October became known as the commemoration of Double Ten Day.[75]

Republic of China with multiple governments

Provisional government

Main article: Provisional Government of the Republic of China (1912)

"Portrait of Sun Yat-sen" (1921) Li Tiefu Oil on Canvas 93×71.7cm

On 29 December 1911 a meeting of representatives from provinces in Nanking (Nanjing) elected Sun Yat-sen as the "provisional president" (臨時大總統).[76] 1 January 1912 was set as the first day of the First Year of the Republic.[77] Li Yuanhong was made provisional vice-president and Huang Xing became the minister of the army. The new Provisional Government of the Republic of China was created along with the Provisional Constitution of the Republic of China. Sun is credited for the funding of the revolutions and for keeping the spirit of revolution alive, even after a series of failed uprisings. His successful merger of minor revolutionary groups to a single larger party provided a better base for all those who shared the same ideals. A number of things were introduced such as the republic calendar system and new fashion like Zhongshan suits.

Beiyang government

Main article: Beiyang government

Yuan Shikai, who controlled the Beiyang Army, the military of northern China, was promised the position of President of the Republic of China if he could get the Qing court to abdicate.[78] On 12 February 1912 Emperor Puyi did abdicate the throne.[77] Sun stepped down as President, and Yuan became the new provisional president in Beijing on 10 March 1912.[78] The provisional government did not have any military forces of its own. Its control over elements of the New Army that had mutinied was limited and there were still significant forces which still had not declared against the Qing.

Sun Yat-sen sent telegrams to the leaders of all provinces requesting them to elect and to establish the National Assembly of the Republic of China in 1912.[79] In May 1912 the legislative assembly moved from Nanjing to Beijing with its 120 members divided between members of Tongmenghui and a Republican party that supported Yuan Shikai.[80] Many revolutionary members were already alarmed by Yuan's ambitions and the northern based Beiyang government.

Nationalist party and Second Revolution

Tongmenghui member Song Jiaoren quickly tried to control the parliament. He mobilized the old Tongmenghui at the core with the merger of a number of new small parties to form a new political party called the Kuomintang (Chinese nationalist party, commonly abbreviated as "KMT") on 25 August 1912 at Huguang Guild Hall Beijing.[80] The 1912–1913 National assembly election was considered a huge success for the KMT winning 269 of the 596 seats in the lower house and 123 of the 274 senate seats.[78][80] In retaliation the national party leader Song Jiaoren was assassinated, almost certainly by a secret order of Yuan, on 20 March 1913.[78] The Second Revolution took place where Sun and KMT military forces tried to overthrow Yuan's forces of about 80,000 men in an armed conflict in July 1913.[81] The revolt against Yuan was unsuccessful. In August 1913, Sun Yat-sen fled to Japan, where he later enlisted financial aid via politician and industrialist Fusanosuke Kuhara.[82]

Political chaos

In 1915 Yuan Shikai proclaimed the Empire of China (1915–1916) with himself as Emperor of China. Sun took part in the Anti-Monarchy war of the Constitutional Protection Movement, while also supporting bandit leaders like Bai Lang during the Bai Lang Rebellion. This marked the beginning of the Warlord Era. In 1915 Sun wrote to the Second International, a socialist-based organization in Paris, asking it to send a team of specialists to help China set up the world's first socialist republic.[83] At the time there were many theories and proposals of what China could be. In the political mess, both Sun Yat-sen and Xu Shichang were announced as President of the Republic of China.[84]

Path to Northern Expedition

Guangzhou militarist government

(L-R): Liao Zhongkai, Chiang Kai-shek, Sun Yat-sen and Soong Ching-ling at the founding of the Whampoa Military Academy in 1924

China had become divided among regional military leaders. Sun saw the danger of this and returned to China in 1917 to advocate Chinese reunification. In 1921 he started a self-proclaimed military government in Guangzhou and was elected Grand Marshal.[85] Between 1912 and 1927 three governments had been set up in South China: the Provisional government in Nanjing (1912), the Military government in Guangzhou (1921–1925), and the National government in Guangzhou and later Wuhan (1925–1927).[86] The government in the South was established to rival the Beiyang government in the north.[85] Yuan Shikai had banned the KMT. The short lived Chinese Revolutionary Party was a temporary replacement for the KMT. On 10 October 1919 Sun resurrected the KMT with the new name Chung-kuo Kuomintang, or the "Nationalist Party of China".[80]

KMT–CPC cooperation

Sun Yat-sen (seated on right) and Chiang Kai-shek

By this time Sun had become convinced that the only hope for a unified China lay in a military conquest from his base in the south, followed by a period of political tutelage that would culminate in the transition to democracy. In order to hasten the conquest of China, he began a policy of active cooperation with the Communist Party of China (CPC). Sun and the Soviet Union's Adolph Joffe signed the Sun-Joffe Manifesto in January 1923.[3] Sun received help from the Comintern for his acceptance of communist members into his KMT. Revolutionary and socialist leader Vladimir Lenin praised Sun and the KMT for their ideology and principles. Lenin praised Sun and his attempts at social reformation, and also congratulated him for fighting foreign Imperialism.[87][88][89] Sun also returned the praise, calling him a "great man", and sent his congratulations on the revolution in Russia.[90]

With the Soviets' help, Sun was able to develop the military power needed for the Northern Expedition against the military at the north. He established the Whampoa Military Academy near Guangzhou with Chiang Kai-shek as the commandant of the National Revolutionary Army (NRA).[91] Other Whampoa leaders include Wang Jingwei and Hu Hanmin as political instructors. This full collaboration was called the First United Front.

Finance concerns

In 1924 Sun appointed his brother-in-law T. V. Soong to set up the first Chinese Central bank called the Canton Central Bank.[92] To establish national capitalism and a banking system was a major objective for the KMT.[93] However Sun was not without some opposition as there was the Canton volunteers corps uprising against him.

Final speeches

Sun (seated, right) and his wife Soong Ching-ling (seated next to him) in Kobe, Japan in 1924

In February 1923 Sun made a presentation to the Students' Union in Hong Kong University and declared that it was the corruption of China and the peace, order and good government of Hong Kong that turned him into a revolutionary.[94][95] This same year, he delivered a speech in which he proclaimed his Three Principles of the People as the foundation of the country and the Five-Yuan Constitution as the guideline for the political system and bureaucracy. Part of the speech was made into the National Anthem of the Republic of China.

On 10 November 1924, Sun traveled north to Tianjin and delivered a speech to suggest a gathering for a "national conference" for the Chinese people. It called for the end of warlord rules and the abolition of all unequal treaties with the Western powers.[96] Two days later, he traveled to Beijing to discuss the future of the country, despite his deteriorating health and the ongoing civil war of the warlords. Among the people he met was the Muslim General Ma Fuxiang, who informed Sun that they would welcome his leadership.[97] On 28 November 1924 Sun traveled to Japan and gave a speech on Pan-Asianism at Kobe, Japan.[98]

Illness and death

For many years, it was popularly believed that Sun died of liver cancer. On 26 January 1925, Sun underwent an exploratory laparotomy at Peking Union Medical College Hospital (PUMCH) to investigate a long-term illness. This was performed by the head of the Department of Surgery, Adrian S. Taylor, who stated that the procedure "revealed extensive involvement of the liver by carcinoma" and that Sun only had about ten days to live. Sun was hospitalized and his condition was treated with radium.[99] Sun survived the initial ten-day period and on 18 February, against the advice of doctors, he was transferred to the KMT headquarters and treated with traditional Chinese medicine. This too was unsuccessful and he died on 12 March at the age of 58.[100] Contemporary reports in The New York Times,[100] Time,[101] and the Chinese newspaper Qun Qiang Bao all reported the cause of death as liver cancer, based on Taylor's observation.[102]

Following this the body then was preserved in mineral oil[103] and taken to the Temple of Azure Clouds, a Buddhist shrine in the Western Hills a few miles outside of Beijing.[104] He also left a short political will (總理遺囑) penned by Wang Jingwei, which had a widespread influence in the subsequent development of the Republic of China and Taiwan.[105]

In 1926, construction began on a majestic mausoleum at the foot of Purple Mountain in Nanjing, and this was completed in the spring of 1929. On 1 June 1929, Sun's remains were moved from Beijing and interred in the Sun Yat-sen Mausoleum.

By pure chance, in May 2016, an American pathologist named Rolf F. Barth was visiting the Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall in Guangzhou when he noticed a faded copy of the original autopsy report on display. The autopsy was performed immediately after Sun's death by James Cash, a pathologist at PUMCH. Based on a tissue sample, Cash concluded that the cause of death was an adenocarcinoma in the gallbladder that had metastasized to the liver. In modern China, liver cancer is far more common than gallbladder cancer and although the incidence rates of either in 1925 are not known, if one assumes that they were similar at that time, then the original diagnosis by Taylor was a logical conclusion. From the time of Sun's death until the appearance of Barth's report[99] in the Chinese Journal of Cancer in September 2016 (now known as Cancer Communications[106] since 1 March 2018), the true cause of death of Sun Yat-sen was not reported in any English-language publication. Even in Chinese-language sources, it only appeared in one non-medical online report in 2013.[99][107]
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Power struggle

Chinese generals at the Sun Yat-sen Mausoleum in 1928 after the Northern Expedition. From right: Cheng Jin (何成浚), Zhang Zuobao (張作寶), Chen Diaoyuan (陳調元), Chiang Kai-shek, Woo Tsin-hang, Yan Xishan, Ma Fuxiang, Ma Sida (馬四達), and Bai Chongxi.

After Sun's death, a power struggle between his young protégé Chiang Kai-shek and his old revolutionary comrade Wang Jingwei split the KMT. At stake in this struggle was the right to lay claim to Sun's ambiguous legacy. In 1927 Chiang Kai-shek married Soong Mei-ling, a sister of Sun's widow Soong Ching-ling, and subsequently he could claim to be a brother-in-law of Sun. When the Communists and the Kuomintang split in 1927, marking the start of the Chinese Civil War, each group claimed to be his true heirs, a conflict that continued through World War II. Sun's widow, Soong Ching-ling, sided with the Communists during the Chinese Civil War and served from 1949 to 1981 as Vice-President (or Vice-Chairwoman) of the People's Republic of China and as Honorary President shortly before her death in 1981.

Cult of personality

A personality cult in the Republic of China was centered on Sun and his successor, Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek. Chinese Muslim Generals and Imams participated in this cult of personality and one party state, with Muslim General Ma Bufang making people bow to Sun's portrait and listen to the national anthem during a Tibetan and Mongol religious ceremony for the Qinghai Lake God.[108] Quotes from the Quran and Hadith were used among Hui Muslims to justify Chiang Kai-shek's rule over China.[109]

The Kuomintang's constitution designated Sun as party president. After his death, the Kuomintang opted to keep that language in its constitution to honor his memory forever. The party has since been headed by a director-general (1927–1975) and a chairman (since 1975), which discharge the functions of the president.

Father of the Nation

Statue in the Mausoleum, Kuomintang flag on the ceiling

Sun Yat-sen remains unique among 20th-century Chinese leaders for having a high reputation both in mainland China and in Taiwan. In Taiwan, he is seen as the Father of the Republic of China, and is known by the posthumous name Father of the Nation, Mr. Sun Zhongshan (Chinese: 國父 孫中山先生, where the one-character space is a traditional homage symbol).[8] His likeness is still almost always found in ceremonial locations such as in front of legislatures and classrooms of public schools, from elementary to senior high school, and he continues to appear in new coinage and currency.

"Forerunner of the revolution"

On the mainland, Sun is seen as a Chinese nationalist, proto-socialist, first president of a Republican China and is highly regarded as the Forerunner of the Revolution (革命先行者).[3] He is even mentioned by name in the preamble to the Constitution of the People's Republic of China. In recent years, the leadership of the Communist Party of China has increasingly invoked Sun, partly as a way of bolstering Chinese nationalism in light of Chinese economic reform and partly to increase connections with supporters of the Kuomintang on Taiwan which the PRC sees as allies against Taiwan independence. Sun's tomb was one of the first stops made by the leaders of both the Kuomintang and the People First Party on their pan-blue visit to mainland China in 2005.[110] A massive portrait of Sun continues to appear in Tiananmen Square for May Day and National Day.

Economic development

Sun Yat-sen spent years in Hawaii as a student in the late 1870s and early 1880s, and was highly impressed with the economic development he saw there. He used the independent Kingdom of Hawaii as a model to develop his vision of a technologically modern and politically independent and actively anti-imperialist China.[111] Sun Yat-sen was an important pioneer of international development, proposing in the 1920s international institutions of the sort that appeared after World War II. He focused on China, with its vast potential and weak base of mostly local entrepreneurs.[112] His key proposal was socialism. He proposed:

The State will take over all the large enterprises; we shall encourage and protect enterprises which may reasonably be entrusted to the people; the nation will possess equality with other nations; every Chinese will be equal to every other Chinese both politically and in his opportunities of economic advancement.[113]


Main article: Family tree of Sun Yat-sen

Lu Muzhen (1867–1952), Sun's first wife from 1885 to 1915

Sun Yat-sen was born to Sun Dacheng (孫達成) and his wife, Lady Yang (楊氏) on 12 November 1866.[114] At the time his father was age 53, while his mother was 38 years old. He had an older brother, Sun Dezhang (孫德彰), and an older sister, Sun Jinxing (孫金星), who died at the early age of 4. Another older brother, Sun Deyou (孫德祐), died at the age of 6. He also had an older sister, Sun Miaoqian (孫妙茜), and a younger sister, Sun Qiuqi (孫秋綺).[24]

At age 20, Sun had an arranged marriage with fellow villager Lu Muzhen. She bore a son, Sun Fo, and two daughters, Sun Jinyuan (孫金媛) and Sun Jinwan (孫金婉).[24] Sun Fo was the grandfather of Leland Sun, who spent 37 years working in Hollywood as an actor and stuntman.[115] Sun Yat-sen was also the godfather of Paul Myron Anthony Linebarger, American author and poet who wrote under the name Cordwainer Smith.[116]

Sun's first concubine, the Hong Kong-born Chen Cuifen, lived in Taiping, Perak, Malaysia for 17 years. The couple adopted a local girl as their daughter. Cuifen subsequently relocated to China, where she died.[117]

On 25 October 1915 in Japan, Sun married Soong Ching-ling, one of the Soong sisters,[24][118] Soong Ching-Ling's father was the American-educated Methodist minister Charles Soong, who made a fortune in banking and in printing of Bibles. Although Charles Soong had been a personal friend of Sun's, he was enraged when Sun announced his intention to marry Ching-ling because while Sun was a Christian he kept two wives, Lu Muzhen and Kaoru Otsuki; Soong viewed Sun's actions as running directly against their shared religion.

Soong Ching-Ling's sister, Soong Mei-ling, later married Chiang Kai-shek.

Cultural references

Memorials and structures in Asia

Aerial perspective of Sun Yat Sen Nanyang Memorial Hall in central Singapore. Taken in 2016

In most major Chinese cities one of the main streets is named Zhongshan Lu (中山路) to celebrate his memory. There are also numerous parks, schools, and geographical features named after him. Xiangshan, Sun's hometown in Guangdong, was renamed Zhongshan in his honor, and there is a hall dedicated to his memory at the Temple of Azure Clouds in Beijing. There are also a series of Sun Yat-sen stamps.

Other references to Sun include the Sun Yat-sen University in Guangzhou and National Sun Yat-sen University in Kaohsiung. Other structures include Sun Yat-sen Mausoleum, Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall subway station, Sun Yat-sen house in Nanjing, Dr. Sun Yat-sen Museum in Hong Kong, Chung-Shan Building, Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall in Guangzhou, Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall in Taipei and Sun Yat Sen Nanyang Memorial Hall in Singapore. Zhongshan Memorial Middle School has also been a name used by many schools. Zhongshan Park is also a common name used for a number of places named after him. The first highway in Taiwan is called the Sun Yat-sen expressway. Two ships are also named after him, the Chinese gunboat Chung Shan and Chinese cruiser Yat Sen. The old Chinatown in Calcutta (now known as Kolkata), India has a prominent street by the name of Sun Yat-sen street. There are also two streets named after Sun Yat-sen, located in the cities of Astrakhan and Ufa, Russia.

In George Town, Penang, Malaysia, the Penang Philomatic Union had its premises at 120 Armenian Street in 1910, during the time when Sun spent more than four months in Penang, convened the historic "Penang Conference" to launch the fundraising campaign for the Huanghuagang Uprising and founded the Kwong Wah Yit Poh; this house, which has been preserved as the Sun Yat-sen Museum (formerly called the Sun Yat Sen Penang Base), was visited by President designate Hu Jintao in 2002. The Penang Philomatic Union subsequently moved to a bungalow at 65 Macalister Road which has been preserved as the Sun Yat-sen Memorial Centre Penang.

As dedication, the 1966 Chinese Cultural Renaissance was launched on Sun's birthday on 12 November.[119]

The Nanyang Wan Qing Yuan in Singapore have since been preserved and renamed as the Sun Yat Sen Nanyang Memorial Hall.[65] A Sun Yat-sen heritage trail was also launched on 20 November 2010 in Penang.[120]

Sun's US citizen Hawaii birth certificate that show he was not born in the ROC, but instead born in the US was on public display at the American Institute in Taiwan on US Independence day 4 July 2011.[121]

A street in Medan, Indonesia is named "Jalan Sun Yat-Sen" in honour of him.[122]

A street named "Tôn Dật Tiên" (Sino-Vietnamese name for Sun Yat-Sen) is located in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam.

Memorials and structures outside of Asia

Sun Yat-Sen monument in Chinatown area of Los Angeles, California

St. John's University in New York City has a facility built in 1973, the Sun Yat-Sen Memorial Hall, built to resemble a traditional Chinese building in honor of Sun.[123] Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden is located in Vancouver, the largest classical Chinese gardens outside of Asia. There is the Dr. Sun Yat-sen Memorial Park in Chinatown, Honolulu.[124] On the island of Maui, there is the little Sun Yat-sen Park at Kamaole. It is located near to where his older brother had a ranch on the slopes of Haleakala in the Kula region.[15][16][17][44]

In Chinatown, Los Angeles, there is a seated statue of him in Central Plaza.[125] In Sacramento, California there is a bronze statue of Sun in front of the Chinese Benevolent Association of Sacramento. Another statue of Sun Yat-sen by Joe Rosenthal can be found at Riverdale Park in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. There is also the Moscow Sun Yat-sen University. In Chinatown, San Francisco, there is a 12-foot statue of him on Saint Mary's Square.[126]

In late 2011, the Chinese Youth Society of Melbourne, in celebration of the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Republic of China, unveiled, in a Lion Dance Blessing ceremony, a memorial statue of Sun outside the Chinese Museum in Melbourne's Chinatown, on the spot where their traditional Chinese New Year Lion Dance always ends.[127]

Sun Yat-Sen plaza in the Chinese Quarter of Montreal, Quebec, Canada

In 1993 Lily Sun, one of Sun Yat-sen's granddaughters, donated books, photographs, artwork and other memorabilia to the Kapi'olani Community College library as part of the "Sun Yat-sen Asian collection".[128] During October and November every year the entire collection is shown.[128] In 1997 the "Dr Sun Yat-sen Hawaii foundation" was formed online as a virtual library.[128] In 2006 the NASA Mars Exploration Rover Spirit labeled one of the hills explored "Zhongshan".[129]

The plaque shown earlier in this article is by Dora Gordine, and is situated on the site of Sun's lodgings in London in 1896, 8 Grays Inn Place. There is also a blue plaque commemorating Sun at The Kennels, Cottered, Hertfordshire, the country home of the Cantlies where Sun came to recuperate after his rescue from the legation in 1896.[citation needed]

A street named Sun Yat-Sen Avenue is located in Markham, Ontario. This is the first such street name outside of Asia.

In popular culture


Sun Yat-sen tribute in Tiananmen Square, 2010

Dr. Sun Yat-sen[130] (中山逸仙; ZhōngShān yì xiān) is a 2011 Chinese-language western-style opera in three acts by the New York-based American composer Huang Ruo who was born in China and is a graduate of Oberlin College's Conservatory as well as the Juilliard School. The libretto was written by Candace Mui-ngam Chong, a recent collaborator with playwright David Henry Hwang.[131] It was performed in Hong Kong in October 2011 and was given its North American premiere on 26 July 2014 at The Santa Fe Opera.

TV series and films

The life of Sun is portrayed in various films, mainly The Soong Sisters and Road to Dawn. A fictionalized assassination attempt on his life was featured in Bodyguards and Assassins. He is also portrayed during his struggle to overthrow the Qing dynasty in Once Upon a Time in China II. The TV series Towards the Republic features Ma Shaohua as Sun Yat-sen. In the 100th anniversary tribute of the film 1911, Winston Chao played Sun.[132] In Space: Above and Beyond, one of the starships of the China Navy is named the Sun Yat-sen.[133]


In 2010, a theatrical play Yellow Flower on Slopes (斜路黃花) was created and performed.[134] In 2011, there is also a Mandopop group called "Zhongsan Road 100" (中山路100號) known for singing the song "Our Father of the Nation" (我們國父).[135]


New Three Principles of the People

At one time CPC general secretary and PRC president Jiang Zemin claimed that Sun Yat-sen advocated a movement known as the "New Three Principles of the People" (新三民主義) which consisted of "working with the soviets, working with the communists and helping the farmers" (聯俄, 聯共, 扶助工農).[136][137] In 2001 Lily Sun said that the CPC was distorting Sun's legacy. She then voiced her displeasure in 2002 in a private letter to Jiang about the distortion of history.[136] In 2008 Jiang Zemin was willing to offer US$10 million to sponsor a Xinhai Revolution anniversary celebration event. According to Ming Pao she could not take the money because she would no longer have the freedom to communicate about the revolution.[136] This concept is still currently available on Baike Baidu.

KMT emblem removal case

In 1981, Lily Sun took a trip to Sun Yat-sen mausoleum in Nanjing, People's Republic of China. The emblem of the KMT had been removed from the top of his sacrificial hall at the time of her visit, but was later restored. On another visit in May 2011, she was surprised to find the four characters "General Rules of Meetings" (會議通則), a document that Sun wrote in reference to Robert's Rules of Order had been removed from a stone carving.[136]

Father of Independent Taiwan issue

Further information: North South divide in Taiwan

In November 2004, the ROC Ministry of Education proposed that Sun Yat-sen was not the father of Taiwan. Instead, Sun was a foreigner from mainland China.[138] Taiwanese Education minister Tu Cheng-sheng and Examination Yuan member Lin Yu-ti [zh], both of whom supported the proposal, had their portraits pelted with eggs in protest.[139] At a Sun Yat-sen statue in Kaohsiung, a 70-year-old ROC retired soldier committed suicide as a way to protest the ministry proposal on the anniversary of Sun's birthday 12 November.[138][139]


• The Outline of National Reconstruction/Chien Kuo Ta Kang (1918)
• The Fundamentals of National Reconstruction/Jianguo fanglue (1924)
• The Principle of Nationalism (1953)

See also

• China portal
• Taiwan portal
• Biography portal
• Chiang Kai-shek
• Chinese Anarchism
• History of the Republic of China
• Politics of the Republic of China
• Sun Yat-sen Museum Penang
• United States Constitution and worldwide influence
• Zhongshan suit


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126. "St. Mary's Square in San Francisco Chinatown – The largest chinatown outside of Asia". Retrieved 6 December 2015.
127. "Chinese Youth Society of Melbourne". Chinese Youth Society of Melbourne. Archived from the original on 29 July 2012. Retrieved 23 January 2012.
128. "Char Asian-Pacific Study Room". 23 June 2009. Archived from the original on 2 April 2012. Retrieved 26 September 2011.
129. "Mars Exploration Rover Mission: Press Release Images: Spirit". Archived from the original on 7 June 2012. Retrieved 2 October 2011.
130. "Opera Dr Sun Yat-sen to stage in Hong Kong". 7 September 2011. Archived from the original on 1 November 2014. Retrieved 8 July 2013.
131. Gerard Raymond, "Between East and West: An Interview with David Henry Hwang" on, 28 October 2011
132. "Commemoration of 1911 Revolution mounting in China". Archived from the original on 26 November 2013. Retrieved 2 October 2011.
133. "Space: Above and Beyond s01e22 Episode Script SS". Archived from the original on 15 February 2017. Retrieved 15 February 2017.
134. 《斜路黃花》向革命者致意 (in Chinese). Retrieved 12 October 2011.[dead link]
135. 元智大學管理學院 (in Chinese). Archived from the original on 2 April 2012. Retrieved 26 September 2011.
136. Kenneth Tan (3 October 2011). "Granddaughter of Sun Yat-Sen accuses China of distorting his legacy". Shanghaiist. Retrieved 8 October 2011.
137. 国父孙女轰中共扭曲三民主义愚民_多维新闻网 (in Chinese). 1 October 2011. Archived from the original on 7 October 2011. Retrieved 8 October 2011.
138. "Archived copy" 人民网—孙中山遭辱骂 "台独"想搞"台湾国父". People's Daily. Archived from the original on 13 May 2013. Retrieved 12 October 2011.
139. Chiu Hei-yuan (5 October 2011). "History should be based on facts". Taipei Times. p. 8.

Further reading

• Bergère, Marie-Claire (2000). Sun Yat-sen. Stanford University Press. ISBN 0-8047-4011-9. online free to borrow
• Pearl S. Buck, The Man Who Changed China: The Story of Sun Yat-sen (1953)
• D'Elia, Paschal M. Sun Yat-sen. His Life and Its Meaning, a Critical Biography (1936)
• Du, Yue. "Sun Yat-sen as Guofu: Competition over Nationalist Party Orthodoxy in the Second Sino-Japanese War." Modern China 45.2 (2019): 201–235.
• Kayloe, Tjio. The Unfinished Revolution: Sun Yat-Sen and the Struggle for Modern China (2017). excerpt
• Khoo, Salma Nasution. Sun Yat Sen in Penang (Areca Books, 2008).
• Lee, Lai To, and Hock Guan Lee, eds. (2011). Sun Yat-Sen, Nanyang and the 1911 Revolution. Institute of Southeast Asian Studies. ISBN 9789814345460.
• Linebarger, Paul M.A. Sun Yat Sen And The Chinese Republic (1925) online free
• Linebarger, Paul M.A. Political Doctrines Of Sun Yat-sen (1937) online free
• Martin, Bernard. Sun Yat-sen's vision for China (1966)
• Restarick, Henry B., Sun Yat-sen, Liberator of China. (Yale UP, 1931)
• Schiffrin, Harold Z. Sun Yat-sen: Reluctant Revolutionary (1980)
• Schiffrin, Harold Z. Sun Yat-sen and the origins of the Chinese revolution (1968).
• Shen, Stephen and Robert Payne. Sun Yat-Sen: A Portrait (1946) online free
• Soong, Irma Tam. "Sun Yat-sen's Christian Schooling in Hawai'i." The Hawaiian Journal of History, vol. 31 (1997) online
• Wilbur, Clarence Martin. Sun Yat-sen, frustrated patriot (Columbia University Press, 1976), a major scholarly biography
• Yu, George T. "The 1911 Revolution: Past, Present, and Future," Asian Survey, 31#10 (1991), pp. 895–904, online historiography

External links

• "Sun Yat Sen Nanyang memorial hall". Retrieved 7 May 2015.
• "Doctor Sun Yat Sen memorial hall". Archived from the original on 29 August 2005. Retrieved 1 July 2005.
• ROC Government Biography (in English and Chinese)
• Sun Yat-sen in Hong Kong University of Hong Kong Libraries, Digital Initiatives
• Contemporary views of Sun among overseas Chinese
• Yokohama Overseas Chinese School established by Dr. Sun Yat-sen
• National Dr. Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall Official Website (in English and Chinese)
• Homer Lea Research Center
• Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Foundation of Hawaii A virtual library on Dr. Sun in Hawaii including sources for six visits
• Who is Homer Lea? Sun's best friend. He trained Chinese soldiers and prepared the frame work for the 1911 Chinese Revolution.
• Works by Sun Yat-sen at Project Gutenberg
• Works by or about Sun Yat-sen at Internet Archive
• Funeral procession for Sun Yat-sen in Chinatown, Los Angeles at the Los Angeles Times Photographic Archive (Collection 1429). UCLA Library Special Collections, Charles E. Young Research Library, University of California, Los Angeles.
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Re: Freda Bedi Cont'd (#2)

Postby admin » Wed Aug 12, 2020 8:30 am

Li Ki-tong
by Wikipedia
Accessed: 8/12/20

Li Ki-tong (1873-6 October 1943) (Chinese: 李紀堂; Sidney Lau: Lei5 Gei2 Tong4) (formerly Li Po-lun)[1] was a Hong Kong publisher and key financial backer of the revolutionary movement leading to the 1911 Revolution which overthrew the Qing dynasty in China.[2]

Early life

Li was born in Xinhui, Guangdong,[3] the third son of wealthy businessman Lei Sing (Chinese: 李陞; Sidney Lau: Lei5 Sing1) (1830–1900).[4]:79[1]

Publishing and wealth

Li's father was considered among Hong Kong's wealthiest Chinese, with vast landholdings. Consequently, Li became a substantial landholder, particularly in the New Territories, holding hundreds of acres in Castle Peak, Ha Pak Nai and Long Valley.[4]:79[5]

Li was the primary financier[5] for the China Daily, founded to promote the revolution, published in Hong Kong from 1900 to 1911.[1]

He spent his entire fortune in support of the revolution and ultimately spent time in debtors' prison and was bankrupted.[5]


Li first met Dr Sun Yat-sen, as the latter passed through Hong Kong in June 1895, upon the introduction of revolutionary Yeung Ku-wan, co-founder of the forerunner to the Revive China Society, the Furen Literary Society.[1] He was an early member of the China Club, established by revolutionary firebrand Tse Tsan-tai in 1898,[6] and in 1900 became a member of the Revive China Society.[1] He later also became a member of Dr Sun's Tongmenghui (Chinese Revolutionary Alliance).

Li owned the Red House on Castle Peak Farm and gave it over to the revolutionaries (including Feng Ziyou and Huang Xing) for military training and storage of materiel.[6][3] He also operated a grocery store in the Central Market, whose proceeds went to support the revolution.[7]

In January 1903, Li provided the financial resources for Tse Tsan-tai's failed uprising in Guangzhou.[2] From 1904 to 1906, he operated a school in Kowloon to promote revolutionary ideas and as a source of recruitment.[5]

In about 1910, Li provided land and resources for the erection of the fortified structure at No. 55 Ha Pak Nai, Yuen Long, Hong Kong, for use by the members of the Revive China Society.[8][9]

Li died in 1943 in Chongqing, Sichuan, China, the wartime capital of the Republic of China.[1]


1. "Revolutionary Activities of Li Ki-tong" (PDF). Antiquities and Monuments Office, Leisure and Cultural Services Department, HKSAR Government. Retrieved 15 May 2018.
2. "Local Heroes". South China Morning Post. 9 October 2011. Retrieved 19 February 2017.
3. Huang Dahan, ed. (1929). A Brief History of the Revolutionary Work of Xingzhonghui Members. Retrieved 19 February 2017.
4. Chik, Hiu-lai (2011). Understanding the Transformation of a Traditional Agricultural in Hong Kong: a case study of Long Valley. University of Hong Kong.
5. "为辛亥革命出资最多的香港三李(1911 Revolution's Greatest Benefactors: The Three Li's)". Oriental Daily News. 5 September 2011. Archived from the original on 4 November 2013. Retrieved 19 February 2017.
6. Cheung, Gary (5 October 2013). "The revolutionary beginnings of the South China Morning Post". South China Morning Post. Retrieved 19 February 2017.
7. "Road to Revolution". Macao Magazine. Macaulink. 17 July 2011. Retrieved 19 February 2017.
8. "Declared Monuments in Hong Kong - New Territories". Antiquities and Monuments Office, Leisure and Cultural Services Department, HKSAR Government. Retrieved 19 February 2017.
9. Development Bureau, HKSAR Government (22 June 2011). "Legislative Council Brief" (PDF). Retrieved 19 February 2017.
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Re: Freda Bedi Cont'd (#2)

Postby admin » Wed Aug 12, 2020 8:39 am

Wu Zhihui
by Wikipedia
Accessed: 8/12/20

Wu Zhihui
Woo Tsin-hang
Wu Zhihui as pictured in The Most Recent Biographies of Important Chinese People
Born: 25 March 1865, Wujin, Qing China
Died: 30 October 1953 (aged 88), Taipei, Taiwan
Known for: Bopomofo
Spouse(s): Yuan Rongqing (袁榮慶)
This is a Chinese name; the family name is Wu.

Wu Zhihui (Woo Chih-hui, Chinese: 吳稚暉; 25 March 1865 – 30 October 1953), also known as Woo Tsin-hang[1] or Wu Shi-Fee,[2] was a Chinese linguist and philosopher who was the chairman of the 1912–13 Commission on the Unification of Pronunciation that created Zhuyin (based on Zhang Binglin's work) and standardized Guoyu pronunciation.

Wu became an Anarchist during his stay in France in the first decade of the 20th century, along with Li Shizeng, Zhang Renjie, and Cai Yuanpei. With them, he was known as one of the strongly anti-communist "Four Elders" of the Nationalist Party in the 1920s.[3]


Born into a poor family in Wujin, Jiangsu province as Wu Tiao (Chinese: 吳朓; pinyin: Wú Tiǎo), Wu Zhihui was an outstanding student, passing the challenging Juren examination in 1891.

He served at the Nanyang College Preparatory School Hall (now the Shanghai Nanyang Model High School). In 1903 in the Subao newspaper, Wu criticized the Qing government and derided then ruling Empress Dowager Cixi as a "withered old hag" and a "whore."[4]

After this incident, Wu fled by way of Hong Kong to London. His official status enabled him to travel and live in Scotland and France. He attended university lectures in Edinburgh. In 1903, he went to Paris, where he renewed his friendship with Li Shizeng, the son of a high official he had met in Beijing, and with Zhang Renjie, well-connected son of a prosperous merchant. Although Wu was their elder by more than a decade, the three young scholars, although well-versed in the Confucian philosophy which dominated Chinese thought, were impressed by the doctrines of anarchism which flourished in France. Together with Li and Zhang, he formed the Shijie She (World Society), which became a center of anarchist thought and recruitment for several decades.[5]

Wu, Zhang Renjie, and Li Shizeng, proprietors of Xin Shijie

Together they joined the Tongmenghui, the precursor to the Chinese Nationalist Party (GMD), in 1905. Wu declared himself an anarchist the next year. He later founded influential revolutionary organizations like the Society to Advance Morality and supervised radical journals like New Era and Labor, China's first syndicalist magazine. He promoted science, rationalism, language reform, and the abolition of marriage. His ideas were revolutionary, but he estimated that it would take 3,000 years to achieve his vision of a utopian society. Wu was instrumental in the Diligent Work-Frugal Study Movement in France. Among his students were a large group of anarchists – and future communists.[5]

Return to China and allegiance to the Guomindang

Delivering Ceremony of the Republic of China Constitution Wu and Chiang Kai-shek

Soon after their return in 1912, Wu, Li, Zhang Ji, and Wang Jingwei organized The Society to Advance Morality (Jinde hui 進德會), also known as the "Eight Nots," or "Eight Prohibitions Society (八不會 Babu hui). Wu felt that the new Republic must not be menaced by the social decadence of the late Qing, evils which ranged from mah-jong and stag parties to taking second wives. True to its anarchist principles, there was no president or officers, no regulations or means to enforce them, and no dues or fines. Each level of membership, however, had increasingly rigorous requirements. "Supporting members," the lowest level, agreed not to visit prostitutes and not to gamble. "General members" agreed in addition not to take concubines. The next higher level further agreed not to become government officials — "Someone has to watch over officials" — not to become members of parliament, and not to smoke. Finally, the highest level also promised to abstain from alcohol and meat.[6][7]

While declining to hold office, Wu did accept Cai Yuanpei's offer join the commission on language reform, beginning work on a phonetic system for writing which would replace regional dialects. This work eventually resulted in the Guoyu Zhuyin fuhao system which is widely used today.[8] In June 1913, Wu was one of the founders of the journal Gonglun 公论 (Public Opinion) When in 1913 Sun Yat-sen's Second Revolution failed, Wu and Li Shizeng for safety returned to France. Li and Wu founded the University of Lyon-France and launched the Work-Study movement.[9]

In the 1920s, along with Li Shizeng, Zhan Renjie, and Cai Yuanpei, was one of the so-called "Four Elders" of the GMD and led the anti-communist campaign which drove leftists and communists from the party and supported Chiang Kai-shek. In accordance with his anarchist principles, Wu Zhihui declined any government office.[9]

In 1943, National Government Chairman Lin Sen died in provisional wartime capital of Chongqing, Chiang Kai-shek inviting Wu to be the new President, but Wu declined, citing "three no's":

• I usually wear very casual clothes, but the heads of state wear tuxedos. I would feel uncomfortable.
• My ugly face, like a big shock.
• My people love to laugh. To see something funny makes me laugh, When foreign diplomats deliver credentials, I could not help but laugh. This would not be decent.

In 1946, Wu was elected to the National Assembly, which drew up a new constitution. He administered the oath of office to Chiang Kai-shek in May 1948, shortly before the government left the mainland for Taiwan.[10]

He moved to Taiwan and was the teacher of Chiang Kai-shek's son, Chiang Ching-kuo. He died in Taipei at the age of 88. Chiang Ching-kuo carried out Wu's directive that his ashes be lowered into the sea off the island of Quemoy.[10]

Legacy and reputation

He was also respected for his various styles of calligraphy, which is evident in the design of Zhuyin; all of its symbols have the strokes and essence of calligraphy.[citation needed]


• 吳稚暉先生集(Collected Works of Mr. Wu Chih-hui)


1. "Woo Tsin-hang," used in the Academia Sinica's Western publications,[citation needed] is his name pronounced in Wu Chinese.
2. Wu Shi-Fee, used in the League of Nations documents (International Committee on Intellectual Cooperation).
3. Boorman (1970), p. 416.
4. Christopher Rea, The Age of Irreverence: A New History of Laughter in China (U. California Press, 2015), p. 99.
5. Zarrow (1990), p. 60-72.
6. Scalapino (1961).
7. Dirlik (1991), p. 120.
8. Zarrow (1990), p. 61,64.
9. Boorman (1970), p. 418-419.
10. Boorman (1970), p. 419.

References and further reading

• Dirlik, Arif (1991). Anarchism in the Chinese Revolution. Berkeley: University of California Press. ISBN 0520072979.
• Rea, Christopher (2015). The Age of Irreverence: A New History of Laughter in China. Oakland: University of California Press. ISBN 9780520283848., chapter 4: "Mockery".
• "Wu Chih-hui," in Boorman, Howard L., ed. (1970). Biographical Dictionary of Republican China Vol III. New York: Columbia University Press. ISBN 0231045581., pp. 416–419.
• Scalapino, Robert A. and George T. Yu (1961). The Chinese Anarchist Movement. Berkeley: Center for Chinese Studies, Institute of International Studies, University of California. Available at The Anarchist Library.
• Zarrow, Peter Gue (1990). Anarchism and Chinese Political Culture. New York: Columbia University Press. ISBN 0231071388..
• "Mr. Wu Chih-hui," in Wen, Yuan-ning; et al. (2018). Imperfect Understanding: Intimate Portraits of Modern Chinese Celebrities. Amherst, MA: Cambria Press. ISBN 9781604979435., pp. 185–186.
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