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Hangzhou Jingci Temple

Hangzhou Jingci Temple
The Buddhist Rite Show in
Hangzhou Jingci Temple

Well known as one of four top ancient temples in history of Hangzhou West Lake Scenic Area, Jingci Temple becomes one important part of West Lake Classic Views, in particular, the predominant scene of Nan Ping Wan Zhong, or Evening Bell Ringing at Nanping Hill, for its long-lasting sound of bell. As famous as Lingyin Temple, Jingci Temple is also possessed of a long history. Located at the foot of Rihui Peak of Nanping Hill, Jingci Temple was initially built by Qian Chu, the last king of Wuyue Kingdom, in 954, and its first leader was Master Yongming from today’s Quzhou, Zhejiang province. Originally, this temple was called Yong Ming Chan Yuan(永明禅院), or Monastery of Yong Ming, mostly because of its first leader’s Buddhist name. In Southern Song Dynasty, it was finally renamed Jingci Temple, and an extended building called Hall of 500 Arhats was built as well. The whole temple building complex has been destroyed and reconstructed for many times in its long history. The current main buildings, temple gate, bell tower, rear halls, ancient well of transporting woods and jigong hall were all the restored architecture in 1980s. The Grand Hall of the Great Sage(大雄宝殿) perhaps is the most important building in whole temple. Its yellow glazed tiles and roof show the solemnity of Jingci Temple. The most eye-catching site of temple is the new coined bell, which was a recast one with the help of Japanese Buddhists. The surface of the bell is carved with the content of Lotus Sutra, a classic of Buddhism, and the amount of characters in total is more than 80, 000, and calligraphic style of characters follows the characteristics of Zhao Puchu(赵朴初, 1907-2000, the former president of Buddhist Association of China and famous Buddhist master and talented scholar of Chinese culture). It will be a poetic, classic and spiritual world of peace, tranquility, harmony and self-reflection appearing in both the reality and mentality of human being. Jingci Temple is an eternal imagery in the eyes and hearts in enchantment of Hangzhou.

History of Jingci Temple

Yongming Master
Master of Yongming Yanshou

In 1699,it was officially named Jingci Temple and the name was written by Emperor Kangxi. It is available on the tablet on the temple gate. In 1751, during the southern visit of Emperor Qianlong, the grandson of Emperor Kangxi in Qing Dynasty, also presented the temple his handwriting” 敕建净慈禅寺”, The Construction Jingci Temple Instructed by Emperor. It is the famous and old temple in southeast China. Having experienced decades of hundreds of years, this time-honored temple went through many times of destructions and reconstructions. As its establishment in 954 by means of the power of King Qianchu of Wuyue Kingdom, and invited Monk Dao Qian of Quzhou to be the forerunner of the newly-built temple. Monk Dao Qian had a high-level study of cultivation and sutra, and the number of monks from different area gathered in Jingci Temple was more than 500. Later, Monk Dao Qian requested Qian Chu to move the sixteen golden bronze statues of arhats reserved underground store of Huangfei Pagoda to Jingci Temple. And Qian Chu also dreamed about these arhats demanding for going to Jingci Temple with Monk Dao Qian. He deeply trusted the dream and royally titled Monk Dao Qian to be Ying Zhen(应真, Reflecting the Reality), and the Arhat Hall of Jingci Temple was also named Yingzhen Hall. Moreover, Master Guan Xiu, another highly-respected monk in Hangzhou, painted sixteen pictures themed with sixteen arhats, and the today’s people called it Sixteen Yingzhen Paintings, and they are currently well preserved in Hangzhou Stele Museum or Hangzhou Stele Forest in Hangzhou Memorial of Confucius. In 961, Monk Dao Qian passed away. Yongming Yanshou, the former leader of Lingyin Temple, became the first abbot of Jingci Temple.

Monk Dao Qian and Abbot Yongming Yanshou both had the deep and sophisticated study of Zen Knowledge of Buddhism. Exactly, their study belonged to Fayan Branch of Zen Study of Buddhism. The founder of Fayan Branch was Monk Wenyi(文益禅师, 885—958), who was born in Yuhang of Hangzhou and mixed the cores of the other different Buddhist branches like Caodong school(曹洞派) and Rongyun school(融云门) together to be the distinctive theory of Fayan Branch. Why it is called Fayan Branch(法眼宗), the reason is that Li Jing(李璟. 916-961),the king of Southern Tang Kingdom, royally gave him the honorary name”大法眼禅师”(Grand Fa Yan Master) after he passed away, and since then the branch of Buddhism he established was formally called Fayan Branch.

Master Yongming Yanshou operated in Jingci Temple for 15 years and had 1,700 followers. He also built up the south and west pavilions inside temple and extensively collected multiple monks and Buddhist masters believing in the different theoretical standpoints of Buddhism and researched and discussed the Buddhism together, and his representative masterpiece named Zong Jing Lu(宗镜录),which has more than 800, 000 words and belongs to the classic of Buddhism circle. (Under further construction)

Writer: David from Seeraa International
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