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Anti-Buddhist Memorials

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Anti-Buddhist Memorials: Text 1:

Fù Yì's 傅奕 Memorial Against Buddhism

Chinese Source:
Old Books of the T'ang Dynasty, 旧唐书, chap. 79, folios 6-8.
Translation Source:
de Groot 1901: 36-42.

I have made the same modifications here as in the other two memorials in this section of the web site.


I. The Fell Effects of Buddhism in Times Past

1. "In the seventh year he presented a memorial to the emperor, in which he proposed to do away with Buddhism altogether. 七年奕上疏请除去释教。

Qī nián yì shàngshū qǐng chúqù Shìjiào.

七年奕上疏請除去釋教。
2. He argued as follows: The west, where Buddha lived, and where he preached his ominous heresies, is far away. 曰、佛在西域言妖路远。

Yuē: Fó zài xīyù yányāo lù yuǎn.

曰、佛在西域言妖路遠。
3. The Hàn dynasty translated the foreign writings and was led astray by their apparent trustworthiness, thus causing people to be disloyal to their ruler and devoid of devotion and submission to their parents, to shave their heads and abandon their ruler and their parents; 汉译胡书恣其假托、故使不忠不教削发而揖君亲、

Hàn yì húshū zì qí jiǎtuō、gù shǐ bùzhōng bùjiāo xuēfà ér yī jūn qīn、

漢譯胡書恣其假託、故使不忠不教削髮而揖君親、
4. they became idlers and wandering mendicants, and assumed another garb, in order to escape the paying of ground rent to government. 游手游食易服以逃租赋。

Yóushǒu yóushí yìfú yǐ táo zū fù.

遊手遊食易服以逃租賦。
5. By the spread of their ominous writings and the promulgation of their heresies, they opened, on false grounds, the three roads (of transmigration into demons, pretas and animals), and laid out yet the six other roads(of transition into asuras, men, and devas);
[The reference is to doctrines of reincarnation. DKJ]
演其妖书、述其邪法、伪启三涂、谬张六道、

Yǎn qí yāo shū、shù qí xié fǎ、wěi qǐ sāntú、miù cháng liù dào、

演其妖書、述其邪法、偽啟三塗、謬張六道、
6. thus they inspired the ignorant with dread and fear, and deceived the class of government officers, with the result that amongst the people, they who became acquainted with them believed such falsehoods thoughtlessly, without due enquiry after their roots and sources. 恐吓愚夫、诈欺庸品、凡百黎庶通识者稀不察根源信其矫诈。

Kǒnghè yú fū、zhàqī yōng pǐn、fánbǎi líshù tōngshí zhě xī bù chá gēnyuán xìn qí jiǎo zhà.

恐嚇愚夫、詐欺庸品、凡百黎庶通識者稀不察根源信其矯詐。
7. And then they raked up the crimes committed by these people in times past, in order to gauge thereby their future happiness; they taught that the gift of one single coin would give them a chance of thousand fold reward, and that one day's fasting might make them expect food for a hundred days. 乃追既往之罪、虚䂓将来之福、布施一钱希万倍之报持斋一日冀百日之粮。

Nǎi zhuī jìwǎng zhī zuì、xūguī jiānglái zhī fú、bùshī yī qián xī wànbèi zhī bào chízhāi yī rì jì bǎirì zhī liáng.

乃追既往之罪、虛䂓將來之福、布施一錢希萬倍之報持齋一日冀百日之糧。
8. Thus they caused their ignorant victims of deception to try recklessly to do such good works, so that, instead of fearing the laws and prohibitions, these people inconsiderately indulged in transgression of the precepts of the government; 遂使愚迷妄求功德、不单科禁、轻犯宪章、

Suì shǐ yú mí wàngqiú gōngdé、bùdān kē jìn、qīng fàn xiàn zhāng、

遂使愚迷妄求功德、不單科禁、輕犯憲章、
9. and when some committed the abominable crime of opposition, and were entangled for that in the meshes of the penal laws, 其有造作恶逆身坠刑网、

Qí yǒu zàozuo è nì shēn zhuì xíngwǎng、

其有造作惡逆身墜刑網、
10. then, in the dungeon, they still worshipped their Buddhas and muttered their Buddhist Sutras, forgetting all their lassitude both during the day and the night, sustained by the hope of escaping punishment. 方乃狱中礼佛口诵佛经、昼夜忘疲、规免其罪。

Fāng nǎi yùzhōng lǐ Fó kǒusòng Fójīng、zhòuyè wàng pí、guī miǎn qí zuì.

方乃獄中禮佛口誦佛經、晝夜忘疲、規免其罪。
11. It depends upon his natural destiny whether one shall live long or die an untimely death; but punishment and intimidation, and the bestowal of blessing and happiness are the business of the sovereign. 且生死寿夭由于自然、刑德威福关之人主。

Qiě shēngsǐ shòu yāo yóuyú zìrán、xíngdé wēifú guān zhī rén zhǔ.

且生死壽夭由於自然、刑德威福關之人主。
12. We must admit that poverty or wealth, and high or low social standing is called forth by personal labor and merit; but the ignorant Buddhist clergy with their lies maintain that all those things come from Buddha. 乃谓贫富贵贱功业所招、而愚僧矫诈皆云由佛。

Nǎi wèi pín-fù guì-jiàn gōngyè suǒ zhāo、ér yú sēng jiǎo zhà jiē yún yóu Fó.

乃謂貧富貴賤功業所招、而愚僧矯詐皆云由佛。
13. Thus they defraud the sovereign of his prerogatives and power and appropriate his (exclusive) rights to lead humanity towards reformation for good;the harm thus occasioned to the influence of the government and morality is truly lamentable. 窃人主之权、擅造化之力、其为害政良可悲矣。

Qièrén zhǔ zhī quán、shàn zàohua zhī lì、qí wéihài zhèng liáng kěbēi yǐ.

竊人主之權、擅造化之力、其為害政良可悲矣。
14. The Shu [Shū Jīng 书经, "Book of Documents," Part of the Confucian Canon] says: 案书云、

Àn Shū yún、

案書云、
15. "The sovereign alone creates blessings and intimidates; to him alone belongs all that is precious and edible; and if his subjects create blessings and inspire fear, or appropriate treasures and food, they damage his house, they bring misfortune upon his dynasty; then the men in his service further other interests than his, and become corrupt.". 惟辟作福威、惟辟玉食、臣有作福作威玉食害于而家、凶于而国、人用侧颇僻。

"Wéi bì zuò fú wēi、wéi bì yùshí、chén yǒu zuò fú zuò wēi yù shí hài yú ér jiā、xiōng yú ér guó、rén yòng cè pō pì."

惟辟作福威、惟辟玉食、臣有作福作威玉食害于而家、凶于而國、人用側頗僻。
16. From Fú Xī 伏羲 (reign 01a-1) and Shén Nóng 神农 (reign 01a-2) (29th and 28th century b. C.) up to "the Hàn (period 06a) and the Wèi (period 07b) dynasties, there was no Buddhism. and the sovereigns in those times were wise, and their ministers "faithful; their reigns were long, and great was the number of their "years of life. 降自牺农至于。汉魏皆无佛法、君明臣忠、祚长年久。

jiàng zì Xī-Nóng zhìyú.hàn wèi jiē wú Fó fǎ、jūn míng chén zhōng、zuò cháng nián jiǔ.

降自犧農至于。漢魏皆無佛法、君明臣忠、祚長年久。
17. The emperor Míng of the [Eastern] Hàn dynasty (reign 06d-2, AD 58-76), on account of a dream, became the first who erected images of western deities; and from that time the bonzes of western lands have spread their doctrines. 汉明帝假托梦想始立胡神、西域桑门自传其法。

Hàn Míng dì jiǎtuō mèng xiǎng shǐ lì hú shén、xīyù sāng mén zì chuán qí fǎ.

漢明帝假託夢想始立胡神、西域桑門自傳其法。
18. Before the Western Jìn 西晋 dynasty (period 08b, AD 265-317) reigned, the ruling dynasties enacted laws by which the people of the Middle Kingdom were prevented from shaving their heads at pleasure; 西晋以上国有严科、不许中国之人辄行髡发之事、

Xī Jìn yǐshàng guóyǒu yán kē、bùxǔ Zhōngguó zhī rén zhéxíng kūnfà zhī shì、

西晉以上國有嚴科、不許中國之人輒行髡髮之事、
19. but since the Western families of Fú and Shí sowed confusion in the Flowery Land [of China], the ministers employed by the sovereigns were crafty and perverse, the government became cruel and oppressive, and the reigns became short; all of which evils were brought about by Buddhism.*

*The Fú family were a tribe of adventurers in Shǎanxī 陕西, one member of which,. named Fú Jiàn 符健,founded for himself in 351 the realm of Qín (period 09f, AD 351-394),with Cháng'ān 长安 [modern Xī'ān 西安] for its capital. The sovereigns were ardent Buddhists, as were also the Shí family, ruling the realm of the Later Zhào 后赵 (period 09e, AD 319-351) in Héběi 河北, founded in 319 by Shí Lè 石勒, an adventurer of western descent. [JJMdG]
洎于符石羌胡乱华、主庸臣佞、政虐祚短、皆由佛教致灾也。

Jì yú Fú Shí qiāng hú luàn huá、zhǔ yōng chén nìng、zhèng nüè zuò duǎn、jiē yóu Fójiào zhì zāi yě.

洎于符石羌胡亂華、主庸臣佞、政虐祚短、皆由佛教致災也。
20. Wǔ (reign 10e-1) of the Liáng dynasty (period 10e)* and Xiāng of the house of Qí ** are clear proofs of this.

*The most Buddhist emperor China ever possessed. After a long reign, from 502 to 549, his residence Jiànkāng 建康 (Nánjīng 南京) fell into the hands of a rebellious vassal called Hòu Jǐng 候景, who deposed him and, as it appears, starved him to death. His dynasty was overthrown seven years later. [JJMdG]

**This emperor, rightly called Wénxiāng 文襄,was murdered in 549, when he had scarcely reached his 29th year. [JJMdG]
I am unable to identify this figure. [DKJ]
梁武齐襄足为明镜。

Liáng Wǔ Qí Xiāng zúwéi míng jìng.

梁武齊襄足為明鏡。
21. In times of yore, one female by the name of Bāo Sì 褒姒 beguiled and misguided king Yōu (reign 04b-13) (781-771 BC) so much that she brought his house [the Eastern Zhōu 东周 dynasty, period 04b] to ruin.

[Click here for the story.]
昔褒姒一女妖惑幽王尚致亡国。

Xī Bāo Sì yī nǚ yāohuò Yōu wáng shàng zhì wáng guó.

昔褒姒一女妖惑幽王尚致亡國。
22. How much more then is there to fear now that there are fully a hundred thousand monks and nuns in the world, who cut clothes of silk, and dress and adorn clay images, which they then employ to suppress devils, and to lead the myriads of people astray? 况天不僧尼数盈十万翦刻绘彩、装束泥人、而为厌魅迷惑万姓者乎。

Kuàng tiān bù sēngní shù yíng shí wàn jiǎnkè huì cǎi、zhuāngshù nírén、ér wéi yàn mèi míhuo wànxìng zhě hū?

況天不僧尼數盈十萬翦刻繪綵、裝束泥人、而為厭魅迷惑萬姓者乎。

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II. Fù Yì's Proposal

23. I propose that all these monks and nuns shall be commanded to marry one another; thus more than a hundred thousand lay families shall be formed, who shall give birth to sons and daughters; 今之僧尼请令匹配、即成十万余户、产育男女、

Jīn zhī sēngní qǐng lìng pǐpèi、jí chéng shí wàn yú hù、chǎn yù nánnǚ、

今之僧尼請令疋配、即成十萬餘戶、產育男女、
24. when these shall have grown up to their tenth. year, and when the second period of equal length shall have been devoted to their education and instruction, they will then naturally be an element useful to the dynasty, 十年长养、一纪教训、自然益国、

Shí nián cháng yǎng、yī jì jiàoxùn、zìrán yì guó、

十年長養、一紀教訓、自然益國、
25. and yield a sufficient contingent of warriors (for the maintenance of the imperial power), while, besides, calamities in the cultivation of silk and food shall be prevented in all parts of the world between the four seas. 可以足兵、四海免蚕食之殃。

Kěyǐ zú bīng、sìhǎi miǎn cánshí zhī yāng.

可以足兵、四海免蠶食之殃。
26. If the people be in this way made to understand with whom rests the power to intimidate and to create happiness, those heretical deceptions will naturally die off, and the transformation into a state of purity and simplicity will flourish again. 百姓知威福所在、则妖惑之风自革、淳朴之化还兴。

Bǎixìng zhī wēifú suǒzài、zé yāohuò zhī fēng zì gé、chúnpǔ zhī huà hái xīng.

百姓知威福所在、則妖惑之風自革、淳朴之化還興。

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III Fù Yì Anticipates Resistance to His Proposal

27. Both in ancient and in recent times it has seldom occurred that a faithful minister criticizing the emperor did not come to grief. 且古今忠谏鲜不及祸。

Qiě gǔjīn zhōng jiàn xiān bùjí huò.

且古今忠諫鮮不及禍。
28. It has not escaped my attention that, under the Northern Qí dynasty (period 10l, AD 550-577) , ZHĀNG-QIÚ Zǐtā 章仇子他 presented a memorial to the emperor, in which he stated that the multitude of monks and nuns ruined the imperial house, and that the prodigality indulged in in their temples and pagodas caused idle waste of precious metal and silks. 窃见齐朝章仇子他上表言、僧尼徒众糜损国家、寺塔奢侈虚费金帛。

Qiè jiàn qí cháo Zhāng-Qiú Zǐtā shàngbiǎo yán、sēngní tú zhòng mí sǔn guójiā、sìtǎ shēchǐ xūfèi jīn bó.

竊見齊朝章仇子他上表言、僧尼徒眾糜損國家、寺塔奢侈虛費金帛。
29. But the monks, being familiar with the ministers, opposed him at court with calumnious imputations, while the nuns, relying upon the good will of the imperial consorts and the princesses, secretly gave play to their insinuations. 为诸侩附会宰相对朝谗毁、诸尼依托妃主潜行谤讟。

Wéi zhū kuài fùhuì zǎixiàng duì cháo chánhuǐ、zhū ní yī tuō fēi zhǔ qiánxíng bāngdú.

為諸儈附會宰相對朝讒毀、諸尼依託妃主潛行謗讟。
30. So the end was that Zhāng-Qiú Zǐtā was cast into prison and executed on the market-place of the capital. 子他竟被囚执刑于都市。

Zǐtā jìng bèiqiú zhíxíng yú dūshì.

子他竟被囚執刑於都市。
31. But Wǔ (reign 10m-3) of the [Northern] Zhōu 北周 dynasty (period 10m) (see page 34) having subjected [Northern] Qí (period 10l), conferred a title of honor upon his tomb. 及周武平齐制封其墓。

Jí Zhōu Wǔ píng Qí zhìfēng qí mù.

及周武平齊制封其墓。
32. Although your servant is not so intelligent as that minister, yet he endeavors to tread in his footsteps. 臣虽不敏、窃慕其踪。

Chén suī bù mǐn、qiè mù qí zōng.

臣雖不敏、竊慕其蹤。
33. And thus he presented to the emperor his memorial in eleven chapters, written in keen and straightforward style. 又上疏十一首、词甚切直。

Yòu shàngshū shíyī shǒu、cí shènqiè zhí.

又上疏十一首、詞甚切直。

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IV. The Court Discusses the Proposal

[Fù Yì's biography, having thus summarized his memorial, continues with the court's reception of it, in which the emperor's ministers discuss its merits and shortcomings. In a famous exchange, a Buddhist among the ministers recommends that Fù Yì be punished.]

34. Emperor Gāozǔ 高祖 (reign 12a-1) gave it his ministers to deliberate about it conscientiously … 高祖付羣官详议 …

Gāozǔ fù qún guān xiáng yì …

高祖付羣官詳議 …
35. and only one of them, viz. ZHĀNG Dàoyuán 張道源, the Director of the Court of the Imperial Stud, declared that the memorial of Fù Yì was rational. 唯太仆卿张道源称奕奏合理。

Wéi tài pū qīng Zhāng Dàoyuán chēng yì zòu hélǐ.

唯太僕卿張道源稱奕奏合理。
36. XIĀO Yǔ 萧瑀, the Minister for the Promulgation of the Imperial Resolutions, disputed this. 中书令萧瑀与之争论。

Zhōng shū ling Xiāo Yǔ yǔ zhī zhēnglùn.

中書令蕭瑀與之爭論。
37. Buddha, said he, was a sage, and Fù Yì's argumentation was not that of a sage, but breathed a lawless spirit; therefore he proposed that a severe punishment should be administered to him. 曰、佛圣人也、奕为此议非圣人者无法、请寘严刑。

Yuē、Fó shèngrén yě、Yì wèi cǐ yì fēi shèngrén zhě wúfǎ、qǐng zhì yánxíng.

曰、佛聖人也、奕為此議非聖人者無法、請寘嚴刑。
38. But then Fù Yì himself spoke: The rules for private and social life (li, see p. 8》 start from servility to parents, and end in submission to the emperor; 奕曰、礼本于事亲、终于奉上、

Yì yuē、Lǐ běn yú shì qīn、zhōng yú fèng shàng、

奕曰、禮本於事親、終於奉上、
39. if these duties are observed, the natural principles of devotion and submission to parents and of fidelity towards the sovereignty will flourish, and the conduct of ministers and of sons will become perfect. 此则忠孝之理着、臣子之行成。

Cǐ zé zhōngxiào zhī lǐzhe、chénzǐ zhī xíng chéng.

此則忠孝之理著、臣子之行成。
40. But Buddha passed across the city-walls and deserted his family, 而佛踰城出家、

Ér Fó yúchéng chūjiā、

而佛踰城出家、
41. thus by his flight turning his back upon his father, he, the married man, thus renounced his emperor; the continuator of the line of his ancestry renounced the duties towards his parents. 逃背其父、以匹夫而抗天子、以继体而悖所亲。

Táobèi qí fù、yǐ pǐfū ér kàng tiānzǐ、yǐ jì tǐ ér bèi suǒ qīn.

逃背其父、以疋夫而抗天子、以繼體而悖所親。
42. Xiāo Yǔ does not come out of a hollow mulberry tree (i.e., he is no hermit), and yet he follows that religion which acknowledges no father; 萧瑀非出于空桑、乃遵无父之教、

Xiāo Yǔ fēi chūyú kōng sāng、nǎi zūn wú fù zhī jiāo、

蕭瑀非出於空桑、乃遵無父之教、
43. I now hear that the man without filial submission and devotion, who cares nothing for his parents, is called Yǔ. 臣闻非孝者无亲其瑀之谓矣。

Chén wén fēi xiàozhě wú qīn qí Yǔ zhī wèi yǐ.

臣聞非孝者無親其瑀之謂矣。
44. Xiāo Yǔ could make no reply. 瑀不能答。

Yǔ bù néng dá.

瑀不能答。
45. He only clasped his hands, and said: Hell was made for such men as this one! 但合掌曰、地狱所设正为是人。

Dàn hézhǎng, yuē、Dìyù suǒ shèzhèng wéi shì rén.

但合掌曰、地獄所設正為是人。
46. Gāozǔ would have carried out Fù Yì's advice, but his abdication (in 627) prevented it. 高祖将从奕言、会传位而止。

Gāozǔ jiāng cóng Yì yán、huì chuán wèi ér zhǐ.

高祖將從奕言、會傳位而止。

Followup:

Internet Picture

Fù Yì died in 639 at the age of 85. A keen writer of epitaphs, he had earlier written one for himself:

Fù Yì loved the green hills
and the white clouds.
Alas, he died of drink!

(Giles 1898: 236)

Dying of drink was probably a joke. In fact he seems to have been remarkably active in his old age. His biography in the Old Books ends with the remark that he collected everything he could find written from the time of the collapse of the Hàn dynasty up to his own time that was critical of Buddhism, and that he had assembled this into a vigorously viscious book of ten chapters, now lost, which he apparently had copied and distributed "to the world."

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The picture here is from a web site devoted to distinguished people named Fù. (Link)