Cai Yuanpei (1868–1940), Religion, and His Plan to Save China through Buddhism
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AbstractThis article examines the evolution of Cai Yuanpei’s (1868–1940) views on religion in general and Buddhism in particular, focusing on his little-known essay, “Protecting the Nation through Buddhist Teachings” (1900). The twofold aim is to explain how a generally secularist leader such as Cai could have once advocated Buddhism as a key in constructing a modern nation but then changed his views. Toward this end I analyze Cai’s writings and probe the sources of his ideas. This investigation reveals that Cai derived pro-Buddhist ideas from modernist Japanese Buddhism and from native Chinese thinkers fearful of Christianity and disenchanted with Confucianism. I argue that Cai’s gradual change was due to Western secular philosophies and to his experiences with religious groups. I suggest that Cai wrestled with a fundamental issue for modern states, which remains divisive worldwide to this day: whether to grant a given religion or ideology a privileged place in the national constitution. An annotated translation of Cai’s essay is appended.
All Author(s) ListGILDOW Douglas Matthew
Journal nameAsia Major
Volume Number31
Issue Number2
PublisherInstitute of History and Philology of the Academia Sinica
Place of PublicationTaiwan
Pages107 - 148
LanguagesEnglish-United States
KeywordsCai Yuanpei, religion, Buddhism, jiao (teachings /religion), guo (nation /state), Inoue Enryo

Last updated on 2020-18-08 at 11:22