Hinduism in China

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Hindu relief,Quanzhou Museum

Hinduism has no attested presence in modern mainland China, although many Hindu influences penetrated in the country through the spread of Buddhism, and a Hindu community of ethnic Indians existed in Quanzhou in past centuries. A small community of Hindu immigrant workers exists in Hong Kong.


Early Hindu influence[edit]

An apsaras from the Longmen Grottoes in Luoyang, China.

Some examples of influence by Hinduism on ancient Chinese religion included the belief of "six schools" or "six doctrines" as well as use of Yoga, stupas (later became pagoda in East Asia). However, in China, Hinduism has never gained much popularity, unlike the beliefs of Buddhism and Confucianism.

There was a small Hindu community in China, mostly situated in southeastern China. A late thirteenth-century bilingual Tamil and Chinese-language inscription has been found associated with the remains of a Siva temple of Quanzhou. This was one of possibly two south Indian-style Hindu temples (115) that must have been built in the southeastern sector of the old port, where the foreign traders' enclave was formerly located.[1]

The Four Heavenly Kings originated from the Lokapālas. Hanuman is believed by some scholars to be a source for the Chinese mythological character Sun Wukong.

The Yaksha (Chinese: 夜叉) originally from Hindu history, are a class of nature ghosts or demons. Belief in the Yaksha made its way to China through the Lotus Sutra, which was originally translated into Chinese by Dharmaraksa around 290 CE, before being superseded by a translation in seven fascicles by Kumārajīva in 406 CE.

Hinduism in the Cultural Revolution and Beyond[edit]

Hindu relief,Quanzhou Museum

Hinduism in China faced even more obstacles during the rise of Communism in China, when the Chinese Communist government discouraged any practice of religion, as it was considered anti-socialist, as well as a symbol of feudalism and foreign colonialism. During the Communist Cultural Revolution, a movement which took place from 1966 to 1977, religious people of all faiths were persecuted, and during this time, many religious buildings and services were closed down and replaced with non religious buildings for more materialistic services. However, from 1977 onwards, the government eased their restrictions on religion as the Constitution of the People's Republic of China was signed and many of the Chinese were allowed to practice their religious and personal beliefs once again. Even so, the government is still very suspicious of other religious activities, specifically if it involves foreign nations.

Many Chinese tourists visits Phra Phrom in Thailand to make wishes, such as the celebrity Deborah Lee.[2]

Hinduism in mainland China[edit]

Even though Hinduism originated within the Indian culture, the impact on China and Chinese way of life is present. The Chinese government has invited the Swaminarayan Trust that runs the Akshardham temples in New Delhi and in Gandhinagar, to build a similar temple. A huge piece of land has been earmarked in Fohsan state, which will not only house the temple but also an Indian cultural centre.[3]

Hindu legacy in Quanzhou[edit]

Carving of Shiva from the Hindu Temple at Quanzhou

At present, there are no Hindus in Quanzhou. However, there previously existed a Tamil Hindu community in the city who, in the late 13th century, built a temple dedicated to Lord Shiva.[4] The temple is now in ruins, but over 300 carvings are still within the city.[4] Many are currently on display in the Quanzhou museum, and some have become a part of Buddhist temple—Kaiyuan Temple.[4][5] Behind its main hall "Mahavira Hall”, there are some columns decorated by some Hinduism carvings.[5] The carvings are dispersed across five primary sites in Quanzhou and the neighboring areas.[4] They were made in the South Indian style, and share close similarities with 13th-century temples constructed in the Kaveri Delta region in Tamil Nadu.[4] Nearly all the carvings were carved with greenish-gray granite, which was widely available in the nearby hills and used in the region's local architecture.[4]

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See also[edit]


  1. ^ [1]
  2. ^ 信神拜佛各自修行
  3. ^ http://news.iskcon.org/node/623/first_hindu_temple_be_built_china
  4. ^ a b c d e f Nagapattinam to Suvarnadwipa: reflections on Chola naval expeditions to Southeast Asia (2009), Hermann Kulke, K. Kesavapany, Vijay Sakhuja, Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, p. 240
  5. ^ a b [2]

External links[edit]