Spread of Buddhism Through China

It is believed that Buddhism spread to China through the Silk Road.   When the Silk Road opened in the 2nd century BC, missionaries and pilgrims spread Buddhism to China.   Chang Ch’ien was recorded to first bring Buddhism to China when he heard about India and Buddhist beliefs on his way back to China.   In about the 1st century BC, a Buddhist community is said to have been living in China.   But the most well-known story of the spreading of Buddhism is when Han emperor, Mingdi, had a dream about Buddha in 68 CE and sent Cai Yin, his official to learn more about it.   Meanwhile, Mingdi learned from his ministers that he had seen Buddha, “the God of the West” in his dream.   After 3 years Cai Yin came back to china with Buddhist teachings and two Buddhist monks who taught Buddhism throughout China.   Soon a Buddhist community was formed and it continued to grow with the introduction of Buddhist books, art and temples.

Buddhism spread to and throughout China because at the time of the introduction of Buddhism to China, China was suffering from the Period of Disunion.   The Chinese needed something to unify them and bring them together.   Buddhism came at exactly the right time and its teachings appealed to the Chinese.   In 514, nearing the end of the Period of Disunion, there were 2 million Buddhists monks in China teaching Buddhism which helped unite China after the anarchy.   Many books were translated to Chinese, temples were set up, and the emperor proclaimed Buddhism the main religion of China.   Beautiful temples were built where Buddhism was taught and worshipped and Buddhism in China reached its height during the Sui and Tang dynasties.