"The Eminent Monk: Buddhist Ideals in Medieval Chinese Hagiography"

2010
Author(s):
John Kieschnick
The Eminent Monk

In an attempt to reconstruct an elusive aspect of the medieval Chinese imagination, The Eminent Monk examines biographies of Chinese Buddhist monks, from the uncompromising ascetic to the unfathomable wonder-worker.

While analyzing images of the monk in medieval China, the author addresses some questions encountered along the way: What are we to make of accounts in “eminent monk” collections of deviant monks who violate monastic precepts? Who wrote biographies of monks and who read them? How did different segments of Chinese society contend for the image of the monk and which image prevailed?

By placing biographies of monks in the context of Chinese political and religious rhetoric, The Eminent Monk explores both the role of Buddhist literature in Chinese history and the monastic imagination that inspired this literature.