HARVARD EAST ASIAN MONOGRAPHS
Cover: The Power of the Buddhas in HARDCOVER

Harvard East Asian Monographs 303

The Power of the Buddhas

The Politics of Buddhism during the Koryo Dynasty (918 - 1392)

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Book Details

HARDCOVER

$49.95 • £36.95 • €45.00

ISBN 9780674031883

Publication: September 2008

Text

486 pages

6-1/8 x 9-1/4 inches

2 maps, 3 line illustrations, 11 tables

Harvard University Asia Center > Harvard East Asian Monographs

World, subsidiary rights restricted

Buddhism in medieval Korea is characterized as “State Protection Buddhism,” a religion whose primary purpose was to rally support (supernatural and popular) for and legitimate the state. In this view, the state used Buddhism to engender compliance with its goals. A closer look, however, reveals that Buddhism was a canvas on which people projected many religious and secular concerns and desires.

This study is an attempt to specify Buddhism’s place in Koryo and to ascertain to what extent and in what areas Buddhism functioned as a state religion. Was state support the main reason for Buddhism’s dominance in Koryo? How actively did the state seek to promote religious ideals? What was the strength of Buddhism as an institution and the nature of its relationship to the state? What role did Confucianism, the other state ideology, play in Koryo? This study argues that Buddhism provided most of the symbols and rituals, and some of the beliefs, that constructed an aura of legitimacy, but that there was no single ideological system underlying the Koryo dynasty’s legitimating strategies.