Fo T'u-teng

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(4th c. ce).

A central Asian monk and thaumaturge who arrived in north China in the early 4th century, during the period when the area north of the Yangtze River was ruled by non-Chinese tribes of Turkic or Tibetan origin. He ingratiated himself at court by his abilities at rainmaking and prognostication, and exerted some civilizing influence over the ruling houses by counselling compassion (karuṇā) and justice in carrying out affairs of state. He is thought to be one of the first Buddhist monks to have become involved in government in Chinese history, and is also emblematic of the practical rather than theoretical bent of Buddhism in the north, which contrasted with the more speculative and textual orientation of Buddhism in the southern kingdoms.

Subjects: Buddhism.

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