Chinese Buddhist Song Show Dramatic Religion Across Ancient China

Six Words Mantra The Shortest Philosophy

Buddhist music is one of the most significant parts in Chinese music. Chinese Buddhist song acts as a precious cultural heritage among Chinese ethnic people. As a religion, Buddhist mixes artic music and spreads by it rapidly. And music never makes the Buddhist disappointed because of its diffusivity. Inflection of music is fiercer than other mediums.

In the history, the Buddhist song was brought up in India which is one of the oldest countries. And the Indian music was well-developed at that time. As a result, Buddhist music got much faster development in India. As HuiJiao said in the Biographies of Eminent Monks, customs in Tianzhu(where the Buddhist was born) attached great importance to the culture and feudal ethical code.

HuiJiao even found the disadvantages that Sanskrit could not fix into Chinese culture easily because the Sanskrit was more complicating than other languages. In fact, it was a usual problem definitely happened while two kinds of culture met. Then, the Chinese Buddhist song was created in the situation. And it got popular soon in the East (the China) when it was spread widely.

The traveller ZhangQian was the first person who brought Buddhist music in China. However, the earliest Buddhist song he brought in China was taken as a song described war and it was lost in continuing war in Han dynasty. In Tang dynasty, the Buddhist music was booming. The government praised Buddhist music and the temple was regarded as entertainment.

The Buddhist music has its own features. For example, it matches people’s command about religious worship and pursuing happiness. Its melody is fresh and elegant. Its meaning has further significance. The singers should keep harmony of body and mind. The listeners’ mind will be purifying.

In China, Buddhist is becoming more and more believers. To know more about Buddhist is helpful to get close to Chinese religious culture. Let’s meeting three representative Buddhist songs below!

Great Compassion Mantra: A Subject with Simple but Abstruseness Knowledge

Great Compassion Mantra is a representative Chinese Buddhist song. It comes from The Majority of Successful Harmless Arya Avalokiteshvara Bodhisattva (a god in China who has thousand hands and eyes) of Great Compassion Dharani(Name of a Buddhist book). According to its number of words, the book was divided into three sorts such as the whole version, the simple version and the mid-version.

The version prevailing today is Bhagavadharama’s Great Compassion Mantra, which has 84 sentences. And it is based on the Taisho-pitaka which is the increase and reform edition with huge cultural differences. Moreover, it is not the original translation version in fact. In addition to the version of Bhagavadharama, there are other versions that are more precisely. For instance, the copy version of Dunhuang and the Fangshan Stone. However, the version in Han dynasty should be the most precisely among other versions.

Great Compassion Mantra acts as the important hole in broadcast of Buddhist in Han dynasty. Since Nga Van Damour translated the Great Compassion Mantra in Tang dynasty, the book was popular soon. And it was adopted into textbooks that were used to exam scholarly students. It means that it has become a subject in ancient China. In order to obtain a job in government, students should learn and understand it completely, or they would not pass the examination using to collect the talented.

In the Great Compassion Mantra, the words in it are claimed that it is born for people’s joyful and happiness. Its excellence is without borders and as wide as the ocean. Its advantages are hard to be described and difficult to be discounted. No matter melting the troubles or realizing wishes or saving people, the Great Compassion Mantra uses its power perfectly and magically. As an consequence, people are thankful to it and will be its followers voluntary. Nowadays, numbers of followers read the Great Compassion Mantra sincerely, hoping for protection from Buddhist’s gods.

Learn Chinese Time From This Song:

PinYin:  néng  lìng  yì  qiè  jí  bìng  chú  miè 

Chinese: 能    令    一  切  疾  病      除   灭

English: It can destroy all the sickness.

The “一切” means whole and all. The “疾病” means sickness. The “除灭” means destruction.

The Heart Sutra: Great Philosophy Concentration of Buddhism

The Heart Sutra has various versions as well. The version translated by the great pilgrim XuanZang is the most common. In Chinese history, there are 11 translations at least in the Han dynasty. And 9 of them exist now. They are similar in content as well. Translation in Japan has two words more than others in China. The Heart Sutra is seemed as general principles and the introduction of Buddhism.

As some professors explored. The heart Sutra records the controversy between a Buddhism goodness Guanyin and Buddhist relics Sarira and the crisis of Buddha. Because punctuation hasn’t been invented at that time, we can’t analyze whose the words belong to now.

The Heart Sutra concentrates Prajna Paramita(a famous book in Budhist as well) in short. ”Heart” is the “hrdaya” in Sanskrit, meaning essence and importance. Artocarpus Heterophyllus means reaching the other side. In Buddhism, this side is our tough world, where people live in suffering while the other side is happy without any troubles and misery. 

This side is a circle of six lives and if we want to be saved, we should learn Buddhism. And it claims that every being is a contingent being, including the intelligence (the Hannya in Sanskrit). It is where the famous word “Form is emptiness, emptiness is also form” comes from. It also shows that the book is our leader which is as light as sun, preferring to describe great wisdom which is familiar with philosophy.

In fact, Buddhism is a philosophy to encourage people save themselves. It was born in the war so it was aiming to save those who were suffered troubles and lost hopes in their lives. Due to its original aim, it is welcomed by the public till today.

Learn Chinese Time From This Song:

PinYin:   kàn dào wǔ yùn:  xíng xiàng、qíng yù、yì niàn、xíng wéi、xīn líng,dōu shì kōng de

Chinese: 看   到   五  蕴 : 形    相 、   情   欲、 意  念、  行    为、 心   灵,  都   是  空  的

English: You can see five khandas: appearance, lust, consciousness, behaviors and the mind, are emptiness.

The “五蕴” means five khandas(a word in Buddhism). The “形相” means the appearance The “情欲” means lust.  The “意念” means aim and consciousness. The “行为” means behavior. The “心灵” means to mind and thought.

Six Words Mantra: The Shortest Philosophy

Mani should be the most interesting Chinese Buddhist song. It speaks in a short tune “ōng ma nī biē miē hōng” but it covers complex meanings. Morghen, a inner Mongolia singer, sings it in the Mongolian way and Chinese way in 2010. And Liu Qingfeng also sings the song and releases the album.

Buddhism followers believe that reading Six Words Mantra can bring magically noble spirit to their souls. As the Lotus Sutra says, if we hold the words of Guanyin, we can get treasure and food, we can keep distance with enemies, diseases, drugs and wars, and we can be saved even we met these troubles.

As Thousands of Hands and Eyes says, if we read the Six Words Mantra while the food in front of us is poison, it can change into good food with no poison. And other works also say, if we read it, we will be protected by thousand hands and thousand eyes. If we drink the water that has listened to the Six Words Mantra, we can be purified and get rid of troubles.

Besides, the Six Words Mantra crisis people who are lack of self-confident. It thinks that our world is filled with inverted wisdom which is opposed with the conclusion of Buddhist. Owing to the inverted wisdom, people wander something incorrectly and bring up evil. They behave in wrong ways.

These thoughts are not the great wisdom in Buddhism but the obstruction to improve themselves. Most of people are doubtful about the circle of lives. They don’t admit it so that they will not be concerned about the results while they do some wrong things such as injuring others, being a thief and ignoring lives. They will not be careful in their choice. And the Buddhist sure that, these people will pay for the mistakes that they have done with ignorance about a circle of six lives. The great monk XuanZang in Tang dynasty even felt guilty if he hurt an ant.

There is no doubt that a circle of lives in Buddhism is helpful in building an regular world in ancient China. It can prevent some wars and it plays an important hole in comforting people while the dominators are afraid of demonstrations and being against. As a consequence, Buddhism was used as a shield for protecting administration.  Or, it will become a sword that can ruin the dynasty. Realizing its significance and advantages, dominators would draw Buddhist over to their own side at the beginning of their administration.

Learn Chinese Time From This Song:

PinYin:    fó  wéi dǎo shī  fǎ wéi zhèng dào sēng wéi shàn lǚ tóng wéi jiù zhǔ

Chinese:  佛  为   导   师  法 为     正     道,  僧    为  善    侣  同    为   救  主

English: The Buddhist is our teacher telling us real wisdom, the monk is our nice accompaniers and our savers.

The “佛” means Buddhist. The “导师” means teacher or the one teaching you knowledge. The “正道” means real wisdom and justice.  The “僧” means monk. The “善” means nice and kind. The “侣” means to accompany. The “救主” means the one who can save you.

In traditional culture in China, some novels describe stories in Buddhism. For example, Journey to the West tells a story about XuanZang, who has great wisdom, walks to the west(it must be India) to get Buddhism lections to Tang dynasty while the country is at risk. At the end of the tale, XuanZang brings the lections back, and he teaches people Buddhism.

People are thankful to him. To make the novel dramatically, the author imaged that XuanZang was travelling with three students. The first one was Pigsy who was the symbol of lust and appetite in Buddhism. The second one was Monk Sha who was honest and kind. The third one was the white dragon horse who was the son of the dragon king. The last one was Sun Wukong who was evil and liked fighting at first. And along the journey, they met various troubles that was 81 times in total. Only dealing with the disasters could they get the classical Buddhism Mantra. Other novels cover the Buddhism as well but they are not so representative as the Journey to the West.

Buddhism changes our building as well. For example, the temples, the method “Expressions of Buddhism” and DunHuang’s paintings in its wall, etc.

Religions are double-edged sword. Nowadays, we hear lots of negative news about religions. But we cannot deny that some of them have great positive influence on our country. From the Great Compassion Mantra, The Heart Sutra and The Six Words Mantra, Chinese Buddhist song is always spreading optimistic thoughts through society such as being a kind person can be saved from a circle of six lives.

There is a famous in Buddhism,” As a man sows, so let him reap”. If we violate the moral principles, there is a punishment waiting for us after we die. Therefore, we must abstain from even the tiniest negative deeds, and we must do our best to practice even very small virtuous deeds.

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