Guest Lecture: The Dates of Buddha in Chinese Buddhist Resources: Their Bases and Influences

Guest Lecture: The Dates of Buddha in Chinese Buddhist Resources: Their Bases and Influences

The Glorisun Global Network for Buddhist Studies, with administrative support from FROGBEAR, proudly presents a lecture by Professor Liu Yi (Capital Normal University)




When: 2:30 pm–4 pm, Thursday September 19, 2019

Venue: UBC Asian Centre, Room 604


Since early Indian Buddhism did not consider the anniversary events of Buddha’s life as important religious heritage, the dates of significant events such as Buddha’s birth and death had remain uncertain. When Buddhism spread from India to Central and East Asia, however, Buddha’s dates became important questions for the legacy of this faith. Towards the end of the Eastern Han dynasty, Chinese Buddhists tried to figure out Buddha’s dates. Some focused on the birth date of Buddha first, then turned to the date of Buddha’s death. So far, there has been more than ten speculated dates of the birth and death of Buddha. I think there must be rationale for every date claimed. I wish to find out the basis for the main proposed dates of Buddha, and explain why Chinese Buddhists had chosen these proposed dates as well as why they had abandoned others.

Amongst various suggested Buddha’s dates, the most commonly accepted dates were that Buddha was born in the 24th year of King Zhao and died in the 52nd year of King Mu of Western Zhou. These had been the most prevailing dates as they lasted for almost 1400 years in the East Asian Buddhist world, and were even accepted as the correct dates of Buddha in Western scholars from the end of the 17th century to early 19th century. When did these Buddha’s dates come out? And why did they become the most successful ones? I wish to find out the reasons.

About the Speaker:

LIU Yi is professor and Dean of School of History at Capital Normal University and also the secretary of the Association of the Dunhuang and Turpan studies in China. His research interests include the Dunhuang studies and the medieval history of religion. For the past 20 years, he has been working on the history of Daoism and the Daoist scriptures. In terms of the former, he challenges the historical paradigm in which the sect of the Celestial Masters came directly down from the sect of the Five Pecks of Rice in the early Daoist history. In terms of the latter, he has specialized in the studies of such Daoist texts as Scripture on Great PeaceXiang’er’s Commentary on Laozi, Classic on Laozi’s Conversion of the Barbarians, and the Lingbao Scriptures of the Six Dynasties. He has recently shifted his research to the medieval Buddhist studies and is especially interested in the issue of the “Age of Dharma Decline.” He has published about 110 research articles, book reviews, and translated articles and 6 books and collected volumes. The latest books include Historical Research on the Daoist Guling Baojing in the Six Dynasties (2018) and Research on the History and Scriptures of the Daoism in the Han and Tang Dynasties: Selected Works of Liu Yi (2015) .


This guest lecture is free and open to the public, but pre-registration is preferred.

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