LIANG WUDI (464–549), or Emperor Wu of the Liang dynasty, also known as Xiao Yan; first emperor of the Liang dynasty (502–557), man of letters, and patron of Buddhism. Although from a Daoist family and versed, like all educated gentlemen of his time, in the Confucian principles of morality and statecraft, Xiao Yan came to be fascinated by Buddhism through exposure as a young man to the teachings of Buddhist monks at the court of Prince Jingling, Xiao Ziliang, of the Southern Qi dynasty (479–502). Xiao Yan later overthrew the Qi and declared himself emperor of the Liang dynasty, but he maintained his interest in Buddhism and became a full convert after three years on the throne.
Endeavoring to fashion state policy according to Buddhist ideals, Emperor Wu softened the traditionally harsh penal code by minimizing the application of torture, capital punishment, and other excesses of government. He also forswore meat and alcohol and built numerous temples, including the Tongtai Si, where he often sponsored a kind of Buddhist symposium, known as an "open assembly" (wuzhe dahui ), so called because it was open to men and women, clergy and laity, regardless of class. The emperor, who sometimes delivered lectures on Buddhist doctrine at these assemblies, four times used the occasion to announce that he was surrendering himself to voluntary servitude to the Tongtai temple. He of course expected his imperial officials to ransom him, and so they did, each time for prodigious sums. Each ransoming was followed by a full reenactment of the imperial enthronement ceremony. Emperor Wu's behavior, which had precedents in the history of Indian Buddhism and may have been suggested by the newly translated Aśokāvadāna (Legend of King Aśoka), was intended to raise money for the propagation of the Buddhist religion. The emperor also established "inexhaustible treasuries" (wujin zang ), institutions that provided safe-deposit vaults and repositories for donations made to the religion. These funds were often used in financial transactions the profits of which reverted to the church.
Emperor Wu was overthrown by the rebel Hou Jing in 548. Some anti-Buddhist critics attributed his fall to the slackening effect of Buddhist principles on governmental control. Such a view unjustifiably ignores the political complexities of the period. Nor are his deeds to be comprehended merely in terms of whether or not they conform to Buddhist principles. Although versed in Buddhist doctrine beyond the level of the ordinary layman, Emperor Wu also devoted an important part of his energies to his literary work, much of which is still preserved and admired. This artistic bent, as much as his religious proclivities, must be taken into account in any effort to assess his fitness to rule.
Annals of the reign of Emperor Wu can be found in fascicles 1 to 3 of the Liang shu and in fascicles 6 and 7 of the Nan shih. His writings are collected in Yan Kejun's Quan shanggu sandai Qin Han sanguo liuchao wen (1930, available on microfilm at the University of Chicago library). See also Mori Mikisaburo's Ryo no Butei (Kyoto, 1956).
Miyakawa Hisayuki (1987)
"Liang Wudi." Encyclopedia of Religion. . Encyclopedia.com. (August 19, 2018). http://www.encyclopedia.com/environment/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/liang-wudi
"Liang Wudi." Encyclopedia of Religion. . Retrieved August 19, 2018 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/environment/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/liang-wudi
Encyclopedia.com gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).
Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.
Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, Encyclopedia.com cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use Encyclopedia.com citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:
Modern Language Association
The Chicago Manual of Style
American Psychological Association
- Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most Encyclopedia.com content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
- In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.