Subject: 和尚 monk
Culture: Chinese Buddhist
Setting: Qing empire, China 18-19thc
* Kennedy & Guo 2005 p69-70
"The stock Shaolin myth runs something like this: Bodhidharma was an Indian Buddhist monk who brought Chan Buddhism to China and, after a meeting with the Chinese emperor, settled in the Shaolin monastery. After residing there for a while Bodhidharma became concerned about the weak physical state of the monks and created a form of exercise and a form of marital art. He instituted a mandatory training program for all the monks, which included both his exercise plans, known as the Muscle Change Classic, and his martial arts system, which of course became known as kung fu.
"From these beginnings, the Shaolin temple became the central hub of martial arts development and excellence in China. The skill of the Shaolin monks was known throughout the empire. Their reputation became such that eventually the 'evil' Manchu emperor ordered the temple's destruction. The monks fought bravely, but the temple succumbed to flames and most of the monks were killed. Only a handful of monks escaped the conflagration and went on to spread the art of Shaolin kung fu to the good people of China. "A solid ninety-five percent of that myth is clearly nonsense. It is easier to point to what is historically accurate: there was a Buddhist temple called Shaolin, and Bodhidharma did reside there for a period of time. Beyond that, the story is little more than hype, propaganda -- pulp journalism."
Context (Event Photos, Period Sources)
* Brownell & Wasserstrom eds. 2002 p71 (Matthew H Sommer, "Dangerous males, vulnerable males, and polluted males: The regulation of masculinity in Qing dynastic law" p67-88)
"Male clergy, both Buddhist and Taoist, were singled out for special scrutiny in the Qing code. By taking vows of celibacy, abstaining from marriage, and living apart from their natal families, these men stood outside the mainstream family order in the most basic ways. Late imperial officials were chronically suspicious of such men, seeing in them the very personification of the rootless rascal and all the dangers he represented; both Ming and Qing dynasties made repeated efforts to subject clergy to social and political control by registering them at particular institutions, by making novices the responsibility of their superiors, by banning the wandering of mendicant clergy, and by prohibiting men from joining clerical orders without registering and receiving permission from the local magistrate.
"The judiciary seems to have been particularly predisposed to suspect clergy of sexual aggression. According to Yasuhiko Karasawa, 'A standard narrative found in [legal] cases involving Buddhist monks was that of the monk who attempts or commits illicit sex (jian) with women.' This bias was reflected in legislation as well. For example, a Ming law adopted by the Qing code punished Buddhist or Daoist clergy at temples who seduced or abducted women, or who 'swindle[d] them out of money.' Another statute increased by two degrees the severity of penalties for any sexual offense committed by clergy. A further measure cited the 'substatute on rootless rascals' to impose the sentence of immediate beheading on 'lamas, Buddhist monks, and other clergy who commit[ed] [heterosexual or homosexual] rape and cause[d] the rape victim's death.' Clergy who committed sex offenses (and were spared execution) would be forced to resume secular life."
* Brownell & Wasserstrom eds. 2002 p69-70 (Matthew H Sommer, "Dangerous males, vulnerable males, and polluted males: The regulation of masculinity in Qing dynastic law" p67-88)
"This sexual predator was a subset of a more general stereotype of the dangerous outside male mentioned repeatedly in the Qing code; he appears in some of the earliest laws of the dynasty, but with increasing frequency and urgency in the new ones that accumulated over the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. Qing lawmakers used a number of terms in various combinations to characterize him. He was 'violent' (xiong) and 'wicked' (e) and was described as one who 'habitually fights' (hao dou); he was a 'worthless, wicked reprobate' (bu xiao e tu), a 'depraved rogue' (diao tu). But most important, he was a 'guang gun': literally, a 'bare stick.'
"The Qing code's chapter on 'extortion' (kongxia qu cai) is the section most explicitly devoted to the rootless rascal. The original Ming dynasty statute that heads that chapter simply extends the robbery statutes to cover extortion; it says nothing specific about guang gun. But the substatutes appended over the course of the Qing dynasty did not elaborate on the theme of extortion and instead sought to punish habitual troublemaking by incorrigible individuals or groups. Many of these later substatutes have no direct link to extortion; indeed, over time, as new laws accumulated, the emphasis of the chapter shifted away from that specific crime to dangerous, antisocial behavior in general and to different groups of marginal men thought to threaten the social order.
"Running through the judicial discourse of the rootless rascal is a consistent conflation of certain kinds of crime (extortion, kidnapping, rape, seduction, sodomy, intimidation, robbery, banditry, heterodoxy, and so on) with certain kinds of men (Buddhist and Taoist clergy, local toughs, rootless migrants in frontier areas and cities, yamen clerks and runners, dislocated Miao tribesmen, eunuchs who had escaped palace supervision, and the like). One way or another, all of these men were seen as existing outside the mainstream pattern of settled households, the network of family and community relationships on which the Confucian order depended to enmesh and socialize individuals. Their victims were portrayed as 'the good people' (liang min) -- that is, law-abiding commoners: 'humble peasants,' chaste wives and daughters, and so on. These laws mandated harsh penalties of exile and death no to punish individual crimes so much as to remove the incorrigible troublemakers from society altogether."
* Yang 1999 p