Introduction to Guangxiao Temple
In the bustling city center of Guangzhou, a temple stands right in the midst of all the noise peacefully. This temple is Guangxiao Temple.
There is a popular local saying: "Guangxiao predates the founding of the City of Rams", in which the "City of Rams" refers to Guangzhou while "Guangxiao" is the temple. What is really emphasized here by the saying is the long history of the temple. Even after the vicissitudes of time, somehow this ancient temple is still shinning today.
The temple was initially converted from the residence of Yu Fan, an official of Kingdom of Wu during the Three Kingdoms Period. It was a temple called Wangyuan Temple or King's Garden Temple, and then it was divided into two temples: Wangyuan Temple and Zhizhi Temple. In the early Tang Dynasty, they were renamed Qianming Temple and Faxing Temple. After that, it was repeatedly merged, disassembled and renamed until 1151 A.D. in the Song Dynasty ,when it was renamed Bao'en Guangxiao Temple, or literally, the Temple of Paying Gratitude and Bright Filial Piety. The name of Guangxiao Temple was later used for short since the late Southern Song Dynasty.
Guangxiao temple is one of the most important ancient Buddhist temples in Lingnan region. It is the earliest and largest one of its kind in this region, as well as one of the founding temples of Chinese Chan Buddhism.
Guangxiao Temple enjoys a great historical reputation for its important role in the development of Chinese Buddhism. It witnessed the spread of Buddhism into China via the Maritime Silk Road. Eminent monks with different nationalities such as Master Dharmayasas, Master Dharma, and Master Jianzhen taught Dharma in this temple, leaving valuable records of cultural exchanges between China and other countries.
Among these Dharma teachers, the Sixth Patriarch Hui Neng must be the most well-known one. He was ordained to be a monk under the first Bodhi tree of China right in this temple. And it was here that the famous "Flag-or-Wind Argument" took place, which greatly impressed Buddhists as one of the classics through ages. He made an indelible contribution to Chinese Buddhism by founding and developing Southern Chan School.
In addition to accounts of these eminent monks of dynasties in the past, there are some tangible "treasures" left by them in the temple, such as the first Bodhi tree documented in China, the Spring for Washing Alms Bowls, Hair-Inhumed Pagoda, Great Compassion Column, East Iron Tower, West Iron Tower and so on.
In 1961, Guangxiao Temple was announced as one of the first batch of major historical and cultural sites protected at the national level by the State Council. In 2012, as an important part of the Maritime Silk Road heritage of Guangzhou, it was included into China's World Cultural Heritage Tentative List.
Today, Guangxiao Temple does not only serve as a pure place for preserving Buddhist lineage, but also as a center for us to understand the history and culture of Chinese Buddhism.
As one of the most important temples in Lingnan, Guangxiao Temple has a lot of stories to tell. So far we have given you a brief introduction to its long history and high reputation.