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Master Juzan

Master Juzan (1908-1984), whose secular surname was Pan and given name Chuxiang and who styled himself as Qinpu, was originally from Jiangyin, Jiangsu Province. He also had multiple pseudonyms. A student of Jiangyin Normal School, he later went to Daxia University in Shanghai. In the spring of 1929, i.e. the 18th year of Republic of China, he went back to his hometown and served as the principal of Jintong Bridge Elementary School while secretly participating in the underground activities of Communist Party. He was in charge of the organization and propaganda of Dongxiang County in Jiangyin before he was ratted out by local tyrants and evil gentry. In the autumn of 1930, he was on the wanted list of Kuomintang’s provincial department, resulting in a narrow escape from being arrested.

In 1931, Master Juzan came to Lingyin Temple and requested to be a Buddhist monk. He met Master Taixu, and was asked to write an essay to elaborate on his motivation and aspiration for his request. He wrote an essay in the style of Zhuangzi and it was highly appreciated by Master Taixu, who instantly decided to keep him and introduce him to the abbot of Lingyin Temple, Master Quefei. Juzan then received tonsure and became a Buddhist monk, with the religious name Chuanjie and the secondary religious name Dinghui, which was later changed to Juzan. In the same year, Master Juzan went to Longchang Temple in Mountain Baohua, Nanjing, to receive the complete precepts. He was dedicated to the quest for the essence of Consciousness, teachings of Tiantai School of Buddhism, Huayan School of Buddhism and Sanlun School of Buddism, and Zen Buddhism and so on. He was also invited to teach at the Institute of Han-Tibetan Buddhist Teachings. In 1933, Master Juzan went to China Buddhist Institute in Nanjing to further explore Buddhism. Reading extensively and working arduously, he finished reading through over 8,000 volumes of sutras there, leaving behind reading notes of multiple millions of words.

In 1937, Master Juzan taught at Nanputuo Temple-affiliated Southern Fujian Buddhist Institute in Xiamen, Fujian. After the breakout of the Anti-Japanese War, he arrived in Guangdong via Hong Kong, and then he went to Nanhua Temple in Shaoguan and assisted Master Xuyun. The next year, he taught at Weishan Buddhist Institute. During that time he was introduced by Tian Han to Ye Jianying, with whose help Master Juzan formed the Buddhist Association of Anti-Japanese War and Mountain Hengshan Buddhist and Taoist Rescue Association, with himself serving as the deputy director and the chief of the publicity section. In 1940, Master Juzan led Buddhist Youth Service Squad to Changsha, Hunan, to run promotion events at the front. The locals called them “Monk Soldiers”. This act was highly praised by Premier Zhou Enlai, who later wrote “prey on the horse, pray down the horse” to show his admiration. Back to Mountain Hengshan, he again sailed on the road to Guilin, Guangxi, to serve as the abbot of Crescent Hill Temple and the secretary-general of Guangxi Buddhist Committee. In 1941, Lion’s Roar, a monthly magazine, was initiated, and Master Juzan was its director. The next year, he was appointed first as the abbot of Xishan Temple in Guiping, Shuoxi, and then the abbot of Longhua Temple. Master Juzan played an active role in Anti-Japanese meetings and gave many speeches. In the winter of 1944, he went to Beiliu, Guangxi, and taught at Wuxi Sinology Institute.

Master Juzan went back to Lingyin Temple in Hangzhou in 1946, and consecutively he served as the secretary-general of Hangzhou Municipal Buddhist Committee and Zhejiang Provincial Buddhist Committee. During that time, he wrote Anecdotes about Lingyin and once served as the head of Wulin Buddhist Institute. After the institute was closed, he travelled to Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macao, and finished several books, such as Travel Sketches of Taiwan, etc. After returning to Hangzhou, he set out to draft the reform plan to revolutionize the Buddhist administration. This plan was taken back to Hong Kong to a party member, Comrade Pan Hannian, who later presented it to the Central Committee of Communist Party of China. Master Juzan came to Peking from Hong Kong in April, 1949, to attend Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference and Founding Ceremony of the new China. In the same year, Master Juzan, together with Zhou Shujia and et al, discussed and planned a Buddhist reform, and made preparations for the establishment of Chinese Buddhist Association and Chinese Buddhist Institute. During Cultural Revolution, Master Juzan was persecuted and thrown into prison for seven years. Redressed in 1980, he continued to dedicate himself to the rejuvenation of Buddhism until he passed away in 1984. Later generations commented that Master Juzan excelled at Tripitaka, followed the unity of knowing and practicing, and was one of the founding fathers of modern new Buddhism. Indeed he was an eminent patriotic monk and an expert on Buddhism.

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