Growth of buddhism in china
Buddhism had no influence in ancient China, until Han dynasty came to power. Confucianism was the political philosophy of Han dynasty. When Han dynasty declined during 220 BC, there was social and political chaos in China. The gentry and aristocratic classes of that period still followed Confucianism while an elite group shifted away from it. They believed that the loyalty towards rulers on account of divinity was irrelevant and sought a way out of confucianistic ideas.
Confucianism further failed to meet the challenges of chaotic china. These people tried to embrace other ideologies like Taoism and Buddhism. Though Buddhism was foreign to Chinese, many of the philosophies and practices of Taoism had similarities with Buddhism. Chinese viewed Buddhism through Taoist ideology. During the time Han dynasty, the Buddhist influence was meager in china, but it spread rapidly after its fall. In the beginning, the Chinese did not have much understanding of the Buddhist philosophies.
They welcomed Buddhism wholeheartedly because the message of Buddhism was warmer than Confucianism. The elaborate Buddhist temples and ceremonies attracted them. The ideas of Nirvana or salvation and non-violence prompted them to accept the new faith. The common people especially the peasants accepted Buddhism as a consolation from the tyranny of the landlords. In the beginning, Buddhism developed separately in different forms in north and southern china.
Mahayana and Hinayana Buddhism were there at the inception but it was Mahayana which took roots in China. During the last part of the 6th century, Buddhism began to gain patronage of the rulers and there began the Buddhist art. Buddhist cave paintings and statues spread in many parts of Northern China. It reached more and more masses during the 7th century especially at the time of Tang rulers and influenced the culture of the China. It greatly influenced Chinese art, architecture, sculpture, and literature.