The Transformation of Posadha/Zhai in Early Medieval China (third–sixth centuries CE)


  • Yi Ding Stanford University



poṣadha, uposatha, zhai, repentance, feast


This article attempts to disentangle the semantics of zhai in early medieval China, mostly from the third century to the sixth, by examining both Indian and Chinese Buddhist sources. It demonstrates that semantic shifts in the term reflect a changing ritual context, as Chinese Buddhism rapidly took form. The article consists of two parts. The first part looks into how the Posadha Sutra was first introduced to China and how the word posadha was employed in early agama scriptures and the vinayas translated before the middle of the fifth century. The second part (from p. 89) examines the reception history of the lay posadha and the transformation that it underwent in early medieval China. The posadha/zhai in China eventually evolved into a religious feast centred on lay-monastic interaction in association with a variety of ritual elements, especially repentance rites.

Author Biography

Yi Ding, Stanford University

Yi Ding is a PhD student (ABD) in the Department of Religious Studies at Stanford University and works mostly on medieval Chinese Buddhism and forms of Sino-Tibetan Buddhism.


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How to Cite

Ding, Y. (2019). The Transformation of Posadha/Zhai in Early Medieval China (third–sixth centuries CE). Buddhist Studies Review, 36(1), 71–98.