Fazun 法尊

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Fǎzūn 法尊 (1902-1980)
  • Lay surname: Wēn 溫
  • Dharma name 法名: Miàoguì 妙貴
  • Courtesy name 字: Fǎzūn 法尊
  • Born 1902 (Guāngxù 光緒 28) in Shēn County 深縣, Héběi 河北
  • Died December 14, 1980 at Guǎngjì Temple 廣寄寺, Běijīng 北京
Notable Associates:
  • Article editor: Erik Hammerstrom

Fǎzūn 法尊 (1902-1980) was a prominent teacher of esoteric Buddhism, and longtime principal of the Sino-Tibetan Institute 漢藏教理院 in Chóngqìng 重慶.


Fǎzūn took tonsure at age 19 under Ruīpǔ 瑞普 at Yùhuáng miào 玉皇廟 on Wǔtái shān 五台山. In 1920, he studied with Dàyǒng 大勇 and the following year he accompanied Dàyǒng back to Běijīng 北京 to be ordained at Fǎyuán Temple 法源寺 and to hear Tàixū lecture at Guǎngjì Temple 廣濟寺. Fǎzūn took ordination under Dàojiē 道階 and then went to Bǎohuá shān 寶華山 to study the Vinaya. In the fall of 1922, he became part of the first class at the Wǔchāng Buddhist Seminary 武昌佛學院.

In the winter of 1923, Fǎzūn studied Japanese Esoteric Buddhism 東密 at the Seminary with Dàyǒng, who had just returned from Japan. After he graduated in 1924, Fǎzūn returned to Běijīng to study at the new Tibetan Language College 藏文學院 which had just been set up by Dàyǒng. There he studied alongside Fǎfǎng 法舫 Chāoyī 超一, Yándìng 嚴定, Guānkōng 觀空, and Dàgāng 大剛. All together they, and another dozen monks, studied Tibetan language in preparation of going to Tibet. In April of 1925, this group was organized by Dàyǒng into the Residing-in-Tibet Dharma Study Group 留藏學法團. After numerous misadventures in which 90% of the group died or quit, Fǎzūn succeeded in arriving in Lhasa in October of 1931 with the help of Amdō Geshe 安東格西[1]. There, he studied Tibetan Buddhism and received consecration in a Tibetan Buddhist lineage.

In 1933, Fǎzūn returned to China via India in order to became principal of the recently-established Sino-Tibetan Institute 漢藏教理院 in Chóngqìng 重慶. In the winter of 1935, he handed control of the Institute over to Wěifǎng 葦舫 and returned to Tibet, arriving in the spring of 1936. There he attended the funeral of his friend 安東格西, before returning to Chóngqìng in August.

With the start of the Second Sino-Japanese War, Tàixū came to Sìchuān 四川, as did Fǎfǎng, who arrived in 1938 to help him with running the Sino-Tibetan Institute. This allowed Fǎzūn to focus on his translation work.

With the establishment of the PRC in 1949, Fǎzūn retired from running the Institute, which became a Tibetan language school for the Army.

In 1950, he began lecturing at the Bodhi Study Society 菩提學會 in Běijīng. Through them he published half a dozen works.

In 1956, he accepted a position as Vice-principal of the new Chinese Buddhist Seminary 中國佛學院, founded at Fǎyuán Temple in Běijīng by the Chinese Buddhist Association 中國佛教協會. This seminary was disbanded in 1966, during the Cultural Revolution.

Fǎzūn died in 1980.

Major Works


  • Welch, Holmes. The Buddhist Revival in China. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1968. p. 177.
  • Yú Língbō 于凌波, ed. Xiàndài Fójiào rénwù cídiǎn 現代佛教人物辭典 (A Dictionary of Modern Buddhist Persons), 2 vols. Taipei: Foguang, 2004. Pp. 1.683c-687a.
  • Tuttle, Gray. Tibetan Buddhism in the Making of Modern China. New York: Columbia University Press, 2005.
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