Grand Buddha Monastery
Located at Dong Huifu Road in Guangzhou, next to Beijing Commercial Pedestrian Road, the Grand Buddha Monastery attracts numerous visitors and practitioners. The history of the monastery can be traced back to the Southern Han Period (A.D. 917 – 971), when it was known as Xinzang Monastery. During the Yuan Dynasty (A.D. 1271 – 1368), it was renamed Futian Monastery, while during the Ming Dynasty (A.D. 1368 – 1644), it was known as Longzang Monastery. This was how the current Longzang Street, which is to the west of the monastery, got its name. To the east is Beijing Road, while the south is connected to Huifu Road and the north leads to Xihu Road.
Towards the end of the Ming Dynasty, the site of the monastery was converted to the Office of Xun An Yu Shi (巡按御使公署). When the Qing soldiers invaded Guangdong, the monastery was ravaged by fire and fell into ruins. During the 2nd year of Emperor Kangxi’s reign (A.D. 1663), Shang Kexi—the Duke of Pingnan contributed funds from his own coffers to rebuild and restore Longzang Monastery in order to honor the large numbers of war victims and to pacify the public. Upon completion, the height of the Main Shrine Hall was 18 meters and covers a floor area of 1277 square meters. Three Buddha statues made of yellow copper, each 6 meters tall and 10 tons in weight, are enshrined in the center of this hall. Two verses describe the statues’ grandeur (which is a play on the Chinese words “Da” (grand) and “Guo” (pass through or than)): “People pass through the Grand Buddha Monastery; its Buddha statues are grander than life.” Due to the size of the monastery and its Buddha statues in Lingnan area at that time; it was known as the “Crown of Lingnan”, from which the name “Grand Buddha Monastery” was derived.
The pillars in the hall were made of giant trees from the Lauraceae family (of which consists cinnamon, avocado etc), that were contributed by the King of Annan (modern Vietnam), and have been well preserved for nearly 350 years. The architectural style of the Monastery is a combination of those found in official temples of Beijing and the Lingnan area. In 2009, the Main Shrine Hall of The Grand Buddha Monastery was bestowed the title of “Heritage Site of Guangdong Province” by the provincial administration, thereby raising the profile of the monastery in China and abroad.
During the early years of the Republic of China, the monastery and its properties were confiscated and auctioned off by the government to raise funds to support the Northern Expedition. The monastery suffered once again during the Cultural Revolution. After China’s reform and liberalization in 1986, the Grand Buddha Monastery gained permission from the Municipal Party Committee and the Municipal Government of Guangzhou to reopen and to re-admit monks. Ven. Guangming, vice president of the Municipal Buddhist Association, was appointed as the first abbot after the reopening and was responsible for preliminary restoration works.
In 1996, when Ven. Yao Zhi succeeded the abbotship, till the present, he has led the monastery monks in an attempt to create a dignified environment conducive to practice. Through his efforts thus far, he has achieved the following.
1. The old burial ground for past masters and patriarchs in Baiyun Mountain has been reinstated and restored.
2. The establishment of a Chanting Hall in the monastery, which now has over 3700 registered practitioners. They are divided into groups to carry out group practice for different sessions daily.
3. The monastery has been expanded to include both a public library and a vegetarian restaurant. The library, opened since September 2009, has a collection of about 190,000 copies of books of 22,000 different categories. It has received more than 3.5 millions readers to date. In addition, ever since the first publication of its bi-monthly journal, “Ru Shi Yu Lin” in September 2008, it has achieved a circulation of 100,000 copies. The monastery’s vegetarian restaurant, named “Grand Buddha Monastery Vegetarian Pavilion” has attracted more than 10,000 diners, including Venerables, since it opened in February 2008. It has played an important part in promoting vegetarianism, which is in line with the teachings of compassion and protecting lives. It has also garnered praise for its excellent vegetarian food quality and outstanding service.
4. Starting from April 2005, a major expansion of the monastery began with en bloc reclamation of its own lands that were being used for residential purposes. The relocation and compensation of the residents is expected to be completed in 2010, covering a total area of 23,535 square meters. The total cost for restoration and expansion works to restore the basic structure of the monastery is expected to exceed 300 million yuan. This project also includes laying the groundwork for the construction of the Centre of Buddhist Culture. Upon completion, the building will receive visitors for the coming Asian Games.
Address: No.21, Hui Xin Central Street, Dong Hui Fu Road, Guangzhou, China.
Postal Code: 510030
Reception Hall: 020-83335678
Journal of the Library: 020-83177237
Vegetarian Restaurant: 020-83302126，