One of the most important temples in Buddhist history is the Guangxiao Temple, South China. Dating as far back as 1700 years it is home to the oldest structure found in the whole of South China. Located in Guangxiao Street, Guangxiao the temple in English is known as ‘Bright Filial Piety Temple’ and is supposed to predate the founding of the city itself. Initially built as the residence of Prince Zhao Jiande of the Nanyue kingdom during the West Han Dynasty (206BC-24AD), it was later converted into a temple during the Three-Kingdoms Period (220-228). It is said that a commander named Yu Fan was banished to Guanghou with his family and from here he gave lectures to many till his death. His family then converted their home into the temple Zhizhi.
Tanmoyeshe, a famous monk during the time of East jin Period built the Mahavira Hall and since then there have been additions made to the temple to become a complex of 30 buildings of which only 10 remain to this day. Many world renowned monks have visited the temple and helped the advancement of Buddhism in the land. During the Southern Song Dynasty in 1151 AD the name of the temple was changed to its current state. Guangxiao is also the Temple where one of the six founders of Chinese Buddhism, Huineng , shaved off his hair and received ordinance. The sixth Ancestor Hall has been built in his honor and a strand of his hair remains preserved. The famous ‘Wind or Banner Motivation’ debate took place in the Guangxiao Temple.
The two iron Pagodas on either side of the main entrance to the temple are known to be the oldest of its kind in China. The west pagoda built in 963 is square shaped and is supposed to stand seven stories tall. However during the Qing Dynasty four of its upper floors have been destroyed and so only three can be seen today. The East pagoda rising 7.69 meters into the sky was built in 967 and is gilded all over the body. Both Pagodas have been intricately designed with figures of the Buddha.
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