The confluence of Karma and Hygiene: Vegetarianism with Renewed Meanings for Modern Chinese Buddhism
From the 1920s onward, Master Taixu, the prominent monastic leader known for his reformist stand, came to be an endorser of a product, 和合粉, a gourmet powder. His advertisement of the product appeared in both secular press, such as Shanghai News 申报, and in Buddhist periodicals like The Sound of Sea Tide 海潮音. This interesting linkage between a Buddhist monastic, the press, and a seasoning product advertised to vegetarians denotes the intricacy of vegetarianism as a discourse standing at the crossroads of the Chinese tradition and a modernizing society. Vegetarianism, a practice closely associated with but not solely monopolized by Buddhism, is a prism reflecting the entangling issues of the emerging scientific rationale, the preservation of the Buddhist practice, and the fusion of a Chinese tradition with Western progressive ethos. My article hence explores discussions that took place in the Buddhist periodicals regarding vegetarian practice, and illustrates how the confluence of scientific rationale and the continued Buddhist karmic argument ultimately renews the discourse of vegetarianism in modern China.