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His Imperial Majesty Emperor Kangxi (vegetarian): A Legacy of Benevolence, Part 2 of 2

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Flood control of the Yellow River and the reparation of the Grand Canal were amongst the very first major economic tasks Emperor Kangxi undertook. Ultimately though, one of the greatest achievements of the time was the “Kangxi Atlas,” or “Map of a Complete View of the Imperial Territories.”

Father Joachim Bouvet’s memoir, “The History of Cang-Hi, the Present Emperor of China,” was presented to His Majesty King Louis XIV of France, and paid tribute to Emperor Kangxi as follows: “Like [You], my Majesty, [He] possesses the same noble character, remarkable wisdom and magnanimous mind that befit a King. He treats [Himself] and the country in the same conscientious and careful manner. He is well respected by [His] people and neighboring countries. With what [He] has achieved, [He] is not only someone with an awe-inspiring reputation, but a real Sage with solid strength. […] He has the qualities of submitting to the truth and exercising absolute restraint of [His] own emotions and desire. His good qualities are endless.”

In fact, Emperor Kangxi advocated compassionate vegetarianism as the ideal diet, in line with the ancient Chinese philosophy that “harmony is precious.” Therefore, animal-people meat found no place in His Imperial Majesty’s food list. Regarding food, Emperor Kangxi also emphasized that eating “just enough is enough” and recommended “not overindulging in one’s favorite foods.”

Influenced by early exposure to Buddhism from His elders, Emperor Kangxi developed a deep fascination with the teachings of the Buddha, particularly Tibetan Buddhism. Besides His official duties, in the two decades from 1702 to 1723, Emperor Kangxi wrote 423 copies of the Heart Sutra, equating roughly to one copy every two to three weeks. He also wrote many other copies of the Diamond Sutra, Medicine Buddha Sutra, the Lotus Sutra’s “Universal Gate” chapter, and more.

Emperor Kangxi visited Mount Wutai and its Gelug temples five times. Lobsang Tamdin, a respected Mongolian scholar and Master, believed Emperor Kangxi to be the reincarnation of Tulku Drakpa Gyaltsen and an emanation of the Worshipped Manjushri Bodhisattva (vegan). This belief was verified by many other masters.

It is also important to note that the posthumous name granted to Emperor Kangxi reads as follows: “Emperor Complying with the Heaven, Magnificently Fortunate, Civilized and Martial, Far-sighted and Perceptive, Modest and Frugal, Generous and Benevolent, Sincere and Honest, Impartial and Conciliating, Industrious and Virtuous, Marvelously Accomplished, and Benevolent.” Emperor Kangxi was deeply committed to the well-being of His people, embodying these virtues throughout His governance, judicial system, and diverse endeavors. His remarkable leadership, foresight, and dedication to the welfare of His people has Him revered as one of China’s greatest Emperors.
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