Meaning of TUNG-LIN in English

Pinyin Donglin, party of Chinese scholars and officials who attempted to combat the moral laxity and intellectual weakness they felt was undermining public life during the last years of the Ming dynasty (13681644). The party was founded by Ku Hsien-ch'eng, a government official forced out of office because of his outspoken criticism of those in power. In 1604 he established the Tung-lin (Eastern Forest) Academy at Wu-hsi in south-central China as a centre for private learning and philosophic discussion. Many of the group that gathered around Ku were also active champions of governmental integrity; many were simply scholars; all were interested in returning to what they felt were the traditional Confucian values. Interpretations of this varied, but the Tung-lin scholars were united in their denunciation of Buddhist and Taoist influences that had crept into Confucian philosophy. Their prestige soon spread among scholar-officials, and between 1620 and 1623 they were able to dominate many government offices. Their sense of moral outrage, however, made many enemies. When a Tung-lin leader, Yang Lien, attacked the powerful court eunuch Wei Chung-hsien in 1624, Wei mobilized the enemies of the reformers. Over the next two years hundreds of Tung-lin supporters were barred from the government, and leading figures were tortured, imprisoned, and executed. By 1627 the Tung-lin party had been practically wiped out, but their martyrdom became an example to all of China.

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