북송말 휘종의 훼불로 인하여 한동안 쇠퇴하였던 불교문화는 남송대에 다시 발전하는데, 이와 관련하여 가장 주목되는 것이 바로 남송 효종 연간의 영파 아육왕사의 진신사리 공양회이다. 1175년에 행해진 이 사리공양회는 효종과 황태자의 성덕을 불교적으로 입증하기 위한 정치적 성격의 의례였으며, 이후 아육왕사는 석가모니의 진신사리가 모셔진 성지로서 명성이 재차 높아졌다. 이 논문에서는 효종 연간 사리공양회의 정치적 성격과 함께, 현재까지도 유서 깊은 성물로서의 명성을 유지하는 영파 아육왕탑의 존재가 실제 제작연대와는 상관없이 독특한 소탑 형식이라는 시각적 매개물을 계승해옴으로서 획득되어 왔음을 살펴보았다.
Ever since the first transmission of Buddhism to China, the Buddhist relic cult had been closely connected with the imperial families. Some emperors like Wendi of Sui and Wu Zetian of Tang considered that the possession of Buddha`s corporeal relics meant the endowment of political authority from Buddha. Therefore some buddhist relic cults in China were performed as political propagandas to legitimize the sponsors of the rituals. Here I examined an example of the buddhist relic cult as a political propaganda in the Southern Song Dynasty. This was held in 1175 by Emperor Xiaozong (孝宗) and his Crown Prince who became later Emperor Guangzong (光宗) with the famous Buddha`s relic of the Asokan temple in Ningbo [寧波阿育王寺]. The Asokan temple in Ningbo was built in the Northern and Southern dynasty by Monk Huida (慧達) who excavated the Sakyamuni Buddha`s relic within a small stupa from the ground. This small stupa was thought as an Asokan stupa in China, and the eccentric form of this stupa in ancient Central Asian style was slowly transformed into a peculiar form of ‘Qian Hongshu ta (錢弘?塔)``. This relic and the stupa as its container were worshiped by several famous emperors like King Wudi of Liang (梁), and King Qian Hongshu of Wuyue (吳越). These were brought to the court of the Northern Song in 978 when the Wuyue kingdom perished, and they disappeared from history for a long time. However the relic suddenly appeared again to Buddhists during the reign of Emperor Xiaozong in the Southern Song dynasty, and made many miracles illustrating its power when the imperial family venerated it. Emperor Xiaozong was a step son of his former Emperor Gaozong, the first emperor of the Southern Song dynasty. He was the first descendent of the first Emperor Taizu in the Northern Song dynasty, while all other emperors of the Song dynasty from the third Emperor Zhenzong to Emperor Gaozong were the descendent of the second Emperor Taizong, the brother of Emperor Taizu. Therefore he made great efforts to be recognized and legitimized as a rightful son of Gaozong and the accession of Emperor Xiaozong was an astounding political event. He made peace with Jin dynasty and the society of the Southern Song enjoyed great prosperity during his reign. However, he designated his fifth son as a crown prince, although his second son King Weiwang Kai (魏王愷) was more popular among people in the Southern China. He needed to legitimize his Crown Prince over King Weiwang Kai. In addition to such political changes, Xiaozong changed the religious sponsorship to Buddhism. Although most emperors of the Northern Song dynasty like Zhenzong and Huizong worshiped Daoism and oppressed Buddhism, Gaozong and Xiaozong worshiped Buddhism. The worship of the Buddha`s relic in the Asokan temple in Ningbo was held at the time under the patronage of Xiaozong and his Crown Prince, and it became a very famous event in the Buddhist Society of the Southern China. After his worship, people admired the miracle of the Buddha`s relic and praised the Emperor and his crown prince. With this event, the Asokan temple in Ningbo has been one of the most renowned sacred places in Chinese Buddhism until now. Its reputation comes from the political events of imperial families and the maintenance of the peculiar Asokan stupa with similar form from the Wuyue period, which is thought to have enshrined the real Buddha`s relic.