Shinran and His Work, by Arthur Lloyd, , at sacred-texts.com
Shinran's remains were cremated at the Enninji temple, and his ashes buried at Ōtani on the outskirts of Kyoto. He left behind him several children, mostly sons, with at least one daughter. Of the eldest, Inshin, nothing seems to be known. The second, Zenran, had a son, Nyoshin, who was appointed to succeed his grandfather in the headship of the sect, and is therefore reckoned as the second Patriarch. With him Zenran's line seems to have died out. But Shinran had also a daughter, Kakushin-ni, who had devotedly attended on her father during his last illness, and through whom the succession of Shinran's line was continued. Her grandson, Kakunyo, was the third head of the Shinshu, and the succession then passed to Kakunyo's son Zennyo and to his grandson Shakunyo. Eleven years after Shinran's death, Kakushin-ni and Nyoshin built a Temple at Ōtani, to which the Emperor Kameyama granted the name of Kuonjitsujō-Amida-Hongwanji, together with the status of an Imperial Chapel. The Temple was popularly known as the Hongwanji, and it may therefore in a sense be looked upon as the parent temple of the still united Shinshu body.
It was not long before the Shinshu showed signs of division, and at the present day there are ten
sub-divisions of the religion. These sub-divisions have no doctrinal importance; some arose, doubtless, from that pride which in all ages and times is a fruitful mother of schisms, but in some, the divisions must be attributed to a jealous affection for the revered memory of the Founder, and a desire to exalt the dignity of some particular Temple in which Shinran himself had laboured. I purpose giving a short account of these sub-sects, which are occasionally interesting for the light they throw on the subsequent experiences of the sect. *
I.—The Bukkōji ("temple of Buddha's Light") originally called Kōshōji (temple of the restoration of the right"—possibly in reference to Shinran's recal from exile and pardon), was found by Shinran himself, in 1212, the year in which he commenced the active propagation of his system. It was situated in the village of Yamashina in Yamashiro, in the suburbs of Kyoto, and was Shinran's home for fifteen years. In 1227 he transferred it to the care of his younger brother Shimbutsu, and the Temple long remained in the hands of Shimbutsu's successors. In 1320 it was removed to Shibudani on Higashiyama, Ryōgen being then Abbot.
It was in the reign of the unfortunate Godaigo, (1319–1338) when the troubles were brewing which culminated in the setting-up of a rival line of Emperors. In the confusion of the time, men, making a cloke of religion for nefarious purposes, brought the Shinshu into disrepute by their misuse of the doctrine of Salvation by Faith. There arose a clique
known as akunin shōki ("evil livers whose faith was right"), and Ryōgen set himself to work with pen and word to put a stop to their malicious abuse of a good doctrine. He died a martyr to the cause he had taken in hand. In 1336, in the forty-second year of his life, and the twenty-first of his Abbot-ship, he was waylaid and killed by a party of akunin-shōki, dying with words on his lips of pious exhortation.
II.—The Senshūji ("temple of the exclusive devotion," i.e. to Amida) was founded by Shinran himself, at Takata, in Shimotsuke, in A.D. 1225, and entrusted by him to the care of one of his disciples. The group of believers attached to this subsect is called the Takata-ha. The most celebrated of its Abbots, Shinge, transferred his See from Takata to Isshinden, near Tsu, in Ise, and there built a temple, in 1465, which is now the head-temple of the Takata or Senshūji-ha. Shin-ye was much troubled by the activity of a heresy named Mugekō-ha "the sect of the unimpeded light,"—a sect of enthusiastic "perfectionists" who have had their counterparts in the history of European sectarianism.
III.—The Kinshokuji Temple, at Kibe in Omi is the head temple of the Kibe-ha. It was founded in 1235 by Shinran, and remained constantly under his jurisdiction and that of his successors Zenran and Kakunyo. On Kakunyo's death it became the head of an independent administration, in the hands of Kōgen and his descendants, who are now represented by the Kibe (Baron) family, the hereditary heads of this sub-sect. I believe that the coming
into existence of this sect illustrates the policy of the early Shinshu leaders and their Imperialist (and Imperial) patrons. It seems to have been their idea to counterbalance the power of the great temporal lords, as also of the great monasteries, by the creation of a kind of spiritual peers, whose secular position and spiritual influence would, it was hoped, have great and beneficial weight in the State at large. *
IV. V.—We have already spoken about the Hongwanji, the headship of which remained in the direct line of Shinran's descendants. The Hongwanji at Kyoto was always looked upon throughout Japan as the truest representative of the Shinshu, and the believers who adhered to it far outnumbered those of the other divisions of the Shinshu household. After Shinran, by far the most influential of the Hongwanji Abbots was Rennyo Shōnin, otherwise known as Yeto-Daishi (1415–1499) whose merits are so well recognized by the Shinshuists that they speak of him as the "Second Founder" of their Faith. Writer, preacher, organizer, poet, in the midst of a very troublesome world, Rennyo left behind him a great reputation, the memory of which still continues.
Not long after Rennyo's death, even if not before that event, the troubles of the times drove the Hongwanji priests from Kyoto, and the Headquarters of the Sect were for many years moving about from place to place in Central Japan. At last, in 1591, Kennyo Shōnin, a notorious fighter, and a turbulent Churchman if ever there was one, returned to Kyoto, and rebuilt the Hongwanji at Horikawa in the city. The reigning Abbot for many years, Kōsa, the eleventh of the line, died in 1592 and was succeeded in the Headship of the Hongwanji by his two sons Kōju and Kōshō. Ten years later, in 1602, Tokugawa Iyeyasu took Kōsa's third son, also named Kōsa, and appointed him to the headship of a new Hongwanji Temple, erected at Karasumaru in Kyoto. Thus Japan gained a new "hereditary Bishopric," but, as a result of its establishment, the mighty Hongwanji, the most powerful ecclesiastical institution Japan has ever seen, was divided into two rival, if not conflicting, sections. Iyeyasu understood quite well the principle of divide et impera.
VI. VII.—Neither the Kōshōji-ha, nor the Izumoji-ha, call for any special notice.
VIII. IX.—The Seishōji-ha has its influence mainly in the province of Echizen. It originated during the period of Shinran's exile to Echigo. On his road to his place of exile, he stopped one evening at a small farm-house in the village of Uyeno. After supper he preached to the people, and out of that sermon grew a great religious movement which spread far and wide in that remote country. After Shinran's return from exile, his fifth son, Dōshō,
took up his work, and the result is to be seen in the Seishōji sub-sect of the Shinshu.
Nearly the same account may be given of the Shōseiji-ha. It also originated in the province of Echizen during the period of Shinran's exile. Only, in this case, it was Shinran's eldest surviving son Zenran who took up the work, and the headquarters of the subsect were at a later period (1475) removed to Yamamoto in the same province.
X.—The Senshōji-ha, whose chief seat is at Fukui, in Echizen, seems to be the only one of the Shinshu sub-sects which cannot trace its origin absolutely to Shinran himself. The date given for its foundation is 1290.
These three last-mentioned bodies seem always to have worked amicably together in Echizen, without any overlapping of jurisdiction, or clashing of interests. They are known as the San-monto-ha "the three Monto or Shinshu sub-sects," the Senshōji at Fukui being considered the most important and central Temple for all three bodies.
It will be thus seen that the ten divisions of the Shinshu do not represent so many schisms or fractions. They are rather ten Dioceses of the same Communion ruled by hereditary Bishops with coordinate jurisdiction in certain localities. They present no doctrinal divergencies. In the quieter sub-sects there was probably more of spiritual life than in monster institutions like the Hongwanjis.
Notes to Chapter IV.
It would be a very valuable piece of work if some scholar would undertake, say for one of our Asiatic Societies or for the Mélanges, a study of the Life of Fujiwara Kanezane, from the voluminous and valuable Diaries that he has left behind him.
According to the Shinshu authorities whom I have followed in the text of my chapter, it was at Kanezane's suggestion that Shinran instituted his reforms in Buddhism. This statement is not accepted as absolutely true by all sects of Buddhists. What seems certain is that Kanezane was much interested in the introduction of the Zen sects, from China, and that he was also known at times to recite the Nembutsu, as a prayer for temporal benefits, and not, as Hōnen taught, merely as an act of thanksgiving for spiritual blessings. In other words, he used prayer in the Christian sense of the term, and he had connection with China.
It is interesting to note that Kanezane was the contemporary of Temujin (better known by his later title of Ginghis khan). Temujin became, in 1195, the ally of Wan-Khan (the Prester John of mediæval romance), the Christian King of a Christian Nation, the Keraites, who were converted to Nestorianism about A.D. 1010; and the allied princes joined in expeditions for the conquest of China, (which accounts perhaps for the Exodus of Chinese Zen priests to Japan). After Wang-Khan's murder, Temujin had his skull set in silver for use as a drinking cup. I think that we have here the key that will unlock many of the undoubted points of resemblance between Shinshu and Nestorianism. A monograph elucidating the problems of Kanezane's life is much to be desired.
§§ 25, 26, 27, of the Shinshu Hyakuwa relate (i) to the transmission of the Shinshu Faith from Nāgārjūna to Hōnen, and so to Shinran, (ii) to the lives and writings of the seven Patriarchs, as they are called, through whom the Faith was transmitted, and (iii) to the three Sutras on which the whole teaching of Amida is said to be based. These three Sutras have already been translated into English, and may be consulted
by the student in Volume XLIX of the Sacred Books of the East. I have referred to the transmission of the Shinshu Doctrines in my lectures on the Japanese Mahayana delivered last winter, and need not repeat my statements. For some of the Patriarchs there already exist valuable monographs, e.g. on Vasubandhu, by Dr. Takakusu in the Trans. of the Royal Asiatic Society of Great Britain, on Genkū (or Hōnen) by Dr. Anezaki in the Transactions of the Congress of the History of Religious, Oxford, 1908, and one on Asvaghosha, (who is, however, not one of the seven) in a recent number of the Journal Asiatique. The best thing I can do for my readers is to furnish them with a translation of Shinran's own poem, the Shōshinge, which will be found in the next chapter. This will give Shinran an opportunity of speaking for himself.
28:* § 24. I have also consulted Bukkyōkakushe Kōyō.
30:* These hereditary Bishoprics (in the case of the Hongwanji it might almost be called a hereditary Papacy) have not always been ideal, the bad intermingling curiously with the good. It is interesting to note that the Shinshu shares the institution of "hereditary Bishops," with the Nestorians of today, possibly therefore also with the mediæval Nestorians of China. Haas notices (in 1215) the grant by the Emperor of a purple or violet cassock to a "Bishop" (daisō-jō) of the Zen sect.