The 7th International Conference Buddhism & Australia
Chinese Buddhist Encyclopedia Illustrations
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Tánluán (Ch: 曇鸞, Jp: Donran) (476–542) was a Chinese Buddhist monk. He is credited by Hōnen as the founder of Pure Land Buddhism in China. He is also considered the Third Patriarch in Japanese Jodo Shinshu Buddhism.
Tan-luan was originally a Buddhist scholar but after becoming ill he studied Taoism in order to seek the Elixir of Life. However after an encounter with Bodhiruci a Buddhist monk from India, Tan-luan became a devotee of the Pure Land teachings and, according to the Jodo Shinshu hymn Shoshinge, burnt his Taoist texts.
Tan-luan later wrote his commentaries on the Larger Sutra of Immeasurable Life. The commentaries taught that the all beings could be reborn in the Pure Land of Amitabha Buddha through sincere recitation of the Buddha's name (Nianfo/Nembutsu). Tan-luan is also credited for having developed the six-character phrase "南無阿彌陀佛" (Namo Amituofo/Namu Amida Butsu) (from Sanskrit to Chinese) used throughout Pure Land Buddhism today.
Tan-luan also had a strong impact on the Fourth Patriarch Tao-cho who once visited his temple.
曇鸞 (476–542) (PY Tanluan; Jpn Donran)
The founder of the Chinese Pure Land school. Initially, he studied four treatises—The Treatise on the Middle Way, The One-Hundred-Verse Treatise, The Treatise on the Twelve Gates, and The Treatise on the Great Perfection of Wisdom. He further undertook the task of writing a commentary on the Great Collection Sutra, but his health failed and he traveled south to visit a Taoist teacher, T'ao Hung-ching, to master the secrets of immortality. After receiving a Taoist scripture about immortality, he returned north and at Lo-yang met Bodhiruchi, who was versed in the Pure Land teachings. Bodhiruchi taught him that one could attain everlasting life only through the Pure Land teachings, giving him a Pure Land scripture, the Meditation on the Buddha Infinite Life Sutra. T'an-luan was so impressed by it that he discarded the Taoist text and devoted himself to the practice of the Pure Land teachings. He stressed the practice of the Pure Land teachings as the "easy-to-practice way" that enables all people to attain rebirth in Amida Buddha's Pure Land, and rejected all other practices as the "difficult-to-practice way," and wrote The Commentary on "The Treatise on the Pure Land," The Hymn in Verse to Amida Buddha, and other works. He is revered as the first of the five patriarchs of the Chinese Pure Land school and also regarded as the founder of the Four Treatises (Ssu-lun) school, which was based upon the above four treatises.