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Ganjin

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Ganjin
鑑真 (688–763) (Jpn; Chin Chien-chen)

    The founder of the Precepts (Chin Ly; Jpn Ritsu) Ritsu school in Japan. Originally from China, Ganjin is the name by which he became known in Japan and is the Japanese reading of his Chinese name, Chien-chen. At age fourteen, he entered the priesthood at Ta-yyn-ssu temple in Yang-chou and studied the T'ient'ai and Precepts teachings in Lo-yang and Ch'ang-an. After returning to Yang-chou, he lived at Ta-ming-ssu temple. While lectur-ing there in 742, two Japanese priests, Yoei and Fusho, implored him to come to Japan and instruct priests and nuns there in the precepts. Yoei and Fushohad been dispatched to China by the Japanese emperor Shomu to invite Chinese priests well versed in Buddhist teachings and precepts to teach in Japan and to establish there an authentic Buddhist ordination platform, which Japan lacked. In defiance of a Chinese imperial prohibition, Ganjin attempted to leave the country, but was unsuccessful in five separate attempts due to storms, pirates, and other obstacles.

After eleven years of hardship, however, he finally arrived in Japan in 753, though he had lost his eyesight. In addition to the scriptures of the Precepts school, he brought with him those of the T'ient'ai school, which Dengyo(767-822), the founder of the Japanese Tendai school, later studied. The following year Ganjin had an ordination platform erected at Todai-ji temple and conducted ceremonies conferring the precepts on the Retired Emperor Shomu and some four hundred others. In the fifth month of the same year, he established the Precepts school. In the fifth month of 756, he was appointed general supervisor of priests, and in the eighth month, general administrator of priests.

In 759 he founded Toshodai-ji temple under the patronage of Empress Koken. He died in 763 and was posthumously called the Great Teacher Kakai, or the Great Teacher Who Crossed the Sea. His biography, The Life of the Great Priest of T'ang China Who Journeyed to the East, was written in 779 by Omi no Mifune, a scholar and court official.

Source

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