BUDDHISM AND THE JAPANESE SOCIETY
There were at least twelve sects of BUDDHISM prevailing in the ancient JAPANESE society . They were as follows : 1. HOSSO ; 2. KEGAN ; 3. TENDAI ; 4. SHINGON ; 5. MUJUNEMBUTSU ; 6. JODO ; 7. RIMJAI ; 8. SADO ; 9. UVAKU ; 10. SHIN 11. NICHIREN ; and 12. ZEN . Out of these twelve sects of BUDDHISM, the first eight had come from CHINA and the rest of the four were aboriginal and had come into existence in JAPAN in the twelfth century itself . As I have mentioned in my earlier blogs that in strengthening BUDDHISM in JAPAN , the contribution of Regent Prince SOTOKU TAISHI ( 517-631 AD ) was unparallel . He was a great scholar , a great warrior and a great politician . Effect of that was that the BUDDHISM flourished in the JAPANESE society with having amicable relationships with SHINTO religion as the BUDDHISM accepted almost all deities of the SHINTO as BODHISATTVAS . Almost all temples of the SHINTO religion thus came under the protection of the BUDDHIST MONKS . And in this way the BUDDHISM was established as one of the important religion of JAPAN .
The TENDAI sect of BUDDHISM came from CHINA during NARA period . Due to its all embracing character it helped in the unification of the JAPANESE empire as it emphasized on ‘the unity of everything in BUDDHA’S love’. Similarly , the SHINGON sect of BUDDHISM entered into JAPAN from CHINA was also an all comprehensive religion however giving emphasis on mystical rituals and incantation as it prevailed during the period in INDIA . The JODO sect of BUDDHISM is simply the JAPANESE name of the ‘ PURE LAND ‘ sect of CHINA and like LUTHERANISM it revolted against formalism and dogma prevailing in the JAPANESE society and emphasized on ‘ salvation by faith alone ‘ . The followers of this sect believed in AMITABHA , the BUDDHA of infinite light and the lord of the Western Paradise . As per the JAPANESE faith and belief that by reciting the name of AMITABHA one can be salvated and saved even in hour of death . The JODO-SHIN sect of BUDDHISM altogether rejected the concept of celibacy and monasticism and allowed priests to marry and eat even meat which made the JAPANESE society informal and liberal as such .
When the root of JODO-SHIN sect of BUDDHISM started deepening in the JAPANESE society , against it arose the NICHIREN sect of the BUDDHISM in JAPAN in the thirteenth century AD . It denounced JODO-SHIN as deceit and blasphemy . It also denounced the worship of AMITABHA , VAIROCANA and the BODHISATTVAS and called the people of JAPAN to be back to the one eternal BUDDHA i.e SAKYAMUNI of the Lotus Scripture . According to SIR CHARLES ELIOT , ‘ In NICHIREN’S bosom , in his body of the flesh, is secretly enshrined the great mystery which the LORD SAKYAMUNI transmitted to me on the Vulture Peak . Therefore , it is that in my breast all BUDDHAS are immersed in contemplation, on my tongue they turn the wheel of Law , in my throat they are born , and in my mouth they attain enlightenment .’*
But the most interesting BUDDHIST sect of JAPAN was ZEN . The name ZEN was derived from the CHINESE CHAN and the PALI DHYANA ( A TECHNIQUE OF MEDITATION ) . However , it flourished in JAPAN more than the Western Land from where it came to JAPAN . ZEN preached that the knowledge came by a sudden enlightenment and no intellectual or philosophical solution existed which could solved the problem of life of a man as such . It was through the intuition the man could reach BUDDHA . The realization of spiritual reality all around , the man could get enlightenment and thus it was jusy like the ‘vision of TAO‘ of the CHINESE concept of TAOISM . An historian on the subject had written that ‘it is an illumination which comes ‘ like the bottom of a tub falling out’. Thus , despite the fact that ZEN believed in the sudden enlightenment , yet the ZEN MONKS went to the rigorous training of meditation called ZA-ZEN . Moreover that as per the traditional BUDDHISM the followers of this sect continued daily begging-round as such as the basic tenet of the ZEN faction of BUDDHISM .
NOTE : THE SOURCES OF THE BLOG ARE TEXT BOOKS AND OTHER WRITTEN MATERIALS ON THE SUBJECT .
* SIR CHARLES ELIOT , ‘ JAPANESE BUDDHISM ‘ P. 430
TO BE CONTINUED ………………….