Book Announcement: From Outcasts to Emperors: Shingon Ritsu and the Mañjuśrī Cult in Medieval Japan

OEFrom Outcasts to Emperors: Shingon Ritsu and the Mañjuśrī Cult in Medieval Japan. Brill’s Japanese Studies Library, vol. 50. Leiden: Brill, 2015. 340 pp. ISBN 978-90-04-29339-7 (hardback)

In From Outcasts to Emperors, David Quinter illuminates the Shingon Ritsu movement founded by the charismatic monk Eison (1201–90) at Saidaiji in Nara, Japan. The book’s focus on Eison and his disciples’ involvement in the cult of Mañjuśrī Bodhisattva reveals their innovative synthesis of Shingon esotericism, Buddhist discipline (Ritsu; Sk. vinaya), icon and temple construction, and social welfare activities as the cult embraced a spectrum of supporters, from outcasts to warrior and imperial rulers. In so doing, the book redresses typical portrayals of “Kamakura Buddhism” that cast Eison and other Nara Buddhist leaders merely as conservative reformers, rather than creative innovators, amid the dynamic religious and social changes of medieval Japan.

Biographical Note

David Quinter, Ph.D. (2006), Stanford University, is Assistant Professor of East Asian Religions at the University of Alberta. He has published eight articles on Buddhism, including “Localizing Strategies: Eison and the Shōtoku Taishi Cult,” Monumenta Nipponica 69/2 (2014).


Acknowledgements xi
List of Illustrations xiii
Conventions xiv

Prologue 1

Introduction 9
Imagining Mañjuśrī 20
The Study of Medieval Japanese Buddhism 25
1 Living Bodhisattvas and Hijiri: Eison, Ninshō, and the Cults of Mañjuśrī and Gyōki 31
Eison’s Early Career 33
Ninshō’s Early Career 36
Mutual Influences: Scholarly Training and Mañjuśrī Assemblies 44
Public Works and the Emulation of Gyōki 47
Eison’s Emulation of Mañjuśrī and “Erasure” of Gyōki 51
Conclusions 56

2 Tradition and Transformation: Precedents for the Saidaiji Order Mañjuśrī Assemblies 58
The Mañjuśrī Parinirvāṇa Sutra (Mañjuśrī Sutra) 60
Motifs in the Mt. Wutai Mañjuśrī Cult 62
Gyōki as Mañjuśrī 65
State-Sponsored Mañjuśrī Assemblies 67
Warrior-Sponsored Mañjuśrī Assemblies: Rulers, Rituals, and Relief 73
Memorial Rites, Mothers, and Mañjuśrī 77
Conclusions 83

3 Discrimination and Empowerment: Hannyaji, Outcasts, and the Living Mañjuśrī 86
History of Hannyaji and Its Restoration 89
Construction and 1267 Dedication of the Hannyaji Mañjuśrī 95
The 1269 Non-Discriminatory Assembly 101
Material and Ritual Context 101
Doctrinal Context: Icchantikas and Universal Buddhahood 107
Eison’s 1267 and 1269 Votive Texts for the Hannyaji Mañjuśrī 113
Icchantikas, Outcasts, and Other Transgressors 114
Ritual Empowerment, Purification, and Practice 117
Conclusions 123

4 Fundraising, Patronage, and the Hannyaji Mañjuśrī: From Eison to Shinkū 127
The Hannyaji Restoration and the Rhetoric of Reluctance 128
“Muen” and the Donations for the Hannyaji Mañjuśrī Image 132
Shinkū’s 1287 Votive Text and the Hannyaji Mañjuśrī Attendant Statues 142
Iconography and Social Positioning 142
Shinkū’s Narrative 144
Conclusions 149

5 Exoteric-Esoteric Lineage Construction and Mañjuśrī: Dream-Visions in Eison’s and Myōe’s Lineages 151
Provenance and Contents of Eison’s Statement of Transmission to Shinkū 154
Shingon, Ritsu, and Uses of Eison’s Statement of Transmission to Shinkū 161
Myōe, Mañjuśrī, and Dream-Visions 164
Conclusions 175

6 Double Vision: The “Tachikawa” Monkan and Shingon/Ritsu 179
Sex, Power, and Distortion: Issues in Portraits of Monkan 180
New Biographical Portrait of Monkan 183
Monkan’s Early Career 184
The 1302 Saidaiji Mañjuśrī Pentad 187
Monkan’s 1314 Saigyokushō 190
Monkan’s Post-1316 Shingon Career 194
The 1335 Mt. Kōya Petition, Monkan’s Mañjuśrī Rites, and Shingon Activities 202
The Construction of the “Heretical” Monkan and the Tachikawa Lineage 209
Repaying Mother and Protecting the State: Monkan’s Mañjuśrī Paintings 219
Wish-Fulfilling Jewels, the Three-Deity Combinatory Rites, and Mañjuśrī 225
Conclusions 232

Epilogue 234
Early Saidaiji Order Activities and Outcasts as “Supporters” 234
Continuity and Change in the Shingon Ritsu Mañjuśrī Cult: From Eison to Monkan 237
The Shingon Ritsu Mañjuśrī Cult and Outcasts Reconsidered 239
The Esoteric and the Exoteric in the Saidaiji Order 245
The Nara Schools and Medieval Buddhism: Models, Maps, and Directions 248

Documents: Annotated Translations 251
828 Council of State Directive Establishing Mañjuśrī Assemblies 251
1239–1240 Gakushōki Entries Introducing Ninshō 253
Eison’s Monju Kōshiki in Three Parts (ca. 1246) 256
1247 Collective Vow by Eison and Others 273
1267 Hannyaji Monju Engi 275
1269 Hannyaji Monju Bosatsu Zō Zōryū Ganmon 286
The 1269/3/25 Hannyaji Mañjuśrī Offering Ceremony, Recorded by Nakatomi no Sukekata 292
1287 Hannyaji Uten’ō Zenzai-Dōji Zō Zōryū Ganmon 294
Nenpu Passages Recording Eison’s Statement of Transmission to Shinkū 296

References 299
Index 315



About Paula

Paula lives in the vortex of graduate life. She studies medieval Japanese history.
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