Ennin 794-864 was a Japanese monk, disciple of Saicho, who founded the Sammon branch of the Tendai sect in Japan. He studied Esoteric Buddhism for nine years in T'ang China. He was born in Shimotsuke Province, modern Tochigiken. A disciple of Saicho, the founder of the Tendai sect in Japan. Ennin was a monk and teacher at the Enryakuji (another name for this temple was Sammon) in Kyoto. In 838 he went to China for study . His Nyuto Gubo Junreiki, Record of the Pilgrimage to China in Search of the Holy Law, is full of fascinating details of his adventures, from the time he sailed from Japan until his return in 847. |
At first unable to obtain the necessary Chinese authorization to visit either of China's two most important Buddhist centers on Mt. Wu-t'ai and Mt. T'ien-t'ai, Ennin later managed to secure the help of an influential general to reach Mt. Wu-t'ai and other holy sites. Ennin returned to Japan in AD 847 with 559 volumes of Chinese Buddhist texts and a system of musical notation for religious chants that is still used in Japan.
Upon his return to Mt. Hiei in Kyoto, the Emperor conferred upon Ennin the rank of daihosshi (great monk). Ennin then organized study of the two Mandalas, initiated Esoteric baptism, and promoted other branches of Esoteric learning. He introduced to Japanese Buddhism the practice of chanting the name of Amida (Amitabha) as a route to rebirth in Amida's paradise. This practise was spun off to become the basis of the Pure Land school of Buddhism in Japan. He main teachings were Tendai esotericism.
Ennin stayed on Mt. Hiei as chief abbot for more than 20 years, and during his ministry he founded the Onjoji (Miidera) at the foot of Mt. Hiei on the shore of Lake Biwa. A measure of Ennin's success is the fact that the bestowal by the court in 866 of the posthumous title of Jikaku Daishi on him and that of Dengyo Daishi on his master Saicho marks the beginning of the custom of posthumous titles in Japan.
See Edwin Reischauer's books; Ennin's Travels in Tang China and Ennin's Diary, the Record of a Pilgrimage To China, The Ronald Press