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A History of the Japanese People by F. Brinkley

Founded by Shinran Shonin 1184 1268


ENGRAVING: SHINRAN SHONIN

BUDDHIST VIOLENCE

The decline of the Muromachi Bakufu's authority encouraged the monks as well as the samurai to become a law to themselves. Incidental references have already been made to this subject, but the religious commotions of the Sengoku period invite special attention. The Buddhists of the Shin sect, founded by Shinran Shonin (1184-1268), which had for headquarters the great temple Hongwan-ji in Kyoto, were from the outset hostile to the monks of Enryaku-ji. Religious doctrine was not so much concerned in this feud as rivalry. Shinran had been educated in the Tendai tenets at Enryaku-ji. Therefore, from the latter's point of view he was a renegade, and while vehemently attacking the creed of his youth, he had acquired power and influence that placed the Hongwan-ji almost on a level with the great Hiei-zan. In the days of Kenju, popularly called Rennyo Shonin (1415-1479), seventh in descent from the founder, Shinran, the Ikko--by which name the Shin sect was known--developed conspicuous strength. Kenju possessed extraordinary eloquence. Extracts from his sermons were printed on an amulet and distributed among worshippers, who grew so numerous and so zealous that the wealth of the sect became enormous, and its leaders did not hesitate to provide themselves with an armed following. Finally the monks of Hiei-zan swept down on Hongwan-ji, applied the torch to the great temple, and compelled the abbot, Kenju, to fly for his life.

It is significant of the time that this outrage received no punishment. Kenju escaped through Omi to Echizen, where the high constable, an Asakura, combining with the high constable, a Togashi, of the neighbouring province of Kaga, erected a temple for the fugitive abbot, whose favour was well worth courting. The Ikko-shu, however, had its own internal dissensions. In the province of Kaga, a sub-sect, the Takata, endeavoured to oust the Hongwan disciples, and rising in their might, attacked (1488) the high constable; compelled him to flee; drove out their Takata rivals; invaded Etchu; raided Noto, routing the forces of the high constable, Hatakeyama Yoshizumi; seized the three provinces--Kaga, Noto, and Etchu--and attempted to take possession of Echizen. This wholesale campaign was spoken of as the Ikko-ikki (revolt of Ikko). A few years later, the Shin believers in Echizen joined these revolters, and marched through the province, looting and burning wherever they passed. No measure of secular warfare had been more ruthless than were the ways of these monks. The high constable, Asakura Norikage, now took the field, and after fierce fighting, drove back the fanatics, destroyed their temples, and expelled their priests.

This was only one of several similar commotions. So turbulent did the monks show themselves under the influence of Shin-shu teachers that the Uesugi of Echigo, the Hojo of Izu, and other great daimyo interdicted


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