By Jonathan Morris Augustine
Hagiographies or idealized biographies which recount the lives of saints, bodhisattvas and different charismatic figures were the assembly position for fantasy and adventure. In medieval Europe, the 'lives of saints' have been learn in the course of liturgical celebrations and the texts themselves have been handled as sacred items. In Japan, it was once believed that those that learn the biographies of lofty priests might gather advantage. due to the fact that hagiographies have been written or compiled through 'believers', the road among fable and truth used to be frequently obscured. This research of the bodhisattva Gyoki - considered as the monk who begun the biggest social welfare circulation in Japan - illustrates how eastern Buddhist hagiographers selected to treat a unmarried monk's charitable actions as a staggering fulfillment that formed the process jap heritage.
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Extra info for Buddhist Hagiography in Early Japan: Images of Compassion in the Gyōki Tradition
Because the bodhisattvas postponed their own enlightenment, they would require eons before they could finally achieve their goal. However, the Mahayana tradition rendered the concept of the bodhisattva more accessible to ordinary people by reducing the qualifications. 5 In discussing the concept of the bodhisattva in Japan, dividing them into celestial bodhisattvas and bodhisattva monks is useful. The celestial bodhisattvas are not historical personalities but physical manifestations of various qualities, such as wisdom and compassion.
Although the tiles and wood used to build the irrigation canals and practice halls of the Gyôki nenpu date back to the eighth century, finding additional textual evidence that confirms Gyôki as the director of these projects is more difficult. After all, those who constructed temples during the first half of the eighth century probably wanted to increase their fame by identifying themselves with a great monk like Gyôki, so possibly the number of construction projects attributed to Gyôki grew rapidly after his death.
For example, the limited accounts from the Nara period suggest that Gyôki tried to keep a certain distance from the imperial court until the end of his life, but such early medieval texts as the Ôjô gokurakuki and the Gyôki bosatsuden indicate that Gyôki was always on good terms with the Nara authorities. This kind of ambiguity should warn readers against making definitive claims about Gyôki’s relation with the court on the basis of a limited number of texts. 46 GYÔKI AND THE SÔNIRYÔ 3 GYÔKI AND THE SÔNIRYÔ Violations of early monastic regulations in Japan The preaching, begging, and soliciting that Gyôki supposedly conducted before he started constructing relief facilities has been debated during the past few decades among the leading scholars of early Japanese Buddhism.