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David Quinter

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.

New Perspectives on Yenching University, 1916-1952

A Liberal Education for a New China

Edited by Arthur Lewis Rosenbaum

Essays in New Perspectives on Yenching University, 1916·1952 reevaluate the experience of China's preeminent Christian university in an era of nationalism and revolution. Although the university was denounced by the Chinese Communists and critics as an elitist and imperialist enterprise irrelevant to China's real needs, the essays demonstrate that Yenching's emphasis on biculturalism, cultural exchange, and a broad liberal education combined with professional expertise ultimately are compatible with nation-building and a modern Chinese identity. They show that the university fostered transnational exchanges of knowledge, changed the lives of students and faculty, and responded to the pressures of nationalism, war, and revolution. Topics include efforts to make Christianity relevant to China's needs; promotion of professional expertise, gender relationships and coeducation; the liberal arts; Sino-American cultural interactions; and Yenching's ambiguous response to Chinese nationalism, Japanese invasion, and revolution.

Series:

David Quinter

Abstract

This chapter explores fundraising for the restoration of the Nara temple Hannyaji and the Mañjuśrī main icon for the temple. I suggest that the Hannyaji restoration provides a rich case study of the integrated fundraising, temple restoration, and cultic activities that were typical of the Saidaiji order. Focusing on Eison’s writings and a 1287 text by his disciple Shinkū (1229–1316) dedicating attendant statues, I analyze the “rhetoric of reluctance” within which their views on fundraising and their often-invoked status as a muen (unattached) group were expressed. In short, the rhetoric and actual activities related to the rhetoric show a common pattern in which Eison repeatedly refused patronage from elites, before attaining compromise or a consensus within his group that enabled him to ultimately accept that patronage. I argue that the need for this rhetoric was exacerbated by a tension between their status as precepts-keeping “reclusive monks” and as esoteric masters gaining increasing patronage from political elites for their ritual expertise.

Series:

David Quinter

Abstract

This chapter examines a text dated 1269/8/25 and attributed to Eison that purports to record a direct esoteric transmission from Mañjuśrī to Eison to Shinkū. This chapter shows, however, that the text’s provenance is more complex than previously acknowledged. I argue that to evaluate the text, we must consider both the influence from hagiographical accounts of the Shingon-Kegon monk Myōe (1173-1232) and an increasing esotericization of the Saidaiji order after Eison’s death in 1290. I further suggest that Eison’s reputed 1269 transmission served to legitimize the transition from Eison to Shinkū and successive Saidaiji elders as well as the very relationship between Shingon and Ritsu in the order. By analyzing these developments alongside the related synthesis of esoteric and exoteric precept traditions in fourteenth-century Myōe-lineage transmission texts, this chapter underscores how dream-visions legitimized varied exoteric-esoteric formulations of medieval Nara monastics, including those of later followers of Eison and Myōe.

Series:

David Quinter

Abstract

This chapter centers on the period from 1290 to the 1350s. Building on recent iconographic and textual discoveries, it explores the participation of Monkan (1278–1357), a second-generation disciple of Eison, in the Mañjuśrī cult alongside his twofold biographical construction as an orthodox Shingon and Ritsu monk and as a heretical tantric practitioner. I argue that many continuities between the activities of Monkan and those of Eison and his leading first-generation disciples, including their shared emphasis on the Mañjuśrī cult, have been obscured by sensationalized portrayals of Monkan and the supposed aberrant sexual rituals of the “Tachikawa cult.” While showing how distortion itself becomes part of the historical record, this chapter highlights the blurred lines between Ritsu and Shingon, the heterodox and orthodox, and the public and private in Monkan’s activities and the biographical material we use to assess those activities.

Series:

David Quinter

Abstract

This section features nine annotated translations of classical Chinese (kanbun) and classical Japanese sources significant to this study and to the Saidaiji order Mañjuśrī cult. The translations are intended to complement the historical narrative of the preceding main chapters, which are informed throughout by the texts. Encompassing a variety of genres, the majority of the texts have not been translated into modern languages by previous scholars. Even filtered through the lens of translation, the language and narrative flow of such primary texts gives fuller life to the voices of Nara Buddhist monastics and the broader exoteric-esoteric imaginaire informing those voices. The translations and annotations should thus enrich our understanding of the literature for the Saidaiji order and the Mañjuśrī cult.

Series:

David Quinter

Abstract

This concluding chapter places the diverse evidence for the Shingon Ritsu Mañjuśrī cult throughout the Kamakura period in the context of competing theories on the relationship between the exoteric and the esoteric in the cult and in the Saidaiji order more broadly. The chapter then situates these issues, and the findings of the book as a whole, within changing understandings of medieval Japanese Buddhism and suggests areas for future research.

Series:

David Quinter

Abstract

This chapter first establishes the historical context for the emergence of Eison’s Saidaiji order of monks and nuns (later known as the Shingon Ritsu school) and outlines their diverse contributions to Kamakura-period (1185-1333) religion and society. In particular, I investigate the Saidaiji order’s involvement in the Mañjuśrī cult and the twofold engagement with marginalized people and elites that is characteristic of those cultic activities. Next, I summarize the contents of the ensuing chapters and analyze the historiographical issues motivating this study. I argue that a lingering privileging of the traditionally understood “New Kamakura Buddhism” of the Pure Land, Zen, and Nichiren schools—evident even in such revisionist models of medieval Japanese religion as Kuroda Toshio’s theory of the “exoteric-esoteric system” (kenmitsu taisei)—continues to hamper the study of Eison’s and other medieval Nara Buddhist movements. I then show how this study aims to redress these biases.