Sunday, February 28, 2010

Eshinni and Kakushinni, the Mothers of Jodo Shinshu

the memorial stone of Kakushinni
Have you ever thought to Eshinni, the wife of Shinran Shonin or to his daughter, Kakushinni? I often think to them and my feelings are those of a son to his mother.
To us, the members of Amidaji sangha, Eshinni and her daughter are the mothers of Jodo Shinshu.
They didn’t preach like Shinran, never appeared in front of the disciples,  but this doesn’t mean their contribution was small.

Kakushinni was the one who took care of Shinran Shonin in his later years and especially when he was ill on his death bed. She built the first mausoleum of Shinran on her piece of land which was also his gravesite. In 1277 she donated this gravesite to all Shinshu followers as a common memorial to Shinran. Later this memorial was known as the Otani Memorial  (Otani Byodo). She established the system of caretakers (rusu) composed of her descendants who had to look over the gravesite. This rusu system later developed into what is known today as Monshu or patriarchal leadership of our branch school while the Otani mausoleum became the Hongwanji temple. 

Eshinni, wife of Shinran
Now lets talk a little about Shinran’s wife, Eshinni.
She actually supported Shinran Shonin financially in his years of exile and not only then. She loved him, gave him the support only a wife can give. Indeed, who was closer to our Master than his own wife?... She watched his feelings, sad moments, good moments, hard times, etc.
We all know Shinran Shonin and how great his contribution is to all mankind, but who was behind him day to day if not his wife? To whom he went home for love and warm after giving Dharma talks, if not to his wife. Who was the one he regarded as a manifestation of Avalokitesvara if not his own wife, after that inspirational dream[1].

A woman, even if she stays in the back, can be of an immense support to her husband, and I think that Eshinni was such a wonderful woman. To us, members of Amidaji sangha, she is the mother of Jodo Shinshu.
I often think to her and send her my respectful thoughts. She appears to me like those consorts of Buddhas which are often found in esoteric Buddhist iconography. Now Shinran is a Buddha (I actually think he was already a Buddha before he was born, but this is another story), Eshinni is also a Buddha after being born in the Pure Land (if she was not already a Buddha before birth, according to that inspirational dream), so they are now a couple of Buddhas, consorts in Enlightenment, working together as they worked during their earthly life, to save all beings.

Namo Amida Butsu!
Homage to our Compassionate Mothers, Eshinni and Kakushinni!


PS: for those interested to learn more about Eshinni, I recomend the book Letters of the Nun Eshinni, in which one can also read the letters sent to her daughter after Shinran’s passing.

[1] Shinran saw Avalokitesvara Bodhisattva in a dream like state who told him that She will manifest Herself into his woman, be his partner during his lifetime and at death guide him to the Pure Land. It is also extraordinary that Eshinni told her daughter in a letter that she also had an inspirational dream with Shinran Shonin being Avalokitesvara so they both saw each other as transcendental manifestations of Enlightenment.  Please read my article on the topic of Shinran being a manifestaton of Amida and Avalokitesvara. 

1 comentarii:

Josho Adrian Cirlea said...

I recently received the following information:

"Kakushinni's memorial day is May 11-12 at Otani-Hombyo.
There is no grave of Kakushinni. The picture on your blog is her memorial stone....
Eshinni's grave belongs to Honganji Kokufu Betsuin.
You can see it at the botom of this page :
I do not know her memorial day if any."

Thank you very much!

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