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Enchin

Enchin was one of the founders of the Tendai Buddhist sect. He was born in 814 at Konzo-ji Temple in Sanuki province.

Enchin

Name In Japanese : 円珍
Pronunciation : enchin
Period : 814 to 891

Enchin was one of the founders of the Tendai Buddhist sect. He was born in 814 at Konzo-ji Temple in Sanuki province (Kagawa Prefecture). His mother was the niece of Kukai. As a boy, his name was Hiro, who was known for being intelligent and studious. At age 15, after reading most of the Chinese classics and treatises, he decided to become a priest. He went to Mt Hiei to study and took the name of Enchin. His religious training last for 22 years. When performing a fire offering, the Buddhist deity Fudo Myo-O, the Unmovable King of Wisdom emerged from the flames and commended him on his diligence, whereupon Enchin decided to devote his life to serving Fudo Myo-O.

At that time the Tendai sect was renowned for its insights into the Lotus Sutra but fell behind the Shingon sect founded by Kukai in the study of esoteric Buddhism. So in 853, Enchin went to China to study esoteric Buddhism and brought back more than one thousand volumes of sutras.

In 859, Enchin became the first head of Mii-dera in Shiga, one of the four largest temples in Japan. Ten years later he became the fifth head of the Tendai sect.

He died in 891 at the age of 78. Emperor Daigo gave him his posthumous name of Chisho. As Kukai is known today as Kobo Daishi, Enchin is known a Chisho Daishi. Daishi means Great Teacher. Images of Enchin consistently show him with a distinctly egg-shaped head.

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