Part One: Hymns 1-25

Composed by Gutoku Shinran


Take refuge in Prince Shotoku of the country of Japan!
Our indebtedness to his propagation of the Buddhist teaching is profound.
His compassionate activity to save sentient beings is far-reaching;
Do not be lax in reverent praise of him!


In order to construct the four subtemples
Of a temple of the four deva-kings (Shintenno-ji), he went into a timber forest
In the district of Otagi (present Kyoto), in Yamashiro province.
At that time, he made a proclamation.


He stated that in time to come, without fail,
The imperial capital would stand on that site.
In order to benefit the sentient beings of the future,
He made a hexagonal platform of earth.


He constructed a hexagonal hall
And therein enshrined
A statue of Jambunada gold, three inches tall,
Of great Bodhisattva Avalokitesvara, the world savior.


After spending several decades
In the imperial capital at Namba in Settsu province,
He moved to the capital of Tachibana
And built Horyu-ji temple.


From the capital of Tachibana
He moved to Nara;
Constructing a number of great temples,
He widely spread the Buddha’s teaching.


After the reigns of four emperors in Nara,
The capital was moved to Nagaoka.
After fifty years there,
It was moved to Otagi.


In Enryaku 6 (787), during the august reign
Of Emperor Kammu, at the time of the construction
Of this capital, Avalokitesvara, the world savior,
Manifested miraculous signs.


This temple was built upon the first site
For the Buddhist teaching in the land of Japan.
Thereafter, through the Prince’s benefit,
Temples and pagodas were built in many places.


Reverently following the command of the Prince,
The people took refuge in the hexagonal temple.
They paid homage there
Along with the imperial family and court officials.


In India, Prince Shotoku
Was born as Queen Srimala,
And in China appeared
As Master Hui-ssu.


He appeared in China
To benefit sentient beings;
He was reborn five hundred times
As both man and woman.


So that the Buddhist teaching be established and flourish,
He appeared in Hunan province, at Mount Heng;
Passing tens of incarnations,
He spread Sakyamuni Tathagata’s teaching.


In order to bring sentient beings to liberation,
He appeared as Master Hui-ssu;
In the temple at Mount Heng where the Wisdom Sutras were taught,
He was known as Master of Southern Mountain.


A record bearing the handprint seal of the Prince
States that in order to benefit sentient beings
He constructed a temple
In the eastern part of the Koryo district (in present Osaka).


As the dharma-name of the temple of the four deva-kings,
The designation Koryo-ji temple was given.
Because it was built in the Koryo district,
It was named thus.


In the year 593,
Moving to the eastern part of the Koryo district,
He gave the name Shitenno-ji (temple of the four deva-kings),
And widely spread the Buddhist teaching.


To this place in the past,
Sakyamuni Tathagata came
And indicated it as a site for the turning of the dharma-wheel;
He spread the Buddhist teaching.


At that time, the rich and virtuous Prince
Made offerings to the Tathagata.
Because of this relationship,
He built the temple and pagoda.


Making statues of the four great deva-kings
And spreading the Buddhist teaching,
He built Kyoden-in temple
As a site where enlightenment would be realized.


On this site, there is a body of pure water;
It is called Koryo pond.
An auspicious dragon constantly dwell therein;
It protects the Buddhist teaching.


In the year 597,
On the bank at Tamatsukuri,
He performed rites for the dragon
And protected the Buddhist teaching.


The seven precious materials were laid at this site;
Hence, the dragon dwells there constantly.
The pure water flows to the east;
It is called flowing water of white jade.


Hearing that it unfailingly becomes dharma-medicine
For people who drink it with a heart of compassion,
Those who believe the Prince’s words
All trustingly draw from its flow.


The pagoda and main hall face the center
Of the eastern gate of the Land of Bliss;
Those who make a pilgrimage there once
Unfailingly attain birth in the Pure Land.