Collected Works of Shinran

Part Two: Hymns 26-50


In the pillar in the center of the pagoda
He placed six grains of the Buddha’s relics;
In this form he manifested the benefiting
Of the sentient beings of the six courses.


Enshrined in Kyoden-in temple
Is a gilt bronze statue of Avalokitesvara, the world savior.
King Seong Myong of the land of Paekche,
After the Prince’s death [in his previous life],

Made this holy image
To manifest his love and reverence
And had Prince Ajwa, as royal envoy,
Bring it to Japan as a memorial.


Prince Shotoku, with his own hand, laid gold
On the main base atop the sacred pagoda,
Stating it would be the symbol of the spread and disappearance
Of Sakyamuni’s teaching in Japan.


When, from Paekche, Prince Shotoku
Sent Buddhist statues, scriptural collections
Of sutras, vinaya texts, and treatises,
Buddhist robes, monks, and nuns to Japan,

Emperor Kinmei ruled the country;
It was the year 552.
People in Japan for the first time
Were brought to take refuge in Sakyamuni Tathagata’s teaching.


Vinaya masters, meditation masters, monks and nuns,
Dharani masters, Buddhist sculptors, and temple carpenters
Were sent in the year 577,
When Emperor Bidatsu reigned.


Prince Shotoku received birth in the imperial family;
His edict was promulgated throughout the provinces.
He urges the people to construct and replicate
Temples, pagodas, and Buddhist images.


A child of Emperor Yomei
Was Prince Shotoku,
Who composed Mahayana commentaries
On the Lotus, Srimala, and Vimalakirti Sutras.


After the passing of Prince Shotoku,
Those who seek to spread Sakyamuni Tathagata’s teaching
And save sentient beings
Should be worshiped as the Prince’s manifestation.


Revering the teaching of the six schools,
He ceaselessly benefited sentient beings.
Constantly upholding the five precepts,
He had the name Srimala.


In the past, when this queen lived,
Sakyamuni Tathagata compassionately
Delivered the Srimala Sutra.
Because of these circumstances,

Prince Shotoku lectured on this sutra
And composed a commentary on it.
This was the start of the spread of the Buddhist teaching in Japan
And the beginning of the benefiting of sentient beings here.


Queen Srimala, the Buddha’s disciple, states:
In Paekche, Koryo, Ninna, and Silla,
All sentient beings are such that
Minds of greed and rapacity are rampant.


To prevail in these countries
And bring the people to take refuge,
The four deva-kings, world-guardians, were sculpted
And enshrined facing the west.


The gilt bronze Avalokitesvara, the world savior,
Which was brought to Japan by Prince Ajwa
As royal envoy,
Was enshrined in Kyoden-in temple.


Always take refuge in this statue!
It is the body of Prince Shotoku.
Give special reverence to this statue!
It is the transformed body of Amida Tathagata.


Queen Srimala, child of the Buddha,
Reverently entreated the Buddhas of the ten quarters;
“May Brahma, Indra, the four deva-kings, the dragon-god,
And other guardians of the dharma all protect the teaching!”


Ilra of Silla stated,
“Homage to Avalokitesvara, the world savior,
The king of millet-scattered islands who transmits the dharma-lamp eastward,”
And bowed to the Prince of eight ears.


Prince Ajwa of Paekche bowed and said:
“Homage to greatly compassionate Bodhisattva Avalokitesvara, the world savior,
Who has spread the wondrous teaching eastward to the country of Japan,
Transmitting and expounding the dharma-lamp for forty-nine years!


In China, his teachers
Were Master Hui-ssu and Master Hui-wen.
When incarnated as the nun Srimala,
The teacher was Master Hui-tz’u.


In the thirteenth year of the semblance dharma-age,
In the time of the Han emperor Ming-ti,
The Indian monks Kasyapamatanga and Dharmaraksa
Came to China bearing the Buddhist scriptures on a white horse.


More than four hundred eighty years had passed
Since the Buddhist teachings came to Han China
And a temple known as the “Temple of the White Horse”
Was constructed in the western part of the capital;


At that time, during the reign of Emperor Kinmei,
The thirtieth ruler of the great country of Japan,
Buddhist statues and scriptures
Were reverently presented to the court.


More than five hundred years into the semblance dharma-age,
During the time of Prince Shotoku,
The Buddhist teaching spread,
And now, in the last dharma-age, the nembutsu flourishes.