Honnyo (本如)

Honnyo (1778 – January 9, 1827) was a Buddhist priest in Jodo Shinshu (the True Pure Land Sect of Buddhism) from the middle to the late Edo period who served as the 19th suzerain in Nishi Hongan-ji Temple and Daisojo (a priest of the highest rank in the highest managerial position). His imina (personal name) was Kosho.

He was the suzerain who concluded The Sango Wakuran Controversy (The Incident that Disturbed the Three Deeds) during the mid Edo period.

Personal profile

He was born the second son of Monnyo who was the 18th suzerain of Hongan-ji Temple. The eldest son died early and in 1799 he succeeded the suzerain at the age of 22. For about 10 years from the Shinmon period, he made a great effort to cope with The Sango Wakuran Controversy which confused the inside of doctrine. After that, he conducted Shinran-shonin gohyaku-gojukkai daionki hoyo (the 550th commemorating service of the death of founder, Shinran) in 1811 and restored Goei-do Hall (hall dedicated to the sect's founder) on a broad scale. On the other hand, the confusion in the doctrine by the Anjin dispute and a series of businesses worsened the financial situation in Hongan-ji Temple and left a huge amount of debts to the next generation.

The Sango Wakuran Controversy (The Incident that Disturbed the Three Deeds)

In Nishi Hongan-ji Temple, from the period of the suzerain Honyo during the middle Edo period, the dispute on religious principle concerning the doctrine Anjin was smoldering, but the local dissatisfaction culminated during the period of Honnyo and Kyoto City was in an unquiet situation by the followers who went to the head temple for direct negotiation. At this point, 'sango-kimyo-setsu' (the theory that faith is essential for three activities (action, speech and thought)) of Gakurin-ha (Gakurin Academy faction) (Sango-ha (Three-karmic-action school) and Shingi-ha (New-interpretation school)) was refuted by Taiei in Aki Province, but the influence of Sango-ha's support was strong, which was centered on Echizen Province and Ecchu Province, and Nokeshoku (head) himself, who had established a vast authority, did not acknowledge the error.

As Honnyo succeeded the suzerain at the age of 22, he was nearly helpless to Gakurin-ha whose top was the seventh Nokeshoku Chido (inaugurated in 1797). Honnyo himself employed various means to avoid the confusion, but could not stop the domineering of Gakurin and was forced to resort to having the bakufu (Japanese feudal government headed by a shogun) intervene.

In 1803, Kyoto shoshidai (The Kyoto deputy) made Taiei, Doin and noge (master) Chido settle their dispute in Nijo-jo Castle and in 1804 recalled both sides to Edo-jo Castle, where they made them settle the issue in a magistrate's office for temples. At this time, jisha-bugyo (magistrate of temples and shrines) Yasutada WAKISAKA in Tatsuno clan pronounced a judgment and was recognized for this case and later became roju (member of shogun's council of elders).

The bakufu finished a series of judgments and in 1806 in 'A Letter of Adjudication' written by Honnyo, the errors in sango-kimyo-setsu were clarified and both parties were punished according to Shuianjin (the notion that advocates a radical distinction between mind and body). Hongan-ji Temple was sentenced to house confinement for 100 days.

By this case Nokeshoku who had more power than the suzerain was abolished and later kangakushoku (post of encouragement of learning), whose term was renewed each year, was set up. And the start of the scheduled, large-scale restoration of Goei-do Hall was delayed because of this problem.