Eshinni (恵信尼)

Eshinni (1182 - 1268?) was a woman in the Kamakura period and was a wife of Shinran, the founder of Jodo Shinshu (the True Pure Land Sect of Buddhism). She hailed from Echigo Province. Her father was Tamenori MIYOSHI, Gozoku (a local ruling family) in Echigo Province.

Personal Profile

She followed Shinran in his propagation activities in Echigo Province and Kanto region, and acted along with him for long.

Marriage

There are several views on the timing of her marriage with Shinran. These views include one that asserts Shinran married her after he was banished to Echigo in 1207, while another asserts he married her before being banished, and one that asserts he remarried her in Echigo.

While much of their marriage including the timing is unknown, it is presumed from the fact that she was a woman belonging to the Miyoshi clan in Echigo, that Eshinni married Shinran in order to take care of his daily life after he was banished to Echigo.

Children

With Shinran, she had seven children, four of them were boys and three of them were girls (Hani Koguro nyobo, Zenran, Myoshin , Arifusa , Koya zenni and Kakushinni).

Return to Echigo

There are several views on how Eshinni acted when Shinran returned from Kanto to Kyoto.

The first view asserts that she didn't follow Shinran and returned to Echigo.

The second view asserts that she went to Kyoto with Shinran, stayed there with him for about 20 years and eventually returned to Echigo asking Kakushinni, her youngest daughter, to take care of Shinran in 1256.

The third view asserts that she remained at 'Sainen-ji Temple' (Kasama City), which was a base of propagation in Kanto, and died in Kanto (temple history of Sainen-ji Temple).

In 1262 when Shinran died in Kyoto, she went into mourning in Echigo.

Eshinni Shosoku

The letter, 'Eshinni Shosoku' was found at the treasure repository of Nishi Hongan-ji Temple in 1921. It is shosoku (letter) written by Eshinni herself and consists of 10 letters. 8 letters out of 10 are the letters which Eshinni, who was then in Echigo, sent to Kakushinni staying in Kyoto. It is precious material in studying Shinran's propagation activities and/or words and deeds in his later years.

Judging from the fact that she wrote letters, it can be presumed that she was a woman who stood on a high intellectual level compared with ordinary women at the time.