Kanroku (Gwalleuk) (観勒)

Kanroku (years of birth and death unknown) was a Korean Buddhist monk who lived in the early seventh century Kudara (Baekje, Paekche). He came to Japan by water in 602. He was Hosho (master of Buddhism) of the Sanron Sect (Madhyamika school founded originally by Nagarjuna, which was brought in from China in 625 by Ekwan and was headquartered in Horyu-ji Temple in Nara, the sect belonged to the Provisional Mahayana school) and was supposedly familiar with the Jojitsu Sect (Satya-siddhi-sastra Sect).

Brief Personal History

In 602, Kanroku arrived in Japan, bringing astronomy, rekihon (books related to the calendar or the almanac) and onmyodo (which is also called onyodo, referring to the way of Yin and Yang). Shosei (students) were chosen to acquire these new academic fields under Kanroku. Namely, YAKO no Tamafuru studied Rekiho (method of making calendars), OTOMO no Koso studied Tenmon tonko (a type of fortune telling), and YAMASHIRO no Hitate studied Hojutsu (arts and skills, including a kind of magic like producing elixir), and all of them reportedly acquired the necessary knowledge. The Rekihon was adopted by Shotoku taishi in 604 (N.B. the official adoption of the Rekiho was awaited until the time of Empress Jito).

In 624, Kanroku was appointed first-ever Sojo (high ranking Buddhist priest) in Japan. In the same year, an incident occurred in which a monk hit his grandfather with an ax, and the empress attempted to punish not only that monk but also the entire clergy of Buddhist temples. There Kanroku addressed a memorial to the empress, in which he explained that the history of Buddhism in Japan was still shorter than a century, and therefore monks and nuns had not learned the law, which caused the incident, and he thus petitioned for mercy not to punish the innocent monks and nuns except for the monk who had committed the crime. The empress complied with Kanroku's petition, and for the first time, created a system of Sojo and Sogo (ancient Buddhist ecclesiastical authorities), thereby raising Kanroku to the position of Sojo. KURATSUKURI no Tokushaku was appointed Sozu (priest in charge of supervising the clergy).