Founder of the Yogacara (or Mind-Only) school of
Buddhism. Born of a Brahmin family in North India
sometime in the fourth century A.D. He was converted
to the Mahisasaka (one of the 20) early schools
of Buddhism and became a monk in that tradition.
Apparently he received teaching, through a vision,
directly from the future Buddha Maitreya who provided
him with a series of texts. Quickly converting to
Mahayana as a result of this interaction, Asanga
began composing text in his own name, founded the
Yogacara school of Buddhism and converted his brother
Asvaghosa is one of the four great Indian Buddhist
sages who are called the 'four suns that illuminate
the world'. Buddhist poet best known for his famous
epic poem called the Buddha-Carita which
represents the first complete biography of the Buddha.
Information concerning his life is conflicting but
it appears that Asvaghosa was a contemporary of
King Kaniska (second century C.E.).
Rev Jack (1917-93)
Pioneer of Shin Buddhism in UK, born Caerleon, Gwent
(South Wales, UK). With Richard Robinson, founded
Dharma Study Group for studying Mahayana sutras.1946-52:
a member of 1st ad hoc council of Buddhist Society.
1952: with Richard Robinson, ordained by Ven Sumangalo
in London. 1953: launched Western Buddhist to promote
Mahayana Buddhism. 1954: initiated into Arya Maitreya
Mandala (founded by Lama Govinda in Das Budhhistische
Haus, West Berlin. 1966: initiated into Soto Zen
by Chisan Koho Zenji in London. With others founded
the Hannyakai to practise zazen under proper tuition
for the first time in the UK, inviting Sochu Suzuki
Roshi from Japan (later London Zen Society). Served
as Buddhist representative on various committees.
1975: Development Officer of World Congress of Faiths,
organizing conferences and interfaith activities;
served on several related committees, including
Buddhist Religious Adviser, especially in education.
Contributed to numerous Buddhist and related publications,
including new edition of Dhammapada for the Buddhist
Society. 1976: co-founder of Shin Buddhist Association
in London (Patron: Chief Abbot Kosho Ohtani). 1977:
ordained a Hongwan-ji priest in Kyoto. Has also
visited Shin temples in Hawaii, San Francisco and
A Chinese monk of the Eastern dynasty (4th-5th
Century). In 399 he left China for India, finally
arriving there after six years of hard travel. After
studying Sanskrit and obtaining many Sanskrit texts
of the Tripitaka (Buddhist canon), he returned to
China by sea in 414. After his return he not only
translated these texts but also wrote a record of
his travels. He died when either eighty-two or eighty-six
Most Venerable Nichidatsu
Founder and preceptor of the Nipponzan Myohoji order.
1903: became a monk. 1918: began to preach Buddhism
publicly, travelled widely through China, Korea. Manchuria
and Japan. Warned of the growing militarism in Japan.
Disciples joined him in the practice of beating the
hand-drum and chanting of the prayer for peace (Namu
myoho renge kyo). 1924: first Nipponzan Myohoji formed
at Tagonoura, near Mt Fujii. 1931-33: travelled in
India to regenerate Buddhism there; met Gandhi. Throughout
World War II, prayed and regularly fasted for early
peace. After War, began promoting construction of
peace pagodas in Japan and later elsewhere. In UK,
pagodas built at Milton Keynes and Battersea Park
(London). Books including Buddhism for World Peace,
Beating Celestial Drums, Ichienbudai, The Time Has
The ruler of a large empire in northern India. He
was a Buddhist convert in a Hindu era. Harsa was crowned
at age 16 after the assassination of his elder brother,
Rajyavardhana, and an encouraging "communication"
with a statue of the Buddhist Avalokitesvara bodhisattva.
Harsa is known mainly through the Chinese pilgrim
Hsüan-tsang, who became a personal friend of
the king and depicts the emperor as a convinced Mahayana
Buddhist, though in the earlier part of his reign
Harsa appears to have supported orthodox Hinduism.
He is described as a model ruler benevolent,
energetic, and just, and active in the administration
and prosperity of his empire. In 641 he sent an envoy
to the Chinese emperor and established the first diplomatic
relations between India and China. He established
benevolent institutions for the benefit of travellers,
the poor, and the sick throughout his empire. A patron
of men of learning, Harsa sponsored the chronicler
Bana and Mayura, a lyric poet. Himself a poet, Harsa
composed three Sanskrit works: Nagananda, Ratnavali,
also called Genku, established in 1175 the Jodo or
'Pure Land' school in Japan. He is said to have reached
an awakening in 1175 on reading Shan-tao's Meditation
Sutra, and thereafter dedicated himself solely
to the chanting of the name of Amida Buddha's name.
The founding of the Jodo school is dated from this
event. His fundamental tenet was belief in the power
and grace of Amitabha, lord of Sukhavati (the Western
paradise). He advocated repeated invocation of Amitabha's
name, by which anyone, ignorant or wise, high or low,
could be saved. His teaching was based on that of
master Hui Yuan, the Chinese founder of the Pure Land
Buddhist monk and Chinese pilgrim to India who translated
the sacred scriptures of Buddhism from Sanskrit into
Chinese and founded in China the "Consciousness
Only" school (Yogacara). His fame rests mainly
on the volume and diversity of his translations of
the Buddhist sutras and on the record of his travels
in Central Asia and India, which, with its wealth
of detailed and precise data, has been of inestimable
value to historians and archaeologists.
Current (3rd) President of Soka Gakkai (Nichiren Shoshu).
Born 1928, Ormori, Tokyo, 5th son of edible seaweed
farmer, Childhood dogged by poverty and ill-health.
1940: left school at age 12; persevered to read in
spare time - and later to write.c. 1947: introduced
to SG' and knew instantly that this was a way of life
he must follow.' Greatly influenced by Josei Toda,
2nd President of SG, his 'master in life'. 1960:on
Toda's death, became 3rd President of SG. Set out
to raise membership to 3 million, to erect a large
reception hall at Head Temple and 'to arouse an awakening
in religious circles'. 1962:1st goal realized. 1964:2nd
goal realized.3rd is 'forever in his heart and actions'.
1975: Soka Gakkai International formed; began international
activities, holding dialogues with eminent world leaders
and leading intellectuals, arranging cultural exchanges,
etc. 1972: Sho Honda, Grand Main Temple, opened at
Head Temple (Taiseki-ji).1983: presented with UN Peace
Award by N Sec Gen Perez de Cuellar. Books including
The Living Buddha, My Recollections, Dialogue on Life
(A Buddhist Perspective on Life and The Universe);
Life an Enigma, a Precious Jewel; A Lasting Peace;
Buddhism: the First Millennium; Choose Life (with
Arnold Toynbee), The Human Revolution (5 vols), etc.
Rev Prof Hisai
Executive Secretary of International Association
of Shin Buddhist Studies (founded 1984). Currently
Professor of English at Ryukoku University. 1970s.
lectured at SOAS (London University); the (British)
Pure Land Buddhist Fellowship initiated in his house
at that time. Editor of The Pure Land. Member of the
English and Portuguese Translation Centres at Hongwanji
International Centre. Editor of Ryokoku Translation
series. Publications include A Dictionary of Japanese
Buddhist Terms; A Glossary of the Sukhavativyuha Sutras,
The Three Pure Land Sutras, The Amida Sutra Mandala,
The Way of Nembutsu Faith.
Buddhist scholar and missionary. In 383, From 401
he was at the Ch'in court in the capital Chang'an
(the modern Xi'an), where he taught and translated
Buddhist scriptures into Chinese. More than 100 translations
are attributed to him. Of these only about 24 can
be authenticated, but they include some of the most
important titles in the Chinese Buddhist canon. Kumarajiva's
career had an epoch-making influence on Chinese Buddhist
thought, not only because he made available important
texts that were previously unknown, but also because
he did much to clarify Buddhist terminology and philosophical
concepts. He and his disciples established the Chinese
branch of the Madhyamika, known as the San-lun, or
Three Treatises school.
Founder and first President of Soka Kyoiku Gakkai
(forerunner of Soka Gakkai). Born Niigata perfecture,
Northwest Japan. At 14, went to Hokkaido; educated
Sapporo Normal School (now Hokkaido University of
Education). Later served as teacher and principal
of several elementary schools in Sapporo and Tokyo.
Formed small organized of educators. 1928: converted
to Nichiren Shoshu. 1930: established Soka Kyoiku
Gakkai (lit 'Value-creating Education Society'); worked
to spread knowledge of Nichiren's teachings. 1943:
arrested together with other leaders for opposing
Shintoism and criticizing war effort. Died in prison
at age 73. Publications including Soka Kyoikugau Taikei
(The System of Value-Creating Pedagogy) and Kyodaka
Kenkyu (Research Studies in Folk Culture of Local
One of the most important philosophers of Buddhism
and founder of the Madhyamika (Middle Way) school.
Nargajuna's major accomplishment was his systemisation
of the teaching presented in the Prajnaparamita
Sutras. He is revered in all of the Mahayana as
a great religious figure, in many places as a Bodhisattva.
Not only Zen, but also the Tantric branch of Buddhism
and the devotional communities of Amitabha Buddha,
count Nagarjuna among their patriarchs.
Nichiren Shonin, the founder of the Nichiren Sect
in Japan. At age eleven, his parents sent him to Seichoji-Temple
to study. From an early age, he began to wonder why
there were so many schools of Buddhism, while the
Buddhism expounded by Sakyamuni Buddha was but one?
He was ordained a priest at Seichoji Temple at the
young age of fifteen. After considerable study of
the Buddhist schools, Nichiren Shonin concluded that
the Lotus Sutra indeed represented the perfect culmination
of the true teaching of the Buddha.
of Rissho Kosei-Kai. Born 1906. Tokamachi, Niigata
perfecture, Japan, of farming stock; named Shikazo.
Saw military service in Japanese Navy. No higher education.
1923: went to Tokyo; apprenticed to shopkeeper; studied
religion, divination, Chinese classics, etc. Daughter's
sickness led him to join Reiyukai. 1934: set up milk
shop in order to meet people. 1938: seceded from Reiyukai,
not because of doctrinal differences, but due to growing
awareness of his own powers of leadership and consequent
desire for independence; with Mrs M. Naganuma, established
Dai Nippon Rissho Kosei-Kai; became its 1st President.
Membership has since grown to 5 million with branches
throughout Japan and overseas. Practices including
Hoza (Circle of Compassion) and the discipline of
Veneration. 1979: won Templeton Prize. Books including
Buddhism for Today.
Rev Harry (1902-78)
Seminal leader of German Shin Movement. Born Berlin;
attended Das Buddhistische Haus. 1946: formed a Mahayana
group. 1951: joined Arya Maitreya Mandala; received
ordination and became Secretary. Met Pro Osamu Yamada
and invited him to lecture on Shin Buddhism. 1954:
on visit of Kosho Ohtani, received initiation in Nishi
Hongwan-ji lineage; resigned from AMM. 1956: founded
1st Pure Land Association in Europe (Buddhistische
Gemeinschaft Jodo-Shin). 1962: founded 1st Buddhist
prison chaplaincy in German-speaking world. Translated
many US and Japanese books on Shin Buddhism.
Representative of the Madhyamika school of Mahayana
Buddhism. Shantideva was a king's son from South India.
He flourished in the 7th to 8th centuries and was
a monk at the monastic university Nalanda.He was the
author of two surviving works, the Collection of
Rules and Entering the Path of Enlightenment.
The latter is still used in Tibetan Buddhism as a
of the True Pure Land School of Japanese Buddhism.
A disciple of Honen (Jodo School), he carried the
doctrine of salvation by faith in Amitabha Buddha
to the extreme one of recitation of Amitabha's name
being sufficent if done with a pure heart. He advocated
marriage of priests, and was himself married. He popularized
congregational worship. Except in Japan and to a certain
extent Korea, Shinran's reforms (salvation by faith
alone, marriage of priests, meat-eating, etc.) are
not accepted by the Buddhist traditions of East Asia.
Ven (Robert Stuart Clifton, 1903-63)
Pioneering Western Shin Priest in USA. Born Birmingham,
Alabama, USA as Harold Amos Eugene Newman. Travelled
in East. First Westerner to be ordained a priest of
Nishi Hongwan-ji by Ven Kosho Ohtani. Returned to
USA; performed priestly function while working as
probation officer, etc. 1951: founded Western Buddhist
Order, ' an organization dedicated to interpreting
the Dharma to the West and to establishing groups
where none existed' (The Western Buddhist). Later
moved to Malaya and worked vigorously for Buddhism
there until his death.
Famous modern Chinese Buddhist monk. Organised revival
of Buddhism in China between the World Wars. Founded
Chinese Buddhist Association and the journal Hai
Cha'o (the Voice of the Tide). Travelled in Europe
1928-9 where he founded Les Amis du Bouddhisme
in Paris. Worked hard to improve relations between
Buddhists of the East and West. His main doctrinal
theme focused on promoting a synthesis of various
Chinese Buddhist schools in a harmonious fashion.
Minister, Buddhist Churches of America. Born 1919,
Mission City, BC, Canada. 1946: married Sakaye Kawabata;
5 children. 1937: University of BC, Canada. 1942:
University of Toronto. 1948: Ryukoku University, Kyoto.
1958: ordained minister, Jodo Shinshu, Buddhist Churches
of America. 1968: Bishop, Buddhist Churches of America.
1941-2: minister, Vancouver Buddhist Church. 1942-5:
Slocan Buddhist Church. 1945-58: Toronto Buddhist
Church. 1958-68: National Director of Buddhist Education,
BCA.1968-81: Bishop, BCA; President of Institute of
Buddhist Studies. 1981-: Eko-ji Buddhist Temple. Editor,
Program of Studies of Buddhist Sunday Schools. 1960:
Publications including Three Lectures on Tannisho.
Has made documentary films, including In The Footsteps
of Shinran, The Story of Hongwan-ji, A Buddhist Pilgrimage,
and Sri Lanka, Where the Dharma is Preserved.
Famous Indian philosopher and writer. With his brother
Asanga founded the Yogacara School of Mahayana Buddhism.
His early work, the Abhidharma-Kosa, is one
of the fullest expositions of the Abhidamma teachings
of the Theravada School. Later on, being converted
to the Mahayana point of view by his brother, he wrote
the Vijnaptiimatra Shastra, expounding the
Mahayana doctrine of Mind-only.
Former Bishop, Buddhist Churches of America (1981);
President, Institute of Buddhist Studies. Born 1934,
Fresno, California. 1966: married Shigeko Masuyama;
2 children. 1956: BA from California State University,
Fresno. 1961: MA from Ryukoku University, Kyoto. 1969:
MRE, and 1979, PhD (Ministry in Religious Education)
from Pacific School of Religion, Berkeley, Cal. 1964:
ordained, Buddhist Churches of America: Research Committee,
BCA. Minister, Buddhist Church of Oakland. 1971-81:
Stockton Buddhist Temple. 1969-71: Registrar, Institute
of Buddhist Studies, Berkeley, Cal. 1970-5: member,
Research Committee, BCA.1971-5 and 1979-81: member,
IBS Board of Trustees, 1972-5: English Secretary,
Ministers Association. 1977: member, Board of Buddhist
Education. 1979-81: Chairman, Ministers Association.
Publications including Compassion in Encounter, Teaching
and Practice of Jodo Shinshu, Jodo Shinshu - Religion
of Human Experience, Meditation - Gut Enlightenment.
The Way of Hara and Six Aspects of Jodo Shinshu. Office: