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Monk Chisho Daishi

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Chiso Daishi
Monk Chisho Daishi Statue flanked by Statues of Kannon Bosatsu
(Mii Dera Temple)

Monk Chisho Daishi Enchin (814-891 AD) was a "Great Master" of the Tendai sect of Japanese Buddhism and responsible for establishing the Miidera Temple (also known as Onjo-ji) in Shiga prefecture in Kansai region of Japan.  Miidera temple is known as one of the four largest temples (Tofuku-ji, Enryaku-ji, Miidera and Kofuku-ji) in Japan. 

Monk Chisho Daishi Enchin studied and practiced Buddhism with Monk Jikaku Daishi Ennin, who then was the best disciple of Monk Dengyo Daishi Saicho (founder of Tendai sect in Japan) in Enryakuji Temple on Mt. Hiei (Hieizan).  He succeeded Monk Dengyo Daishi and Monk Jikaku Daishi as the head priest of the Tendai Sect. 

At that time Tendai sect was superior in the study of the Lotus Sutra but inferior in the study of Esoteric Buddhism to Shingon sect founded by Monk Kobo Daishi Kukai (Kukai and Saicho are contemporaries).  So, Monk Chisho Daishi went to China, to study Esoteric Buddhism in 853 and brought back more than one thousand volumes of sutras to Japan.

He started preaching these Sutras to the followers of the Tendai sect at both Enryakuji and Miidera.  These preachings of Monk Enchin, were greatly appreciated by Monk Ennin and his followers, while both Monks were alive.

Unfortunately once both Monks (Ennin and Enchin) passed away the followers of Ennin and Enchin confronted each other's Tendai faiths.  Thus in 993 AD (long after Enchin's death), the followers of Monk Enchin became independent of Enryakuji (which became headquarters Tendai sect of Ennin's preachings) and formed Tendai Jimon sect.  After that Miidera Temple laid a firm foundation as the head temple of Tendai Jimon sect.

Since then, until the fourteenth century there was a succession of the religious struggles between Miidera and Enryakuji.  Those days Enryakuji on Mt. Hiei boasted a religious army of many thousands, so the confrontations between Miidera and Enryakuji, mostly ended up in Miidera going up in flames.  But every time it was ravaged to the ground, in these confrontations, it was reconstructed with generous contributions from the ruling Fujiwaras. 

It is said that the main cause of the religious struggles between Miidera and Enryakuji is that Enryakuji put emphasis on Hoke-kyo (the Lotus Sutra) while Miidera rather put emphasis on Mikkyo (Esoteric Buddhism).

Irrespective of these struggles between Miidera and Enryakuji, later on in it's history Miidera has prospered as the central temple of Tendai Esoteric Buddhism (as was preached by Monk Chisho Daishi) or now popularly known as the Tendai Jimon Sect.

(Source: Miidera Temple brochure).

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