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Amidaist Practices in Zoku Honcho Ojoden (“Continuation of the Biographies of Japanese Reborn Into the Pure Land”)

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The article discusses practices for reaching rebirth in the Pure Land recounted in Zoku Honchō Ōjōden (“Continuation of the Biographies of Japanese Reborn Into the Pure Land”), composed in 1101- 1111 by Ōe-no Masafusa. These practices include those mentioned in the stories as being performed during one’s lifetime, intended to show one’s strong devotion to Pure Land, as well as death-bed practices: the description of the death hour is the crucial point of every biography. Some of these practices belong to the Pure Land tradition (the most important to be mentioned is nenbutsu, “recollection of Buddha [Amida]”), while others are more likely to be attributed to other traditions (the most important one being reading and reciting the Lotus Sutra): the author obviously does not feel any need to draw a line between them. Normally, these practices are only mentioned in the text and not discussed in detail. This aspect of Zoku Honchō Ōjōden is analyzed in comparison with other important Pure Land texts: Nihon Ōjō Gokuraku-ki (“Japanese Records of Rebirth in the Land of Supreme Joy”) by Yoshishige-no Yasutane and Ōjōyōshū (“The Essentials of Rebirth in the Pure Land”) by Genshin. As compared to Nihon Ōjō Gokuraku-ki, in Zoku Honchō Ōjōden, much stronger emphasis is placed on the death-bed practices than on the lifetime actions and evidence of rebirth. Often, the text focuses on the state of mind of the dying person, his or her determination in performing death-bed practices. In his work, Ōe-no Masafusa leans on the idea expressed in Ōjōyōshū that these are the last moments of life that are decisive and determine one’s rebirth, illustrating it with examples.

About the Author

A. A. Petrova
Institute of Oriental Studies, Russian Academy of Sciences
Russian Federation


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For citations:

Petrova A.A. Amidaist Practices in Zoku Honcho Ojoden (“Continuation of the Biographies of Japanese Reborn Into the Pure Land”). Russian Japanology Review. 2021;4(2):54-69.

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