Rennyo
 Head of Honganji Monastery 


Rennyo (1415-1499) was the 8th head of the Honganji monastery during the 1400s and has left a long lasting legacy and imprint within japan's culture; during the ōnion war, Rennyo caused a great amount of reformation to occur in Jōdo Shinsū by making dissimilar factions become a par of the Hongan-ji Temple. In addition, he caused the reformation of existing Shinshū practices ( which are still used in our contemporary society within many temples) and, as a result of this, caused widespread support for his commentaries on shinshū practices. Rennyos great commitment to expand the Honganji monastery resulted in its exponential growth within the 1400s.

Honganji monastery

His Father

The man who fathered Rennyo was Zonnyō, the 7th monshu of the Hongan-ji Temple. When he died in 1457, Rennyo became the 8th monshu. Rennyo was brought up by Zonnyō and a servant (whose name is unknown) as his mother was sent away when Rennyo was only six. Rennyo almost didn't become the 8th monshu, however; he and his step mother - Nyoen - argued very frequently, which drove her to attempt to make her biological son, Ogen, Zonnyō's successor. This proposition was declined , however, by Rennyo's uncle Nyojo, making Rennyo Zonnyōs successor in 1457. It was during this time that Rennyo was able to make Hongan-ji more predominant and well known within Japan (especially in the ōmi province) with the help from people within the Katada congregation who helped to fund the Hongan-ji monastery. In addition to fundings from Katada helping the development of the monastery, Rennyo personally went to certain provinces and, when preaching, spoke amongst the people, not on a stage. Proselytisation also was a key to the growth of Hongan-ji; Rennyo would often express his personal commentaries on the Shinshu's laws and express them to congregations.

Growth

Enryaku-ji monks noticed the great growth of the Hongan-ji monastery and, in 1465, sent warrior monks to destroy the Hongan-ji Temple. They said their actions were justified as the ideologies were 'heretical'. At this point, the Hongan-ji monastery was so large that much of he funding they were receiving went towards bribing the monks within the Enryaku-ji monastery to suspend their attacks. This does not mean that this period of time was completely peacful; one account states that a workman spotted warrior monks entering the Hongan-ji temple and led Rennyo out the back, moments before he would have been spotted and, most likely, killed. Rennyo later decided to rebuild his monastery as far away from the Enryaku-ji monks as possible. It was here, in Yoshizaki, that ( in addition to a huge amount of proselytisation occurring ) Rennyo began to create Pastoral letters. These letters have been complied and read in Temples today as followers believe that his commentaries and teachings are still relevant in our contemporary lives.