Tsuikahô 75: Regarding those who chant the Nenbutsu

Translated by Lisa Kochinski

Item: Regarding those who chant the Nenbutsu 1 (Bunryaku 2 (1235) seventh month, fourteenth day)

We have no quarrel with those of firm Buddhist faith and strict practice. However, everyone has heard about those who eat fish and fowl, solicit women, and also assemble groups and indulge in banquets with abandon. Order the magistrates of the various precincts 2 to destroy any houses where this is taking place, and to expel those within them from Kamakura.
Portrait of Hônen, a nenbutsu proponent, by Fujiwara Takanobu. ( Creative Commons )

Portrait of Hônen, a nenbutsu proponent, by Fujiwara Takanobu. (Creative Commons)

Original Text 原文

一 念仏者事(文暦二 七 十四)

 於道心堅固輩者、不及異儀、而或喰魚鳥、招寄女人、或結党類、恣好酒宴之由、遍

 有其聞、於件家者、仰保々奉行人、可令破却之、至其身者、可被追却鎌倉中也、

Kundoku 訓読

一 念仏者の事(文暦二年七月十四日) (1235)

道心堅固どうしんけんごの輩においては、異議に及ばず。しかるにあるいは魚鳥を喰らい、女人を招き寄せ、あるいは党類とうるいを結び、ほしいまま酒宴しゅえんを好むの由、あまねくその聞こえあり。くだんの家においては、保々奉行人ほほぶぎょうにんおおせて、これを破却はきゃくせしむべし。その身に至りては、鎌倉中を追却ついきゃくせらるべきなり。

Modern 現代語

一つ、 念仏を唱える人について

仏道への信仰が強い人については、問題ではない。しかしながら、一方では、魚や鳥を食べ、女を招いたり、また一方では、仲間を集めて、酒宴を好き放題にしたりするということが広く聞こえている。そのような家においては、それぞれの保の奉行人に命じて家を壊され、その人については、鎌倉中から追放なさるように。

  1. Nenbutsu 念仏 is the Pure Land school practice of chanting Amida Buddha's name using the 6-character phrase namu Amida butsu 南無阿弥陀仏. The practice became widespread in the 10th century due in large part to proselytizing by the Tendai monk Kūya 空也 (903–972) and the writing of the Tendai monk Genshin 源信 (942–1017). The practice was fuelled by the prediction that the final age of the Dharma (mappō 末法) would start in 1052, and that during this degenerate time one's only hope of salvation was to pray fervently to Amida Buddha.

  1. Ho 保 were urban areas under the control of a magistrate (bugyōnin 奉行人).