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Gyoki (668-749)

Gyoki Portrait of Gyoki (from the collection of the Sakai City Museum)

A Buddhist monk who lived to serve the masses and built as many as 49 temples
"Buddhism should serve the State and the Emperor. " That was the rule during the Nara Period (645-794) when Buddhism was placed under the State's control and monks were supposed to do nothing more than chant sutras at temples.

Gyoki, born to a powerful family at Ebara yet not content with Buddhism serving solely the State, started the movement to revive Buddhism's original ideal of offering salvation to the ordinary people.

In 704, Gyoki traveled to Kyoto, where he began carrying out missionary work and social activities. His activities started with teaching the doctrine of Buddhism to the teeming masses in the streets and by helping travelers who had fallen ill during their journey. That won him the cooperation of the public who supported his teachings, and also led to the building of such public facilities as roads, reservoirs, and ditches. He also built as many as 49 temples for the public.


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