- What’s this statue? Who’s this monk?
- The monk who was referred to as “Bosatsu”
- Think about Gyōki while waiting for someone…
What’s this statue? Who’s this monk?
A statue of a monk stands in front of a small fountain near the kintetsu Nara station. Local people know this statue as a meeting point. People in Nara don’t know the name of this monk, but they use it as a landmark. Who on earth is this?
The monk is called Gyōki and is from the Nara period (710~794). He is also called Gyōki Bosatsu. Bosatsu is a level of Buddhism principle and refers to those who practice its doctrine and strive to do something good for others. People called him Bosatsu because of his caring behavior. What was he like at the time?
The monk who was referred to as “Bosatsu”
Gyōki was born in Osaka in 668 and learned Buddhism in Kyoto. He broke the rule of a monk and left the temple to make contributions to society.
During 737, there was an epidemic in Japan. He built ponds, bridges, and houses for those who were suffering, and gave them food and medicine. It is said that he continued to help the people even though it was prohibited by the Imperial Court. From these social contributions he earned the name, Gyōki Bosatsu and was respected by the people. The same Imperial Court later on, asked him to help out with the construction of a statue of Buddha to bring people into service. In 745, he became the first Buddhist priest of the highest order in Japan and the Buddha statue was built under his leadership.
Think about Gyōki while waiting for someone…
So many of the monks at the time were only thinking of themselves, but Gyōki was different. He was always helping people with social problems and suffering.
You can see monks who are asking for handouts in front of Gyōki statue. Gyōki was involved with establishing many temples in Japan, so many that it’s too many to list. People in Nara love the statue, even though they are not very familiar with Gyōki, and the temples built by him are a natural part of Nara today. Please visit this world of Buddhism and monks, which still exists today, and remember Gyōki, who lived during the Nara period.
29 Higashimuki Nakamachi, Nara, Nara Prefecture