Bodai Senna (Bodhisena) (菩提僊那)

Bodai Senna (Bodhisena, 704-760) was a priest from a foreign country in the Nara period. He has been also called Baramon Sojo or Bodai Sojo. His biography was recorded in "NanTenjiku Baramon Sojo Hi" (Stone Monument for Baramon Sojo [high Buddhist priest Barahman] from India) compiled by his disciple Shuei, and in 'Daianji Bodai Denraiki' (Introduction of bodhi at Daian-ji Temple) of "Todaiji Yoroku" (the Digest Record of Todai-ji Temple).


Bodai Senna was born a Brahmin in India. His family name has been said Baaraadovaja. During his adolescence, he went to the Tang Dynasty China following the great achievement of Rookataksya and An Shigao. Some scholar say that it was because he tried to meet Manjusri in Mt. Wutai (China) (one of the four holy Buddhist Mountains, the dwelling place of Manjusri Bodhisattva).

He preached mainly at Chongfu-si Temple of Changan in Tang, and during staying in China he was requested to visit Japan by a learned priest from Japan Rikyo and an assistant envoy of the tenth Kento-shi (a Japanese envoy to the Tang Dynasty China) NAKATOMI no Nashiro, then he came to Japan in 736 with a priest from Kingdom of Champa Buttetsu and a priest from Tang Dosen (Daoxuan). The three priests first visited Dazai-fu (local government office) in Kyushu, met Gyoki, entered Heijokyo (the capital of Japan in the Nara period), resided at Daian-ji Temple and was given jifuku (allocations of cloth, meaning economical support by the Imperial Court).

Senna was good at reciting the text of Kegon-kyo (Avatamsaka Sutra) and practicing an occult art. The Indian occult art was taught from Senna to his Japanese disciples.

In 751, he was appointed to Sojo (high-ranking Buddhist priest), and on April 9, 752, he served as a doshi (priest in charge of ceremonies) for Kaigan-kuyo (consecrating a newly made Buddhist statue or image by inserting the eyes) of the statue of Rushana-butsu in Todai-ji Temple. On February 25, 760, he died facing the west and joining his palms together in Daian-ji Temple. The next month, on March 2, he was buried in Ubokusanrin in Mt. Tomi.

[Original Japanese]