Gyoen (行円)

Gyoen (the dates of his birth and death are unknown) was a monk in the mid-Heian period. He was from Kyushu.

Although he had been a hunter in early adulthood, one day after shooting dead a stag that he came across when hunting, he saw a fawn appear out of the blood spurting from the animal's wound, and made up his mind to become a Buddhist monk. Becoming a hijiri (a high-ranking priest) reciting the Senju Darani Sutra, he built Gyogan-ji Temple (also called Ko-do) on Ichijo, Kyoto in 1004. Basing himself at this temple, he held several meetings such as Shiju-hachi ko (48 religious association), Shaka ko (religious association of Shkyamuni), Shibu ko (literally, religious association of four parts), and gave people lectures about the Hokke-kyo Sutra (the Lotus Sutra). He attracted many believers of a variety of rank, such as FUJIWARA no Akinobu, a son of FUJIWARA no Michinaga, who became a priest with Gyoen as his mentor. He also gathered a lot of people to remove stones from the road in Awata in 1016. He was called kawa-hijiri (hijiri wearing leather) or hisen (皮仙) (unworldly person wearing leather) because he always wore a buckskin. He carved a statue of the Kannon Deity of Mercy out of a keyaki (zelkova tree) at Kamo-jinja Shrine and enshrined it at Gyogan-ji Temple, and thus the temple was also called ko-do (temple built by kawa hijiri).

[Original Japanese]