Rengo (蓮悟)

Rengo (1468 - August 26, 1543) was a priest of Jodo Shinshu sect (the True Pure Land Sect of Buddhism) over the middle of the Muromachi period and the Sengoku Period (Period of Warring States). He was the seventh son of Rennyo, the eighth chief priest of Hongan-ji Temple. His childhood name was Kojumaru. He was an adopted child of his older brother Renjo.

Rengo was believed to have been adopted as infants by his older brother who moved from Kaga to Etchu Provinces with Rengo. Kaga Ikko Ikki (an uprising of Ikko sect followers in Kaga Province) ended with a victory of Ikko sect followers, and in 1483 when Kaga Province was stabilized more or less, Rengo did tokudo (enter the Buddhist priesthood) by his oldest brother Junnyo who visited Kaga Province as myodai (a substitute) of his father. His older brother Renjo, who became foster father of Rengo, was the second son of Rennyo and he was expected to be a consensus builder of followers in the Hokuriku region, but he was prone to illness and he inherited Honsen-ji Temple when Rengo did tokudo (enter the Buddhist priesthood). Later, Rengo became a consensus builder of Hokuriku monto (followers of the Jodo Shinshu sect in the Hokuriku region) along with the third oldest brother Renko.

In 1487, he moved Honsen-ji Temple to Wakamatsu no sho, Kawakita County (present Kanazawa City, Ishikawa Prefecture). Although there was no evidence of direct involvement, they were believed to have some sort of connection with the Revolt of the Chokyo era, which Shugo (provincial constable) Masachika TOGASHI was defeated the following year, since the control of Kaga Province was thereafter moved to 'Two Temples' system led by Rengo and Renko.

Later, Rengo adopted his younger paternal brother Jitsugo (who was known to call Kaga Province 'country governed by peasants'), but Rengo disfavored Jitsugo when a conspiracy that Jikken, Jitsugo's older maternal brother, was put up to be the head of the sect ('Osaka Ichiran' [Osaka-ichi War]) was discovered in 1505 and furthermore when Jitsugo had his biological child Sanenori in 1508. Then Jitsugo was transferred to the chief priest of a branch temple for the reason that his biological mother was from the Hatakeyama clan who fought against an uprising of Ikko sect followers. Thereafter, the unjust treatment of Jitsugo by Rengo continued, and in 1519 when 'Ichimon-Ikke System' (system divided the Hongan-ji families into Ichimonshu [clansman, for legitimate son] and Ikkeshu [the same lineage people as the Hongan-ji Temple, for second son and younger]) was introduced in Hongan-ji Temple, Jitsugo was placed in the lowest grade 'Ikke' due to Rengo's opinion, although there was a possibility that Jitsugo would be placed in the highest grade 'Renshi' because Jitsugo was a biological child of Rennyo.

In addition, Rene of Hongaku-ji Temple tried to blame Rengo for his banishment from Echizen Province as a result of failure in attack against the Asakura clan in the province which has been advanced by Rengo and others, but in return, he finally yielded to Rengo who suggested Rene's excommunication to the head of the sect Jitsunyo. In this way, it was said that Rengo took often a severe attitude toward branch temples and followers and therefore incurred often their hostility.

However, after Shonyo became the head of Hongan-ji Temple, Shonyo and his guardian Renjun (the sixth son of Rennyo and maternal grandfather of Shonyo) adopted a policy of strengthening Ichimon (group of priests of the same sect) regulation by the head. In order to carry out the policy, Jikken, who was Renjun's adopted son-in-law and the chief priest of Chosho-ji Temple, one of branch temples in Kaga Province (originally it has been in Echizen Province, but it was banished as with Honsen-ji Temple mentioned previously) was appointed as deputy and issued an order to deny 'Two Temples' system throughout Kaga Province. In response to this, Rengo and Renkei (Renko's legitimate child) staged an uprising for putting down the Chosho-ji Temple for the reason that Jikken's order violated the rules established by Rennyo and Jitsunyo under which obedience of Ichimonshu (clansman) to instructions was provided. However, in return, upon hearing the news of the uprising, Renjun issued an order to assist the Chosho-ji Temple to the followers in the Kinai (provinces surrounding Kyoto and Nara) and Tokai regions for the reason that attacking the deputy of the head Jikken was a rebellion against the head of the Hongan-ji Temple. When Kaga-monto (followers in Kaga Province) knew about the order, they were disturbed and separated from each other and in 1531 Rengo escaped to Noto Province (Daisho Ikki [Big League-Little League War]).

Renjun excommunicated Rengo and his family in the name of Shonyo and furthermore allowed the followers to execute them as traitors (one theory holds that Renjun had deep resentment against Rengo because Renjun didn't get promoted in the sect as fast as Rengo although Renjun was Rengo's older maternal brother). Renjun's order was faithfully carried out and Sanenori, Rengo's beloved legitimate son, was poisoned to death on March 12, 1532, the following year, in Echizen Province where Rengo and Sanenori have hidden. Rengo was barely able to escape into Sakai City, Izumi Province, which was an autonomous city. Rengo barely survived because Shonyo and Renjun hesitated to intervene in Sakai City. However, he was not absolved from an excommunication and he had fallen on hard times in Sakai and ended his life of 76 years.

[Original Japanese]