Risshu Sect (律宗)

Risshu sect is one the sects of Buddhism which research and practice commandments.

Risshu Sect in China
Unlike in Japan, learning commandments was necessary for becoming an official priest in China, so that commandments had been researched from ancient times. It is said that in the period of the Tang Dynasty, Dosen, who founded the Nanzan-risshu sect, completed the study of the commandments and that Ganjin, who learned from Dosen's disciple, transmitted the commandments to Japan, as requested by Japanese priests who had studied in China.

Risshu Sect in Japan
In Japan, commandments were introduced at a comparatively early stage in an incomplete way, so that their significance was not understood fully and they were researched in only a portion of the temples without any Jukai (rituals handing down the precepts).

In 753, Ganjin came to Japan from Tang after six voyages and established Kaidan (Buddhist ordination platform) at Todai-ji Temple and conferred commandments to the people such as the retired Emperor Shomu and Emperor Shotoku for the first time in Japan. He later devoted himself to research on the commandments at the base of Toshodai-ji Temple, and this sect still exists today as one of Nanto rokushu (the six sects of Buddhism which flourished in ancient Nara).

Although Ganjin transmitted 'Shibun-ritsu' (Four-Part Vinayapitaka, which explains about regulations and prohibited matters of the priests), Saicho and Kukai in the Heian period did not support it and Kukai put high value on 'Juju-ritsu' (Ten-Reciting Vinayapitaka). Therefore, the concept on commandments was decentralized so that Risshu sect declined. In addition, although vowing to follow the precepts was often implemented around Todai-ji Temple and Enryaku-ji Temple, it became only a way to obtain a certificate as an official priest and lost substance.

From the end of the Heian period to the Kamakura period, Shippan and Myoe discussed the renaissance of the commandments, and subsequently Kakujo, Ugon (Yugon), Ensei and Eison implemented vowing to follow the precepts without depending on Kaidan which related to the state in 1236. While Kakujo emphasized 'Shibun-ritsu' and revived Toshodai-ji Temple as the base of restoration of the Risshu sect later, Enson founded the Shingon Risshu sect around 'Juju-ritsu' of the Shingon sect at the base of Saidai-ji Temple (Nara City). Moreover, Shunjo at Senyu-ji Temple in Kyoto brought back a new Risshu sect from the Southern Sungs.
Therefore, there were three kinds of Risshu sect for 'Hokkyo-ritsu' by Shunjo, Toshodaiji school and Saidaiji school (Shingon Risshu sect) which were called 'Nankyo-ritsu.'
In some cases, these three reformist groups are called 'Shingi-ritsu' (new Risshu sect) and are distinguished from the former 'Kogi-ritsu' (old Risshu sect)
However, as a result, discussions and intercommunion among the three groups of this Shingi-ritsu promoted deepening and restored the Risshu sect, so that it was put to high value during medieval times, and called 'Zen-ritsu' combining the Zen sect and the Risshu sect. In the Muromachi period it declined again pressed by the Zen sect, but in the Edo period, Myonin, Yuson and Eun appeared and insisted on the renaissance of the commandments.

Besides, in the early Meiji period all Risshu temples except Toshodai-ji Temple belonged to the Shingon sect, but they became independent as the Risshu sect in 1900.

Dharma of the Sect

The main dharma is the research and practice of commandments.

Head Temple

Toshodai-ji Temple

[Original Japanese]