(21) Endowment of Gion Syouzya by Sudatta - "The Voice of the Bell of Gion Syouzya" starts here. Support of Buddhist cult by a big merchant

Gion Seishaso (Buddhist sect founded in 1892 as an offshoot of Nichiren Buddhism) Buddhist Columns & Dharma Talks

Introduction to Buddhism: The Life of Buddha (Shakyamuni Buddha) as Seen in Local Photographs] (21)
 Endowment of Gion Shouzya by Sudatta - "The Voice of the Bell of Gion Syouzya" is from here. Support of Buddhist cult by a big merchant

Previous Article"Reunion with Bimbisara, King of ⒇ Magadha - Kings of Major Powers One after Another Express Support for the Buddha! Buddhist Order of Growing Authority"In the previous article, I discussed how the kings of major powers expressed their support for the Buddha Order, which contributed to the expansion of the Order.

The main character in this article is a great merchant named Sudatta. He became famous for donating the Gion Syouja to Buddha, and the phrase "The sound of the bell of the Gion Syouja.." comes from this Gion Syouja.

So let's get started.

Who was Sudatta?

As I mentioned in the previous article, Buddha had visited the country of Magadha as the head of the Grand Order. And with the donation of King Bimbisara, Buddha's cult stayed for a while in the Rajigir, the capital of Magadha.

At that time, a merchant heard a rumor of Buddha's sojourn and came to visit him. It was Sudatta.

He was a great merchant of Shravasti, the capital of Kosala, a country as big as Magadha, and was known as a man of charity, "a man who feeds the lonely....

When Sudatta met Buddha, he was shocked. Like King Bimbisara, he was deeply impressed by Buddha's wonderful teachings and luminous appearance. After all, the radiance of the inner self is reflected in one's appearance and behavior.

I knew that He is as wonderful as they say. He teaches to save people from suffering. If so, I would like to be of help to him.

With this in mind, Sudatta immediately offered Buddha an invitation to visit Shravasti, the capital of his own country, Kosala.

Buddha readily agrees.

Later, when the Buddha visited the area, Sudatta donated the Gion Shouzya for the Buddha. Thus, the name of Sudatta, a great merchant, was engraved in history as a great supporter of Buddha's cult.

Gion Shosha donation episode

Now, although the Gion Shouzya was thus donated to the Buddha Order, this was not the land originally owned by Sudatta.

Since Sudatta was a wealthy merchant, he probably owned a lot of land. However, if he were to donate land to Buddha, it would have to be, as Bimbisara, King of Magadha, put it, "not too far from the city, not too close, not too noisy, quiet, and suitable for meditation. This explains why Bimbisara, a great merchant of the city, did not have an affordable land.

So Sudatta, who had returned to his own country, hurriedly looked around for land and found the perfect place. He found the perfect place and said, "Let's use this place for Lord Buddha's cult! I am sure they will be comfortable here!" The place was a perfect fit for the cult. Sudhatta was elated, but soon came to know the fact to his dismay. He found out that this place was in the "Jeta Forest" owned by Prince Jeta of the Kosala Kingdom.

If the land is owned by merchants or farmers, how can we acquire land owned by royalty...

Distressed, Sudatta asks Prince Jeta to give up this land to him.

Prince, please give me this forest. I want to build a monastery here."

I said, "Wait, wait, wait, of course not. I'm not going to give in here."

No, I'll take care of that!"

'Even if you were to lay gold all over this property, I wouldn't give it up.

"...you just said, 'Even if I laid gold on this property,' right?"

What does it matter?

Did you hear that, ladies and gentlemen? The Crown Prince has just determined the value of this property. The value of this property is 'a lot of gold,' he said. I will take him up on his offer and do so from now on."

'No, no, wait a minute. I don't have any..."

'No. If you refuse, I will buy this forest, even if I have to appeal to the law. Well then!"

It was a very cryptic and forceful negotiation, but this was how Sudatta took the first step toward purchasing the property. The prince probably did not think that he would really bring enough gold to fill the entire property.

But the Taishi's prospects were naive! His resolve was genuine.

Sudatta loaded the carts with gold coins and began to spread them one after another in the Jetha forest. When the Prince saw this, he was indeed chilled.

'Oh come on, you can't be that serious about it! All right, all right! You are so wonderful that you would go that far. Good! Then I will donate this land to Lord Buddha!"

To this offer, Sudatta responds with surprise.

No, that is not necessary. I will buy it from you and donate it.

Taishi was surprised at this. "I didn't expect it to be that good...!" He was taken aback.

Thus, Sudatta was able to pay the gold coins and donate them to the Order of Buddha as promised.

Visiting Gion Shouzya

Shravasti,, where Gion Shouzya is located, is also close to the Nepalese border and to Kapilavastu, where Buddha was born and raised. This geographical location was one of the reasons why the Kosala Kingdom effectively belonged to Buddha's birthplace.

Like other Buddhist sites, Gion Shouzya was buried in the ground and forgotten, but excavation began in the mid-19th century.

The road to Gion Shouzya is basically a field. Except for Buddhagaya, most of the Buddhist sites are located in the countryside. Patience is tested on the way to the Buddhist sites. You have to be prepared to keep looking at the same old scenery as you go.

The Gion Seisho, which was buried in the ground, is now well maintained and has a gate as shown in the photo above. Entering from here, a large flat area of land immediately comes into view.

Numerous monastery ruins remain on this large site, many of which were added after the Buddha's death. Many of these monasteries were added after the death of the Buddha.

This is the site of the monastery that Sudatta is said to have built for Buddha. The fact that the number of rooms is clearly fewer than those of other monasteries suggests that it was built for someone in particular.

If we only look at the size of the buildings, there are several large ones like the one in this photo, but they were built to house a row of rooms for practitioners, and it is clear that they were used for different purposes than the buildings for the Buddhas.

There was a large linden tree on the grounds, and monks in orange robes were meditating.

A short distance away from the area lined with monasteries, we came to a path lined with trees. It gave me goosebumps to think that the Buddha and his disciples also walked here. There is an atmosphere that does not feel the passage of time.

Recent excavations have revealed a pond where the Buddhas would have bathed. The pond is now maintained as shown here. It is a little far from the monastery, so not many people seem to come here, but in fact, this pond is the one that left the greatest impression on me. I still remember that I felt a thrill in my heart that I did not feel at other Buddhist sites. For some reason, it was here that I strongly felt the sensation that Buddha was here. It was a strange feeling for me that I was attracted to this place, not the building for Buddha or the Bodhi tree.

Manual excavation is still continuing here, but the Indian government does not have a large budget to spend on research of Buddhist sites, so many places remain untouched. The photo on the right shows a slightly excavated site. In India, Buddhists are a very small minority. And since the current Modi administration is strongly supporting Hinduism, this situation is not likely to change anytime soon. (Although infrastructure is being developed to attract tourists.)

However, even if other countries were to do the work, it would take a huge budget and a lot of time and effort to excavate the site. The reality is that the research is being carried out in the form of a joint project by each country. The situation is difficult, but we can only hope that the excavation will continue to progress.

Gion Shouzya is a wonderful place where you can still feel the atmosphere of Buddha's reign. Among the many Buddhist sites, this is one of my favorite places. It was a wonderful experience to be able to take a leisurely stroll while thinking about how the Buddha and his followers must have walked here.

Incidentally, the famous beginning of "The Tale of the Heike", "The Voice of the Bell at Gion Shouzya", actually did not have a bell here. It is said that there was no custom of ringing such a bell in Buddha's time, and it did not exist after that. The existence of this bell must have reflected the image of the Japanese people at that time. I think it is quite interesting that this image continues to this day, but what do you think?


Now that we have looked at the donation of Gion Shouzya by Sudatta, the support by the great merchant is of great significance.

Merchants are the key link in the trade between towns and cities. In other words, in other words, they are a wide network of people in a different sense from the king. As I mentioned in my previous article, King Bimbisara has issued a "royal edict" to the whole country to "listen to the teachings of the Buddhist Order.

In contrast, a merchant is a merchant and will spread the splendor of the Buddha Order throughout the country, or even beyond the country. In addition, supporting the Order of Buddha with the endorsement of the kings could be a status as a merchant. This is why not only Sudatta but also many big merchants supported the Buddha Order.

Also, Sudatta has Jeta Lin from Taishi.Bought out."This is actually important. This may seem obvious to us, but it indicates that the money economy was developing to a significant degree in Indian society at that time.

And it is important to note that as long as you have "money" you can buy even royal land. The fact that the traditional caste system was breaking down in the East Indian region was"Why Buddhism Spread So Rapidly in India: the Emergence of a Great Power Distancing Itself from Brahmanism and the Rise of New Merchants."As I mentioned in the article "The Jeta Forest acquisition by Sudatta", this episode symbolizes exactly what I am talking about.

This is how the Buddhist Order, with the powerful supporters of the king and the great merchants, expanded even more rapidly.

In the next article, we will talk about Buddha's return to his hometown of Kapilavastu, where he finally became the head of such a large cult.

Next Article.

Click here to read the previous article.

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