Miracle stories of Kukai’s early years
Kobo Daishi Kukai was born here in 774. Mao, as he was known in his childhood, was very religious and displayed his genius from an early age. It is believed that every night he conversed with Buddha in his dreams. Legend has it that at one time, he attempted to throw himself from the top of a steep cliff to challenge his values, but the Buddha had an angel catch him.
Soon after, he traveled to the capital of that time and entered college when he was 15 years old. He approached his studies with great energy. He learned many philosophies, but he was increasingly drawn to Buddhism, which he felt was more than simply a way of getting on in life. Eventually he became a nameless mendicant, wandering across mountains and rivers in search of the meaning of life in the wilds of nature. At one time he experienced a miracle when a morning star struck him at while he stood overlooking the Pacific Ocean. It is said that this event made Kukai feel at one with the great universe.
It is interesting to note that now, after a period of more than 1200 years, the well in which Kukai was first bathed after he was born remains today as a well of holy water at the temple site.
Kukai, a genius considered a great benefactor of Japanease culture
n his quest to learn more about Buddhism, Kukai traveled to Ch’ang-an, China during the T’ang dynasty when that city was known as a world canter. There he studied Buddhism. The Buddhist priest Hui-kuo ( Jpes. Keika) of the Shoryuji Temple educated Kukai in Mikkyo, a form of esoteric Buddhism. Thus Kukai became the 8 th patriarch of th Shigon Mikkyo religious sect. Kukai brought to Japan not only Keika’s doctrines , but also numerous Buddhist scriptures, altar pieces, and paintings. Moreover, Kukai sought to introduce aspects of chinese culture, art, and technology. As a result, the work he accomplished upon returning to Japan was truly illuminating. First, he built a great monastery on Mt. Koya in order to establish a mandala world symbolizing the essence of Buddha of Buddha in the mountains. He also became actively involved in a wide range of fields, including construction, mining, the natural sciences, and medicine. He introduced Shingon Mikkyo to Japan, established the first school in!
Japan for the common people, invented the Japanese kana alphabet, and succcessfully undertook a large-scale public reservoir project. Above all, he earned a high literary reputation as a great master of calligraphy and a master poet. He display his genius in a manner that was truly astonishing. In 853, his life came to a quiet end on Mt. Koya at a time when he was widely esteemed in Japan. that was truly astonishing. In 853, his life came to a quiet end on Mt. Koya at a time when he was widely esteemed in Japan.
Treasured items with which Kobo Daishi is identified
The Buddhist paintings and altar pieces Kukai brought back from China, as well as his own works, are highly valued as exceptional art objects and national treasures. Treasured articles noted in connection with Kukai now remain at Zentsuji Temple and can be viewed at the treasure museum on the site of Nishi-in. Among these are two items that are greatly valued as national treasures: Ichiji-Ichibutsu-Hokekyo - Johon, which features Kukai’s calligraphy and his mother’s drawing of Budda images; and the Sangoku-Denrai-Kondo-Shakusho, which the Buddhist priest Hui- kuo awarded to Kukai as a certificate of Shingonshu Daihaso, his appointment as the 8 th patriarch of the Shingon Buddhist sect.