One Lakh Buddhas in Wood by Enku!(Post No.5122)



Date: 17 JUNE 2018


Time uploaded in London –  20-13  (British Summer Time)


Post No. 5122


Pictures shown here are taken from various sources such as Facebook friends, Books, Google and newspapers; thanks. Pictures may be subject to copyright laws.


Like Hindus do Laksha archanai (Laksha= 100,000, Archanai- Puja with flowers), like some devotees write name of Ram or Siva 100, 000 times, Enku (1632-1695) made 100,000 wooden sculptures of Buddha. Japanese monk Enku did ‘Chip Buddhas’ with the stroke of a chisel. They were carved on chips and splinters of wood and were known as ‘koppa bustu’ (chip buddhas). In the economy of strokes and a rough and direct style they seem extremely modern.

Enku took 28 years to fulfil his vow of making 100,000 Buddhas. He was 59 when he finished the last Buddha and he wrote on the last Buddha- ‘one hundred thousand Buddhas completed’.


This was his first part of worship ’Saakaara’. It had to culminate in the Niraakaara -an iconic of Samadhi. Enku asked a hole to be dug in the ground beside the Nagara river. He sat in it, had it covered thick with earth, and put a bamboo tube to breathe. Fasting, chanting prayers, ringing a bell he remained interred and passed away. He attained supramundane Samadhi of Suunyataa, animitta and nirvana.


Tall oak and cherry trees entwined with wisteria vines stand at the spot. People in the village say that these wines will bleed if anyone cuts them.

To cite monk Enku himself:

“Each day the mind grows purer

The moon in the sky and myself

Round and full”

Japanese Saint learnt Sanskrit from Saraswati

In the eighteenth century lived a saint of noble virtue and great learning whom the tradition has honoured with the highest epithet of ‘sonja’ ‘aarya’, ‘arhat’.

He was Jiun Sonja (1718-1804), the last Sanskritist in the traditional style’. He planned a corpus of all Sanskrit texts found in Japan in 1000 fascicules, of which 300 fasciculi are preserved in his Kokiji monastery. He tried to reconstruct the Nayasuutra in Sanskrit. He collected palm leaves preserved in the Horyuuji, Kairyuoji, Shoryoji, Zuissenji and other monasteries. I published 59 Sanskrit texts from his writings in Sanskrit Manuscripts from Japan Parts 1 and 2—writes Lokesh Chandra in his book


Jiun Sonja used to say, “Sarasvati had manifested Herself to teach me Sanskrit and I have heard Sanskrit pronounced by  her. When I take up my pen, it is very likely that I am scribling in Sanskrit”.

Sanskrit was the waves of Dharma and Jiun Sonja the shore, the shadow of palm leaf sutras falling in his scriptorium, his mind dancing on the ripples of Bongo (Sanskrit) and  Sanskrit  words blooming in the serenity of his calamus in the flow and flourishes of the Siddham script: all unified India and Japan in the glimmer of the divine.

He undertook the 1000 fasciculed encyclopaedia of texts ‘Bongaku Shinryo’. Tradition has it that goddess Sarasvati had herself appeared to the sage Jiun and initialled him into the mysteries of the divine language Sanskrit. He spent his 30 years at the Kokiji Monastery to deepen his moral excellence to cultivate Dharma. No wonder Sarasvati is the presiding deity of the Kokiji where annual prayers are offered to Her.




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