Current Institutional Affiliation
Assistant Professor, East Asian Studies, University of Alberta

Award Information

From Charity to War: Shingon Ritsu and the Manjusri Cult in Kamakura Japan

The proposed research in Japan, culminating in a scholarly monograph, will examine the integration of religion, politics, and social welfare in the Kamakura period (1185-1333) through analysis of a prominent but understudied Buddhist group that was a forerunner in combining devotional cults with social welfare. The project focuses on the monastic order founded by Eison (1201-90) at Saidaiji, an order later known as Shingon Ritsu for its dual specialization in Shingon esoteric rituals and the Buddhist disciplinary code (ritsu). I will show how Eison’s group used the cult of the bodhisattva Manjusri to provide charitable relief to beggars, lepers, orphans, and other outcasts while forging links with imperials and warrior rulers. By analyzing the Shingon Ritsu Manjusri cult in its social, religious, and historical contexts, this research will contribute to the interdisciplinary study of medieval Japan and illuminate the dynamic interactions among charitable relief, devotional cults, and political power.