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歴史学研究、2007年.2、No.824, 青木書店、東京 (Rekishigaku Kenkyū, No.824, 2007.2, Aoki Shoten, Tokyo)


歴史学研究、2007年.2、No.824, 青木書店、東京 (Rekishigaku Kenkyū, No.824, 2007.2, Aoki Shoten, Tokyo)

永井 隆之、「蓮如および村の門徒の百姓身分観」, pp.17-34 (Nagai Takayuki, “Rennyo and the concept of peasant status among the village Monto”, pp.17-34)

On the question of the justification for the creation of ikkō ikki, how did the disparate elements that formed ikki, notably the Honganji affiliated Monto, shugo families, and other shrines and temples belonging to alternative faiths, justify their actions – in other words, what theory(ies) did they employ in order to prove the righteousness of their actions? Some answers to this question lie within the correspondence of Rennyo Shōnin (1415~1499), and his statement that an ikki `(is raised) in order to protect the Buddhist law of the peasants`. This type of thought had a close relationship with the logic employed in self-motivated justification for raising an ikki.(17)

Until the 1980s, the common belief regarding Rennyo`s attitude towards ikki was that he disapproved of their actions, and sought to distance himself from them where possible. However, the following document illustrates that where the Monto were concerned, Rennyo maintained a close relationship with them, and became expressly concerned over their actions.


This passage essentially outlines Rennyo`s position on what the reasons were behind the ikkō ikki uprising that occurred in Bunmei 6 (1474) According to its content, he saw the justification in the uprising stemming from the `downfall of the enemies of the Buddha` (namely, the shugo and the force of the Takada Monto) and the `defence of the Buddhist law`.(17) It is quite commonly known that the logic used by Rennyo in `defence of the Buddhist Law` applied not only to the Honganji affiliated Monto, but to most forces that assembled in order to protest or stage an ikki. For example, at Nukata no Shō in Nomi gun, after the embers of the ikki of Bunmei 6 had died out, the Watabe (Watanabe) family entered into an argument against Nayadera over the position of myōshu as a form of `reward`. The sōshō (惣庄)stated that 「当国一乱は仏法当敵責め失い、廉直の弓矢たるの処、無理に知行せしめ押領あるべき事、勿体無き子細」, which forced the Watabe family to 閉口. The 「当国一乱」spoken of by the Nukata no Sōshō was the same incident described by Rennyo as the 加州一国之土一揆. It was not a fight over territory, but `in order to defend the Buddhist Law`. Both the non-Shinshū affiliated Nayadera and the Watabe family agreed to the content of Nukata Sōshō`s deposition, that the ikki forces that had gathered had done so for the sake of protection of the Buddhist Law.(18)

If we suppose that Rennyo had sought justification for the ikkō ikki by equating it with the logic of `defence of the Buddhist Law`, how exactly did Rennyo envisage this protection to take place? What were its particulars? How was the ikki explained, and how was it justified? In order to answer this, it will be necessary to raise three points in relation to the above statements. The first deals with the logic of defence of the Buddhist Law according to Rennyo. This argument is centered around the usage of the idea of 造悪無碍(ぞうあくむがい). Zōakumugai was a belief that sprang from the Senjū sect of Nembutsu, and as far as Rennyo was concerned, it was heretical. Zōakumugai stated that the Ikkō shū faithful had to resist the paying of tithes, destroy the sutras of Buddhism, and attack the shugo, jitō, and temples and shrines belonging to other faiths, in other words to behave in an anti-social manner.(18)

In relation to the outbreak of heretical Monto, there is a theory that states that Rennyo knew of its existence before he set out on his proselytizing, and there is another theory that states that this heresy made an appearance whilst Rennyo was engaged in proselytizing. The above document and its content deals more thoroughly with the former theory. According to this theory, Rennyo had already criticized Monto for engaging in Zōakumugai, and urged the Monto to follow the mores of social decorum that had emerged from a symbiosis of religion and political structures and the concept of Ōbō Buppō Sōi, and above all to obey the laws of the Ōbō. However Rennyo approved of Zōakumugai during the ikki of Bunmei 6 (and only for this ikki), which was later used as a justification for the ikkō ikki.(18)

The second point in question deals with the argument that the Monto had already chosen to accept Rennyo`s idea of defence of the Buddhist Law, and with that in mind had engaged in an ikki. This theory rests on the basis that the Buppō that Rennyo was striving for was a separate entity to both the Ōbō and Sehō (世法) that had emerged from Shinshū itself, neither complementing nor standing in adversity against the other laws. (18)

The concept of `divinely appointed occupations`:

Note that in the content of the Ofumi (No.84, 59, 97) Rennyo, in his address to the hyakushō (which the author believes was the intention of the Ofumi), in order to prove that one has indeed acquired faith in Amidha, one had to engage in 仏恩報謝の称名. One also had to pay close attention to one`s actions. This was the intention behind the emphasis on 掟 (okite) and 心得る (kokoroeru) that appeared in such Ofumi as 91, 92, 95, and 67. These provisos stated that if the hyakushō had indeed received or attempted to receive the grace of Amidha, they should possess 「仁義礼智信」and act in deference to the shugo and jitō, that they should act in accordance with the laws of Ōbō and pay their tithes and perform their duties. They should not take excessive pride in their faith, but should respect all gods and Buddhas. On this point, as outlined in Ofumi 67, as far as Rennyo was concerned, other gods and Buddhas were alternative manifestations of Amidha, they existed in order to provide assistance to believers in tariki, hence the boddhisatvas were part of the prayers directed towards Amidha, that the Buddhist Law was in fact incorporated in this practice. Rennyo described this okite towards the hyakushō Monto as 「信心発得シテ後生ヲネカフ念仏行者」 or as 「仏法王法に敬意を払うべき者として位置つけてる」。From here on in, Rennyo saw the Hyakushō Monto would act in respect to all Buddhas, that they would feel wrapped in the grace of Amidha during the ordinary course of their lives. Indeed, their own lives would be the place to engage in actions of 報恩行為, with the results of that effort being proof of the faith of the believer.(22)

Based on the above teaching, what would Rennyo conceive as the `ideal image for the hyakushō`? This particular question has been tackled by Inoue Toshio (amongst others) in his use of the Ofumi titled 「侍能工商之事」(No.245). Through this document, it appears that the `private accumulation of wealth` (or profits from this world) were not regarded as `sinful or evil` (罪悪視) by the Monto because they had taken the concept of `profit` to heart. Ofumi 245 touches upon the four occupations of the samurai, peasant, manufacturer (and the closely associated artist) and merchant, and describes how each is placed in relation to their concern as `Bonfu` or Bonno` (凡夫) engaged from dawn to dusk in `wicked deeds` that cause them anguish. Yet why are they anguished? In relation to the four types of career, Rennyo examines their content, and states that as they are so concerned with protecting themselves, or attempting to thrive through applying themselves wholly to the pursuit of wealth, that they become people who have no room to engage in acts that would allow them to be reborn in the Pure Land. However, amongst these four occupations, Rennyo affirmed that all were justified in pursuit of commercial profit `if that profit would be of use to the Monto` (according to Inoue Toshio). Hence even though the Monto continued to engage in occupations that were by their nature `unfortuitous`, they would still be able to achieve the aim of arrival in the Pure Land. Rennyo, in an alternative Ofumi (No.3) states that 「商ヲスルモノハ商ヲシナカラ奉公スルモノハ奉公シナカラ、サラ二ソノ姿ヲアラタメスシテ不思議ノ願力ヲ信スヘシ」, thereby illustrating a passage on the efficacy of prayers dedicated to the practice of tariki. (23)

As Rennyo negatively perceived the desire of people for `extravagance and delight` (栄華栄耀) (from Ofumi 63), the message of `affirmation` of profit that emerges from the 侍能工商之事 presents some difficulties in understanding Rennyo`s ideas in relation to class and profession, hence further investigation becomes necessary. A hint is supplied by the 実悟旧記, with its line 「縦ヒアキナヒヲスルトモ仏法ノ御用ト心得ヘキ」197条, which states that Shinshū at the time of Rennyo believed that one`s occupation had a concomitant religious meaning, hence the Monto believed that their occupation had been `divinely` appointed in accordance with `the logic of occupations`.(23)
Considering that Rennyo believed merchants had been given their place by the virtue of the Buddha, their act of devotion was to continue to profit on a day to day basis. Thus if the Monto believed that their occupation had been granted by Amidha Buddha, then in order to prove the correctness of their position and the decision of Amidha, they would prioritize the pride they felt in their work, and would not covet any other form of position. Hence this hint suggests that the self-profit sought by people, and the fulfillment of profit, together with accumulation of goods through production could be used to provide a person with spiritual (or mental) strength.(23)

Hence in the midst of the arguments lined out in the 侍能工商, what about the position of the hyakushō? The medieval hyakushō was not merely a farmer, but was also included within the range of `skilled` professions, hence the section on `artisans, manufacturers, and merchants` would be closely related to the hyakushō. Yet this is not all. Rennyo also hinted that the hyakushō could undertake the role of a `samurai` if circumstances so dictated, as illustrated in Ofumi 50 「クウコトトキルコトトノフタツカケヌレハ、身命ヤスカラスシテ、カナシキコトカキリナシ、(中略)コレハ人間ニヲイテ一大事ナリ、ヨクヨクハカリオモフヘキコトナリ、サリナカラ今生ハ御主ヲキトリタノミマヒラスレハ、サムクモキタルクモナシ」meaning that a person could exercise `service` `奉公` in times of hardship. Such `service` included the reference to 「侍」within the 「宮仕奉公」. It is entirely conceivable that Rennyo thought of the hyakushō as belonging to the `artisan and manufacturer` class (indeed he encouraged the idea) hence in order to prevent the `weakening and dissolution of the hyakushō`, he advocated that the hyakushō be used in a manner similar to samurai.(24)

In a separate Ofumi, (No.13), continuing on from his comment on 「アキナヒ」, without explicitly using the term `samurai` he mentions `service` for those persons in need of aid. Thus what we can infer from this is that in Rennyo`s concept of the `ideal hyakushō`, if we remove the references to weakening and the need for service, we see that Rennyo did not regard the hyakushō as being a profession in any way inferior to those of farmers, manufacturers or merchants, and indeed recommended it (after the fulfillment of certain conditions regarding choice of profession).(24) Hence why did Rennyo, if he regarded the hyakushō Monto in such a light, bother to explain the need to preserve the system of Ōbō Buppō Sōi to them? The reason lay in the fact that as the hyakushō had been appointed to their place by the graces of Amidha, it was important that they preserve the system that made this possible.(24) More specifically, as far as Rennyo was concerned, the Buppō (which included other Buddhist sects) led the way to the salvation of the Monto through the graces of Amidha, hence the Buppō existed to help in the creation of the ideal hyakushō. As for the shugo and jitō, who stood as representatives of the Ōbō, as they were appointed by the province or office as administrators they preserved the position of the hyakushō. The Ōbō Buppō Sōi thus existed in order to promote an environment that would produce full-time peasants. To make this a reality, Buppō cooperated with Ōbō, and thus Ōbō was obliged to protect Buppō. (24)

A manifestation of Rennyo`s ideal of the interaction between Ōbō and Buppō included a combination of the shugo and jitō classes and other Buddhist sects. This idea was borne from the experience of the Kaga ikkō ikki of Bunmei 6, in which in order to preserve the Buddhist Law the Honganji affiliated Monto, together with the shugo, kokujin, and other sect temples (in other words, non Honganji affiliated powers) had joined together to overthrow the existing shugo of Kaga as an example of 「王法仏法の作さしむる所」.(24) Hence based on this view, it may prove beneficial to pursue the logic that Rennyo employed in defence of the Buppō and to justify the ikki of Bunmei 6. This involves taking another look at source No.1 (quoted above).(24)

Within this source, Rennyo states that the ikki that overthrew the shugo was an act that 「更以非人間之所為、是併(あわせる)仏法王法之所令作也」and that the reason for the uprising was that the shugo was of `the same mind` as the Takada affiliated Monto, that he had attempted to subdue the `Nembutsu` chanting hyakushō after they had paid their tithes, and had made demands that stood in opposition to the Buppō.(24) What should be noted here is that as Rennyo judged the shugo and Takada Monto to be behaving in an illegal manner, this was not simply a case of an attempt to subdue the Nembutsu, but an attempt to subdue the Nembutsu practiced by hyakushō who had paid their tithes. Why would Rennyo concentrate on the payment of tithes? This is because the hyakushō Monto, who were at the heart of Rennyo`s belief in the power of the Buppō, having paid their tithes, had fulfilled the purpose which the Buddha had bestowed on them. In other words, through the power of Buppō, these hyakushō had awoken to the fact that they practiced their profession not out of affiliation to the shugo but because that is what they were required to do according to Amidha`s grace.(24)

Hence instead of protecting the hyakushō, the shugo and the Takada Monto had attempted to subdue not only the prevalent Buppō but also the Buppō of Honganji. Hence as far as Rennyo was concerned, the shugo and Takada Monto had not fulfilled the duties expected of them as part of the system of Ōbō Buppō Sōi and had acted as `enemies of the Buddha`. They had been overthrown `not by human means`, but by the will of the gods and Buddha as centered on the figure of Amidha.(25) (As for the Takada Monto, who via their practice of the `many Nembutsu` had earned the criticism of Rennyo, their interest in suppressing the Monto was not so much because they were peasants, but because they represented the interests of Honganji. Nonetheless, Rennyo interpreted their actions not as a rival sect acting as an enemy of the `teachings`, but simply as an enemy trying to subdue the peasants, or an enemy trying to subvert the order of Ōbō Buppō Sōi. They were an enemy thus motivated by power).(25)

Hence why did Rennyo concern himself so much with advocating the creation of an ideal `hyakushō` according to Buppō, and why did he so often stress the ideal of the creation of the system of Ōbō Buppō Sōi? This was because of the age he lived in, the era of the warring states in which unestablished laws were being overthrown and society itself faced a grave number of problems. The attitude of people toward society can be discerned through the 文正記(文亀2年の奥書)(quoted on pg.25). The 文正記 outlines the situation before the outbreak of the Ōnin and Bunmei wars, and the disintegration of the 斯波 (Shiba) family during the Bunshō era. It states that poor samurai had been forced to rely on wealthy `commoners - 凡下` (hyakushō), and that in order to save their lives they had sold their lineage. Yet on the other hand wealthy peasants had abandoned farming, had learnt the arts and warfare, had become kokushi of their province, had become thieves invested with rights, and public enemies.(25)

In such a situation as this, one`s social status became a grave problem. As one`s awareness towards one`s social position had increased dramatically, so did instruments of state begin to brake down. Hence it was beginning to look as though both the mores and production of society were in a state of emergency. Rennyo chose to tackle this problem as best he could, by explaining the efficacy of their position as full-time peasants as a manifestation of the Buddha`s will. Hence to remove the age of `gekokujō`, one had to remove the false belief that well-to-do peasants had in changing their social station, that the station they had was `merit less` and `poor`, the belief that in order to live `a life of plenty` one had to become a samurai.(25) Rennyo also felt that he had to eliminate the consciousness among the social elite that the hyakushō were there for `exploitation`, to be used as their will dictated. Rennyo thus envisaged a society that had been reformed, that from the old order of Ōbō Buppō Sōi a new concept would emerge in which social class consciousness was eliminated, that society would instead be based upon `merit`. Of course, this society was not meant purely for the peasantry, but for all those who lived in a society in which they had no political influence.(26)

Hence Rennyo`s thought was only concentrated on the `hyakushō`, but by raising the idea of `defence of the Buddhist law` he hoped to be able to use both the power of the ikki together with non-Monto power in a symbiotic relationship. The ikki of Bunmei 6 was thus, as well as being an attempt at securing authority via an uprising, the first step along the way to creating a means to overthrow the violent order that the world was currently in and realize a society of balance, free from the constraints of class consciousness. It is therefore conceivable that Rennyo did not merely think of Bunmei 6 as being merely an opportunity for `hyakushō to become samurai`, `covet wealth`, `become the owners of land`, and exercise authority over themselves instead of the shugo in `a province in the hands of the peasantry` (実悟記拾遺). In the logic of self-justification for the ikki, if the shugo and jitō confirmed the Buppō of the peasantry, then they would be appointed to their positions by them.(26)    

Analysis of the status of hyakushō within Monto villages:

After the ikkō ikki of Bunmei 6, Rennyo did not try to justify another ikkō ikki. Yet despite his non-involvement, in Chōkyō 2 (1488) once again a large scale ikki occurred within Kaga. Once again, in a similar style to the previous ikki, a shugo was deposed and replaced by another shugo. Whilst strengthening ties with Honganji, the ikki fought against the Asakura on the borders with Echizen, responded to a call from Honganji for members to become involved in a wide spread uprising, and eventually sequestered themselves to the power of the Hongaji institution. For the Monto, under the authority of Honganji and the ikki organizational system and in response to the insistence of Honganji on maintaining the Buddhist Law, the self-administering Monto villages created the 志 and 手足 as a basis from which they would be able to participate within the conflicts of Honganji.(26)

In relation to the systems employed by Honganji and the ikki, and with an eye on the logic employed in the defense of the Buddhist Law by Rennyo, there were those members of village Monto organizations that disagreed with the analysis and reason employed by Rennyo for this purpose. Prominent among these critics was the priest Myōsei (1491-1560) of Honpukuji, located in Katata, Ōmi province. Honpukuji was a `jikisan` of Honganji, meaning under its direct control, and thus of considerable importance. Myōsei had been taught by a direct disciple of Rennyo, a monk by the name of Hōjū, and in time became the fourth generation head of the temple. After Rennyo`s death (1499), the Hossu (main head of the Honganji faithful) and other Ikke shū (direct descendants) were united as one aspect of the Monto membership, and since both the prominent priesthood and the Monto had become direct vassals, Myōsei may have felt that his own position and that of the Monto were in danger of being overtaken by the main temple.(27)

Within the 本福寺跡書 for the years Tenbun 9 and 10 (1540-41), as well as in the 本福寺由来記, mentioned is made of the origins of the temple and also of Myōsei`s concept of `hyakushō` and `samurai`. By examining these records, we might better discern what the ideal Monto affiliated hyakushō was and how this was meant to be perceived by society.(27)

In relation to `samurai`, these could be broken down into two groups – the Katata `samurai` 「カタタ侍」(堅田侍、366頁)and the samurai of the shugo Rokkaku family, the supposed defender of Ōbō within the Ōmi region. The samurai of Katata had a very firm definition according to Myōsei. In the `Atogaki`, the Katata samurai were those warriors who bore the emblem of Katata on their clothes, and who by doing so were referred to as `samurai`. Village legend stated that the emblem came from Kamo shrine after it was visited by Katata Ōmiya (of the Katata sō organization). As far as Myōsei was concerned, the samurai of Katata were those persons `of three names` who had been granted that priviledge from Kifu Jisha (369頁) Within the `Yūraiki`, those `persons with three names` were thought of as the founders of Katata, and were recorded as being 地下ノ侍 (337頁). Moreover, the samurai of Katata were described in the `Yūraiki` as having been `in the service of the Kamakura Dono`, the shōgun, who was the national exponent of Ōbō laws. The Atogaki records that the Katata samurai had helped the Ashikaga when their bakufunate was being formed, and thus as a reward received land holdings near to the lake. (27) Hence from the national proponent of Ōbō, the samurai of Katata had been given the responsibility of fulfilling the Ōbō in their section of the province of Ōmi.(27)

In the case of the Rokkaku, the `samurai` (this is in inverted commas in the original, thus implying that perhaps they weren`t strictly what they seemed) under their service were recorded in the Atogaki has having destroyed the homes and crops of hyakushō and priests near and about Katata (p.381) Moreover, these samurai were depicted has having been involved in armed conflict again Katata surrounding the right to use reeds from Okijima (沖島) (p.370) From the Atogaki, the samurai of the Rokkaku family were in a position where they might pilfer the wealth of Katata and threaten the Buddhist Law. However, Myōsei did not deny the right of the shugo to exist. Within the Atogaki, Myōsei notes that in times gone past, the officials that would pass by the village would get off their horses to pay their respects (p.367) This is cited as an example of how the shugo did have the authority to protect Katata. Hence while Myōsei did criticize the `samurai` of the Rokkaku, he also expected the Rokkaku to act as an `ideal shugo` in his capacity as an implementer of the Ōbō and thus protect the wealth and Buddhist Law of Katata. For Myōsei, both the Katata `samurai`, the implementers of the Ōbō within Katata itself, and the shugo, upholder of the Ōbō duties of the shogun, were both necessary for the protection of Katata.(27)

As for the hyakushō, these appeared to be all residents of Katata who weren`t part of the 地下の侍. More specifically, that meant Honpukuji and the Monto, and those who had betrayed Honpukuji and were under the direct control of the Hossu and the direct descendants of Rennyo – the Jikisan. The Monto of Honpukuji was formed from iron workers, barrel makers, threshers, in sum a large range of manufacturers.(27) Of course, Myōsei himself was descended from weavers. On the other hand, those members of the Jikisan were described as 「堅田称徳寺殿(一家衆)ヲヌシニナシマウサレテ、新右衛門直参セヨ(後略)」(p.386)These `hyakushō`, in the service of the Hossu and the Ikka shū (direct descendants) could be thought of as virtually identical to samurai in a vassal relationship with their lord. These were those members of the Katata community whom were described as Myōsei as 「イワレヌコト」. The Jikisan were, like the `samurai` of the Rokkaku, in a position to pilfer the Buppō and wealth of the `peasants` of Katata. Within the Atogaki, there are a number of passages that criticize the Jikisan, those being from pp.378 and 379. As shown in article 1 (on pg.378)

The 有遺衆 of Honpukuji and the Honpukuji Monto, as a result of instructions from the Ikka shū, become the `enemies` in residence at Honpukuji, and are recorded as the Jikisan of the Ikka shū, responding directly to the Hossu of Honganji. As a specific measure against his `enemies`, Myōsei made known his desire not to have the Monto of Honpukuji serve the office (役) of the 上々様(一家衆)by denying that the Monto of Honpukuji were in fact a Monto at all. Moreover, while Myōsei was engaged in trying to buy the rights to the office (or the rights to serve as the head of the Monto) of the Monto sō he made a specific effort not to serve in the capacity as head of the Monto. It is from these actions that we may discern that Myōsei considered the Jikisan to be a merely corrupt form of following acting under the directive of Honganji. As far as Myōsei was concerned, the `Jikisan` were a bunch of profiteers with no interest in helping others and merely using opportunities to engage in theft and brigandy, they had no ear for scripture and besmirched the Buddhist Law of the priests (of Honpukuji). In sum, they too existed for no other purpose than to pilfer the wealth and Buddhist Law of the people of Katata.(28)

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© Greg Pampling. This page was modified in December 2011