The Development of Esoteric Buddhist Scholasticism in Early Medieval Japan


The Robert H. N. Ho Family Foundation Dissertation Fellowships in Buddhist Studies


This dissertation examines the development of esoteric Buddhist doctrine in early medieval Japan. Esoteric Buddhist texts and rites had been introduced in subsequent centuries. However, not until this period did scholiasts began to articulate a system of doctrine originating with the works of Kukai, the revered founder of the Shingon school. By focusing on the writings of the scholar-priest Saisen, the dissertation illustrates how this system developed to distinguish Kukai's views on esoteric doctrine from those of the Tendai exegete Annen. It argues that Annen's view of esoteric Buddhism unifying the esoteric teachings with the Tendai perfect teachings was the dominant interpretation until the late Heian period, when Saisen first advanced a system of doctrine based on the works of Kukai.