gandharva (Skt) A heavenly musician or god of music. One of the eight kinds of nonhuman beings said to protect Buddhism. They serve the god Indra, known also as Shakra, and live on gandha, which means fragrance. Gandharva is rendered in Chinese translations of Buddhist texts as “god of fragrance.”
Ganjin (688–763) (Chin Chien-chen) The founder of the Precepts school in Japan. A priest of China, he was invited to Japan to perform orthodox ordination ceremonies. After five attempts to make the voyage, he finally arrived in Japan in 753 and the following year conducted ceremonies conferring the precepts on the Retired Emperor Shōmu, high court officials, and priests. Ganjin is the Japanese pronunciation of his Chinese name.
garuda (Skt) A huge bird in Indian mythology that feeds on dragons and is regarded as the king of birds. Garuda was incorporated into Buddhism and is counted as one of the eight kinds of nonhuman beings. In the Chinese translations of the Buddhist scriptures, garuda is often rendered as “golden-winged bird.”
Gautama The family name of Shakyamuni. “Gautama” is often used to refer to Shakyamuni Buddha.
Gautamī See Mahāprajāpatī.
Gayā A city in Magadha, India. It is near Buddhagayā, the site of Shakyamuni’s enlightenment.
Gembō (d. 746) A priest of the Dharma Characteristics school in Japan. After twenty years of study in China, he returned to Japan, bringing images of the Buddha as well as sutras, treatises, and commentaries totaling more than five thousand volumes.
Genkū See Hōnen.
Genshin (942–1017) Also known as Eshin, a Tendai priest of Mount Hiei. In 985 he compiled The Essentials of Rebirth in the Pure Land, which lent tremendous impetus to the establishment of the Pure Land school in Japan. Later he recanted and wrote The Essentials of the One Vehicle Teaching, a defense of the Tendai doctrine of the one vehicle of Buddhahood, in which he asserted the supremacy of the Lotus Sutra. He was often called the Supervisor of Priests Genshin and also the Supervisor of Priests Eshin.
ghee The finest clarified butter, or the last of the five flavors (milk, cream, curdled milk, butter, and ghee), produced in the process by which milk is made into ghee. The word “ghee” is used to indicate the supreme teaching. T’ien-t’ai used ghee as a metaphor for the Lotus Sutra.
Gishin (781–833) Dengyō’s successor and the first chief priest of Enryaku-ji, the head temple of the Tendai school. When Dengyō traveled to China in 804, Gishin accompanied him as his interpreter. In 827 he established a Mahayana ordination center on Mount Hiei in fulfillment of Dengyō’s wishes.
Gladly Seen Also, Gladly Seen by All Living Beings. A bodhisattva who appears in the “Medicine King” chapter of the Lotus Sutra as a previous incarnation of Bodhisattva Medicine King. According to that chapter, he learned the Lotus Sutra from a Buddha called Sun Moon Pure Bright Virtue and, in gratitude, anointed himself with oil and burned his body as an offering for twelve hundred years. He was reborn in the land of the Buddha Sun Moon Pure Bright Virtue and again served this Buddha. After the Buddha’s death, he burned his arms for seventy-two thousand years as a further offering.
gō (Jpn) A unit of volume equal to about 0.18 liters.
gods of the sun and moon Deifications of the sun and moon.
Gohonzon (Jpn) The object of devotion in Nichiren Daishonin’s Buddhism and the embodiment of the Mystic Law permeating all phenomena. It takes the form of a mandala inscribed on paper or wood with characters representing the Mystic Law as well as the Ten Worlds. Nichiren Daishonin’s Buddhism holds that all people possess the Buddha nature and can attain Buddhahood through faith in the Gohonzon.
Gokuraku-ji A temple of the True Word Precepts school in Kamakura, built in 1259 by Hōjō Shigetoki. Later Hōjō Nagatoki invited Ryōkan to act as chief priest. The temple was destroyed by fire in 1275, but was rebuilt in 1281 by Hōjō Tokimune as the government’s official place of prayer. In 1332 it became affiliated with the imperial court.
Golden Light Sutra A sutra that takes the form of a discourse by Shakyamuni Buddha on Eagle Peak. It teaches that those who embrace this sutra will obtain the protection of the four heavenly kings and other benevolent deities, and that, if a ruler takes faith in the correct teaching, his country will be protected by these deities. On the other hand, if he fails to protect the correct teaching, the benevolent deities will abandon the nation, and calamities and disasters will occur. In Nichiren Daishonin’s writings, the Golden Light Sutra refers to a Chinese translation by Dharmaraksha of the Northern Liang dynasty. Another sutra called the Golden Light Sutra, whose full title is the Sovereign Kings of the Golden Light Sutra, is a translation by I-ching of the T’ang dynasty. The Sovereign Kings of the Golden Light Sutra is a newer translation of the Golden Light Sutra and contains more chapters than the older version.
Gomyō (750–834) A priest of the Dharma Characteristics school in Japan. In 827 he was designated as administrator of priests. In 819 he petitioned the emperor to reject Dengyō’s request for permission to construct a Mahayana ordination platform.
Gonsō (758–827) A priest of the Three Treatises school in Japan. As the supervisor of priests, Gonsō administered Tōdai-ji and Saidai-ji temples in Nara, and in 826 he was appointed general supervisor of priests.
good friend (Jpn zen-chishiki) One who leads other people to the correct teaching. Buddhism teaches that one should associate with a good friend in order to pursue the way to enlightenment. In the “Devadatta” chapter of the Lotus Sutra, Shakyamuni describes Devadatta, his lifelong enemy, as a good friend because in a past life he received instruction in the Lotus Sutra from him. In like manner, the “King Wonderful Adornment” chapter of the sutra describes the two brothers Pure Storehouse and Pure Eye as good friends to their father, King Wonderful Adornment, because they converted their father to Buddhism. This chapter defines a “good friend” as follows: “A good friend is the great cause and condition by which one is guided and led, and which enables one to see the Buddha and to conceive the desire for supreme perfect enlightenment.” In his writings, the Daishonin also refers to enemies as “good friends” to the extent that they help one strengthen one’s resolve to carry out Buddhist practice. See also evil friend.
Good Treasures A bodhisattva appearing in the Flower Garland Sutra who visits a total of fifty-three teachers in order to seek the truth.
Gosho (Jpn) The designation of the individual and collected writings of Nichiren Daishonin, made by his successor Nikkō. The Japanese “sho” means writing and “go” is an honorific prefix.
governor of Sagami See Sagami, the lord of.
gradual teaching Teachings expounded to gradually elevate people’s capacities to gain an understanding of higher doctrines. One of the four teachings of method, T’ien-t’ai’s classification of Shakyamuni Buddha’s teachings according to the way in which they were expounded.
Great Adornment (1) A Buddha mentioned in the Buddha Treasury Sutra. According to the sutra, the Buddha Great Adornment lived in the extremely remote past. His life lasted for sixty-eight hundred ten thousand million (68 trillion) years, and he amassed a following of sixty-eight hundred ten thousand million disciples. One hundred years after this Buddha’s death, his followers split into five schools. Only the monk Universal Practice, the leader of one of the five schools, correctly upheld what Great Adornment had taught. The leaders of the other schools, such as the monk Shore of Suffering, held erroneous views and, along with their followers, persecuted Universal Practice. As a result, these four monks and their followers fell into hell. (2) A bodhisattva mentioned in the Immeasurable Meanings Sutra who represents the assembly on Eagle Peak in encouraging Shakyamuni Buddha to preach that sutra, an introductory teaching to the Lotus Sutra. The Buddha entrusted the sutra to him and the other eighty thousand bodhisattvas present, who then vowed to propagate it.
Great Arrogant Brahman (n.d.) A Brahman in the kingdom of Mālava in India. He was overly proud and boastful of his erudition. When he was defeated in debate by a Mahayana Buddhist monk, Bhadraruchi, the king of Mālava sentenced him to death. The Brahman was spared at Bhadraruchi’s request but slandered him nevertheless. It is said that he fell into hell alive.
Great Collection Sutra A sixty-volume sutra that takes the form of preaching by Shakyamuni Buddha to a great assembly of Buddhas and bodhisattvas who had gathered from the ten directions. It is a collection of sutras translated into Chinese by Dharmaraksha (385–433) and others. These sutras were compiled into a single sutra, the Great Collection Sutra, by Seng-chiu of the Sui dynasty in 586. The work refers to the three calamities and predicts how the spread of Buddhism will unfold over the five five-hundred-year periods following Shakyamuni’s death. According to T’ien-t’ai’s classification of sutras, the Great Collection Sutra belongs to the Correct and Equal period.
Great Concentration and Insight One of T’ien-t’ai’s three major works. This work clarifies the principle of three thousand realms in a single moment of life based on the Lotus Sutra, and elucidates the method of meditation for observing one’s mind and realizing the principle within oneself.
Great Perfection of Wisdom Sutra Either of two sutras bearing the same title. Both were translated into Chinese by Kumārajīva, and though their lengths differ, their contents are basically the same. The longer one, which consists of ninety chapters, is also called the Lager Wisdom Sutra. Nāgārjuna wrote a treatise on the Sanskrit version of this sutra entitled The Treatise on the Great Perfection of Wisdom. The shorter sutra, which consists of twenty-nine chapters, is also called the Smaller Wisdom Sutra.
Great Power A bodhisattva said to possess the power of wisdom and compassion with which to save people. According to the Meditation on the Buddha Infinite Life Sutra, together with Bodhisattva Perceiver of the World’s Sounds, he attends Amida Buddha.
Great Teacher An honorific title awarded to priests of virtue in China and Japan by the imperial court, usually after their death.
Great Treasure Chamber The name of the vast court that the Great Collection Sutra describes as the site of its preaching. According to the sutra, it is located between the world of desire and the world of form.
Great Universal Wisdom Excellence A Buddha who taught the Lotus Sutra major world system dust particle kalpas ago. His story appears in the “Parable of the Phantom City” chapter of the Lotus Sutra. Originally a king who had sixteen sons, after he attained Buddhahood, he preached the Lotus Sutra at the request of his sixteen sons. All sixteen spread the Lotus Sutra as bodhisattvas, and the sixteenth son was reborn in the sahā world as Shakyamuni.
Great Wisdom Sutra Also, Great Perfection of Wisdom Sutra. A Chinese translation by Hsüan-tsang of the compilation of the various Wisdom sutras. The six-hundred-volume text addresses the perfection of wisdom and the non-substantiality of all phenomena; it takes the form of Shakyamuni Buddha’s preaching in sixteen assemblies at four locations.
Gridhrakūta See Eagle Peak.
Gunamati (c. 420–500) A monk of the Consciousness-Only school in southern India, revered as one of the ten great scholars of the school.