About Gotane

Matsuwakamaro

 Gotane is the name of the service that is held to celebrate the birth of Shinran Shonin, the Founder of Jodo Shinshu Buddhism. Shinran Shonin's birth is given as May 21, 1173. He was given the name Matsuwakamaro and was born in the Hino area near Kyoto. His father was Hino, Arinori. At the age of 4, Shinran and his siblings are separated from their father. Not much is known about his mother except that records indicate that she died when Shinran Shonin was eight years old.

 

 At the age of nine Shinran Shonin was taken to Mount Hiei, the center of the Tendai tradition of Buddhism, where he would spend the next 20 years of his life. As the story is told within the tradition, the young Matsuwakamaro was taken to Mount Hiei by his uncle Noritsuna. He would be taken to Shouren-in or one of the many temples on Mount Hiei to be admitted as a child monk. Unfortunately, because it was already late in the day when Shinran Shonin went to Mount Hiei, Jien, who was the head of Shouren-in at the time, recommended that the party return home and come back the next day. At that time, Shinran Shonin is said to have composed the following poem:

The heart of the frivolous cherry (blossom) that believes in a tomorrow, will not the gale blow in the middle of the night

 Moved by this poem, it is said that Jien allowed Matsuwakamaro's entrance into Mount Hiei and gave him his tonsure (tokudo, ceremony where one becomes a priest) and the name Hannen immediately. He would later enter into Honen Shonin's group and was originally given the name Shakku. He would later be given the name Zenshin. After his exile and having his priestly status removed by the government, he chooses the name Shinran. Shonin is a title and is often translated as, “Sage.”

Shinran Shonin

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