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The Great Buddha in Nara: Daibutsu in Todaiji temple

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When was it built? いつ作られたのか

聖武天皇

The first Daibtsu was built in 752. In 743, emperor Shomu decided to build it. After 9 years, Daibutsu Kaigan Kuyoe, a ritual to put soul in the statue, was held. About 26,000,000 people engaged in its construction. The price tag is 460 billion yen in today’s terms. (About 420 billion dollars.)

In 1180 and 1567, both Daibtsu and Daibtsuden were caught by fires. The garment Daibutsu wares and some petals of Rengeza stand the test of time.

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Why was it built? なぜ作られたのか

As described before, emperor Shomu decided to build Daibutsu. During his reign, our country suffered with natural disasters like droughts and earthquakes, and rebellions. In this situation, he tried to save the country which in great suffer and worry, with the help of The Rengekyo Sutra.

立体曼荼羅大日如来像

The Rengekyo Sutra shows us the way to the enlightenment and its “Gohonzon” is Vairocana Buddha. Gohonzon is the most important Deity in Sutra or temple. In ancient Japan, the Sutra was believed to save our country.Vairocana Buddha is translated as Birushanabutsu.

Now let us cite the emperor’s words from Shoku Nihongi, the book on history compiled by the Imperial court:

”夫れ天下の富を有つ者は朕なり。天下の勢を有つ者も朕なり。此の富勢を以て此の尊像を造る。事や成り易く、心や至り難し。~略~自ら当に念を存し各盧舎那仏を造るべし。如し更に人の一枝の草、一把の土を以て像を助け造らんことを情に願う者有らば、恣にこれを聴せ。国郡等の司、此の事に因りて、百姓を侵擾(しんじょう)して強に収斂せしむること莫。”

七里ヶ浜親方
七里ヶ浜親方

Here’s my translation.

“I have a plenty of wealth and power. It is easy to build the statue of Daibutsu. On the other hand, it is demanding to make my purpose (to bring a country peace )come true. So, persons who try to build it, remember Birushanabutsu in your heart and pray for it (because I am not able to accomplish my purpose without your will). Even the smallest contributions of yours do good. Government officials, DO NOT force labor to them. The most important thing is that they voluntarily participate in Daibutsu construction. ”



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