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History of Tendai Buddhism Lineage


Buddhism was brought from India to China around the second or third century A.D., it then developed into a Chinese form of Buddhism.

     The Tendai school bases it's teaching mainly on the Hokke-

kyo (The Lotus Sutra), the Nehangyo (The Nirvana Sutra, and Nagarjuna's Daichidoron (Commentary on the Great Wisdom Sutra). The Chinese T'ien T'ai school was founded by Zhiyi (Tendai Daishi) who lived from 538-597 A.D. as a result of his meditation and practice based on the Lotus sutra. The name Tendai is the Japanese pronunciation of T'ien T'ai- the name of the mountain in China where Zhiyi maintained a monastery.
     The Japanese Tendai school was founded in 806 A.D. by Saicho (767-822 A.D.), also known by his posthumous title of Dengyo Daishi. In the early days of the ninth century, Saicho was sent to China to study and secure texts to contribute to Japan's knowledge of Buddhism. His main objective was attained when he arrived at Mt.T'ien T'ai, the birthplace of the school. He brought Buddhist teachings of T'ien Ta'i, C'han (Zen), Esotericism (Mikkyo) and the Mahayana precepts to Japan.

     After his return to Japan, he built himself a thatched hut on Mt.Hiei (Hieizan), northeast of the present-day city of Kyoto, intending to lead a life of meditation and prayer. This hermitage later became the present day headquarters of the Tendai sect and monastery of Enryakuji.

     Mt.Hiei has long been a leading center of Buddhist studies in Japan.Thus, in the Kamakura Period (1192-1333 A.D.), new Japanese Buddhist schools developed out of Tendai; namely, the Yuzunenbutsu, Jodo, Jodoshin, Ji, Rinzai Zen, Soto Zen and Nichiren school. The founders of all these schools studied on Mt.Hiei, near Kyoto where the head temple of the Tendai school is still located.


-from the Hawaii Tendai Mission Service book





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