Kukai the Universal is an extensively researched biography chronicling the life of Kukai, the visionary Japanese monk of the ninth century whose profound influence touched every aspect of Japan's civilization. Kukai was born in 774 into a declining aristocratic family, whose design was for him to become a statesman. However, he soon became disillusioned with the ways of politics and took a new path in life, pursuing his Buddhist studies and practicing meditation while roaming the country as an itinerant hermit. At the age of 30, Kukai sailed to China to become a student monk under the tutelage of Huiguo, the patriarch of esoteric Buddhism. Returning to Japan in 806 as a master of esoteric Buddhist teachings, Kukai initiated the building of a monastic center on Mt. Koya for the practice of Buddhism. This, and the founding and systemization of the Shingon doctrine were Kukai's major concerns for the remainder of his life. In 823 the Emperor Saga presented him with Toji, the most important temple in Kyoto, which became the headquarters for the Shingon sect. Kukai is known as the father of Japanese culture: he invented the kana syllabary, the basis of Japanese written language forms, was the originator of the pilgrimage circuit of 88 temples in Shikoku, a builder of lakes, a poet, calligrapher, sculptor, and the lexicographer who complied the oldest extant dictionary. He was also founder of the oldest school in Japan. Kukai is undoubtedly the greatest figure in Japan's history, creating the very fundamentals of its national culture. For this he was honored as a saint, under the name of Kobo Daishi. Book jacket.
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Review: Kukai the Universal: Scenes from His LifeUser Review - Koit - Goodreads
Given that the previous two people who have uploaded comments have attacked this great book with as much as they could possibly muster, I figured that a defense was in order. Clearly, they went into ... Read full review