Shinran (1173-1263) founded the popular Jodo Shin, or True Pure Land sect of Japanese Buddhism. Faced with the corruption and mystic ostentation of the powerful Tendai and Shingon sects, he worked to bring spiritual well-being to the common man.
Shinran entered the monastic life at age eleven, serving as a low-ranking monk at the temple Enryakuji on Mount Hiei, outside Kyoto. In 1201, he became a disciple of Honen, the founder of the Pure Land sect. Honen convinced him of the difficulty of attaining enlightenment through his own self-power. Honen and Shinran were sent into exile in 1207. They were pardoned a few years later. After developing a ministry in the Kanto region, Shinran evolved a fuller exposition of his teacher's writings and eventually returned to Kyoto around 1235. He made faith, conferred by Amida Buddha, the precondition for attainment of birth into the Pure Land, rather than individual practice. The root source of faith was Amida's compassion.
Shinran's ashes were interred in the Otani area of Kyoto, and the location later became the site of the temple Honganji.
The story of Shinran's life is told here in four scrolls that read from top to bottom, and right to left.