The Pure Land collection of writings known as the Nianfo-jing 念仏鏡 was compiled during the Mid-Tang dynasty 唐中期 by Daojing 道鏡 and Shandao 善道 to extol the virtues of their master, Daxing 大行 (the dates of birth and death of all three figures are unknown).
The Nianfo-jing reflects Daxing’s focus on his vows toward Buddhism and his self-sacrificing ethos. We can thus infer the compilers’ desire to superimpose the image of Daxing onto that of Shandao 善導 (613–681), the very model of piety as a teacher of Pure Land Buddhism.
This theory gains probability from a close examination of the section of the Nianfo-jing titled “The Proof of Vows to the Study of Buddhist Thought” (The Eighth Branch).
This paper will discuss the background to the compilation of the Nianfo-jing, combining various factors such as the ideology of Mid-Tang dynasty Pure Land teachers regarding bodhisattva vows and Shandao as a model of virtue.