This paper examines the interpretation of the “Hosshi-hon” 法師品 (“Dharmabhāṇaka-parivarta”) in the Hokekyō-jikidanshō 法華経直談鈔, compiled as a popular commentary of the Myōhō rengekyō 妙法蓮華経 by the Japanese Tendai monk Eishin 栄心 (?–1546).
The author already researched some chapters of this commentary, comparing it with Sonshun’s 尊舜 Hokekyō-jurin-shūyōshū 法華経鷲林拾葉鈔.As a result of these researches, he concluded that most of the content of Eishin’s commentary is clearly based on Sonshun’s.
The Hosshi-hon Chapter in the Hokekyō-jikidanshō consists of 13 topics, while the Hokekyō-jurin-shūyōshū consists of 21 topics. The Hokekyō-jikidanshō is less than a half the size of the Hokekyō-jurin-shūyōshū. Thus, difference in content mainly derives from the omission of the topic “Gojō soku Gokai no koto” 五常即五戒之事 in the Hokekyō-jikidanshō, which is the 4th topic of the Hokekyō-jurin-shūyōshū.
Regarding the 2nd and 3rd topics (五種法師之事, 読誦功徳之事), 2 or 3 interpretations are shown about the word of Hosshi (dharmabhāṇaka), and then simple explanations of juji 受持 (to memorize), doku 読 (to read), ju 誦 (to recite), gesetsu 解説 (to expound), and shosha 書写 (to copy) follows.
However, these explanations are nothing more than traditional interpretations which do not show any new perspective. But the 2nd topic introduces an intriguing episode. The episode narrates that Bhaiṣajya-rāja Bodhisattva 薬王菩薩 took the form of Tiantai Zhiyi 天台智顗 in China, while he assume the shape of Dengyō daishi Saichō 伝教大師最澄 in Japan. This episode seems to have come up from around Mt. Hiei 比叡山 in about the 15th or 16th century in Japan.
The 3rd topic “Dokuju Kudoku no koto” 読誦功徳之事 shows an episode which is similar to the famous episode of Kumārajīva 鳩摩羅什, in which his tongue was left unburnt even after his cremation. More specifically, a blue lotus flower 青蓮華 was found on the ground and a coffin lay beneath it. The blue lotus flower came from the tongue. Writing was left on the coffin that the deceased had read the Lotus Sūtra 法華経 a thousand times.
As a result of an examination of these 2 works, the author did not find any new interpretations in Eishin’s work. We can assume Eishin’s editing policy to have been that he basically followed Sonshun’s idea, and yet tried to simplify the Buddhist theory to make it comprehensive and to popularize it.