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Fascicle One | Fascicle Two | Fascicle Three | Fascicle Four | Fascicle Five | Letters of Summer | Gozoku Sho - Biographical Letter of Shinran Shonin
Gobunsho - The Epistles

The Gobunsho, or Epistles, are a collection of Letters written by the 8th Patriach (Monshu) of the Honganji, Rennyo Shonin (1415 - 1499).
When Rennyo Shonin took over as the Abbot of the Honganji, he found it in a state of deterioration and stagnation. He immediately worked to change the state of things by going into aggressive evangelism, and started reaching out to the common folk.
Rennyo Shonin started writing letters in simple Japanese to the various temples, families and ordinary folk to clarify and propagate the true purport of "Namu Amida Butsu" and Shinran Shonin's Teachings. As the letters were simple to understand, many ordinary folk then begun to flock to the Honganji in the thousands to seek deliverance through Faith, and to clarify doubts on the Teachings. As a result, the Honganji underwent through a revival, and the influence that followed still continues, even today.
Rennyo Shonin and his letters repopularized the Jodo Shinshu doctrine, and enabled many to come into contact with the Teachings, because of this, Rennyo Shonin is also called "Chuko Daishi" (Master who revived the teachings of Shinran Shonin). In 1882, Emperor Meiji of Japan also bestowed the title "Etoh Daishi" (Master of the Light of Wisdom). He is also posthumously known as Kenji and Shinsho-in.
22 years after his rebirth in the Pure Land, Rennyo Shonin's grandson, Ennyo Shonin, collected as many letters as he could from the receipients of the letters, and after lessing exact duplicates, he managed to collect 265 separate letters. Ennyo Shonin then selected 80 of these letters and compiled them into a book, thereafter called the "Gobunsho". Another 5 letters were compiled into another book, 4 of which are called "Ge-no-ofumi" (Letters of Summer) and the last one, "Gozokusho" (Biographical Letter on Shinran Shonin).

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Scroll drawing of Rennyo Shonin, property of Nishi Honganji

The other Four Epistles and another Four Letters, the Letters of Summer (Natsu no Gobunsho) which were written during the last summer of Rennyo Shonin's life, as well as a biographical letter on Shinran Shonin - Gozoku Sho - will be added on later.