SOTOZEN-NET > Library > Glossary > ancestral teachers hall

Glossary

A/B/C/D/E/F/G/H/I/J/K/L/M/N/O/P/Q/R/S/T/U/V/W/X/Y/Z/Numbers

ancestral teachers hall (sodō 祖堂)

A "hall" ( 堂) where the spirit tablets and mortuary portraits (either painted or sculpted) of "ancestral teachers" (soshi 祖師, so 祖) in the Zen lineage are enshrined and given regular offerings of food, drink, and merit. In medieval Japanese Zen monasteries and the Song and Yuan dynasty Chinese Buddhist monasteries on which they were modeled, ancestral teachers halls were also known as portrait halls (shindō 眞堂). They housed mortuary portraits (shin 眞, chinzō 頂相) of ancestral teachers, including the first six ancestors of the Zen lineage in China and other figures honored as founders of major branches of the lineage, as well as the mortuary portraits of former abbots of each particular monastery. In Soto Zen today, the morning sutra chanting that is performed daily includes an "ancestral teachers hall sutra chanting" (sodō fugin 祖堂諷經) that is distinct from the "sutra chanting for founding and former abbots" (kaisan rekijū fugin 開山歴住諷經), but in most cases the spirit tablets and mortuary portraits of ancestral teachers and former abbots are enshrined in the same place. At ordinary temples, that "ancestral teachers hall" is generally not a separate building or hall proper, but rather an area of shelves filled with spirit tablets located on one side or to the rear of the Sumeru altar in the main hall (hondō 本堂). ☞"mortuary portrait."