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Tánluán (Ch: 曇鸞, Jp: Donran) (476–542) was a Chinese Buddhist monk. He is credited by Hōnen as the founder of Pure Land Buddhism in China. He is also considered the Third Patriarch in Japanese Jodo Shinshu Buddhism.

Tan-luan was originally a Buddhist scholar but after becoming ill he studied Taoism in order to seek the Elixir of Life. However, after an encounter with Bodhiruci a Buddhist monk from India, Tan-luan became a devotee of the Pure Land teachings and, according to the Jodo Shinshu hymn Shoshinge, burnt his Taoist texts.

Tan-luan later wrote his commentaries on the Larger Sutra of Immeasurable Life. The commentaries taught that the all beings could be reborn in the Pure Land of Amitabha Buddha through sincere recitation of the Buddha's name (Nianfo/Nembutsu). Tan-luan is also credited for having developed the six-character phrase "南無阿彌陀佛" (Namo Amituofo/Namu Amida Butsu) (from Sanskrit to Chinese) used throughout Pure Land Buddhism today.[1]

Tan-luan also had a strong impact on the Fourth Patriarch, Tao-cho who once visited his temple.



  • Shinko Mochizuki, Leo M. Pruden,Trans. (2000). Pure Land Buddhism in China: A Doctrinal History, Chapter 7: T'an-luan. In: Pacific World Journal, Third Series, Number 2, 149-165. Archived from the original
  • Yukio Yamada (2000). T'an-luan's Theory of Two Kinds of Dharma-body as Found in Shinran's Wago Writings, Pacific World Journal, Third Series, Number 2, 99-113. Archived from the original
  • Ryusei Takeda (2000). The Theoretical Structure of "Birth in the Pure Land": Based on the Meaning of T'an-luan's "Birth through Causal Conditions", Pacific World Journal, Third Series, Number 2, 31-60. Archived from the original
  • Shoji Matsumoto (1986). The Modern Relevance of Donran's Pure Land Buddhist Thought, Pacific World Journal New Series 2, 36-41