Kūkai (空海), also known posthumously as Kōbō-Daishi , 774–835, was a Japanese Buddhist monk, civil servant, scholar, poet, and artist who founded the Esoteric Shingon or "mantra" school of Buddhism. Shingon followers usually refer to him by the honorific title of Odaishisama (お大師様) and the religious name of Henjō-Kongō (遍照金剛).
Shingon Buddhism is one of the major schools of Buddhism in Japan and one of the few surviving Vajrayana lineages in East Asia, originally spread from India to China through traveling monks such as Vajrabodhi and Amoghavajra.
Known in Chinese as the Tangmi these esoteric teachings would later flourish in Japan under the auspices of a Buddhist monk named Kūkai (空海), who traveled to Tang China to acquire and request transmission of the esoteric teachings. .
A lineage in Buddhism is a line of transmission of the Buddhist teaching that is "theoretically traced back to the Buddha himself."
The acknowledgement of the transmission can be oral, or certified in documents.
Several branches of Buddhism, including Chan (including Zen and Seon) and Tibetan Buddhism maintain records of their historical teachers.
These records serve as a validation for the living exponents of the tradition.
In Chan and Zen Buddhism, dharma transmission is a custom .
Vajrayana is Tantric Buddhism, the form of Northern Buddhism that relies primarily on the Tantras, technical manuals said to have been taught by the Buddha, and offer complete enlightenment in 1, 7 or 21 lifetimes.
Vajrayāna practices are connected to specific lineages in Buddhism, through the teachings of lineage holders. Others might generally refer to texts as the Buddhist Tantras. It includes practices that make use of mantras, dharanis, mudras, mandalas and the visualization of .