Long ago, a Buddhist monk by the name of Myouren Hijiri had spent most of his life as a virtuous man, but left her elder sister's side in order to remove all ties to suffering, beginning a long journey to the Shinano Province. His elder sister had remained, aiding those who could not help themselves, having accepted that Myouren needed to go elsewhere in order to spread the teachings of the Buddha. As time went by, she wished to know what had become of him and set out to find him, following Myouren across the country. Part way through her travels Byakuren rested at Toudaiji, the very place were they'd begun both their lives as Buddhists, in need of guidance. She received a vision which told her that Myouren was merely southwest of her current location, and after a long, tiring search, the pair were re-united. The tales say that despite Myouren's pleas to Byakuren not to follow him on that journey, her unexpected return pleased him, and he accepted her sister into his new home. In return for her diligence in finding him, he taught her what he'd learned and told her of his journey. Her mission now complete, Myouren allowed her to stay by his side for the rest of his days.
Byakuren cared for Myouren in sickness and in health. As illness weighed on Myouren's body and soul, the hard work of her elder sister could not stop the ever-present hand of death. Even on his deathbed, one moment was engraved in her memory. Myouren related that he spent so many years to learn the nature of peace and suffering. In that moment, he confided that spending the remainder of his life with her had brought him more joy than he'd thought possible. With such an attachment, he might not reach enlightenment, but he bade her not to mourn, entreating her not to give up, and to let others share in the joy of a peaceful life, free from suffering. If he could not enter Nirvana with the good deeds of this life, perhaps she could. With those words, and laying aside any regret, Myouren was no more, his soul no doubt returning to Samsara, at peace.
And yet, Byakuren faltered. Myouren was man who had kindness, wisdom, compassion, and never strayed from the path he'd chosen: to help others find peace. Byakuren feared becoming like him in the end - weak, ill, claimed by death and forced into suffering in another life. Her own age bore heavily upon her, already, and refusing such a fate, she panicked. In her own mind, she would never be able to fulfill her brother's wishes if she died and left nothing behind. Byakuren, fueled by fear, strove to search for a method to increase her lifespan. Slowly, she discovered that mere human magic could not sustain her life for very long. As such, she turned to helping victimized youkai in need, her original objective being to discover anything that would increase her magical power. She theorized that she would be able to gain the power of eternal life once her magical potential increased far beyond a mere human's. Paradoxically, Byakuren became respected as a great mediator between humans and youkai, despite her search being spurred from fear of death. Her magic - what some considered dark arts - could only survive if youkai prospered. However, deep in her heart, she realized that humans and youkai were both suffering in this world. As a result, a conflict sprung up between her desire to aid others for her own sake or for theirs.
Perhaps seeing a little of herself in them, Byakuren continued her wandering through Japan after her ascension as a magician. Remembering her brother's wish and her desire to aid the all who suffered, she succeeded in mediating disputes between humans and youkai. At this time, many powerful youkai pledged herself to her noble cause to heal the wounds between humanity and their kind. Her fame grew as she was viewed as powerful and heroic figure who kept harmful youkai out of human affairs, and a protector of weaker youkai who could not stand up against superstitious humans. Needless to say, her entourage of youkai followers grew. Likewise the humans slowly dwindled, fearful that her power was growing out of control. The tiger youkai, Shou Toramaru, Byakuren adopted as one of her followers and aided her to become a disciple of Bishamonten. Ichirin Kumoi, once a human, bound herself to a nyuudou and became considered a youkai for her monumental efforts, coming to respect Byakuren's kindness towards her and her companion. Minamitsu Murasa, a deadly and vengeful spirit of the high seas was tamed by Byakuren, unsealed from her lonely fate of roaming the ocean. Even, Nue Hojuu, an outcast of a youkai who seemed utterly lost, she accepted with open arms.
Despite her great success, a great sorrow visited Byakuren, after all of the aid she'd given to humans and youkai alike. Her mastery of youkai and human magic caught the attention of many suspicious humans who believed that Byakuren had turned her back on humanity entirely. Torn from her followers and begging for clemency, the humans could not simply execute her, even if she was perceived as a threat. In truth, they feared that her peaceful nature was a lie. Human mages and priests alike rushed to find a place to contain the magician, who was cast into a remote part of the plane of Makai to await a freedom that would never arrive. Patiently, for centuries, Byakuren bided her time.
She had not lost hope, however, and her friends soon came to her rescue. This also brought along some of Gensokyo's usual suspects - Reimu, Marisa and Sanae. After their conflict, in collaboration with the Moriya Shrine to an extent, Byakuren had a temple built near the village. And when a bizzare threat under her temple was discovered, for the sake of Gensokyo's peace, it was sealed away. Little did she know what trouble these new guests would make. A new faction of Taoist individuals appeared, led by Toyosatomimi no Miko and sparked a rivalry between Byakuren's sympathy towards youkai and the Crown Prince's vision of a rising humanity. Ultimately, this came to nought, so far, but who is to say what the future may bring?
Byakuren is known as a very mild-mannered invidual, never seeming to have too many emotional extremes of anger or hatred. The fact that she tolerates all come to her for aid, human and youkai alike, is a testament to her kindness. Byakuren is known for helping the superstitous inhabitants of the Human Village since the Myouren Temple was established there. In the idealistic spirit of co-operation, she often hosts events at the temple which are open to humans and youkai. Most often, Byakuren is slightly disappointed to find that humans rarely attend these gatherings for fear of being too near the visiting youkai. Humans, as in her original time, don't immediately trust her, due to her habits influenced by Buddhism. She neither drinks, causes any trouble, nor partakes in meat, things which Gensokyo most share in common.
Her altruism also has led to tales of her great generosity to those in need, even if it was a detriment to herself or her followers. Byakuren continally refuses violence unless completely nescessary, which perplexes and has even driven away some of the more outwardly beligerent youkai she has tried to convince to follow her path of peace. Even if she cannot reach Nirvana, her hope is to become a Bodhisattva regardless, so she may enlighten others and free them from the suffering and cruelty of the world. While Byakuren is able to mediate between opposing sides of a situation and avoid violence, she also recognizes that humans and youkai aren't always perfect. However, she is incredibly patient, believing that peace will come eventually if she gives her all to promote it.
On a personal or political level, Byakuren is very polite and peaceful, but by no means weak. Even with new Taoist detractors, Byakuren seems to provide convincing and well-spoken arguments for her ideals. Her thoughts of saving everyone can considered as noble or naive depending on where one stands, but her position on the matter remains firm, and she wishes to finish what she considers both her and Myouren's mission - to offer peace to humans and youkai, long considered sworn enemies in her time.
Byakuren has great experience with various types of magic. She gathered many of her powers while working with her youkai allies, or while saving other youkai from undeserved fates that none else would. Most of these are vaguely useful spells usable in and out of combat, and are too numerous to list. Many of them are spells which increase her physical abilities to superhuman levels through bodily reinforcement, giving her abilities much like many youkai naturally posess. As such, techniques such as flash-stepping are common in Byakuren's arsenal, as well as increased physical strength, great increases to healing and regeneration, heightened senses and improved casting abilities. Some say that a few of her most powerful spells can be considered 'demonic' in nature, and were based on techniques she learned while sealed in Makai. However, Byakuren's abilities are only used with good intentions in mind, wishing no harm or discord among the people.
However, her main asset is her Sorceror's Sutra Scroll. This magically embued scroll is, at once, a powerful magical artifact considered both a magical grimoire and magic catalyst. In this way, The Scroll can be used to hold a nearly limitless range of spells Byakuren has learned and store them indefinately within its 'memory'. As a catalyst, the Scroll can easily auto-cast such spells from it's memory and amplify their effects greatly to achieve greater results than if she cast them on her own. Interestingly enough, the Sorceror Scroll is keyed uniquely to Byakuren - anyone who attempts to steal it will quickly realize the scroll only activates when she is wielding it.
Shou Toramaru: Disciple of Bishamonten and one of her trusted allies, Byakuren usually trusts Shou to fulfill any of her duties that she cannot accomplish immediately, considering her a responsible second-in-command, if she can be called that. Their friendship was formed rather early on in their travels together, and it still remains strong to this day, much like the others who came along with her.
Minamitsu Murasa: The vengeful ship phantom had nearly killed Byakuren as she attempted to free Murasa from her own lingering regrets. Despite Murasa causing the deaths of many on board, Byakuren's resolve held firm, pacifying the spirit, giving her new purpose and a ship of her own, the Palanquin. Byakuren quickly found that Murasa was quite a loyal to her cause, searching for a way to free the monk from the depths of Makai.
Ichirin Kumoi: A youkai nun and nyuudou user, she is another of Byakuren's followers. Byakuren discovered Ichirin during her travels and and told her of her philosophy of supporting both humans and youkai in peace. After negotiating with her guardian, Unzan in order to accept both of them into the fold, Byakuren carried on a friendly, if somewhat didactic relationship with Ichirin, trusting her to help the Myouren Temple and to learn well from the monk's wisdom.
Nue Hojuu: Despite being a troublemaker with a love of bothering others for enjoyment, Byakuren's near limitless patience helps to keep her in check as much as she's able to manage. Byakuren, over time, accepted and understood her behaviour, in some ways, learning to tolerate it. Byakuren steadily accepted the outcast chimera as one of her own, eventually forming a deep bond of friendship with her over time.
Toyosatomimi No Miko: While Miko seems to explicitly undermine Byakuren's teachings and ideals and is dismissive of Buddhism in general, Byakuren is quick to remind the Saint that they are more similar than they realize, at least in terms of philosophical grounds. She does not consider Miko an 'enemy' of sorts as much as someone who would be better off working /with/ rather than against her. She does, however, criticize Miko's ideas that seem to imply being subjugated to her authority.
Seiga Kaku: The 'wicked' hermit attached to Miko's group is not a person she holds in very high regard, sensing the evil lurking within her and fearing that she may cause much suffering to others if left unchecked. She doesn't trust Seiga in the slightest, considering her a dangerous individual and markedly disliking anything associated with her meddling in other people's affairs.
Mamizou: One of Nue's friends, and pleasant enough company if she can tolerate the tanuki's more worldly nature. She respects Mamizou well enough, realizing that she is equally wise, albeit sharing a little in Nue's love of confusing others.
Koishi: An interesting young Satori she'd encountered some time ago. Byakuren takes an interest in her due to her seemingly 'empty' mental state resembling enlightenment. She hopes that Koishi will learn something from her teachings, if she ever returns to hear more.
Hata no Kokoro: Byakuren aided the Menreiki in controlling her emotions during the Shinkirou incident. She seems to take resposibility in helping her with troubles she might have, just as she does with many youkai who seek her guidance.