The Rinnegan (輪廻眼; Literally meaning "Saṃsāra Eye") is reputed as the most exalted eyes amongst the Three Great Dōjutsu (三大瞳術, San Daidōjutsu; Literally meaning "Three Great Eye Techniques"). It is characterised by its ripple-like pattern which spreads over the eyeballs, with light purple irides and sclerae.
The first person to possess the Rinnegan was the Sage of the Six Paths. Because of the Sage's mythical status, many people believed the Rinnegan was only a legend or a mutation. Because the Rinnegan was originally wielded by the Sage of the Six Paths, re-merging his bloodlines: that of the Senju and Uchiha can lead to that person awakening this dōjutsu. This was proven when Madara Uchiha later awakened the dōjutsu by infusing Hashirama Senju's DNA into his body; however it did not manifest until he was near the end of his natural lifespan. At some point after this, he would implant his eyes into Nagato — a young Senju descendant. Obito Uchiha, being the partner of and given the guise of Madara, believes that since it was given to Nagato by Madara, he is entitled to taking the Rinnegan from Nagato's body after his death. He implants one of the Rinnegan in his left socket, replacing the Sharingan he sacrificed.
When Madara was reincarnated by Kabuto Yakushi to fight the Allied Shinobi Forces, Madara once again gained access to the dōjutsu; his Eternal Mangekyō Sharingan transformed into the Rinnegan. Based on data collected over the years, Kabuto Yakushi and Orochimaru theorised that because the Sharingan originated from the Rinnegan, it was possible for the dōjutsu to change into the Rinnegan as part of a "natural evolution". This is supported by the fact he maintains his Susanoo while having his Rinnegan activated. Upon reincarnation, Nagato also retained the Rinnegan.
One who gains the Rinnegan has access to a multitude of abilities. On its own, the Rinnegan allows the user to see chakra, including otherwise hidden barriers such as the one which surrounded Konohagakure. The holder of these eyes have the potential to completely master all five basic nature transformations that form the basis of ninjutsu. It can also decipher more of the Sage of the Six Paths' tablet than the Sharingan and the Mangekyō Sharingan are able to. The Rinnegan can also allow its user to summon and control the Demonic Statue of the Outer Path.
One of the Rinnegan's trademark techniques is the Six Paths Technique, which grants the user multiple abilities, known as Paths. The Animal Path can summon several different creatures. The Naraka Path can summon the King of Hell, which could be used for interrogation and restoration. The Preta Path can absorb any chakra-based ninjutsu. The Asura Path can clad the user in mechanised armour and grant them various weapons. The Human Path can read minds, at the cost of ripping out the victim's soul. The Deva Path allows the manipulation of gravity-based forces to either repel or pull in an enemy.
Finally the user is granted the Outer Path, also known as the seventh Path. It granted the user control over life and death. It can be used to control tailed beasts in a similar fashion to the Sharingan and the Wood Release with its chakra chains. The Outer Path also granted a shared field of vision between its user and their summoned creatures and Six Paths of Pain, which gave multiple angles of vision and neutralised any blind spots. At this point all of their eyes would also sport the Rinnegan.
When he was crippled by Hanzō, Nagato developed the Six Paths of Pain where he uses his Rinnegan and chakra receivers on freshly killed corpses to serve as extensions of himself. By doing so, Nagato could see each body's field of vision simultaneously, coordinating them with extremely precise planning. Nagato would also channel one of the abilities of the Six Paths Technique through each corpse. Obito also applied this technique, though he used reincarnated jinchūriki. Their eyes sported the Sharingan and Rinnegan, in identical fashion to Obito, and had their tailed beasts temporarily re-sealed inside them, though the Uchiha would not have them use the powers of the Six Paths Technique.
The users of the Rinnegan also gain access to a special set of tools, the chakra receivers; black rods which one can use as a medium to channel chakra or produce chakra chains. Madara once used these tools to store a part of his will inside it for the purpose of his revival. Nagato displayed a weaponised, blade-like version of these, which can disrupt a victim's chakra that have been stabbed by these. Obito displayed another version of this, in the form of giant stakes capable of piercing the flesh of a tailed beast and can restrain the beasts with chakra chains.
While the powers of the Rinnegan remain intact upon implanting them in a new person, like Nagato and Obito Uchiha, only one who "naturally" manifests the Rinnegan, as in Madara Uchiha's case, is able to switch between the Rinnegan and Sharingan, otherwise, the Rinnegan is always activated. However, it would appear that maintaining the Rinnegan consumes very little chakra, if any at all, based on the fact Nagato never showed signs of fatigue while possessing the Rinnegan even before being trained by Jiraiya.
- In the anime, the Rinnegan was depicted as being multicoloured in its first few appearances. Once coloured manga illustrations of the Rinnegan were released, this was corrected.
- In Naruto: Shippūden episode 203, a silhouette of the Sage of the Six Paths is shown. Here, the Sage's Rinnegan is shown to be red instead of the usual colour.
- Rinne (輪廻; ; ; ) is the Japanese term for Samsara, the cycle of reincarnation or rebirth in several Indian religions. This is reflected in the names of all Six Paths of Pain, which share the names with Samsaric realms of reincarnation.
- ↑ Naruto chapter 462, page 11
- ↑ Naruto chapter 606, page 13
- ↑ Naruto chapter 606, pages 13-15
- ↑ Naruto chapter 509, page 4
- ↑ Naruto chapter 514, page 18
- ↑ Naruto chapter 560, pages 14-15
- ↑ Naruto chapter 588, pages 14-15
- ↑ Naruto chapter 419, page 2
- ↑ Naruto chapter 375, page 11
- ↑ Naruto chapter 467, page 11
- ↑ Naruto chapter 552, page 3
- ↑ Naruto chapter 556, pages 5-6
- ↑ Naruto chapter 569, page 10