Ganesh and Navagraha in Japan!! (Post No.5125)

Compiled by LONDON SWAMINATHAN

 

Date: 18 JUNE 2018

 

Time uploaded in London –  16-26  (British Summer Time)

 

Post No. 5125

 

Pictures shown here are taken from various sources such as Facebook friends, Wikipedia, Books, Google and newspapers; thanks. Pictures may be subject to copyright laws.

 

 

Those who are interested in the ancient history of India and Japan must buy Lokesh Chandra’s book

‘Cultural Interflow Between Indian and Japan’ (published by International Academy of Indian Culture and Aditya Prakashan , New Delhi, 2014) It is in A 4 size with lots of pictures an diagrams. It contains lot of information which is not known to the outside world. Mr Lokesh Chandra and his father Dr Raghuvira are renowned scholars and authority on Indo- Japanese relations of ancient periods.

 

I am going to give you some interesting information only in bullet points; for full information one must read the book.

Mahbaharata in the Kabuki Theatre

The well known kabuki drama Naru-kami is derived from the legend of Rsyasrnga known in Japanese as Ikkaku Sennin, that is Ekasrnga. The whole legend has been translated from Chinese into French by Edouard Chavanes. Hsuan tsang mentions a hermitage in Gandhara where Ekasrnga lived near the foot hills of Swat mountains

Homa and Homa Kundas in Japan

Goma (homa in Sanskrit) is lit in metallic vessel on a wooden altar. A ninth century scroll in the Toji monastery has different homa altars for the worship of planets (Nava Graha) and 28 constellations (naksatra- isti). This Goma- ro – dan -yo scroll has coloured illustrations of the planets, constellations and their altars. Goma is the esoteric fire, the calm and the fury of the ritual rhythms in the cosmic counterpoint of invocations with Sanskrit mantras.

Gigantic Rock with Sanskrit hieronym

Along a road stands an oval rock about ten feet high on flat roundish base of another rock, with the Sanskrit monogram RO. Sanskrit letters implying deeper levels. A modern Japanese girl in mini, her hair dyed blonde and perhaps with a styrene injection for a round feminine form, stops by, graciously puts a tangerine on a piece of paper, as an offering to the planets. RO is the symbolic syllable of the Biijaakshara for Nava Graha Puja (Nava Graha= Nine Planets). Such are the frozen levels of culture ever echoing at different strata of existence and consciousness.

Bugaku and Gigaku

Bugaku and Gigaku dances are performed on the occasion of the Great Consecration ceremony at the Todaiji temple. Indian cultural influence is very easily recognised in bugaku’s structure. For instance one of the popular stories of Bugaku is the Bali Dance, which reproduces Ramayana’s famous story of the fight between Vali and Sugriva in the Kishkinda forest.

Gigaku, introduced twelve centuries ago, reproduces Indian legendary stories. Gigaku was also performed at the Great Buddha Consecration ceremony and moved spectators to laughter. Gikaku, masked comical dance, was believed to have been very popularly performed at the Todaji and other temples in Nara in those times.

 

Biwa= Veena

The largest lake in Japan, Lake Biwa,  is named after its close resemblance to the shape of a biwa. Thus, the Indian Viina, became the origin of Japan’s largest lake.

Buddhism in Japan

In 552 CE, the monarch of Paekche (Kudara/Korea) presented a gilt bronze image of Saakyamuni, Sutras, banners and umbrellas to the Japanese emperor Kimmei. The emperor replied that, “never from former days until now have we had the opportunity of listening to so wonderful a doctrine”.

Korea sent monks, a nun, a Buddhist image maker and an architect to the Japanese emperor in 577.

In 584, a stone image of Maitreya was brought from Paekche.

Dharmabodhi

Indian monk Dharmabodhi (Hoodoo) came via China and settled in Hokkezan.

The Brahmin Archbishop

Floating in a sea of verdant woods in the golden ornament of the imposing roof of the Daibutsu-den “Hall of the Great Buddha” of the Todaiji temple. It enshrines the Viraat Rupa of Rocana, in the form of a gigantic statue, in the national temple eighth century Japan. Emperor Shomu had vowed to raise this statue to a height of 48 feet to symbolise the power of the profane and profound. Twelve years and immense materials were spent in casting the Daibutsu.

 

on 9th April 752 it was consecrated in a sumptuous ceremony, which was presided over by Bodhisena, the first historic Indian to have visited Japan. He was a Brahmin of Bharadvaja Gotra. Inspired by Manju Sri, he went to China to Wutai shan mountains sacred to Manju sri. At Imperial invitation, he arrived in Japan in 736 CE where he was warmly welcomed. The people knew him as the Baramon(Brahmin) Archbishop. He attained Samadhi on 25 February 760.

 

In Todaiji temple consecrated by the Brahmin Archbishop, we can view an expressive range of Nara sculptures of Brahma, Indra, Four Lokapaalass, Surya, Candra, Sarasvati and Sri Mahaadevi. Among them is a Krishna like figure playing the flute.

 

In front of the Great Hall of Buddha stands the eighth century octagonal bronze lantern adorned with musicians.

 

Largest Buddha statue in the largest wooden building is found here.

 

Bodhisena had rescued a  monk shipwrecked in the ocean on his way to China. This monk came to Japan along with him where he received a cordial welcome from monk Gyogi and was taken to the capital Nara in 736. His name was Buttestu (Buddhasthira??) He introduced music from his native land of Champa. He introduced Hindu- Buddhist music dances and dramas in Sanskrit.

 

Indian Cotton

Praajnaa (born 744 CE) was a monk from Kapisa who had studied at Nalanda University. In 781 he went to China and translated several Sutras. His writings in palm leaves were brought to Japan

 

In 799 an Indian was washed ashore somewhere in the Makawa province. A young man of twenty years, with nothing to cover his body except a straw coat and short drawers, he was stranded in a country where none understood him. Years later when he became conversant with Japanese, he said that he had come from India. He had seeds of cotton with him. He lived at the Kawadera temple at Nara. Two ancient chronicles Nihon -koki, and Ruiju-kokushi mention that he introduced the cultivation of cotton which became the most important clothing material. The Japanese words WATA or HATA for cotton are derived from Sanskrit ‘Pata’.

Ka, ka, ki, ki, ko, ku

 

India and Japan drink from common springs of culture. I go to children’s school and hear the Goju-on

a i u e o

ka ki ke, ke ko

It reminds me of my childhood when I recited, in like manner, the syllabary

Ka, Kaa, Ki, Kii, Ku, Kuu, Ke Kai …..

The Japanese language is written in the kana syllabary along with Kanji or Chinese characters. The kanji unites India and Japan at the deepest levels.

A Japanese child recites the IROHA poem, which has all the fifty sounds of the alphabet and every syllable occurs only once It is called Citrakaavya in  Sanskrit.

When many decades have passed, the child now matured, realises that he had sung impermanence in the IROHA, as he saw the cherry blossoms fade and fly away. It is a free translation of the Sanskrit poem.

 

One of the greatest poems in Japanese language, it was inspired by the Sanskrit work, Mahapari nirvana Sutra. To this day every Japanese child begins his education with this IROHA poem. Japan has preserved this stanza in original Sanskrit. It has been lost in India.

Ganesh Temples in Edo

The German doctor Phillip Franz von Siebold lived in Edo, Japan during he years 1823-28. He wrote Pantheon von Nippon (1832). He notes that Ganapati was popular among the masses in the Edo period, and there were several temples. The area is known as  Shoten Choo, Ganapati Township, to this day. I visited the Ganapati Temple Shotengu in the frequented area of Asakusa.  In 1970 I saw a huge gathering of young boys and girls who had come to pray for success in their courtship as he is Nandikesvara (Kangiten). Senior people too thronged for all kinds success.

There were 131 shrines to Sarasvati. The German text deserved to be translated into English to get vivid picture of vibrant Buddhism in Edo. In 1836 a shrine to Varuna was consecrated to prevent typhoons. The Japanese worshipped Indra for long life, Brahma to succeed in Imperial service, Varuna for rain, Garuda to cure poisoning and Mahaa  kaala (Good Time) for good business and for victory in war. Japan has the oldest functioning temple of Ganapati in the world.

 

 

My comments

The book by Lokesh Chandra has about 400 pages. It is an encyclopaedia on Indo-Japanese Cultural Links. If I give all the information in the book, it will be a gross violation of copyright rules. Everyone must buy the book and read it.

 

After reading the book, I feel Japan is a fertile field for spreading Hinduism. There we see a mixture of Hindu and Buddhist beliefs.

 

 

 

 

Enku made 100,000 Chip Buddhas (see my article posted yesterday)

–Subham–

 

 

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