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David Quinter

Abstract

This chapter examines a text dated 1269/8/25 and attributed to Eison that purports to record a direct esoteric transmission from Mañjuśrī to Eison to Shinkū. This chapter shows, however, that the text’s provenance is more complex than previously acknowledged. I argue that to evaluate the text, we must consider both the influence from hagiographical accounts of the Shingon-Kegon monk Myōe (1173-1232) and an increasing esotericization of the Saidaiji order after Eison’s death in 1290. I further suggest that Eison’s reputed 1269 transmission served to legitimize the transition from Eison to Shinkū and successive Saidaiji elders as well as the very relationship between Shingon and Ritsu in the order. By analyzing these developments alongside the related synthesis of esoteric and exoteric precept traditions in fourteenth-century Myōe-lineage transmission texts, this chapter underscores how dream-visions legitimized varied exoteric-esoteric formulations of medieval Nara monastics, including those of later followers of Eison and Myōe.

Series:

Catharina Blomberg

Abstract

Japan has a long tradition of pilgrimages to Shinto shrines, Buddhist temples and other sacred sites. The writings of two Western observers, Olof Eriksson Willman (1624?-1673) and Carl Peter Thunberg (1743-1828), both of whom visited Japan as VOC employees, in 1651-1652 and 1775-1776 respectively, provide several examples of what they found remarkable about the pilgrims they encountered on the Tōkaidō and elsewhere. Their reactions to manifestations of an unfamiliar religion depended on their different backgrounds and the time in which they lived. Whereas Willman saw idolaters and devil worshippers, Thunberg regarded the Japanese faithful in a more tolerant light, influenced as he was by the Enlightenment in Europe. What strikes a contemporary observer about pilgrims today? The French sociologist Muriel Jolivet, who herself completed the pilgrimage to the eighty-eight temples in Shikoku associated with Kōbō Daishi, has provided insights into the mentality of today´s pilgrims, which does not appear to differ greatly from that of their Tokugawa predecessors.

Series:

David Quinter

Abstract

This chapter centers on the period from 1290 to the 1350s. Building on recent iconographic and textual discoveries, it explores the participation of Monkan (1278–1357), a second-generation disciple of Eison, in the Mañjuśrī cult alongside his twofold biographical construction as an orthodox Shingon and Ritsu monk and as a heretical tantric practitioner. I argue that many continuities between the activities of Monkan and those of Eison and his leading first-generation disciples, including their shared emphasis on the Mañjuśrī cult, have been obscured by sensationalized portrayals of Monkan and the supposed aberrant sexual rituals of the “Tachikawa cult.” While showing how distortion itself becomes part of the historical record, this chapter highlights the blurred lines between Ritsu and Shingon, the heterodox and orthodox, and the public and private in Monkan’s activities and the biographical material we use to assess those activities.

Series:

Martin Wood

Abstract

Whilst some work has been carried out concerning the lives and events of Hindu saints associated with the Gujarāt region of Western India, there has been little sustained work on the life of and the miraculous events surrounding the popular Nineteenth Century, Lohānā saint Jalarām Bāpā. During his life, few would have known about Jalarām Bāpā beyond the Kathiawad region of Gujarāt, a region that at the time was experiencing considerable social, economic and political upheaval. Due to the nature of the Gujarātī Diaspora, however, Jalarām Bāpā has become a transnational phenomenon and the miraculous events that he is associated with have travelled with him. Despite his global popularity, however, no attempt has been made to contextualise the hagiographical narratives that speak of his teachings and miracles in nineteenth century Gujarat. This article will attempt to address this scholarly lacuna whilst at the same time providing an understanding of the wider religious and social fabric of the Gujarat at the time.

Series:

Lionel Obadia

Abstract

Based on first-hand ethnographic evidence and historical information, this section aims at portraying the transformations of religious traditions in the Himalayan mountain barriers, situated on the frontier between two great civilisations: Chinese, in the North, and Hindu, in the South. It specially focuses on Buddhist and Shamanic traditions installed in the Himalayan regions of Northern Nepal, on the Tibetan borderland. In Nepal, like in other regions in the Asian world, modernisation processes assume different forms and have varied effects on each religious tradition. Mahayana (Tibetan) Buddhism and (oracular) Shamanism in the Northern area of the Nepalese Himalayas are subjected to somewhat similar driving forces of modernisation, but respond to them in different ways. These two attitudes offer interesting grounds for highlighting and questioning theoretical and methodological issues regarding the use of the (originally Western-styled) concept of “modernity” in the context of the Himalayas.

Series:

Nicholas Campion and Ronnie Gale Dreyer

Abstract

In India jyotiṣa, which includes mathematics, astronomy, astrology, and divination, is one of the six vedāṅgas, ancillary branches of the Vedas necessary for understanding them. The technical tradition visible today has recognisable roots in Vedic hymns and calendars dating from the late second to mid-first millennium bce. In the second century ce, however, the use of horoscopes (planetary positions at the moment of birth) to portend the fate of the individual was introduced from the classical west, thus integrating with the Vedic tradition to form a uniquely Indian astrology. Today, astrology is invariably concerned with questions of destiny, serving a variety of functions designed for people to manage the present and inquire into the future. Oftentimes, there are corresponding rituals, intended to facilitate harmonisation with the flow of time, or to amend a predicted future. This article highlights the history of astrology in India (from the Vedas through the introduction of horoscopes); its technical and interpretative procedures in light of Vedic tradition; planetary deities; temple ritual; concepts of soul, karma and time; pilgrimage (especially the Kumbha Mela); philosophical contexts (including those articulated in, and inherited from, the classical and Hellenistic world); archaeoastronomy (city design and temple architecture related to the stars); sociological contexts, political functions, and notions of world ages. Finally, it will consider colonial dynamics and the modern western adoption of Indian astrology in the context of theories of enchantment, and the postmodern in western ‘alternative’ spiritualities and New Age ideology.