Hindu Gods and Goddesses in Japan
Saroj Kumar Chaudhuri, Vedams, 2003, xviii, 184 p, ills, ISBN : 8179360091, Price : $55.00
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Hindu Gods and Goddesses in Japan

Contents: Preface. Glossary of important terms used in the text. Historical period. Introduction. 1. The adoption of Hindu divinities in Japan. 2. Vaisravana, the heavenly king. 3. Laksmi, the Goddess of fortune. 4. Sarasvati, the Goddess of learning. 5. Yama, the Lord of death. 6. Mahakala, the great black deity. 7. Hariti, the protectress of children. 8. Indra, the king of heaven. 9. Ganapati, the elephant-head God. 10. Joint worship of the four heavenly kings. 11. Marici, the deity of rays. 12. Varuna, the God of waters. 13. Isana, the destroyer. 14. Brahma, the creator. 15. Prthivi, the earth deity. 16. Agni, the fire God. 17. Raksasa, the demon God. 18. Aditya, the sun God. 19. Candra, the moon God. 20. Vayu, the wind God. 21. Garuda, the divine bird. 22. Visnu, the Lord of universe. 23. Dakini, the demi-Goddess. Chinese characters of Japanese and Chinese expressions. Index.

"Buddhism introduced many Hindu Gods and Goddesses to the Japanese. The rulers were the first to be attracted to them. Historical records show that they earnestly believed in the miracles of these divinities promised in the sutras. Many miracle stories started appearing in popular literature as the divinities percolated down to the masses. The resulting naturalisation process in the case of some divinities went to the extent that they became an integral part of the native Shinto pantheon. Their popularity remains unabated even today. The Tantric Buddhist sects also played a vital role in propagating the divinities. They regularly worshipped the divinities in their temples where people thronged in large numbers. Many steps in these ceremonies, for instance, the homa ritual, are very familiar to the present-day Hindus. The monks have also produced a considerable volume of religious literature related to these divinities. Descriptions of many divinities show that they have not changed substantially over centuries. A study of these writings also shows that a large volume of Hindu myths and legends related to these deities were transmitted to Japan. These writings are also a testimony to the way the ancestors of the present-day Hindus thought about these deities, say, around the eighth or ninth century of the Christian era." (jacket)

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