THE WORLD CIVILIZATIONS AND INDIA , PART-27

SHINTO RELIGION AND JAPAN

AMATERASU ( SUN-GODESS ) , after banishment of storm and darkness to the world below , had become the most important SHINTO deity . It became now the Supreme Being and AMATERASU had , thus , the greatest SHINTO shrine in JAPAN established at the Island of the South coast . It is there that her mirror the Sun has been kept in a box which is treated with a great reverence . Apart from that the second greatest shrine was located at IZUMO where SUSANOWO ( THE STORM-GOD ) and his son OHONAMOCHI ( THE EARTH-GOD ) were worshiped . The SHINTO myths , further , states that how AMATERASU dispossessed OHNAMOCHI from ruling the Earth and the reign of the entire JAPAN was given to her grandson NINIGI . It is said that NINIGI all the way came down from the Heaven and married the Goddess MOUNT FUJI . And JIMMU TENNO , one of their grand children , was declared as the first Emperor of JAPAN supposedly in 660 BC . However , there is a dispute among historians about the date as some them put his date as back as only 40 BC . Thus , the Emperor was believed to be of divine decedent . Moreover , all the three sacred Imperial Treasures : 1. Mirror ; 2. Jewels ; and 3. Sword were considered as of divine origin . As we know that the Mirror had been kept in a box at South Coast Island , the Sword at another shrine and the Jewels at the royal palace of TOKYO .

References have been made about other Gods in the SHINTO cults apart from the Sun-Goddess . The most important among them was UKEY-MOCHI (FOOD-POSSESSOR) , the spirit of food and drink . Another lesser God was INARI (RICE-GOD) whose shrines were located in every Village of JAPAN . It is said that the fox was his messenger and was considered as one of the lesser Gods itself as such . The shrine of the Gods were generally made up of wood . They also had the wooden roofs . It is said that they were rebuilt every twenty years on the same traditional patterns . It appears to be on the similar basis of the shrine of LORD JAGANNATH of PURI in INDIA . As the shrine of the LORD is made up of wood and rebuilt/replaced ceremoniously every twelve or nineteen year . For these Gods of SHINTO religion, there existed small dwellings where priests performed the ceremonies and the ritual dances but public generally were not allowed to be inside such dwellings as such . We however don’t see any concept of images worship in the ancient SHINTO religion , Mirror and Sword were just symbolic . The concept of images only entered into it after the entrance of BUDDHISM in JAPAN . And every shrine has a typical wooden gateway at the entrance and ropes mark off the entire sacred areas . The GOHEI ( USED FOR BLESSING AND SANCTIFYING A PERSON OR AN OBJECT IN THE SHINTO RELIGION ) was used as symbols of sanctity . It is a sort of small poles in which was inserted small pieces of paper or cloth . We could also see groves of tall ancient trees around the shrines which expressed how the JAPANESE were having intense love for the nature .

Many historical facts ascertain that SHINTO is a primitive religion but the fact is that it has an organized priesthood and elaborate rituals . We also see existence of family and village Gods which have their own festivals . It is virtually a religion of love and gratitude . But the defect with this religion was that it had no concept or doctrine of immortality of soul and that’s why they avoided funeral ceremony as such . It was the cause why BUDDHISM took its root in the JAPANESE society . Since BUDDHISM allowed images worship and believed in the doctrine of immortality of soul , it was liked by the JAPANESE people despite the fact that it was an imported religion and its origin being in INDIA as such . However , the SHINTO sects gave more emphasis on purity of heart and soul . The rituals simply existed for purification from defilement , but it had a very limited sense of sin as such .

NOTE : THE SOURCES OF THE BLOG ARE TEXT BOOKS AND OTHER WRITTEN MATERIALS ON THE SUBJECT .

TO BE CONTINUED ……………………..

THE WORLD CIVILIZATIONS AND INDIA , PART-24

ACCOUNTS OF FA-HIEN AND HIUEN-TSANG

FA-HIAN and HIUEN-TSANG—both were CHINESE travelers who traveled to INDIA on different time span but prepared vivid accounts of INDIA which would be appropriate to mention here so that the world must know how INDIA was in the fourth and seventh century . Let us start first with FA-HIEN . He was a CHINESE traveler who visited INDIA between 405-411 AD during the reign of CHANDRAGUPTA-2 . His travelogues have been compiled as ‘ A RECORD OF BUDDHIST KINGDOM ‘. He traveled through the terrible desert of GOBI and crossing the dangerous peaks of HINDUKUSH range of mountains by foot . He spent total 15 years in this exercise out of which he spent 9 years in traveling and the rest of his times in reading BUDDHIST MANUSCRIPTS . He traveled through at least thirty countries to reach INDIA . He has written about his loneliness of journey in such words , ‘ I saw my shadow only during my journey which depressed my heart from within ‘. He has further written that when he saw a business man dedicating a CHINESE silk fan to the statue of LORD BUDDHA in SRI LANKA , tears came out from my eyes and bosom filled with emotion . When FA-HIEN reached the city of KARA in TURKESTAN , three of his co-travelers decided to return to CHINA in view of the ferocious behavior of the local inhabitants . A co-traveler whose name was HUI-CHING died in his lap on the freezing peaks of WHITE KOH . And only one co-traveler accompanied with him to INDIA . And when he saw the grandeur of BUDDHISM in INDIA in comparison to his own country , he decided to stay in INDIA for ever to get NIRVANA ( EMANCIPATION ) .

He saw hundreds of BUDDHIST MONASTERIES and CAIRNS in INDIA ranging from AFGHANISTAN to the Doab of the GANGES River. However , he saw some of the BUDDHIST places barren filled with dilapidated Monuments as such . About the birth place of LORD BUDDHA i.e KAPILVASTU in NEPAL , he has written , ‘In KAPILVASTU there exists neither any King nor any subject . The entire city has turned into delapidated Monuments . Some priests and about ten families reside over there . On the way there is fear of lions and wild Elephants .’ KUSHINAGAR , where LORD BUDDHA got NIRVANA ( EMANCIPATION ) , was a lonely place . In AFGHANISTAN , there lived about three thousands BUDDHIST MONKS . BANNU , on the border , was the centre of BUDDHISM where as per his estimate lived more than thousand of BUDDHIST MONKS in the BUDDHIST MONASTERIES . They all were the followers of the HINYANA sect of BUDDHISM . There existed a big BAUDDH VIHAR in KHOTAN . He has further written that in PESHAWAR (NOW IN PAKISTAN) , there existed a BUDDHIST PAGODA which was as high as four hundred feet . And this PAGODA was built by the KUSHAN King KANISHKA and grandeur of which was unparallel . To him , the PAGODA of PESHAWAR was the biggest and greatest in the entire world .

What impressed FA-HIEN more was the conducts of the BUDDHIST MONKS and impact of BUDDHISM on the people of INDIA at large . He has written in his Accounts that ‘ The conduct of BUDDHIST MONKS in GOMATI BAUDH VIHAR was very grave . They were busy in their worship and meditation . They used to sit in a fixed order . They never made even a slight noise . Most of the time they were silent . They neither filled up their begging bowl , nor did they expect much from the givers . Whenever they needed something they used to point out that thing by hands ‘. About the conduct of the King , FA-HIEN has written that the conduct of Kings were as innocent as that of the conduct of the BUDDHIST MONKS . He has further written, ‘ Whenever they donated something to the BUDDHIST MONKS they used to remove his crown from his head . And whenever they feed foods to them they with their family members and courtiers remained standing before them . After food was finished , they used to sit before the chief Monk . They never dared to sit before them in any chair or cot ‘. He has also mentioned about 96 NON-BUDDHIST sects that existed that time in INDIA which considered this physical world as true . He has further written that in and around AYODHYA there were people who were followers of HINDU religion as such . And all of them liked to live in peace with each others .

NOTE : THE SOURCES OF THE BLOG ARE TEXT BOOKS AND OTHER WRITTEN MATERIALS ON THE SUBJECT .

TO BE CONTINUED …………………..

Create your website with WordPress.com
Get started