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a ( 阿)

The first letter of the Sanskrit alphabet (as well as the Japanese alphabet), pronounced with the mouth open. Represents alpha, beginning, and inhalation. In the Shingon school of Esoteric Buddhism, also represents the basic essence of all things—see Ajikan.

Ajikan (阿字観)

A "truth-seeking method" of Kuukai and the Shingon school of Buddhism from the Mahavairocana Sutra:

"a ji" = "the word a", which is the basic essence of all things
"kan" = "to see" with one's mind/heart

Ajikan is a form of meditation upon the symble a, which holds that the beginning of all things is in the heart and mind, and one must concentrate on this to understand how any idea one holds can change the shape of the seen and unseen worlds.

Amida Nyorai (阿弥陀如来)

Also known as: Amitabha, Buddha of Infinite Light and Life

A celestial buddha described in the scriptures of the Mahayana school of Buddhism who became a buddha after achieving infinite merits from good deeds in countless lives as a monk named Dharmakara. He created the Pure Land, where those who called upon him could go after rebirth and be instructed in the Dharma, thereby becoming bodhisattvas and buddhas in their turn.

Ashura Dou (阿修羅道)

Also known as: Shura Dou—The Path of Fighting (修羅道)

Lit. "Path of Ashura"; the third highest realm of the Six Realms of Buddhism: the Ashura are semi-gods: powerful, fierce, quarrelsome, both good and evil. The beings of this realm lead a more pleasurable life than humans, but are also plagued with envy of the gods.

Aun (阿吽)

The Japanese equivalent of the Buddhist sound "Om", which represents the cosmic order of creation, sustenance, and destruction; male, female, and neuter; past, present, and future; waking state, sleep state and dream state; inhalation and exhalation. 'Aun' is composed from the characters 'a' and 'un'.

bettou-ji (別当寺)

Bettou-ji, or administrative temples, were (Buddhist) temples attached to (Shinto) shrines before the syncretization of Shintoism with Buddhism was completed in the Edo Era. The temple managed the shrine. Because the organizer of rituals, services, and festivals was called the "bettou," or "chief administrator", these temples came to be called "bettou-ji."

Bishamonten (毘沙門天)

Also know as: Bishamon, Tamonten, Vaiśravaṇa, Kubera

Bishamonten is one of the 12 Deva Guardians, the protector of the North and the most powerful of the Four Heavenly Kings. He is the god of warfare and warriors, sometimes called the "black warrior"; black is his symbolic color, and winter is the season over which he presides. He is often depicted as warrior with a crown on his head, a pagoda in one hand and a trident in the other. He punishes those who do evil and is also the guardian of the places where Buddha preaches. He is one who is all-knowing, who hears everything, who is always listening, and is completely versed in Buddha's teachings. He is one of Japan's Seven Deities of Fortune. The soldiers of his army are the powerful earth deities called Yaksha.

Bishamonten is also called "Tobatsu Bishamonten" (刀八毘沙門天), or "Eight-Sword Bishamonten", because of an error in translation passed down through the centuries. The original name, "Bishamonten of Tobatsu", pointed to a manifestation of Bishamonten which appeared in the Central Asian kingdom of Tou-po or Tobatsu (兜跋) to protect the capital city against invaders. Bishamonten in this form is depicted with a diadem on his head, four hands holding a key, a gem, a pagoda, and a halbert before him and eight arms holding eight swords around him.

Butsugen Butsumo (仏眼仏母)

A deification of the wise and virtuous eye of the Buddha, whose name literally means "Buddha-eye Buddha-mother". Since buddhas are 'those who are enlightened' by 'opening their eyes to the truth', Butsugen Butsumo, who 'opens people's eyes to the truth so that they may be reincarnated as buddhas', can thus be called a 'mother of Buddhas'. Her mantra is chanted at the eye-opening ceremonies of Buddhist statues.

She is generally depicted as a bodhisattva with a slight, joyful smile on her face and her hands cupped in the Hokkai mudra (also associated with Dainichi Nyorai).

cakraratna (輪宝)

The cakraratna is a wheel-shaped treasure possessed by the ideal universal ruler who rules ethically and benevolently over the entire world (the Chakravartin). It is carried in front of him to destroy his enemies and allow easy passage, and is a symbol worshiped in Buddhism.

Chikushou Dou (畜生道)

Lit. "Path of beasts"; the third lowest realm of the Six Realms of Buddhism, filled with ignorance and servitude.

Chiten (地天)

Also know as: Jiten, Prthivi

One of the 12 Deva Guardians who lives in the highest Heaven in the Plane of Desires, whose direction is downward. She is guardian of the earth, the mother goddess, and her counterpart is Bonten, who is guardian of the upward direction and creator of the universe.

Daigensui Myouou (大元帥明王)

Also known as: Āṭavaka

One of the Wisdom Kings, guardians of Buddhism, Daigensui Myouou is particularly worshipped in the secret teachings and is associated with protection of the country and conquest of enemies. In Sanskrit, his name means "Lord of the Forest." He was originally a child-eating demon who was converted by the Buddha to become protector and helper and one of the attendants of Bishamonten.

His shingon is transliterated as: Taritsu taboritsu paraboritsu shayanmei shayanmei tararasantan raenbi sowaka.

Daiitoku Myouou (大威徳明王)

Also known as: Yamantaka Vidya-raja, Conqueror of Death, Vajrabhairava, Rokusokuson (六足尊)—"Venerable Six-Footed One".

One of the Five Great Kings of Wisdom, whose direction is the west. He is the wrathful manifestation of Amida Nyorai and is represented with six faces, six arms, and six legs. He rides a sacred cow or buffalo and is worshipped as a god of victory. He fights pain, poisons, snakes, and dragons.

Sometimes represented with the makouin/bakouin, or "horse-mouth mudra" (馬口印).

His wisdom is the pratyaveksana-jnana (妙観察智), or "wisdom of wondrous observation".

Daijizaiten (大自在天)

Also known as: Mahesvara, Mahabharata, Shiva

One of the aspects of Shiva, the Hindu god of destruction, who was adopted into Buddhism as a protector of Buddhist teachings and one of the Juuniten. According to Esoteric Buddhism, he was vanquished by Gouzanze Myouou, the conqueror of earthly desires, for deluding earthly beings with his religious doctrines.

Dainichi Buddha (大日如来)

Also known as: Mahavairocana, Dainichi Nyorai, Vairocana, Daibutsu

Mahavairocana is the Cosmic Buddha who represents the center or zenith and is especially important to the Shingon school of Esoteric Buddhism. He was worshipped in Japan from as early as the Heian Period, and his Mahavairocana Sutra forms the basis for the rituals of the Shingon School.

Dainichi's characteristic hand gesture is the index finger of the left hand clasped by the five fingers of the right, symbolizing the unity of earth, water, fire, air, and spiritual consciouness.

Dairokuten Maou (第六天魔王)

Also known as: Mara, Devil King of the Sixth Heaven

Lit.: "Demon King of the Sixth Heaven". In Buddhist theology, the Dairokuten Maou is the Demon King who is the personification of delusion and evil, but is also a god who lives in Ten Dou, the highest of the Six Realms. From there he is able to manipulate and exploit beings in all the Realms of Desire, which include the lower five of the Six Realms, as well as the first six out of the twenty-eight heavens into which the the Realm of the Gods is divided. His primary purpose is to ensure that no one escapes the cycle of life and death by tricking them into believing that true happiness lies within the Six Realms.

Oda Nobunaga adopts this title for himself.

Daizuigu (大随求)

Also known as: Mahapratisara

Daizuigu is the wish-granting bodhisattva, one of the five protectress deities, who has four faces and eight arms holding a flaming golden wheel on a lotus, a stack of palm-leaf scriptures, a banner, a noose, a five-pronged vajra, a trident, a sword, and and a battle axe. She protects against sin, illness and danger.

Dakini (荼吉尼/茶枳尼/荼枳尼)

Also known as: Dakiniten (荼吉尼天)

Dakini is a Buddhist deity who was originally an Indian goddess of agriculture. She later became a goddess of gender and lust who ate human flesh or the human heart. She was subjugated by the God of Fortune and allowed to eat the hearts of the dead.

Dakini was originally associated with the jackle in India, but since jackles are not native to Japan, she became associated with the fox instead (it's said that she turned into a white fox after being subjugated by the God of Fortune). It's thought that the worship of Dakini was then meshed into the worship of spirit foxes that originally existed in Japan. The spells of Dakini, Dakiniten-hou, are among the strongest curse-spells.

darani (陀羅尼)

Dharani; spells, litanies, Sanskrit multi-syllabic chants derived from Buddhism and Hinduism which are powerful mystic formulae that protect the user. See the Dharani section for a list of incantations used in Mirage of Blaze.

Diamond Realm (金剛界)

Also known as: Kongoukai, Vajradhatu

A metaphysical space inhabited by the Five Wisdom Kings described in the Diamond Crown Sutra. It represents the wisdom of Mahavairocana, which with the hardness and purity of diamonds can crush all earthly desires and illusions.

Esoteric Buddhism (密教)

Buddhist teachings which are conveyed secretly or implicitly and are held to be beyond the understanding of an ordinary person. It was founded on the principle that the two aspects of Buddha—the unchanging cosmic principle and the active, physical manifestation of Buddha in the natural world—are one and the same and cannot be known verbally. One method for comprehension, therefore, is through visual representation and symbolism. The practitioners of Esoteric Buddhism chant mantras, form symbolic positions with their hands ("mudras") and train in other types of mystical arts.

Fudou Myouou (不動明王)

Also known as: Acala, Acalanatha Vidya-raja, The Immovable

Fudou Myouou is the chief of the Five Great Kings of Wisdom, whose direction is the center. He is the destroyer of delusion and protector of Buddhism; he is called The Immovable because he is unmoved by carnal temptations. He seeks to transform anger into salvation, and is usually depicted as a fiercely-scowling figure with a demon-subduing sword in one hand and a rope in the other. He is worshiped as a manifestation of Dainichi Nyorai.

Fukuukenjaku Kannon (不空羂索観音)

Also known as: Amoghapāśa

Fukuukenjaku Kannon is a manifestation of Avalokiteshvara (Kannon), a compassionate bodhisattva who is a savior from suffering. His name means "not empty/unerring net or lasso" and in this manifestation his eight or twenty arms hold symbolic articles such as the lotus blossom, arrow, bell, noose, prayer wheel, rosary, staff, or whisk. He is sometimes depicted wearing a deerskin.

Gaki Dou (餓鬼道)

Lit. "Path of Hungry Ghosts"; the second lowest realm of the Six Realms of Buddhism, filled with craving and eternal starvation.

Gakkou Bosatsu (月光菩薩)

Also known as: Candraprabha

Lit.: "Moonlight/Lunar Radiance Bodhisattva", a bodhisattva whose specialty is moonlight and good health, often seen with her sister Nikkou Bosatsu, the Sunlight Bodhisattva, with whom she serves Yakushirurikou Nyorai, the Medicine Buddha. They are also sometimes attendants of Kannon.

At the Toudai Temple in Nara, she stands to the left of Fukuukenjaku Kannon.

Godai Myouou (五大明王)

Also know as: godaison (五大尊)

Lit.: "Five Great Kings of Wisdom"; the five kings are fierce/wrathful deities who correspond to the five directions: Fudou Myouou is in the center, Gouzanze Myouou in the east, Gundari Myouou in the south, Daiitoku Myouou in the west, and Kongouyasha Myouou in the north. Their wisdom is contained in dharani and mantras.

The Five Wisdom Kings live in the Diamond Realm.

Gohou Douji (護法童子)

Also known as: Gohou Douji of the Sword

Lit.: "Dharma-protecting boy"; a variety of demon-deity in the service of Bishamonten who can be summoned by a high priest with mikkyou to do his bidding. They look like boys of 9 or 10 with red hair and golden skin who wear a thousand swords and ride on top of a magic wheel. Their power and skills are varied and depend on the power of their summoners.

In Mirage of Blaze, Takaya summons the Gohou Douji by writing Bishamonten's mantra on a piece of paper in Sanskrit and wrapping it around a dagger while chanting On beishiramandaya sowaka, then drawing Bishamonten’s seed syllable in the air above the blade before placing the fore- and middle fingers of his right hand against his forehead. He then touches the sword to his fingers, whereupon the paper ignites, and the Gohou Douji appears from the fire.

gojou-kesa (五条袈裟)

Lit. "five-stripe robe", a simple ceremonial mantle worn by Buddhist priests over their monk's robes, it is traditionally made by sewing together five pieces of rectangular cloth and represents Shakyamuni Buddha's original robe.

Gouzanze Myouou (降三世明王)

Also known as: Trailokyavijaya Vidya-raja, Conqueror of the Three Worlds

One of the Five Great Kings of Wisdom, whose direction is the east, his name signifies victory over enemies of the three worlds of the manifested universe, which are the celestial, earthly, and infernal realms. He is a wrathful god whose color is blue. He is generally depicted with three faces, eight arms, and two of his hands crossed at his breast in the mudra known as vajrahumkara (dairikikei 大力契, or "vow of immense strength" in Japanese).

His wisdom is the adarsa-jnana (大円鏡智), or "great perfect mirror wisdom", which is the wisdom to clearly elucidate all things.

Great Kantou Triangle (関東大三角)

A metaphysical formation created by High Priest Tenkai as the foundation for his spell effecting eternal peace and security for the Tokugawa Shogunate. The Houjou planned to exploit it as a power-focus in their quest to conquer the country. The three points of the right triangle are: Mt. Nikkou (north), Sunosaki Shrine (south), and the Toushou Shrine at Mt. Kunou (west).

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Gundari Myouou (軍荼利明王)

Also known as: Kundali

One of the Five Great Kings of Wisdom, whose direction is the south.

His wisdom is the samata-jnana (平等性智), or "wisdom of equality".

Hachiman-kami (八幡神)

Also known as: Yahata no Kami, Yawata no Kami, hachiman Daibosatsu (八幡大菩薩)

Hachiman is a Shinto God of War whose name means God of Eight Banners. He is a popular deity in Japan who is also worshiped as the god of agriculture and divine protector of the Japanese people.

Houin (法印)

Lit.: "Seal of the Law", a title given to Buddhist clergy of the highest rank.

Jigoku Dou (地獄道)

Lit. "Path of Hell"; the lowest, cruelest realm of the Six Realms of Buddhism, filled with torture and aggression.

jikitotsu (直綴)

The robe normally worn by Buddhist monks, usually made of dark cloth.

Jikokuten (持国天)

Also known as: Dhṛtarāṣṭra

Jikokuten, He Who Upholds the Realm, is one of the Four Heavenly Kings and guardian of the East. He is the god of music, and his symbolic weapon is the pipa (sometimes called the Chinese lute), which he uses to convert others to Buddhism. He is harmonious and compassionate and commands an army of Kendatsuba (celestial musicians) and Bishasha (vampire demons) to protect all beings.

Jinja-ou

A manifestation of Bishamonten, Jinja-ou is said to have aided Xuanzang in his journey to retrieve Buddhist scriptures from India. He is the god of bridge-building and serpents.

Juuniten (十二天)

Also known as: 12 Celestial Beings, 12 Deva, 12 Deva Guardians

The highest-ranking deities of the highest heaven of the Plane of Desire who are particularly important to the Shingon sect of Esoteric Buddhism. The 12 Devas are guardians of the 12 directions: the eight cardinal and ordinal directions, up, down, sun, and moon. The twelve are: Bonten, Taishakuten, Suiten, Bishamonten, Enmaten, Katen, Rasetsuten, Ishanaten, Futen, Nitten, Gatten, Chiten.

Kannon (観音)

Also known as: Kanzeon, Kwannon (Japan), Kuan Shi Yin, Kuan Yin (China), Avalokiteśvara, Avalokiteshvara, Lokeshvara (India)

Kannon, represented in both male and female forms, is the Goddess and Bodhisattva of mercy, or Lord of Compassion whose name means "observing the sounds of the world". She is one of the most widely worshiped divinities in Japan and mainland Asia, and has many manifestations, such as Fukuukenjaku Kannon, Juuichimen Kannon, Juntei, Senjuusengan Kannon, etc. According to the Mahayana school of Buddhism, Kannon made a vow to listen to the prayers of all sentient beings in times of strife and to postpone his own perfect enlightenment until he has helped every being on earth achieve nirvana.

During the Tokugawa Shogunate, when Christianity was punishable by death in Japan, some underground Christian groups disguised the Virgin Mary as statue of Kannon; these statues are known as "Maria Kwannon".

Karin-dan (火輪壇)

Lit.: "fire-wheel platform"; a triangular goma platform constructed for the neutralization of the 'kinrin no hou' curse. Its colors are blue, black, and red.

Kishimojin (鬼子母神)

Lit.: Mother of Demon Children
Also known as: Karitei (訶利帝), Kariteimo (訶梨帝母), Hariti

Kishimojin was originally a cannibalistic demon who stole the children of others to feed her own children. The mothers of those children pleaded with Shakyamuni to save them. He agreed and hid away the youngest of Kishimojin's children, upon whom she doted. She searched the universe for him, but could not find him, and finally asked Shakyamuni for help. Shakyamuni admonished her and asked her to imagine the pain other mothers must feel when she stole away their children, whereupon Kishimojin vowed to protect all children from that day forward, and became the goddess of easy birthing and the protection and parenting of children.

Kishimojin's consort and the father of her children is Pancika, one of the 28 yasha generals in the army of Bishamonten.

Kongouyasha Myouou (金剛夜叉明王)

Also known as: Vajrayaksa

One of the Five Great Kings of Wisdom, whose direction is the north.

His wisdom is the krtyanusthana-jnana (成所作智), or "wisdom of accomplishing that which is to be done".

Koumokuten (広目天)

Also known as: Virūpākṣa

Koumokuten He Who Sees All, is one of the Four Heavenly Kings and guardian of the West. He associated with serpents and water, and his symbolic weapon is a snake. He leads an army of Nāga, which include serpents and dragons.

Koushin (庚申)

A belief that certain days of the year are days of great misfortune. Koushin days appear six times within the year, as well as in the Koushin Year, the 57th year of the 60-year Zodiac cycle. Special Buddhist (originally Chinese Taoist) rituals are performed on these days to ward off evil influences, to protect against misfortune, and to cure illness.

The monkey is an important part of the rituals, since the "shin" (申) character also means "monkey" and is the Zodiac animal that is associated with Koushin days.

Shoumen Kongou, a god of healing, became associated with these rituals in the Kamakura Period in Japan.

Kuuhatsu Gohou (空鉢護法)

One of the Eight Great Yasha Generals who serve Bishamonten.

Lotus Sutra

Also known as the "White Lotus of the True Dharma" (Saddharmapundarikasutra), it is the teachings of the Buddha Shakyamuni and describes his path towards enlightenment.

Mahavairocana Sutra

Also known as: Dainichi-kyo

An important Buddhist sutra used in esoteric schools of Buddhism, especially the Shingon sect. This sutra is unusual in that it did not originate from Shakyamuni Buddha, the founder of Buddhism, but was said to have passed straight from Mahavairocana Buddha. It was brought to Japan by Kuukai.

In this sutra, Mahavairocana translates his teachings into ritual forms which form the basis of the rituals in the Shingon School.

mikkyou (密教)

An abbreviated name for "himitsu Bukkyou", or "secret Buddhist teachings", mikkyou are exceedingly mystic and symbolic doctrines transferred from master to disciple within sects, generally used by schools of Esoteric Buddhism.

Mikkyou came into existence in India during the rise of Hinduism and the oppression of Buddhism. In the early stages of mikkyou, Buddhism slowly absorbed mystical/magical components, and each Buddha was given a mudra and dharani.

Nikkou Bosatsu (日光菩薩)

Also known as: Suryaprabha

Lit.: "Sunlight/Solar Radiance Bodhisattva", a bodhisattva whose whose specialty is sunlight and good health, often seen with her sister Gakkou Bosatsu, the Moonlight Bodhisattva, with whom she serves Yakushirurikou Nyorai, the Medicine Buddha. They are also sometimes attendants of Kannon.

At the Toudai Temple in Nara, she stands to the right of Fukuukenjaku Kannon.

Nin Dou (人道)

Lit. "Path of Man"; the second highest realm of the Six Realms of Buddhism: human beings who are both good and evil, who have enlightenment within their reach, but are often too blinded by their desires to grasp it.

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