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Marishi-Ten (摩利支天)/ Marici.
Multi-armed Marishi on one boar.

In Japanese mythology Marishi-ten (摩利支天 ?) is known as the goddess of heaven, goddess of light, being a Solar deity. Also known elsewhere as: Marici (Sanskrit), Marisha-Ten (another Japanese name), and Molichitian (Chinese).

Contents

Iconic depictions

Marishi-ten has historically taken the following depictions

  • As a beautiful woman sitting on an open lotus
  • As a ferocious demon perched on the back of a boar
  • Riding a fiery chariot pulled by seven savage boars or sows
  • As a multi-armed woman with a different weapon in each hand standing on the back of a boar.

She has been depicted with one, three, five or six faces and two, six, eight, ten or twelve arms; three eyes; in her many-faced manifestations one of her faces is that of a sow.

Symbols

Origins

The origins of Marishiten are obscure, however she appears to be an amalgamation of Hindu, Iranian, and non-Aryan antecedents spanning 1500 years. She is however identified as a Buddhist "goddess" of light, Marici.

Bujin Marishi-ten

Marishi-ten, Queen of Heaven, Goddess of the Sun and the Moon was adopted by the Bujin or Samurai in the 8th century CE as a protector and patron.

While devotions to Marishi-ten predate Zen, they appear to be geared towards a similar meditative mode in order to enable the warrior to achieve a more heightened spiritual level. He lost interest in the issues of victory or defeat (or life and death), thus transcending to a level where he became so empowered that he was freed from his own grasp on mortality. The end result was that he became a better warrior.

The worship of Marishiten was to provide a way to achieve selflessness and compassion through Buddhist training by incorporating a passion for the mastery of the self.

Samurai would invoke a chant Marishiten at sunrise to achieve victory on the battlefield, or would invoke Marishiten by other means to attain magical powers that would assist them in battle. An example of the martial characteristic was that Marishiten could provide was the ability to confuse the enemy by preventing them from "seeing," effectively turning the invoker "invisible." Since Marici means "light" or "mirage", she was regarded as the deification of mirages and was thus invisible or difficult to see and was thereby accordingly invoked to escape the notice of one's enemies.

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Edo period

She was also later worshipped in the Edo period as a goddess of wealth and prosperity by the merchant class, alongside Daikokuten (大黒天) and Benzaiten (弁財天) as part of a trio of "three deities" (santen 三天).

As a Yaksha General

Marishiten (Marici), has also sometimes included as one of the twelve Yaksha Generals associated with Yakushi, the Buddha of Medicine.

While she rarely appears in Chinese Buddhist art, this deity often appears in that of Japan and Tibet.

See also

References

  • Hall, David Avalon. Marishiten: Buddhism and the warrior Goddess, Ph.D. dissertation, Ann Arbor: University microfilms, 1990.
  • Hall, David Avalon. "Martial Aspects of the Buddhist Mārīcī in Sixth Century China." Annual of The Institute for Comprehensive Studies of Buddhism—Taisho University. No. 13. (March, 1991): 182-199.
  • Hall, David Avalon. "Marishiten: Buddhist Influences on Combative Behavior" in Koryu Bujutsu: Classical Warrior Traditions of Japan. Koryu Books, 1997, pp. 87-119.

External links


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