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Death and the Afterlife in Japanese Buddhism$
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Jacqueline I. Stone and Mariko Namba Walter

Print publication date: 2008

Print ISBN-13: 9780824832049

Published to Hawaii Scholarship Online: November 2016

DOI: 10.21313/hawaii/9780824832049.001.0001

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At the Crossroads of Birth and Death

At the Crossroads of Birth and Death

The Blood Pool Hell and Postmortem Fetal Extraction

Chapter:
(p.175) 5 At the Crossroads of Birth and Death
Source:
Death and the Afterlife in Japanese Buddhism
Author(s):

Hank Glassman

Publisher:
University of Hawai'i Press
DOI:10.21313/hawaii/9780824832049.003.0006

This chapter focuses on the opposition between Buddhist ideals of world renunciation and the persistence of familial bonds. In addressing the theme of death and mothers, the chapter examines how death-related Buddhist ritual and thought in medieval Japan mirrored a gradual shift in kinship and gender definitions that accompanied the emergence of the patriarchal household. The sufferings of women subordinated as childbearers to the patriline are reflected in tales of women dying in pregnancy who give birth in the grave, in the nagare kanjo rites performed for the salvation of women who died in childbirth, and in the cult of the apocryphal Blood Bowl Sutra. The chapter additionally details the emergence of the Buddhist rites and how they gave some spiritual reassurance to women facing the threat of death from complications in pregnancy or childbirth.

Keywords:   Buddhist ideals, mothers, death, Buddhist rites, medieval Japan, patriarchal household, nagare kanjo, Blood Bowl Sutra

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