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Protectors and PredatorsGods of Medieval Japan, Volume 2$
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Bernard Faure

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780824839314

Published to Hawaii Scholarship Online: November 2016

DOI: 10.21313/hawaii/9780824839314.001.0001

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The Elephant in the Room

The Elephant in the Room

Shōten

Chapter:
(p.75) 2 The Elephant in the Room
Source:
Protectors and Predators
Author(s):

Bernard Faure

Publisher:
University of Hawai'i Press
DOI:10.21313/hawaii/9780824839314.003.0003

Vināyaka (a.k.a. Shōten), the Buddhist version of Gaṇeśa and the paradigmatic demon of obstacles, came to play a mojor role in medieval Japanese Buddhism. After a quick survey of his Indian origins, I examine the process through which this demon, once tamed by the bodhisattva Avalokiteśvara, with whom he then formed a dyad known as Kangiten (Bliss Deva), was eventually promoted to the status of a demiurge. Yet Shōten’s demonic nature was never entirely erased, and his ambiguity is reflected in the fact that, even today, his cult is surrounded by a deep cloud of secrecy.

Keywords:   Ganesh, Skanda, Vināyaka, Shōten, Kangiten, Kōjin, mandalas, sexual symbolism, gods of Yin and Yang, divination

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