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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


(p.75) 2 The Elephant in the Room
Protectors and Predators

Bernard Faure

University of Hawai'i Press

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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