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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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From Dragon to Snake

From Dragon to Snake

Uga Benzaiten

(p.191) 5 From Dragon to Snake
Protectors and Predators

Bernard Faure

University of Hawai'i Press

The goddess of sound and music Benzaiten came to form a symbiotic relationship with Ugajin, a hybrid god represented with the body of a snake and the head of an old man. The composite deity they formed was known as Uga Benzaiten. The chapter begins with a general discussion of Uga Benzaiten’s characteristics and symbolism before turning to the Tendai transformation in which she became a deity in her own right rather than a simple variation on Benzaiten. This transformation was largely carried out within the Tendai tradition of Mt. Hiei.

Keywords:   Uga Benzaiten, Daikokuten, animals and hybridity, wish-fulfilling jewel, Mt Hiei, Tendai Buddhism, sun-goddess Amaterasu, earth-deity, Kōjin

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