Menu Content/Inhalt
Главная arrow Publications arrow Economy arrow Fedyanina V.A. The concept of evil spirits in the historic theory of monk Jien
Fedyanina V.A. The concept of evil spirits in the historic theory of monk Jien Печать E-mail
29.03.2017 г.

The concept of evil spirits in the historic theory of monk Jien

Fedyanina V.A. History Ph.D. candidate Associate Professor of the School of Japanese language history Of the Foreign Languages Institute Under the Moscow City Pedagogical University

The complex framework of Japanese religious views includes a cult of ‘vengeful honourable ghosts' (goryo shinko), arising from beliefs about so-called ‘wrathful spirits' (onryo). To this day, these ideas are at the very heart of the religious consciousness of the Japanese people. In contemporary Japan, the rituals for ‘pacifying' such ghosts and honouring the spirits of the deceased hold a special place in Buddhism and in Shinto[1]. It is quite enough to recall the infamous Yasukuni shrine, which commemorates those who died in service for the Empire of Japan. Honouring the spirits of people who gave their lives for their country comes from beliefs in vengeful spirits, though originally, worshipping the dead was not typical for the Shinto religion.

At the heart of these beliefs is the idea that the spirit of the deceased has separated from the dead body and exists independently of it. Pacified spirits help their living descendants, while wrathful and uneasy ghosts can do considerable damage to their descendants, to those who caused their death or to completely unrelated persons [3, 206-207; 5]. During the Heian and Kamakura periods, performing rites to tame wrathful spirits was not only part of spiritual and religious life, but also a political activity. Building shrines and holding taming rituals at the imperial court and other ceremonial venues showed that the state was looking after the welfare of the country. The first recorded spirit-quelling ritual (described in Nihon Sandai Jitsuroku - The True History of Three Reigns of Japan) was held in the year 863 to prevent a famine and an epidemic in the country [6, 109]. It was organised after Buddhist and Shinto prayers proved unable to bring about the desired results.

This is the context - the relationship between political power and religious views - within which we are considering how the famous work about the history of Japan, Gukansho, written around 1220 by the priest Jien, reflected ideas about wrathful, vengeful spirits (onryo). Consistently with the approach taken by Gukansho's author, we also use the term onryo - vengeful spirits, which we do not distinguish from goryo - the vengeful spirits of aristocrats.

Ideas about wrathful spirits are an organic part of Jien's (1155-1225) historical framework with respect to Japan. Let us view this framework, expressed in many works, first and foremost in the prologue and epilogue of Delmer Brown's and Ichiro Ishida's English-language translation of Gukansho[2]. For Jien, Japanese history is defined by a set of Principles, which he calls dori. This set of Principles, which differ in origin (they are either imported Buddhist ones or indigenous Shintoist ones), their timing (spanning all of history or occurring only at certain periods), the nature of their impact on the life of the country (destructive or constructive) [2,6]. Jien himself distinguishes between Principles that are invisible (defined by Buddha's Law and the will of the kami deities) and those that are visible (the law of the emperor and people's conduct) [1,325].

Diverse views, both imported from the continent and indigenous, became tightly intertwined in the teaching of the Tendai monks, who developed a theory of Shinto-Buddhist syncretism and adapted foreign ideas to the realities of life in Japan. The author of Gukansho, Jien, who headed up the Tendai school four times, played an active part in developing new theories, including promulgating the idea that general ideas should be compatible with the particular time and place, and people's abilities, in Gukansho. Jien bases his arguments on Buddhist eschatology and Shintoist ideas about ancestor deities protecting their descendants.

Eschatology in Gukansho is based around destructive principles of Buddhist origin. Jien adhered to the idea of change in the four kalpas. According to Abhidharmakosakarika[3], the universe is based on four major kalpas (emptiness, formation, existence and destruction). In turn, each one is subdivided into 20 sub-kalpas, which also cover periods of growth and decay. Jien defined his time as a decaying period of a smaller kalpa (within the larger kalpa of existence), when the world slowly disintegrates and the Buddha comes into it. The sutras talk about five eras of the world after the Buddha enters nirvana: the time for releasing and the time for reflecting in the Age of the Right Dharma; the time for listening and for building shrines in the Age of Semblance Dharma; the time of fierce fighting in the Age that Dharma declines. Jien identifies seven periods in Japanese history that correlate to the stated ages in the Buddhist teaching.

In the first period of Japanese history, the emperor rules alone, power is passed from father to son, invisible and visible Principles are in harmony. This is the time of the rule of the first 13 heads of state, from Jimmu to Seimu [1,324]. This roughly correlates to the Age of the Right Dharma.

In the second period, a minister helps the emperor. Invisible and visible Principles diverge. This is the time of rule form Chuai to Kinmei (571) [1,325]. This roughly aligns to the time of listening during the Age of Semblance Dharma.

In the third period - improvement - a regent or chancellor helps the emperor. During this time, "people of the visible world thought they were acting in accordance with the Principles, but the will of invisible deities (myoshu) was not observed" [1,325]. This is the time between the rule of Bidatsu to Fujiwara no Mitinaga (966-1027). This is approximately equivalent to the era of building shrines in the Age of the Semblance Dharma.

The fourth period is transitional. The Principles were in force, according to which people thought that "they are acting in accordance with the good Principles, but a wise person came who said how things should be and after this reconsidered their ideas" [1,325]. This is the period from Fujiwara Yorimichi, Mitinaga's son, until the death of the former leader Toba in 1156. This period starts with the Age of the decline of Dharma, which accordingly covers the subsequent years.

The fifth period, as the third, is a period of relative improvement, when the emperor has the help of a regent from the aristocracy and a shogun from the military. "Only one Principle existed, according to which people split into two groups for the first time, they fiercely fought to defend their righteousness and the winner established their Principle" [1,326]. This is the time until the death of Minamoto Yoritomo in 1199, the Age of Dharma decline.

The sixth period curiously coincides in time (!) with the fifth, yet the six period witnesses a sharp deterioration of the situation. "At this time, the Principle was not adhering to the Principles" [1,326]. This was the time of the rule of the former emperor, Go-Shirakawa in 1158-1198.

The seventh period, during which Gukansho was being created, was described concisely: "Are there even any Principles now?!" [1,326]. This is the time of total abasement and decay, a time when the rule of the hundredth emperor[4] was approaching, and a time of hope. Things could still be improved, particularly if the emperor had the help of a regent and shogun in one. This would be a person from the Kujo house (Fujiwara branch), to which Jien himself belonged.

Each of the seven periods is distinguished by their own Principles, which are intricately intertwined with one another. The overarching trend of the development of Japanese history, in accordance with Buddhist ideas, is heading towards deterioration and decay. However, this is not a straight line: there are periods of stabilisation and even improvement - for example, the third, fifth and possibly the seventh periods. These periods of improvement are explained by the work of constructive Principles - both Buddhist and Shintoist. The Buddhist ones include "the destruction of evil and the creation of good", "the obstruction of evil and support for good"; Shintoist ones are the Principles created by ancestor deities, Thus, the goddess Amaterasu created an imperial clan to fulfil her Principles and she protects this family line. Moreover, for each historical period, Amaterasu creates a special type of imperial rule, best suited to the current phase of the deterioration of kalpa.

Jien hoped that one of the members of his clan - Kujo Yoritsune (1218-1256) - would become both regent and shogun (see diagram 1). This was a time of great change. In the east of the country, around Kanto, a new political and administrative centre was established in Kamakura. Power was distributed between the emperor in Kyoto and the military government in Kamakura, headed during that period by representatives of the Minamoto family. Kujo Kanezane (1149-1207), Jien's elder brother, was able to become an intermediary between the imperial and military court for a short period. Jien hoped that members of the Kujo family could continue to be such intermediaries, being at once the regents and the shoguns.

Jien believed that the birth of Yoritsune, his being adopted by Minamoto and his subsequent appointment as shogun was based on an agreement between kami deities, patrons of the imperial and shogun lines. The complex interrelationship of the Principles leads to Kujo Yoritsune taking the roles of regent and shogun. By rejecting the possibility of changing the ruling family, Jien supposed that if Yoritsune is given the opportunity to serve the emperor in the two highest posts, the period would achieve certain stability. The author of Gukansho, a Buddhist priest, having absorbed the teaching about changing kalpas, concentrated his historical research on the origins, promotion and future prospects for the Fujiwara family in general and the Kujo house in particular. Belief in the divine plan of kami predecessors plays a huge part in Jien's conceptualisation of history.

He created his work proceeding from the conviction that Japanese history is defined by Principles, by deities and by invisible beings. Some of these forces lead to deterioration, others are able to create betterment if there are people capable of understanding the present moment. Destructive forces include the overall deterioration of a kalpa, as well as adverse actions by kami deities and wrathful spirits. Jien describes several cases of vengeful, wrathful spirits (onryo) meddling in people's business, and the final ‘theoretical' chapter describes the overall principle of these spirits' actions in history.

We encounter the first signs of the actions of wrathful spirits during the rule of emperor Daigo (897-930). The author of Gukansho briefly says: "When the emperor [Daigo] was 17, during the first year of the Engi age, there was an incident with Kitano" [1,154]. The incident with Kitano is the sudden fall from grace, demotion and exile in 901 of minister Sugawara no Michizane (845-903), who was making rapid career gains until that point. The event itself is reported in very dry terms. Jien describes the consequences of this incident, about the revenge that the wrathful spirit of the deceased Michizane exacted on his political opponent Fujiwara no Tokihira, in much greater detail [1,154-155]. The spirit's revenge affected Tokihira and his sons, but not his brother - Fujiwara no Tadahira. Him and his son Morosuke prayed to the spiritual incarnation of Michizane as the deity by the name Tenjin, thus strengthening the position of the Fujiwara clan. "If this continued, the entire family of inspector ministers, everyone from the family of regents [Fujiwara], would probably die because of Tenjin's revenge. But soon Tokihira's younger brother, Tadahira, became the head of the Fujiwara clan, and worked hard to help his clan of inspectors and regents flourish, for the ancestral line not to break and prosper until the present moment" [1,155].

Jien writes that worshipping deities creates important new reasons for history. "We need to understand the actions of the wrathful spirit, setting it in the context of the principles of the respective period" [1,156]. During this third period of Japanese history, the period of improvement, when the "incident with Kitano" took place, an accord between Amaterasu and deities worshipped at the Kasuga shrine, that is - Fujiwara ancestor deities, is in place. This is an agreement that deities from Kasuga will help the house of the emperor rule with support from regents of the Fujiwara family. According to Jien, Michizane is a rather significant figure in history, one of the four incarnations of the Buddha in Japan, protector of the emperor's law, came into this world to fulfil the principles of the present period. Worshipping the spirit of Michizane as a deity by the Fujiwara family was an important reason that helped the Fujiwara to flourish as aides to the emperor, which is important for the entire clan.

We encounter the actions of the wrathful spirit next during the rule of the emperors Reizei (967-969), Kazan (984-986) and Sanjo (1011-1016). A senior Fujiwara advisor, Motokata, became angry with the future emperor Reizei, who became ruler by circumventing his grandson Hirohira, the first crown prince of Murakami (ruled in 946-967). Reizei's grandfather Fujiwara Morosuke, seen by Jien as the forefather of the house of Kujo, prayed for the birth of future emperor Reizei. Morosuke even promised to give his life if his daughter bore the son of emperor Murakame. Reizei's birth enabled consolidating the rule of the Fujiwara-Kujo family, their position as ‘suppliers' of the emperor's wives, and thus of regents and chancellors. Morosuke had his opponents - and not only Motokata, but he was able to make his offspring the crown prince, thus helping his family, which included Jien, to flourish.

Motokata died in 953, when Reizei had just become crown prince in place of Motokata's grandson, and had yet to become emperor. However his wrathful spirit caused many troubles for Reizei and his children, emperors Kazan and Sanjo. "The esteemed spirit of the deceased forced Reizei to abdicate within a year. Thereafter, the rule of emperor Enyu[5] was more successful, but the rule of Emperor Kazan was surprisingly poor. Perhaps the thing that happened to his younger brother, emperor Sanjo, was the product of ill will [of the spirit of Motokata]!" [1,178] This refers to emperor Sanjo's loss of vision. Notably, Jien does not go into detail about the incident, but as with Sugawara Michizane, gives a brief indication, noting that readers are familiar with Reizei's mental incapacity. Jien says that Reizei died in the grip of Motokata's evil spirit.

The emergency of the next evil spirit in Gukansho, the spirit of minister Fujiwara no Akimitsu (944-1021), follows a series of natural and social disasters in the country [1,179-180]. However these cataclysms were not linked to the spirit of Akimitsu. Jien explains their significance: comets and other disasters transpire before improvements happen in a country. Such an improvement, preceded by various problems, was the rule of Fujiwara Mitinaga (also from the house of Kujo). He was a regent for emperors born to his daughters, which became a great source of good for the whole country. Thus Jien sees no objective hurdles to the enthronement of Go-Ichijo and Go-Suzaku, Mitinaga's grandsons. However Mitinaga's opponents, including Akimitsu, felt differently.

Fujiwara Akimitsu married off one of his daughters to Ichijo (ruled between 986 and 1011) and the second to crown prince Atsuakira[6]. However, the first was unable to bear an heir and Atsuakira, under pressure from Mitinaga, turned down all of his rights to the throne and married one of Mitinaga's daughters. Akimitsu was very sad. "Seeing her shed tears into the fire, Akimitsu became even more sad, and people say that he soon turned into an evil spirit" [1,186]. Jien stresses that the spirit was very vengeful and always stayed close to his offender Mitinaga, but was unable to do any damage to him. In the final chapter, Jien explains why the omnipotent regent was unperturbed by the destructive actions of the deceased Akimitsu. Mitinaga was protected by the power of the Buddhist Law, which he adhered to and supported [1,338]. Buddha's Law was flourishing at the time, and many Buddhist monks were wise and ascetic. It was no accident that the time of Mitinaga's regency fell on the third period in Jien's framework, a period of relative betterment.

The rule of emperor Go-Sanjo (ruled in 1068-1072) is, by Jien, a turning point in history: he introduced the rule of eunuch emperors, his mother was not from the Fujiwara clan, but the daughter of emperor Sanjo (one should not overlook the close relationship between Fujiwara and the house of her emperor: the grandfather was Fujiwara Yorinaga). According to Jien, Go-Sanjo marks the start of the most difficult Age of the decline of Dharma[7]. The mother of the next emperor, Shirakawa (ruled between 1072 and 1086), was from another Fujiwara branch - the Kanin kin. Henceforth emperors' mothers started to come from this kin and Kujo lost their privileged position as regents.

Jien writes that in these difficult times, with the nearing of hundredth emperor, one can only hope for the blessing of kami worshipped in the shrines of Ise and Iwashimizu, in Kasima and Kasuga[8], the godly benevolence of the Three Jewels of the Buddha, as well as the many Heavenly deities. The blessing of these deities harmonises individual abilities and external circumstances that cause the events that we find difficult to comprehend [1,200]. In Jien's view, one such event is the appearance of the wrathful spirit of the highly respected monk Raigo from the Mii-Dera temple. Emperor Sirakawa asked Raigo to ask the gods for a son, promising to generously reward him. "The monk prayed fervently, and as per the emperor's wishes, a child was born. Raigo was filled with joy and asked the emperor: ‘As a reward, please establish a kaidan[9] at Mii-Dera. This will fulfil my great wish'[1,200]. However, Raigo was not allowed to establish his own kaidan for fear of discord in the country. This discord would come from the discontent of monks from the Enryaku-ji temple on Mount Hiei: they had a kaidan at their temple and the monks did not want to cede their advantage. Raigo died from disappointment and took with him the life of the son his prayers brought. However, the imperial line was not interrupted, as Shirakawa turned to the monks from Enryku-ji - Mii-Dera's competitor temple, despite both temples' membership in the school of Tendai. "Horikawa-in was born, acceded the throne and then Toba-in was born, and the imperial line was not broken. Because everything happened as told here, without any embellishment, the monks from Mount Hiei must understand so much!" [1,201-202]. As an aside, we note that Jien often highlights the superiority of the Tendai school over other schools, and the superiority of Enryaku-ji temple on Mount Hiei over other monasteries.

Jien again shows that the power of Buddhist prayer can overcome the influence of wrathful spirits that fills the world with the overall deterioration of the kalpa. However, even the prayers of the Tendai monks cannot save Shirakawa's favourite daughter, Yuho-mon In, who died age 20. Surprised and saddened by her death, Shirakawa became a monk that same year, says Gukansho [1,204].

The next mention of wrathful spirits comes in the context of the Hogen rebellion (started in 1156). The rebellion was born of schisms in the imperial house and the house of regent-chancellors Fujiwara, which is described in detail in Gukansho. On one side was the emperor Go-Shirakawa (the protégé of the deceased Toba) and Fujiwara Tadamiti (1097-1164) and on the other - former emperor Sutoko (ruled between 1123 and 1141), Fujiwara no Tadazane (1078-1162) (Tadamiti's father) and his son Fujiwara Yorinaga (1120-1156, Tadamiti's brother) (see diagram 1). The former side won, but as a result of the rebellion, both houses, the emperors and the regents, lost their leading positions, ceding ground to the Taira and Minamoto clans, which also took part in the military operations of those years. This marked the end of the fourth period of Japanese history and the start of the ‘era of warriors', which unfolded during the fifth and sixth periods.

After defeat in the Hogen rebellion, former emperor Sutoko was sent into exile on Awaji Island. We encounter Sutoku's wrathful spirit in 1184. At that point, Jien tells us, a shrine was built to pacify the spirit of this deceased emperor at the site of the battles of the Hogen years, after talk spread of his wrathful actions [1,262]. The Gukansho author does not reveal why Sutoku's spirit became enraged, evidently assuming that this is well known to his readers. We note that the emperor died in exile in 1164 and after turning into a vengeful spirit, started to send disasters upon the country.

After telling us about Sutoku's angry spirit, Jien writes that in 1185, the Taira clan was completely destroyed during the battle of Dan-no-ura. The spirit of the head of the Taira clan, Kiyomori, is rumoured to have become a Dragon [1,268]! But the spirits of his warriors became enraged and for a long time exacted revenge on the people in the world, wreaking havoc all over the country. Jien says that the many wrathful spirits of the Taira clan are a manifestation of a hidden cause-and-effect relationship (inga) [1,304].

Fujiwara no Tadazane, who lost in the Hogen rebellion, also turned into a vengeful spirit. In describing what is essentially his contemporary history, Jien writes of the death of his nephews Yoshimichi in 1188 and Yoshitsune in 1206: ‘Many people thought that the wrathful spirit of master Tisoku-in [Fujiwara Tadazane] caused the death of minister Yoshimichi and the current regent [Yoshitsune], the offspring of master [Fujiwara Tadamiti]" [1,290]. Jien blames Tadamiti's offspring for not taking appropriate measures to pacify the spirit of their forefather Tadazane. "If they really wanted to pacify the wrathful spirit of Tadazane and help him find enlightenment in another world, this wouldn't happen in the present world" [1,290].

Given the above cases, we can see that in Gukansho, wrathful spirits take part in historical events alongside living persons; they influence the lives of emperors, high-ranking officials and the entire country. It is curious why Jien describes these and only these cases of wrathful spirits actions on the historical arena. Written sources that pre-date Jien talk of many more wrathful spirits of aristocrats. The last chapter of Gukansho mentions two other wrathful spirits (princess Ikami and advisor Fujiwara Asahira [1,337]), in addition to those named. He most likely knew about many others, which he didn't highlight. We cannot say why the author of Gukansho saw the actions of these very spirits as particularly important in Japanese history or in his historical theories.

The appearance of wrathful spirits partly explains the laws of the universe, the origins of natural and social cataclysms. Some spirits in Gukansho (Mitizane, Motokata, Akimimtsu, Raigo and Tadamiti) exact revenge on their direct offenders and their offspring. The spirits of Sutoku and the Taira warriors bring misfortunes upon the entire country. However ‘personal' revenge in this case is a rather relative term. Thus, Raigo's revenge created the possibility of terminating the imperial clan, which is far from a personal affair. The precarious state of the Tadamiti clan, which transpired as a result of Tadazane's revenge, caused the collapse of several other clans, a change in the people close to emperor, which also had an adverse impact on the whole country.

"... there is a Principle, by which since ancient times, wrathful spirits destroy the country and kill people, so let us first pray to buddhas and deities," Jien concludes in the last chapter [1,337]. By influencing spirits, by pacifying them or by abiding by Buddhist Laws, through Buddhist prayers and Buddhist rituals, one can mitigate the present issues and achieve a certain political balance. We can see this through the example of worshipping the spirits of Mitizane and Mitinaga, sending Buddhist prayers in the case with Raigo. On the contrary, inaction when it comes to angry spirits leads to a deterioration of the situation, to great calamities as in the case with Tadamiti. In the final chapter, Jien again returns to the action of Tadazane offspring, and condemns them for not doing anything to pacify the defeated Sutoku and Tadazane. This pushed the Tadamiti clan to the brink of destruction. The only reason why nothing terrible happened was because Tadamiti had outstanding abilities that prevented his father's scorned spirit from persecuting his son. However many of the problems in the country overall and the Fujiwara family specifically were caused by the deteriorating Principles, according to which wrathful spirits destroy the country and the individual. Tadamiti gave no serious thought to quelling the angry spirit of his father [1,339].

To put wrathful spirits at ease or mitigate the consequences of their actions through Buddhist prayer means to control the spirits and the events that they cause. This is consistent with Jien's idea that if there is a wise man who understands the Principles of dori, the history of the seventh period can still be improved. In explaining the turns of people's fates and social cataclysms through the actions of wrathful spirits, Jien says that unpredictability and chaos in the world can be contained through spirit worship. The spirits' dualistic nature - they are at once demons and deities - allows adjusting and controlling the situation, or at the very least explaining it from the right perspective.

"Thus the Japanese used their sacrifices to explain uncontrolled forces of nature and people's fate. The fear of wrathful spirits helped contain boundless violence.... this was an attempt to channel violence into the field of metaphysics and turn it into an instrument of peace and stability" [9].

Jien is able to do this because he tries to make sense of wrathful spirits in the context of Buddhist theory. The overall deterioration of kalpa explains the general downward trend of Japanese history, which manifests, in part, through the actions of demons and vengeful spirits. We note that previously, at the early stages of holding ceremonies to pacify evil spirits, these performances were tightly bound to magical Buddhist practices.

Here we require a brief review of the history of the development of the cult of wrathful spirits. Traditional ideas about evil spirits of the dead who have not been laid to rest and continue to roam the world inspire fear. The 9th century sees the emergence of ceremonies to quell these spirits and rituals to prevent calamities they cause. A set of beliefs about these spirits falls into place; shrines are built in their honour, over time they are asked for benevolence and protection, they are worshipped as granters of blessings. This trend is particularly striking for the deity Gozu-Tenno worshipped at the Gion shrine, and Tenjin (the spirit of the abovementioned Sugawara Mitizane) in the Kitano Tenmangu shrine [7,325-329]. We encounter the next stage of evolution of these beliefs in Jien's works. At a certain point, folk beliefs receive Buddhist theoretical interpretation in the framework of the Tendai school. Ideas about wrathful spirits fit into the author's theoretical frameworks. For Jien, whose worldview is characterised by the integration of mythology and philosophy, channels the sensual and visual bases of these beliefs into a theoretical system.

There is a question of how common for this period such ‘theoreticalised' ideas about wrathful sprits are. Is this only a peculiarity of the worldview held by Jien, who was inclined toward intellectual work? One of the most respected (and controversial) Japanese historians, Kuroda Toshio, writes that some of the opportunities originating from the cult of wrathful spirits in the 10th and 11th centuries were used in theoretical constructs and ritual practices at major temples and shrines. These include the aforementioned opportunities to resolve, improve and control the situation by managing wrathful sprits or explain the situation through their actions.

Murai Tadanao's work, "Onryo, an evil spirit, Saigyo visit to Sanuki province" [8] confirms that as it develops, the cult of wrathful spirits is interpreted in the Japanese Buddhist tradition. Murai Tadanao considers the topic of wrathful spirits in works of literature of the 12-13th centuries: the diaries of aristocrats, "Hogen Monogatari"[10], "Heike Monogatari"[11] and "Tsurezuregusa"[12]. He concludes that the aristocrats' diaries provide indirect evidence of major concerns about the actions of wrathful spirits. But in Heike Monogatari, the spirits become disembodied frameworks, they turn to the conscious mind, they become connected to the idea of poetic justice (inga oho), which fully manifests in about one hundred years' time, in Tsurezuregusa [8, 36].

The question of when Heike Monogatari was written remains unanswered. According to the author of Tsurezuregusa, Yoshido Kenko, creating this work was also Jien's idea. It is quite possible that Jien's views impacted this piece. However with all of the contentiousness of the timing, we can identify a trend of incorporating ideas about wrathful spirits into overall Buddhist thinking.

Undoubtedly, the cult of wrathful spirits retained its folk roots, calling on emotions and fears, which shaped Noh theatre plays during the Muromati period, Kabuki theatre plays and ukiyo-e engravings during the Tokugawa period, the many works of Japanese authors of different eras that feature the wrathful and vengeful spirits of the deceased. However ideas about wrathful spirits were a part of a complex religious and ideological framework and were a part of its worldly, ‘present' manifestation, underpinned by Buddhist theory.


1. Gukansho (Collection of classical Japanese works of literature). T 86 - Tokyo: Iwanami Shoten, 1967. 547.

2. The future and the past: a translation and study of the Gukansho, an interpretative history of Japan written in 1219 / Delmer M. Brown and Ichirō Ishida (ed. and tr.): Berkeley, Los Angeles and London: University of California Press, 1979. - 479. 


3. Bachurin A.S., Trubnikova N.N. History of Japanese religion 9-12th centuries. Moscow: Natalis, 2009. 560p.

4. Deities, shrines and rites in Japan: Shinto encyclopaedia / ed I.S. Smirnova, chief editor A.N. Mescheryakov (Orientalia et Classica: Works of the Institute of Oriental cultures and antiquity; issue 26). Moscow: Russian State Humanities University, 2010, 310p.

5. Fedyanina V.A. The establishment of the cult of holy spirits of Japan // Moscow University Gazette. Series 13. Oriental studies, 2004. P 26-35

6. Inoue Mitsuro. The formation and development of the cult of 'holy spirits'. / The history of folk beliefs, T. 5. Tokyo: Yudzankaku, 1984 p 101-125.

7. Kuroda Toshio. The World of Spirit Pacification. Issues of State and Religion. Japanese Journal of Religious Studies 1996 23/3-4. С.321-351.

8. «ONRYO», an evil spirit, Saigyo visit to Sanuki province Murai Tadanao // The bulletin of the Okayama University of Science. B, Human sciences 19, 25-37, 1983. С. 25-37.

9. Plutschow, Herbert. Tragic Victims in Japanese Religion, Politics, and the Arts. Anthropoetics 6, no. 2 (Fall 2000 / Winter 2001)

[1] The word ‘Shinto' herewith is taken to mean ‘an indigenous Japanese polytheistic religious system. The first attempts to introduce relative systemization were taken at the end of the 7th century". [4, 211]

[2] Russian-language translations refer to this in one of two ways - ‘My personal selection' or ‘Notes of a fool'

[3] A key text about the key tenets of Buddhism written in the 5th century by famed Indian philosopher Vasubandhu

[4] Along with his contemporaries, Jien believed that the deity Amaterasu promised to protect the clan of her descendant emperors for a hundred generations

[5] Emperor Reizei's brother

[6] Became crown prince in 1016

[7] The widely held view during the Heian period is that the Age of Dharma decline started in 1052

[8] Amaterasu, the patron of the imperial family is worshipped at Ise; at Iwashimizu Hatimangu - Hatiman, the patron of the shogun family of Minamoto and the protector of the imperial family, at Kashima - Takemikazuchi, the deity protector of the country, at Kasuga - the family saints of the Fudjiwara

[9] Kaidan - a place for novice Buddhist monks to take holy orders, a key element of Buddhist temple structures. The establishment of an own kaidan meant relative independence of the particular school and temple

[10] The exact time of writing is not known. Some researchers believe that Hogen Monogatari precedes Gukansho, others say it follows

[11] Written in the 13th century, exact time is not known

[12] Written by Yoshida Kenko in 1330-1331, which makes it relevant for our discussion as a clear manifestation of the trend to developing ideas about wrathful spirits

След. »