Buddhist Fire Ritual in Japan

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    I;:' \' Senri Ethnological Reports

    105 I, I

    I i

    lal Museum

    )~::/elated Buddhist Fire Ritual in Japan

    b Madhavi Kolhatkar ~C j

    Musashi Tachikawa , -'

    ,-(,' .PDF


    National Museum of Ethnology Osaka 2012


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  • I, I Preface I


    Madhavi Kolhatkar Musashi Tachikawa

    This is an attempt not to present the Japanese Fire Ritual in general but only that which is performed according to Chisan branch of the Shingon sect. In 1980, the late Professor Rev.YUsh6 Miyasaka laid the foundation stone of this project, when accepting the request of Musashi Tachikawa, he performed the Buddhist Shingon Fire Ritual or Gama as it is called in Japanese. At that time, all the Mudras, an important feature of the Tantric ritual were done under the robe. Hence for better understanding, he made them separately after the performance was over. On 29th October 1982, again honouring the request of Tachikawa, he performed the ritual of the Fire Offerings to the God Fudo Myoo 'Acala Vidyaraja', this time making the Mudras openly. This performance could be filmed by the able team of National Museum of Ethnology, Osaka, Japan (,Kokuritsu Minzokugaku Hakubutsukan' in Japanese and popularly more well known as Minpaku), since Musashi Tachikawa was a Co-appointed Professor (Kyakuin Kyoju) at Minpaku. A monograph on Goma with 92 photographs, their explanation in Japanese language and a brief introduction to the ritual was published by Tachikawa, E. Kuwamura and A. Yamade under the title "Hude Gama no Kiroku" pp. 48, in Sa,!,bha,ii 8, the Nagoya University Journal, November1986.

    The seed of this present venture was sown when Madhavi Kolhatkar was invited by Musashi Tachikawa to Minpaku for three months (from 21st January to 29th April 2003). It was at that time that Mrs. Mari Hattori very meticulously translated the brief Japanese annotations to the 92 photographs published in the 48 pages monograph in Sa,!,bhii,ii, 1986. Further, the book THE TANTRIC RITUAL OF JAPAN (FEEDING THE GODS: THE SHINGON FIRE RITUAL) by Richard Payne became like the Old Testament to liS. He has described, in it, the ritual in minute details and in a very clear and picturesque way and has explained even the difficult topics like Mudra:; in a very simple, easy and lucid style. It is due to his work that our task became far less difficult. At times, there were differences in the traditions which gave rise to various doubts in our mind. At such times we were immensely fortunate to avail of the able guidance of Rev. Ylik6 Miyasaka, a son of the late Rev. Ylish6 Miyasaka. Also, he was gracious to allow us to take additional photographs of some of the Mudras in 2011.

    In the process of taking photos, making a film, finalizing and completing the text and bringing it to the book fOnTI, valuable help was volunteered and offered by the students of the Nagoya University, the staff of Minpaku office, computer division and library, Mrs. Satoko Suzuki, Mr. Takeshi Kameyama, Mrs. Chieko Kameyama an,d Ms. Junko Koguchi. The credit from the inception to the completion of this project goes to all these.


  • The project would not have taken this final shape and seen the light of the day, without the expediting leadership of Dr. Yasuhiko Nagano, Professor Emeritus of Minpaku, and moreover, a friend and solace of Tachikawa. It was his invitation to Kolhatkar to Minpaku for a year (from 1st August 2010 to 30th July 2011), which made possible for her to come to Japan and his incomparable administrative competence which empowered us to complete this project. He has been immensely helpful in the Kalastidhyaya of this Goma.

    We are indebted to all these and also all others who were of help to us in completing this work. We will always cherish the memories of their valuable role with deep sense of gratitude.


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    CONTENTS n to lade



    Preface i in Introduction 1

    'ith List of Figures 17 Chapter I The Environment, the Paraphernalia and the Priests 25 Chapter II The Preparatory Rites of the Fud6 Goma 51 Chapter III Main Ritual III Bibliography 175 Index of the Mantras 177 Word Index 187

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