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The Creed of Half Japan, by Arthur Lloyd, [1911], at

p. 243



The title of this chapter is the title of a Japanese poem on the Life of the great Kōbō Daishi: "Glory to the Great Teacher."

Kōbō Daishi's life, as it has lived in the religious traditions of Japan, is full of wonders. It is true that the present generation scoffs at the wonders, and tries to construct lives of the distinguished monk with all the miracles left out. The rationalized biographies do not suit the popular fancy. It is as the wonder-working Apostle of a new form of faith that Kōbō Daishi lives in popular fancy, and the religious historian cannot afford to leave out the miracles which adorn or disfigure his life. The miracles are part and parcel of the religious history of the country.

The poem "Namudaishi" is a religious ballad, written in the ordinary metre of the Japanese wasan. It is not a great poem; but it gives a good summary of Kōbō's life as it appears to the ordinary Buddhist believer in Japan. And it has never yet been presented to the English-speaking public. 1

1. On the fifth day of the middle decade of the sixth

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month in the fifth year of Hoki, 1 in the Baron's Hall on the shore of Byōbu, in the land of Sanuki, a bright light shone. It was the birth of our great sage.

2. When the lad was but five years old he would sit constantly among the lotuses, and there hold converse with the Buddhas. But what he spoke of he never told, not even to his mother.

3. In his heart there arose the desire to save mankind from all their sorrows and pains, and he sought on Mount Shashin 2 to accomplish this desire by the sacrifice of his own life. Then angels came and saved him from death.

4. Whilst at play he built himself a pagoda of clay. The Four Heavenly Kings 3 at once came and stood guard over it. The Imperial Messenger passing by saw the prodigy and was amazed. "This," said he, "is a divine prodigy."

5. In the fifteenth year of his age, in spring-time, he left his native village and went to Kyōto, where he diligently studied all the doctrines of Confucianism. But he found that they contained no wisdom wherein he might put his trust.

6. In his search after truth he learned all Buddhist doctrines. Of all the Buddhas he learned to trust especially in Hōjō, 4 whom he made his special deity.

7. But [his mind was so nimble] that though he learned but one thing or two, he could thence deduce

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a thousand. "Many are the ways," he said in his Sangoshiki; "but Buddhism is the best of all."

8. At Muroto in Tosa he was performing his devotions. A bright star fell from Heaven, and entered his mouth. At midnight an evil dragon came forth against him; but he spat upon it, and with his saliva he killed it.

9. It was in the nineteenth year of his age that, looking up to Gonzō as his religious guide, 1 he took upon himself the vows of the Bodhisattva, and became a homeless S’ramana, striving after enlightenment, and wearing the black silk robes of the Buddhist priest.

10. At Shusenji in the province of Idzu, and in other places besides, he discovered the hot springs bubbling out of the earth. And it was he that demonstrated to the world the use of coal. 2

11. Inside the tower of the Temple of Kumadera in Yamato there was revealed to him the doctrine which is above all others. 3 But as there was none whom he could question thereon, he received permission from the Emperor to go to China for study.

12. In company with the ambassadors 4 that were sent

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to the Court of the Tangs in China, he arrived at a certain port of China. But the party was not allowed to land, because they had not come to the usual port of debarkation.

13. Then did our sage write a letter in the name of the ambassadors, in the which he described all the pains and perils of the voyage over the sea, with its storms and billows. And then were they allowed to land.

14. Keikwa the Ac’ārya 1 was delighted to welcome him, and having purified the Mandara 2 for him, committed to him the whole of the great law of the Ryōbu 3 in its entirety, to its lowest depths.

15. Keikwa the Ac’ārya told him that the secret treasure of the Shingon law lay hidden within the sacred books, and that it would be well for him to make use of the help of pictures. 4

16. [From Keikwa] Kōbō received over a hundred books explaining the Ryōbu Mandara as contained in the

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doctrine of the Vajrayāna. 1 Also he received many sacred vessels and implements that had been handed down from the days of Amogha, 2 the doctor of the Tripitaka.

17. The boy 3 whom he met wrote the character for "dragon" upon the water. But our Sage, seeing that one small stroke had been omitted, took up his pen and supplied that which was wanting. Then the dragon revealed himself in his true form and flew away to the sky.

18. Under Prajnā, 4 the monk of Nālanda in Central India, and under Munis’ri, the Master of the Tripitaka, he studied Sanskrit, and was by them presented with many books of the Scriptures in Sanskrit.

19. With a pen in his mouth, one in each hand, and one in each foot, he wrote five lines of a poem simultaneously. The Tang Emperor was astonished at what he saw, and gave him the title of the "Five-Pen-Priest."

20. But when Keikwa his teacher died, he wrote his

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memorial on a monument, moistening his inkslab with his tears, and erected it at Ryūgen.

21. Now, when he was about to return to his own land, standing on the sea-beach he threw his vajra 1 towards Japan. Strange to say, the vajra flew straight across, and was found hanging on the branch of a pine-tree at Takano. 2

22. The secret doctrines which he had learned in the land of the Tang, together with many precious and rare objects for the protection of the land, all these, together with the catalogue, he offered in the Imperial Palace.

23. When, to return thanks for the divine protection afforded to him during his travels, he offered incantations before the treeless temple-ground (of the god of Kasui), straightway green leaves and bright flowers came forth in abundance on what had till then been the "Naked Mountain." 3

24. Our land had once possessed the tea-plant, 4 but the use of tea had been quite forgotten. Our Sage brought with him a millstone and some seeds of the tea-plant,

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and taught our people how to prepare tea and drink it.

[I omit verses 25–28, the only one of any importance being the one in which Shōtoku Taishi is said to have appeared to him to teach him the Shōman-gyō, a Sūtra which concerns itself mainly with the duties of lay women. V. 29 is important.]

29. In the second month of the second year of Kōnin (Feb., 811 A.D.), along with the Emperor Saga, he received the Kwanjō of the gods 1 from the hands of Ōnakatomi, the famous ritualist.

30. Then, beginning with Dengyō Daishi, he admitted into his Church the head priests of all the Nara sects who had faith in his doctrines, and administered to them the

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[paragraph continues] Baptism which admitted them into the priesthood of the Secret Doctrine.

31. At a religious discussion in the Palace of the Seiryōden his body suddenly assumed the appearance of Vairoc’ana. The Divine Light (Kōmyō) streamed out from him, and the whole company, overawed and trembling, fell to the ground and worshipped him.

32. That he might pray for the prosperity of the Fujiwara House, 1 he set up an altar in the Nannendō (at Nara), and there offered worship to Kenjaku Son. 2 Thereupon the god (of Kasuga) made his appearance and chanted a song of praise.

33. From China he brought to Japan the soil upon which the eight pagodas, 3 had stood. This soil he divided amongst eighty-eight places (in Sanuki), so that they who suffer from illness, as the result of Karma either in the past life or present, might go round them on pilgrimage and so be cleansed from their sins.

34. He prayed where the water was brackish, where it was foul, where there was no water at all. Everywhere, to the great joy of mankind, wells of pure water sprang up.

35. In the mountainous districts of the province of Kii, two dogs, one white and one black, and a hunter, 4

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came to show him the way, and brought him to a place where there had once been the shrine of an ancient Buddha. 1 The god was the guardian deity of that hunting-place.

36. Then Nyuzu appeared, the god of that place (Kōya), and offered him that place until the coming of Maitreya, 2 in order that the land might be blessed by him (Kōbō).

37. When first he began to open up Mount Kōya, after he had found on a pine tree the vajra he had thrown, and after the sword. 3 had come out from the earth, then indeed he knew that the place was the seat of ancient Buddhist worship.

38. Not only did he make the pool of Tōchi in Sanuki, but in other places also he made pools. In addition to bridges and piers, he repaired a great number of bridges.

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39. In order to save men from the plague 1 he preached the inner meaning of the Heart-Sutra. The roads were filled with men that had been raised from the dead; the whole land enjoyed the blessings of peace.

40. He founded the temple upon Mount Bandai and placed there as his successor the priest Furuichi from Tsukuba. He subdued the wilderness of Mount Futāra and called the place Nikkō.

41. He was anxious that the flowers of literature should flourish among our men of the Land of the Day-spring, and composed in the letters of our country a poem on the four verses of the Tathāgata.

42. The doctrines of S’akyamuni are eighty-four thousand in all, the last 2 being the teaching on Nirvana which Buddha himself gave. The most important of these have been thus interpreted.

"Life's naught, Death's naught," said Shaka. "E’en to-day,"
Said Kōbō, "have we crossed the mountain-pass
Of true existence."
                      Shaka: "Now with joy
Nirvana's peace we enter."
                              "Life's a dream,"
Said Kōbō, "Death, the waking of the Soul
From some poor drunkard's nightmare misery."

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"All things are full of change," said Shaka's self.
"The flowers, that fragrant bloom, will change and droop,"
Said our Sage Kōbō. "Life is but death" became,
To Kōbō, "Who can hope to live for aye?"

44. Thus any man who can write the Kana characters of the Iroha1 whether he understand their meaning or not, becomes the disciple of our great Sage, and receives the happiness that comes from the Law.

45. This syllabary he founded on the Sanskrit alphabet, which we venerate as sacred, and arranged according to the principles of Nirvana, 2 handing it down to us in a word-picture of fifty syllables. Thus he provided for the education of future generations.

46. Basing his action on the expressed wish of the Emperor Saga, he founded in the Tōji Temple at Kyoto a shrine for the worship of Hachiman, 3 where he worshipped the god and laid upon him the duty of protecting the Imperial House.

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47. The god of Inari 1 appeared on Mount Fushimi and received from Kōbō's hand the sacrifice he offered. "Together, you and I," he swore, "we will protect this people."

48. When there was a drought, he received an order from the Emperor, and made supplication for rain in the Imperial Garden of Shinsen-yen. Then the Holy Maidens and the Nāga Princes 2 appeared, and there was a gentle rain over all the land.

49. To Kenne, 3 who had been his companion on his visit to China, he entrusted the sacred globe as an object of worship. "This," said he, "has been consecrated by many mystic enchantments."

50. He mastered all the five branches of knowledge; 4 he studied the whole of the ten Pitakas. He was proficient in painting and in sculpture, and in order to promote the

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intellectual welfare of his countrymen he founded the Shugei-shuchi-in1

51. During the second week of the first month in every year, there is held in the Imperial Palace a Festival of Prayer for the reigning Emperor. This was instituted by him; it was a most magnificent festival, and was maintained for a thousand years, even to the days of Meiji. 2

52. On one day after the twentieth of the third month of the second year of Jōwa (A.D. 835) he foretold that he should die, and leaving behind him a hundred esteemed and valuable instructions, departed this life.

53. For those whose affectionate desire should draw their minds to the Sage in after years, the prince painted a portrait of him. The prince 3 did indeed paint the face, but the eyes were painted in by the Sage himself.

54. When he died it was as though a bright light had gone out in the midst of a black night. Thousands of his followers, lay and priestly, followed him weeping to the graveyard of Okunoin in Kōya.

55. And what have the Emperor Saga and the Sage between them? There had been some compact between them, for, to? when the Emperor died, his coffin was mysteriously borne through the air to Kōya, and Kōbō himself, coming forth from his grave, performed the funeral obsequies.

56. Then did the Emperor Uda himself, wisely following in his father's footsteps, receive from the Sage's hand the sacred Baptism, and thus set a good example for succeeding ages.

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57. Eighty years after his decease, an Imperial Messenger opened the gate of his sepulchre. His hair, they found, had grown long upon his head; they shaved it off and gave him a change of garments. 1

58. The Emperor that reigned in the days of Engi 2 (i.e. Daigo) was deeply impressed by the lessons of his life, and honoured him with the title of Kōbō Daishi. 3

59. When Shunnyū, the Imperial Messenger to the Temple in which our great Sage is worshipped, was unable to see the face of the Sage, the Sage himself guided the worshipper's hand to touch his knee. Never, as long as he lived, did the messenger forget that feeling. 4

60. The Emperors Kwampyō and Shirakawa, the retired Emperor, Go-Uda, and several others of our rulers had such faith in the Sage's merits that they made pilgrimages to Kōya to worship at his sanctuary.

61. Verily the teaching of the Tathāgata of the Dharma Kaya 5 (the Spiritual Body) has been handed down without change and without break; through the long chain of our patriarchs the lamp of light has been handed down to us. 6

p. 257 p. 258


243:1 There is an English translation published in 1909, in a volume on Kōbō Daishi entitled "Namudaishi." But it was made by some Japanese who knew but little English, and had no English friend to correct his translation. It requires some knowledge of "English as she is spoke" to understand it.

244:1 I.e. June 15, A.D. 774.

244:2 Mount Shashin is in the Island of Shikoku. The word means "throwing away the body "; and the place "the Mountain of Self-oblation." The idea of religious suicide or self-immolation is one of the saddest features of mediæval Buddhism. It always gives me the idea of a diabolical perversion of Rom. xii. 1.

244:3 I.e. the Shi Tennō. Originally Hindu deities, they have been pressed by the Mahāyāna into the service of Buddhism.

244:4 Akas’agarba, a well-known Bodhisattva.

245:1 Gonzō must have been a monk of the Vinaya sect. See above chapter on Dharmagupta. To have a religious teacher seems to be a necessity in Buddhism. I have seen it stated that without a teacher one cannot be saved, because the Way is the effect, the teacher is the Cause, and therefore, however much of the Way a man has acquired, if it is done without a teacher it is an effect without a cause, i.e. nothing.

245:2 Notice how quaintly the practical Japanese mind mixes up the material with the spiritual.

245:3 The legend is that in answer to earnest prayers for guidance he was told in a dream to look for a certain book in the Temple of Kumadera. He looked, and the book which he found was the "Vairoc’ana Sutra," brought to China from Southern India by way of the sea, and containing that Shingon doctrine which has such marvellous resemblances to the Egyptian speculations.

245:4 The ambassador on this occasion was Fujiwara no Ason. The embassy took tribute to China.

246:1 Ac’ārya is an Indian word unknown to the earliest periods of the Mahāyāna. Its use denotes a long association of Brahmans and Buddhists.

246:2 The Mandara is in one sense the pleroma, i.e. the sum-total of the divine personalities that go to make up the Godhead. The word is also used (and here, according to the Japanese commentary) to denote a magic ring or circle, used in sorcery. We must never forget the great part that sorcery plays in the Shingon, just as it did in the Egyptian Gnosticism, and its kindred Cabbala.

246:3 The Ryōbu doctrine is that there are two worlds, of which one, the world of ideas, is fixed and eternal. The material world corresponds to the world of ideas, with this difference, that the one Idea in the Ideal World may have many material counterparts in the world of matter. Thus the gods of India may be taken as the corporeal counterparts of the incorporeal Truths which the Eternal Buddhas stand for. The same, however, holds good for the gods of China and Japan. And things which are equal to the same thing are equal to one another.

246:4 Shingonism has undoubtedly always been a most potent stimulant of art.

247:1 Vajrayāna, i.e. the Shingon, which explains the world by reference to the Diamond World, or World of Ideas (Vajradhātu). The use of this word seems to show that the Shingon is distinct from the other streams of the Mahāyāna.

247:2 Amogha (Jap. Fukū) reached China from Southern India during the seventh century. He was a most prolific writer.

247:3 This boy is said to have been a manifestation of Manjuśri, the Bodhisattva who represents Wisdom, and who is specially connected with China. We can see that Manjuśri, whose "true form" is that of a dragon, or Nāga, has a special connection with the Avatamsaka (Kegon) doctrine, which I have described in the chapter on Nāgārjuna. His worship in China must at this time have been very popular, for Prajna went to China especially to make inquiries about him.

247:4 Prajnā brings us into close touch with Christianity, for it was he that collaborated with a Nestorian priest in the translation of a book out of the Hu language (Persian?) into Chinese. The book is said to have been a Buddhist Sūtra, but this is doubtful. I have been able to find out nothing about Munis'ri; but it is said that there was a Brahman also in their company—another indication pointing to the Hindu affinities of the Shingon.

248:1 The vajra is a little instrument of incantation, made of copper or some other metal, and looking somewhat like a thunderbolt, when held in the hand of the celebrant. It plays a large part in the Shingon ritual, and is an element in the names of many Shingon books and Shingon priests.

248:2 I.e. Kōya.

248:3 The story is that, when Kōbō started, he made a prayer at the Shrine of Usa Hachiman, commending himself to the protection of the gods. In answer to this prayer the god of Kasui (whose name is not given) promised to accompany Kōbō on his journey and to protect him wherever he went. In return for this Kōbō produced the trees and flowers. It is clear from this that Kōbō's object in going to China was to find a moyen de vivre for Buddhism and Shinto.

248:4 The same claim is made in the twelfth century for Eisai, the founder of the Sōtō sect. It would seem that in the long period of civil war the art of tea-growing was again lost.

249:1 This was evidently the formal inauguration of the Ryōbu Shinto. The Emperor, Saga Tenno, and Kōbō were baptized (Kwanjō) into the Shinto community by the chief ritualist of that faith. And the Shintoists in their turn were baptized into Buddhism by Kōbō. The bargain was struck on the assumption that the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas were essentially the same beings as the Shinto gods, and that the two religions meant the same thing, though they said it in different language. It does not matter, says the Shingon commentator, in praising the Scripture of the Lotus of the Good Law, whether one says in Sanskrit, Saddharmapundarika sūtram, or in Chinese, Myō Hō Renge Kyō, or in Japanese, Tayenaru nori no hachisu no hana no minori. The meaning and the effect are identical in each case.

Of the Emperor Saga, Murdoch says ("History of Japan," vol. i. p. 227) that he was "undoubtedly a highly accomplished man of brilliant parts … deeply versed in Chinese literature; that he did everything to encourage its study, and exerted himself to complete the Sinicization of the country." It was, however, more the splendour and magnificence of the Chinese Court than its solid virtues that appealed to him. Luxury and ostentation crept in, the nobles found it hard to meet the expenses of the Court life, and relief had to be granted them by exempting their domains from Imperial taxes. This impoverished the Court, created great semi-independent baronies, and brought about precisely that state of affairs which Kwammu had been at such pains to avert when he tried to break the power of the great Nara monasteries.

250:1 The Fujiwara family were coming into prominence at this time. For many years the head of this family was the practical director of the Emperor's councils; and the custom subsists to this day that the Empress of Japan is always a Fujiwara. The god of Kasuga, Ama no Koyane, is the deified progenitor of the Fujiwaras.

250:2 Kenjaku Son is a name given to the Bodhisattva Amoghapasa, often identified with Kwannon.

250:3 The eight pagodas are the eight stupas in India built over the relics of S’akyamuni, whose ashes were divided amongst eight tribes.

250:4 Kōbō Daishi knew better than to forbid hunting. The experiment had been tried during the Nara period, with the result that the nobles and warriors, after a brave attempt to comply with the Buddhist law, p. 251 had given up in despair and gone back to their hunting ways. My friend, Mr. Yanagita, of Ushigome, Tokyo, was kind enough to send me a few weeks ago a little pamphlet about some peculiar hunting customs in a little village on the slopes of the volcano of Mount Aso. Amongst other practices, it is customary in that village to hold a funeral service over the dead body of the wild boar. The form of service, which is called indō, and is very ancient, was drawn up for the villages by Kōbō Daishi.

251:1 Said to be Kaśyapa Buddha, S’akyamuni's immediate predecessor.

251:2 Kōbō constantly taught that Maitreya, the disciple of S’akyamuni, who has reached to Bodhisattvaship, and is now in the Tushita heaven, from whence he came once to lecture for Asangha (see above, Chapter XVI. p. 163), will come again at the end of the age to restore all things by the confuting of heretics. This is not a universal belief among Japanese Buddhists; but it is very strongly held by the Japanese Shingon.

251:3 In India ruling families belonging to the so-called Sun Dynast make a great deal of the Sword. Kōbō Daishi, who was a Sanskritist, probably knew this, and it may have been he that pointed out the importance to the Imperial Family of Japan (also a Sun Dynasty) of the Sacred Sword. We find the same idea with Attila and the Huns, and also perhaps in King Arthur's sword Excalibur.

252:1 This outbreak of plague is assigned in the Commentary to the year 820. Murdoch does not mention it. The Commentary passes over without a word the clause concerning the men raised from the dead. The Heart-Sūtra is the Prajnā Parāmitā Hridaya Sūtra, a very short Sūtra, which will be found in S.B.E.

252:2 The Sects are not in agreement as to which is to be considered the last Sūtra that Buddha preached. Some say the Nirvana teachings came last, but others give that place to the "Saddharmapundarika" or the Amida books.

253:1 The word Iroha, like our English word "alphabet," represents the first three characters of the Japanese syllabary, as arranged by Kōbō Daishi.

253:2 This is a reference to the well-known text, of which the Iroha poem is but a paraphrase—

Shogyō mujō,
Zeshō meppō
Shō metsu metsu i
Jaku metsu i raku.

"All phenomena are impermanent,
Because they are subject to the law of origination and perishing:
When this law of origination and perishing comes to an end
Calm will be found to be the true happiness."

253:3 Hachiman, a deification of the Japanese Empress Ōjin. Had Kōbō been contented with identifying Japanese deities with Buddhas he would have satisfied many minds. But his introduction of unnecessary Indian deities was much resented. Nichiren, for instance, accepts Amaterasu as Dainichi, and Ōjin as Hachiman, but attacks the other identifications most severely.

254:1 Inari is the farmers' god, the god of rice. Kōbō had already won the favour of the Imperial House, of the warriors, of the Fujiwaras, by his skilful identifications of deified heroes with Buddhas and Bodhisattvas. Now he claims the allegiance of the farmers. We can admire his great ingenuity; all the same, it was a terrible prostitution of the truth, and we are not astonished that the manly samurai should always have had the utmost contempt for him as an ingenious and not over-scrupulous miracle-monger.

254:2 Nothing is said in the English translation of "Namudaishi" (to which I have already alluded) about the Nāgas and maidens. But they are mentioned in the Japanese original.

254:3 Kenne is otherwise unknown. The "sacred globe" (Jap. hōshū) is a crystal ball.

254:4 The five branches of knowledge are the same as the five "branches of learning" which we used sometimes to hear of as children. The expression "ten pitakas," or ten Collections of Scriptures, seems to point to a conclusion that I have long since come to, though I have never had the opportunity of working it out, that the Chinese Buddhist Canon represents a collection of the Holy Books of ever so many distinct religious bodies, each of which requires quite independent treatment.

255:1 A sort of College. There were many of these founded during the reigns of the learned emperors. See Murdoch's "History of Japan," vol. i. p. 229.

255:2 This custom has now been given up.

255:3 The prince was Shinnyo, the third son of the Emperor Heijo.

256:1 In the minds of his followers, the Sage is still uncorrupted in his tomb, awaiting the coming of Maitreya. The Baptism of the Emperor Uda (if by Kōbō) must have been miraculous, for he did not come to the throne until 887.

256:2 The year-period Engi was from 908–922 A.D.

256:3 Kōbō's original name was Kūkai, and ultra-imperialist Confucianists always speak of him as such. Kōbō Daishi means "The Great Teacher who spread the Law."

256:4 This story is to be found in Satow and Hawes’ "Handbook to Japan," p. 416 (2nd edition).

256:5 I.e. Vairoc’ana, whose body is a spiritual body, and therefore unchangeable and everlasting, without beginning or end.

256:6 The patriarchs of the Shingon are well known. They are reckoned as eight: (1) Vairoc’ana, (2) Vajrasattva, (3) Nāgārjuna, (4) Nāgabodhi. These were in India. Then in China there were: (5) Vajrabodhi, (6) p. 257 Amoghavajra (Fukū), (7) Hui-Kuō (Jap. Keikwa). Then the doctrine comes to Japan with Kōbō.

There is a second enumeration. Vairoc’ana and Vajrasattva, they say, must not count, as very little is known of them. The eight patriarchs must be reckoned as: (1) Nāgārjuna, (2) Nāgabodhi, (3) Vajrabodhi, (4) Subhakarasiṇha (Jap. Zenmui), (5) Amoghavajra, (6) Keikwa, (7) Ichigyō, (8) Kōbō.

It must be noticed—

(i) that Nāgārjuna gets his information from Vajrasattva, who gets it from Vairoc’ana. It does not, therefore, represent a very old teaching. Nāgārjuna is reckoned as the thirteenth Patriarch of the Zen sect; he is at most only the third Patriarch of the Shingon. And if we assume Nāgārjuna to have lived about the middle of the second century, the inference is almost irresistible that Vajrasattva and Vairoc’ana cannot date from much before the middle of the first.

(ii) The Shingon Patriarchs, Vajrabodhi, Amoghavajra, etc., reached China, viā the sea-route, during the sixth and seventh centuries. They came from South India and Ceylon, in both of which places there were Egyptian colonies.

(iii) I have already in a previous chapter given many instances showing the close connection between Egyptian Gnosticism and the Shingon. I will now give another.

In the commentary to the last verse of Namu Daishi, the writer says that the Shingon is different from other forms of Buddhism. It has had no great changes, no violent reformations, no developments. Its doctrine has been handed down from generation to generation of the faithful by the transmission of what is called the "Seal of Vairoc’ana." The "Seal of Vairoc’ana" is said to be the secret meaning of the letter A in the Sanskrit alphabet. A-ji, as it is called, is a very sacred thing to a Shingonist. "The paths which must be trodden in visiting the buildings of Kōya San," say Satow and Hawes (l.c.), "together form the Sanskrit letter A, which is regarded as the symbol of the Taizōkai" (i.e. the Diamond World, or World of Ideas, of which Vairoc’ana is the centre and the life). In "Pistis Sophia" (Schmidt's edition, p. 81) there is a note given by a later hand. According to this, the Seal of the Undying One (ἀθάνατος, in Shingon, Amida is always amṛita) is ααα. He that sitteth on the throne (i.e. Christ the "First Mystery") is ααα; the interpretation of the whole Name of God is αααα, αααα, αααα. Ὁ μὲν πρῶτος οὐρανὸς φθέγγεται τὸ Α, says Irenæus of the Gnostic Marcus (Iren., lib. i. cap. xiv. 7). The Gnostics, it is well known, stole the Christ of the Christians. The Shingon, possibly without knowing it, have been for centuries the receivers of stolen goods.

Dr. C. U. Pope, in a paper on the "Study of South Indian p. 258 Vernaculars," in J.R.A.S for April, 1885, quotes a distich from Tiruvaḷḷuvar, the pariah weaver, which runs thus—

"A as its first of letters every speech maintains;
The Primal Deity is first through all the world's domains."

[paragraph continues] Tiruvaḷḷavar came from Mailapûr in South India, where stands the Manichæan shrine of St. Thomas. It was from South India that Kōbō's Shingon came with its stress on A-ji. The Tamil poet's date is between A.D. 1000 and 1200. Dr. Pope speaks of it as the "Oriental book which more than any other in the wide range of Eastern literature seems to reflect the moral teaching of the Great Master whom all the Western world reveres."

Next: Chapter XXII. The Buddhism of the Gempei Period