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***Use the lecture notes provided and the original reading, answer the questions in the “answer format” document directly. For each question, please find one short quote from the original reading, followed by a simple analysis of the quote to explain why this quote reflects the question. discussing four of the oracles described in Robert Borgen, “Michizane as Tenjin” (pp. 307-36, particularly 319-321) and Royall Tyler, trans., Japanese Tales #101 “The God of Fire and Thunder” pp. 144-49. In answering these questions make sure to think about how the oracle being given at a particular place and time might relate to wider historical issues. Do not assume that the oracle was true! QUESTIONS TO BE ANSWERED FOR EACH ORACLE SEPARATELY A. Who was the “author” of each oracle? I.e. who became possessed to give the oracle or had the dream vision? (male or female? part of a religious institution or non-institutional?) Do you think there may have been another person behind this “author”? B. Who was the intended audience for EACH ORACLE? Possible audience includes: 1. The three political factions at the time: a. peasants b. Fujiwara c. other aristocrats who want to get power away from Fujiwara 2. Two religious factions: a. popular shamanic religion, often led by charismatic female shamans, tied to peasants b. institutional religion, both Shinto and Buddhist, led by male religious figures, tied to aristocracy C. What was the purpose of EACH ORACLE? Are there any political and economic issues at stake? Who might benefit from the oracle? D. GENERAL QUESTION: How do the oracles reveal various religious and political factions fighting for control over Michizane? Points to consider: a. How do the common people view Michizane? That is, how does popular worship of Michizane link up to popular political protest? b. How do the Fujiwara (and Kiyoyuki’s family) view Michizane? c. How do other powerful aristocrats view Michizane? SYNOPSIS of four oracles involving Michizane (in chronological order): 1) (Borgen p. 314) In 939 during a ceremony at the Hachiman shrine, a female shaman (kannagi; Borgen refers to her as a “prostitute”) suddenly appears and in a state of possession gives an oracle from the Hachiman deity naming the rebel Taira no Masakado (d. 940) the new Emperor of the East. According to the oracle, Michizane supposedly drafted the proclamation. A translation of the oracle given in the Shômonki (p. 112), a biography of Masakado dating from soon after his death: “I am a messenger of the Great Bodhisattva Hachiman. I hereby confer upon my heir apparent, Masakado, the title of emperor. The spirit of the Minister of the Right, Sugawara no Michizane, holder of the senior second rank, has presented in writing the certificate of Rank wherein are written these words: ‘The aforesaid great Bodhisattva Hachiman hereby calls together the eighty thousand soldiers and confers upon Masakado the title of Emperor.’ Chanting the Pure Land Buddhist ‘Hymn of the Thirty-Two Signs,’ we must welcome the emperor without delay.” (Note that Masakado was killed by forces sent by the Fujiwara several months later. His head was presented to the Emperor, then buried back in the village of Shibasaki, which becomes central Edo/Tokyo. Masakado ends up functioning as a minor goryô in the Tokyo area for the next 1000 years; he is the central character in a number of Edo period Kabuki plays and contemporary fiction and anime which elaborate his magical powers.) 2) (Borgen, pp. 315-319; Royall Tyler, trans. #101 “God of Fire and Thunder” pp. 144-49 ) In 941, Dôken (AKA Nichizô), who is a son of Kiyoyuki (scholarly rival of Michizane who helped his downfall) and a yamabushi who practices Shugendô, has a dream vision in which he dies and is escorted to heaven. There he meets Michizane who says that esoteric Buddhism has calmed him down, and now he wants to be a Buddha. Dôken/Nichizô goes to hell and sees Emperor Daigo suffering; Daigo asks for prayers from the court to help him achieve release from hell for having driven Michizane into exile. 3) (Borgen, pp. 319-320) In 942 a female shaman named Tajihi no Ayako receives an oracle from Michizane. He is now known as Tenjin and wants her to build a shrine in Kitano. She builds an altar to him near her home. The oracle becomes the basis for an ecstatic singing and dancing cult that brings hundreds of people from the countryside into the capital carrying images of Michizane in portable shrines in 945. It is thought that Ayako managed to establish the shrine in Kitano in the sixth month of 947. 4) (Borgen, pp. 320-321) In the 3rd month of 947 (i.e. three months before Ayako enshrined Michizane at Kitano), the seven-year-old son of Miwa no Yoshitane, a Shinto Priest, receives an oracle indicating that Michizane, who controls 105,000 thunder demons (raijin), wants to be worshipped at Kitano like other Shinto deities, such as Hachiman and Kamo. He says that 1000 pine trees will grow there and miraculously they grow overnight. This is taken as a sign by Yoshitane and a Tendai monk Saichin, who then together cooperate to enshrine Michizane at Kitano Shrine and build a Buddhist Lotus Meditation hall. Later Pertinent Events: In the 8th month of 947, the grandson of Sugawara no Michizane is appointed to be the first head of the Shinto-Buddhist complex at Kitano. Thirty years later, in 976 the Sugawara and Fujiwara together manage to expel Ayako and her followers from the shrine.
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