The Master of Ritual

Thomas Donald Conlan

in From Sovereign to Symbol

Published in print November 2011 | ISBN: 9780199778102
Published online January 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780199919079 | DOI:
The Master of Ritual

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This chapter explores the waxing political and ritual significance of Shingon Buddhism and its charismatic monks (geza) and shows how some were appointed to the position of protector (gojisō) and gained political influence. This chapter explains how the sovereign Go-Uda's attempt to unify the disparate secret knowledge of Shingon proved to be profoundly unsettling and forced monks to become deeply involved in political decisions. After exploring the influence and ultimate failure of Monkan, a successor to Go-Uda's lineage, this chapter focuses on the career of Kenshun, a Hino scion who gained influence among the Ashikaga, the founders of Japan's second warrior government, and as a result of his ritual prowess, became appointed as a monzeki, a position that had previously been reserved for members of the imperial family. Thereupon, Kenshun embarked upon a number of rituals that blurred the boundaries of sovereignty between the Ashikaga and the emperors of the Northern Court.

Keywords: Shingon Buddhism; geza; Monkan; Kenshun; monzeki; Ashikaga; Norhtern Court

Chapter.  18572 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Buddhism

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