Culture

Hindu deities in Japan

Print edition : October 02, 2015

Saraswati, or Benzaiten Shrine, Bentenshu, Osaka. This must be the most impressive and tallest shrine to Saraswati anywhere in the world today.

Saraswati, or Benzaiten, Rokuhara Mitsuji, Kyoto.

Saraswati, or Benzaiten, Enoshima Jinja, Kamakura.

Saraswati, or Benzaiten, Yoshiwara Jinja.

Saraswati, or Benzaiten, Meguro Ryusenji, Tokyo.

Saraswati, or Benzaiten, 10th century, Koonji, Saijo, Ehime.

Ginkakuji, or Temple of the Silver Pavilion, Kyoto. This is a beautiful zen temple. The Dhyana tradition, known in Chinese as chan and in Japanese as zen, was first established in China by Bodhidharma from India in the sixth century.

Jiten, Bhudevi, national treasure from Toji, Kyoto. Photo: Courtesy: Kyoto National Museum.

Ishanaten, Ishana Siva, 12th century, national treasure from Toji, Kyoto. Photo: Courtesy: Kyoto National Museum

Saraswati, or Benzaiten, National Treasure Museum, Tsurugaoka Hachimangu, Kamakura.

Eight-armed Saraswati, or Benzaiten, Enoshima Jinja, Kamakura. In the 7th-8th century, Japan adopted the eight-armed Saraswati as the defender of the nation. This description was taken from the "Sutra of Golden Light".

Hayagriva, or Haim, Jingoji, Kyoto. Hayagriva is a prominent deity in the Vaishnava tradition, as well as in the Vajrayana traditions of Buddhism, which developed in the great universities of the eastern plains of India.

Eight-armed Saraswati, or Benzaiten, Gokokuji, Tokyo.

Saraswati, or Benzaiten, shrine, Ginkakuji, Kyoto.

Washing money Saraswati, or Benzaiten, shrine, Zeniarai Benzaiten, Ugafuku Jinja, Kamakura. In modern times, Benzaiten stands not only for the wealth of our knowledge, art and wisdom, but also for the material wealth of the world. Therefore, these visitors believe that washing their money here will lead to multiplication of their wealth.

Bentenshu, Saraswati, or Benzaiten, sect, modern shrine, Osaka.

Saraswati, or Benzaiten, shrine, Shinobazu Pond, Tokyo.

Saraswati, or Benzaiten, shrine, Takahata Fudo Temple, Tokyo.

Saraswati's veena, or Benzaiten's biwa, at the entrance of Enoshima Jinja, Kamakura.

Yama, or Emma, Inoji, Kyoto.

Yama, or Emma, Ennoji, Kamakura.

Saraswati, or Benzaiten, Rokuhara Mitsuji, Kyoto.

Chitragupta, or Gusho-jin, Inoji, Kyoto. He is the record keeper for Yama, as in the Indian tradition.

Lake Biwa, Shiga prefecture. This is the largest freshwater lake in Japan. It lies north-east of Kyoto and gets its name from Saraswati's veena, or biwa, like which it is shaped.

Saraswati, or Benzaiten pond, Eikando Zenrin-ji, Kyoto.

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