" Kangiten " The Japanese Buddhist GANESHA...!
August 22, 2020, 01:24 PM IST
Kangiten is the Japanese Buddhist (Shingon and Tendai schools) form of the Hindu elephant-headed deity/god of wisdom and knowledge, namely, Shri Ganesha. The demigod Kangiten is sometimes identified with the Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara, the one who listens to cries of conscious beings. Ganesha is said to be always in the state of Supreme Bliss (Turiya Sthiti) which, in Hindu religious philosophy, is the fourth and ultimate state of consciousness that a sentient being can attain. Hence Kangi-ten is called the God of Bliss in which ten means deva (deity). Kangiten is also known as Kanki-ten, sho-ten (noble or sacred god), Daisho-ten (great noble god), Daisho Kangi-ten (venerable god), Kangi Jijai-ten, Shoden-sama, Vinayaka or Binayaka-ten, Ganapatei-ten and Zobi-ten. Both Ganesha and Binayaka have the duel powers of creating obstacles and then removing the obstacles. That is why he is called vighnanashaka. However, when propitiated, he bestows prosperity, success and health. The story of Kangiten began in the 8th-9th CE under the influence of Kukai, the founder of Shingon Buddhism. The Hindu Ganesha icon first traveled to China, got incorporated in Buddhism and then progressed to Japan. It was then a minor deity in the Japanese pantheon, being a guardian of the twin mandalas. Later it became an independent deity. It retained its ritual and icono-graphic forms, but origin myths of the deity came in to justify the Buddhist nature of the Hindu Ganesha. Early images showed showed 2 or 6 arms. The painting and other images of the Dual Kangiten had explicit sexual connotations under the influence of Tantric Tibetan Buddhism where such sexual imagery (Yab Yum) was common. A unique feature of Shingon Buddhism is the Soshin Kangi-ten, the dual-bodied god of bliss. It is the Nandikeshvara in Sanskrit, Kuan-Shi ten in Chinese, and Soshin Binayaka in Japanese. In this dual form, an elephant-headed male and female pair, stand and embrace each other, but the genders of the pair is not explicit, only suggested. The female wears a crown, a monk’s robe and a red surplice, while the male wears a black cloth over his shoulder. He has long trunk and tusks, while she has short ones. He is reddish-brown in color and she is white. She usually rests her feet on his, while he rests his head on her shoulder. A Chinese translation of Dharanisamuccaya describes a ritual to worship the Dual Kangiten. Soshin Kangiten is described as a deva who grants one’s desires, and a trayaka who provides protection against evil and calamity. There are rituals and mantras to gain favour of the Dual Kangiten as well as the 6-armed Shoten. Soshin Kangiten is also called a bodhisattva. Rituals to appease Kangiten are described to gain: kingship, sufficient food and clothing, prosperity. An offering to Kangiten is wine which is called water of bliss. The 8th century text Subhakarasimha equates Kangiten to Shiva and associates the Hindu king Vinayaka with Avalokiteshvara. The Dual Kangiten could be the Hindu Tantric portrayal of Ganesha with consorts. There are a number of legends that tell about the evil nature of Vinayaka. Some early Chinese texts describe King Vinayaka to be the son of Uma and Maheshwara. Uma produces 1500 children each from her two sides. From her left came the evil Vinayakas and from her right the good hosts headed by the Hindu god of war Skanda, the opposite of Ganesha, his brother. Skanda takes many births either as the elder brother or as wife of Vinayaka to defeat him. As wife, Senanayaka (leader of army) Skanda embraces Vinayaka leading to the icon of Dual Kangiten. In the Japanese tradition, Kangiten becomes the brother of Ida-ten identified with Skanda. In another legend, the king of Marakeira ate only beef and radishes. When these foods became unavailable, he ate human corpses and then finally living things. This turned him into the demon king Vinayaka who commanded an army of vinayakas. The people prayed to Avalokiteshvara who took the form of a female Vinayaka and seduced the male Vinayaka who was filled with joy (kangi). Thus he in union with she became the Dual Kangiten. According to Kukozensho, Maheshvara’s consort Zaijizai had a son by the name Shoten. He was banished from heaven due to his violent and evil nature. A beautiful goddess named Gundari took the form of a demoness and married Shoten. Under her influence, Shoten took to good ways. Another tale narrates that Kangiten, the evil daughter of Maheshvara, was driven out of heaven