Benzaiten

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Statue of Benzaiten

Benzaiten (, ) is the Japanese name of the goddess Saraswati. Worship of Benzaiten arrived in Japan in the 6th to 8th centuries, mainly through the Chinese translations of the Sutra of Golden Light .

Her Sanskrit name is "Sarasvatî Devî", which means "flowing water". This is why Benzaiten is the goddess of everything that flows: water, words, speech, and music. The characters used to write her name showed her as the goddess of eloquence. Because of the Sutra of Golden Light, in Japan she became a protector of the people. Lastly, she became one of the Seven Lucky Gods.

In the Rig-Veda (6.61.7) Sarasvati killed the three-headed snake, also known as Vritra. This is probably one of the sources of Sarasvati/Benzaiten's close link with snakes and dragons in Japan. She has a shrine on the Island of Enoshima in Sagami Bay, about 50 kilometers south of Tokyo; and a five-headed dragon and her are the main people in the Enoshima Engi, a history of the shrines on Enoshima written by the Japanese Buddhist monk Kokei (皇慶). According to Kokei, Benzaiten is the third daughter of the dragon-king of Munetsuchi (無熱池; literally "lake without heat"), the lake which is at the center of the world in an ancient Buddhist view.

Other websites[change | edit source]

Sources[change | edit source]

  • Japan and Indian Asia by Hajime Nakamura. Publisher: Firma KLM, 1961. Publication date: 1961
  • India and Japan: A Study in interaction during 5th cent - 14th century – By Upendra Thakur.
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