Benzaiten

MYTHOLOGY MEME || Goddesses (1/9) Benzaiten

Benzaiten (辯才天) is a Japanese goddess of Buddhist origins, who derives from the Hindu Saraswati. She is the goddess of rivers, the sea, music, art, and eloquence, and is accounted as one of the Seven Gods of Fortune (七福神 Shichi Fukujin).

The Japanese Buddhist monk, Kōkei ( 皇慶), wrote that her father and her husband were both dragon kings. Kōkei’s work is the origin of the tale that Benzaiten’s husband was  an evil dragon who ate children, but mended his ways after their marriage.

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 Every time I stumble across this panel, whenever I re-read the manga, all I do is laugh until my sides hurt and tears come down my cheeks. Adachitoka are just such a great pair of mangakas, because it’s these small details that make the noragamiverse just fantastic. So, let me explain to you who this is and why this panel is hilarious.

I have discussed the Seven Lucky Gods before, but never have I focused on each one of them. As you already know, Bishamonten, Ōkuninushi (Daikokuten), and Ebisu are part of this eclectic group of deities worship in the Shinto pantheon. These seven kami have ties to Hinduism, Buddhism, and Shintoism. Three of them in particular are very much revered in Hinduism. These three are Bishamonten (Vaiśravaṇa), Daikokuten (Mahākāla), and Benzaiten (Sarasvatī).

The beautiful, side-character above is the representation of Benzaiten in the series. Originally in the Shinchifukujin, Bezaiten is the only female kami. She is revered as the representation of ‘everything that flows’ and thus, she is connected to the Arts, Knowledge, Wisdom, Time, Wealth, Fortune, Rivers, and most of all, Beauty and Love.

Consequently, when the Kamis gather around during Kannazuki, it is safe to assume that Benzaiten is going to be very popular during the matchmaking activity. Nonetheless, when we are shown the Kami plaques, not only does her official picture is less than beautiful… She is also single.

This female kami is the representation of everything that is supposed to be perfect and beautiful, but even still she can’t get a partner. I guess what Adachitoka is trying to convey is that beauty isn’t everything. That is why I find it extremely hilarious, because it just attaches to the notion that the Kamis and Gamis suffer from the same problems as mortals do. 

Goddess of the Day: August 21

Benten - also Benzaiten. Japanese Goddess of Love. Depicted as a beautiful woman with eight arms riding a dragon, Benten is the ruler of love, music, and the arts. As a sea and water Goddess, She is the purifying force which protects people from the darkness of the material world. Benten inspires the wise use of talents to their highest capabilities, and is the patroness of artists, dancers, musicians, and geishas.  Provider of good luck and romance, Her festival is celebrated at Summer Solstice in the many shrines still standing in Japan.

(text from Brandi Auset, The Goddess Guide)

In Inokashira Park, Tokyo, there is a lake where visitors can rent rowing boats. It is believed that if a couple rides on a boat together, their relationship will end. The legend is connected to a local shrine dedicated to Benzaiten (Japanese name for the Hindu goddess, Saraswati). She is believed to be very jealous and causes the break-ups of those who ride on the boats.


Photo © iMorpheous

Benzaiten (弁才天, 弁財天) is the Japanese name for the Hindu Goddess Saraswati. Worship of Benzaiten arrived in Japan during the 6th through 8th centuries, mainly via the Chinese translations of the Sutra of Golden Light, which has a section devoted to her. She is also mentioned in the Lotus Sutra and often depicted holding a biwa, a traditional Japanese lute. Benzaiten is the goddess of everything that flows: water, words, speech, eloquence, music and by extension knowledge.

(Sources: 1 2)

Benzaiten-sama




“Benzaiten () is the Japanese name for the Hindu goddess Saraswati.


Worship of Benzaiten arrived in Japan during the 6th through 8th centuries, mainly via the Chinese translations of the Sutra of Golden Light, which has a section devoted to her. She is also mentioned in the Lotus Sutra and often depicted holding a biwa, a traditional Japanese lute, in contrast to Saraswati who holds a stringed instrument known as a veena. Benzaiten is a highly syncretic entity with both a Buddhist and a Shinto sid
e.” - Wiki article on Benzaiten

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Benzaiten, or Benten as affectionately known, is the dragon goddess of water, sex, fertility, music, dance, love, and wealth in context of all of Earth’s material and emotional treasures. She brings blessings of happines, wealth and joy.

Benten is the only female member of the Seven Lucky Gods (Shichi Fukujin), and is a Shinto, Buddhist, and Hindu deity. It is said she lives with her dragon husband under Lake Biwa near Kyoto.

If you are tormented by dragons, Benten knows how to pacify and control them. You can ask her for protection.

Benten also traditionally helps lovers remove obstacles from their path to happiness. Leave a letter or message for her at one of her shrines, or your home altar to her for help and petition.

Her favoured people are: Geisha, dancers, musicians, creative people, lovers, and children.

Her attribute is the Biwa (the instrument she holds)

Her element is water and her sacred day is the first serpent day in the Lunar calendar. And her sacred animals are the snake and dragon. White snakes are her messengers.

Offerings: images of dragons, snakes, ema plaques with snake images, money, water, rice, sake, gemstones, musical writings, or an instrument near the altar.

弁才天 (Benzaiten)

Also known as Benten, Benzaiten is the goddess of everything that flows: words, knowledge, speech, eloquence, and music. She is also one of the Seven Lucky Gods in Shinto. Said to be the third daughter of the dragon-king of Munetsuchi, over the course of years she has gone from being a protective deity of Japan to one who bestows good fortune upon the state and its people. 

Shichifukujin 七福神 - Seven Lucky Gods

The Shichifukujin 七福神 are an eclectic group of deities from Japan, India, and China. Only one is native to Japan (Ebisu) and Japan’s indigenous Shintō tradition. Three are from the Hindu-Buddhist pantheon of India (Daikokuten, Bishamonten, & Benzaiten) and three from Chinese Taoist-Buddhist traditions (Hotei,Jurōjin, & Fukurokuju). In Japan, they travel together on their treasure ship (Takarabune) and visit human ports on New Year’s Eve to dispense happiness to believers. Each deity existed independently before Japan’s “artificial” creation of the group. The origin of the group is unclear, although most scholars point to the Muromachi Era (1392-1568) and the 15th century.

Ebisu 恵比須
Origin = Japan.
Shinto Name: Kotoshiro-nushi-no-kami
God of the Ocean, Fishing Folk, Good Forture, Honest Labor, Commerce. Virtue = Candor, Fair Dealing 
Holds a fish (TAI, sea bream or red snapper), which symbolizes luck and congratulation (Japanese word for happy occasion is omede-TAI); fishing rod in right hand; folding fan in other; grants success to people in their chosen occupations; son of Daikoku. Popular among fishing folk, sailors, and people in the food industry.

Daikokuten 大黒天
Origin = India.
Skt. = Mahakala
Intro to Japan 9th C. AD
God of Earth, Agrculture, Farmers, Wealth, Prosperity, Flood Control, The Kitchen. Virtue = Fortune

God of five cereals; rice bales; treasure sack (bag); magic mallet in right hand; sometimes wears hood; rat (found around food); often shown with Ebisu, who is said to be his son; merged with Shinto deity of good harvests, Okuninushi no Mikoto. Also a member of the TENBU. Popular among farmers, agricultural businesses, & traders.

Benzaiten 弁財天
Origin = India.
Skt. = Sarasvati
Goddess of Music, Beauty, Eloquence, Literature, Art. Virtue = Amiability
Japanese mandolin, lute, magic jewel, snake, sea dragon. Only female among the seven. Member of the TENBU grouping. Popular among artists, musicians, and writers.

Hotei 布袋 (PLEASE STOP CALLING THIS GUY BUDDHA!!!!!)
Origin = China.
Chn. = Putai, Budai
Chinese Sage.
Budaishi (Jp. = Fuudaishiten)

God of Contentment and Happiness. Virtue = Magnanimity

Bag of food and treasure that never empties; oogi (fan), small children at his feet; supposedly only member of seven based on actual person (although Jurōjin / Fukurokuju might also be based on real person); known as the Laughing Buddha; rubbing his stomach is said to bring good luck; incarnation ofBodhisattva Maitreya (Jp. = Miroku). Popular among bartenders and all classes of people. Best known of the seven outside Japan.

Fukurokuju 福禄寿
Origin = China.
Taoist Hermit Sage
God of Wealth, Happiness, Longevity, Verility, and Fertility. Virtue = Popularity
Huge elongated head; long white beard, cane with sutra scroll,  crane, deer, stag, tortoise (symbols of longevity); scroll said to contain all the wisdom in the world; said to inhabit same body as Jurōjin (the pair are two different manifestations of the same deity); wields power to revive the dead. Popular among watchmakers, athletes, others.

Jurōjin 寿老人
Origin = China. Identified with Laozi (Jp. = Rōjinseishi), the founder of Chinese Toaism
God of Wisdom & Longevity. Virtue = Longevity.
Also spelled Jurojin.
Long white beard, knobbly staff with scoll of life attached; tortoise, deer, stag, crane; in same body as Fukurokuju (the pair represent two different manifestations of the same deity); scroll said to hold the secret to longevity; sometimes carries a drinking vessel, as he reportedly loves rice wine (sake). Popular among teachers, professors, and scientists.

Bishamonten 毘沙門天
Origin = India.
Skt. Vaisravana.
God of Treasure, Bringer of Wealth, Defender of the Nation, Scourge of Evil Doers, Healer of Ilness. Virtue = Dignity
Wears armor, carries spear and treasure pagoda; centipede is messenger; Vaisravana in Sanskrit; also known as Tamonten(the commander of the Shitenno or Four Heavenly Kings), and a member of the TENBU  Popular among soldiers, doctors, and certain Buddhist monestaries; the only member of theShitenno worshipped independently.

TREASURE BOAT & TREASURE
The treasure ship (Takarabune 宝船) is laden with treasure (Takara 宝). Says JAANUS: “The Chinese character BAKU 獏, a Chinese imaginary animal thought to devour (i.e. prevent) nightmares, is sometimes found written on the sail. Often auspicious cranes and tortoises are depicted in the sky and the sea. Although the origin of treasure-boat paintings is not clear, one Edo-period record indicates that they were started in the Muromachi period.”

  • Hat of Invisibility = Kakuregasa 隠れ笠, and Cloak of Invisibility (Lucky Raincoat) = Kakuremino 隠れ蓑. Allows one to perform good deeds without being seen.
  • Robe of Feathers = Hagoromo 羽衣. A long loose flowing garment giving one the gift of flight. Attribute of Benzaiten.
  • Magic Mallet, Mallet of Good Fortune = Uchide no Kozuchi 打出の小槌. Brings forth money when struck against an object or when shaken. Common attribute of Daikokuten.
  • Bag of Fortune = Nunobukuro 布袋 (lit. cloth bag). Includes an inexhaustible cache of treasures, including food and drink. Common attribute of Hotei.
  • Never-Empty Purse or Moneybag = Kanabukuro 金袋. Bag of unlimited wealth, prosperity & fortune.
  • Key to Divine Treasure House = Kagi 鍵. The treasure house is symbolized by the stupa (pagoda) held by Bishamonten.
  • Rolls of Brocade = Orimono 織物. Scarves and clothing were considered treasures in ancient times and used in various rituals. Not sure of its meaning here.
  • Scrolls of Wisdom & Longevity = Makimono 巻物. Common attributes of Jurōjin and Fukurokuju, who are said to be two different manifestations of a single deity (the god of wisdom and longevity).