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Dilip Deodhar
02-21-2007, 01:44 AM
For many years I wondered about possible connection between some Japanese/Chinese words and Hindu words. E.g. Dao/Do/Dharm seem to have same (layers of) meaning. Like Raj Dharm: way of the king, Similarly there are ways of the warrior, of the monk etc. This article may be of interest: Japan's Hindu linkages still alive
By IANS, Feb 17, 2007 - 4:40:44 PM


New Delhi, Feb 17 - Apart from the widely known fact that Buddhism in Japan has its origin in India, not many probably know that so many Hindu deities surround the life of a Japanese.

Speaking at a lecture titled 'Hindu Gods and Goddesses rooted to Japan' here Friday, Lokesh Chandra, the director of International Academy of Indian Culture, highlighted how deeply Indian religion and culture has influenced Japanese culture and tradition over the past centuries.

He said that many temples across Japan are full of Hindu deities.

Chandra said Japanese couples who desire to have a beautiful daughter pray to goddess 'Saraswati' even to this day. Saraswati is also believed as the patroness of writers and painters.

'In ancient times, Japanese generals prayed to Saraswati to be victorious in war,' Chandra told the gathering which was also attended by the Japanese Ambassador to India Yasukuni Enoki and his wife.

Year 2007 is being celebrated as Japan-India Friendship Year to commemorate the 50th year of the cultural agreement between the two countries.

According to Chandra, who has travelled to Japan many times to study the country's culture and tradition, Saraswati is also worshipped as the 'goddesses of kitchen'.

Many traditional Japanese plays are dedicated to the Indian deity.

Sharing a trivia he said how in 1934, a Japanese woman had a vision that she was the incarnation of goddess Saraswati and stared writing in Sanskrit, a language she never heard off.

There is a suburban district in Tokyo named Kichijo, which traces its roots to 'Lakshmi', the Hindu goddess of wealth. Lakshmi was propagated to China along with Buddhism in the ancient time, to be known as Kichijo in its Chinese form and then reached Japan as a Buddhist goddess.

Chandra also spoke extensively about how Sanskrit language has influenced traditional Japanese calligraphy.

The Indian text was introduced into Japanese society many centuries ago. Japanese monks had to study Sanskrit in order to master Buddhism from original Indian scriptures and textbooks.

Lord Ganesha in Japan symbolises the joy of life that arises from the power rooted in the virtues of wisdom and compassion.

Young Japanese worship Ganesha to win in love whereas the old worship the deity to get success in business.

There are roughly 100 temples dedicated to Ganesha in Japan, Chandra added. An 11th century Ganesha temple is the oldest among them.

Together with Hindu gods and goddess, ancient Japanese society was also introduced to Indian dance forms and musical instruments.

A typical example is the 'Biwa', which actually had its origin from the Indian 'Veena'. One of Japan's largest lakes is also known as Lake Biwa.

One can also see the influence of the Indian epic Ramayana in the traditional Japanese dance forms of 'Bugaku' and 'Gigaku'.

The yearlong cultural celebration was kicked off here last week that was attended by former Japanese prime minister Yoshiro Mori among others.