Date

2012

Department or Program

Religion

Primary Wellesley Thesis Advisor

T. James Kodera

Abstract

While the historical and religious roots of kaji kito (“ritual prayer”) lay in Indian and Chinese Esoteric Buddhist practices, the most direct influence of kaji kito in Nichiren Shu Buddhism, a Japanese Buddhist sect founded by the Buddhist monk, Nichiren (1222-1282), comes from Shingon and Tendai Buddhism, two traditions that precede Nichiren’s time. The historical development and initial incorporation of kaji kito into Nichiren Buddhism suggest that the main objective was to bring happiness to people through the use of prayer. Analysis of kaji kito following the death of Nichiren has shown that although different methods of kaji kito have developed, this notion of bringing happiness has been maintained. Changes made to the kaji kito of Nichiren Buddhism will be explained along with a discussion of the physical practice of kaji kito called aragyo, a 100-day ascetic practice undergone annually in Japan by some Nichiren Shu priests.

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