Japan’s devotion towards Indian dieties


Kolkata: Hindu goddess Saraswati, the epitome of knowledge, arts, and wisdom, is worshipped not only by Indians in their homeland but also by the Japanese in a unique way, ie in the pool of water.

An art historian at the Indian museum, Benoy K Behl revealed about the various shrines worshipping goddess Saraswati. His exquisite display of photographs reveals unknown facts about the influence of Hinduism and Hindu deities in Japan.

Behl claimed that goddess Saraswati’s association with the mythical river Saraswati is the reason behind her worship in pools of water in Japan.

“There are scores of Hindu deities which are very actively worshipped in Japan. In fact, there are hundreds of shrines of Saraswati alone,” he said.

Behl, in one photograph, showed the goddess with a veena at a shrine located in Tokyo. His snaps also revealed that Osaka comprises one of the most impressive and tallest shrines of Saraswati in the world.

While Saraswati is worshipped as Benzaiten, Lord Ganesha is worshipped as Shoten. Garuda is known as Karura in Daiyuzan-Saijoji temple near Odawara.

What is further surprising is the fact that people in Japan worship other Hindu deities which are rarely done by Indians, “In fact, deities we have forgotten in India, such as Vayu and Varuna, are still worshipped in Japan,” Behl said

Preservation of Siddham, a 5th century Sanskrit script is also done by the Japenese, besides religion. At Gokokuji in Tokyo, a photo shows Japanese tombs with the Sanskrit letters.

“The Japanese cannot read this alphabet, but it is still used to respect the dead. It is very interesting that the 5th-century Siddham script, which has disappeared in India, is still in use in Japan. At Koyasan, they still have a school where Sanskrit is taught with Siddham,” the historian said. (picture courtesy: wordpress.com)