||Ki of Kishimojin is composed
of a large demon’s head on top; under the head are legs, or vapor. Demons
from the mountains or uninhabited areas would come into the villages and
steal the head of a person and run around wearing it. These demons are
also known as hungry ghosts because they still have unresolved “hungers”
or issues. When they satisfy their “hunger” they can move on to the next
phases of life/death.
||Shi of Kishimojin is a child
wrapped in swaddling. The horizontal line are his/her arms.
||Mo is mother. The form of
Mo is that of Nu the radical (root word) for woman. The two
squares inside this structure represent a mother’s breasts. The dots inside
the squares are her nipples.
||Jin of Kishimojin is composed
of two elemental characters. On the right is two hands holding a rope.
The rope extends the usefulness of the hands. It means “to extend” [oneself
for others]. On the left is a compound that is the light of the sun, moon,
and stars coming from heaven. It means the instructions (like omens, etc.)
from the heavens. This jin is the same “jin” that is
found in Shoten zenjin. Just as the Shoten Zenjin are heavenly protectors,
so is Kishimojin.
Kishimojin is commonly translated as
“Mother of Demon Children”, but more accurately she is the Demon that protects
mothers and children. In some “Nichiren” sects, she is the central object
of worship and there are special ceremonies that pay homage to her.
= Heavenly (Cosmic) Protector
According to legend, Kishimojin drank
the blood of children so that she could provide mother’s milk to her favorite
child. Mothers in the nearby villages asked the Buddha if he could put
an end to this practice. So the Buddha caused Kishimojin’s child to be
invisible to her. She searched franticly for him (even though he was near
her at all times) and eventually she came to the Buddha for help. The Buddha
asked her how she felt about not being able to find her child. When Kishimojin
told him of her great anguish, the Buddha explained that that is how she
made other mothers feel when she took their children. After that, Kishimojin
vowed to protect mothers and children. Later, in the Dharani (Spells) 26th
Chapter of the Lotus Sutra, she and her ten daughters vow to protect the
practitioners of the Lotus Sutra in the evil age that was to come.