The Imagery of Nichiren's Lotus Sutra: The Gohonzon - The Great Mandala of the True Dharma
Kishimojin in Chinese
Demons from the mountains
would come into the villages at night and steal the head of a living person
and run around wearing it. These demons were also known as hungry ghosts
because they still have unresolved “hunger” or issues. When they satisfy
their “hunger” they can move on to the next phases of life/death.
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.
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 frantically 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 aguish, 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.
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