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Home » 2. Kami (Deities) » Combinatory Kami
Seiryū Gongen
Other names: Seirō Gongen



Literally "Clear-Falls-Avatar," this deity was one of the "protectors of the dharma" (gohō;) in the Shingon sect of Buddhism, and tutelary of the temple Daigoji in Kyoto. Originally a tutelary of the "Blue Dragon Temple" (Ch. Qing-long-si; Jp. Shōryūji) at Chang'an (then capital of China), the deity was transmitted to Japan by the Buddhist monk Kōbō Daishi (Kūkai) when he returned after studying in China under the priest Hui-Guo. In Japan, it was installed at the temple Jingoji in Takao, Kyoto. At that time, the original characters meaning "blue dragon" were changed to different but visually similar characters meaning "clear waterfall".

During the period 859-877, the Buddhist master Rigen Daishi Shōbō invoked Seiryū Gongen as tutelary when establishing the temple mountain of Daigoji. Records note that shrine structures were first built at upper Daigo in 1089 and at lower Daigo in 1097, under the head priest Shōkaku. The deity's Buddhist "essence" (honji; see honji suijaku) is identified as the two Kannon bodhisattvas Nyoirin and Jundei; as a female, the deity appears either as a Buddhist nun or as a laywoman; in the latter form, she is depicted as the Buddha's mother, holding a treasure gem.

She is also sometimes described as the dragon king of the legendary "Lake Munetsuchi" or "Lake of No Heat" (Sk. Anavatapta) in India, or as the third daughter of the Dragon King Sagara, the younger sister of Itsukushima Myōjin.

-Kadoya Atsushi
"Establishment of a National Learning Institute for the Dissemination of Research on Shinto and Japanese Culture"
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