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Dharma Prince Shukaku and the Esoteric Buddhist Culture of Sacred Works (Shōgyō) in Medieval Japan

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Chapter Summary

The focus on Shukaku was first related to greater recognition of the preeminence of the dharma princes during the early medieval era. As Abe Yasurō has noted, the position of dharma prince was the highest rank within the exo-esoteric Buddhist establishment that dominated the era. Shukaku studied royal court protocol under the tutelage of court chroniclers, and took an active role within the larger cultural world of the cloistered sovereign and the nobility. A major portion of Shukaku's corpus was his series of temple protocols for a variety of ritual assemblies and court annual ceremonies. Shukaku's corpus of writings and collections of ritual works formed the center of his esoteric world of belief and practice. At Ninnaji, the Mitsuyō shō collection was transmitted and expanded throughout medieval and early modern times within the complex, and disseminated partially to other major Shingon temple complexes such as Daikakuji.

Keywords: esoteric Buddhist; Mitsuyō shō; Shukaku's corpus



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