7 Lucky Gods of Japan, India and China

topic posted Fri, May 25, 2007 - 9:13 AM by  I am not on ...
7 Lucky Gods of Japan, India and China
Shichi means seven, fuku means luck, and jin means god.
The Shichifukujin are an eclectic group of deities from Japan, India, and China. Only one is native to Japan (Ebisu).
Three are from India (Daikokuten, Bishamonten, and Benzaiten) and three from China (Hotei, Jurojin, and Fukurokuju).
Shinto Name: Kotoshiro- nushi-no-kami
God of Fishermen
Good Forture and Commerce
Fish (tai or sea bream, red snapper), which symbolizes celebration (Japanese word for celebration is omede-tai); fishing rod in right hand; folding fan; grants success to people in their chosen occupations; son of Daikoku; the Mercury or Hermes of Japan?
Intro to Japan 9th century AD
God of Earth, Wealth, Prosperity, Farmers, Flood Control, The Kitchen,
Member TENBU
God of five cereals; rice bales; treasure sack (bag); magic mallet in right hand; sometimes wears hood; rat (found around food); often shown with Ebisu, his son?; merged with Shinto deity of good harvests, Okuninushi no Mikoto
Goddess of Music, Fine Arts, Eloquence, Literature
Japanese mandolin, lute, majic jewel, snake, sea dragon.
Only female among the seven.
Member of the TENBU grouping.
Maitreya ??
God of Contentment and Happiness
Bag of food and treasure that never empties; oogi (fan), small children at his feet; supposedly only member of seven based on actual person; known as the Laughing Buddha; rubbing his stomach is said to bring good luck; incarnation of Bodhisattva Maitreya (Jp. = Miroku).
God of Wisdom and Longevity
Long white beard, cane with sutra scroll, drinking gourd, crane, deer, stag, tortoise (symbol of longevity); scroll said to contain all the wisdom in the world; said to inhabit same body as Jurojin
God of Longevity
Long white beard, holy staff and scroll, tortoise, deer, stag, crane; in same body as Fukurokuju; scroll said to hold the secret to longevity
God of Treasure, God of War, God of Warriors, Skt. Vaisravana
Wears armor, carries spear and pagoda of treasures; pigeon is messenger; Vaisravana in Sanskrit; also Tamonten, one of the Shitenno and TENBU
In Japan, there is another goddess (of Hindu origin) named Marishiten who is revered as a tutelary deity of the warrior class.
In later centuries, she was worshipped as a goddess of wealth and prosperity among merchants.
She was counted along with Daikokuten and Benzaiten as one of a trio of "three deities" (Santen) invoked for good fortune during the Edo period. Marishiten is a member of the TENBU group.
The Japanese people appear bewitched by the number seven -- much like the rest of the world.
The West, for example, had its seven wonders of the world. Rome, it is said, was built on seven hills.
Medieval Christians counted seven deadly sins. In the age of discovery, explorers traveled the seven seas.
The modern world revolves around a seven-day week.
People still say they are "in seventh heaven" when they are extremely happy (a phrase that originated in Dante's The Divine Comedy).

Daikoku - God of Wealth, Commerce, Farmers, Kitchen, FoodThe mystery of number seven has enraptured the Japanese as well. Ancient Japan was founded around seven districts. In Japanese folklore, there are seven treasures and seven deities of good luck (the topic of this story). Japanese Buddhists believe people are reincarnated only seven times, and seven weeks of mourning are prescribed following death.
The list goes on and on -- the seven ups and eight downs of life, the seven autumn flowers, the seven spring herbs, the seven types of red pepper, the seven transformations, and the popular 7-5-3 festival held each November for children, in which special Shinto rites are performed to formally welcome girls (age 3) and boys (age 5) into the community.
Girls (age 7) are welcomed into womanhood and allowed to wear the obi (decorative sash worn with kimono).

Seven's charm can sometimes be traced to early religious and astrological beliefs. But in our modern age of science and reason, the popularity of seven seems baffling and arbitrary.

On New Year's Eve, the seven enter port together on their takarabune (treasure ship) to bring happiness to everyone.
On the night of January 2nd, tradition says, you should put , under your pillow, a picture of the seven aboard their treasure ship.
If you have a lucky dream that night, you will be lucky for the whole year. I'm not sure why Jan. 2nd is the day for this.

Takarabune Treasure BoatAbout the Treasure Boat and Its Treasures (Takarazukushi)
Originally this motif (the treasure boat) came from China, but only later did the Japanese add such treasures as the wish-granting jewel, the mallet of good fortune, the robe of invisibility, cloves, and a treasure bag.

Life-size wood Daikoku statue at Hase Dera, KamakuraAnother equally curious tradition still widely practiced in Japan is that of rubbing Daikoku or Hotei. When visiting temples that enshrine statues of the seven deities, visitors often rub the head / shoulders of Daikoku (the god of wealth and business prosperity). Doing so is said to bring wealth - which rubs off the statue onto the rubber. Photo at right shows life-size wooden Daikoku statue at Hase Dera in Kamakura -- the sign at his feet says "Rubbing Daikoku -- Please Touch"

Also, rubbing the stomach of Hotei is said to bring good luck.
Not yet incorporated into this site

About the Treasure Boat and Its Treasures ((Takarazukushi)
Originally this motif came from China, but only later did the Japanese add such treasures as the wish-granting jewel, the mallet of good fortune, the robe of invisibility, cloves, and a treasure bag.

Daikokuten (Mahakala in Sanskrit) is the god of prosperity, wealth, and flood control and is often depicted along with Ebisu. Originally a Hindu deity called Mahakala, he was introduced to Japan in the ninth century, and merged with the the Shinto deity of good harvests, Okuninushi no Mikoto. Daikokuten whose Indian prototype is sometimes regarded as Mahakala is at present a purely Japanese god. He carries a large bag over his shoulder and stands on rice bales.
He is not such a universal object of respect in the Zen monastery.

Benzaiten, the god of art, happiness, literature, science and prosperity, is the only female among the Shichifukujin. She carries a biwa, a musical instrument similar to a lute. It is difficult to trace historically how Benzaiten (Sarasvati), who is the goddess of the River, finds her shrine in a Zen monastery. Some say that Benzaiten is not Sarasvati but Sridevi. Whoever she may be, a female form is often found among the audience of a saintly priest, and later she appears in his dream telling him how she who was formerly an enemy of Buddhism is now enlightened and will be one of its protectors, and so on. In any event there is room even in the Zen monastery, where the severest kind of asceticism is supposed to prevail, for a goddess to enter.

Ebisu is a god of happiness and is associated with the Shinto Kotoshiro-nushi no kami. He grants success to people in their chosen occupations. He is especially popular among fishermen and rice farmers. He's also God of the morning sun and guards the health of little children, as does the god Jizo.

Fukurokuju is the god of wisdom, long life, happiness, and prosperity. Like Jurojin, he has a long white beard which symbolises his great wisdom and age. He sometimes carries a staff and scroll which are said to contain all the wisdom in the world, or a turtle, which symbolises longevity.

Jurojin is the god of happiness, prosperity, and long life. He has a long white beard, a symbol of his longevity, and rides a stag, his messenger. He sometimes carries a staff and scroll on which is written the secret of longevity. In China, he was a famous sage.

Bishamonten (Vaisravana in Skt.) is actually the Buddhist deity Tamonten, one of the Shitenno that we encountered earlier.
As one of the Shichifukujin, however, he is a god of prosperity. He wears armour and carries a spear and pagoda.

Hotei was originally a Chinese monk named Pu-tai, but he became an immortal when he crossed the sea to Japan.
It is believed that rubbing his stomach will bring good luck. His name means 'cloth bag' or 'glutton' and he is the god of contentment and happiness.

The Seven gods of Luck are from Chinese Taosim.
Not much from the Taoist tradition entered Japan as much of it was similar to the Shinto already practiced but these gods are sometimes found displayed in business and homes:
1) Benten - goddess of music, arts, beauty and fertility (identified with Ryugu Otohime - Shinto Princess of the Dragon Palace - sea);
2) Hotei - the fat, laughing god of happiness;
3) Jurojin - the god of longevity;
4) Fukurokujin - the dwarf god of wisdom;
5) Bishamon - the armor clad god of religious zeal; 6) Daitoku - the generous god of wealth and
7) Ebisu - the god of honest labor. They are often depicted traveling on the Takarabune (Treasure ship).

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