The Great Wisdom King Fudõ Myõ-õ manifests to support a Shingon priest.
In 1663, a quarrel flared up between the Shingon temples and the yamabushi on sacred Mount Õyama (in present day Isehara, Kanagawa prefecture). The disagreement was essentially over hereditary stipends. The magistrate of temples and shrines issued ordinances to settle the dispute between the two parties, judging that the yamabushi and others who opposed the Shingon-shu temple Hachidaibõ were members of an “evil faction.”
Five yamabushi and six oshi (mountain ascetics, magical ritual experts), were first gaoled for opposing Hachidaibõ and then exiled from Sakamoto village at the base of Mount Õyama. Most of Mount Õyama's yamabushi were forced to give up their status as yamabushi and become oshi and then banished from the mountain.
Not happy with not having full control over the scared mountain, the head abbot of Hachidaibõ, Ryũkei, demanded that all other “evil sects” of Buddhism be banished from the mountain too. The Rinzai-shu Zen priests at Daiyõji - the second largest temple on Mount Õyama during this time - and two smaller temples were also banished.
The dispute allowed Hachidaibõ an opportunity to banish yamabushi and priests of other sects from the mountain and village who had affiliations with what Shingon-shu labelled “evil sects.” Hachidaibõ was able to thereby fully secure its authority over Mount Õyama.
Ryũkei issued a mountain code in 1674 to regulate the hereditary rights of the oshi to their parishioners and reduce competition for pilgrims to the mountain, ensuring that Shingon-shu would reap all the benefits of the pilgrims to the mountain.
Ryũkei then secured the support of the shõgun and Hachidaibõ became a popular pilgrimage site for samurai and rich merchants from Edo.
In 1697 and 1698 Hachidaibõ's abbot Kũben became embroiled in a dispute over the performance of magical purification rites for the pilgrimage to the Ise and Kumano Shintõ shrines, which pitted Kogi Shingon temples in Sagami Province not only against Tendai-shu affiliated yamabushi but also another faction within the Kogi Shingon sect.
During the dispute, Õyama acted as the regional leader, coordinating the legal effort against the other factions and the yamabushi. Kũben filed the initial complaint against the Tendai-shu yamabushi. Õyama's priests issued correspondence on behalf of Kogi Shingon-shu to the magistrate of temples and shrines. As a temple connected to the Kogi Shingon-shu headquarters on Mount Kõya and its close connection to the Tokugawa shõgun, Hachidaibõ argued that it had every right to conduct magical purification rites for pilgrims heading to the Ise and Kumano Shintõ shrines.
The Tokugawa magistrate however decided to bestow the rites to the Tendai-shu yamabushi stating that Hachidaibõ already had a monopoly over the sacred mountain and a steady income from pilgrims.
This enraged the abbot Kũben who threatened to bring down the wrath of Fudõ Myõ-õ upon the Tokugawa government. The magistrate of temples and shrines wasn’t one to be easily scared however and he handed down his decision that Hachidaibõ was to allow the Tendai-shu yamabushi to conduct the purification rites.
The Õyamadera engi narabi kiroku (1700) explains what heappened:
Kũben became angry. “We are the guardians of sacred Õyama, the very abode of the Great Wisdom King Fudõ Myõ-õ. Õyama was established by Kõbõ Daishi (founder of Shingon-shu Buddhism) himself. The shõgun pays us tribute and we are blessed by his patronage. I demand that you rescind this order.”
The magistrate would not listen however and told Kũben to leave.
At that Kũben began to form magical inkei and, rubbing his magical prayer beads in his hands began to chant, “Nomakusanmanda bazaradan senda makaroshada sowataya un tarata kanman.”
At that instant smoke began to billow from the priest’s robes. Flames began to appear in the magistrates room and within the flames the Great Wisdom King Fudõ Myõ-õ himself appeared, towering over the two men. Looking towards Kũben, Fudõ Myõ-õ raised his sword of Wisdom and from the mouth of Kũben came the voice of the wrathful Buddhist god, “Õyama is the most sacred of mountains in this land of men. It is on Õyama that I dwell and the teachings of Shingon are the words of the True Dharma. Only one who is versed in the Truth and capable of communicating with the buddhas is able to purify humans in accordance with the Dharma.”
At this the magistrate fell to the ground pleading with Kũben to stop the flames consuming his office and to ask Fudõ Myõ-õ for forgiveness.
Kũben asked the magistrate to rescind his order, and he did so, tearing up the paperwork.
© James Kemlo