Daigen shuri bosatsu (a deity which is respected and worshipped at temples of the Soto sect) (大権修利菩薩)

Daigen shuri bosatsu is a deity respected at and enshrined to the temples of the Zen sect, especially the Soto sect. He is said to be one of Garanjin (tutelary deities). Therefore some people deem Daigen shuri to be one of Goho zenjin (deities protecting dharma) despite his honorary title of Bosatsu (Bodhisattva).


Daigen (大権) are also pronounced 'Daigon', and is called "Daigen bosatsu" for short. Shuri (修利) is sometimes written as "修理", but is in fact, wrong. Daigen shuri bosatsu is often expressed in statue form where his right hand is placed against his forehead and gazes into the distance, wearing the Emperor's garments of the period of Tang Dynasty.

Originally, he was Chinju (local Shinto deity) of Mt. Aikuo. Mt. Aikuo was a mountain to which people prayed for safe passage each time they sailed across the sea to the east, and the posture of putting his right hand over his eyes indicated that he looked protectively over distant ships.

In "The Chinese classical theatrical play of Journey to West" by 楊景賢, which is said to be an older anecdote than "Journey to West," Daigen shuri bosatsu appears with Kekoshin (one of the deities protecting Buddhist temples) and Idaten (the kitchen God (protector of monasteries and monks)), who are known as guardians of Buddhist temples.

One theory holds that he is the same deity as Shoho Shichiro who accompanied Dogen in hiding, swearing to visit Japan to uphold the Dharma, when he returned home from Tang in 1277. The name of Shoho Shichiro also appears in "Suikoden" (The Water Margin).

Because "Ikuo-roku" describes, 'The monk asked why Daigen bosatsu was putting his hand against the bridge of his nose, and the master answered that 行船全在樞梢人,' temples of the Soto sect enshrine the guardian god of temple gates referred to as Shoho Shichiro as "Shoho Shichiro Daigen shuri bosatsu," deeming him to be the same god as or earthly manifestation of him, based on the theory of Honji suijaku (Shinto and Buddhist syncretism). But, the origin is not quite clear.

About this point, Mujaku Dochu of the Rinzai sect said, after he mentioned that it was wrong to write Shuri as "修理," 'Legend holds that Daigen shuri was a lad (vocative) of Ashoka the Great of India and was a guardian of stupas constructed by Ashoka, and he came to Mt. Shoho in Mingzhou, China, by his divine power to look out over the whole land of China putting his hand over his eyes, and then Aikuo-ji Temple enshrined him as an earth deity.
Other temples imitated this and came to enshrine this Sonjin (to worship God or it refers to the God which is worshipped).'
He then added that Shoho Shichiro was Goho Zenjin (deity protecting dharma) who accompanied Dogen osho (high priest) in the shape of an albino Japanese rat snake when he was returning to Japan, and Shoho Shichiro might refer to Tao Hong-jing; and also said it was doubtful that Shoho Shichiro was the same god as Daigen shuri, although many people supported this theory.

Tokuno ODA carried on Mujaku's theory and described in Oda Buddhism dictionary, which was edited by himself, that people should not be too quick to believe that Daigen shuri and Shoho Shichiro were the same, and that Shoho was the name of the mountain in 定海縣, Ningbo.

[Original Japanese]