Godai and Mishiho


The Five Great Elements of the Universe
godai ...

The theory about the five elements which comprize the universe is already stated in old Chinese texte, see an extensive report about the Five Elements in China the Wikipedia.

In a traditional Japanese grave stone, these five elements are represented as
gorin, the five layers, in the following order:

the earth layer (chirin 地輪), a square
the water layer (suirin 水輪), a spherical shape
the fire layer (karin 水輪), a triangular shape
the wind layer (fuurin 風輪, a half-moon shape
the space layer (kuurin 風輪), gem-shaped

Note that in Buddhism, the METAL layer is replaced by 空, the space.

Read Mark Schumacher about the
Five Elements of a Grave Pagoda .


The Five Great Buddhas of Wisdom Godai Nyorai 五大如来

Especially important to the Shingon Sect of Esoteric Buddhsim, these five Tathagata are eminations of the absolute Buddha. They appear frequently on the Japanese Mandala. They embody five fundamental wisdoms -- wisdom against anger, envy, desire, ignorance, and pride -- to help us break free from the cycle of death and rebirth, or the Six States of Existence (i.e., the cycle of suffering, Sanskrit = samsara).
Each of the five has a specific Mudra (hand gesture) that corresponds to one of five defining episodes in the life of the Historical Buddha.
Each of the five is also associated with a direction (north, south, east, west, center/zenith).

Dainichi Nyorai (Vairocana or Mahavairocana)
..... Center (Zenith)
Fukujoju Nyorai (Amoghasiddhi) North
Hosho Nyorai (Ratnasambhava) South
Ashuku Nyorai (Akshobhya) East
Amida (Amitabha) West

Read more from Mark Schumacher:
5 Tathagata


. Godai Myo-O 五大明王 Five Great Myo-O
Godai-son 五大尊 Five Great Wisdom Kings .


The Great Ritual for the
Wellbeing of the Imperial House

Go-shichinichi mishiho 後七日御修法(ごしちにちのみしほ)

In 834 (Joowa 1), Kuukai received imperial permission to perform the yearly "latter seven-day ritual" (goshichinichi no mishiho), held from the eighth to the fourteenth of the first month at the court, later at the temple Tooji in Kyoto. In this ritual too, the five great Wisdom Kings where in the center of the rituals. The statues used at To-Ji are said to be the oldest ones of this kind in Japan, made by order of Kuukai (Kooboo Daishi).
Before the Meiji Restauration, this ceremony had taken place at the Imperial Palace.

Here is a quote from the Tokyo National Museum:
The Twelve Devas in the Kyoto National Museum were formerly owned by Tô-ji (Kyôôgokoku-ji) Temple in Kyoto. Beginning in the Heian period, they were used together with the paintings of the Five Great Myôô (J. Godaison), which are still part of the temple collection.

The event in which they appeared was an esoteric New Year's rite held inside the Shingon-in, a chapel within the imperial palace. In this important annual ceremony, called the
"Latter Seven Day's Rite" (J. Goshichinichi no mishiho),
which was carried out under the supervision of successive generations of senior Tô-ji abbots, prayers were given for the tranquility of the emperor, the protection of the nation, and bountiful harvests.

Although it is said that the rite was begun by Kûkai (774-835, posthumously known as Kôbô Daishi), patriarch of Japan's esoteric Shingon sect, it was not actually established until after his death. During the ritual, large paintings of the Mandalas of the Two Worlds (J. Ryôkai mandara) hung in the hall of Shingon-in, graced on both sides by the Five Great Myôô and the Twelve Devas. These images were copied many times over.

observance kigo for the New Year
Shigonin no mishiho 真言院の御修法 Mishiho ritual at Shingon-In
From January 8 to 14.
At the temple Shingon-In of the Imperial Court.


observance kigo for the late spring
Enryaku-Ji mishiho 延暦寺御修法 Mishiho ritual at temple Enryaku-Ji
From April 4 to 11.

. Enryakuji 延暦寺 Temple Enryaku-ji) .
Tendai Sect Main Temple, Shiga


These five are the terrible threatening incarnations of the Nyorai Buddhas. They dissolve the bad influences in all the directions. A previous version of this power are the

Five Bosatsu of Great Power (godairiki Bosatsu五大力菩薩)

五大力菩薩は、千宝相輪を持った金剛吼、金剛灯を持つ竜王吼、金剛杵を持つ無畏十力吼、 千宝羅網を持つ雷電吼・五千剣輪を持つ無量力吼の恐ろしい忿怒(ふんぬ)の 形相すさまじい五菩薩の総称です。中国で訳された『仁王般若波羅蜜経』によりますと、 三宝(仏・法・僧)を護持する国王に対して、自ら赴いてその国を守護する仏であると 説かれています。
そのため、奈良時代から五大力菩薩を本尊として鎮護国家・万民豊楽を祈る 「仁王会(にんのうえ)」が盛んに行われました。


Five bodhisattvas enumerated in the Benevolent Kings Sutra. According to Kumarajiva's Chinese translation, they are Diamond Roar, Dragon King's Roar, Roar of Fearlessness and Ten Powers, Thunderbolt Roar, and Infinitely Powerful Roar.
Pu-k'ung's Chinese translation lists them as Diamond Hand, Diamond Treasure, Diamond Benefit, Diamond Yaksha, and Diamond Paramita. According to the sutra, if a ruler embraces the three treasures of Buddhism, namely, the Buddha, his teachings, and the Order-the community of believers who protect and transmit the Buddha's teachings-these five powerful bodhisattvas will protect him and the people of his country.

They are also called the Five Bosatsu of the Five Directions (gohoo bosatsu 五方菩薩) or
the Five Powerfull Roars (godairiki ku 五大力吼).
Later the five Myo-O replaced this group.

「五大力さん」として名高い醍醐寺の仁王会は、毎年2月23日に修され、参拝者には五大力菩薩のお札が授与され、盗難除けや災難身代わりの護符 gofu として祀られます。

金剛吼 ... 千宝相の輪 ... Kongoo Ku
竜王吼 ... 金輪灯 ... Ryuu-oo Ku
無畏十力吼 ... 金剛杵 ... Mui Juuriki Ku
雷電吼 ... 千宝の羅網 ... Raiden Ku
無量力吼 ... 5000の剣輪 ... Muyrooriki Ku


Before distribution 23rd of February, amulets called "Godairiki Mie" are substantiated through the prayer by Buddhist priest for a week at the Dodaido-hall in the Kami-Daigo area.

. Fudo Myo-O Gofu 不動明王の護符 talisman .

.. .. .. .. ..

In another esoteric translation, they are called:

Center : Kongoo Haramitta 金剛波羅蜜多
East : Kongooju 金剛手
West : Kongoori 金剛利
South : Kongoohoo 金剛宝
North : Kongoo Yasha 金剛薬叉

Kongoo Haramitta is expecially evoked when the country is in trouble from enemies, earthquakes or other natural catastrophies.


Five Secret Bosatsu, Go Himitsu Bosatsu 五秘密菩薩曼荼羅
Mandala of the Five Secret Bosatsu


Kongoo Satta ... Skincolor 金剛薩垂
Mankongoo ... Yellow ... 慢金剛
Shokukongoo ... White ... 燈金剛
Yokukongoo ... Red ... 欲金剛
Aikongoo ... Green ... 愛金剛


They represent the four carnal lusts of humankind:

man (maana) = arrogant behaviour
shoku (sparsa) = clinging to material things
yoku (kaama) = longing for things
ai (trsna) = sexual lust

Kongoo Satta (the Diamond Being), also called Vajrasattva, is the second of the eight patriarchs of the Shingon sect. He is also called "Diamond Hand" (Kongoo shu bosatsu金剛手菩薩) or "Keeper of the Secret" (himitsu shu 秘密手). He is an incarnation of Fugen Bosatsu.
He is the only male bosatsu in this group of five.


. Godairiki-San 五大力さん .
At temple Daigo-Ji 醍醐寺, Kyoto.

Festival on February 23.

.Godairiki - Festival on February 23. .
--- A famous Kabuki play
Godairiki Koi no Fujime 五大力恋絨 (ごだいりきこいのふうじめ)
Five Great Powers That Secure Love
Godairiki koi no fûji


 - - Miyamoto Musashi 宮本武蔵

In 1640 Musashi accepted service with the Hosokawa clan, and three years later, in Higo Province, began work on his great book, Gorin no shô (The Book of Five Rings).
He finished this influential work on swordsmanship in May 1645 - the same year he died.


Fünf Bosatsu Gewaltiger Kraft (Godairiki Bosatsu)
Figuren des esoterischen Buddhismus.

Auch "Bosatsu der fünf Richtungen" (Gohoo Bosatsu) oder "Fünf gewaltige Ausrufe" (Godairiki Ku) genannt.
Sutra: Prajnaapaaramitaasuutra (Ninnoogyoo).
Zunächst Statuen mit mildem, später mit furchterregendem Gesichtsausdruck. Dann möglicherweise durch fünf Myo-O-Statuen ersetzt.
Sie beschützen in Japan die drei heiligen Staatsschätze. Bei der Zeremonie Ninnoo-e im Tempel Daigoji sind sie der Hauptgegenstand der Verehrung.

In der Edo-Zeit schrieben Frauen auf das Siegel von Briefen und Paketen "Godairiki", um den Inhalt vor den Augen Unbefugter und vor Diebstahl zu schützen.
Der Ausruf "Godairiki" soll vor allerlei Unheil schützen; er wurde daher auf Tabaksbeutel geschrieben, in Haarnadeln, Pfeifenhälse und kleine Schwerter eingeritzt und auf die Rückseite von Shamisen-Instrumenten geschrieben. Diese Gegenstände waren besonders auf Reisen sehr beliebt, da sie die sichere Rückkehr zur Ehefrau versprachen.

Eine große sitzende Statue auf einem Lotussockel, umgeben von vier stehenden Statuen mit einem Schritt-Sockel unter jedem Fuß. Alle mit nach oben abstehenden Haaren, ähnlich wie Fudoo Myoooo. Alle mit zwei Armen und drei Augen. Flammender Nimbus um Kopf und Körper.
Bei Bildern entweder alle fünf auf einem Bild oder fünf einzelne Bilder als Einheit.

Namen nach der klassischen Übersetzung:
Kongooku, Ryuuooku, Mui Juurikiku, Raidenku, Muryoorikiku.

Namen nach der esoterischen Übersetzung,
mit entsprechenden Nyorai, Bosatsu und Myoooo:

Zentrum: Kongoo Haramitta (Dainichi Nyorai, Tenhoorin Bosatsu, Fudoo Myoooo)
Osten: Kongooju (Ashuku Nyorai, Fugen Bosatsu, Goosanze Myoooo)
Westen: Kongoori (Amida Nyorai, Monju Bosatsu, Daiitoku Myoooo)
Süden: Kongooho (Hooju Nyorai, Kokuuzoo Bosatsu, Gundari Myoooo)
Norden: Kongoo Yasha (Fukuu Jooju Nyorai, Saiissaima Bosatsu, Kongoo Yasha Myoooo)«IP»
Kongoo Haramitta Bosatsu soll das Land retten, wenn es sich durch Aufruhr, Erdbeben oder andere Naturkatastrophen in Not befindet.


Fünf esoterische Bosatsu (Gohimitsu Bosatsu)

CLICK for more photos

Auch Mandala der Fünf Geheimnisvollen (Gohimitsu Mandara) genannt.
The boddhisattva of the five secrets
Figuren des esoterischen Buddhismus der Shingon-Sekte (Toomitsu).
Einheit mit einer großen sitzenden Bosatsu-Statue und vier kleine, sitzende Statuen im Hintergrund; Körper in fünf verschiedenen Farben.

Zentrale sitzende Statue: Kleine Statuen:
Kongô Satta (hautfarben)
Mankongoo (gelb)
Shokukongoo (weiß)
Yokukongoo (rot)
Aikongoo (grün)

Stellen die vier fleischlischen Gelüste der Menschen dar:
man (mâna) = Arroganz
shoku (sparsa) = Verhaftung
yoku (kâma) = Begierden
ai (trsna) = sexuelle Gelüste

.Buddhastatuen ... Who is Who   

Ein Wegweiser zur Ikonografie
von japanischen Buddhastatuen

Gabi Greve, 1994





Anonymous said...

Hi Gabi

As an x student of Nagaboshi Tomio (deceased) (see his book Bodhisattva Warriors) Shifu was a great expounder of Buddhism in the martial arts and your site is of great interest in pointing to symbolism the symbolism of this tradition. Work carried out within our very dedicated Buddhist martial training encorperated the understanding of the godai symbolically. I wish you well.

Gabi Greve said...

Thanks for your comment.

About Nagaboshi sensei

Bodhisattva Warriors (one of my favorite books too)

This is a unique and extensive study of the genesis and development of the earliest form of Buddhist self defence practised by monks and mystics, examining the philosophical and physical basis of the skills they developed and passed on to subsequent generations.

The text covers the first thousand years in ancient India and China of the development of the Buddhist art of Chuan Fa, known as Kempo in Japan, and popularised as Kung Fu in the media. Proper Chuan Fa embodies a spiritual tradition from which most of the significant schools of Karate, Tae Kwon Do, Thai Boxing, and even Judo and other martial arts have developed their techniques.

The real Chuan Fa is an exploration, study, and discovery of the body through the medium of the mind, but unfortunately most modern martial arts taught in the West have lost the spiritual teaching at the heart of their practice and the profound philosophy upon which they are based.

There are many who mistakenly believe Buddhism to be a predominently philosophical teaching that regards physical and spiritual being as incompatible, or even antagonistic, toward each other. This book seeks to reunite these concepts.

Quoted from Wisdom Books

Gabi Greve - Darumapedia said...

goboosei 五芒星 pentagram

Abe no Seimei used this pentagram as an amulet to ward off evil influence.
It contains the essence of the theory of the five elements.
abe no seimeiban 安倍晴明判 "seal of Abe no Seimei"
seimei kuji 晴明九字 "nine letters of Seimei"

kikyoo in 桔梗印 seal of the Japanese bellflower

Gabi Greve - Darumapedia said...

Pilgrimage in Fukushima

Aizu Goshiki Fudo - Five Colors, Five Temples
Aizu Wakagaeri Goshiki Fudo son