ASIA212Varley

D 600 and subsequently transmitted to china and japan

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Unformatted text preview: had become regularly engaged not only in fighting among themselves but also in intimidating Kyoto into meeting their demands for such things as ecclesiastical positions at court and titles to desirable pieces of estate land. The manner in which the Enryakuji monks commonly made their demands upon the court reveals something of the ties that had evolved by this time between Buddhist temples and Shinto shrines. Obtaining the sacred kami emblems of the Hie Shrine located at the foot of Mount Hiei, the monks placed them in a portable car and transported the car to the capital, where they deposited it at a busy intersection near the palace. The Court at Its Zenith 51 Since no one dared touch the car, activities simply ceased in that part of the city until the monks, their demands met, condescended to remove it and carry it back to the mountain. Although the Tendai sect’s Enryakuji Temple became a great national center for Buddhist studies in Japan, the particular kind of Buddhism that exerted the strongest influence at court during the early Heian period was Tantrism. Tantrism was a branch of Mahayana Buddhism established independently in India about a.d. 600 and subsequently transmitted to China and Japan. Because of its stress on incantations, spells, and primitive magic, Tantrism has been viewed by many outsiders as a corrupt and decadent phase of Buddhism after the period of its greatest historical flourishing. Insofar as one part of Tantrism became associated with Indian Shakti practices dealing with death, destruction, and living sacrifices, there may be justification for this view. But the form of Tantrism that spread to the Far East did not embrace such grotesque practices. Known also as esoteric Buddhism because of its insistence on the secret transmission of its teachings, Tantrism came to hold a unique appeal for the aristocracy of the Heian court and provided a powerful stimulus to the arts in Japan during the ninth and tenth centuries. Tantrism was introduced to Japan as the Shingon (True Word) sect by the priest Kûkai (774–835; also familiarly known by his posthumous canonical name of Kòb...
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