Vedic Brahma Indra Varuna Yama In Japanese Religion

Though Buddhism shunned Idol worship, the Religion ended up with worshiping Buddha and many Gods were borrowed from Hinduism into Buddhist Pantheon of Gods.


I have written articles on the fact Japanese worshiped Saraswati as Benzaiten and Mahabharata refers to Japan and its Vedic roots.

12 Devas Japanese Religion.Image.jpg
12 Devas Japanese Religion.

Numerous Hindu Gods do find a place in Japan.

Though Buddhism shunned Idol worship, the Religion ended up with worshiping Buddha and many Gods were borrowed from Hinduism into Buddhist Pantheon of Gods.

A sample list.

Deities of the 12 directions in Japanese Esoteric Buddhism (Mikkyō 密教), including the four directions and four semi-directions, up and down, and sun and moon. Deva is a Sanskrit term meaning god, deity, or celestial being. It is rendered as Ten 天 in Japan (天 literally means Heaven or Celestial). The Deva aredeities borrowed from Hindu mythology and adopted into Chinese and Japanese Buddhism as guardians of the monasteries of Esoteric Buddhism. They appear frequently in Japanese mandala. Among the 12,Bonten (Brahma) and Taishakuten (Indra) serve in the highest position. Also known as the Twelve Gods Protecting the World. For a larger listing of nearly 80 Devas.

Hinduism has Eight directions and one God is assigned to each direction.

In Japan there is a ix up of Brahma, Vauna, Agni in this group.

  1. Bonten 梵天 (Skt. = Brahmā); Up; Heaven Deva
  2. Taishakuten 帝釈天 (Skt. Indra); East; Lord of Deva
  3. Suiten 水天 (Skt. Varuna); West; Water Deva
  4. Bishamonten 毘沙門天 (Vaiśravana); North; Wealth
  5. Enmaten 焔魔天 (Skt. Yama); South; Underworld
  6. Katen 火天 (Skt. Agni); Southeast, Fire Deva
  7. Rasetsuten 羅刹天 (Skt. Raksasa); SW; Demons
  8. Ishanaten 伊舎那天 (Skt. Isana); NE, Dharma
  9. Futen 風天 (Skt. Vayu); NW; Wind Deva
  10. Nitten 日天 (Skt. Aditya); Sun Deva
  11. Gatten 月天 (Skt. Candra); Moon Deva
  12. Jiten 地天 (Skt. Prthivi); Down; Earth Deva.

The Twelve in Japanese Artwork. The Jūniten (12 Deva Guardians) originated from the Hindu guardians of the four cardinal and four intermediary directions (Jp. = Happōten 八方天). In later years, the gods of heaven and earth were added to create a grouping called the Ten Deities (Jp. = Jitten 十天), and still later the gods of the sun and moon were added to create the Jūniten (Group of 12 Deva). These twelve generally supplant the Shitennō (Four Heavenly Deva Kings) in esoteric artwork in Japan, although they serve the same role as the Shitennō in protecting Buddhism and crushing evil demons. As a group, the 12 appear from the Heian-era (794-1185) onward in paintings of the Taizōkai Mandala or as a set of processional masks. From the 12th century onward, they were depicted in pairs on six-paneled folding screens called Jūniten Byōbu 十二天屏風. The Kyoto National Museum possesses paintings and masks from the late Heian period. However, to my knowledge, statues of all 12 (as a group) do not exist. The 12 also appear in the Jūniten Mandala and the Anchin Mandala. Four of them also serve as guardians of the four directions and appear on the four directional sides of old steles.


Author: ramanan50

Retired Senior Management Professional. Lectures on Indian Philosophy,Hinduism, Comparative Religions. Researching Philosophy, Religion. Free lance Writer.Blogger

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