Kisshōten

吉祥天

October 22, 2017

Kisshōten, the Goddess of Beauty, Fortune and Prosperity, is the eighth of the Seven Lucky Gods, or more correctly she has on occasion been included in the Seven in place of either Fukurokuju or Jurōjin. An example of this can be found in the Butsuzōzui, where she replaces Fukurokuju. She was also considered to be the patron of geisha, and is thought to be particularly close to children.

Like Bishamonten and Benzaiten, Kisshōten is of Hindu/Buddhist origin. She derives from the Hindu goddess Lakshmi filtered through Chinese translations of Buddhist sutras.  Lakshmi herself is the Hindu Goddess of wealth, fortune and prosperity. Along with Benzaiten/Sarasvati, she was one of Vishnu's three wives (the other was Ganga, after whom the river is named).

The first written mention of Lakshmi is in the Rigveda:- "Invoke for me, O Agni, the Goddess Lakshmi, who shines like gold, yellow in hue, wearing gold and silver garlands, blooming like the moon, the embodiment of wealth. O Agni! Invoke for me that unfailing Lakshmi, being blessed by whom I shall win wealth, cattle, horses and men." She is also described in the Sutra of Golden Light.

In some traditions her father is Takshaka (徳叉迦), her mother Kishimojin (鬼子母神, Sanskrit Hārītī)、her husband Bishamonten, and her sister Kokuanten (黒闇天, Sanskrit Kālarātri).

She is often depicted as sitting to the side of Bishamonten, and perhaps the most interesting aspect of the way she is depicted is the Nyoihōju gem in her hand.

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© Rod Lucas 2016-2019

All text and photos by Lucas unless otherwise stated