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Tantric Traditions in Transmission and Translation$
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David B. Gray and Ryan Richard Overbey

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780199763689

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: April 2016

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199763689.001.0001

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The Homa of the Northern Dipper

The Homa of the Northern Dipper

(p.284) 7. The Homa of the Northern Dipper
Tantric Traditions in Transmission and Translation

Richard K. Payne

Oxford University Press

The ritual corpus of the Japanese tantric tradition of Shingon contains many different fire offerings (homa), differing by function and by chief deity to whom the ritual is devoted. The majority of the chief deities can be identified as members of the Indian tantric Buddhist pantheon, particularly as arranged in the maṇḍ‎alas of the Shingon tradition. The chief deity of one of these, the Homa of the Northern Dipper, is not to be found among these groups. The Northern Dipper played no role in Indian tantric Buddhism, while it was a very important part of Daoist thought and practice. For these reasons, it appears that the Homa of the Northern Dipper was created in China, and conveyed from there to Japan, where it was integrated into the Shingon ritual corpus. It was further then revised as a premodern Shintō ritual as part of the now defunct Yoshida Shintō ritual practices.

Keywords:   Shingon, tantric, ritual, homa, Northern Dipper, Daoism, Shintō

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