Theme Of Buddhism In Murasaki Shikibu's Tale Of Genji

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Murasaki Shikibu’s Tale of Genji mainly demonstrates the concepts of Buddhism. The Tale of Genji does however mentions some concepts of Shinto but Buddhism is more important to know in order to understand the plot and the key events of the story. The concepts of Buddhism that are mentioned in the Tale of Genji are duhkha, Buddhist clerics, and cremation rituals. The concepts of Shinto are the ideas about kami and spirits. The first concept of Buddhism that is shown in The Tale of Genji is duhkha. When Genji’s wife Aoi was giving birth to their son, Aoi was suffering and was near death. According to Murasaki Shikibu, “She was very weak even now, as her few answers showed. Still, the memory of thinking her well and truly lost…show more content…
The Buddhist clerics believed that Aoi was possessed by evil spirits. Therefore the clerics tried to use poppy seeds in order to help Aoi. The Tale of Genji by Murasaki Shikibu states “Curiously, she still felt unlike herself, and her clothing reeked of poppy seeds. To allay her misgivings she tried washing her hair and changing, but the smell lingered until she came to look on herself with horror….” The poppy seeds are supposed to get rid of the evil spirits that are possessing Aoi. According to Norma Field, “Poppy seeds are used in the rites of exorcism, and their scent on her person confirms her suspicion of her spirit’s mischief”. The poppy seed ritual however did not work and Aoi passed away after giving birth to her son. Aoi was cremated by the Buddhist clerics and her family received an urn with Aoi’s ashes in it. According to Murasaki Shikibu, “Such losses strike often enough, but no doubt because Genji had known so few – perhaps only one – he was consumed in his bereavement by the fires of longing”. Buddhists believed in the cycle of rebirth; therefore Buddhists perform rituals of cremation. In Murasaki Shikibu’s Tale of Genji, the chapter called Heart - to - Heart shows a picture of Buddhist clerics performing a ritual of cremation. During the cremation ritual, the Buddhist burns the dead bodies in the fire which creates ashes of the…show more content…
Duhkha, Buddhist clerics, and cremation rituals are the concepts of Buddhism that were mentioned in the Tale of Genji. Kami and spirits are the concepts of Shinto that were mentioned in the story. Duhkha was demonstrated in the Tale of Genji because Aoi was suffering and was near death while she was possessed by evil spirits and when she gave birth to her son. Duhkha includes Buddha’s Four Noble Truths which include the ideas that suffering exists in the world, suffering is caused by cravings and desires, and there is a way to end suffering and pain, and the Noble Eightfold Path. The Tale of Genji also mentions concepts of Buddhist clerics and cremation. The Buddhist clerics came to try to heal Aoi with poppy seeds but unfortunately it

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