Zen protector of monasteries and Buddhist Law, and protector of seafarers. Tradition has it that he was one of the sons of Asoka, an Indian emperor of the Mauryan dynasty who was a strong supporter of Buddhism. Reborn a magistrate on the southern coast of old China, he was noted for his piety and justice to the day he died.
In one story, Dπgen, the founder of the Sπtπ Zen sect, had travelled to China, staying for four years and studying the principles of sudden enlightenment. On the final night of his stay, he was busy copying a rare manuscript given him for the purpose by his teacher. Daigenshuri’s spirit appeared to Dπgen and aided the sage’s efforts, supplying him with illumination throughout the night.
As Dπgen returned home across the stormy China Sea, Daigenshuri—who had boarded the ship unknown to the sage—calmed the storms and insured that the Zen idea would reach the shores of Japan safely. Daigenshuri is thus portrayed in the dress of a Chinese magistrate, with a tall hat, symbol of his rank. One of his hands is shading his eyes, indicating his dual responsibility as guardian of the Law and as a navigator at sea.
- Joly, Henri L. 1967. Legend in Japanese Art. Tokyo: Charles E. Tuttle Co.
Handbook of Japanese Mythology written by Michael Ashkenazi – Copyright © 2003 by Michael Ashkenazi