More About Otogohō 乙護法

Writes author Irene H. Lin in Child Guardian Spirits (Gohō Dōji) in the Medieval Japanese Imaginaire, pp. 156, 157, 175 (fn. 14, 15, 16). Pacific World Journal, Third Series No. 6 (2004). Story available online from the Institute of Buddhist Studies:

"Otogohō was known by different names according to the deities or saints he served. Otogohō, by virtue of his power, was able to protect saints even when he was not physically present, as illustrated by the following story.

When Monk Sōō 相應 crossed the bridge at Katsugawa, his rosary fell into the river and was swept away by the current. He threw his single-pronged vajra into the water, and ordered it to take the rosary back. The vajra caught up with it, and even though it was against the current, the vajra drove the rosary in front, just like a snake pursuing a frog. When they came close to the bridge, the vajra hung the rosary on itself, and presented it to the monk. It was an unparalleled wonderous deed. This was also the doing of Otogohō. Iyanaga Nobumi kindly edited my translation of this story [which appeared in the 14th-century Japanese text Keiran Shūyōshū, T. 76, 2410, 783c] and pointed to the fact that this single-pronged vajra had been transmitted to the Monk Sōo from the monarchal rector (sōjō 僧正) Ryōkai of Iimuro and is still in Mt. Hiei.

Thus Otogohō could activate his protective power even from afar, by influencing the vajra to go after the rosary and also floating the rosary against the current towards the bridge. However, it was not clear whether his spirit possessed the vajra, which then was empowered and saved the rosary. Otogohō was said to have served monks such as Shōkū Shōnin of Shoshazan and Tani no Ajari Kōkei." <end quote>

On Page 175, she says: "Sensha Dōji [aka Otogohō] is an incarnation of Yakujō Bosatsu. Seitaka Dōji [aka Otogohō], who serves Fudō Myōō, is often paired with Kongara as the two acolytes most often represented with him. He can have two, eight, thirty-six, or forty-eight child acolytes." [Brackets] = Text added by Schumacer. I am confused about the story of monks Sōo and Ryōkai. Sōo 相応 (831-918) lived many centuries before Ryōkai 良快 (1185-1243), but Irene Lin says Ryōkai gave the vajra to Sōo.

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