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Upper Class Samurai Lords/Ladies Taking Vows

 
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A.L.Mundell
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PostPosted: Sat Jun 14, 2008 8:21 pm    Post subject: Upper Class Samurai Lords/Ladies Taking Vows Reply with quote
Exactly what did they lose or gain when taking vows?Did they hand the reins of power over?.Perhaps it was some sort of protection against assassination?I had heard/read that some Daimyo still retained power even though taking vows.
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A.L.Mundell
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PostPosted: Sat Jun 14, 2008 9:36 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
Hmm,I should have waited for the movie to be over,it was Kenshin I read was a Monk, Embarassed I still want to understand why a person in power would limit their mobility by taking vows?
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JLBadgley
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PostPosted: Sun Jun 15, 2008 1:19 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
Taking vows (i.e. entering into religion) did not mean 'giving up power'. Okay, theoretically you had nothing to do with the world--meaning you lived comfortably while 'advising' someone else. Conveniently, you got rid of your official responsibilities while often keeping the power.

You see this at least as far back as the Insei government, when emperors would 'retire' and then use their political influence to rule (many times with a young successor not quite of age).

Taira Kiyomori took the tonsure, as it was, but nobody would say he wasn't the top dog in his time, up to his death, just before the Minamoto took over.

Ashikaga Yoshimitsu also retired to become a monk--and yet the Chinese called him 'King of Japan'. Although his son was 'shogun' it was really Yoshimitsu running things.

Takeda Shingen, Uesugi Kenshin--both had joined the monkhood for one reason or another, but held real power, nonetheless. Especially in the Sengoku period, when official appointments, while not meaningless, mostly held the authority that you could back up with troops.

So, in many cases, taking 'vows' didn't so much mean that you limited your options as that you set yourself free from certain worldly obligations.

Now, whether or not those who did so were sticking to the spirit of their respective orders is another thing altogether.

-Josh
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A.L.Mundell
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PostPosted: Sun Jun 15, 2008 10:04 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
So was anyone fooled by this?I mean,I had heard of such things too(about the "retirement")was there a taboo aginst killing someone who had taken the vows?Do you mean to say they were freed up from all that courtly nonsense of fashionable trappings and what they MUST wear ect? that WOULD be a reason to do it,but I am judging it from 20th century perspective. Modern Sammyrai
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JLBadgley
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PostPosted: Sun Jun 15, 2008 12:54 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
Emperors and nobles (kuge): If you were in the upper echelons of society, there were certain rituals you *had* to attend to and be a part of--if you were a nobleman you had duties and responsibilities as a member of the court bureaucracy, and the emperor was perhaps the most restricted position of all.

Of course, you needed the political clout, influence, and affluence to be able to pull it off, if you wanted to continue to enjoy your wealth after taking orders. That was important if you wanted to continue to rule.

High ranking daimyo may or may not have done it for similar reasons. Some later orders were also less stringent about what their followers did or believed--with some sects (I want to point to Nichiren specifically, but it is early and my brain may not be fully working yet) being made up entirely of lay people. Some may have taken orders when there was no sign they would become the actual heir--and then things turn out differently.

Even today, it is not uncommon in some Buddhist nations for people to become a monk and then take up the affairs of the world once more. Retirement isn't necessarily permanent. And being a monk doesn't necessarily gain you any special 'immunities'. That people could 'see through it' would be evidenced in the Heike Monogatari when Kiyomori is criticized, as I recall, for wearing armour under his robes (I assume a koromo).

Finally, look at the warrior-monks, such as the sohei, as examples of even lower level bushi finding it as an alternative lifestyle.

Hope that helps.

-Josh
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A.L.Mundell
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PostPosted: Sun Jun 15, 2008 12:59 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
It is as good an answer as I could have hoped! Very Happy
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PostPosted: Wed Jan 28, 2009 5:33 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
Hi Im just curious, on the wiki of this site it states (on Takeda Shingen):

Quote:
In 1551, Harunobu had adopted the name Shingen and a monk's habit, adding even more color to this up-and-coming Sengoku warlord, who was already known for his taste for women, penetrating judgment, skill at calligraphy, and wise government.

http://wiki.samurai-archives.com/index.php?title=Takeda_Shingen


and similarly for Uesugi Kenshin:

Quote:
In 1559 Kenshin made a trip to Kyoto to pay tribute to the shogun, Ashikaga Yoshiteru, an act that greatly enhanced his reputation. While in Kyoto, he also visited the Imperial Palace and Mt. Hiei, as well as a number of other famous religious and historical sites. He returned to Echigo in November. In recognition of his loyalty, the shogun later allowed Kagetora the right to use the character ‘Teru’ in his name. He shortly thereafter took Buddhist vows and the name Kenshin (just when is unclear), by which he will be known from here in this description.

http://wiki.samurai-archives.com/index.php?title=Uesugi_Kenshin


Has anyone read anything on why these two specifically took their respective vows?
I can understand for Kenshin being raised at a temple from ages 7 to 14, but even still taking vows to the point of not producing an heir is beyond me.
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JLBadgley
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PostPosted: Wed Jan 28, 2009 10:35 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
It could have been simply for reasons of piety.

I don't know the precise answer to your question, but remember that Buddhism incorporates quite a few wide and varied points of views on various issues, such as making merit for oneself. In Thailand, it is quite common for young boys to become monks during the summer break to help earn merit for their family, then go back to their normal lives when school starts up.

I also can't recall if both or either of them were daimyo (or expected to be daimyo) when they originally took the tonsure. And, of course, Shingen had a son.

I'd add to this that adoption was quite common, and finding heirs was not necessarily difficult. Many of the Tokugawa shoguns did not have direct heirs and either adopted or appointed someone from one of the branch families.

So while I don't know the reasons for their decisions, it does not at all strike me as something odd for the time period.


-Josh
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