Sixth Installment of “Savoring the Realm of the Mikagura-uta” Lecture Series
The sixth installment of “Savoring the Realm of the Mikagura-uta” lecture series sponsored by the Oyasato Institute for the Study of Religion was held at 13:00 on September 25. (It was held on the sixth floor of the Tenrikyo Doyusha building.) The lecturer this month was Yoshitsugu Sawai sensei and he was assigned to discuss Song One (Hitokudari-me) of the Mikagura-uta. The lecture itself was entitled “Ri o fuku” (“The providences shall come forth”).
The present official translation of Song One goes as follows:
First, At New Year, the Sazuke of fertilizer: How remarkable it is!
Second, Smilingly, being bestowed the Sazuke: How promising it is!
Third, Keep the mind of a three-year-old child!
Fourth, Then, a rich harvest.
Fifth, The providences shall come forth.
Sixth, Unlimited abundance everywhere.
Seventh, If you grow and reap whatever you wish,
Eighth, Yamato will be blessed with a rich harvest.
Ninth, Now come hither and follow Me!
Tenth, Then the full harvest will become fixed.
What I found interesting from Sawai sensei’s presentation was how verses three to five have been interpreted differently over the years. I’ve always known about how there were two interpretations for “sanzai-gokoro,” but was intrigued to learn about differing interpretations for verses four and five.
To elaborate: “Sanzai-gokoro” from verse three has been translated as “three-year-old child” (i.e., sansai-gokoro) but there are those who insist that “sanzai” (which means squandering one’s assets or going on a spending spree) is a word in the Yamato dialect that refers to a mindset that plays with unrestrained joy. I often speculate whether or not both interpretations are eventually pointing to the same thing.
The standard interpretation of verse four at present is that “yo no naka” is a variant pronunciation of the word “yonnaka,” which allegedly means “a rich harvest” in the Yamato dialect. Yet Shinnosuke Nakayama, the first Shinbashira, seems to have interpreted the phrase literally, as something what modern Japanese would also most likely take it to mean: “in the world.”
Lastly, Sawai sensei spent some time explaining that several early handwritten manuscripts of the Mikagura-uta wrote the “Ri” in the fifth verse (“Ri o fuku”) the kanji [利] instead of [理] which how it is usually rendered when it is rendered in kanji. (Note that the official manner in which the Mikagura-uta is written mainly with hiragana characters. The only exceptions I can think of now are how “wa” “ha” and “ba” are sometimes written with the katakana [ハ] and numbers and “shogatsu” being written with kanji.) Apparently, many early followers interpreted the “Ri” from verse five as “riyaku,” which roughly means blessings or benefits. It appears that it was only until later when the current interpretation (God’s providence) completely displaced this previous one. While Sawai sensei said this signified an expansion in terms of meaning between the two interpretations, I don’t really see much a difference between the two interpretations apart from the fact that the second one meaning “providence” potentially includes everything that happens in the universe — both the miraculous and mundane; the “good” and “bad” as perceived by human subjectivity — not just the visible miracles or “blessings” that are usually attributed to divine intervention.
September Monthly Service at Tenrikyo Church Headquarters
The Monthly Sermon was delivered by Honbu-in Zensuke Nakata (who is the current Shinbashira’s brother). Nakata sensei began with mentioning that the days annually devoted to Nioigake Day in Japan were coming up. He spoke of how adherents tend to forget about transmitting the joy of faith to others in their attempts to spread the teachings among strangers or trying to get them to “understand” what Tenrikyo is about.
He then talked of the first precedence of nioigake or spreading the fragrance (of the teachings), namely, Oyasama sending her daughter Kokan to Osaka to chant the name of God in 1854, the same year when Zenbei Nakayama, Oyasama’s husband and Kokan’s father, passed away. He then spoke briefly about Oyasama’s withdrawal from physical life and how she asked followers whether they wanted the “portals of the Shrine” opened or closed — and followers answered they preferred the portals opened without knowing it implied that Oyasama would leave her bodily “Shrine” and continue to do her work without a physical body.
Nakata sensei then closed by asserting that each follower has their own respective role when in comes to serving the path and it is up to each everyone to awaken to what that specific role happens to be and it is ultimately up to each follower to firmly transmit the faith to the next generation so that it continues unbroken into the future.
Tenrikyology Turns One!
I forgot to mention that last month, September, marked the first anniversary since this site was launched. I would like to thank everyone out there — both regular readers and not-so regular readers — for your visits to the site.
I hope to launch at least one new regular feature in the coming months as the Anecdotes of the Honseki series is winding to a close. Remember, if there is any questions you have or any input you wish to give me about this site, do not hesitate in contacting me at firstname.lastname@example.org. My best hope is for Tenrikyology.com’s second year to be as fruitful as its first.
*Note: This post has been revised since its original publication.