Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Hell - Part1

Author’s note: This article, a comparison of Dante’s ‘Inferno’ and ‘Ojoyoshu’, a major Buddhist work by the tenth century religious teacher and scholar Genshin, is the result of what can only be described as an overdose of hell. For eight weeks last spring I, by necessity, contemplated various hells, both Christian and Buddhist, on Tuesdays as an instructor for the class “Samurai Epic and the Traditional Noh Theatre of Japan,” then on Wednesdays as a student of the NCS class on Dante. It is only natural to compare the two works. As Dante did in the ‘Divine Comedy’, Genshin, in his ‘Ojoyoshu’ (Essentials of Birth) gives a vivid description of the glories of paradise and the horrors of hell. In reading the ‘Ojoyoshu’ one is repeatedly reminded of Dante’s immortal work.
    I came across Genshin’s ‘Ojoyoshu’ while doing research for my class on the traditional Noh drama of Japan. Because the ‘Samurai Epic’ class focuses on the Japanese war tales and the plays they inspired, most of the plays studied feature the ghost of a samurai warrior that disappears at the end of the play, having asked a monk to pray for his soul, which must return to Ashura (the Realm of Furious Demons), where the condemned engage in eternal combat.

No comments:

Post a Comment