My Favorite Benzaiten

Benzaiten UkiyoeAoigaoka Keisei, “Benzaiten Seated on a White Dragon”
Edo Period woodblock print, Metropolitan Museum of Art

This is one of my favorite images of Benzaiten-sama. It is (I believe, though I am not sure) a scene from the famous medieval epic Heike Monogatari. Benzaiten-sama was said to be the patroness of the Heike clan (better known in historical sources as the Taira). Yet she is sometimes said to have withdrawn her support of the Taira due to the hubris of Taira no Kiyomori, the clan patriarch. This in turn led to their defeat by the newly ascendant Minamoto clan, who would establish the first permanent shogunate.

Dear Gods…

The more I seek My Lady, the bigger she seems, and yet the more familiar she becomes. She is as vast as the heavens and the ocean, and yet remains an intimate friend and a beloved teacher. Is she Saraswati, Yangchenma, or Benzaiten-sama? Is she all of these or none of these? Some of these or some others? When I ask, the answer is merely, yes.

She is My Lady.