Human Yellow and the Skull Ritual
of the so-called “Tachikawa-ryū”

Iyanaga Nobumi (Tokyo)

    Let me first present my apologies for the fact that I had to change at the last minute the title and the scope of my paper. This is something that happens often with me: I wrote my first draft, which was much too long. I tried to shorten it, and accordingly, had to limit the subject of my presentation to the strict minimum. And of course, I would like to ask in advance your patience with my pour English. I hope you will understand what I will try to speak.

Human yellow and ḍākinīs in the Chinese Commentary on the Mahāvairocana-sūtra
    What is the “human yellow”? It is an inexistent substance. Although inexistent, Japanese Tantrists of the medieval period believed that it existed, and had an immense magical power.
    The word that I translate here by "human yellow", renhuang in Chinese or ninnō 人黄 in Japanese, occurs, at least as far as I know, only once in the Chinese Buddhist Canon. It is in a passage of the Commentary on the Mahāvairocana-sūtra (Taisho XVIII 848) by the Chinese monk Yixing 一行 (T. XXXIX 1796). The Mahāvairocana-sūtra describes rituals which were to be performed with an important maṇḍala called “Taizōkai mandara 胎蔵界曼荼羅” in Japanese. And there, it is mentioned the “mantra of ḍākinīs”; the Commentary has a passage commenting on this mantra and the word “ḍākinī” The word “human yellow” occurs in this context. As this is essential for my presentation, I quote this text (n. 1):

        Next, on the mantra of ḍākinīs: There are in the world people who perform this magic. These [female demons named] ḍākinīs are said to have the power of perform any magic, and to know men who are going to die after 6 months. Knowing them, they take their heart, and eat it. This is because there is a substance named “human yellow” in man’s body, just like there is a [precious medicine named] “ox yellow” in ox’ body; and if one eats this (human yellow), one becomes able to perform any magic (siddhi), and to obtain anything one wants. Thus, ḍākinīs are able to dominate men as they wish, and make them suffer of illness if they will not obey to them. They can fly in the sky or go on the water. But with this magic, they cannot kill men. When ḍākinīs know men who are going to die within the next 6 months, they take their heart by magic, but with another magic, they replace it with something else [which will work as the heart during that period]. This way, the men from whom the heart is taken off will not die at that moment, but when the time of the fate comes, they are destroyed suddenly. These ḍākinīs are generally yakṣa [or yakṣiṇī], and have an immense magical power. [...] They are attendant of the deity Mahākāla, the Great Black One.
        Once, the Buddha Vairocana wanted to eliminate the harm of these ḍākinīs; in the wilderness, he transformed himself into the Great Black One, smearing himself with ash. [...] He convoked all the ḍākinīs, said to them: “I will eat you all, as you always eat men”, and swallowed them, but did not kill them. When he released them, he ordained them to no longer eat any meat. They asked how they would be able to sustain their life since they only eat meat. The Buddha allowed them to eat the heart of dead men. Then they said: “When the great yakṣa come to know men who are dying, they vie with each other coming to eat them; how could we get our share?” The Buddha said: “Then I will teach you a special mantra and a special mudrā by which you will be able to know men who are going to die after six months; you will protect them until their death, and when they die, you will be able to eat [their heart] right away.” This is how the Buddha could subjugate these beings. This is why there is this mantra: HRĪḤ HAḤ.
    This is the only mention of “human yellow” in the whole Chinese Buddhist Canon (I repeat: as far as I know). However, as this Commentary was imported in Japan and was studied very extensively, and also certainly because this passage was very impressive by itself, the “human yellow” and ḍākinīs became object of many interesting thoughts and mythical images in Japan.

    But what is the “human yellow”? I think this word is not a translation from Sanskrit. As I am not a specialist of Indian Tantric thought, my knowledge is very limited, but as far as I know of no exact equivalent of the idea of “human yellow” in Indian material. But I would think that the original idea is genuinely Indian, as I will attempt to suggest it in this presentation.
    Now, what can be these female demons named “ḍākinīs”. Were these ḍākinīs originally real human beings, some kind of female ascetics or sorceresses, or were they rather imaginary, mythical beings at the origin, even if later, the same word could have designated real female practitioners of Tantric rituals?
    I will not attempt here to solve this problem; let me say however that it can be important insofar as it may be related to the origin of Tantrism, or at least, of a certain form of Tantrism, that is to say the group of texts and rituals usually called the “Mother Tantra” in which sexual elements are of prominent importance, and in which ḍākinīs play a weighty role. It is generally believed that this form of later Indo-Tibetan Buddhist Tantrism was not known in Sino-Japanese world. This is certainly true in general terms; but the text of the Commentary on the Mahāvairocana-sūtra on ḍākinīs that I quoted was precisely one of the earliest account of some length on ḍākinīs, and it seems that it became one of the main sources of inspiration on which were built a form of what we may call the Japanese version of “Mother Tantra”, what Prof. Sanford called the “left-handed tantra in East-Asia..., close in style to the most radical Anuttaratyoga tantras of Indo-Tibetan Vajrayāna (n. 2).”

Different Japanese traditions on the “human yellow”
    The Commentary on the Mahāvairocana-sūtra was imported into Japan as early as in 735 by Genbō 玄墓, then by Kūkai 空海 in 806. After Kūkai, it became object of intense studies. Accordingly, it seems that people could be interested into ḍākinīs and the “human yellow”. As I already wrote a rather lengthy article on the cult of ḍākinīs (or Dakini-ten, the Deity Dakini) in medieval Japan, and on the syncretism with the Japanese deity Inari, and the fox (n. 3), I will not repeat here these developments. However, I should call your attention to the fact that the nature of ḍākinīs has somehow changed in Japan: in the text of the Commentary, ḍākinīs were described as a group of female demons, devourer of human flesh and of the “human yellow”; in Japan, when they came to be associated with Inari and the fox, they became an individual god, or rather goddess, certainly dangerous, but also fascinating, because of an erotic character which had been added to the deity. I think this added character comes mainly from the association with the fox, because Japanese literati of the Heian period was fond of the very developed Chinese literature on fox-fairies which was full of erotic element.
    One of the fields in which Dakini-ten became very important in medieval religion was the Unction (abhiṣeka) of Enthronement (sokui-kanjō 即位潅頂). Dakini-ten was worshiped as the presiding deity (honzon 本尊) in this very secret and important ritual. This was the subject of my article that I mentioned; and there, I presented the hypothesis that the reason of this “extraordinary apotheosis” of a deity, who was originally only a kind of very humble, even vile demons, could be the magical power that people attributed to the “human yellow” — the emperor, at the moment of his enthronement, would have wanted to possess the vital and erotic power of this imaginary object, even at the price of bloody and macabre image that this could imply.
    In order to found this hypothesis on evidences, I presented in that article some texts which dealt with Dakini-ten and/or the “human yellow”. After this article has been published, I was surprised to find another text, very similar to those I translated there, in a famous work on the so-called “Tachikawa-ryū” branch of Shingon school. This is the topic onto which I would like to turn now.
    Thus, I have to present here again some texts that I already mentioned in that article. The first text is a passage of a work of a Tendai master, Chōgō 澄豪 (1259-1350), entitled Sōji-shō 総持抄. In the section entitled “On the [ritual of] Prolongation of Six Months”, he recapitulates the story of the Commentary on the Mahāvairocana-sūtra, and writes (n. 4):
    In olden times, when [the Buddha] was in the World, there was Dakini-ten who used to eat the vital spirit (shōki 精氣) of beings. The Buddha ordained to the deity Mahākāla to subjugate her [...]. According to this teaching, in the limit of six months, [Dakini-ten] sucks the vital spirit. [...]
    What is “the vital spirit of the beings”? There are seven grains of white jade (byakugyoku 白玉) in the heart [of beings, just] like dewdrops. These grains of white jade are in the heart of flesh with eight petals. When [Dakini-ten] begins to eat these seven grains, six months later, the life of that being will finish. Until the moment at which she begins to eat them, the prayers and other [rituals] are efficacious, but when she has eaten five or six grains, the power of any other deity [than the King of Wisdom Acala] is unable to get [the purpose of the prolongation of the life]; only, that of the King of Wisdom Acala can reverse (ten 転) [the situation]. That is what is called the “Prolongation of Six Months” (nōen rokugatsu 能延六月). [...] Acala is the head of the Fox (this means “Dakini-ten”); this is why he can subjugate the Fox.
    Here, the King of Wisdom Acala is identified to Mahākāla, the head of Dakini-ten, or ḍākinīs — by the way, this identification is not without foundation from the point of view of mythical thought, since Mahākāla is the name of a fierce form of Śiva, and Acala can be also a name of Śiva.

Aizen-myōō and “that thing” held in his third left hand
    Now, we can fix for a moment our attention on Aizen-myōō, the King of Wisdom Love, because this deity is important in regard of the “human yellow”. The locus classicus of this deity is the Yuzhi-jing/Yugi-kyō (n. 5), in which his iconography with three eyes and six arms is described, but in this iconography, there is a mysterious point. It is said that his six hands hold various attributes: a vajra bell, a vajra with five points, etc.; but it is said that the third left hand “holds that [thing]”(左下手持彼), while with the third right hand holding a lotus bud, the deity seems just to be about to hit “that thing” held in the left hand. There is not any specification of “that thing” held in the last left hand. Japanese learned monks discussed lengthily on the problem as to what can be “that thing”. All in all, the dominant opinion was that this designated the “human yellow”. We can find a long list of these speculations in the chapter on Aizen-myōō in the Kakuzen-shō 覚禅鈔 (n. 6). It would be interesting to translate all this passage, but I will limit myself to pick up some of the most significant points:
1. According to one tradition, the thing held by the third left hand can be any object of desire [of the officiant of the ritual or the person who payed him];
2. It may be the “human yellow” which is the root of life (myōkon 命根) of beings;
3. Or, [Aizen-myōō] would hold in his last left hand the Radical Ignorance, and this may be the Deity Maheśvara (Śiva). It is said also that the Substance of the Ignorance is like the fruit of pomegranate (zakuro 柘榴).
4. One master says that the word “that” designates the bad person; it signifies also the defilement as enemy [who must be subjugated]. It is the Enlightenment which is “ourselves”, and the defilement is “that.
5. For a master, the “human yellow” is the heart (or thought) of the King — because any desire can be fulfilled or not depending on the thought of the King. It is the “king of men” of all beings (issai-shujō nin-ō 一切衆生人王). — Notice that the word “king” (ō 王) and the word “yellow” (or ō 黄) may be pronounced in the same way, so that “king of men” and “human yellow” can be homonym.
6. The “human yellow” can be also the “souls and spirits” (konpaku 魂魄) of men (this is the Chinese, and more specifically the Daoist idea of human soul: there are three “spirits”, hun/kon 魂 which will go up to the heaven after the death, and seven “souls”, po/haku 魄 which will remain with the body).
7. The “human yellow” can be the woman for men, and the man for women.
8. In some images, the last left hand of Aizen-myōō holds a human head. This would represent the Radical Ignorance. Another interpretation states that the human head is nothing but the “human yellow”.
9. According to a master, at the top of the head [of men], there is a cross-shaped seam, and there, there are six drops of “human yellow”. They are protected by five dragons. Or, it is said also that there are seven drops to be licked. When one of them is consumed, one falls ill. When all the drops are consumed, then, one dies right away.
    You have probably remarked the similarity of the last of the interpretations of the list of the Kakuzen-shō with the text of Chōgō that I quoted before: the one and the other imagine the “human yellow” in the form of some kind of “dewdrops”, the one at the top of the head, and the other in man’s heart. In another text of the same Chōgō, a commentary on the Yugi-kyō, we can read (n. 7):

    It happens that one makes this hand “holding that” [of the King of Wisdom Aizen] hold a human head, which may be called also “human yellow”. This is the human gem (hito-tama 人玉). [...] There exists this human gem at the top of man[’s head]. One makes [the hand] hold this [human head], for there are seven drops in human head which seem like dewdrops named “seven drops”. When Dakini eat them, the man dies instantly. But if the human gem is held by this hand [of the King of Wisdom], one can ward off this calamity of Dakini. [Thus,] one makes that hand hold the human head when one prays for the longevity of someone....
“Abominable Skull Ritual” and the tradition of Kōdaifu on Dakini-ten
    Now, I come to the main topic of my presentation. We find the same image of the “human yellow” in one of the most famous works on the so-called Tachikawa-ryū, the Juhō-yōjin-shū 受法用心集 of Shinjō 心定, written in 1268. The problem of Tachikawa-ryū is so complicated and difficult that more I read on it, more I hesitate to take any position on it. It seems anyway that there is a problem of nomenclature. It is sure that a branch of Shingon, named “Tachikawa-ryū”, founded by a monk named Ninkan 仁寛 existed from the first half of the twelfth century, and can be traced into the seventeenth century. It is known also that some people, among whom Shinjō, Gōhō 杲宝 (in the second half of fourteenth century) and Yūkai 宥快 (1375) are particularly known, attacked Tachikawa-ryū as heretical because this branch would have taught a doctrine and a set of rituals which were strongly sexual. However, in the extant documents which can be traced back certainly to the Tachikawa-ryū, we find only very few elements which can be really considered as different from those taught in other schools. Stefan Köck in a recent study concludes that “Ninkan’s school was an ordinary school of the Shingon tradition” (n. 8). On the other hand, it is true, (despite what Köck seems to mean), that in the Juhō-yōjin-shū, Shinjō uses the term “Tachikawa-ryū” in an equivocal way; he says that he learned and copied texts of the Tachikawa-ryū at two occasions, the first time when he was 25 years old, and the second time when he was 36 (n. 9). At the first occasion, he says he copied “all the secret texts” of the Tachikawa-ryū. And at the second occasion, he saw and copied among other texts of ritual (origami 折紙) of the Tachikawa-ryū some 7 or 8 oral traditions concerning the “Inner Three Sūtras” and a text named “Kikuran 菊蘭” (“Chrysanthemum-orchid”;from the title, it seems that this text had something to do with homosexual practices) — and these “Inner Three Sūtras” and a sūtra named “Kikuran” is cited later as constituting the sacred scripture of “that ritual” (kono-hō 此の法) (n. 10). But later in the same text, he designates constantly the ritual and the doctrine of what he calls “perverse teaching” (jahō 邪法) with the term “that ritual” (kono-hō 此の法), without naming it. On the other hand, in the famous text of Mujū Ichien 無住一円, who described a set of sexual doctrine and ritual which seems very similar to those described by Shinjō, the term used is “hen-jōju no hō 変成就の法”, “ritual of odd achievements” (n. 11). It was probably Yūkai who began, in his Hōkyō-shō 宝鏡鈔, to use the term “Tachikawa-ryū” whenever any openly sexual elements could be found in a doctrine or a ritual.
    From all this, it seems that we should distinguish several “levels” of sexual doctrines and rituals in Japanese Middle Ages:
1. In every trend of what is usually called “ken-mitsu” Buddhism (not only in Shingon or in Tendai, but also in other schools), sexual elements were very widely spread and used, at least in a metaphorical way (for example, the text entitled “Sangai-isshin-ki 三界一心記” of the early Edo period, in which we find one of the most famous images of what is usually called “Tachikawa-mandara” is a work of a Rinzai monk, Dairyū 大龍; there is also very strongly sexualized symbolism in some texts of the Ise-shintō);
2. From at the latest the second half of the thirteenth century onward, in some of the Shingon (and perhaps Tendai) branches, there were sexual doctrines and rituals, implicating probably actual sexual intercourse (described briefly by Mujū). These doctrines and rituals may have been originated in the higher stratum of Shingon and Tendai hierarchy, but may have been spread in more popular classes; they seem to have been a general movement;
3. The doctrine and the rituals described by Shinjō may have been taught and practised in a very particular, and “extremist” portion within this general movement. These rituals implicate not only sexual intercourse, but also a use of human skull in a very special way.
    What is confusing is that Yūkai seems to have mixed up all these different levels of sexual discourse and practices and called all of them “Tachikawa-ryū”. What is confusing also is the fact that, on one hand, more we go “deeply” in these levels, more we have impression that people who taught and practised these doctrines and rituals belonged to popular classes, less informed of complicated scholastic works of the learned monks; in other words, we have impression that we are confronted with some marginal “folkloric”, “ethnographical” aspects of medieval culture; but on the other hand, at the same time, it is precisely there that we find elements which seem to be closely related to more general, “international” trends of Tantrism, namely elements of later Indo-Tibetan Tantrism.
    I will not talk about the details of the “abominable skull ritual” (this naming is borrowed from an article of Prof. Sanford) that was depicted by Shinjō and presented very well by Professor Sanford in his article of 1991. Let me say only that it uses a skull, which will be made the “honzon 本尊”, object of worship. The officiant must decorate the skull with a chin, put in a tongue and teeth, and cover it with lacquer. He will have to have sexual intercourse with a beautiful woman, and “wipe the [mixed red and white] liquid product of this act onto the skull until it reaches 120 layers.” It must be covered with layers of gold and silver leaf, onto which the maṇḍala must be inscribed. The eyes must be painted, and the face also, so that it looks like a beautiful woman. Once the skull is prepared, the officiant must offer to it many rare things, fish, hare, etc.; it is placed in a bag, and at night, the bag is held close to the adept’s body to keep it warm. All this process continues during eight years, and at last, the adept will obtain the siddhi (magical achievement). “For those who reach the highest grade of practice, the honzon will speak aloud. Since it will inform him of all the events of the world, he should listen to it and thus becomes as someone with divine powers.” (Sanford, p. 10-14).
    As awful and “abominable” as this ritual can seem, Prof. Sanford pointed out some very interesting parallels in later Indo-Tibetan Tantric rituals. More generally, all this process can be conceived as a kind of alchemical operation (I would say “a bio-alchemical operation”). This remark may lead us to consider another passage of the Juhō-yōjin-shū seriously: in the first chapter, where Shinjō raises different “doubts” about “that cult”, he says that according to some oral tradition the skull-honzon is to be identified to the “generative” (nōsa-shō 能作性) Wish-fulfilling Jewel, made by Kōbō-daishi 弘法大師 (alias Kūkai) and conserved at Tōji 東寺 (n. 12). This is an important topic that was dealt with by Brian Ruppert in his book on the Relics and the Wish-fulfilling Jewels. He showed that in two important texts of the Shingon school, from the tenth century onward (one is an apocryphal Testament of Kūkai; the other is an apocryphal sūtra on Wish-fulfilling Jewels), there are depictions of methods for production of Wish-fulfilling Jewel (it needs nine kinds of objects: thirty-two grains of Buddha relics, fifty ryō of pure gold leaf, ten ryō of rosewood, etc...) (n. 13); and it is known that such “generative Wish-fulfilling Jewels” were really manufactured (an example, manufactured by Jōin 浄胤 in 1282, for the prayer to defeat the Mongol invasion army, could be exhibited at the Exhibition of Relics held at Nara National Museum in last year).
    But what is even more interesting for us is another passage of the Juhō-yōjin-shū, where Shinjō reports a lengthy tradition concerning a ritual of Dakini and the “human yellow”. In a question and answer, Shinjō asks himself if all of “that cult” was made up only from nothing but the “madness” of these people who invented it. On this point, he thinks that the “ritual of Dakini of the tradition of Kōdaifu, governor of the province of Sanuki 讃岐守高太夫” could have provided the basic ideas on which the creators of “that cult” could base their “falsified sūtra and traditions” (n. 14). We know nothing about this “Kōdaifu, governor of the province of Sanuki”; but the names ending with “daifu (or tayū) 太夫” designates generally leaders of itinerant artists of performing art, who were “out-cast” people in medieval Japan (n. 15). Anyway, this is not a name of monk, and, as a matter of fact, the text says that officiants of this ritual of Dakini must not reveal their head of monk (shaved head) and must hide their religious cloths with a large cloth. Anyway, what Shinjō quotes from this “tradition” is very interesting. He writes:
    It is said in his writing [that of Kōdaifu] that Dakini is a little yakṣa deity attendant of Yama deva [the god of Death in India, and in Buddhism]. She eats the meat of all beings; but she particularly likes a special food. On the top of human body, at the place where is the cross-shaped seam, there are 6 drops of dew (n. 16). These are named “human yellow”. This “human yellow” is the souls and spirits (konpaku) of beings. Either it becomes the breath that one breathes in and out sustaining one’s life, either it goes down [in the body to become] the seed of the human conception, which makes the human body. This is the most favorite food of Dakini. The King Yama, inspecting the longevity of beings of the World under Four Heavens (n. 17), sends this messenger (i.e. Dakini) to those who will die necessarily because of their fixed Acts. Then Dakini sticks to the person [who will die] and beginning from the top [of his head], licks him down to his anus during six months. When she comes to finish her licking, she finally swallows his breath and drinks his blood, so that she robs him of his life. If one wants to reverse (ten 転) the fixed Acts and extend his longevity, one should perform the ritual of Acala. This deity having the vow of subjugation of Māra can subjugate this little yakṣa deity and extend the longevity. This is called the ritual of Acala of the Prolongation of six months (Fudō no nōen rokugatsu no hō 不動の能延六月の法). This is why the officiant of the ritual of Dakini must offer to her always things that this deity likes, like the meat of fish or birds, or the “yellow swallow” (ōen 黄燕 [I could not find the meaning of this word; I suppose provisionally that it is the same thing as the “human yellow”]) of human body; then, this deity will be pleased and will quickly grant his desires. Moreover, if one installs a human head (i.e. skull) or a fox’s head on the alter and offers these things to her, she will reside in this skull and using the three souls and seven spirits (san-kon shich-haku 三魂七魄) [probably of the being of whom the skull is installed] as her messengers, will manifest different miracles and will perform innumerable magical actions... (n. 18).
    As you can see from this translation, all this passage is very similar to some of the texts that I have quoted so far. The “ritual of the Prolongation of six months” was a term that we found in the first text of Chōgō; the “human yellow” imagined as “six (or seven) dewdrops at the top of the human body” is shared by this text of “Kōdaifu of Sanuki”, by the second text of Chōgō, and by one of the many “opinions” listed by Kakuzen. One element which seems new, though, is the different functionalities of this “human yellow”: here, it is said that it works as the breath in normal time, and also can “go down” in the body to become “the seed of the human conception” — which means male semen, or perhaps the “mixed liquid” of the sexual intercourse. The image of the skull which is another new element in this text, may be explained perhaps by the role played by the “human head” held in the last left hand of Aizen-myōō according to some of these texts. I think that Shinjō was quite right when he stated that this idea of “human yellow” and of Dakini was the main ground on which the “abominable skull ritual” of “that cult” was based. This explains the “embryological” or “obstetrical” images of the skull cult. This explains also why the mixed liquid of the intercourse, and the skull itself, were so important in this ritual.
    But above all, one point which must hold our attention is the striking similarity between this idea of vital energy imagined as a kind of fluid residing inside the body, moving up and down, becoming the seed of conception, with the Hindu idea of bodily liquid: for example, in the myth of the birth of the deity Soma, it is said that the Sage Atri, having performed a great asceticism (tapas), had his seed rising up in his head, and it flowed out as tears, “flooding the universe with light.” Soma was born from this light (n. 19). As Prof. Wendy Doniger states it, “The yogi causes his seed to rise to his head, where it becomes Soma (n. 20).” And of course, as Prof. Manabe Shunshō 真鍋俊照 points out (n. 21), the route by which Dakini passes through inside the body, that is to say the passage “starting from the top of the head, down to the anus” corresponds to the suṣmnā tube of the yogic cakra theory (theory which, as far as I know, has never been imported in Japan by any known Tantric text). Some of the texts I quoted say also that there is a “cross-shaped seam” at the top of the head; this may recall the brahmarandhra, the “hole of brahman” at the top of head, which is imagined as the passage by which the soul of the right persons will rise from his body to the heaven when they die (n. 22)
    Finally, as to the image of the skull which “will inform the ascetic of all the events of the world”, I can produce at least one example in a classical Tantric text in the Chinese Canon. It is a passage of the Sūtra of the Miracles of the mantras of the Cord without Failure, in which it is said that if the officiant applicates the magical power of Avalokiteśvara of the Cord without Failure (Avalokiteśvara Amoghapāśa) to cord, and tie it to a trident (triśūla) of Maheśvara, “he can subjugate Maheśvara and all other demons; he can go to the cemetery; the demons will appear by themselves and open their palace from which he can take any hidden treasure; he can tie an end of the cord to the head of a dead man, and pronounce a mantra; that head will tell him all the good and bad omens of the World” (n. 23).

    What can we conclude from all this? One thing that can be remarked is that the “tradition” of Kōdaifu quoted by Shinjō was based on a well established scholarly tradition that was current among Shingon and Tendai learned monks, although it adds to it some important elements. Another interesting point is that all these traditions, beginning with the text on ḍākinīs in the Commentary on the Mahāvairocana-sūtra, down to the “abominable skull ritual” — all this seems very consistent. The “skull ritual” could appear aberrant at first sight, and it is aberrant certainly, but given the fact that the “human yellow” was identified to the “human seed” in the tradition of Kōdaifu, one can understand better the logical development which could lead to such a practice. By the way, the description of Shinjō are so surprising that one could have doubts about its genuineness; one could have wondered if the ritual described there were not the product of pure imagination of its author. This possibility is not to be excluded, but seeing the consistency of this account with other, certainly authentic traditions concerning the “human yellow”, we can probably have more confidence in it.
    The similarity of the tradition of Kōdaifu with the Hindu concept of human bodily fluids raises the most difficult problem. When one is confronted with this kind of problems, there may be mainly two solutions. One is to suppose some hidden historical links between two traditions; the other is the hypothesis of independent developments which would coincide at such and such points of their respective evolution. As it is most difficult to prove either of these two hypothesis with any evidence, the problem itself may perhaps be useless. But in this case, I would rather tend to believe in the hypothesis of independent developments. Metaphorically speaking, I would say that if the first “mythical seed” transplanted in a different soil has a sufficiently strong and consistent image in it, it could grow up a “mythical tree” of which some “flowers” may have very similar aspect to that of the flowers of the original tree. And this leads me to the final hypothesis of my presentation: I said at the beginning that I have been unable to find any exact equivalent of the idea of “human yellow” in Indian sources — but given the consistency of all the traditions that we examined here, it seems to me most likely that that idea could have some genuinely Indian root in it.
    Thank you very much for listening thus far. I would appreciate any remark, insight or thought letting me pursue further researches.


(n. 1) 『大日経疏』Ttt. XXXIX 1796 x 687b18-c11 ad 『大日経』普通真言蔵品 T. XVIII 848 iii 17a18-19. Cf. also 『大日経義釈』vii, Z. XXXVI 378 ver° b11-379 rec° a10; 覚苑『大日経義釈演密鈔』vii, Z. XXXVII 91 rec° a16-b1; 杲宝『大日経疏演奥鈔』 Tttt. LIX 2216 xxxv 371b17-26.
(n. 2) Sanford, “The Abominable Tachikawa Skull Ritual”, Monumenta Nipponica, 1991-1, p. 9.
(n. 3) Iyanaga Nobumi, Ḍākinī et l’Empereur. Mystique bouddhique de la royauté dans le Japon médiéval”, VS (Versus), no. 83/84, Quaderni di studi semiotici, maggio-dicembre 1999, p. 41-111.
(n. 4) Sōji-shō, Tttt. LXXVII 2412 v 76a3-21. — There is a very similar text in the Asaba-shō 阿娑縛抄, TZ. IX 3190 cxvi 320b19-c26; cf. Iyanaga, art. cit.., p. 53-54.
(n. 5) 金剛峯樓閣一切瑜伽瑜祇經, T[tt]. XVIII 867 i 256c4-18; cf. Iyanaga, ibid., p. 98-99.
(n. 6) Cf. 覚禅鈔TZ. V 3022 lxxxi 252a15-253a20; Iyanaga, ibid., p. 98-99.
(n. 7) Yugi-kyō chōmon-shō 瑜祇經聽聞抄, edited in Zoku-Tendai-shū zensho, Mikkyō 2, p. 305b3-14; Iyanaga, ibid., p. 99.
(n. 8) Stephen Köck, “The Dissemination of the Tachikawa-ryû and the Problem of Orthodox and Heretic Teaching in Shingon Buddhism”, 東京大学大学院人文社会系研究科・文学部・インド哲学仏教学研究室, 『インド哲学仏教学研究』 VII, 2000, p. 81, 82.
(n. 9) 守山聖真著『立川邪教とその社会的背景の研究』(東京、鹿野苑、一九六五年刊)p. 531-532
(n. 10) Id., ibid., p. 534.
(n. 11) 守山, p. 99-100; cf. also 田中貴子著『外法と愛法の中世』p. 274-275, n. 11.
(n. 12) 受法用心集 i, p. 539
(n. 13) Cf. Ruppert, op. cit., p. 151-155, p. 283-286.
(n. 14) 守山, op. cit., p. 546: 偏に是れ狂惑放逸の輩、高太夫が伝を本としてなまじいに貪欲即是道等の文の片端を聞き仏意のさす所を知らずして己が情欲にまかせて種々の謀経謀伝を潅頂血脈に造りそへて真言一宗の肝心、大師相伝の秘法と称すること、極めて大邪見、不善の至極、何事か之にしかんや.
(n. 15) 藤巻一保著『真言立川流』学習研究社, 1999, p. 36-37. Sanuki is the modern Prefecture of Kagawa in Shikoku.
(n. 16) あまつひ [this should be あま = sky, or rain and つび = drop; but Mr. Fujimaki Kazuho 藤巻一保, p. 24, thinks that this word must be analyzed as 天津霊, meaning “heavenly soul”.
(n. 17) 一四天下の衆生の寿命
(n. 18) 受法用心集, i, in 守山 p. 544.
(n. 19) Wendy Doniger O’Flaherty, Asceticism and Eroticism in the Mythology of Śiva, London, Oxford U. P., 1973, p. 272-273; Stein, “Avalokiteśvara/Kouan-yin, un exemple de transformation d'un dieu en déesse”, Cahiers d’Extrême-Asie, II, 1986, p. 40 and n. 53-54.
(n. 20) Asceticism and Eroticism in the Mythology of Śiva, p. 277
(n. 21) 真鍋俊照著『邪教立川流』筑摩書房, 1999, p. 52-53.
(n. 22) 橋本泰元, “ヒンドゥ経における葬儀と霊魂観——最後の供犠”, in 田中純男編『死後の世界——インド・中国・日本の冥界信仰』(東洋書林、二〇〇〇年)p. 51-52.
(n. 23) 『不空羂索神変真言経』T. XX 1092 vi 258c14-259a3.