Things Japanese/Indian Influence
Indian Influence on Japan is a vast and somewhat obscure subject, which the present writer does not feel himself fitted to cope with:—he merely suggests it in the hope that some betterequipped scholar will take it up and do it justice. In a sense Japan may be said to owe everything to India; for from India came Buddhism, and Buddhism brought civilisation, Chinese civilisation; but then China had been far more deeply tinged with the Indian dye than is generally admitted even by the Chinese themselves. The Japanese, while knowing, of course? full well that Buddhism is Indian, not only habitually underrate the influence of Buddhism in great matters; they have no adequate notion of the way in which smaller details of their lives and thoughts have been moulded by it. They do not realise, for instance, that the elderly man or woman who becomes, as they say, inkyo, that is, hands over the care of the household to the next generation, and amuses him or herself by going to the theatre or visiting friends,—they do not realise that this cheery and eminently practical old individual is the lineal representative of the deeply religious Brahman householder, who, at a certain age,—his worldly duties performed,—retired to the solitude of the forest, there to ponder on the vanity of all phenomena, and attain to the absorption of self in the world-soul through profound metaphysical meditation. Or take the complications treated of in our Article on Names: the "true name," which is kept secret, is an Indian heritage. The fire-drill for producing the sacred fire at the great Shintō shrines of Ise and Izumo seems to be Indian; the elaboration of ancestor-worship seems to be Indian; all philological research in the Far-East is certainly of Indian origin, even to the arranging of the Japanese syllabaries in their familiar order. Not only can some of the current fairy-tales be traced to stories told in the Buddhist sutras, but so can some of the legends of the Shintō religion, notwithstanding the claim confidently put forward, and too easily accepted by European writers, to the effect that everything Shintō is purely aboriginal. The very language has been tinctured, many learned words being of Indian derivation, and even a few common ones, such as abata, "pock-marks;" aka, "water baled out of a boat;" baka, "fool;" dabi, "cremation;" danna, "master," originally "parishioner" (lit. "giver," that is, "contributor to a temple"); hachi "bowl;" kawara, "the;" sendan "sandal-wood" (we English having borrowed the same Indian word for this Indian thing); sora, "the sky;"—to say nothing of such words connected with religion as garan, "temple;" shamon, "priest" (English shaman is the same word); kesa, "vestment;" shari, "relic," and numerous others. Indian of course is all Buddhist religious architecture and sculpture; Indian is the use of tea now so characteristic of China and Japan; India has dictated the national diet, fostering rice-culture and discrediting the use of flesh, which seems to have been a staple article of Japanese food in pre-Buddhistic days.
We jot down the above just as they occur to us. The idea suggested will bear elaboration, the steps of the process being in each case these:—first from India to China, second from China to Korea, third from Korea to Japan; or else from China to Japan direct, without Korean intervention, but this less often except in comparatively recent times.
- Popularly derived from ba, "horse," and (shi)ka, "stag," because of a story related of an ancient Chinese emperor who was such a ninny that, when told by his favourite that a stag was a horse, he actually believed him. But philologists do not accept this ingenious etymology.