Bishamon, as we know her from Noragami, is a proud and mighty war god. However, her role as a god in Buddhism is rather different and conflicting. Bishamon has been around for hundreds of years, predating Noragami. This magnificent god is known for much more than her tiger and cop-like get up that she dons in Noragami but rather has a rich history that extends far beyond the anime. While she may be known as a god of war in the anime, the true myth of Bishamon, or Bishamonten, wanders far from the path that we know of the fierce goddess.
Bishamon in Myth
Bishamon is the Buddhist god of fortune. Originating from India, this male god was not worshipped in Japan until the 6th century and then became one of Japan’s Seven Lucky Gods in the 15th century. The Seven Lucky Gods were a group of gods that originated from both Shinto and Buddhist deities that brought luck, wealth and happiness to the people of Japan. They would travel together on New Years to bring luck throughout the country. The Seven Lucky Gods are a combination of Ebisu, Daikokuten, Bishamon, Benzaiten, Hotei, Jurojin and Fukurokuju. These gods each have their own traits that are beneficial to the Japanese and kept the country running happily. Bishamon is known as a god of warriors and celebrated for bringing wealth to those who had fought in war. The origin of Bishamon is often misunderstood because, although he supports war and the bravery of soldiers, he is not a god of war. Rather he rewards those who show their bravery and help their country, bringing luck and fortune to those who have risen to meet worthy adversaries. This god is often seen standing on a demon which could be seen as crushing an invader or eliminating threats as soldiers do.
Bishamon in Anime
Bishamon from the Seven Lucky Gods and the Bishamon that we see in Noragami are quite different. Bishamon is portrayed as a god of war who is intent on keeping order among the gods. While she hates Yato because of a misunderstanding, she is very close to and has many Shinki. She does this to create a sort of family, something that she values very much. Bishamon is very different from the god that she is based on and the anime takes many liberties with her character, changing things as prominent as her gender. Overall, Bishamon from Noragami is a great character but should not be looked at as a realistic representation of the Buddhist god and as with all characters, should be researched to gain more knowledge to lead to a better understanding of Buddhism to become a more educated viewer.
While Bishamon is not an accurate representation of the Buddhist deity, she is still a character that can be admired and is able to teach valuable lessons to viewers. Bishamon is an important god in Japan and worshipped by many, particularly with the coming New Year. A little extra luck can be good for anyone but Bishamon is a god that believes that no positive action will go without reward. He values honor as does the anime counterpart which can help to lead believers to a better and more noble future. We hope that you have enjoyed reading this article. If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to leave them in the comments section below.