The Diamond Path

Life situations discussed from the Buddhist perspective. Sansho Tamarack Garlow, leader of Higashi Tendai Buddhist Sangha provides weekly commentary.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Diamond Path #014: Shomyo for Peace

Number 14 in the series is a very special presentation of Buddhist ritual chants and a Daiho-Hyaku-Komyo-Ku Ceremony. In a rare U.S. performance, a group of 20 Tendai Buddhist Monks from Mount Hiei, near Kyoto, Japan, performed a special Shomyo Chant for Peace at Simon’s Rock College of Bard.

The hauntingly beautiful and highly stylized chanting, known as Shomyo, is derived from the Vedic chants sung by Brahman monks in India, 5000 years ago. The form was transmitted from India to China as Buddhism traveled that same path. Ultimately, Shomyo arrived in Japan with the introduction of Buddhism, approximately 1500 years ago. This uninterrupted transmission, according to musicologists, insures that Shomyo is representative of the earliest identified, organized choral form. It remains an active and very meaningful component of Japanese Tendai Buddhist rituals.


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