Talk:Sōhei

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Monks error[edit]

Fixed the bottom paragraph, where it says it draws inspiration from warrior monks of Nepal/Tibet. This is incorrect, since Tibetan monks practice "Tibetan Buddhism," and are peaceful/they have no warrior monks. However, the Sohei would've drawn inspiration from the Shaolin monks of eastern China. The Shaolin monks practice Zen Buddhism, the same sect a the Sohei. Also, at the time of Buddhism being passed on to Japan, China had already the lost Tibet/Nepal regions. Thus, Zen Buddhism of the Shaolin monks would be the correct and appropriate backgroud. Intranetusa 23:13, 25 August 2007 (UTC)

Thank you for cleaning that up. Certainly, most representations of warrior monks in popular culture are based on Shaolin examples, or something related. This does not, however, have anything to do with whether or not China controlled Tibet/Nepal at the time of Buddhism's expansion to Japan, nor does it have anything to do with Zen. Rather, it simply has to do with which types of Buddhist monks (by sect and by country) are most commonly seen in Western pop culture, right? LordAmeth 12:23, 26 August 2007 (UTC)


Yamabushi and Sohei do not appear to be exact synonyms. See for example this page:

Others were warrior priests (Sohei) and ascetic mountain priest (Yamabushi). It is important to know deference between them. Yamabushi were a member of religious sect Shugendo (mix of Buddhism and Shinto). They were practicing Chinese mystical and magical methods, long pilgrimage in mountain, sitting under waterfalls etc. to be enlightened. Because of their dress to easy hidden weapons, ninja often used to be disguised as Yamabushi. Sohei were others, formatting a private army to protect the Buddhist centre in Nara and Kyoto.

--Iustinus 06:46, 25 Dec 2004 (UTC) hik up hello fello reader this may make no ence to you but i am right and if u disagrey i woll say hi and by kjbciasjbcklnxvc;jxb/lcb'lkjvskdnvnncsdjnvsb udvib'ivjjc;knllduk,; adifhbfi i ukfnb;dfv[


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That's a lot more than a basic stub. Thanks a lot! --Iustinus 16:02, 30 Dec 2004 (UTC)

Monk Warriors?[edit]

Oh god, do they use mending? (69.239.240.139 02:03, 4 August 2007 (UTC))

What? LordAmeth 13:20, 4 August 2007 (UTC)
Nvm, interesting article :D. (69.239.62.51 05:11, 6 August 2007 (UTC))

Later on?[edit]

What happened to the warrior monks during the Edo era, after the country was unified obviously there was less demand for their skills, but on the other hand many fought on the winning side, so what happened with all of them? —Preceding unsigned comment added by 204.52.215.67 (talk) 03:29, 16 October 2007 (UTC)

No "monks" in Jodo Shinshu[edit]

This article repeatedly refers to Jodo Shinshu followers of the Ikko-Ikki movement as monks, but in fact there are no monks in Jodo Shinshu Buddhism. There are (in English) priests, but they neither take the ancient Vinaya precepts, nor the Bodhisattva Precepts of Shingon and Tendai Buddhism. All Jodo Shinshu Buddhists are lay followers, with Rennyo being no exception. The more general "priest" term is more appropriate, but also the vast majority of the Ikko-Ikki were peasants, not priests so that needs to be clarified.

Even the term "sohei" is improper when referring to the Ikko-Ikki followers, and is never used in Japanese literature to describe the movements followers; only the warrior-monastics of the Tendai and Shingon sects in the Kyoto area.

This needs to be fixed, but not necessarily removed. The sohei of Mt. Hiei did do battle with the Ikko-Ikki, so that is a pretty noteworthy struggle between two religious sects.

Thanks! Ph0kin (talk) 06:41, 23 December 2007 (UTC)

Hmmm. Good point. Please make whatever changes you feel necessary - simply changing the word "monks" to something more appropriate when referring to the Ikko adherents may be good enough. LordAmeth (talk) 11:26, 23 December 2007 (UTC)

they were not really monks or warriors...[edit]

This is actually a really nicely written article. I do not have the time or probably the skill to produce such an article myself.

But the sohei were more like goons or mooks that lived in the temple and did dirty work, than warriors. They lifted heavy things, cleaned crap, dealt with dead animal carcasses, that sort of thing. There was a period of time when the temples and shrines used strongarm tactics to maintain political leverage and prevent taxes from being levied on their lands - they would send sohei into town to be a nuisance, in some cases to get a little out of control and cause a situation, and in a few really entertaining cases they would cart a sacred artifact or statue down the mountain and just leave it in the streets until the townspeople were so freaked out by this god sitting around possibly getting angry that they would entreat the nobles to relent to the temple's demands. Which usually worked! In short, they were like the brownshirts of ancient Japan.

I have always been baffled by why we've needed to elevate them to "warrior monk" status. Japanese history is replete with actual monks and priests who were very skilled martial artists, and there was this interesting "revolving door" between the ranks of nobility (and later the ranks of bushi) and ordained life. The Katori Shinto Ryu, for example, is one of the oldest existing ryu, still centered at Katori Shrine in Ibaragi prefecture, practices sword, spear, naginata, shuriken, shinobi (!), siegecraft, and some other stuff. The Hozoin temple near Nara was another famous center of martial study in medieval Japan; it is said that Musashi went there to challenge / get a lesson from the abbot Innei who had developed a wicked spear style.

I sure don't have the time to do proper research these days but I will see if I can substantiate what I have just put forth. Transentient (talk) 22:44, 26 February 2010 (UTC)

Imaginary sohei[edit]

http://ebookee.org/The-Teeth-and-Claws-of-the-Buddha-Monastic-Warriors-and-Sohei-in-Japanese-History_698773.html

You might want to check out this book, The Teeth and Claws of Buddha by Michael S. Adolphson.

People are constantly referencing to the work of Stephen Turnbull, who in turn has used quite a lot of bad sources. Especially when he's talking about sohei, he had gained his information from sources dating to Edo period - when there were sohei anymore, and they were remembered as the antagonists of the shogunate and substantially vilified. In fact, there never was an army consisting of guys dressed in funny sandals and cowls, and wielding naginatas. It just became a sticky meme that served as a propaganda tool for the samurai and the shogunate to portray themselves as more heroic and their enemies as evil, power-hungry and corrupt, and as a reason why monasteries shouldn't be given too much resources.

The only "good" sohei ever was, of course, Benkei, because his loyalty was to Minamoto no Yoshitsune.

Because of Turnbull there were sohei in (e.g.) Shogun: Total War, and God knows what other persistent unhistorical myths there are in addition to this. The real warriors of monasteries were just like other mercenaries, there was nothing "monky" about them in addition to their employers - and there was really not all that much "warriory" about them, in reality.

Mention that the Sohei were not Buddhist monks as in - taking and keeping to the monk's vows[edit]

Since nobody has edited the article yet to correct these issues, I thought I'd just put in a para. for now, to point out the obvious (which may not be clear to readers who don't know anything about Buddhism) - that they couldn't be monks in the normal sense, like this:

Even novice Buddhist monks take the ten precepts, the first of which is to refrain from killing. So though called monks, they weren't Buddhist monks in the normal sense as in someone who takes and keeps to the vows of a monk in the Buddhist tradition.

It's just a place marker pending editing by someone expert in this who can go into the details of what exactly they were - whether e.g. they took the vows but broke them - or didn't take them - or had some other connection, or none at all with the Buddhist monastic traditions. Robert Walker (talk) 20:30, 11 April 2014 (UTC)