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Nakayama Miki (中山 みき, June 2, 1798 – February 18, 1887) was the Japanese foundress of Tenrikyo who is worshiped by that religion as the Shrine of God the Parent. Tenrikyo is, arguably, the largest current religion to have a woman founder. The official Tenrikyo biography states she was a holy woman born to a wealthy farming family in what is now Nara prefecture. She was said to be very devout and wished to become a Buddhist nun, but was forced into a difficult marriage to Nakayama Zenbei which she bore with what followers of Tenrikyo regard as admirable patience and virtue.
According to the Tenrikyo scriptures, in 1838, at the age of 40, she became a medium for God (the religion is essentially monotheistic) after taking part in a Shugendo exorcism ceremony. During the ceremony "God the Parent" spoke through her, saying, "I am God of Origin, God in Truth. There is causality in this Residence. At this time I have descended here to save all humankind. I wish to receive Miki as the Shrine of God."
She stated that its name was Tenri-O-no-Mikoto, but she also referred to it as Tsuki-Hi (literally "Moon-Sun", suggesting cosmic unity) and, as Tenrikyo members still do, "God the Parent" (Oyagamisama). After the death of her husband she was claimed to have miraculous healing and prophetic powers, which served the mission that she and her daughter (Kokan) began. They chose a life of poverty, giving away what they could to the less fortunate and founding a new religion.
From 1866 to 1882 Nakayama Miki wrote what she deemed the revelations of "God the Parent", believing herself to be its mouthpiece and shrine, in Ofudesaki. She encouraged a life of charity and designed various spiritual dances. She was repeatedly imprisoned on the initiative of the Buddhist sects, which she and her followers criticised as dispensing false teachings, and in later years Tenrikyo became more assimilated to State Shinto in its teachings, though Nakayama Miki herself opposed this assimilation. Tenrikyo teaches that she still resides at her former home in what is now Tenri City, believed to be the point of origin of humanity.
Secular interpretations of her life and teaching suggest that she took inspiration from an amalgam of Buddhism, Shinto and yamabushi tradition. Tenrikyo, while insisting that her teachings were totally original and her thinking uniquely inspired, devotes a department of Tenri University to the secular study of religions of Oyasama's era including pre-Meiji Japanese Christians.
- "Religious Movements Homepage: Tenrikyo". Retrieved 2007-03-20.
- Doctrine of Tenrikyo Tenth Edition 1993 p. 3 Tenrikyo Church Headquarters