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Mother of Demon Children

From Chinese Buddhist Encyclopedia
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Mother of Demon Children
鬼子母神 (Skt Hariti; Jpn Kishimojin)

    A demoness said to be a daughter of a yaksha demon in Rajagriha. She had five hundred children (one thousand or ten thousand by other accounts). According to the Mother of Demon Children Sutra and The Monastic Rules on Various Matters, she killed other people's babies to feed her own children. Terrified and grieving, the people begged Shakyamuni Buddha for help. The Buddha then hid Priyankara (also known as Piyankara or Pingala), the youngest son of the Mother of Demon Children. She sought him desperately for seven days, but to no avail. In despair, she finally asked the Buddha where he was. Shakyamuni rebuked her for her cruel and evil conduct and made her vow never to kill another child. Then he returned her son to her. According to The Record of Southern Countries, Iching's record of his travels to India and Southeast Asia in the late seventh century, the Mother of Demon Children was revered in India as a goddess who could bestow the blessings of childbirth and easy delivery. Worship of her became popular in Japan in the Kamakura period (1185-1333). In the "Dharani" (twenty-sixth) chapter of the Lotus Sutra, she pledges before the Buddha to safeguard the votaries of the sutra.

Source

www.sgilibrary.org