Indian-British Woman Finds Sanskrit Origin in Japanese Buddhism Words

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Date & Time: Thursday, January 13, 7:00 p.m. −8:25 p.m.
Spots: Jomyoji, Hokokuji and Sugimotodera temples via Zoom
Participant: Sangeeta, Indian-British woman
Attendants: Tomoyoshi and Yasuhiro, KSGG members
Language: English

Report by Tomoyoshi

The participant was a woman doctor in U.K. Learning Japanese culture is a kind of comfort for her in the difficult daily life with the Omicron variant of coronavirus. She has come to Japan many times and is looking forward to visiting there again. I tried to guide her interactively as much as possible. Her first question was what the spelling dera in Sugimotodera meant. I answered that it meant a temple, so she told me that it had the same meaning in Sanskrit. I was curious, so I looked into the reason why temples are called tera in Japan; it is phonetically derived from a Sanskrit word which means senior monks. And garan which means temple in Japanese, also seems to be related to Sanskrit. Since Buddhism was introduced from India, I think it is interesting that there are various related words in Japan.
She was strongly interested in the word Wa-kei-sei-jaku, or harmony, respect, purity, and tranquility, respectively (by Sen Rikyu, the founder of Japanese tea ceremony). And when she found the spelling sugi in Sugimotodera means cedar in Japanese, she said, “The cedar is a sacred tree in Lebanon, and it is also sacred one in Japan, too. Why do people share the same consciousness in the different countries?”

Comment by Yasuhiro
As soon as she hit upon questions, she asked Tomoyoshi like a quick-firing gun. He quickly and accurately answered to them. Since it was not a face-to-face tour, I couldn’t use my five senses, so I felt the difficulty and frustration. I keenly realized it is necessary to prepare in advance for abundant materials and preliminary knowledge. I explained her about the flowers blooming in Kamakura, a Zen-temple city, in the four seasons and the language of flowers related to them. She must be tired of her daily medical services in the current Coronavirus pandemic. I hope that the flowers have made her relax for a while.