Nikujiku Saitai Law (肉食妻帯)

Nikujiku Saitai Law (肉食妻帯)

Postby Bankei » Tue Jan 24, 2012 11:58 am

Hi

Around the year 1868 the Imperial Govt of Japan issued a decree which allowed monks to eat meat and to take a wife (ie to marry) this is known as the Nikujiku Saitai command (肉食妻帯).

I am looking for the wording of this law or decree and for further background information. For instance, were there any monks in Japan following the vinaya around this time? Did the law prohibit vinaya ordinations etc.

If anyone can assist that would be appreciated

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Re: Nikujiku Saitai Law (肉食妻帯)

Postby Indrajala » Tue Jan 24, 2012 12:44 pm

This work might be of use:

A History of Japanese Religion

http://www.amazon.com/History-Japanese- ... 812&sr=8-5

Around the year 1868 the Imperial Govt of Japan issued a decree which allowed monks to eat meat and to take a wife (ie to marry) this is known as the Nikujiku Saitai command (肉食妻帯).


It was in 1872 (Meiji 5) that the Meiji Emperor first consumed beef. That same year due to anti-Buddhist sentiments the aforementioned policy of allowing monks to legally marry and eat meat was established. However, it doesn't seem to have been a command, but the abolishment of formal laws that forbid monks from legally marrying and eating meat. This just allowed them to do these things, but I don't think it was a command or order. The precedent was already there from long back when Shinran formally abandoned monasticism in favour of a lay priest life.

As for the Vinaya, the major sects of the time (like Soto and Jodo Shin Shu) didn't have any Vinaya, even from the start.
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Re: Nikujiku Saitai Law (肉食妻帯)

Postby Astus » Tue Jan 24, 2012 2:21 pm

I think it should be viewed as a matter of progress instead of "corrupting the Sangha". They simply removed legal punishment of monks who did not abide by ecclesiastical rules.
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Re: Nikujiku Saitai Law (肉食妻帯)

Postby Indrajala » Wed Jan 25, 2012 6:08 am

Astus wrote:I think it should be viewed as a matter of progress instead of "corrupting the Sangha". They simply removed legal punishment of monks who did not abide by ecclesiastical rules.


Judging from how fast meat eating and marriage caught on following the reforms, few really cared about upholding celibacy and vegetarian commitments anyway.
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Re: Nikujiku Saitai Law (肉食妻帯)

Postby StuartM » Fri Feb 03, 2012 6:29 pm

Hi,

I think the book you want to check out regarding this topic is 'Richard M Jaffe's 'Neither Monk Nor Layman' - it address the issue of the nikujiki saitai directly, covering the related issues of clerical dress and marriage also; also, James E Ketelaar's 'Of Heretics and Martyrs in Meiji Japan' gives some useful context.

As has already been mentioned, the vinaya had long since ceased as a source of clerical regulation in Japan. However, from what I remember from the above (it's been a while since I've read them), many of the sects - including the Zen sects - would have had their own sets of regulations. I believe that they enshrined the values of renunciation which were reflected in shukke tokudo and the 'language' of shukke in ordination and religious life- including celibacy, vegetarianism, clerical dress etc - and that, prior to the nikujiki saitai, the state backed up these values with the prospect of (sometimes severe) punishment for clerics who flaunted these 'rules' publicly (though it rarely came to that, I imagine). The nikujuku saitai didn't so much sanction new 'values' or promote a different lifestyle, but made the enforcement of sect rules a matter for the sect authorities alone, rather than a matter for state enforcement.

Though clerical marriage etc became increasingly prevalent and public, there was still resistance to the perceived secularisation of clergy/conflict of values by most sect leaderships, for some decades afterwards, though ultimately it does seem to have been an 'opening the floodgates' scenario where a de facto practice eventually became the official norm.

Cheers,

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Re: Nikujiku Saitai Law (肉食妻帯)

Postby rory » Sat Feb 04, 2012 9:14 am

Stone in "Original Enlightenment" makes the point that de facto clerical marriage is attested from the Nara period & by Heian times was widespread. Jisshi sozoku - transmission to one's own son, was well known and shintei - true disciple, was the term used in lineage charts to denote a son. So the idea that Shinran did something new or that the Meiji Era laws changed things is quite false. Japan never accepted celibacy the way the Chinese did.
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Re: Nikujiku Saitai Law (肉食妻帯)

Postby Indrajala » Sat Feb 04, 2012 9:34 am

rory wrote:Stone in "Original Enlightenment" makes the point that de facto clerical marriage is attested from the Nara period & by Heian times was widespread.


Actually the state forbid monastic clergy from marriage from early on. Though enforcement was an issue.

The Taihō Code 大宝律令 (Jpn. Taihō-ritsuryō) of 701, like the Tang codes on which it was based, distinguish between clergy who are renunciates (i.e., those who had left their households) and those who are not. The former were monks, the latter were not.

This was hard to enforce and even in China there were plenty of married men with ordination certificates. Ordination as a clergyman was useful because it made you exempt from taxations and labour duties. Such certificates were a commodity.

In the context of our discussion I was referring to those monks or supposed renunciates who were living as monks during the late 19th century and only abided by monastic precepts for fear of punishment, but given the freedom to eat meat and marry, they did. There was a precedent from this from early on, though the state did not appreciate it in even the earliest of times and in my estimation many such married clergymen were probably, like in China, just using such a position to avoid taxation.

Japan never accepted celibacy the way the Chinese did.


The reality is that much of Japanese Buddhism did have a strong monastic element. Monastic as in celibate and unmarried. There used to be the Vinaya and even Saichō in his reforms demanded his disciples follow all the bodhisattva precepts, which includes celibacy. In China during the Tang Dynasty, as I noted, they had problems with married men holding ordination certificates. There was also the Sanjie Jiao 三階教 which believed it was the dharma ending age and thus abandonment of precepts (捨戒), which were of no use, was to be encouraged. Hence, abandonment of precepts would mean abandoning celibacy commitments.

In the case of Shinran he was a radical and does not really reflect his times.
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