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  • Buddhist Scion

    Has anyone created a Buddhist pantheon? I'm particularly interested in how you'd work the cosmology, and which version of Buddhism worked best.

  • #2
    Several gods in the Deva, Shen, and the Kami have come to follow the Eightfold Path themselves. King Yama (Yanluo/Emma-O) who connects to all three Pantheons is an obvious example. Guanyin is a boshissatva, and Sun Wukong's conversion is a famous story in its own right.

    There is a pantheon named in the Shen write-up called the Palas, who I think might be a spevifically a Vajrayana Pantheon, or alternatively a South-East Asian Theravada Pantheon. So we'll see.


    Check out my expansion to the Realm of Brass and Shadow

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    • #3
      Watcher and I have talked about the possibility of one for the Scion 2.0 project when writing the Kami. We decided against it, because we wanted to express all the local differences Buddhism took on all over Asia, instead of just the canonical core of some oldest scriptures. Thus, we'll have Kannon, Guanyin, Chenrezig etc. be separate deities, in spite of all of them technically being just local forms of Avalokiteshvara. That doesn't mean there can't be a centralised Buddhist pantheon, though. Out of the three vehicles, I'd say Mahayana lends itself most easily to a Scion pantheon; Theravada is not very deity-centric by comparison, and only really gets flavour when you turn it into a local pantheon of SE-Asia again; and Vajrayana is just not very representative, being very eccentric and esoteric, and mostly at home in Tibet again.

      One further thing to keep in mind about the Buddhist "pantheon" is that it doesn't consist of gods. There are gods in Buddhism, Brahma and Shakra (Indra) are important, and so is Yama, but all these Devas occupy the lowest level of the divine hierarchy in orthodox Mahayana Buddhism. Above them are the five Vidyarajas (Wisdom Kings, guardians of Buddhist teachings and virtues), the Bodhisattvas ("Enlightenments-Beings", salvific luminaries who have reached enlightenment, but have decided to forsake Nirvana itself in order to first help all other creatures achieve this state), the Arhats (the direct pupils of Buddhas, who have reached enlightenment by their teacher's help), and the Buddhas (teachers who have reached enlightenment and Nirvana, one for each age of the world, often said to number 28 or 29 in total). Watcher and I more or less decided that the powerful, but hands-off Buddhas are probably Titans/Primordials, and Bodhisattvas would, in case of a centralised Buddhist pantheon, probably make up the core of the major gods, with some Vidyarajas and Devas bracketed off for minor gods.

      Some figures to look at are the Buddhas Shakyamuni ("historical Buddha" of our age), Amitabha (Buddha of the Pure Land, where people can be reborn to achieve salvation there instead of on polluted earth, where it is harder), and Maitreya (Buddha of the Future, who is only a Bodhisattva right now, but will become a Buddha in the next age), and the Bodhisattvas Avalokiteshvara (thousand-armed Bodhisattva of Compassion who tries to help every being everywhere in different aspects), Kshitigharba (Bodhisattva of the Earth who saves sinners from Hell), Manjushri (Bodhisattva of Wisdom, who is the oldest but appears the youngest), and Samantabhadra (Bodhisattva of Meditation, who sits on an fourfold elephant). There are of course many more. The main Titan to oppose such a pantheon would probably be Mara, the "Buddhist Devil", a being of delusion who opposed the Buddha Shakyamuni, and tried to keep him from reaching enlightenment with both his army and his three daughters, who personify Desire, Aversion, and Attachment. He is often depicted as a demon turning the Wheel of Reincarnation, meaning that through his baleful influence, people are kept away from enlightenment, and thus must go on being reincarnated instead of achieving Nirvana.

      Cosmologically, there is a lot to unpack for a Buddhist pantheon - there are the six realms of existence (God, Asura, Human, Animal, Hungry Ghost, Hell), sometimes imagined metaphorically, but often also physically. There are the three levels of the cosmos as Desire, Form, and Formlessness. There are the different exalted Heavens where Buddhas, Bodhisattvas, Vidyarajas, and Arhats dwell, there are several Pure Lands like Amithaba's, and then of course there's the whole realm of Naraka with its system of hot and cold hells, down to the lowest and most terrible, Avichi. I'm not very good with the details of Indian Buddhist cosmology, so I'm gonna leave it at that.

      I hope this gives you a good start into whatever you were planning. If you need more info, though, I'll gladly help

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      • #4
        Originally posted by glamourweaver View Post
        Several gods in the Deva, Shen, and the Kami have come to follow the Eightfold Path themselves. King Yama (Yanluo/Emma-O) who connects to all three Pantheons is an obvious example. Guanyin is a boshissatva, and Sun Wukong's conversion is a famous story in its own right.

        There is a pantheon named in the Shen write-up called the Palas, who I think might be a spevifically a Vajrayana Pantheon, or alternatively a South-East Asian Theravada Pantheon. So we'll see.
        Jumping off of Sun Wukong, the Shen preview notes that the Tathagata (aka the Buddha most known in the West) visited the Shen for a social function, imprisoned Wukong under a mountain for making trouble, and appointed him a Buddha after he helped to bring back the sacred scrolls, referencing Journey to the West.
        Last edited by marin; 05-29-2017, 02:55 AM.


        Scion 2E: What We Know - A wiki compiling info on second edition Scion.

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        • #5
          Originally posted by marin View Post

          Jumping off of Sun Wukong, the Shen preview notes that the Tathagata (aka the Buddha most known in the West) visited the Shen for a social function, imprisoned Wukong under a mountain for making trouble, and appointed him a Buddha after he helped to bring back the sacred scrolls, referencing Journey to the West.
          I thought Buddhas can't make more Buddhas. I thought you can only become a Buddha during periods without a Buddha to guide you, and all those a Buddha enlightens become an Arhat, or a Bodhisattva if they hold back?


          It is a time for great deeds!

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          • #6
            Originally posted by Eldagusto View Post
            I thought Buddhas can't make more Buddhas. I thought you can only become a Buddha during periods without a Buddha to guide you, and all those a Buddha enlightens become an Arhat, or a Bodhisattva if they hold back?
            Slip on my part. In Journey to the West, Wukong became a Buddha during the journey, and was appointed to a position as Victorious Fighting Buddha by the Tathagata


            Scion 2E: What We Know - A wiki compiling info on second edition Scion.

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            • #7
              Thanks for all of this info so far. I think I'll stick to buddhist plot hooks for now, that's going to give me enough homework to keep me busy till 2.0 is released.

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              • #8
                Originally posted by marin View Post

                Slip on my part. In Journey to the West, Wukong became a Buddha during the journey, and was appointed to a position as Victorious Fighting Buddha by the Tathagata
                "...which is apparently a real job you can have" might be my favorite single sentence in all of 2e.


                Neall Raemonn Price
                Beleaguered Scion Developer

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by Neall View Post
                  "...which is apparently a real job you can have" might be my favorite single sentence in all of 2e.
                  It accurately reflects and answers the thought on everyone's mind when they first see that.

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