"Story of the Divine Record"

Oyasama personally took up Her writing brush to write the Ofudesaki, The Tip of the Writing Brush, between 1869 and 1882. As the writing progressed, She made arrangements for the Service in a step-by-step manner. It was on the lunar calendar date of August 26, 1880, that the Kagura Service was performed with the inclusion of the musical instruments for the first time. The next year saw the beginning of the construction of the stone Kanrodai. Then, starting in about 1880 or 1881, Oyasama related a certain story, as opportunities arose, to those who were called "intermediaries." It is this story that is today referred to as the "Story of the Divine Record."

In about 1881, Oyasama instructed those close to Her to "compile a divine record" (The Life of Oyasama, p. 117) or "compile and submit a story of the divine record" (according to Naokichi Takai's account quoted in Hitokoto-hanashi III, p. 61). Ryojiro Yamazawa and Gisaburo Nakata wrote up what they had heard from Oyasama, Yamazawa writing in the waka style of poetry and Nakata in prose, and they submitted their works. It is said, however, that neither submission met with Her approval.

Thereafter, Oyasama continued to relate the aforementioned story, which followers attempted to write up. A number of manuscripts, thus produced, have been handed down to us. The second Shinbashira, Shozen Nakayama, examined them, and some of his findings were serialized in the Tenri Jiho newspaper in 1956. These articles were subsequently collected and published in July 1957 as a volume entitled Koki no kenkyu (A study of Koki). This book, which reproduces four manuscripts considered fundamental to the study of these texts, is regarded as the standard work on the subject. The phrase "koki-banashi" (here translated as the "Story of the Divine Record") itself came to be widely used after the second Shinbashira used it in the preface to that book.

When Oyasama instructed Her disciples to compile a "divine record," She might have been using an abbreviated form of the expression "Story of the Divine Record." The Story of the Divine Record has also been referred to as "God's story," as, for example, in the following sentence from a Divine Direction: "It would not do for you to not know God's story" (Osashizu, April 26, 1889). Such a story has been regarded as containing special teachings.

The period in which "intermediaries" wrote their versions of the "Story of the Divine Record" was from 1881 to 1887. In terms of their writing style, we may distinguish two types, texts written in the waka style of poetry and those in a prose narrative style. The ones belonging to the latter type come from various parts of the period concerned. The waka-style manuscripts so far discovered are all almost identical except for the titles, and their contents can be dated to 1881.

Some manuscripts bear no title, and the others often have different titles. Some examples are: "Nihon muso shomotsu" (A matchless book of Japan), "Konoyo hajimari no ohanashi hikae" (Notes on the story of the creation of this world), "Kami no koki" (God's ancient record), "Tenri-O-no-Mikoto," and "Kami no tsutae no ki" (Record of God's instruction). After 1883, however, most manuscripts bear the same title, namely "Kami no koki" (God's ancient record), and their content is almost identical.

Oyasama did not write the "Story of the Divine Record." Rather, She verbally told the story over and over to teach and train "intermediaries," who were to convey the teachings of God the Parent on behalf of Oyasama. Some manuscripts say such things as:

I am writing up in detail what was related to us day after day.

Yamazawa's waka-style manuscript,
reproduced in Koki no kenkyu, p. 63

She told the intermediaries what God had related.

An 1883 manuscript, reproduced
in Koki no kenkyu, p. 126

It appears that Oyasama sought to have Her followers fix the story in their minds, exactly as it was, and commit it to memory.

It is significant that none of the manuscripts submitted by the followers in response to Oyasama's instruction to "compile a divine record" were approved by Her. This indicates that those manuscripts had shortcomings in terms of content from the perspective of Her intention. Perhaps, that is why She continued to relate the story over several years. Even to this day, there is no such thing as the standard version of the Story of the Divine Record. Nevertheless, examining and analyzing the extant manuscripts in the light of the Ofudesaki reveals that most of the content of this story probably corresponds to what is presented in chapters 1, 2, 3, 4, and 7 of The Doctrine of Tenrikyo.

The Story of the Divine Record is a story intended to help train "intermediaries," who are to convey to others the teachings of God the Parent on behalf of Oyasama. Consequently, the content of this story was incorporated into the Besseki lecture.

Lastly, we may note that manuscripts written by Ihachiro Yamada provide a sense of how and in what circumstances Oyasama may have related the story to disciples ("Yamada Ihachiro bunsho," preserved in Shikishima Grand Church).

Bibliography. S. Nakayama, Koki no kenkyu; S. Nakayama, Hitokoto-hanashi III; T. Yamazawa, "Waka-tai 'Konoyo hajimari no o-hanashi' hikae taisho-hyo," in Fukugen, no. 14; M. Yoshikawa, "Kami no koki taisho ko," in Fukugen, no. 15; Doyusha, ed., Ne no aru hana Yamada Ihachiro.

(This article was first published in the June 2006 issue of TENRIKYO.)