The Life of Oyasama (Oyasama gyoden)

by Yoshikazu Fukaya

Another text that is second in importance only to the Scriptures along with The Doctrine of Tenrikyo is the "Oyasama gyoden."

The Oyasama gyoden is often simply called "gyoden" and usually refers to the text entitled The Life of Oyasama, Foundress of Tenrikyo--Manuscript Edition. (Incidentally, Oyasama gyoden happens to be the title of a biography on Oyasama written by the first Shinbashira, an important text that became the basis of The Life of Oyasama, Foundress of Tenrikyo.)

Needless to say, The Life of Oyasama, Foundress of Tenrikyo, is a record of Oyasama's life. However, it must be mentioned that it is completely different from ordinary biographies.

As discussed in the entry "Shrine of Tsukihi" [5.65], Oyasama became the living Shrine of Tsukihi on October 26, 1838, when God the Parent took residence in Oyasama's body and began teaching through Her mouth. For the subsequent fifty years, not only did Oyasama teach and guide others in accordance with God the Parent's intention, but She also demonstrated by Her own example the path all human beings should follow. The daily life that Oyasama lived is indeed the Divine Model for all humanity. The Life of Oyasama, Foundress of Tenrikyo is a text that focuses on Oyasama's fifty years as the Shrine of Tsukihi--that is, the Divine Model--as well as the instructions, words, and Ofudesaki verses She delivered and wrote on certain occasions.

Thus The Life of Oyasama is not merely a chronicle of Oyasama's life, but a guide that allows us to understand and settle the teachings in our minds by showing us how they are to be applied in real situations. It is also an irreplaceable and precious source that we can draw upon to live our daily life in this present day and age.

The first Shinbashira embarked on compiling an authoritative, written account of Oyasama's Divine Model as one of his life works. The second Shinbashira continued what he left behind and, upon overcoming various difficulties, finally published The Life of Oyasama, Foundress of Tenrikyo in 1956 during the year of the 70th Anniversary of Oyasama.

Further, during the compilation of The Life of Oyasama, there was a plan to put together an accompanying collection of anecdotes on Oyasama. This was actualized in time for the 90th Anniversary of Oyasama (1976) with the long-awaited publication of Anecdotes of Oyasama, the Foundress of Tenrikyo. This publication brought together 200 stories detailing Oyasama's words and deeds from both written and oral recollections of early followers who met and received direct instruction from Her. The Anecdotes of Oyasama allows us to vividly see and feel for ourselves the overflowing parental love that Oyasama--the Parent of humankind and of the Divine Model--has for us, Her children.