The Tale Of The Heike Essay

1055 words - 4 pages

The Tale of the Heike is a collection of tales that depict the livelihood of warriors during the Heian and Kamakura period. These tales illustrate that warriors during this period spent their existence dedicated to their duty to the Buddhist Law and that the growing contention arose from each warrior’s devotion and loyalty to the Buddhist Law.
The tales communicate that a warrior’s duty was to protect the Buddhist Law which in turn meant to protect the imperial authority. Written letters between the Onjōji to the Kōfukuji Temples avow that the “great virtue of the Buddhist Law is that it guards the imperial authority; the imperial authority endures because of the Buddhist Law.” Furthermore, the letters articulate that whether one is “southern capital or northern, we are all disciples of the Buddha.” Middle Captain Shigehira’s plea to the Buddha, before his execution, exemplifies this. Shigehira declared “I was not acting of my own free will when I committed my grave sins; I was merely trying to do my duty. Who that lives can spurn an imperial command?” Regardless of what was commanded the warrior was obligated to obey. Director of the Military Stores Bureau Yorimasa confirms this decree when he is ordered to restrain an invisible monster. Yorimasa reported “from the old, the mission of warriors posted to the court has been to repulse rebels and destroy violators of imperial commands” then, prepared to die for his lord, struck the monster with an arrow. Inomata no Koheiroku Noritsuna reveals that warriors would announce their identity before battle in view of religious beliefs. He maintained that “a man who kills an enemy does not perform a great exploit unless he takes the head after identifying himself and requiring the other to the same.” Additionally, and they would decapitate their enemies and offer the head to the god of battle.
Every warrior’s duty was to their lord and every warrior was faithfully loyal to their lord. Loyalty is an eminent virtue of the warrior. Loyalty to one’s parent and more importantly to the imperial court is continuously depicted throughout the tale. Warriors showed their loyalty in different manners all through the tales. As in the case of warrior Genzō Takiguchi no Kiō who displayed his loyalty to his lord, Yorimasa, by remaining behind, pretending to have switched sides, ready to die in order to humiliate Munemori as he had done to Yorimasa’s son Nakatsuna. Loyalty was also tested, as Saitō Bettō Sanemori succeeded in doing before the Battle of Shinohara. While drinking, Sanemori proposed to the group that it would be more beneficial to fight for the Minamoto and suggested that they switch sides. The group went to bed that evening agreeing to switch. The following day, Sanemori inquired on the subject, the warriors rationalized that it would be “demeaning” to switch sides. Sanemori then reveals that he was just testing their loyalty and clarifies that has prepared to die in the...

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