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The Sazuke (at times glossed as "Divine Grant" in English) presently refers to a prayer that a Tenrikyo follower petitions to God specifically for the divine intervention to relieve the pain associated with illness/physical disorders and/or the illness itself. It is considered in the Tenrikyo tradition, together with the Service, as being the two main components of what is called the "path of single-hearted salvation."[1]

While only one form of the Sazuke exists today (Sazuke of Hand Dance/Ashiki Harai), the Sazuke once came in a multiple of forms.

Analysis of the word "Sazuke"

Often preceded in Japanese with the honorific prefix "o" , it is a convention in Tenrikyo to write "o-Sazuke" in hiragana: おさづけ. The kanji that is most commonly associated with the term is , meaning "give, grant; impart, teach" and "be granted/taught."[2] There was a period of time when "Sazuke" was written in kanji as 授訓 in Tenrikyo literature.[3]

"Sazuke" refers to "the act of granting" or "something that is granted," and the Tenrikyo adherent who "administers" (tori-tsugu 取り次ぐ) the Sazuke to the person suffering from a physical disorder acts as a "mediator" through which God the Parent grants the blessing of a cure.[4]

Earliest forms of the Sazuke

During Oyasama's lifetime, "o-Sazuke" was a generic term that referred to a series of grants that she bestowed on her followers. The first series of these grants were not necessarily specifically bestowed to followers for the healing of illnesses. These grants, bestowed between 1864 and 1867, included the Sazuke of the Fan, the Sazuke of the Gohei, and the Sazuke of Fertilizer. In the Mikagura-uta, the Sazuke of the Fan (also called the Invocation of the Fan) is mentioned in Song Six and Song Twelve while the Sazuke of Fertilizer is mentioned in Song One.

Sazuke of the Fan

In the spring of 1864, Oyasama began to distribute the first of these Sazuke grants, the Sazuke of the Fan, to about 50 to 60 persons.[5] With this grant, followers were endowed with the ability to inquire the will of God through a fan they received from Oyasama through interpreting its movements that was said to move on its own upon the utterance of a prayer. Another use of the Sazuke of the Fan was specifically for the sake of inquiring the prognosis of an ill person.[6]

The follower who received the Sazuke of the Fan would place the fan on his lap and silently contemplate over the ill person's present state. It was said one could then interpret whether or not there would be a recovery according to the direction the fan happened to move. While Izo Iburi was the only recipient of this Sazuke who was later granted the ability to communicate God's words—referred as the Grant of Divine Utterance—the Sazuke of the Fan was banned by Oyasama possibly circa 1868[4], and the reason why it was banned has been attributed to how "God's will was not conveyed as it should have been; some egotistic, personal interpretations were mixed" in the invocation.[7]

Sazuke of the Gohei

On top of its use as a focal point of worship, the Sazuke of the Gohei was also utilized in a similar manner to that of the Sazuke of the Fan to invoke the will of God the Parent. (A gohei is a sacred staff or wand with paper "lightning bolt" streamers.)

Sazuke of Fertilizer

The Sazuke of Fertilizer is alluded to in the Ofudesaki[8] and explicitly mentioned in Song One as well as Anecdotes of Oyasama 12. The recipient of the "truth" of this grant would take three 合 (0.18 l or 0.38 pt.) each of rice-bran, ashes, and soil, and offer the mixture to God the Parent. When this grant was administered and the mixture was placed in a field, Oyasama taught that it would be equal to the efficacy of one da 駄 (135 kg or 297 lb.) of night soil.[9]

Grants specifically for the healing of illness

In December 1874, Oyasama began to bestow Sazuke grants that specifically allowed followers to petition God the Parent to heal physical disorders.[10] The Life of Oyasama describes that Oyasama bestowed different forms of the Sazuke to four devout followers on December 26, the day on which she happened to wear red clothes for the first time by saying:

"First, I bestow the Grant of Breath to Nakata. Second, the Grant of Boiled Rice to Matsuo. Third, the Grant of Hand Dance to Tsuji, which is to be performed with an innocent heart like that of a three-year-old child. Fourth, the Grant of the Kanrodai-Teodori to Masui, which is to be performed in one accord, all firmly united."[11]

Sazuke of Breath

This grant is alluded to in the Ofudesaki, usually with the Sazuke of Hand Dance.[12] This Sazuke was allegedly administered by breathing of the afflicted area of an ill person.[13] Recipients of the truth of this Sazuke also breathed on specially prepared sheets of rice paper to create what was called "o-iki no kami" (literally, "paper of the sacred breath") that were widely used by Tenrikyo missionaries at one time.

Sazuke of Boiled Rice

This grant was administered by placing three gō of cleansed rice in a bag and immersing it in boiling water three times and having an ill person eat three grains from it.[13]

Sazuke of Hand Dance

This grant is also known as the "Sazuke of Ashiki Harai." It is the only Sazuke that still exists today as all Sazuke bestowed after the passing of the Honseki Izo Iburi in 1907 was standardized into this form. A missionary administering this Sazuke chants "Ashiki harai tasuke tamae, Tenri-Ō-no-Mikoto" three times with accompanying hand movements and chants "Namu tasuke tamae Tenri-Ō-no-Mikoto" three times while laying the hands and stroking the afflicted area of an ill person. This process is repeated another two times to complete the ritual.

Sazuke of the Kanrodai-Teodori

This grant was administered in a similar manner with the Sazuke of Ashiki Harai, except that sections two and three of the Mikagura-uta (Choto hanashi... and Ashiki harai tasuke tamae, ichiretsu sumasu Kanrodai) were sung and accompanied by the corresponding hand movements intead. This Sazuke is said to have been the least common of the grants bestowed by Oyasama and the Honseki.[13]

Sazuke of Water

The missionary administering this grant would take three sips of water from a cup and have its recipient partake the rest.

Sazuke of Sacred Water with the Food of Heaven

This grant was the same as the Sazuke of Water excepting for the fact that white sugar was added to the water. (Both these Sazuke were often referred as the "Sazuke of Water" and, in rare cases, called "kōzui no mizu no sazuke" 神水の水のさづけ, literally, the grant of water of sacred water).

Sazuke for the Family

This form of the Sazuke is also called the Sazuke of Stroking Hands. This grant is mentioned in Osashizu 1890-09-27a.[13]

The religious importance of the Sazuke

The truth of the Sazuke, was, for lack of a better term, a sacrament Oyasama originally bestowed during her physical lifetime to her most devout followers. After she "withdrew from physical life" in 1887, Izo Iburi was settled as the Honseki and he bestowed the Sazuke to Tenrikyo adherents in her place. Initially, devout followers who distinguished themselves during Oyasama's physical lifetime yet had not received the truth of the Sazuke were gradually drawn by God through illnesses and request a Divine Direction, which would result in them receiving the sacrament.

While Izo initially continued to bestow Sazuke grants in a spontaneous manner in Oyasama's place, an increased demand for this grant from followers who desired to become missionaries eventually led to the creation of a standardized lecture system known as the Besseki (literally, "special" or "separate seat") between 1889 and 1890. Members who wished to receive the Sazuke were ultimately required to complete nine lectures that covered Oyasama's teachings and detailed her exemplary life.

Further, though Oyasama and Izo bestowed different forms of Sazuke, eventually the manner in which the Sazuke was applied also became standardized. As the office of the Honseki disappeared following Izo's passing, the task of bestowing the sacrament of the Sazuke to Tenrikyo adherents was ultimately handed over to the Shinbashira. To date, the office of Shinbashira has continued to be passed down in hereditary manner to a descendant of Oyasama.

Tradition maintains that when Oyasama bestowed the Sazuke in 1864, she said:

"You will not be able to continue your long journey without traveling expenses. So, I bestow upon you [the Sazuke of] Fertilizer [to cover] your traveling expenses."[14]

The Sazuke continues to be viewed as a means to allow Tenrikyo adherents to "follow the path of saving others."[15]

Further, along with the Service, the Sazuke is considered as one of the two main components of "the path of single-hearted salvation." Oyasama is said to have "withdrawn from physical life" for the purpose of:

  1. urging followers to perform the Service without being concerned for her physical well-being and
  2. bestowing the truth of the Sazuke more widely[16]

The Doctrine of Tenrikyo describes the truth of the Sazuke as follows, "The Sazuke, the Divine Grant, is the truth of effectiveness bestowed in the cause of single-hearted salvation on those whose minds God the Parent has determined as being sincere."[1]

Its significance within the tradition has also been described in Scripture, "When you go home after receiving the Sazuke, you are taking a souvenir for home, a treasure for home, whose value is immeasurable."[17]

Tenrikyo followers are often encouraged to utilize this "treasure" as frequently as possible through the administration of the Sazuke.

Individuals who have bestowed the Sazuke throughout history

Name b/d dates[18] Profile bestowal period
Oyasama (Miki Nakayama) 4/18/1798–February 18 (lunar 1/26), 1887 December 26, 1874– ????
Honseki (Izo Iburi) 12/28/1833–June 9, 1907 Honseki - Izo Iburi.jpg March 25, 1887–June 5, 1907
Naraito Ueda 2/23/1863–January 12, 1937 Profile Naraito Ueda.jpg June 6, 1907–March 1918
Tamae Nakayama February 5, 1877–July 10, 1938 July 11, 1918–1938
Shozen Nakayama April 23, 1905–November 14, 1967 Shozen Nakayama.jpg July 26, 1938–1967
Zenye Nakayama July 7, 1932– Zenye Nakayama.jpg November 26, 1967–April 1998
Zenji Nakayama January 16, 1959– Zenji Nakayama.jpg April 26, 1998–present

Further reading

  • Stroupe, Bart. "Healing in the History of Tenrikyo, the Religion of Divine Wisdom," Tenri Journal of Religious Studies 17, pp. 79–132.

External links

(Note: pages nos. refer to hardcopy equivalent)


  1. 1.0 1.1 The Doctrine of Tenrikyo (tenth edition), p. 18.
  2. Spahn, Mark and Hadamitzky, Wolfgang. Japanese Character Dictionary. Tokyo: Nichigai Associates, p. 625.
  3. 天理教教祖中山みきの口伝等紹介:授訓について(その一)
  4. 4.0 4.1 「さずけ」 "Sazuke," 『改訂天理教辞典』 Kaitei Tenrikyo jiten, p. 369. For English equivalent, see A Glossary of Tenrikyo Terms, pp. 362–365.
  5. The Life of Oyasama, Foundress of Tenrikyo — Manuscript Edition (third edition), p. 38.
  6. 「扇のさずけ」 "ōgi no Sazuke," 『改訂天理教辞典』 Kaitei Tenrikyō jiten, p. 103. For English equivalent, see A Glossary of Tenrikyo Terms, pp. 361–362.
  7. Nakayama, Shozen. "The Theory of Doctrine and the Practice of Faith." In The Theological Perspectives of Tenrikyo: In Commemoration of the Centennial Anniversary of Oyasama / edited by Oyasato Research Institute, Tenri University, p. 20. A passage from Osashizu 1890-06-21 refers to the Sazuke of the Fan as an "old path."
  8. Ofudesaki 4:50, Ofudesaki 4:51, Ofudesaki 13:60, Ofudesaki 13:61, and Ofudesaki 13:72.
  9. 『おふでさき注釈』 Ofudesaki chushaku, p. 60; Fukaya, Tadamasa. Commentary on the Mikagura-uta, The Songs for the Tsutome, p. 43.
  10. 矢持辰三 Yamochi Tatsuzo. 『稿本天理教教祖伝入門十講』 Kohon Tenrikyo Oyasama-den nyumon jikko, p. 128.
  11. The Life of Oyasama, pp. 93–94.
  12. The Sazuke of Breath is alluded to together with the Sazuke of Hand Dance in Ofudesaki 6:106 and Ofudesaki 12:50. It is alluded to by itself in Ofudesaki 6:108.
  13. 13.0 13.1 13.2 13.3 「さずけ」 "Sazuke," 『改訂天理教辞典』 Kaitei Tenrikyo jiten, p. 370.
  14. The Life of Oyasama, p. 39.
  15. Yoboku's Guide to Tenrikyo. Tenrikyo Overseas Department, p. 59 (online version)
  16. Osashizu 1887-02-18 pm (1/26, lunar calendar).
  17. Osashizu 1898-12-30-09:00.
  18. Dates in Hindu-Arabic numerals refer to lunar calendar dates.