Prince Shotoku and Article seventeen of the Constitution No.2 /聖徳太子と十七条の憲法No.2

This article can be read in about 14 minutes.

Note/bill of 5000 yen with Prince Shotoku’s figure issued until 1986.

In this article, we will see Prince Shotoku’s personality and the article 3 to 5 from Article seventeen of the Constitution.

1. Infant genius

It was said that he faced toward the east and chanted “Namubutu” while holding his hand, although no one taught it to him. 
It happened on February 15th when he was 2 years old.
It was also the day when Buddha passed away.
“Namubutu” is the Buddhist term when we pray for the Buddha’s help.
There are some statues that show the Prince Shotoku’s legend. 

2. Holy man

Prince Shotoku seems to be known as a gracious person.
There is a story about that.

He found a man who was about to be dying on the street, while riding on a horse.
The man was thin, so he gave his food and his cloth.
After he returned home, he had gotten worried about the man. 
So, he sent his servant to make sure what’s going on with the man.

The servant said the man passed away….
He asked the servant to bury the man.
He still got worried about the man, so he sent the servant to the man’s grave to check on his body.
The servant found the man’s body gone and his cloth left on the coffin.
Prince Shotoku recognized that the man must be a holy person.

The holy man pretended to be a regular poor man so that he could check whether Prince Shotoku could show his mercy to anyone in spite of their appearance.
People admired Prince Shotoku because he proved that a holy man could recognize another holy person. 

We don’t know whether you believe it or not, but there is Prince Shotoku’s poem in the Anthology of Myriad Leaves published in the late 7th century. 
The explanation said that he made the poem to show his sorrow for a man who died on the street. 

3. Legend no.1-miracle language ability

It was said that he was smart enough to speak Japanese as soon as he was born.
After he grew up, he could listen to what 10 people’s said at the same time and answered them perfectly.

4. very devoted son

When his father passed away, it was said that he recited the Buddhist sutra for seven days and nights. 

5. People missed Prince Shotoku

According to the Chronicles of Japan, the day when Prince Shotoku passed away described as the following:

All the nation wailed over his death as if they lost their parents and children.
Also, it was like the moon and the sun lost their light and the sky and the ground were broken

6. Legend no.2- Place of his birth

The Chronicles of Japan mentioned thathe was born in front of a horse manger.

You might feel Prince Shotoku’s story was similar to that ofJesus Christ.
In general, people tend to make many legends to divinize a person.
So might Prince Shotoku.

These legends proved that the nation loveed Prince Shotoku. 
We could guess the people were satisfied with the country that Prince Shotoku tried to make with his subordinates.

He was smart and respect Buddhism from a young age.
His knowledge about Buddhism was excellent and profound enough to have lectured about  Buddhism to the Empress Suiko.
When his aunt became the Empress, he became a regent to help with her job by introducing advanced culture and political system.
He tried to make the country centralized under the Emperor with his subordinates.
He showed a way by himself how Shintoism and Buddhism could  coexist .
The bill with Prince Shotoku’s figure proved how he was respected by the Japanese people.

Here are the articles 3 to 5 from Article seventeen of the Constitution.

Article 3

The imperial rescript should be received with honor.
If the emperor was considered as the sky, the subordinates would be considered as the ground.
The sky covers everything, while the ground supports all things. 
Therefore, four seasons repeat in an orderly manner and everything goes well.
When the ground (subordinate) wants to ravage the sky (the emperor), it results to destruction.
That’s why the subordinates have to sincerely receive what the emperor says.
When the upper ranks take action, the lower ranks would be influenced.
So, when the subordinates receive the imperial rescript, they have to follow it respectfully. 
Otherwise, they would ruin themselves.

The original one from Nihon-Shoki, Chronicles of Japan; 
三曰 承詔必謹 君則天之 臣則地之 天覆地載 四時順行 萬気得通 地欲覆天 則至懐耳 是以君言臣承 上行下靡 故承詔必愼 不謹自敗

Article 4

The officials who work for the emperor should follow the rules of courtesy.
The basics of ruling the people exist in the rules of courtesy.
When the upper ranks lack the rules of courtesy, there is disorder among the lower ranks.
When the lower ranks lack the rules of courtesy, the crimes can not be avoided.
That’s why order is not disturbed, when the officials follow the rules of courtesy.
While the people practice the rules of courtesy, the country is automatically at peace.

The original one from Nihon-Shoki, Chronicles of Japan; 
四曰 群卿百寮 以禮爲本 其治民之本 要在乎禮 上不禮而下非齊 下無禮以必有罪 是以群臣禮有 位次不亂 百姓有禮 國家自治

Article 5

Stop having a feast, throw greed away, and address the lawsuits fairly.
There are thousands of commoners’ lawsuits daily.
Every day it is like this. Needless to say, cases pile up year after year.
People who have to settle the lawsuits always receive benefits and judge the lawsuits based on the bribes. 
The lawsuits of the rich seem to be influential and result in wishes being granted, as easy as throwing a stone into the water. 
On the other hand, the poor seem to have their efforts come to nothing, like water being thrown at the stone.
So, the poor do not know the reason why their lawsuits are rejected.
The official’s moral principle is lacking in these cases.

The original one from Nihon-Shoki, Chronicles of Japan; 
五曰 絶饗棄欲 明辨訴訟 其百姓之訟 一日千事 一日尚爾 況乎累歳 須治訟者得利爲常 見賄廳讞 便有財之訟如石投水 乏者之訴似水投石 是以貧民則不知所由 臣道亦於焉闕

These articles are nothing special and can be applied for now.
What do you think? Comment below!

To be continued..
Go to Article seventeen of the Constitution.

Go back to no.1

【Translation for language learners of either English or Japanese】/英語・日本語学習者向け翻訳 えいご ・  にほんごがくしゅうしゃむ  ほんやく

第2回目は、聖徳太子の人となりと、憲法十七条から第 3 条から第 5 条までを見てみましょう。

  1. 神童

聖徳太子が 2 歳の釈迦がお亡くなりになった2月15日に、東を向いて合掌して、「南無仏」と唱えたという伝説を表した像がいくつかあります。

2. 聖人






3. 伝説 その1-奇跡の言語能力


4. 孝行息子


5. みんなから愛された太子


6. 伝説 その2 誕生の場所















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