Hārītī (Sanskrit), also known as Kishimojin in Japanese:鬼子母神, is a Buddhist goddess for the protection of children, easy delivery, happy child rearing and parenting, harmony between husband and wife, love, and the well-being and safety of the family. Women without children also pray to Kishimojin to help them become pregnant.
Originally, Kishimojin/ Hariti was a cannibalistic demon. She had hundreds of children whom she loved and doted upon, but to feed them, she abducted and killed the children of others. The bereaved mothers of her victims pleaded to Śākyamuni Buddha to save them.
Śākyamuni stole Aiji, youngest of Kishimojin's sons, and hid him under his rice bowl. Kishimojin desperately searched for her missing son throughout the universe. Finally, she pleaded with Shakyamuni for help. The Buddha pointed out that she was suffering because she lost one of hundreds of children, and asked if she could imagine the suffering of parents whose only child had been devoured. She replied contritely that their suffering must be many times greater than hers, and vowed to protect all children. She now feeds upon pomegranates as a substitute for children's flesh.
Kishimojin became the goddess of easy birthing and the protection and parenting of children.
- Kangimo (Japanese: 歓喜母 "Bringer of happiness)
- Karitei (Japanese: 訶利帝, Shingon name)
- Kariteimo (Japanese: 訶梨帝母, another Shingon name)
- Kishimojin/Kishibojin (Japanese: 鬼子母神)
- Koyasu Kishibojin(Japanese: 子安鬼子母神 "Giver of Children and Easy Delivery")