In this thread I will discuss how Chapter 1009 has all but confirmed that Oda is intentionally integrating Buddhist Wisdom King references into the main players of the arc, i.e. , Luffy, Zoro, and Kaido.
Speculation on this topic began in early September 2020 when Chapter 990 was released, however the seeds were sown as early as Chapter 921 when Kiku described Kaido’s portrayal among the people in Wano to Luffy’s group as a “Wisdom King who protects over Wano”
In Chapter 990 when Hyou witnesses Luffy in Gear 4 Boundman he remarks to himself that Luffy looks just like a “Guardian Deity” in the English VIZ translation. The Japanese raws give a more specific perspective than this, clarifying that its not just any guardian deity but in fact the Wisdom King Acala (不動明王, Fudō Myō-ō, Bùdòng Míngwáng) a.k.a “The Immovable One”.
The Fudo Myo is highly regarded among the Yakuza of Japan and its form bears an uncanny resemblance to Prime Hyou which makes him the perfect character to pass on the torch to Luffy who has the strength Hyou lacks to take the mantle as the ultimate “Protector” which is Acala’s signature trait.
So, with Luffy’s reference covered let’s move on to Kaido. In Chapter 1009 Kaido uses the attack “Three Worlds – Pulled to Hell” (Trailokyavijaya Vidya-raja, the Conqueror of the Three Worlds) on Luffy, with Trailokyavijaya referring to the Wisdom King Gozanze Myo.
Back in September of last year I was discussing who the other possible Wisdom King candidates could be. Funnily enough, in those discussions Kaido was considered as a possible candidate for Gozanze Myo having taken it from Oden, who has the most connections with that particular Wisdom King (much like Hyou and Luffy’s situation).
The Conqueror of the Three Planes was one who held victory over the celestial, earthly and infernal realms, each representing greed, hatred and ignorance or the past, present and future. He is also supposed to be the protector of humans, to defend their borders from obstacles of enlightenment/freedom. It’s possible Oden was this deity, the destined protector and liberator of the people of Wano. Oden was a pirate, he traveled the world, and he was both a daimyo and a known criminal. His wife Toki traveled from the past, into the present and sent people into the future. Oden protected Wano’s people from the threat of Kaido and Orochi, trying his best to maintain their way of life while he suffered in their wake. After Oden died it’s possible Kaido is now the holder of this position, but is obviously not worthy and will have it taken when he is killed. Kaido’s reputation as the strongest land, sea, and air also fits with this “three plane conqueror” theme.
A month prior to Chapter 990, in August, I made a twitter thread that I’ll link here concerning this particular theme of Wano (deities/gods acting as saviors to Wano) predicting that Zoro will have a very important role of his own, following in the steps of Ryuma. I believe this trend is important as its basically the “inherited will” concept just rehashed with this Buddhist Wisdom King twist (Hyou handing off to Luffy, Ryuma handing off to Zoro) but the odd man out is of course Kaido being the “false god” as he is nothing like a protector and more like a tyrant.
There has been a theme throughout the Wano arc about Deities/Gods whose role is to protect Wano from outside forces such as pirates, world nobles, and marines.— dontflame❄️? (@dontflame1) August 12, 2020
In this thread I will highlight the times that theme has been present, and what it could mean for the future of Wano. pic.twitter.com/56PjjCA4kX
Now, considering that I was already close to the mark in predicting which Wisdom King Kaido would be assigned to I would like to propose my reasoning and analysis for why Zoro is meant to represent the fifth Wisdom King: Vajrayakṣa (金剛夜叉明王, Kongōyasha Myō-ō; Jīngāng Yèchā Míngwáng) a.k.a “The Devourer of Demons” This prediction was initially made around the same time the Kaido prediction was done, but since then I have done more research and added some extra parts.
Kongō-Yasha is known as the protector of the northern realm (Ringo, a Shimotsuki territory) and devourer of demons. The ‘Kongō’ part of Kongō-Yasha literally means diamond like toughness, which makes sense since it’s the guardian deity with the highest ability to endure damage/hardship. Going along with this, we know from Kawamatsu in Chapter 953 that the warriors of the Shimotsuki clan were famed for their hardiness, which CLEARLY Zoro can relate to, if this current chapter is any more proof.
Kongō-Yasha also wields a weapon gifted by Indra, and this weapon is said to be able to harness the wrath of Asura and use it to destroy other wrathful deities. Speaking of Asura, the physical appearance of Kongō-Yasha has three heads and six arms, wielding a weapon in each hand, sound familiar? This aspect is unique to only Kongō-Yasha as the other wisdom kings have multiple heads and arms, but not that exact distribution.
Kongō-Yasha also is known to be the wisdom king that commands the most respect out of the five, a trait Zoro often displays as the vice captain of the crew with respect being paramount in his character. The reason Kongō-Yasha has the ephitet “Devoruer of Demons” is because he was known to be called upon by his followers to subdue demons or evil spirits that were plauging them. I believe the WSJ cover that included Zoro, Luffy, and Kaido with the caption “Two pirates kill the evil spirits!” is heavy foreshadowing that Kaido will be slayed through the efforts of this tag team therefore it can be said that Zoro’s role in Wano is to strike down these “demons”.
Just like the Fudo Myo (Hyou and Gear 4 Luffy) is a symbol that the Yakuza of Japan look up to, Kongō-Yasha Myō-o was a symbol the Samurai of Japan looked up to. Zoro being a swordsman character with a bushido spirit and Japanese nationality is the quintessential samurai main character in One Piece.
To preface this part breakdown I must first let you know that all Wisdom Kings are actually manifestations of other, more important figures in the Buddhist religion. This is particularly important in Kongōyasha’s case, as it opens the doors to many more connections to Zoro.
Kongōyasha is the Wrathful manifestation of Buddha Amoghasiddhi, who is associated with the color green, is depicted with swords, is symbolized by the moon (like the clans of wano), and is the protector over the northern realm (ringo). The last two associations are a perfect fit for the Shimotsuki clan that many have theorized may be Zoro’s actual heritage, which I’m sure you are well versed in. Some other tidbits that aren’t quite as strong include Amoghasiddhi being the Buddha that rules over the element of wind/air and Zoro with his flying slashes and heavy Tiger personification fits this well, along with the old Chinese proverb “Dragons bring the clouds, Tigers call forth the wind.”
Before I wrap this up another cool Buddhist detail this chap linking Kaido and Zoro is the glaring similarity in Zoro’s “three thousand worlds” secret santoryu technique and the new move Kaido used this chapter “conqueror of the three planes” both charging up by spinning their weapon rapidly before delivering a massive strike. Zoro’s attack is a direct reference to the Buddhist ideal that within the mind exist three thousands realms and each realm possesses the potential for wisdom and understanding, and we already went over Kaido’s attack being a direct name reference to one of the five Wisdom Kings.
You may be wondering who the other two wisdom king references are if Zoro, Luffy, and Kaido have three locked up. Well, the truth is there are possible candidates for the other two wisdom kings, but they are way more of a stretch than the three I have talked about, so I don’t feel like its worth it to delve into something with pretty weak foundation. But if I had to say, the other two are likely Law and Big Mom.
*Theory by dontflame