|“||Now I Am Become Death, Destroyer Of Worlds||”|
–the Bhagavad-Gita, speaking of reality shaping and shattering powers, and perhaps the weight of their burden
Theology, the study of the concepts of God and religious beliefs, plays a subtle but pivotal role in the Elfen Lied series. Some references are found only in the manga, while others are more prominent in the anime series. For this article, the term will be a catch-all for all religious concepts in the series.
No derision of or dismissive comparisons between faiths of any kind will be tolerated. This article is strictly for those theological ideas construed from what Lynn Okamoto has presented in Elfen Lied. Examples may be used to extrapolate or speculate as to the meaning and possible intent, but those must be measured. Only registered users who are not newly-registered may edit this article.
Buddhism, Shintoism, and other Eastern Religions
The setting of Kamakura in Elfen Lied is, in contrast to its real world equivalent, serene, almost empty, beautiful yet hauntingly devoid of crowds of people. In real life, Kamakura is popular among tourists for the many beautiful and historically significant Buddhist and Shinto temples and shrines, some of which are over a thousand years old, speckled within its city lines. Among its most famous tourist attractions is Kotoku-in, which boasts an enormous bronze statue of the Amida Buddha. The statue is often the first thing that comes to mind for tourists when you mention the city by name. But aside from the Buddha statue, Kamakura hosts so many temples, shrines, and historically significant structures that some of the city’s historic sites, such as Kamakura Daibutsu of Kotoku-in, Kamegayatsuzaka Pass, and much more, are suggested for inclusion in UNESCO’s list of World Heritage Sites.
It comes as no surprise that Elfen Lied references Buddhism and Shintoism in its story when it’s set in a city that possesses so many sites that are important to these religions. Most of these references pertain to goddesses, which itself is also not very surprising since the story is driven primarily by female characters.
Mentioned in Chapter 62 by Kurama, Hariti (known as Kishimojin in Japan) is a goddess in Buddhism whose domain is the protection of children, easy delivery, happy child rearing and parenting, harmony between spouses, and the well-being and safety of the family. However, before she became so benevolent of a goddess, Hariti was a rakshasi who lived at the same time as Gautama Buddha. She had hundreds of children she loved and doted upon, but to feed them, she kidnapped and murdered the children of others. The mothers of these children pleaded with the Buddha to save their children and stop Hariti, so he kidnapped and hid Aiji, the youngest of Hariti’s children. After a fruitless search for her youngest child throughout the cosmos, Hariti appealed to Buddha for help, at which point he told her that if she was suffering the loss of just one of her children, she should imagine how much the parents of the children hers devoured must feel. Realizing the enormous pain she caused to so many families, Hariti then vowed to protect all children, and thus became the patron of children and women in childbirth.
Since Hiromi, Kurama’s wife, had such a turbulent pregnancy to begin with, it makes sense that at some point the couple might have prayed to Hariti to bless them and help them through their troubles, but it is far more likely they would pray to Jizo. However, it is an irony that brings Kurama to invoke her name when he meets Mariko in the manga. While the pregnancy did succeed and Mariko was born, she was born diclonius, and Hiromi perished from the stress of witnessing her husband trying to murder her child. Kurama likens himself to Hariti in that he was able to kill so many other people’s children, yet couldn’t bring himself to kill his own child when he knew what she would become.
Jizo (originally called Ksitigarbha in Sanskrit) is a bodhisattva in East Asian Buddhism. He is greatly revered, particularly in China and Japan, and is one of four principal bodhisattvas, with the other three being Samantabhadra, Manjusri, and Avalokiteśvara. He is known for his vow to take responsibility for instructing all beings in the six worlds between the death of Gautama Buddha and the rise of Maitreya, and for his vow to never achieve the status of Buddha until all hells are emptied of souls. He has had several incarnations in Indian, Chinese, and Korean tradition, including Sacred Girl and Jijang.
In Japan, Jizo (also called Ojizo-sama) is much beloved as the patron deity of children, deceased or living, children who die before their parents, stillborn, miscarried and aborted fetuses, firefighters, and travelers. In Japanese myth, it’s believed children’s souls, particularly those that die before their parents, cannot cross the Sanzu River to the afterlife because they haven’t yet had the chance to accumulate enough good deeds and because their deaths have made their parents suffer. Jizo saves these souls from having to pile stones on the bank of the river as penance by hiding them in his robes and letting them hear his mantras.
Statues dedicated to Jizo are present in much of Japan, commonly seen by roadsides and in graveyards. The former is due to his patronage toward travelers, and the latter is due to his status as the savior of souls in the underworld. These statues sometimes come with small piles of stones or pebbles placed there in the hope it will shorten the time the deceased children will have to suffer in the underworld. The statues tend to be dressed in small children’s clothes or bibs, as well as toys placed at their base. These items are placed by grieving parents to help their lost children and request Jizo to offer the child special protection. The offerings can also be placed there to thank Jizo for saving their children from illnesses or other maladies that could potentially kill them.
In the world of Elfen Lied, Jizo certainly has his work cut out for him. One of the series’ staples is children constantly in danger, children in despair, or children killed before their time. Following Japanese Buddhist belief, these poor children’s souls would still have to spend time in Hell, especially the Diclonii since they killed others with their powers. However, due to their innocent nature and the suffering they endured throughout their lives, the bodhisattva would work tirelessly to make sure they too ascend to Heaven and possibly to rebirth. This measure, of course, includes Lucy’s bullies and the Orphanage Girl, as no child is beyond saving for a god dedicating his life and afterlife to saving them. Mariko is implied to be spared from Hell due to her actions in the manga, as she’s shown going to Heaven with her mother. In her case, her saving her father, soothing his suffering, and sparing Nana, also telling her to live a happy life with the man they both call their father, must be the good deeds securing her young self her rightful place beside her mother in the afterlife. Jizo also clearly had a hand in Lucy and Nyuu’s rebirth, since their reincarnated selves appear to be happy, healthy young girls at the end of the manga.
Jizo’s statues appear most often in relation to Nana, and in the anime in particular. When she's had her arms and legs torn off by Lucy, statues of Jizo loom over her while she's lying on her back, staring at the sky, and mumbling for her "Papa" to save her. When first meeting Mayu in the cemetery, she accidentally knocks one over, to which Mayu visibly blanches, and later, she cuts one in half at the shrine to Jizo to show Mayu her powers. Any old statue and location would have served the same purpose, so why Jizo’s statues? Why Jizo’s shrine? It’s to call attention to the god’s presence, to show the intended audience of Japan that even in this terribly bleak world where the most minute abnormalities of a person determine their worth and their status as human, there's still someone who cares for these lost children. It’s significant that it’s Nana who is present to call attention to him as well, as she is the only Diclonius who consistently adheres to her refusal to harm or kill other people, with exceptions here and there for Lucy and those who would harm her family. She is an ignorant child, but ignorant only in regards to the ways of the world. In the ways of benevolence toward other people, she is indeed very rich, and her constant struggle to always do good toward others results in her being the only Diclonius to survive by the time the story comes to a close.
Benzaiten is a Buddhist goddess originating from the Hindu goddess Saraswati. Worship of her dates back to the 6th-8th century in Japan through Chinese translations of the Sutra of Golden Light, and she is also mentioned in the Lotus Sutra. In Japanese Buddhism, Benzaiten is a goddess of “everything that flows,” meaning such things as water, time, words, speech, eloquence, music, and even knowledge. The Sutra of Golden Light promised protection of the state, leading the goddess to be seen as a protector goddess in Japan. At first, she protected the state, but eventually came to be to the protector of the people within the state as well. Enoshima Island, which appears in Elfen Lied as a setting, houses a cluster of shrines to Benzaiten, and a statue of her appears near the Sea Candle in episode thirteen. The island was also said to be created by Benzaiten, hence why it has so many shrines dedicated to her. Benzaiten is a prominent figure in the first part of the Enoshima Engi, a history of the shrines of Enoshima as written by the Buddhist monk Kokei in 1047 AD.
In the OVA, Nana and Nyuu both take shelter in the Zeniarai Benzaiten Ugafuku Shrine. It is a shrine dedicated to both Benzaiten and the Shinto kami Ugafukujin, whom she gradually became merged with over the centuries. Her merger with Ugafukujin references her being seen as one of the Seven Gods of Fortune, as one of her roles is to bestow financial fortune. However, the connection with the snake god Ugafukujin is made even stronger due to Saraswati’s connection to rivers, the gods of which often are depicted as snakes or dragons in Japan due to their winding shape.
Benzaiten appears behind Lucy when she ultimately rescues Nana from death at Isobe’s hands, and just before Lucy departs to make peace with Kouta before what looks to be her demise at the end of the anime. It is one of her shrines that Lucy and Nana are hiding away from the rain, a time where Lucy is also tormented by visions of the past where she failed to protect one of the only people who cared for her. Lucy’s personality possesses an ever-changing, ever-flowing nature; she is neither good nor evil, but somewhere in the middle. Just as she can commit deeds which are seen as evil, she can also commit good deeds to the surprise of those who only know her destructive side. The presence of this goddess when she uses her powers for the better is a sign of her blessing. As Lucy's demeanor and wishes flow toward more benevolent goals, there is a divine being overseeing her and hoping for her fortune to change.
Benzaiten's origin goddess Saraswati makes up a third of the trinity of herself, Lakshmi, and Parvati in Hinduism. A standard feature of gods and goddesses in legends is to feature them in groups of three. Elfen Lied echoes this trend within the three personalities of Lucy herself: Lucy, Nyuu, and the DNA Voice.
The primary facet of Benzaiten, Parvati is a Hindu goddess of love, fertility, and devotion. As with many Hindu gods, she is but one aspect of another god, and is the gentle, nurturing aspect of the goddess Shakti, who herself is the personification of divine feminine creative power often called “The Great Divine Mother.” Parvati is the wife of Shiva, the destroyer and regenerator of the universe and all life within it, and is the recreative energy and power that connects all beings and provides a means for their spiritual release.
Legends of Parvati are tied to those of Shiva, with whom she represents fertility, marital felicity and devotion, asceticism, and power. Like Hera of Greek myth, Parvati is the ideal wife and holder of the house and is a nurturing mother goddess. Shiva’s destructive nature is often tamed by Parvati, who calms him with her dances. In the epic of the Mahabharata, Parvati suggests that the duties of wife and mother are to be of good disposition, sweet speech and conduct, and soft features. Her husband is to be her friend, refuge, and God, and she should find happiness in the physical and emotional nourishment and development of her husband and children. Their happiness is her happiness, and thus she should always be positive and cheerful even when her husband and children are angry, and should be with them through all adversity and illness. She takes an interest in the world around her, and is cheerful and humble of family and friends and helps them whenever and wherever she can. She welcomes all guests, feeding them and encouraging them.
Parvati can be seen to manifest in different characters in different ways in the series, primarily in Yuka and Nyuu. Though she is far from the motherly figure in the Maple House, that space being occupied by Yuka, Nyuu’s nature places her close to Parvati when one looks at her as the calmer aspect of Lucy. Kali is an aspect of Parvati, but in Elfen Lied, it is the reverse. Nyuu is the sweeter side of the more destructive and complex Lucy. She is kind to all and nurtures others through her actions, such as trying to cheer up Nana, who before had hurt her, Mayu, a girl she didn’t even know, or Kouta, whom she wronged by breaking the seashell she thought was a terrible memory for him. She even took care of a baby bird in the dead of winter, though the fate of the bird is never shown after Lucy is again forcibly taken from the Maple House. Nyuu appears incapable of seeing the bad in other people, and even when she is attacked by others such as Bandou, she doesn’t appear to hate them but instead is frightened of them and merely wishes to run away. She readily takes up her chores without complaint, and is shown getting up early to tend to chores when it’s her turn. Similarly, Yuka is stated by Mayu to be the mother of the Maple House, and this reflects in her actions toward other characters. In regards to Kouta, Yuka may not be the ideal wife in terms of behavior, as she’s very outspoken and often strikes him in that typical manner that’s comical for fans of the tsundere archetype. However, in regards to the girls under her care, she is very loving and nurturing. When she and Kouta first find Nyuu, Yuka suggests they take her with them to keep her safe since she is injured and cannot even remember her own name. When Nyuu runs away, Yuka is the first to go after her to make sure she’s safe. Likewise, she tells Kouta they cannot turn Mayu back over to her parents, as Mayu ran away from home for a reason in the first place. When Nozomi cannot practice her music and study for entry to a musical college in her own home, Yuka invites her to stay at the Maple House and practice to her heart’s content. When Nana first arrives, she feeds her despite her scuffle with Nyuu before, and later buys her clothes of her own and holds her when she’s upset. In this manner, Yuka is the loving mother that is Parvati, though her sweeter nature can often be overlooked by those who only see her brashness toward Kouta in the beginning of the series.[[File:Destruction.png|thumb|360x360px|Can mercy be found in the heart of her who was born of the stone?] Were she not merciless, would she kick the breast of her lord? Men call you merciful, but there is no trace of mercy in you, Mother. You have cut off the heads of the children of others, and these you wear as a garland around your neck. It matters not how much I call you "Mother, Mother." You hear me, but you will not listen.
Kali is a Hindu goddess associated with empowerment, change, time, and destruction. She is the fierce aspect of the goddess Durga (who is also called Parvati), and is aptly named, as her name comes from the word “kala,” meaning “black,” “time,” “death,” and “lord of death” (a reference to the destroyer god Shiva). As an aspect of Parvati, Kali is Shiva’s consort, and shares in his destructive tendencies. However, the destruction carried out by Shiva, and thus Kali, is viewed as necessary for the continuation of the universe. Things must be destroyed in order to be reborn or rebuilt. She is also seen as a sort of supreme mistress of the universe, and in her union with the god Shiva, she creates worlds even as she destroys others. In more modern times, Kali has been seen as a maternal goddess as well, and this is shown best in a legend where she nurses a crying infant, not knowing it’s Shiva in disguise, as he planned to calm her frenzy by appealing to her maternal instincts. As Ramprasad stated, to be a devotee (or child) of Kali, is to be denied of earthly delights and pleasures. The goddess refrains from giving what is expected, and her refusal to outright give unnecessary boons gives her faithful the chance to reflect on themselves and on a reality beyond the trappings of the material world.
In many ways, Lucy mirrors Kali or at least appears to invoke her. Many of the people Lucy kills, or at least those whose deaths are shown, are those who can be said to be “evil” or those who commit evil acts. Such people would be the bullies in her childhood, the Unknown Man, Professor Kakuzawa, and Chief Kakuzawa. However, she isn’t at all averse to killing humans as part of collateral or to suit her own purposes, such as during her outrage at the end of the manga and the many times in both manga and anime that she’s killed others for the sake of her own survival. As Kali fought and slayed many different asuras, Lucy herself has caused the death of other Diclonii too. However, her attacks on other Diclonii are not done out of malice, and her reasoning for doing so is muddled. The Diclonii who perish during the sinking of the island facility don’t appear to be a concern to her, and others, she attacks because they present a threat to her or her loved ones. But, as shown with her half-brother, Lucy’s slaying of the Diclonii is an act of mercy as well. Considering the suffering they’ve faced at the hands of humans, being used as tools or test subjects, killing them can be seen as freeing them from the potential of suffering.
Adding on to this, Lucy’s appearance and mannerisms also reflect Kali’s own. Her face is consistently hidden by her bangs and cast in shadow, often to the point where her face appears black. All that sticks out from her shrouded face are her eyes, a deep red not unlike Kali’s. In her first appearance, though her face is hidden, she invokes her image even more. Like Kali, Lucy is remembered for being naked when she’s first shown to audiences. For Kali, this nakedness is a show of how she is a pure being and needn’t be covered by the clothing and trappings that humans cover themselves in. Lucy bears no clothes for multiple reasons. For one, she was clad only in a helmet, with only a constricting body bag covering her prior and limiting her movement. From a realistic standpoint, it’s natural she would wear nothing under this. However, there’s a deeper meaning to her nudity, which soon becomes clear. After she breaks out of her restraints, she’s holding a severed head in her left hand, as Kali herself is often depicted to be doing. After dropping the head of the guard, the Diclonius proceeds to bathe the halls of the Diclonius Research Institute in blood on her way to the outside. She’s naked for the entirety of her escape, and while any other character would be made vulnerable to the hail of gunfire while in the nude, here, it isn’t the case. Lucy boldly strolls down each hallway through wave upon wave of gunfire without a single injury, and the only blood that spatters the floor is that of her attackers. Though she appears weak, she’s far from it and can cause more damage to a human body than anyone could ever expect. She doesn’t need protection from the typical human weaponry. Only when they pull out the big guns, literally, does her protection falter. All other times, covering up is unnecessary.
Lucy resembles Kali most in the many facets there are to her. She possesses the bloodlust, mania, and similar imagery, but ultimately, it is her complexity as a character that makes her resemble her the most. However, Kali has another side to herself known as Kali Ma, who is Kali herself but depicted and worshiped as a kind mother goddess instead of her destructive self. Where Kali Ma is seen as the kindest of all goddesses, not at all different from Nyuu, this loving and motherly side doesn’t cancel out her more destructive form. Kali’s fearsome form is seen as a protector to counterbalance her maternal side; Lucy herself is the fierce side to protect not only those she loves, but the innocent version of herself that resides within. This protector side of her cannot be near such loved ones, of course, as she has the tendency to hurt them when she’s around them for too long. This can be seen best with her feelings and situation regarding Kouta. Kali only realized her error in attempting to destroy the universe when she realized she’d trampled her husband under her feet, and Lucy only realized her mistake in killing Kouta’s family after he’d already been indelibly scarred by her actions.
An Asura in both Hinduism and Buddhism is a demigod, referred to as “lords” of specific domains. In Hinduism, they compete against Devas (also called Suras). Suras are considered more benevolent than Asuras, who are superhuman and possess both good and bad qualities. Those who are considered primarily good are called Adityas, and those who are considered malevolent are called Danavas. Though initially Asura was a catchall term for many sorts of mythological beings, including gods such as Indra, later texts describe them as totally malevolent compared to the benevolent gods, Devas. Due to their wicked nature, these later Asuras are described as being enemies of the gods. In essence, demons. Furthermore, Asuras can go either way in some Hindu text. There are “Asura who become Deva” and “Asura who remain Asura,” and the difference between the two depends on their actions, choices, and what their intents of the first two contain. The Asuras who become Devas naturally possess more noble or “good” qualities and behave in ways that benefit others. The Asuras who remain Asuras, on the other hand, crave wealth and power and are violent. They will even steal from the Asuras who become Devas in order to get what they cannot achieve. Interestingly, texts that revolve around the conflicts between these two groups tend to take a neutral viewpoint, not viewing any side as right or wrong or condemning either.
In Buddhism, Asuras are similar to their counterparts in Hinduism in that they have some malevolent tendencies, sometimes being referred to as demons, but they are portrayed as more passionate than outright evil. They are similar to the gods, but are addicted to their passions and emotions, especially wrath, pride, envy, and deviousness. Their lives tend to be more extravagant and pleasurable than those of humans, but they greatly envy the Devas, whom they are said to see in the same light as animals see humans. They typically possess three heads with three faces, and four to six arms.
Like the Asuras, the Diclonius race has a tempestuous relationship with another species, but in their case, it is humans the Diclonii envy and wish to be like. They also share the tendency to give in to their passions and are often ruled by them, but that is only natural since the Diclonii are children save for the exception of Lucy. Children cannot help but give in to their emotions, and Diclonius children in particular can be so ruled by them that their vectors destroy the lives they once had with their human families. However, instead of their envy being directed at what material wealth humans possess, the Diclonii envy their sense of normalcy and their acceptance by the world at large. They themselves are hated by those they wish to be like, being locked away, tortured in the name of science, and murdered, and once they break free (freed by Lucy, no less), they waste no time in showing the humans around them of the grievous error they’ve made in treating them as animals. While they don’t possess three faces, the experimental Diclonii born from Kakuzawa’s inhumane experiments do possess many eyes and arms. The majority of Diclonii, though, superficially resemble Asuras thanks to their vectors, which manifest as arms. These arms needn’t hold any weapons either; they are all the weaponry these demigod children need to retaliate against the species that possesses everything they wish they could have.
Life, Death, and the Cycle of Rebirth
In Buddhism, the cycle of life, death, and rebirth is referred to as samsara. Samsara, meaning “continuous movement” and often translated as “cycle of existence,” is defined as the continual repetitive cycle of birth and death that comes from an ordinary being’s grasping and fixating on themselves and their experiences. It refers to the process of cycling through one rebirth after another within the six realms of existence, where each realm can be either a physical realm or a psychological state of being characterized by a type of suffering. The cycle arises through ignorance and is characterized by suffering and dissatisfaction, but an individual can be liberated from it by following Buddhist teachings.
Three of the six realms mentioned in the samsara are the realms of demi-gods, humans, and animals. Within the demi-god realm, the demi-gods (some of which can be considered Asura) possess pleasure and abundance almost as much as the gods above them, but constantly fight the gods or each other out of jealousy and can die within this realm. The human realm pertains to humans and the suffering they face within their everyday life. Humans suffer from hunger, thirst, the elements, separation from friends, conflict with enemies, not getting what they want, and getting what they don’t want, sickness, old age, death, and life itself. However, the realm of humans is the one most suitable for practicing the dharma that will lead to liberation from samsara, as humans, unlike gods and demi-gods, aren’t completely distracted by pleasure or, unlike the beings from lower realms, wholly distracted by their pain and suffering. There is also the animal realm, which pertains to animals. Wild animals are constantly under fear of death from being attacked and eaten by other animals, and domesticated animals suffer exploitation from humans.
In Elfen Lied, the afterlife is not very much explored yet still holds a presence, as each of the three realms mentioned above are explored in some fashion.
The realm of animals is shown through the misfortunes of Lucy's puppy, as the dog faces exploitation and brutality by humans in order to elicit emotion from the girl who loves it most. Misfortunes are also given to Wanta at several points, such as when he is hurt when he comes to Mayu's defense when she's under attack by the Unknown Man, and even Piyopiyo, for how briefly it appears, suffers as well due to falling out of its nest during the cold of winter. However, the suffering of Wanta and Piyopiyo is averted due to the compassion of the people who come to take care of them.
The human realm is the most often showcased throughout the series, as is the afterlife as it relates to humans. The afterlife first appears when Mariko saves Kurama from certain death, and Kurama has a vision of her and Hiromi walking away into a bright light. This light, naturally, can be seen to be heaven by some, and with the assistance of Jizo, the unfortunate souls of mother and child can leave for a higher plane of existence that is either the paradise of heaven or a chance for a happier life in rebirth. The other instance of the human realm's afterlife is brought up at the end of the manga, where a pair of twin girls appear to Kouta and his daughter. These girls, based on their mannerisms and the name of one of them, suggest that Lucy and Nyuu have been reborn. Not only have they been reborn, but they’ve been reborn into a life free of suffering if one takes their overall dress and health into consideration. The girls are also waiting at the spot Lucy told Kouta to meet her at someday in the future, and admit they’ve been waiting for an important friend of theirs to arrive. The girls’ remembrance of Kouta and their promise is in line with Buddhist tradition, as it is possible for a transferal of consciousness to occur after rebirth.
The realm of demi-gods, some of which can be called Asuras (again, mentioned earlier), can be seen to relate to the Diclonius in general. In Buddhist belief, due to the passions they hold during life, being reborn as an Asura is considered to be one of four “unhappy” births, with the other three being reborn as an animal, a preta (a supernatural being whose suffering is greater than that of a human), or being reborn in Naraka, a purgatory where the soul awaits final judgement. Being reborn as an Asura reflects the individual being obsessed with themselves, the use of force and violence, and being unable to seek peaceful resolutions in life. The Diclonius face such suffering, as they seek vengeance for their poor treatment at the hands of humans, resulting in massive bloodshed on all sides. However, they are more sympathetic than the often demonic Asura in that they are children who are merely lashing out at circumstances that would otherwise be beyond a child's control.
If the Diclonius race can be seen as Asura, then Lucy’s rebirth can be seen as a change from the life of an Asura into the life of a human. The human realm is not without its own suffering, as Elfen Lied has shown in abundance, but her suffering is lesser now since she is no longer a demi-god surrounded by humans. The human realm is the ideal realm to practice the dharma that will eventually lead to Nirvana itself, so, for the suffering she faced when she was a "demi-god" of a Diclonius, Lucy has earned a rebirth into a world and form where she can be happier and someday be free from pain entirely.
Kurama, The Mountain, and the Tengu
Immediately, Kurama brings to mind the famous Mt. Kurama of the Kansai region. Granted, the names of the man and the mountain are spelled differently in kanji, with Kurama's surname written as 蔵間 and the mountain's being spelled 鞍馬山. Though Mt. Kurama is far away from Kamakura, its evocation in Elfen Lied is meaningful when coming from a character with such a tumultuous life as Kurama's.
Mt. Kurama is also said to be the home of Sojobo, the king of the tengu. As a powerful daitengu, Sojobo was to be feared, but ultimately he was a hermit, secluded from the world. His most famous interaction was with the young Minamoto no Yoshitsune, then called Ushiwakamaru, who he taught the ways of swordsmanship, battle tactics, and magic. Minamoto no Yoshitsune was the ninth son of Minamoto no Yoshitomo, the head of Genji clan, one of the two emerging powerful samurai clans. He fought with the opposing Heike clan and was defeated. Yoshitomo and major members of Genji clan were killed but a few of his sons were not killed as they were too young and exiled to rural areas instead. Yoshitsune was transported to Mt. Kurama and Yoritomo, Yoshitsune's elder brother and later the founder of Kamakura Shogunate, was transported to the eastward area that included Kamakura. However, it is worth noting that the tengu of which Sojobo is a part were long considered to be demons or harbingers of war. In older periods, they were seen to be the ghosts of those who were arrogant, and as such became symbols of pride and vanity. By following the links between Mt. Kurama, Sojobo, and the tengu themselves, one can make the connection of Kurama himself is beset on all sides by the pride and vanity of others, namely the Kakuzawas themselves. While Professor Kakuzawa persuades Kurama to join him in researching the Diclonius, who are often treated like monsters, it is Chief Kakuzawa's self-centered wishes and schemes that cause him the most harm. The Diclonii are supposedly the "demons" and bringers of war in this situation, Lucy especially, as Kurama has come to believe over time, but in actuality, Kurama would have been a normal man with a normal family without the interference of the Kakuzawas. Without them, he would have a wife who, though unable to have anymore children, would still have given him a daughter they could both shower with love and affection.
Like Kamakura, Mt. Kurama is a place of vast spiritual importance in Japanese Buddhism. It is considered the birthplace of reiki, a holistic healing practice which promotes healing via an "universal energy" spread from practitioner to patient via "palm healing." In real life, this form of healing is controversial and considered pseudoscience, but in Elfen Lied's world, it has a vicious opposite. Kurama experiences this opposite firsthand during his days working for the Diclonius Research Institute. When Silpelit #3 touches him with her vectors, often called "arms" or "hands" by the Diclonii themselves, she transfers to him not a healing flow of energy, but a virus which alters his DNA. This infection leads his life onto a downward spiral from which his character never appears to fully recover for much of the story.
Though Kurama never experiences reiki aside from the twisted version of it performed by Silpelit #3, he does reach what one could consider a healed state of being in both anime and manga. In the manga, living to see the world free of the Diclonius appears to lessen his burden, as he is shown interacting with Nana in a more relaxed way than he has been for most of the story. With no more Diclonii to threaten the world, he has found a sense of peace and can live normally with his adopted daughter. However, the manga never makes clear if he still feels guilty for killing children as he did before, or if he ever came to realize the harm he committed in treating Lucy and other Diclonii like her as monsters rather than people. Most likely, it would be a longer road to acceptance and forgiveness. In the anime, his fate is much different. Kurama makes peace with Mariko and makes up for leaving her in isolation and fear by being with her in her final moments, giving her the love he always wished to give but never could. Though he perishes in doing so, his remorse is clear: in dying with his daughter, he can no longer harm anyone else and the daughter he never knew would no longer be scared, hurt, or alone. While the manga shows him further along in the path toward healing, the anime more directly shows him coming to terms with his actions and rectifying it by making sure he can harm no others as he already has.
Theology In Elfen Lied offers up the same question as it does for many in real life. It is a question that faces us day to day, just as it faces the wounded young people of Maple House. It is the one question that can never be answered, at least not on this plane, one that horns, vectors, conspiracies and well-aimed Desert Eagles with heavy rounds cannot help with. It is also in the end the only question worth asking, one Kaede surely asked quite often throughout her turbulent lives.
That question is the eternal one : Why?
A manga series cannot answer this, nor can an anime, and certainly not an essay.