Mahoraga! A beast. It is (or was) the strongest shikigami in the Ten Shadows technique. But got decimated by both Sukuna and Gojo, so…yeah!
There has always been some sort of confusion surrounding the shikigami’s name. The official translation by Viz stated its name as Mahoraga, however, a lot of fans, who read the Japanese version, claimed that accurate translation for the shikigami’s name should have been Makora.
While the majority of readers chose to stick to Mahoraga (me included), the fan translations stuck to Makora. And so, the shikigami had two versions of its own name going around.
Overtime, the name Mahoraga became prominent, thanks to its “aura”, as some readers would tell you.
However, the discourse has come up once again after Jujutsu Kaisen season 2 episode 17 aired. So, let’s try and find out what the name of the shikigami really is.
Is it Mahoraga or Makora?
The Japanese word for the shikigami is 魔虚羅- and it translates to ‘Makora’ in English. It is made up of the kanji 魔 (ma) and 虚羅 (kora), and the name itself loosely means evil or demon phantom.
So yeah, if you are looking for the literal pronunciation of the Ten Shadows shikigami’s name, then Makora is the answer. Crunchyroll and the streaming services did not mistranslate the name.
There’s more, don’t stop reading here…
If Makora is the literal translation, why did Viz translate the name as Mahoraga? Is it wrong? NO IT ISN’T EITHER!!
Here’s where a bit of a lore comes in. The name Mahoraga that Viz gave, is more in line with the mythological references which inspired the shikigami.
In Hindu and Buddhist mythology, Mahoraga (sanskrit pronunciation) is the name of a deity or a class of deities.
The reason why VIZ translated the name to Mahoraga, when Akutami clearly named the shikigami Makora in Japanese can be understood better by taking a look at the similarities and influences.
Inspiration behind the shikigami:
Mahoraga, in Buddhism, is one of the eight classes of deities (Hachi Bushu) who are the guardians of Buddhist teachings. In other mythology too, namely Hindu and Jain mythology, Mahoraga is one of the eight deities, or a class of deities, who are the protectors of the ‘dharma’ (cosmic law).
Now coming to Makora, it is the name of one of the 12 heavenly generals or divine generals who protect the medicine Buddha or Bhaisajyaguru. According to Onmark productions, the name Makora (romaji) once again transliterates to Mahoraga in Sanskrit.
According to some sources, these divine generals and even the eight legions are originally said to have come from the Hindu Mythology, but then they decided to adopt Buddhism after listening to the words and teachings of Buddha.
The Honji Suijaku, an old Japanese religious theory, suggests that Makora himself was a version of the Bhaisajyaguru from Indian Mythology.
In JJK manga, the shikigami’s complete name is Yatsuka-no-Tsurugi Ikaishinsho Makora which was translated by Viz to Eight-Handled Sword Divergent Sila Divine General Mahoraga.
The name is an inspiration from both the mythological references mentioned above – especially the number eight (inspired by eight legions) and the divine general (inspired by the 12 divine generals).
Akutami connected the eight with the eight handled dharma-chakra on Mahoraga’s head, but still the eight legions’ connection is something we can’t ignore.
Also, in mythologies, Mahoraga is depicted as having a mixture of humanoid and snake features, and in some artistic versions (according to Wiki) it has the head of a serpent and body of a human.
If you look at the shikigami’s character design in JJK, it has a snake’s tail-like structure spouting from the back of its head.
Shortening of the name:
In Japanese, Mahoraga is spelled as 摩睺羅伽 – which reads ‘Makoraga’. The name Makora is considered as a shortening for Makoraga, with only the last kanji missing.
The last kanji – 伽 (pronounced as ‘ga’ or ‘ka’) is sometimes used in religious context to refer to an attendant of Buddha. Since the shikigami has no such relation to Buddha, it is possible that Akutami simply decided to not include that kanji and call the shikigami Makora.
Putting all of it together, it is understandable why Viz decided to translate the shikigami’s name as Mahoraga instead of Makora.
As Soukatsu said, the name could have been Viz’s way of making the Hindu and Buddhist mythological references clear for the readers.
What’s the right answer?
To conclude the write-up, I’d like to say this. We all are entitled to freedom of choice. Both Makora and Mahoraga are correct usages. While one is more literal, the other honors the mythology which inspired the shikigami.
None of them can be termed as wrong.
So, in the end, it’s up to us readers to pick out what we like. As for manga readers, the name Mahoraga has stuck thanks to the localization. However, the anime only watchers won’t be very aware of it.
My personal opinion? I will be sticking with Mahoraga as I am more used to it. Also, like some users on SNS said, Makora doesn’t have the same aura as the name Mahoraga. The latter sounds more majestic and suits the shikigami well.