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Nichiren Buddhism is a branch of Mahayana Buddhism based on the teachings of a 13th-century Japanese Buddhist priest, Nichiren Daishonin (1222–1282). It is one of the Kamakura Buddhist schools. His teachings are derived from 300-400 extinct letters.
“nam myoho renge kyo”
“नम म्योहो रेंगे क्यो“
Principles of Nichiren Buddhism
Nichiren Buddhism calls attention to the principles of the Lotus Sutra. According to this, all people have an innate Buddha-nature and are therefore able to attain enlightenment in their present form and present lifetime.
Or you can say, Nichiren Buddhism is a form of Buddhism that came from Japan which insists on the repeating of the mantra “Nam Myo Renge Kyo” (“Hello Lotus Sutra”) for health, happiness, and enlightenment.
Nichiren Buddhists believe that it is possible to attain enlightenment in single life through the practice of “true Buddhism” (i.e., Nichiren). Nichiren Buddhism is divided into several branches, the most famous of which are Nichiren Shu, Nichiren Shoshu, and Soka Gakkai International.
Branches of Nichiren Buddhism
Nichiren shū (“Nichiren faith”), the oldest of the Nichiren Buddhist sects. This Nichiren shoe is a little less internationally known than the Nichiren Shoshu and Soka Gakkai movement. Nichiren shū states that Shakyamuni is a Buddha and that Nichiren is only his priest, not his avatar.
2. Nichiren Shoshu
Nichiren Shoshu (“Nichiren True Faith”) teaches that the documents Minobu Suzo and Ikegami Sujo state that Nichiren named Nikko (1246–1333) as his sole successor, Nichiren Shoshu is the true school of Nichiren Buddhism. This succession is disputed by other schools of Nichiren Buddhism. Soka Gakkai, an influential Japanese religious group, is based on the Nichiren Shoshu teachings. However, in 1991 the Nichiren Shoshu priest excommunicated Soka Gakkai, and the two organizations are now completely separated.
3. Soka Gakkai
Soka Gakkai International (SGI) is an organization for organizations from over 190 countries, practicing the Buddhist form of Nichiren Daishonin. It is closely associated with the New Clean Government Party (also known as the New Comito). More controversially, Soka Gakkai has been accused by some critics of being a cult or cult-like group.
The major aspect of Nichiren Buddhism
Nichiren Buddhism has three essential aspects –
- The undertaking of faith,
- The practice of chanting “Nam Mayo Renge Kyo” with selected lessons of Lotus Sutra,
- Nichiren’s study of scripture called Gosho.
Nichiren Gohonzon is a calligraphy figure prominently displayed in the houses or temple buildings of his believers. The Gohonzon Lotus Sutra used in Nichiren Buddhism is composed of the names of major Bodhisattvas and Buddhas. Gohonzon, used in Nichiren Buddhism, is made up of the names of major Bodhisattvas and Buddhas in the Lotus Sutra, with the words “Nam Myo Renge Kyo” written in large letters down the middle.
Nichiren left his followers to campaign extensively on Gohonzon and Demoku to maintain the peace and prosperity of society. The group of traditional Nichiren Buddhist temples is usually associated with Nichiren Shoshu and various Nichiren-shu schools. Some groups do not belong to temples such as Soka Gakkai, Kenshokai, Shoshinkai, Rishi Kosi Kai, and Homan Batsari-Sho.
Establishing their teaching and facing persecution
At the age of 32, Nichiren returned to Sicho-Ji, where on April 28, 1253, he announced the conclusion of his studies in a lecture. He declares that the heart of Shakyamuni’s address lies in the Lotus Sutra, the mystic law, or truth, that awakened the Buddha.
Nichiren defined this law as “Nam Miho Renge Kyo” and, challenging the major Buddhist schools of his time, declared it as the only teaching capable of leading all people to enlightenment. They started spreading this education in all the schools but they also got harassed.
In 1260, in the wake of a series of disastrous natural disasters, Nichiren wrote his most famous treatise on the establishment of the right teaching for the peace of the land. In it, he developed the idea that only by reviving the spirit of reverence, through belief in the Lotus Sutra can peace and order be made to the sanctity and fullness of human life and put an end to further disaster. He described his inspiration in this way – “How could I see Buddhist law drowning?”
He presented the treaty to the supreme political authorities of Japan and urged them to sponsor public debates with representatives from other schools of Buddhism. Nichiren organized a public debate but people ignored it. Nichiren was banished from the island of Sado, yet he continued to propagate his teachings, writings, and letters to encourage his followers.
Nichiren’s victory at Tatsunokuchi was extremely important to him. This confirms that Nichiren, despite being an ordinary person, wanted to liberate the people by spreading the teachings of “Nam Myo Renge Kyo”. It was then that he began writing Gohonzon for his followers.
Taking Residence at Mount Manabu
In 1274, Nichiren was exonerated and returned to Kamakura, Japan’s political center. He opposed the wrong teachings and talked to government officials about this. Nichiren’s disciples propagated his teachings and people followed him. In 1279, in the village of Astuhar, 20 converts were arrested for trump upcharge. They were tortured and forced to renounce the faith. In the end, three people were also killed.
Not long after, Nichiren died of natural causes on October 13, 1282, at the age of 61, he relieved the suffering of all people through the establishment of the teaching of “Nam Mayo Renge Kyo”.
What is Lotus Sutra?
The Lotus Sutra is one of the most popular and influential Mahayana sutras, and it is on this basis that the schools of Buddhism, Tiantai, Tendai, Cheonte, and Nichiren, were established. According to Paul Williams, “For many East Asian Buddhists, the Buddha’s final teachings in the Lotus Sutra in early times are sufficient for salvation. In Sanskrit, this is the “Siddharmapundarika Sutra”.
Nichiren Buddhism is now practiced in many countries outside of Japan. In the United States, Prebisch coined the typology of “two Buddhists” to illustrate the divide between forms of Buddhism that appealed to either predominantly Asian expatriates or Euro-American converts.
Napier, on the other hand, refers to a three-way typology –
1. “Import” or “aristocratic” Buddhism refers to a class of people who have the time and means to seek some Buddhist techniques appropriate to bring Buddhist teachers into focus.
2. “Export or Scripture” Buddhism refers to groups that actively prosecute new members in their local organizations.
3. “Saman” or “ethnic” Buddhism refers to Buddhists, usually a single ethnic group, who have promoted more for social and economic advancement.
Another taxonomy has divided Western Buddhist groups into three distinct categories: Scripture, churchlike and meditation.
Nichiren Buddhism in Culture and Literature
Nichiren Buddhism has had a major impact on Japan’s literary and cultural life. Japanese litterateur Takyama Chोगgyo and children’s author Kenji Miyazawa have praised Nichiren’s teachings. A leading researcher Masaharu Anisaki was encouraged to study the Nichiren, which led to the Nichiren: Buddhist prophet introducing Nichiren to the West.
Non-Buddhist Japanese individuals such as Uchimura Kanzo listed Nichiren as one of the five historical figures who best represented Japan, while Tadao Yanihara described Nichiren as one of four historical figures He has praised the most.
All Nichiren movements focus on the Lotus Sutra. The most prominent symbol is the Demoku or Great Title of the Lotus Sutra. Nichiren has distinguished himself by carving threads on wood with Demoku. The title of the Lotus Sutra with the name of Nichiren is located at the center, surrounded by the names of Buddhists and other deities.
About 80% of today’s 120 million Japanese are Buddhists by birth or by choice, and 39% belong to denominations, including large-scale organizations or new religions such as Soka Gakkai and Risso Gosi Kai. So Nichiren has about 37 million followers in Japan.