The Nichiren Buddhism【ミステリーな日蓮 英訳版】15.Never give the prayer of Esoteric Buddhism

15.Never give the prayer of Esoteric Buddhism


Hiroto Ema


The restoration of the belief in the Lotus Sutra which Nichiren aimed at required, first of all, the faith in it by the rulers. In order to achieve this, he organized the Chanting Daimoku (Nam Myoho Renge Kyo) as a form of belief in the Lotus Sutra, and wrote “On Establishing the Correct Teaching for the peace of the Land” to urge them the conversion. However, the shogunate ignored his demand completely.


Then, as Nichiren had foretold, the letter from Mongolia arrived and the invasion by another country was impending. To deal with this unprecedented menace, the shogunate ordered every temple to give the prayer to repulse Mongolia. Especially, it attached much importance to the prayer of Esoteric Buddhism.


On March 1274, Nichiren was pardoned by the shogunate and got back to Kamakura after the transportation of two and half years. There he met Yoritsuna Taira, who was at the center of politics as the chief chamberlain to the Hojyo clan. Yoritsuna received Nichiren politely and asked him when Mongolia would invade. Nichiren answered that it would be before the new year began, and urged him never to give the prayer of Esoteric Buddhism.Moreover, he asserted that if they gave the prayer of Esoteric Buddhism, Japan was bound to lose the battle, and cited the rebellion of Jyokyu, which had occured in 1221.


The rebellion of Jyokyu is the only battle in which the samurais transported members of the Imperial House. The Imperial Court lost to the army of the shogunate and ex-Emperor Gotoba and Jyuntoku were transported to Oki Island and Sado Island respectively. Nichiren criticized that Yoshitoki Hojyo, a commoner, attacked ex-Emperor Gotoba as a son assaulted his parent and a vassal rebelled against his master, so neither Amaterasu Ohmikami (the great God) nor Yahata no Kami (the God) would side with him. And he maintained that the samurais had defeated the aristocrats because the Imperial Court had believed in Esoteric Buddhism and given the prayer of it.


Why did Nichiren criticize Esoteric Buddhism? According to him, it is because Esoteric Buddhism claimed that the Mahavairochana Sutra was superior to the Lotus Sutra, and Buddha of Mahavairochana was more essential than Shakyamuni who had preached the Lotus Sutra. However, it was never easy for Nichiren to make an enemy of Esoteric Buddhism, and he needed very careful preparations. I would like to explain the reason of it in the next section and digress a bit here.


When Nichiren wrote the character of a country , he often used the character of common people within walls instead of , which means a king within walls. So some say that as early as the Kamakura Era Nichiren understood a country from the viewpoint of common people, not of a king or a ruler. Though this kind of interpretation seems modern and comfortable, I think it ignores the time background of a status society. In fact, when he used the character of common people within walls instead of a king, he might have meant the Hojyo clan, a house of samurais, by it. In other words, he used it as a contrast to “the Children of the Heaven”, which means the Emperors. Also, he contrasted samurais with aristocrats. And Nichiren emphasized repeatedly that after the rebellion of Jyokyu the Hojyo clan governed Japan, which had once been governed by the Emperors. So, for him, the ruler of Japan was no longer the Imperial Court but the shogunate led by Hojyo clan. It is essential to understand such a thought of Nichiren.


September 1st 2019


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