Politics and Doctrine of Nichiren Buddhism#006【ミステリーな日蓮 〈番外編〉「日蓮と政治」英訳版】

Politics and Doctrine of Nichiren Buddhism#006


Hiroto Ema



Chapter 2

Political nature of Nichiren’s doctrine


 1.Daimoku and Nenbutsu

In the previous chapter, we discussed the political position of Nichiren. Then we shall look at how those in power saw the doctrine which Nichiren advanced.


In the early days of the Kamakura era (1185-1333), the circles of Buddhism asserted that the Sensyū Nenbutsu(chanting of Namu Amida Butsu only) which denied other sects was evil creeds and requested directly to the shogunate that it should ban Nenbutsu thoroughly(45). But the popularization of Nenbutsu continued without losing its momentum and expanded in spite of the prohibition by the shogunate. In 1259, Nichiren wrote “About the exiling edict of Nenbutsu followers” and claimed in it that the past orders of the shogunate should be kept and Nenbutsu followers should be cleared away. What Nichiren confirmed then was the religious and political illegitimacy of Nenbutsu followers and his own legitimacy. But shortly after Nichiren submitted “On Establishing the Correct Teaching for the peace of the Land”, his stronghold house of Nagoe was attacked. Nichiren recognized that this sequence of events was due to the slander of Pure Land sect Nenbutsu monk Ryōchū (Nenna 1199-1287) to monk Ninshō of Gokuraku temple of Shingon-Ritsu esoteric sect. So it can be viewed as the continuation of rivalry in Awa and Shimousa country(46).


Simply put, the attraction of the faith in Nenbutsu was its simplicity. As Nichiren pointed out in “On Establishing the Correct Teaching for the peace of the Land”, the society was devastated by a series of abnormal climate, plagues, famine, and war, so the arrival of the era called “the Latter Day of the Law” could be realized keenly. In spite of this, the existent circles of Buddhism then, whose purpose was the protection of the nation, couldn’t respond to the requests of those who wished the salvation by Buddha and only the faith in Nenbutsu could satisfy them. For in those days one need huge wealth to obtain sutras and even the vassals of the shogunate didn’t have enough ability to read and write classical Chinese. Only aristocrats could read the sutras of Buddhism. As such, Nenbutsu had religious nature which was open to everyone, in contrast to the Lotus Sutra, which only aristocrats and samurais with enough wealth and ability could read and write.


On the other hand, the belief in Lotus Sutra, which had been deeply accepted in the early days of the Kamakura era(47), declined rapidly as Nenbutsu got to be popularized along with the rise of samurais who were religiously ignorant. It is not just an accident that Nichiren adopted Chanting Daimoku of Nam Myoho Renge Kyo when he tried to restore the faith in the Lotus Sutra. 80 years after Hōnen had popularized Nenbutsu, Nichiren aimed to restore the faith in the Lotus Sutra with an easy training of chanting Nam Myoho Renge Kyo, the title of the Lotus Sutra, against that of chanting Namu Amida Butsu.


Nenbutsu was a training which some had already practiced before the days of Hōnen, and Nichiren theorized about Chanting Daimoku of Nam Myoho Renge Kyo, which some had already practiced in the Heian era(1052-1184), as an easy training of it. Based on “Profound Meaning the Lotus Sutra” of Chigi(the Great Teacher Tendai 538-597), which claimed that the whole of the Lotus Sutra was integrated in the five characters Myoho Renge Kyo(妙法蓮華経) of its formal title, Nichiren asserted that the acceptance of Daimoku (the title) was equal to that of the whole of the Lotus Sutra.


The two characters of Nam(南無), a phonetic transformation of Namu, represent the dedication to God and Buddha and the belief in them, so adding the two characters to the name of one’s religious object is common. In this regard, there is no difference between the faith in the Amida Buddha and that in the Lotus Sutra. Instead of Namu “Amida Butsu”, in which the object of dedication is Amida Butsu(Buddha), Nichiren regarded the Lotus Sutra as the object of dedication and chanted Nam “Myoho Renge Kyo”, the title (Daimoku) of the Lotus Sutra(48). Advocacy of Chanting Daimoku itself was directly refuting of Nenbutsu, and the belief in the Lotus Sutra got to have religious nature open to everyone. Nichiren welcomed such a change of faith as a kind of wisdom by which the doctrine of Buddhism would be more popularized responding to the desire of people, saying “If the title of the provisional sutras(Nenbutsu) is spread abroad, then the title of the Lotus Sutra(Daimoku) will also surely be spread abroad”(49).



(45) Masayuki Taira points out that the aim of Sensyū Nenbutsu by Hōnen, who didn’t approve the idea of Syogyō Oujyō (the idea that any good deed not limited Nenbutsu can lead to a peaceful death), was the release of people from a spell of the Kenmitsu temples (older sects such as Ritsu, Tendai, and Shingon, all of which had existed before the Kamakura era), which preached the fear of going to hell, and service to them. Thus Taira argues that it was the difference between the Pure Land sect at Heian era and Hounen, between Chinzei faction, which preached Syogyō Oujyō, and him, and between the authentic and the heresy in medieval Japan (“Jyōdo kyō kenkyū no kadai.” Nihon chūsei no syakai to bukkyō, Hanawa Syobō, 1992, pp. 51-55). So he concludes that because this idea might have shaken the essence of a domination system based on manors, it was inevitable that the medieval state had to oppress Sensyuu Nenbutsu so harshly(“Sensyuu Nenbutsu no rekishiteki igi.” ibid., pp. 251).

(46) Kawazoe. Shien 66,op. cit.; Nakao. Nichirensyū no seiritsu to tenkai, op. cit., pp. 50.

(47) Hiroki Kikuchi points out the acceptance of the Lotus Sutra by the vassals which originated from the belief in it by Minamoto no Yoritomo (Kikuchi. Chūsei Bukkyō no genkei to tenkai, Yoshikawa Kōbun Kan, 2007, pp. 161-166).

(48) Saburō Ienaga. “Nichiren no syūkyō no seiritsu ni kansuru sisōsiteki kōsatsu.” Ienaga Saburō zensyū vol.2 Bukkyō shisōshi ron, 1947, pp. 250-254). As Norimichi Itoh points out, Jyōkei(1155-1213), who had started the rituals of prayer of Shakya Nenbutsu, in which “Nam Shakyamunibutsu” was chanted, was the draftsperson of “Kōfukuji Sōjyō” which asked the Imperial Court to halt Nenbutsu. So the chanting Shakya Nenbutsu is thought to be a countermeasure against Sensyū Nenbutsu. On the other hand, Jyōkei criticized the Pure Land sect in his “Tōsyōdaiji Shakya nenbutsu Ganmon” that it had discarded Shakyamuni Buddha, which was the master of this world, and desired the faraway pure land of Amida Buddha (“Kamakura jidai ni okoreru kakusyu nenbutsugi.” Bukkyō Daigaku Kiyō, ed. Bukkyō University gakkai, vol. 38, Nov. 1960). This logic is also seen in Nichiren’s criticism against the Pure Land sect, and it would be just to argue that Chanting Daimoku by him was influenced by the preceding Shakya Nenbutsu of Jyōkei. And in the Shakya nenbutsu Kanjin of Tōsyōdaiji on April 1258, there is a mention that Nichiren had participated it in the past (“Syaka Nenbutsu Kechien Kōmyō” Kamakura Ibun 8224).

(49) “Senji shō: The Selection of the Time.” ed. Rissyō University, op. cit., pp. 1048.


September 1st 2020


Please let us know your feedback via e-mail.

( Next section will be released on October 1st )

Back Number→The Nichiren Buddhism



ミステリーな日蓮 〈番外編〉「日蓮と政治」#006




第2章 日蓮仏法の政治性






 鎌倉時代初頭、仏教界は他宗を否定する専修念仏を邪教であると断じ、さらに幕府に念仏禁制を徹底するよう直訴していた(45)。しかし念仏の流布は衰えず、幕府の禁制を凌駕して広まっていく。1259年(正元1)、日蓮は「念仏者追放宣状事」を著し、過去からの幕府の通達を守り、念仏者を追放するよう主張している。この時点で日蓮が確認しているのは、念仏者の宗教的、政治的不法性と日蓮の正当性である。ところが「立正安国論」の提出後まもなく、日蓮の名越の草庵が襲撃される。この経緯について日蓮は、浄土宗の良忠(然阿 1199-1287)が真言律宗極楽寺の忍性に讒言したことによると認識している。安房、下総での対立の延長といえよう(46)。






 念仏は法然以前から行われていた修行だが、日蓮もこれに対し、すでに平安時代に一部で行われていた南無妙法蓮華経の唱題を、法華経修行の易行として理論化する。妙法蓮華経の題目5文字に法華経のすべてが集約されていると論考した智顗(天台大師 538-597) の「法華玄義」を根拠に、題目の信受は法華経全体の信受と等価であると主張した。







(48)家永三郎「日蓮の宗教の成立に関する思想史的考察」(『家永三郎集第2巻 仏教思想史論』、1947年、250-54頁)。石井教道氏が指摘されたように、「南無釈迦牟尼仏」と口唱する釈迦念仏大会を始めた貞慶(1155-1213)は、念仏停止を朝廷に求めた「興福寺奏状」の起草者であり、釈迦念仏は専修念仏に対抗して唱導されたものと考えられる。また貞慶の「唐招提寺釈迦念仏願文」には、娑婆世界の本師たる釈尊を捨てて、なぜ遠き阿弥陀仏の浄土を求めるか、との浄土宗批判がある(「鎌倉時代に興れる各種念仏義」『仏教大学研究紀要』仏教大学学会編、通号38号1960年11月)。この論理は後の日蓮の浄土宗批判にも見られ、日蓮による唱題には、先行する貞慶の釈迦念仏の影響も考慮されていい。1258年(正嘉2)4月の唐招提寺の釈迦念仏勧進でも過去に日蓮が参加していることが記されている(「釈迦念仏結縁交名」鎌倉遺文8224)






江間浩人 編著『鉛筆でなぞる『法華経』—-「方便品」と「如来寿量品」

本体価格:1500円+税 新書判・コデックス装 344頁













はじめに  ‥‥‥‥‥‥ 今、なぜ『法華経』か
第一部      ‥‥‥‥‥‥ 「方便品」   原典・訓読・現代語訳/万人の成仏を説いた「方便品」 
第二部   ‥‥‥‥‥‥ 「如来寿量品」 原典・訓読・現代語訳/永遠の仏を説いた「如来寿量品」
実践編(5回分)‥‥‥ 「方便品」「如来寿量品」



澤宮 優




白鳥由栄の生涯 斎藤充功著