Politics and Doctrine of Nichiren Buddhism#010【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#010

Hiroto Ema


Chapter 2

Political nature of Nichiren’s doctrine


5.Atsuhara Oppression and the emphasis on “Nichiren’s disciples”

 In 1279, after Nichiren went into Mount Minobu, an oppression against the believers in the Lotus Sutra comprised of peasants occurred in Atsuhara area. Nichiren, fearful that his disciples would riot and invite an accident, directed a lawsuit for early settlement, and told his disciples to unite. It means the emphasis on “Nichiren’s disciples”.


Logically, the belief in the Lotus Sutra should be possible even on one’s own. During the years from 1271 to 1274, some parted from Nichiren and began to believe in the Lotus Sutra by themselves because of fierce oppressions. But he criticized them bitterly, saying “these perverse people must suffer in the most cruel hell even longer than the Nembutsu believers”. If the belief in the Lotus Sutra is the essential doctrine of Nichiren, there should be no reason for Nichiren to criticize those who parted from him and continued to believe in the Lotus Sutra. On the contrary, Nichiren asserted that only well-timed training meant the belief in the Lotus Sutra and presently Nichiren was the only executor of the Lotus Sutra. This means that Nichiren should be regarded as the essence, and without following him the belief in the Lotus Sutra in those days couldn’t be possible. The emphasis of “Nichiren’s disciples” by Nichiren was not just unity of his disciples, but a problem concerning the essence of faith. The Mandala Gohonzons of which Nichiren was placed in the center was nothing less than the “the banner of propagation of the Lotus Sutra”.


In the end, the peasant-followers of Atsuhara were beheaded, and then, Yoritsuna and others tried to force the followers of Nichiren to discard the belief in the Lotus Sutra and chant Nenbutsu(67). The aim of Yoritsuna was to separate them from Nichiren, not to convert them religiously. Even so, Yoritsuna tried to force them to convert from the Lotus Sutra to Nenbutsu because the possible training for peasants was only chanting Nenbutsu or Chanting Daimoku, and for poor peasants who got to know the belief in the Lotus Sutra through Chanting Daimoku, it was equal to the faith in Nichiren himself. So Yoritsuna confronted them with the choice between chanting Nenbutsu and Chanting Daimoku. It can be regarded as the proof that Chanting Daimoku was integrated into the belief in Nichiren and received by the lower classes.


Moreover, by presenting his Mandala Gohonzon, Nichiren liberated prayers from the hands of Esoteric Buddhism monks, and made them general practice. Yet, he left only a few opinions about prayers, and always emphasized the merit of trainings according to the Lotus Sutra and the prayer by “executor of the Lotus Sutra”(68). Nichiren preached on a training in which he himself was the essence and by expanding his sect expressed the vision of the Latter Day of the Law era. In it, there was no space where privileged prayers according to complex rituals could enter in, and Nichiren told his followers to pray according to “one in mind” with him only(69). In this regard, the fact that the peasants in Atsuhara chanted Daimoku until their death and endured the oppression as the followers of Nichiren showed that the belief in the Lotus Sutra at which Nichiren had aimed reached even poor peasants. And just with it, he declared that he had realized “the purpose of his advent”(70).



(67) “Ryūsen-ji mōshijō: The Ryūsen-ji Petition.” ed. Rissyo University, op. cit., pp. 1681.

(68) “Kitō shō: On Prayer.” ed. Rissyo University, op. cit., pp. 679.

(69) “Shijō Kingo dono gohenji: The Eight Winds.” ed. Rissyo University, op. cit., pp. 1303; “Shōji ichidaiji kechimyaku shō: The Heritage of the Ultimate Law of Life.” ibid., pp. 523.

(70)”Shōnin gonan ji: On Persecutions Befalling the Sage.” ed. Rissyo University, op. cit., pp. 1672.


January 1st 2021


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ミステリーな日蓮 〈番外編〉「日蓮と政治」#010


第2章 日蓮仏法の政治性



















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