The Nichiren Buddhism【ミステリーな日蓮 英訳版】12.The Mandara in which the object of devotion was Nichiren

12.The Mandara in which the object of devotion was Nichiren


Hiroto Ema

Nichiren urged his disciples to understand that the doctrine of him had changed after the transportation to Sado Island. So, how did the doctrine of Nichiren change? In this regard, a stress has been put on the change of the doctrine shown in the works by Nichiren, but the most important change is a fact that he began to draw Mandaras (Gohonzon).


The Mandaras by Nichiren are unique in that Nam Myoho Renge Kyo (南無妙法蓮華経) is written in big characters in the center, then Bodhisattvas and various Buddhas are drawn in both sides and four corners. Though each Mandara has its own style according to the size and the period when it was drawn, the position of Nam Myoho Renge Kyo is common, so it is clear that this is the object of devotion. So the question is, what is the difference between Nam Myoho Renge Kyo which is regarded as the object of devotion there and that which is chanted with mouth.


Through the two transportations to Itoh and Sado, Nichiren became conscious that he was “the true executor and votary of the Lotus Sutra” who had practiced it to the letter and a new Buddha in an era when the doctrine of Shakyamuni has been lost. It simply means the consciousness that he accorded with the Lotus Sutra, wed to Myoho Renge Kyo, and became the only person who could be called Nam Myoho Renge Kyo. Thus, the Mandara drawn by Nichiren regards “the true executor of the Lotus Sutra”, in other words, “Nam Myoho Renge Kyo” as the idol. And it simply referred to Nichiren himself.


When Nichren first drew Mandaras, he didn’t subscribe his name in the center, perhaps because he was seeking a suitable chance, but afterwards he began to write “Nichiren” right under Nam Myoho Renge Kyo to claim openly that he himself was Nam Myoho Renge Kyo. The seven characters of Nam Myoho Renge Kyo (南無妙法蓮華経) had been chanted as dedication to the Lotus Sutra before the transportation to Sado, but later, it got to mean the true executor of the Lotus Sutra practicing.


Masaharu Anesaki (1873-1949), the pioneer of the Japanese theology, said that if there is one word which represents the character and religion of Nichiren, it is “the executor of the Lotus Sutra”. I agree with this opinion. And the idol as object of devotion “Nam Myoho Renge Kyo” written in the center of the Mandaras by Nichiren is nothing less than the representation of the character and religion of Nichiren, the executor of the Lotus Sutra.

June 1st 2019


Please let us know your feedback via e-mail.

(Next section will be released on July 1st)

Back Number →The Nichiren Buddhism