The Nichiren Buddhism【ミステリーな日蓮 英訳版】13.After Nenbutsu, Esoteric Buddhism must be denied!

13. After Nenbutsu, Esoteric Buddhism must be denied!


Hiroto Ema


For what purpose did Nichiren begin to draw Mandaras (Gohonzon) which had the executor of the Lotus Sutra as the object of devotion? As well as the expression of Mandaras, the noticeable change of Nichiren after the transportation to Sado was the attack against Esoteric Buddhism such as Singon Syu (True Word school) and Tendai Syu (Tendai school). It is not that he hadn’t attacked Esoteric Buddhism before, but after the transportation to Sado he started to prepare in real earnest and fired the opening shot.


In the first place, Mandara was a representation of view of the world which had Mahavairocanaa Buddha worshiped in Esoteric Buddhism as its idol, and essential to prayer and training. So the Mandaras by Nichiren, in which Mahavairocana was replaced by the executor of the Lotus Sutra as the object of devotion, were in themselves the denial of Esoteric Buddhism and the attack against it. Nichiren, who, in a competition against Nembutsu, before had aimed at the restoration of the belief in the Lotus Sutra by changing the object of dedication from Amida Buddha to the Lotus Sutra, then tried to compete with Esoteric Buddhism by showing the Mandaras in which Mahavairocana was replaced by Nichiren, the executor of the Lotus Sutra, and establish the new belief in it in an era of misery.


Nichiren also said that the new belief in Lotus Sutra which had him as the object of devotion would spread even abroad as the true and only doctrine of Buddhism in an era after Shakyamuni had passed away. In “Representative Men of Japan”, Kanzo Uchimura wrote;


“His ambition, too, embraced the whole world of his time. He speaks of the eastward march of Buddhism from India to Japan till his time, and of the westward march of its improved form from Japan to India from his time on. He was therefore an exception among passive receptive Japanese…”


Uchimura also claimed the creativity and independence of Nichiren had been shown in his great ambition embracing the whole world, and concluded as follows.


“Nichiren minus his combativity is our ideal religious man”


How do you think about the opinion of Uchimura? If deprived of combativeness, could Nichiren, who tried to restore the belief in Lotus Sutra through the attack against Nenbutsu and Esoteric Buddhism, still hold his originality? Very unlikely, for the combativeness was the source of creativity and independence of Nichiren. To confirm it, we will discuss afterwards the reason why Nichiren attacked Esoteric Buddhism.


July 1st 2019


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