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Nichiren (日蓮)
Nichiren statue Japan.jpg
A bronze garden statue of Nichiren Daishonin in the Honnoji Temple of Nichiren Shu in Kyoto, Japan
Religion Buddhism
Denomination Nichiren Buddhism
School Mahayana
Lineage Gautama Buddha
Tiantai (Zhiyi)
Education Kiyozumi-dera Temple (Seichō-ji), Enryaku-ji Temple on Mount Hiei
Other names

• Dai-Nichiren (大日蓮)
Great Nichiren)[2][3]

• Nichiren Daishōnin (日蓮大聖人)
Great Sage Nichiren)[4][5]

• Nichiren Shōnin (日蓮聖人)
The Sage Nichiren)[6]

• Nichiren Dai-Bosatsu (日蓮大菩薩)
Nichiren Great Bodhisattva
Dharma names Rencho (1234)
Nichiren (1253)
Nationality Japanese[7]
Born (1222-02-16)16 February 1222
Chiba Prefecture, Japan
Died 13 October 1282(1282-10-13) (aged 60)
Ota Ikegami Daibo Hongyoji
Religious career
Teacher Dōzenbo of Seichō-ji Temple[8]:442

Nichiren (日蓮; born as Zennichimaro (善日麿), Dharma name: Rencho - 16 February 1222[9][10] – 13 October 1282) was a Japanese Buddhist priest who lived during the Kamakura period (1185–1333) and developed the teachings that are now considered Nichiren Buddhism.[11][12][13]

Nichiren was highly controversial in his day [14]:77[15]:1 and was known for preaching that the Lotus Sutra alone contains the highest truth of Buddhist teachings and represents the effective teaching for the Third Age of Buddhism. He declared that social and political peace are dependent on the quality of the belief system that is upheld in a nation. He advocated the repeated recitation of the Sutra's title, Nam(u)-myoho-renge-kyo. In addition, he held that the historical Shakyamuni Buddha was the manifestation of a Buddha-nature that is equally accessible to all. He insisted that those who claim to be believers of the Sutra must propagate it even in the face of persecution.[16][17][18][19][20][21][22]

Nichiren was a prolific writer and his biography, temperament, and the evolution of his thinking has been primarily gleaned from his own writings.[23]:99[8]:442 He launched his teachings in 1253, advocating an exclusive return to the Lotus Sutra as based on its original Tendai interpretations. His 1260 treatise Risshō Ankoku Ron (立正安国論) (On Establishing the Correct Teaching for the Peace of the Land) argued that a nation that embraces the Lotus Sutra will experience peace and prosperity whereas rulers who support inferior religious teachings invite disorder and disaster into their realms.[14]:88[24] In a 1264 essay he stated that the title of the Lotus Sutra, "Nam(u)-myoho-renge-kyo," encompasses all Buddhist teachings and its recitation leads to enlightenment.[16]:328 As a result of his adamant stance he experienced severe persecution imposed by the Kamakura Shogunate and consequently began to see himself as "bodily reading the Lotus Sutra (Jpn. Hokke shikidoku)."[8]:252[25]:128–130 In some of his writings during a second exile (1271-1274) he began to identify himself with the key Lotus Sutra characters Sadāparibhūta and Visistacaritra[14]:99,100 and saw himself in the role of leading a vast outpouring of Bodhisattvas of the Earth.[26]

In 1274, after his two predictions of foreign invasion and political strife were seemingly actualized by the first attempted Mongol invasion of Japan along with an unsuccessful coup within the Hōjō clan, Nichiren was pardoned by the Shogunate authorities and his advice was sought but not heeded.[5]:9–10 The Risshō Ankoku Ron in which he first predicted foreign invasion and civil disorder is now considered by Japanese historians to be a literary classic illustrating the apprehensions of that period. In 1358 he was bestowed the title Nichiren Dai-Bosatsu (日蓮大菩薩) (Great Bodhisattva Nichiren) by Emperor Go-Kōgon[27] and in 1922 the title Risshō Daishi (立正大師) (Great Teacher of Rectification) was conferred posthumously by imperial edict.[28]

Nichiren remains a controversial figure among scholars who cast him as either a fervent nationalist or a social reformer with a transnational religious vision.[29] Critical scholars have used words such as intolerant, nationalistic, militaristic, and self-righteous to portray him.[30] On the other hand, Nichiren has been presented as a revolutionary,[31] a classic reformer,[32]:403 and as a prophet.[32][33]:3[34] Nichiren is often compared to other religious figures who shared similar rebellious and revolutionary drives to reform degeneration in their respective societies or schools.[35][36][37][38]


  1. Bloom, Alfred. "Understanding the Social and Religious Meaning of Nichiren". Shin DharmaNet. Retrieved September 11, 2018. 
  2. Tōkyō Kokuritsu Hakubutsukan (2003). "Dai Nichiren ten : rikkyō kaishū 750-nen kinen". WorldCat library. Sankei Shinbunsha. 
  3. "大日蓮出版". 日蓮正宗の専門書を扱う大日蓮出版. Dainichiren Publishing Co., Ltd. 2013. 
  4. "Daishonin". The Soka Gakkai Dictionary of Buddhism. Retrieved September 11, 2018. 
  5. 5.0 5.1 Nichiren (1990). Yampolsky, Philip B., ed. Selected writings of Nichiren. New York: Columbia University Press. p. 456. ISBN 0231072600. OCLC 21035153. 
  6. Petzold, Bruno, (1995). The classification of Buddhism = Bukkyō kyōhan : comprising the classification of Buddhist doctrines in India, China and Japan 1873-1949. Hanayama, Shinshō, 1898-1995., Ichimura, Shōhei, 1929-, 花山, 信勝(1898-1995). Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz. p. 610. ISBN 3447033738. OCLC 34220855. 
  7. Yamamine, Jun (1952). Nichiren Daishōnin to sono oshie: Nichiren and his doctrine. Kōfukan, University of Michigan. 
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 Stone, Jacqueline S. (1999). "REVIEW ARTICLE: Biographical Studies of Nichiren" (PDF). Japanese Journal of Religious Studies. 26/3–4. 
  9. "Otanjo-E: Celebrating Nichiren's Birthday". Otanjo-E ceremony. NICHIREN SHOSHU MYOSHINJI TEMPLE. 2016. 
  10. "Significant SGI Dates" (PDF). VeryPDF Software. VeryPDF Software. 
  11. Arai, Nissatsu (1893). Outlines of the Doctrine of the Nichiren Sect: With the Life of Nichiren, the Founder of the Nichiren Sect. Harvard University: Central Office of the Nichiren Sect. pp. iii. 
  12. Reeves, Gene (2008). The Lotus sutra : a contemporary translation of a Buddhist classic. Boston: Wisdom Publications. p. 8. ISBN 9780861719877. OCLC 645422021. 
  13. Petzold, Bruno, (1995). The classification of Buddhism = Bukkyō kyōhan : comprising the classification of Buddhist doctrines in India, China and Japan 1873-1949. Hanayama, Shinshō, 1898-1995., Ichimura, Shōhei, 1929-, 花山, 信勝(1898-1995). Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz. pp. 609–610. ISBN 3447033738. OCLC 34220855. 
  14. 14.0 14.1 14.2 Lopez, Donald S., Jr., (2016). The Lotus Sūtra : a biography. Princeton. ISBN 9781400883349. OCLC 959534116. Among all of the preachers of the dharma of the Lotus Sutra over the past two thousand years, there has been no one like Nichiren. In the long history of the sutra in Japan, he is the most famous--and the most infamous. 
  15. Rodd, Laurel Rasplica (1978). Nichiren: A Biography. Arizona State University. 
  16. 16.0 16.1 Rodd, Laurel Rasplica (1995). Ian Philip, McGreal, ed. Great thinkers of the Eastern world : the major thinkers and the philosophical and religious classics of China, India, Japan, Korea, and the world of Islam (1st ed.). New York: HarperCollins Publishers. p. 327. ISBN 0062700855. OCLC 30623569. 
  17. Jack Arden Christensen, Nichiren: Leader of Buddhist Reformation in Japan, Jain Pub, page 48, ISBN 0875730868
  18. Jacqueline Stone, "The Final Word: An Interview with Jacqueline Stone", Tricycle, Spring 2006
  19. Stone, Jaqueline (2003). Nichiren, in: Buswell, Robert E. (ed.), Encyclopedia of Buddhism vol. II, New York: Macmillan Reference Lib. ISBN 0028657187, p. 594
  20. Shuxian Liu,Robert Elliott Allinson, Harmony and Strife: Contemporary Perspectives, East & West, The Chinese University Press, ISBN 9622014127
  21. "Nichiren Buddhism". Retrieved 2012-09-21. 
  22. Habito, Ruben L.F. (2005). "Alturism in Japanese Religions: The Case of Nichiren Buddhism". In Neusner, Jacob; Chilton, Bruce. Altruism in World Religions. Georgetown University Press. pp. 141–143. ISBN 1589012356. 
  23. Iida, Shotara (1987). "Nichiren 700 years later". Modernity and religion. Nicholls, W. (editor). Waterloo, Ont: Published for the Canadian Corp. for Studies in Religion/Corporation canadienne des Sciences religeuses by Wilfrid Laurier University Press. ISBN 9780889201545. OCLC 244765387. 
  24. Fremerman, Sarah. "Letters of Nichiren". Tricycle: The Buddhist Review. Retrieved 2018-09-18. 
  25. Stone, Jacqueline I (2012). "The sin of slandering the true Dharma in Nichiren's thought" (PDF). Sins and sinners : perspectives from Asian religions. Granoff, P. E., Shinohara, Koichi. Leiden: Brill. ISBN 9789004232006. OCLC 809194690. 
  26. Olson, Carl (2005). The different paths of Buddhism : a narrative-historical introduction. New Brunswick, N.J.: Rutgers University Press. pp. 196–197. ISBN 0813537789. OCLC 62266054. 
  27. Matsunaga,, Daigan.; Matsunage, Alicia (1974). Foundation of Japanese Buddhism. Los Angeles: Buddhist Books International. p. 156. ISBN 0914910256. OCLC 1121328. 
  28. Eliot, Charles (1935). Japanese Buddhism 1862-1931. Parlett, Harold G. (Harold George), Sir, 1869-, Sansom, George Bailey, Sir, 1883-1965. Richmond, Surrey: Curzon Press. p. 421. ISBN 0700702636. OCLC 28567705. 
  29. Habito, Ruben L.F. (1999). "The Uses of Nichiren in Modern Japanese History". Japanese Journal of Religious History. 26:3-4: 438 – via Nanzan Institute. 
  30. See, Tony (2015). "Nichiren and War". Conflict and harmony in comparative philosophy : selected works from the 2013 Joint Meeting of the Society for Asian and Comparative Philosophy and the Australasian Society for Asian and Comparative Philosophy. Creller, Aaron B.,. Newcastle upon Tyne: Cambridge Scholars Publishing. p. 152. ISBN 1443881252. OCLC 922704088. 
  31. Editors (Winter 2008). "Faith in Revolution". Tricycle Magazine. 
  32. 32.0 32.1 King, Sallie B. (1996). "Conclusion: Buddhist Social Activism". Engaged Buddhism: Buddhist Liberation Movements in Asia. Queen, Christopher S and King, Sallie B. (eds.). Albany, NY: State University of New York Press. p. 430. ISBN 0791428443. Nichiren, of course, it is possibly the most outstanding exemplar of the prophetic voice in the entire Buddhist tradition. His fiery denunciations of both the religious and the political status quo of this time and his dogged insistence upon their total displacement earned him the hatred of the powerful and the love of the common people. 
  33. Anesaki, Masaharu (1916). Nichiren, the Buddhist Prophet. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. If Japan ever produced a prophet or a religious man of prophetic zeal, Nichiren was the man. He stands almost a unique figure in the history of Buddhism, not alone be cause of his persistence through hardship and persecution, but for his unshaken conviction that he himself was the messenger of Buddha, and his confidence in the future of his religion and country. Not only one of the most learned men of his time, but most earnest in his prophetic aspirations, he was a strong man, of combative temperament, an eloquent speaker, a powerful writer, and a man of tender heart. He was born in 1222, the son of a fisherman, and died in 1282, a saint and prophet. 
  34. Harvey, Peter (2013). An introduction to Buddhism : teachings, history and practices (Second ed.). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 9780521859424. OCLC 822518354. 
  35. "Nichiren Buddhism". BBC. 
  36. Howes, John (2005). Japan's modern prophet : Uchimura Kanzō, 1861-1930. Vancouver: UBC Press. p. 111. ISBN 0774811455. OCLC 60670210. Uchimura compares him to Luther on two counts. The first is his concern over the wrongs of the religious establishment, and the second is his adoption of a single book as the source of his faith. He depended on the Lotus Sutra, Uchimura begins, much as Luther relied on the Bible....In sum, Nichiren was 'a soul sincere to its very core, the honestest of men, the bravest of Japanese.' 
  37. Obuse, Kieko (2010). Doctrinal Accommodations in Buddhist-Musli Relations in Japan: With Special Reference to Contemporary Japan. Oxford: University of Oxford (dissertation). pp. 177–78, 225. 
  38. Satomi, Kishio (2007) [1924]. Discovery of Japanese Idealism. Oxon: Routledge. pp. 67–77. ISBN 0415245338. 

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