Nichiren Shonin, The Great Bodhisattva (Forefather)

   Nichiren Shonin was born in a fishing village called Kominato of Chiba Prefecture in Japan on February 16, 1222. There is a legend that various good omens such as lotus flowers blooming on the sea, spring water coming out of the garden and many more happened on his birthday. 

At that time, Nembutsu Sect (The Pure Buddha sect)and other faiths spread in the public, but Nichiren Shonin had doubts about their ability to solve the contemporary crisis such as civil wars and the epidemic diseases. And he entered the Buddhist priesthood in Seichouji Temple near his birthplace. After he studied thoroughly in Kyoto and Nara for twenty years to find his answer to “What is the true Teachings of Buddha?” He finally reached a conviction that the Lotus Sutra is the best Teachings of all the sutras. Especially in it, the Teachings of the Eight Chapters in the Lotus Sutra showed us that the Odaimoku, "Namu Myoho Renge Kyo," is the key for us to live a happy life in the degenerate age (Mappo Era).  Recognizing it to be the true Teaching of Buddha, he decided to make a vow to propagate the Odaimoku in the world. On April 28, 1253, Nichiren Shonin recited the Odaimoku, Namu Myoho renge Kyo for the first time, when he was 32 years old.

   In Chapter 16, the Nyorai Juryohon (Ch. on the Life span of Thathagatha) of the Lotus SutraBuddha revealed that, “I am the Buddha with the Eternal Life in my Primordial form, known as Kuon Honbutsu (Primordial Buddha).” Then he preached the doctrine in such noble primordial form. In Chapter 21,  Nyorai Jinrikihon (Ch. on the Supernatural Powers of Buddha), he ordered his disciple, Bodhisattva Jogyo, “I will temporarily go away from this world so that you can spread the Teaching of the Lotus Sutra instead of me in the future.”

   Twenty years later, Nichiren Shonin, who made a vow to propagate the Odaimoku, reached the conviction to say, “I am the Buddha’s Emissary who appeared and encouraged people to believe in the Odaimoku which was entrusted to Bodhisattva Jogyo”. The Lotus Sutra states that someone propagating the Lotus Sutra on behalf of the Buddha would be exiled, victimized by sword, and persecuted in various ways in the degenerate age (Mappo Era). Further more, it states that the Buddha and the Guardian Kings of Heaven, protects the followers of the Sutra, to help him complete his mission. Nichiren Shonin, in the process of propagating the Odaimoku, realized that he is the Emissary of the Primordial Buddha and Bodhisattva Johgyo's reincarnation by comparing with parallels preached in the Lotus Sutra to events of his life such as the 
Tatsunokuchi persecution.

   Until 61 years of his age, Great Bodhisattva Nichiren perfected his missionary endeavor to propagate the Odaimoku of Bodhisattva Johgyo, as the entrustee of the Lotus Sutra himself. If he had not appeared in this world, we would not have encountered the great faith of the Odaimoku from the true Teachings of Lotus Sutra.

*Tatsunokuchi Persecution, the historical facts: Nichiren was reported to the Kamakura Shogunate as a rebel opposing their rule and subsequently sentenced to death on September 12, 1271. When the headsman threw the sword in the air, a ray of light from sky suddenly struck his sword which broke into pieces interrupting the beheading of Nichiren. He calmly sat down while chanting the Odaimoku all the while as it occured. UltimateIy Nichiren Shonin's life was saved as the rulers feared to take his life upon witnessing this miracle.