Nissen Shonin, The Great Bodhisattva

  Nissen Shonin (Seifu Nagamatsu 1817-1890) was born in the Oji family of merchants, lived in Muromachi, Takoyakushi Street, Kyoto. Nissen Shonin was greatly talented in literature to an extent that his name was recorded in the art section of “Heian Almanac (People of the Year) List” when he was merely at the age of 14. In his youth, he went to study in Edo (Tokyo) and became a disciple of Kodo Matsuzaki. Amazingly, he was already well known as a successful scholar at the age of 26 and he won fame as a great poet and a calligrapher. Although he had a promising future, his mother passed away and he suffered from a serious illness so that he started to study each school of Buddhism looking for a relief. And he encountered the faith of the Odaimoku which was revelaed in the primordial eight chapters of Lotus Sutra and entrusted to Bodhisattva Jogyo at an event of writers and artisits held at the famous Honnoji Temple in Kyoto. 

   The Buddhist society at that time has well sustained for a long period of time under the support of "Danka" system introduced by Tokugawa Shogunate, so that the priests were well-off wih luxuries and forgot their major mission, falling into a state of corruption with conducting only the memorial services for the dead, nothing for the living. Intending to bring back the original Buddhism of “the faith for living people” onto the right track, Nissen Shonin entered the Buddhist priesthood in Ryusenji Temple of Hokke Shu sect in Awaji at the age of 32. But the Buddhist society including Hokke Shu were not happy about Nissen Shonin since he was already well known as a person of culture and aspired for dedicating to relieve suffering people. Therefore, they tend to ill-treat him. Even in that strong against wind, Nissen Shonin founded a sect called Honmon Butsuryu Ko (which later beccame Honmon Bustruryu Shu) with his great ambition as an emissary of Primordial Buddha from Remotest Past and a successor in the linage of Nichiren Shonin and Nichiryu Shonin’s tradition. Following Nichiren Shonin’s statement that he is neither a founder nor an originator of any sect, on January 12, 1857, Nissen Shonin founded Honmon Butsuryu Ko, as its name implies to be the sect that Buddha himself founded, thus not someone else.

    Since then, Nissen Shonin wrote more than three thousand Gokyoka, instructive poems, in plain language yet enriched in artistic sense in order to Instruct followers in their faith & practice. He continued to propagate the Teachings of Nichiren Shonin to people in a familiar way. HBS propagated widely through Kyoto-Osaka-Kobe areas with the manifestation of evident benefits f Odaimoku chantings. He passed away on July 17, 1890 upon living a . His Gokyoka - instructive poems are used to this day, daily at every HBS temple in the world in order to comprehend HBS doctrines & practices better.  

   Passing 430 years after Great Bodhisattva Nichiryu’s time, the Teachings of the Lotus Sutra was at the brink of extinction due to corruption. Nissen Shonin founded the Honmon Butsuryu Kou to set it back in the right track. The various relics from the life of Nissen Shonin associate with his great achievements, immense services are currently on exhibition at the Butsuryu Museum (Museum of Buddhism) in Kyoto.                                                                    
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