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An inscription of Nam Myoho Renge Kyo by renowned Japanese artisan Hasegawa Tohaku. Toyama, Japan. Circa Momoyama period, 1568.

Namu Myōhō Renge Kyō (南無妙法蓮華經; sometimes truncated phonetically as Nam Myōhō Renge Kyō)[1] (English: Devotion to the Mystic Law of the Lotus Sutra or Glory to the Sutra of the Lotus of the Supreme Law)[2][3] is the central mantra chanted within all forms of Nichiren Buddhism.

The words Myōhō Renge Kyō refer to the Japanese title of the Lotus Sūtra. The mantra is referred to as Daimoku (題目)[4] or, in honorific form, O-daimoku (お題目) meaning title and was first publicly declared by the Japanese Buddhist priest Nichiren on 28 April 1253 atop of Mount Kiyosumi, now memorialized by Seichō-ji temple in Kamogawa, Chiba prefecture, Japan.[5][6]

The practice of prolonged chanting is referred to as Shōdai (唱題) while mainstream believers claim that the purpose of chanting is to reduce sufferings by eradicating negative karma along with reducing karmic punishments both from previous and present lifetimes,[7] with the goal to attain perfect and complete awakening.[8]

Contents

InterpretationsEdit

Early proponentsEdit

The Tendai monks Saicho and Genshin are said to have originated the Daimoku while the Buddhist priest Nichiren is known today as the greatest proponent. The mantra is an homage to the Lotus Sutra which is widely credited as the "king of scriptures" and "final word on Buddhism". According to American author Jacqueline Stone, the Tendai founder Saicho popularized the mantra "Namu Ichijo Myoho Renge Kyo" as a way to honor the Lotus Sutra as the One Vehicle teaching of the Buddha.[9]

Accordingly, the Tendai monk Genshin popularized the mantra "Namu Amida, Namu Kanzeon, Namu Myoho Renge Kyo" to honor the three jewels of Japanese Buddhism.[10] Nichiren, who himself was a Tendai monk, edited these chants down to "Namu Myoho Renge Kyo" and Nichiren Buddhists are responsible for its wide popularity and usage all over the world today.

Nichiren’s claimEdit

According to various claims, Nichiren reputedly explained[dubious ] the mantra in his Ongi Kuden,[11] a transcription of his lectures about the Lotus Sutra, Namu (南無) is a transliteration into Japanese of the Sanskrit "namas", and Myōhō Renge Kyō is the Sino-Japanese pronunciation of the Chinese title of the Lotus Sutra (hence, Daimoku, which is a Japanese word meaning 'title'), in the translation by Kumārajīva. Nichiren gives a detailed interpretation of each character (see Ongi kuden#Nam-myoho-renge-kyo) in this text.[12]

Namu is used in Buddhism as a prefix expressing taking refuge in a Buddha or similar object of veneration. In Namu Myōhō Renge Kyō, it represents devotion or conviction in the Mystic Law of Life (Saddharma) as expounded in the Lotus Sutra, not merely as one of many scriptures, but as the ultimate teaching of Buddhism, particularly with regard to Nichiren's interpretation.[citation needed]

Among varying Nichiren sects, the phonetic use of Nam versus Namu is a linguistic but not a dogmatic issue,[13] due to common contractions and u is devoiced in many varieties of Japanese words.[14]

By syllabary, Namu — Myōhō — Renge — Kyō consists of the following:

  • Namu 南無 "devoted to", a transliteration of Sanskrit namas
  • Myōhō 妙法 "exquisite law"[15]
    • Myō , from Middle Chinese mièw, "strange, mystery, miracle, cleverness"
    • , from Middle Chinese pjap, "law, principle, doctrine"
  • Renge-kyō 蓮華經 "Lotus Sutra"

The Lotus Sutra is held by Nichiren Buddhists, as well as practitioners of the Tiantai and corresponding Japanese Tendai schools to be the culmination of Shakyamuni Buddha's fifty years of teaching.

However, followers of Nichiren Buddhism consider Myōhō Renge Kyō to be the name of the ultimate law permeating the universe, in unison with human life which can manifest realization, sometimes termed as “Buddha Wisdom” or “attaining Buddhahood”, through select Buddhist practices.

Associations to popular cultureEdit

  • American born artist Tina Turner through her autobiographical film What's Love Got To Do With It (1993), featured her conversion to Nichiren Buddhism in 1974. In a film scene after an attempted suicide,[16] Turner begins to chant this mantra and turns her life around. Turner continues to chant this mantra in public venues and numerous publications.[17]
    • On 21 February 1997, through a televised interview with Larry King, Turner credits her continuing practice to the Soka Gakkai International.
    • On 1 July 2018, Turner provided an experience about her practice in the Soka Gakkai International-USA organization’s periodical, The World Tribune. [18]
  • In the film Innerspace, Tuck Pendleton (played by Dennis Quaid) chants this mantra repeatedly as he encourages Jack Putter to break free from his captors and charge the door of the van he is being held in.
  • The Nichiren Buddhist order Nipponzan Myohoji peace walks uses the mantra whilst beating Japanese hand drums, a practice they call as gyakku-Shodai.

  • Some activist believers have associated this mantra with Mahatma Gandhi and Rosa Parks along with the “Peace Stupas” named in this honor built all over India.[22]

See alsoEdit

NotesEdit

  1. ^ Chinese Buddhist Encyclopedia - Five or seven characters
  2. ^ SGDB 2002, Lotus Sutra of the Wonderful Law
  3. ^ Kenkyusha 1991
  4. ^ Kenkyusha 1991
  5. ^ Anesaki 1916, p.34
  6. ^ SGDB 2002, Nichiren
  7. ^ http://myohoji.nst.org/NSTMyohoji.aspx?PI=BOP.5550
  8. ^ http://www.sgi.org/about-us/buddhism-in-daily-life/changing-poison-into-medicine.html
  9. ^ Original Enlightenment and the Transformation of Medieval Japanese Buddhism by Jacqueline Stone
  10. ^ Re-envisioning Kamakura Buddhism by Richard Payne
  11. ^ Watson 2005
  12. ^ Masatoshi, Ueki (2001). Gender equality in Buddhism. Peter Lang. pp. 136, 159–161. ISBN 0820451339.
  13. ^ Ryuei 1999, Nam or Namu? Does it really matter?
  14. ^ P. M, Suzuki (2011). The Phonetics of Japanese Language: With Reference to Japanese Script. Routledge. p. 49. ISBN 0415594138.
  15. ^ Kenkyusha 1991
  16. ^ "The Queen of Hope". Living Buddhism / World Tribune. Soka Gakkai International-USA. August 1, 2018. Retrieved January 11, 2019.
  17. ^ https://tinaturnerblog.com/tag/nam-myoho-renge-kyo/
  18. ^ https://www.worldtribune.org/2018/07/queen-hope-tina-turner/
  19. ^ "Let Go and Let God". Grace and Gratitude. YouTube. November 30, 2013. Retrieved July 16, 2019.
  20. ^ "NamMyohoRengeKyo". Ono. YouTube. May 24, 2010. Retrieved July 16, 2019.
  21. ^ "Pretenders - Boots Of Chinese Plastic Lyrics". Metrolyrics.com. Retrieved 2009-11-01.
  22. ^ http://www.livemint.com/Consumer/BZ7pk5BYrdnijntpLDgdbN/Exhibition-of-8216Lotus-Sutra8217-in-the-capital.html
  23. ^ "Orlando Bloom on Buddhism, Nam Myoho Renge Kyo and Daisaku Ikeda". SGI-USA Media. Soka Gakkai International-USA. January 31, 2019. Retrieved July 16, 2019.

ReferencesEdit

  • Anesaki, Masaharu (1916). Nichiren, the Buddhist prophet. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.
  • Kenkyusha (1991). Kenkyusha's New Japanese-English Dictionary. Tokyo: Kenkyusha Limited. ISBN 4-7674-2015-6.
  • Ryuei, Rev. (1999). "Lotus Sutra Commentaries". Nichiren's Coffeehouse. Archived from the original on October 31, 2013. Retrieved 2013-10-30.
  • SGDB (2002). "The Soka Gakkai Dictionary of Buddhism". Soka Gakkai International. Retrieved 2013-10-30.
  • Watson, Burton (2005). The Record of the Orally Transmitted Teachings (trans.). Soka Gakkai. ISBN 4-412-01286-7.

Further readingEdit