Nichiren Shonin
Gohonzon Shu

O'Mandalas by St. Nichiren
[1222-1282]




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Hail to the Fine Dharma of the Lotus Sutra!
Early Gohonzon inscribed by Nichiren Shonin.
Abbreviated style, lacks the Four Bodhisattvas of the Earth and the
Four Heavenly Kings. Known as the "Ichinen Sanzen Gohonzon,"
because it bears a passage from Miao-lo about Ichinen Sanzen.
It is small (39.7 x 30.3 cm). Not dated, attributed to Bun'ei 9 (1272).
Kept at Hiraga Hondo-ji in Matsudo.

This "Ichinen Sanzen Gohonzon" bears a passage from the fifth volume of Miao-lo (Chin. Zhanlan or Chan-Jan, Jap. Myoraku 711~782) Annotation on the Maka Shikan (Chih-i's Great Concentration and Insight; Jap. Shikan-bugyo-den-guketsu).

The passage is translated into English as, "you should understand that one's life and its enviromment are the entity of ichinen sanzen (or: at a single moment encompass the 3000 realms). When one attains the Buddha way, one's body and mind at a single moment pervades entire realm of phenomena." This passage is also quoted by Nichiren in his treaty (abbreviated title) "The object of devotion for observing the mind" (Jap. Kanjin Honzon sho).
--by Luigi Fini, author of an upcoming book about this GohonzonShu

This Gohonzon is also discussed in jap. at Saikakudoppo's blog.

Mahavairocana in Nichiren's Honzon
by Lucia Dolce in the JJRS 1999 Special Issue on Nichiren

The most striking example of a figure external to the narrative of the Lotus scripture whom Nichiren places in his honzon is Mahavairocana.... The above mandala contains contains two other siddham apart from those Arcala (Fudo) and Ragaraja (Aizen) drawn in the upper part of the icon, at the sides of the title of the Lotus Sutra. To identify these two graphemes is quite difficult, for they are not drawn in a standard form. I think that the siddham on the left side of the mandala is the seed-letter (shuji) used to represent Mahavairocana of the kongokai (amh), while the siddh am inscribed on the right side may be one of the seed-letters of Mahavairocana of the taizokai, written incorrectly.

Ichinen Sanzen Gohonzon At first it may appear curious that, in spite of his harsh condemnation of esoteric Buddhism, Nichiren could include Mahavairocana among the deities to venerate in a mandala representing the world of the Lotus Sutra. In the traditional exegesis of Nichiren scholarship the two Mahavairocana are classified in the category of transformation bodies (funjin, the emanations of Shakyamuni) and their inscription in the honzon is thought to be motivated by Nichiren's wish to prove that Mahavairocana is inferior to Sakyamuni. According to Nichiren, however, not only the two forms of Mahavairocana but all Buddhas of the universe are emanations of Sakyamuni (Kaimokusho STN 1: 576). Why is it, then, that Mahavairocana alone, among the buddhas of systems alien to the Lotus Sutra, is inscribed in his mandalas, and Amida, for instance, whom Nichiren also holds to be a funjin of Sakyamuni, is never included? Again, the correspondence that the esoteric tradition had posited between Mahavairocana and the Lotus Sutra in the context of the hokkeho appears to be a key to Nichiren's iconography.

Above we have seen one example of the section of the liturgy that describe the deities to venerate, in which the invocations to Mahavairocana of the kongokai and Mahavairocana of the taizokai are listed together with invocations to figures from the Lotus Sutra. [Follow link below for full essay.] It is of even greater relevance that the identity of Sakyamuni with Mahavairocana of the taizokai and of Prabutaratna with Mahavairocana of the kongokai is extensively discussed in the texts of the hokkeho, though at times the identifications are reversed (kakuzensho, DNBZ 54: 624-5). This seems to be reflected in Nichiren's allocation of the logographs of the Mahavairocana next to the two Buddhas of the Lotus. [Click here to view the mandala being referenced.] Furthermore, the symbolic inscription of Mahavairocana by using two siddham placed above the two Buddhas of the Lotus Sutra [above] is reminiscent of practices of visualization related to the hokkeho, in which the two Mahavairocana emerge from a sequence of transformations of Sakyamuni and Prabhutaratna.

It is in this esoteric perspective that the two Mahavairocanas can take a 'legitimate' place in Nichiren's mandala and become elements of the Lotus world that the mandala represents. Taimitsu conceptions of the identity of Mahavairocana and Sakyamuni certainly contributed to Nichiren's idea of a Sakyamuni as the Buddha who emcompasses all other Buddhas as his manifestations, including Mahavairocana himself. The ritual context of the hokkeho, however, appears to have been the direct model for the specific cases in which Mahavairocana was included in Nichiren's honzon.

Criticism and Appropriation: Nichiren's Attitude toward Esoteric Buddhism by Lucia Dolce. Japanese Journal of Religious Studies: Revisiting Nichiren. Volume 26: 364-66, 373-74. Fall 1999.

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Explanation below refers to halograph #18.

explanatory text

Gohonzonsh»u (129 halographs)
Published by Rissho Ankokukai. 1947, 1999.
1 | 2 | 3A | 3B | 3C | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 | 13 | 14 | 15 | 16 | 17 | 18 | 19 | 20 | 21 | 22 | 23 | 24 | 25 | 26 | 27 | 28 | 29 | 30 | 31 | 32A | 32B | 33 | 34 | 35 | 36 | 37 | 38 | 39 | 40 | 41 | 42 | 43 | 44 | 45 | 46 | 47 | 48 | 49 | 50 | 51 | 52 | 53 | 54 | 55 | 56 | 57 | 58 | 59 | 60 | 61 | 62 | 63 | 64 | 65 | 66 | 67 | 68A | 68B | 69 | 70 | 71 | 72 | 73 | 74 | 75 | 76 | 77 | 78 | 79 | 80 | 81 | 82 | 83 | 84 | 85 | 86 | 87 | 88 | 89 | 90 | 91 | 92 | 93 | 94 | 95 | 96 | 97 | 98 | 99 | 100 | 101 | 102 | 103 | 104 | 105 | 106 | 107 | 108 | 109 | 110 | 111 | 112 | 113 | 114 | 115 | 116 | 117 | 118 | 119 | 120 | 121 | 122 | 123 | 124 | 125

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