Nichiren Shonin
Gohonzon Shu

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




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This Nichiren Gohonzon is discussed at Naohito's blog.


Dr. Jacquie Stone on the Object of Worship, cont.

[Previous text]

The most obvious difference between Nichiren's mandala and these Tendai iconographic groupings is that the former contains no pictures but is written entirely in characters. Each figure is indicated by the Chinese character for its name, except for Fudo and Aizen, who are represented by their "seed characters" in Siddham, the Japanese Sanskrit orthography. Nichiren does not say why he decided on a calligraphic mandala, though it is probably related to the tradition of esoteric mandalas drawn consisting partly or entirely in Siddham characters, as well as his personal reverence for the characters of the Lotus Sutra, which he regarded as not mere written words but the Buddha's mind. However, as other scholars have pointed out, this mandala links Nichiren to other near-contemporaneous instances of the use of calligraphic honzon in both "old" and "new" Buddhist traditions. In his Sanji raishaku (Thrice-daily worship), written in 1215, Myoe (1173-1232) of the Kegon school described a calligraphic mandala he devised consisting of a central vertical inscription of a phrase expressing devotion to the three treasures, flanked by four expressions for the bodhicitta or mind aspiring to enlightenment taken from the Hua-yen ching. Across the top, the three treasures were written horizontally in Siddham. This mandala formed the focus of a simplified practice consisting in three times reciting the phrases inscribed upon it and performing three prostrations, three times each day. Shinran also made use of calligraphic scrolls with either the nenbutsu or a variant expression of devotion to Amida inscribed in the center. It is not known whether or not Nichiren had knowledge of the earlier precedents, but clearly his mandala was one instance of a new form of honzon emerging in the Kamakura period. As Takagi Yutaka points out, these calligraphic objects of worship were not tied to the aesthetic concerns commonly associated with the production of Buddhist statues or paintings. Requiring for their production only paper, a brush, and ink, they could also be made available to persons lacking the means to commission a painter or sculptor or pay for expensive materials and thus represent a populariztion of mandalas and Buddhist imagery previously available only to a few.

[Click here to learn more from Dr. Stone]

Source: Original Enlightenment and the Transformation of Medieval Japanese Buddhism. A Kuroda Institute Book by Jacqueline Ilyse Stone. University of Hawai'i Press: Honolulu. 1999. pp. 279-280.

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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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