Dragon Lady Shichimen of Kuonji by Donna

Legends of the Dragon Goddess

Lady Shichimen
of Kuonji

Dragon: skt. Naga; jap. Ryu; ch. Long

Dragons are associated with the element of water. In India especially, dragons were regarded as guardians of the treasures of the earth. Although they are minor dieties, they are powerful beings, thought to possess all the sciences. According to legend, they took the great Buddhist philosopher Nagarjuna to their realm where he rediscovered the lost Prajnaparamita texts, the Perfection of the Wisdom Sutras. The Naga cult appears to have been propagated in China, and to have spread from there to Japan and southern India via Kashmir. These deities were adopted by Buddhism from the outset.

In Japan and China, the dragon serpents are deities of the water, living in the sea, rivers, lakes and clouds; they are mainly benevolent. In China and Japan, as well as South-East Asia, they are invoked in ritual dances usually performed to provoke rainfall. They are also considered depositories of the cintamani, the magic jewel that bestows treasures and gives knowledge.

The dragon belongs more in folklore than pure Buddhist tradition. Yet many representations of dragons are found in sculpture and painting in Buddhist temples, where they serve for decoration. Their effigies are also found on the roofs of pagodas, because they represent the liquid element that protects from fire, and on fountains and ablution basins of monasteries and temples, so that the water will not fail. They also provide a decorative motif for priestly objects, a theme for many decorative paintings, and a subject of stone arrangements for monstery gardens in Japan. Some sculpted or painted dragons also protect the entrances and roofs of Buddhist buildings. [Source]

Shichimen Daimyojin is the guardian deity of Kuonji, the headquarters of Nichirenshu, which is in Yamanashi Prefecture. Legend holds that a young lady, beautifully dressed, often appeared out of nowhere when Priest Nichiren was reciting the Lotus Sutra in Kuonji and she enthusiastically listened to his recitation. One day, the Priest asked her who she was. She said she was a celestial nymph living in a pond near Mt. Shichimen [next to Mount Minobu] and would like to get salvation from various sins and agonies through listening to his Lotus Sutra. But, Priest Nichiren had known who she was. When Nichiren put a vase in front of her, her reflection on the vase revealed that she was a red dragon. Priest Nichiren instructed her to get back to the pond and to be a guardian deity of Kuonji. Hearing this, the red dragon went back to the pond. Ever since, she or the red dragon became a guardian deity of Kuonji, guarding at the southwestern corner (believed to be the rear Demon's Gate) of the temple. [Source]

Click here to view the Mandala behind the Dragon Goddess

Don's Vision of the Dragon Goddess Shichimen Guarding the Gohonzon

Another Version of the Tale

One day in Minobu, when Nichiren was giving a lecture to his disciples, he saw a beautiful lady in the audience. Nichiren who knew her true colors said to her to come forward. She sprang into the air and said "Please give me a drop of water." As soon as she did, her body turned into a dragon. She was a spirit from Mount Shichimen which is next to Mount Minobu. [Source]

Shichimen-zan, Japan
Hiking Shichimen-san
Autumn Camp on Mt. Shichimen


Temples with Shichimen Daimyojin:
Ankokuronji | Hotoji | Ryukoji

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Nichiren and the Dragon Goddess of Kuonji by Donna: click here to visit her website!

Don's Gohonzon in Mar 2001; click here to visit CampRoss-ji
Top row from RIGHT to LEFT:
Taho Buddha (from Thailand), the Eternal Sakyamuni Buddha (from India) flanked by the Four Bodhisattvas & the Buddhas of the Ten Directions (from Japan), with Kannon-Kishimojin (from China) on the left
Middle row: Memorial for Wes, gold box from Thailand & Shichimen guards the GohonzonShu
Floor level: Drum, bells, gosho, gongyo books, Omamoris & Lotus Sutra translations

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Configuration for Shichimen's Buddha Eye Opening
Dragon Lady Shichimen's Buddha Eye Opening Ceremony on 3/24/01
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