Namu Myōhō Renge Kyō | Mantra

Nam Myōhō Renge Kyō
Nam Myōhō Renge Kyō

1. Namu Myōhō Renge Kyō

Namu Myōhō Renge Kyō (南無妙法蓮華經; usually pronounced phonetically as Nam Myōhō Renge Kyō) (English: Devotion to the Mystic Law of the Lotus Sūtra / Glory to the Dharma of the Lotus Sūtra) are words chanted as mantra 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) or, in honorific form, O-Daimoku (お題目) meaning TITLE

and it was first publicly declared by the Japanese Buddhist priest Nichiren on 28 April 1253 atop Mount Kiyosumi, now memorialized by Seichō-ji temple in Kamogawa, Chiba prefecture, Japan.

The practice of prolonged chanting is referred to as Shōdai (唱題).

The mainstream believers believe that the purpose of chanting is to reduce suffering by eradicating negative Karma along with reducing karmic punishments both from previous and present lifetimes, with the goal of attaining perfect and complete awakening.

2. Early Buddhist proponents

The Tendai monks Saichō and Genshin are said to have originated the Daimoku while the Buddhist priest Nichiren is known today as its greatest proponent.

The mantra is homage to the Lotus Sūtra which is widely credited as the king of scriptures and final word on Buddhism.

The Tendai founder Saichō popularized the mantra Namu Ichijō Myōhō Renge Kyō as a way to honour the Lotus Sūtra as the One Vehicle teaching of the Buddha.

Accordingly, the Tendai monk Genshin popularized the mantra

Namu Amida, Namu Kanzeon, Namu Myōhō Renge Kyō

- to honour the 3 Jewels of Japanese Buddhism.

Nichiren, who himself was a Tendai monk, edited these chants down to Namu Myōhō Renge Kyō and Nichiren Buddhists are responsible for its wide popularity and usage all over the world today.

3. Nichiren

The Japanese Buddhist priest Nichiren was a known advocate of this recitation, claiming it is the exclusive method to happiness and salvation suited for the Third Age of Buddhism.

According to some believers, Nichiren cited the mantra in his Ongi Kuden, a transcription of his lectures about the Lotus Sūtra,

Namu (南無) is a transliteration into Japanese of the Sanskrit Nama, and Myōhō Renge Kyō is the Sino-Japanese pronunciation of the Chinese title of the Lotus Sūtra in the translation by Kumārajīva.

Nichiren gives a detailed interpretation of each character in his lectures Ongi Kuden:

Namu is used in Buddhism as a prefix expressing taking Refuge in a Buddha or similar object of veneration.

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

By syllabary, NamuMyōhōRengeKyō consists of the following:

Namu 南無 devoted to, a transliteration of Sanskrit Namaḥ

Myōhō 妙法 exquisite law

Myō 妙, from Middle Chinese mièw, strange, mystery, miracle, cleverness

法, from Middle Chinese pjap, law, principle, doctrine

Renge-kyō 蓮華經 Lotus Sūtra

Renge 蓮華 Padmā (Lotus)

Ren 蓮, from Middle Chinese len, lotus

Ge 華, from Middle Chinese xwæ, flower

Kyō 經, from Middle Chinese kjeng, Sūtra

The Lotus Sūtra is held by Nichiren Buddhists, as well as practitioners of the Tiantai and corresponding Japanese Tendai schools, to be the culmination of Śākyamuni Buddha's 50 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.