The DaiGohonzon

It is quiet clear that Nichiren’s inscription of mandala Gohonzon - as the Object of Devotion in Buddhism - initiated a dramatic shift from the traditional focus of Mahayana Buddhism on Shakyamuni’s statue.

Nichiren regarded using of statue for prayers as a practice of the past - and made it clear that in this age of the Latter Day one should “Believe in the Gohonzon, the supreme object of devotion in all of [the world]”. WND1 p 386

After declaring the Law (Daimoku) as the path to Buddhahood for all humanity, inscribing a Gohonzon for all humanity was consistent with Nichiren’s compassion and care for the future of his teachings: If Nichiren’s compassion is truly great and encompassing, Nam Myoho-Renge-Kyo will spread for ten thousand years and more, for all eternity”. WND 736

Various Nichiren sects, however, express uncertainty about their founder’s capacity for establishing a general Object of Devotion for all people (or a DaiGohonzon).

Doubts about the DaiGohonzon are rather convenient for Nichiren sects to maintain their centuries-old traditions, in particular their focus on Shakyamuni statue as an Object for prayers.     

More than one DaiGohonzon

In addition to mandalas inscribed for particular individual followers, Nichiren also inscribed general Gohonzons (dai-mandala) for all people. Two general Gohonzons or “dai-mandala” are known to currently exist: the DaiGohonzon at Taisekiji temple, and The Honin Myou DaiHonzon, enshrined in Myohon-ji temple at Hota.

Nichiren Shu doubts centre only on the authenticity of the daiGohonzon of Taisekiji (their ‘rival’ temple) - while no argument is posed regarding the other DaiHonzon (inherited and enshrined by an independent temple).

In brief, Nichiren Shu scholars ask why there is no available letter in which Nichiren indicated the inscription of DaiGohonon.  This argument, however, is invalid, because Nichiren inscribed over 100 mandalas without strictly associating each one of them with a specific letter of endorsement.  Nichiren Shu scholars classify the Founders letters into distinct categories, rightly pointing also to some forged letters. In fact, if the DaiGohonzon itself was forged – as Nichiren Shu implies - then it would have been very easy also to forge a letter (attributed to Nichiren) mentioning the DaiGohonzon - but no such letter exits.

The sects which doubt the authenticity of the DaiGohonzon at Taisekiji, however, do not question the authenticity of the other dai-Mandala at Hota. This second DaiHonozn was not mentioned by Nichiren in any of his letters. 

Q/A about the Dai Gohonzon: Other detailed questions regarding the DaiGohonzon are listed with answers in the following link:

Is the DaiGohonzon a “super-mandala” ?

The subject of the DaiGohonzon shows two extreme views of priesthood-dominated Nichiren schools. On one hand, Nichiren Shu school doubts the DaiGohonzon, while - on the other hand - Nichiren ShoShu claims that the DaiGohonzon has super powers (or that it is ‘superior’ to other mandalas).

While the Gohonzon - in essence - is an expression of the “Buddhanature”, or embodiment of “Life of Buddha”, there could be no reasonable claim that a certain mandala is ‘superior’ or ‘has more value’ than another. The only reason to claim superiority of the DaiGohonzon is a tendency to claim superiority of the Priesthood who consider the Object of Devotion as their own property, trying to boost in this way their position over laity.

According to SGI teachings, home enshrined Gohonzon is equal in its significance and spiritual value as the DaiGohonzon: “The Gohonzon enshrined at our home carries the same significance as the Dai- Gohonzon. They are as beneficial as the Dai-Gohonzon, in accord with the Buddhist principle of “dispersing the body of the original in different forms” (funjin santai )”.  The power of the Object of Devotion is not found in an external mandala but through one's inner faith: "First, the power of any Gohonzon, including the Dai-Gohonzon, can be tapped only through the power of faith. In other words, we should be clear that it is wrong to think that the Dai-Gohonzon alone has some kind of unique mystic power that no other Gohonzon possesses. The Dai-Gohonzon and our own Gohonzon are equal".

Fulfilling the purpose of the DaiGohonzon

Nichiren’s original purpose was to enable ordinary people reveal their “inner Gohonzon” or Buddhanature, through chanting to the mandala-Gohonzon: “I will inscribe the treasure tower [Gohonzon] especially for you... This is the reason for my advent in this world.”  WND 300.

For many centuries, the two Dai-Mandalas (one at Taisekiji, the other at Hota) were confined to the interior of each of the two temples where they are now enshrined. Nichiren’s aim, however, was not to inscribe the two “Dai-Gohonzon for all people” just to be confined in two local temples, but to have copies of the Object of Devotion spread all over the world.

In this perspective, Nichiren’s purpose of inscribing the two Dai Mandalas  has now been fulfilled through spreading the millions of mandala Gohonzon enshrined today in ordinary people’s homes all over the world.

The various theoretical debates about the DaiGohonzon: those raised by Nichiren Shu (and based on doubts) or by Nichiren ShoShu (based on supreme-exalting), are practically meaningless in the current movement of Nichiren Buddhism,

because the actual proof of making the Gohonzon in the custody of ordinary people is a reality - already fulfilled world wide.

The Three Treasures of SGI Gohonzon

The Three Treasures in Buddhism are: the Buddha, the Law and the Community of Believers (Sangha). The Gohonzon which is hand-delivered by ordinary member (of SGI “Community of Believers”) manifests the importance of the Treasure of the Sangha - integrating thus the Treasure of the Community with the Treasures of the Buddha and the Law (both expressed within the Gohonzon).

In this regard: the Gohonzon that is downloaded through the internet (or copied through other means),

may still contain the graphic indication of “the Buddha and the Law of Nam Myoho Renge Kyo” - but essentially lacks the indispensable “Treasure of the Community”, or the Sangha: being the Bodhisattvas, whose mission is to deliver the Gohonzon throughout generations.

Accepting Gohonzon through bypassing the Community of practitioners, is inconsistent with respecting and accepting the ‘Three Treasures of Buddhism’, and signifies - at the background - a spirit of isolation and disregard to sincere efforts of the Community of Believers.





              Nichiren Shu Buddhism