Encouragement

Dedicate Your Lives to the Great Path of the Oneness of Mentor and Disciple

Learning from the momentous struggle of Nikko Shonin.

Photo: iStockphoto / Biletsky_Evgeniy


The following article was a special feature in the May 2008 issue of the Daibyakurenge, the Soka Gakkai study journal, commemorating the publication of the journal’s 700th issue.

My mentor, second Soka Gakkai President Josei Toda, often said: “I have practiced exactly as Mr. [Tsunesaburo] Makiguchi taught. This is what it means to live as a disciple.”

Whenever he spoke about his mentor, the usually jovial and high-spirited Mr. Toda would turn very serious. There were members who maligned and ultimately betrayed Mr. Makiguchi, their teacher and benefactor, the moment the militarist authorities began persecuting the Soka Kyoiku Gakkai (forerunner of today’s Soka Gakkai) during World War II. Recalling their cowardly behavior, Mr. Toda would often blaze with anger and indignation.

The essence of Buddhism is found in the spirit of striving with the same commitment as the mentor. If this rigorous spirit is lost, the very foundation of Buddhism will be destroyed. Therefore, those who genuinely seek to carry on the correct teaching of Buddhism must always remember to maintain this spirit and take action based on it.

I learned deeply that the essence of Buddhism was contained in the example shown by Mr. Toda, who for his entire life remained a loyal and dedicated disciple of Mr. Makiguchi. Emulating Mr. Toda, I made his heart my own and exerted myself for kosen-rufu, just as he taught me. And I have done everything I can as a disciple to repay my debt of gratitude to my mentor.

I have walked the great path of the oneness of mentor and disciple with a single-minded and unwavering resolve. As a result, I have borne the brunt of all manner of formidable onslaughts along the way. But I have absolutely no regrets. This is because I know that those who thoroughly dedicate their lives to this path can tap the power to calmly surmount all obstacles, no matter how severe.

I have seen numerous examples of people discarding the path of mentor and disciple, and instead taking the most deplorable course of betraying their mentor and fellow members. They have invariably wound up spiritually bankrupt and in pitiful circumstances.

To the members of the youth division, in whom I place the highest trust, I wish to share my conclusion from 60 years of faith: the most important thing in practicing Nichiren Buddhism is to strive with the same spirit as one’s mentor throughout one’s life.

In this respect, the heroic struggle of Nichiren’s true disciple Nikko Shonin (1246–1333) offers us an eternal model for upholding the great path of the oneness of mentor and disciple. As a youth division member, I studied Nikko Shonin’s commitment to this path in great detail. I have also spoken to the youth many times about his noble spirit.

What precisely, then, was the essence of the spirit of the oneness of mentor and disciple that Nikko Shonin embodied? It was his lifelong commitment to strive in the same spirit as the Daishonin. This was the difference that set him apart from the five senior priests,[1]Five senior priests: Five of the six senior priests, excluding Nikko Shonin, designated by Nichiren Daishonin shortly before his death as his principal disciples. They are Nissho (1221– 1323), Nichiro (1245–1320), Niko (1253–1314), Nitcho (1252– 1317) and Nichiji (b. 1250). all of whom ended up betraying their teacher. Nikko Shonin further demonstrated throughout his life that this resolve to keep striving in a spirit of unity with one’s mentor is the fundamental cause for all victory.

I now wish to bequeath this basic formula to the youth of the SGI. With that in mind, I would like to offer some insights into the unrelenting struggle of Nikko Shonin. I hope the youth will learn the fighting spirit of a disciple who embodies the same commitment as the mentor.

Nichiren Daishonin’s Designation of Six
Principal Disciples

In October 1284, the third memorial (second anniversary) of Nichiren Daishonin’s death was held at Minobu.[2]Minobu: Also, Mount Minobu. Located in present- day Yamanashi Prefecture, Japan. Nichiren lived there during the later years of his life, from May 1274 through September 1282, just prior to his death. There, he devoted himself to educating his disciples, directing propagation efforts and writing doctrinal treatises. It was only two years since their teacher had passed away, yet none of the five senior priests had come to visit his grave.

Shortly after this memorial service, Nikko Shonin wrote a letter titled “Reply to Mimasaka-bo.[3]“Reply to Mimasaka-bo” was composed by Nikko Shonin on October 18, 1284, five days after the third memorial (second anniversary) of Nichiren’s passing. It was addressed to Mimasaka-bo Niho (1258–1340), a priest-disciple from the Daishonin’s day, telling him of the nonappearance of the five senior priests and their sad neglect of the Daishonin’s grave site, and asking him to come to Minobu to assist him. On reading it, one cannot help being struck by his arduous, solitary efforts and his undying devotion to Nichiren.

Nichiren designated his six principal disciples, or six senior priests, on October 8, 1282. That was five days before he passed away on the 13th. They are as follows, in order of age:[4]The ages cited in this discussion are all based on the traditional way of Japanese counting, in which a person is counted as 1 year old on the day of their birth.

Nissho, aged 62
Nichiro, aged 38
Nikko, aged 37
Nichiji, aged 33
Nitcho, aged 31
Niko, aged 30

Of the six, Nikko Shonin was foremost in correctly appraising Nichiren as the Buddha of the Latter Day of the Law, understanding Buddhist doctrine and actively propagating Nam-myoho-renge-kyo. He was also the legitimate successor[5]In 1282, sensing that his death was near, Nichiren designated Nikko as his successor with two transfer documents. The first was the “Document for Entrusting the Law That Nichiren Propagated throughout His Life” (also known as the “Minobu Transfer Document”), which the Daishonin wrote at Minobu in September 1282, about a month before his death, transferring the entirety of his teachings to Nikko. The second was the “Document for Entrusting Minobu-san” (also known as the “Ikegami Transfer Document”), which Nichiren wrote at the residence of Ikegami Munenaka at Ikegami in Musashi Province (presentday Tokyo) on October 13, 1282, the day of his death. In it, he names Nikko as his successor and chief priest of Minobu-san Kuon-ji temple. It also declares that those priests and lay believers who disregard its contents are acting in defiance of the Daishonin’s teachings. of Nichiren Buddhism.

We may surmise that the reason Nichiren formally designated all six as his principal disciples was to heighten their awareness as leaders responsible for kosen-rufu. At the time, Nissho and Nichiro were based in Kamakura (present-day Kanagawa Prefecture); Nikko Shonin and Nichiji were in Suruga (present-day central Shizuoka Prefecture); Nitcho was in Shimosa (present-day northern Chiba Prefecture); and Niko was in Kazusa (present-day central Chiba Prefecture). They were disciples who had stood up to work for kosen-rufu and support the followers in each region, and as such were the core leaders to whom the task of carrying on the Daishonin’s legacy would fall.

That they had been selected as principal disciples mattered far less than what they would actually do to promote kosen-rufu in the future. Everything would hinge on that. This was Nichiren’s spirit.

At the time of the 100th-day memorial after his passing (held in January 1283), the six senior priests and other leading disciples pledged together to take personal responsibility for protecting his grave site.[6]After Nichiren’s funeral at Ikegami (in present-day Tokyo) where he died, Nikko brought the Daishonin’s ashes to Minobu and placed them in a tomb. Coinciding with the 100th-day memorial, 18 priests— the six senior priests and 12 of their disciples—pledged to assume the responsibility of attending to the grave in rotation, one of the six senior priests himself or two of his disciples watching over it each month. None of them, however, came to fulfill this responsibility.They did so as a sign of their commitment to carry on their teacher’s spirit. However, all of the senior priests except Nikko Shonin reneged on this vow, which by rights they should have given their lives to uphold.

The Five Senior Priests Proclaim Themselves “Priests of the Tendai School”

In the years 1284 and 1285—the period during which Nichiren Daishonin’s third memorial fell—it is believed that his followers faced the threat of harsh persecution.

When the regent Hojo Tokimune[7] Hojo Tokimune (1251–84): Eighth regent of the Kamakura military government and effective ruler of Japan. He became cosigner to the regent in 1264 and regent in 1268. The first two Mongol invasions took place during his regency. died suddenly in 1284, he was succeeded by his teenage son Sadatoki.[8]Hojo Sadatoki (1271–1311): Ninth regent of the Kamakura military government (reigned 1284–1301). The son of Hojo Tokimune. With this development, Hei no Saemon[9]Hei no Saemon (d. 1293): Also known as Taira no Yoritsuna or by his full name and title, Hei no Saemon-no-jo Yoritsuna. (Hei is another pronunciation of the Chinese character for Taira.) A leading official of the Hojo regency, the de facto ruling body of Japan during the Kamakura period (1185–1333). He served twosuccessive regents, Hojo Tokimune and Hojo Sadatoki, and wielded tremendous influence, first as deputy chief of the Office of Military and Police Affairs (the chief being the regent himself) and later as steward to the main family of the Hojo clan. He collaborated with Ryokan of Gokuraku-ji temple of the True Word Precepts school and other leading priests to persecute Nichiren and his followers. became the steward of the main family of the Hojo clan, ruling in Sadatoki’s place. This put him virtually in full control of the clan’s vast domain and powerful army. Meanwhile, Ryokan[10]Ryokan (1217–1303): Also known as Ninsho. A priest of the True Word Precepts school in Japan. With the patronage of the Hojo clan, Ryokan became chief priest of Gokuraku-ji temple in Kamakura, and commanded enormous influence both among government officials and among the people. He was hostile to Nichiren and actively conspired with the authorities to have him and his followers persecuted. of Gokuraku- ji temple had ingratiated himself with influential government figures and had been appointed the superintendent of three major temples in Kamakura. Given Hei no Saemon and Ryokan’s past involvement in persecuting the Daishonin’s followers, it is highly likely that they persisted in this course even after his death.

Also around this time, another envoy from the Mongol Empire [demanding fealty and threatening invasion if this demand was not met] had arrived on Tsushima (an island off the coast of Kyushu in southern Japan), and the possibility of a third Mongol invasion was growing day by day.[11]On repeated occasions, starting from 1266, Khublai Khan (1215–94), the Mongol emperor of China, dispatched envoys to Japan with missives demanding fealty and threatening a military attack if Japan did not comply. When the Japanese rulers ignored these demands, the Mongols launched invasions, in 1274 and 1281, but both of these attacks ultimately ended in failure. These events, however, fulfilled the prediction made by Nichiren in his 1260 treatise “On Establishing the Correct Teaching for the Peace of the Land,” asserting that Japan would suffer foreign invasion as a consequence of the nation’s support of erroneous Buddhist teachings and its slander of the correct teaching of the Lotus Sutra. There seems to be evidence that the Mongols made preparations to mobilize a military force even larger than those deployed on the two previous occasions [in 1274 and 1281].

With the aim of defeating these foreign enemies not only through military strength but through divine protection, the government continued to issue decrees commanding Buddhist temples and Shinto shrines throughout the land to conduct prayers to subdue the Mongols and insure the peace and security of the nation. It is thought that such decrees were also sent to Nichiren’s community of priests.

Given the serious predicament befalling the land, all of Nichiren’s genuine disciples should have felt compelled to remonstrate with the authorities and emphasize the importance of securing peace through establishing the correct teachings of Buddhism, just as he had during his lifetime. However, in 1285, reports reached Nikko Shonin that shocked him. One after another, Nissho, Nichiro and other senior priests had each submitted a statement to the government proclaiming themselves “priests of the Tendai school,”[12]Tendai school: The Japanese counterpart of the Chinese T’ien-t’ai (Jpn Tendai) school of Buddhism, founded in the early ninth century by the Japanese priest Dengyo (767–822), also known as Saicho. However, because of a tolerant attitude toward the erroneous teachings of other schools, including the True Word, Pure Land (Nembutsu) and Zen, by the time of Nichiren Daishonin it had lost the stance of strictly basing itself on the Lotus Sutra. instead of “disciples of Nichiren,” and had been following the official decree to conduct prayers to defeat the Mongol forces.

We can only imagine the righteous anger Nikko Shonin must have felt when he learned that the senior priests in Kamakura had lost the true spirit of faith taught by the Daishonin.

Not the slightest trace of the Daishonin’s spirit of remonstrating with the government for its slander of the Law can be found in the texts of these reports, only a fawning servility to those in power. Nikko Shonin later summed up the situation as follows:

Of the six principal disciples of Nichiren Daishonin, five all abandoned their allegiance to the Daishonin and proclaimed themselves priests of the Tendai school. And when faced with the threat of having the temples where they resided razed by the authorities, they submitted statements to the government declaring that they would conduct prayers in accord with the Tendai school teaching, thereby staving off that threat.[13]Translated from Japanese. Nikko Shonin, “Deshibun honzon mokuroku” (List of Disciples Upon Whom Nikko Bestowed The Gohonzon), in Fuji shugaku yoshu (The Essential Works of the Fuji School), edited by Nichiko Hori (Tokyo: Soka Gakkai, 1978), vol. 8, p. 6.

In short, the five senior priests all caved in to the government’s threats that it would demolish their temples unless they obeyed the decree.

It had been the Daishonin’s spirit, however, never to compromise his principles or beliefs, no matter what the situation or how harsh the persecution he encountered. When he met and remonstrated with Hei no Saemon (in April 1274), Nichiren had firmly declared: “Even if it seems that, because I was born in the ruler’s domain, I follow him in my actions, I will never follow him in my heart” (“The Selection of the Time,” The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, vol. 1, p. 579).

Even if we were to grant that circumstances may have been such that Nissho, Nichiro and their disciples in Kamakura were compelled to make some kind of compromise to protect the community of believers, their willingness to begin offering prayers as “priests of the Tendai school”—behavior that would have been unthinkable for the Daishonin—is a sign that they had succumbed to devilish functions and strayed from the great path of shared commitment of mentor and disciple. Quite bluntly, they had forgotten the profound debt they owed their teacher and turned against him. We can only imagine the righteous anger Nikko Shonin must have felt when he learned that the senior priests in Kamakura had lost the true spirit of faith taught by the Daishonin.

In the winter of 1285, Hei no Saemon defeated his greatest political rival, Adachi Yasumori,[14]Adachi Yasumori (1231–1285): A powerful vassal of the shogun of the Kamakura government during Nichiren’s lifetime. He struggled for power with Hei no Saemon, who had him killed on suspicion of conspiring against the regime in the Shimotsuki Incident of November 1285. in a conflict known as the Shimotsuki Incident. This led to a period where Hei no Saemon wielded unlimited power. In historical records describing the political climate of the day, we find statements such as: “Yoritsuna [Hei no Saemon] alone holds power and all live in fear,”[15]From the Kamakura-era journal Sanemikyo ki (The Chronicle of Lord Sanemi); entry for April 26, 1293. Cited in: Medieval Japan, in The Cambridge History of Japan, edited by Kozo Yamamura (Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press, 1990), vol. 3, p. 152. and “Now with none to oppose him, he alone rules the land.”[16]Translated from Japanese. From the Kamakura-era historical text Horyakukan ki.

But even in such difficult times, Nikko Shonin intrepidly continued to remonstrate with the government in order to uphold the correct teaching in a spirit that perfectly matched that of Nichiren. For instance, in a petition he submitted to the government in 1289, Nikko Shonin boldly wrote, “I, Nikko, disciple of the sage Nichiren, hereby petition again. . . ”[17]Translated from Japanese. Fuji shugaku yoshu (The Essential Works of the Fuji School), edited by Nichiko Hori (Tokyo: Soka Gakkai, 1978), vol. 8, p. 332. and attached a copy of the Daishonin’s treatise “On Establishing the Correct Teaching for the Peace of the Land.”[18]“On Establishing the Correct Teaching for the Peace of the Land”: Abbreviated as “On Establishing the Correct Teaching.” One of Nichiren’s ten major writings. He submitted this treatise to Hojo Tokiyori, the retired regent but still the most powerful figure in Japan’s ruling clan, on July 16, 1260. The treatise begins by depicting the misery caused by the frequent disasters ravaging Japan, and regards the fact that the whole nation is turning against the correct teaching of Buddhism as a major factor responsible for the unprecedented disasters. The Daishonin explains that the people should abandon their faith in erroneous teachings and embrace the correct teaching, asserting that this is the basis for establishing a peaceful land. In this treatise, he presents numerous scriptural references to the disasters that will befall a nation that follows incorrect teachings. He further points out that, of the seven disasters listed in the Medicine Master Sutra, five have already occurred. The remaining two—internal strife and foreign invasion—will happen without fail, he says, if the rulers continue to support erroneous doctrines. Later, these prophecies were fulfilled when Hojo Tokisuke revolted against his younger half brother, the regent Hojo Tokimune, in the second month of 1272, and when the Mongol forces attacked Japan twice, in 1274 and 1281.

Herein lies the essential difference between Nikko Shonin and the other five senior priests. Namely, Nikko Shonin had a correct appreciation of the Daishonin as the fundamental Buddha of the Latter Day of the Law who illuminates the darkness of people living in that evil age.

Everything depends on whether one can persevere in efforts to establish the correct teaching for the peace of the land and continue to uphold the banner of this noble cause. To practice in a spirit of oneness with the mentor means to carry on the essence of the mentor’s actions.

In another petition, Nikko Shonin also wrote: “Now, in the Latter Day of the Law, this is the place for the appearance of Bodhisattva Superior Practices and the time for the propagation of the essential teaching.”[19]Fuji shugaku yoshu, vol. 8, p. 334. In other words, he declared that the Latter Day is the time for the propagation of the essential teaching of Nichiren, whom he regarded as the reincarnation of Bodhisattva Superior Practices.[20]Bodhisattva Superior Practices: The leader of the Bodhisattvas of the Earth who appear in “Emerging from the Earth,” the 15th chapter of the Lotus Sutra. In “Supernatural Powers,” the 21st chapter, Shakyamuni entrusts Superior Practices with propagating the Lotus Sutra during the evil age of the Latter Day of the Law. In his writings, Nichiren associates himself with Bodhisattva Superior Practices, saying that he has fulfilled the mission entrusted to the bodhisattva by Shakyamuni, and he refers to his propagation efforts as the work of Bodhisattva Superior Practices. That is why to the end of his life, Nikko Shonin placed central importance on the Gohonzon, the object of devotion established by Nichiren, and made the Daishonin’s writings his foundation. He remained true to the path of shared commitment of mentor and disciple because he had a proper recognition of the Daishonin and carried on the latter’s momentous struggle to lead all people to enlightenment in the Latter Day.

Mr. Toda explained this as follows: “Nikko Shonin is the Daishonin’s foremost disciple. He openly refers to him as ‘Daishonin [Great Sage].’ Because he served at the Daishonin’s side, Nikko Shonin understood him to be the Buddha of the Latter Day of the Law.” Nikko Shonin always faithfully served and supported Nichiren. He strove constantly alongside his mentor and for the sake of his mentor, with a spirit of selfless dedication to propagating the Law. He therefore had complete faith and conviction in Nichiren’s greatness.

And an important point regarding the difference between Nikko Shonin and the other five senior priests is that Nikko Shonin always placed key importance on Nichiren’s treatise “On Establishing the Correct Teaching for the Peace of the Land.” It is often said that Nichiren’s writings begin and end with this work. And it is true that as long as he lived, the Daishonin continued his struggle, based on this writing’s central principle, to realize a world of peace and prosperity where all could live in happiness.

Everything depends on whether one can persevere in efforts to establish the correct teaching for the peace of the land and continue to uphold the banner of this noble cause. To practice in a spirit of oneness with the mentor means to carry on the essence of the mentor’s actions.

To the end of his life, Nikko Shonin continued to proclaim the validity of the Daishonin’s principle of “establishing the correct teaching for the peace of the land.”

The Steward of Minobu Led Astray
by Niko’s Negative Influence

The deviation from the correct path of faith by Niko is emblematic of all the five senior priests who lost the spirit of striving with the same commitment as Nichiren Daishonin. Niko was jealous of Nikko Shonin and sowed discord in the community of practitioners.

In 1285, Niko suddenly appeared at Minobu, where Nikko Shonin was based. Niko had attended neither the Daishonin’s funeral nor the 100th-day memorial [not to mention the third memorial held in October 1284], nor had he come to take his turn to tend to Nichiren’s grave. Nevertheless, Nikko Shonin appointed him the chief instructor of priests at Minobu. No doubt he did so out of his desire to see Niko make a positive contribution, since the latter was one of the disciples for whom the Daishonin had held such high aspirations.

However, from the very next year, 1286, Niko started causing trouble by speaking and acting in ways that arrogantly trampled on the Daishonin’s spirit. By 1288, a little more than three years after his arrival at Minobu, he began rejecting the authority of Nikko Shonin, who had done so much to support him. A detailed description of what took place is contained in a letter titled “Reply to Hara,” which Nikko Shonin composed on December 16, 1288, shortly before leaving Minobu for good. Hara, to whom the letter was addressed, is thought to have been a son of Hakiri Sanenaga,[21]Hakiri Sanenaga (1222–97): Also known as Hakii Sanenaga. The steward of the southern part of Kai Province (present-day Yamanashi Prefecture) that included the Minobu area. He was converted by Nikko to Nichiren Daishonin’s teachings in 1269. When Nichiren resolved to leave Kamakura, Hakiri eagerly welcomed him to Minobu and constructed a small dwelling for him. In 1281, he built a temple and donated it to the Daishonin, who named it Kuon-ji. After the Daishonin’s death, he continued to support the Daishonin’s successor, Nikko Shonin. Later, however, adversely influenced by Niko, then the chief instructor of priests, he strayed from the Daishonin’s teachings. the local steward of Minobu, but this is not certain. In this letter, Nikko Shonin states:

For the last two or three years, I have been aware that Mimbu Ajari Niko is a priest with deep-seated worldly desires and a tendency to ingratiate himself to those who are more powerful. Being a priest who distorts the truth, he is not concerned with establishing the Daishonin’s teachings; rather, he is someone who is doing much to destroy them.[22]Translated from Japanese. Nikko Shonin, “Reply to Hara,” in Hennentai Nichiren Daishonin Gosho (Chronological Compilation of Nichiren Daishonin’s Writings), compiled by the Soka Gakkai Study Department (Tokyo: Soka Gakkai, 1991), p. 1732

Nikko Shonin saw through Niko’s true nature and, out of strict compassion, rebuked him for distorting Nichiren’s teachings. However, this only made Niko all the more defiant and antagonistic. He had the frightening arrogance to believe that he knew Nichiren’s teachings better than Nikko Shonin, of whom he was bitterly jealous and could not match, no matter how hard he tried.

Hakiri Sanenaga, meanwhile, had been a disciple of Nikko Shonin for close to two decades. It was through Nikko Shonin that Sanenaga had encountered the Mystic Law and was able to have the Daishonin come to reside at Minobu. However, Sanenaga gradually fell under the negative influence of Niko. The steward had already demonstrated a tendency of occasionally wandering from the correct path of Nichiren Buddhism and of bowing to public opinion. This tendency seems to have grown more pronounced after a member of his family was killed while fighting on the side of Adachi Yasumori during the Shimotsuki Incident. Niko played on Sanenaga’s vulnerabilities in the aftermath of that event.

Around this time, one of Sanenaga’s sons, Yasaburo, planned to make a pilgrimage to a Shinto shrine that had attracted ardent worshippers among officials of the Kamakura government. [Shinto shrines are dedicated to various Japanese tutelary gods.] Nikko Shonin, therefore, sent one of his disciples to dissuade Yasaburo from going there. Based on Nichiren’s treatise “On Establishing the Correct Teaching,” the disciple explained that the tutelary gods and heavenly deities had all abandoned the nation because of its slander of the Law; hence, there was no point visiting the shrine. He succeeded in convincing Yasaburo to give up his plans.

When Sanenaga voiced doubts about this, Niko seized the opportunity to malign Nikko Shonin, writing: “Nikko Shonin reads it [‘On Establishing the Correct Teaching’] only in the superficial, one-sided way of a reader of non-Buddhist teachings, and does not understand its ultimate essence.”[23]Ibid.

Further, on the occasion of that year’s memorial lecture marking the anniversary of the death of the Great Teacher T’ien-t’ai[24]T’ien-t’ai (538–97): Also known as Chih-i. The founder of the T’ien-t’ai school in China. Commonly referred to as the Great Teacher T’ien-t’ai. His lectures were compiled in such works as The Profound Meaning of the Lotus Sutra, The Words and Phrases of the Lotus Sutra and Great Concentration and Insight. T’ien-t’ai refuted all the other Buddhist schools in China, and spread the Lotus Sutra. (held on November 24, 1288), Niko conducted prayers for the protection of the nation in such a way as to curry favor with the government authorities.

When Nikko Shonin again reproved him for this, Niko argued back defiantly, using terms like “repaying one’s debt to the nation” to justify his actions. His attitude toward Nikko Shonin was disrespectful in the extreme.

Sanenaga, meanwhile, had by now been thoroughly influenced by Niko. He responded to Nikko Shonin’s sincere and tenacious efforts to guide him in the right direction by brashly retorting, “I have decided to embrace Mimbu Ajari Niko as my teacher.”[25]“Reply to Hara,” p. 1733. This was truly an upside-down state of affairs. As Nikko Shonin wrote, “His faith was the exact opposite of faith in the Lotus Sutra.”[26]Ibid. The community of believers at Minobu had been led astray and driven into confusion by the treacherous behavior of Niko.

This is the very kind of situation to which Mr. Toda was referring when he said, “It may appear that our enemies are outside, but the most insidious enemies are within.” Therefore, we must take a firm stand against those who seek to spread poison inside the organization. If left unchallenged, their noxious influence will pervade the entire organization and end up destroying everyone’s pure faith. That is why it is imperative that we remain vigilant against those who would betray the teachings of our mentors.

Carrying the Banner of the Correct Teaching Alone

At the end of 1288, Nikko Shonin at last decided to leave Minobu.[27]Nikko Shonin finally decided to leave Minobu, along with his close disciples, when he concluded that it would not be the right place to preserve the Daishonin’s teachings. Behind this was the slander of the Law committed by Niko and Hakiri Sanenaga. Under Niko’s influence, the latter commissioned a statue of Shakyamuni Buddha, made pilgrimages to Shinto shrines, contributed to the erecting of a tower of the Pure Land (Nembutsu) school and even had a Pure Land temple built. Nikko Shonin repeatedly warned them that such acts flagrantly contradicted the Daishonin’s teachings, but to no avail, thus prompting his departure He writes of his feelings at that time:

Words cannot describe the sense of shame and disappointment I feel at the prospect of departing from this valley of Minobu. But it occurs to me that, no matter where one is, the most important thing is to carry on the correct teaching of the Daishonin and establish it in society. Just when I was thinking it couldn’t possibly be true, these disciples of the Daishonin [the five senior priests] all turned on him. I, Nikko, alone protect the correct teachings of the Daishonin, our fundamental teacher, and regard myself as the one whose mission it is to accomplish his original purpose [of widespread propagation]. As such, I will never forget his true wishes or intent.[28]“Reply to Hara,” p. 1733.

To single-handedly and steadfastly safeguard the correct teaching of the mentor—that is what it means to be a genuine disciple.

Likewise, no matter what abject betrayals I have encountered, I have unswervingly walked the path of a true disciple of Mr. Toda. When treacherous individuals within our organization and unscrupulous members of the priesthood conspired to oust me, the third president, and seize control of the Soka Gakkai, I fought on with the spirit: “I carry the banner of justice alone.”[29]On May 5, 1979, at the Kanagawa Culture Center in Yokohama, shortly after stepping down as third president of the Soka Gakkai, SGI President Ikeda took up his calligraphy brush and wrote the word Justice. Next to it, in the lower right hand corner, he wrote: “I carry the banner of justice alone.” Mr. Toda is always in my heart; therefore, I fear nothing.

Returning to Nikko Shonin; in early 1289, the following year, he left Minobu and made his way to the residence of Nanjo Tokimitsu,[30]Nanjo Tokimitsu (1259–1332): A staunch follower of the Daishonin and the steward of Ueno Village in Fuji District of Suruga Province (part of present-day Shizuoka Prefecture). He aided Nikko Shonin’s efforts to spread the correct teaching of Buddhism in the Fuji area during the Daishonin’s lifetime, and made his own residence available as a center of propagation activities. During the subsequent Atsuhara Persecution, Tokimitsu used his influence to protect his fellow practitioners, sheltering some in his home. The Daishonin honored him for his courage and tireless efforts by calling him “Ueno the Worthy,” though he was only about twenty at the time. When Nikko Shonin left Minobu in 1289, Tokimitsu invited him to come and live at his residence in Ueno Village. He further donated a tract of land on which Nikko Shonin built a temple that became the latter and his followers’ new base of activities. who had been a leading lay disciple from the Daishonin’s time. There, in an area commanding impressive views of the majestic Mount Fuji, he built a new base for his activities for kosen-rufu.

A Disciple Willing to Take On Hardships in His Mentor’s Stead

Why did the five senior priests stray from the great path of the oneness of mentor and disciple and descend to the point of turning against their teacher? What caused them to go off track?

Nichiren Daishonin writes, “If they were people who understood their obligations or were capable of reason, then out of two blows that fall on me, they would receive one in my stead” (“Reply to Yasaburo,” WND-1, 828). Nikko Shonin lived in perfect accord with these words. As proof of his willingness to personally take on all difficulties in his mentor’s stead, Nikko Shonin attracted persecution to himself even during the Daishonin’s lifetime. This was the Atsuhara Persecution.[31]Atsuhara Persecution: A series of threats and acts of violence against the Daishonin’s followers in Atsuhara Village, in Fuji District of Suruga Province, beginning around 1275 and continuing until around 1283. In 1279, 20 farmer believers were unjustly arrested and sent to Kamakura, where they were interrogated by Hei no Saemon, who demanded that they renounce their faith; however, not one of them yielded. Eventually, three of these peasant followers were executed—the brothers Jinshiro, Yagoro and Yarokuro. They are known as the three martyrs of Atsuhara.

Atsuhara was an area where Nikko Shonin had carried out vigorous efforts to propagate Nichiren’s teachings. Many of the followers there at the time were peasant farmers. Such a demographic was not seen among Nichiren’s followers in any other area. It is a testament to the fact that Nikko Shonin actively went out among the populace spreading the Daishonin’s Buddhism of the people.

These believers of Atsuhara did not retreat a single step when confronted by the mighty power of Hei no Saemon, and three of them[32]See footnote immediately above. eventually laid down their lives for their faith in Nichiren Buddhism.

On October 17, 1279, upon receiving a report from Nikko Shonin about the crackdown on the followers in Atsuhara, Nichiren immediately took up his brush to compose a response. At the end of this letter, he states:

[You] the priest Hoki-bo [Nikko Shonin] and the others should ponder deeply on the meaning of all this and initiate legal action on this matter. Ask Hei no Saemon if he has forgotten what I told him when, in the Bun’ei era [in 1271, just before the Tatsunokuchi Persecution and Sado Exile], I appeared before him to answer charges against me. The calamities [of internal strife and foreign invasion that] I predicted at that time have yet to come to an end. Tell him at the last that the ten demon daughters[33]Ten demon daughters: In “Dharani,” the 26th chapter of the Lotus Sutra, they vow to guard and protect the sutra’s votaries, saying that they will inflict punishment on any who trouble the sutra’s practitioners. will call down further punishment on him. (“Reply to the Sages,” WND-2, 831)

Nichiren is assuring his disciples that they have nothing to fear, and urging them to strive with the same spirit as he, not retreating a single step.

SGI President Ikeda encourages Fife and Drum Corps members, Santiago, Chile, February 1993. Photo: Seikyo Press.
To single-handedly and steadfastly safeguard the correct teaching of the mentor—that is what it means to be a genuine disciple.

Of the five senior priests, Nichiro and Niko did in fact, on one level, undergo persecution during the Daishonin’s lifetime. This took the form of being imprisoned in an earthen cave and accompanying the Daishonin to his place of exile. But this alone doesn’t tell us whether they truly shared the same spirit as their teacher.

True disciples are willing to take on hardship or persecution in their mentor’s stead. For instance, when Mr. Toda accompanied Mr. Makiguchi to prison, he prayed: “I am still young, but Mr. Makiguchi is old. May my mentor be released from prison as soon as possible. It doesn’t matter how long I stay here, but let my mentor go free right away!” This was his deep and fervent prayer day and night.

I took on the Osaka Incident[34]Osaka Incident: The occasion when SGI President Ikeda, then Soka Gakkai youth division chief of staff, was arrested and wrongfully charged with election law violations in a House of Councilor’s by-election in Osaka in 1957. At the end of the court case, which dragged on for almost five years, he was fully exonerated of all charges. with the very same sentiment. Mr. Toda was physically exhausted. The two years he had spent in prison during the war had taken a heavy toll on his health. And the intense struggles in the postwar period saw his stamina dwindle rapidly in later years. I was determined to do everything I could to protect him. Confined behind bars in Osaka, I fought with the determination to take on the full brunt of the onslaughts of all devilish functions.

Nikko Shonin maintained the spirit of the rigorous struggle of mentor and disciple. Therefore, even after the Daishonin’s death, he was never defeated in any of his struggles against devilish functions.

The five senior priests, who were central figures among Nichiren’s disciples, may also have been exposed to the harsh attacks of devilish functions to a greater extent than many other disciples. But because they did not blaze with the same fighting spirit as the Daishonin, they were inevitably destined to be defeated. Holding firm to his vow and great wish to continue working together with and for the sake of the Daishonin, Nikko Shonin alone walked the correct path of a true disciple to the very end.

The Fate of Hei no Saemon, a Captive to Power’s Insidious Lure

Now let us turn to Hei no Saemon. As mentioned earlier, after toppling his major political rival, he consolidated his hold on power, ushering in a despotic reign of terror that lasted seven-and-a-half years.

But on April 22, 1293, Hei no Saemon and his entire clan were destroyed by the regent Sadatoki, who had now grown to adulthood. Fourteen years after the Atsuhara Persecution—of which he had been the main instigator—Hei no Saemon wound up dying by his own hand at the very residence where he had relentlessly tortured the Atsuhara farmerdisciples. In a single day, without being able to put up any kind of meaningful resistance, his life came to an abrupt end.[35]In 1293, 14 years after the Atsuhara Persecution, Hei no Saemon’s eldest son, Munetsuna, secretly informed the regent Hojo Sadatoki that his father, Hei no Saemon, was plotting to overthrow the regime and establish his second son, Sukemune, as shogun. Sadatoki’s forces surrounded Hei no Saemon’s residence and set it on fire. Together with Sukemune and other members of his family, Hei no Saemon met his demise at the very place where the three martyrs of Atsuhara had been tortured. The eldest son, who had betrayed his father, was exiled to Sado, and Hei no Saemon’s line was effectively wiped out.

During the period in which Hei no Saemon held sway, the country was badly misgoverned. Vital reforms were neglected as the regime focused all its energies on maintaining its political authority. Hei no Saemon ultimately lived his life as a captive to power’s insidious lure.

As for Nikko Shonin, he never for a moment forgot the loyal disciples who laid down their lives for the sake of the Law during the Atsuhara Persecution (in 1279). In the “Deshibun honzon mokuroku” (List of Disciples Upon Whom Nikko Bestowed the Gohonzon), which he composed in the 20th year after that event, Nikko Shonin wrote:

Fourteen years on from that time [of the Atsuhara Persecution], Hei no Saemon and his son committed treason and were condemned to death. That both father and son met their demise is of no small significance. They incurred actual punishment in accord with the teachings of the Lotus Sutra.[36]Fuji shugaku yoshu, vol. 9, p. 258.

In the 30th year after the Atsuhara Persecution, Nikko Shonin transcribed a Gohonzon in memory of the martyred disciples, and in the margin wrote:

Jinshiro, resident of Atsuhara in Fuji Shimokata in Suruga Province, declared himself a follower of the Lotus Sutra and became one of the three beheaded by Hei no Saemon. Fourteen years after executing these followers, Hei no Saemon was himself condemned to death for plotting a rebellion, and his entire lineage was wiped out without a trace.[37]Ibid., vol. 8, p. 217.

At the time of the Atsuhara Persecution, Nichiren wrote: “In the past, and in the present Latter Day of the Law, the rulers, high ministers, and people who despise the votaries of the Lotus Sutra seem to be free from punishment at first, but eventually they are all doomed to fall” (“On Persecutions Befalling the Sage,” WND-1, 997). Just as he says in this passage, actual punishment or retribution in accord with the teachings of the Lotus Sutra will definitely appear.

After leaving Minobu, Nikko Shonin continued energetically spearheading efforts for kosen-rufu. It is also known that he submitted at least seven separate petitions remonstrating with the government from 1289 onward. Even in a petition he submitted in 1330—close to five decades after Nichiren Daishonin’s death, we find him writing, just as he had previously: “I, Nikko, disciple of the sage Nichiren, hereby petition again . . . ”[38]Ibid., p. 333. As this illustrates, he remained true to the Daishonin’s spirit of remonstration to the last.

The community of disciples fostered under Nikko Shonin’s leadership after his departure from Minobu soon produced an array of outstanding talent far surpassing the disciples of the five senior priests. Nikko Shonin’s disciples established propagation centers in almost every major region in Japan— from Tohoku in the northeast and throughout the Kanto, Shin’etsu, Kansai and Chugoku regions, as well as to the islands of Shikoku and Kyushu. Nikko Shonin triumphed.

After countless arduous struggles, his life came to a close on February 7, 1333—51 years after Nichiren’s passing. He outlived the five senior priests, Ryokan and Hei no Saemon, witnessing what became of each one. He prevailed over all of those who had arrogantly sought to destroy the realm of mentor and disciple of Nichiren Buddhism, firmly securing the path of kosen-rufu for posterity. He tenaciously lived out his life as Nichiren’s disciple and achieved a magnificent victory through always striving with the same spirit as his teacher.

Throughout his life, Nikko Shonin strove to repay his profound debt of gratitude to Nichiren and widely proclaim the latter’s teachings. As such, his life was the very epitome of the oneness of mentor and disciple. He truly consolidated Nichiren Buddhism as a teaching grounded in the path of mentor and disciple.

Everything ultimately depends on the disciple. Dedication to the lofty path of the disciple will guarantee the eternal victory of kosen-rufu. I would now once again like to entrust the essential spirit of the oneness of mentor and disciple to the youth who are my successors. For to carry on our movement for kosen-rufu, it is vital that each person make a vow to maintain the same fighting spirit as the mentors of the Soka Gakkai throughout their lives.

To my young friends, who follow on the noble path of life set forth by the Soka Gakkai’s first three presidents—May you dedicate your lives to the vow of shared commitment of mentor and disciple! That is my prayer.

Translated from the May 2008 issue of the Daibyakurenge, the Soka Gakkai’s monthly study journal.

(pp. 26-37)

Notes   [ + ]

1. Five senior priests: Five of the six senior priests, excluding Nikko Shonin, designated by Nichiren Daishonin shortly before his death as his principal disciples. They are Nissho (1221– 1323), Nichiro (1245–1320), Niko (1253–1314), Nitcho (1252– 1317) and Nichiji (b. 1250).
2. Minobu: Also, Mount Minobu. Located in present- day Yamanashi Prefecture, Japan. Nichiren lived there during the later years of his life, from May 1274 through September 1282, just prior to his death. There, he devoted himself to educating his disciples, directing propagation efforts and writing doctrinal treatises.
3. “Reply to Mimasaka-bo” was composed by Nikko Shonin on October 18, 1284, five days after the third memorial (second anniversary) of Nichiren’s passing. It was addressed to Mimasaka-bo Niho (1258–1340), a priest-disciple from the Daishonin’s day, telling him of the nonappearance of the five senior priests and their sad neglect of the Daishonin’s grave site, and asking him to come to Minobu to assist him.
4. The ages cited in this discussion are all based on the traditional way of Japanese counting, in which a person is counted as 1 year old on the day of their birth.
5. In 1282, sensing that his death was near, Nichiren designated Nikko as his successor with two transfer documents. The first was the “Document for Entrusting the Law That Nichiren Propagated throughout His Life” (also known as the “Minobu Transfer Document”), which the Daishonin wrote at Minobu in September 1282, about a month before his death, transferring the entirety of his teachings to Nikko. The second was the “Document for Entrusting Minobu-san” (also known as the “Ikegami Transfer Document”), which Nichiren wrote at the residence of Ikegami Munenaka at Ikegami in Musashi Province (presentday Tokyo) on October 13, 1282, the day of his death. In it, he names Nikko as his successor and chief priest of Minobu-san Kuon-ji temple. It also declares that those priests and lay believers who disregard its contents are acting in defiance of the Daishonin’s teachings.
6. After Nichiren’s funeral at Ikegami (in present-day Tokyo) where he died, Nikko brought the Daishonin’s ashes to Minobu and placed them in a tomb. Coinciding with the 100th-day memorial, 18 priests— the six senior priests and 12 of their disciples—pledged to assume the responsibility of attending to the grave in rotation, one of the six senior priests himself or two of his disciples watching over it each month. None of them, however, came to fulfill this responsibility.
7. Hojo Tokimune (1251–84): Eighth regent of the Kamakura military government and effective ruler of Japan. He became cosigner to the regent in 1264 and regent in 1268. The first two Mongol invasions took place during his regency.
8. Hojo Sadatoki (1271–1311): Ninth regent of the Kamakura military government (reigned 1284–1301). The son of Hojo Tokimune.
9. Hei no Saemon (d. 1293): Also known as Taira no Yoritsuna or by his full name and title, Hei no Saemon-no-jo Yoritsuna. (Hei is another pronunciation of the Chinese character for Taira.) A leading official of the Hojo regency, the de facto ruling body of Japan during the Kamakura period (1185–1333). He served twosuccessive regents, Hojo Tokimune and Hojo Sadatoki, and wielded tremendous influence, first as deputy chief of the Office of Military and Police Affairs (the chief being the regent himself) and later as steward to the main family of the Hojo clan. He collaborated with Ryokan of Gokuraku-ji temple of the True Word Precepts school and other leading priests to persecute Nichiren and his followers.
10. Ryokan (1217–1303): Also known as Ninsho. A priest of the True Word Precepts school in Japan. With the patronage of the Hojo clan, Ryokan became chief priest of Gokuraku-ji temple in Kamakura, and commanded enormous influence both among government officials and among the people. He was hostile to Nichiren and actively conspired with the authorities to have him and his followers persecuted.
11. On repeated occasions, starting from 1266, Khublai Khan (1215–94), the Mongol emperor of China, dispatched envoys to Japan with missives demanding fealty and threatening a military attack if Japan did not comply. When the Japanese rulers ignored these demands, the Mongols launched invasions, in 1274 and 1281, but both of these attacks ultimately ended in failure. These events, however, fulfilled the prediction made by Nichiren in his 1260 treatise “On Establishing the Correct Teaching for the Peace of the Land,” asserting that Japan would suffer foreign invasion as a consequence of the nation’s support of erroneous Buddhist teachings and its slander of the correct teaching of the Lotus Sutra.
12. Tendai school: The Japanese counterpart of the Chinese T’ien-t’ai (Jpn Tendai) school of Buddhism, founded in the early ninth century by the Japanese priest Dengyo (767–822), also known as Saicho. However, because of a tolerant attitude toward the erroneous teachings of other schools, including the True Word, Pure Land (Nembutsu) and Zen, by the time of Nichiren Daishonin it had lost the stance of strictly basing itself on the Lotus Sutra.
13. Translated from Japanese. Nikko Shonin, “Deshibun honzon mokuroku” (List of Disciples Upon Whom Nikko Bestowed The Gohonzon), in Fuji shugaku yoshu (The Essential Works of the Fuji School), edited by Nichiko Hori (Tokyo: Soka Gakkai, 1978), vol. 8, p. 6.
14. Adachi Yasumori (1231–1285): A powerful vassal of the shogun of the Kamakura government during Nichiren’s lifetime. He struggled for power with Hei no Saemon, who had him killed on suspicion of conspiring against the regime in the Shimotsuki Incident of November 1285.
15. From the Kamakura-era journal Sanemikyo ki (The Chronicle of Lord Sanemi); entry for April 26, 1293. Cited in: Medieval Japan, in The Cambridge History of Japan, edited by Kozo Yamamura (Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press, 1990), vol. 3, p. 152.
16. Translated from Japanese. From the Kamakura-era historical text Horyakukan ki.
17. Translated from Japanese. Fuji shugaku yoshu (The Essential Works of the Fuji School), edited by Nichiko Hori (Tokyo: Soka Gakkai, 1978), vol. 8, p. 332.
18. “On Establishing the Correct Teaching for the Peace of the Land”: Abbreviated as “On Establishing the Correct Teaching.” One of Nichiren’s ten major writings. He submitted this treatise to Hojo Tokiyori, the retired regent but still the most powerful figure in Japan’s ruling clan, on July 16, 1260. The treatise begins by depicting the misery caused by the frequent disasters ravaging Japan, and regards the fact that the whole nation is turning against the correct teaching of Buddhism as a major factor responsible for the unprecedented disasters. The Daishonin explains that the people should abandon their faith in erroneous teachings and embrace the correct teaching, asserting that this is the basis for establishing a peaceful land. In this treatise, he presents numerous scriptural references to the disasters that will befall a nation that follows incorrect teachings. He further points out that, of the seven disasters listed in the Medicine Master Sutra, five have already occurred. The remaining two—internal strife and foreign invasion—will happen without fail, he says, if the rulers continue to support erroneous doctrines. Later, these prophecies were fulfilled when Hojo Tokisuke revolted against his younger half brother, the regent Hojo Tokimune, in the second month of 1272, and when the Mongol forces attacked Japan twice, in 1274 and 1281.
19. Fuji shugaku yoshu, vol. 8, p. 334.
20. Bodhisattva Superior Practices: The leader of the Bodhisattvas of the Earth who appear in “Emerging from the Earth,” the 15th chapter of the Lotus Sutra. In “Supernatural Powers,” the 21st chapter, Shakyamuni entrusts Superior Practices with propagating the Lotus Sutra during the evil age of the Latter Day of the Law. In his writings, Nichiren associates himself with Bodhisattva Superior Practices, saying that he has fulfilled the mission entrusted to the bodhisattva by Shakyamuni, and he refers to his propagation efforts as the work of Bodhisattva Superior Practices.
21. Hakiri Sanenaga (1222–97): Also known as Hakii Sanenaga. The steward of the southern part of Kai Province (present-day Yamanashi Prefecture) that included the Minobu area. He was converted by Nikko to Nichiren Daishonin’s teachings in 1269. When Nichiren resolved to leave Kamakura, Hakiri eagerly welcomed him to Minobu and constructed a small dwelling for him. In 1281, he built a temple and donated it to the Daishonin, who named it Kuon-ji. After the Daishonin’s death, he continued to support the Daishonin’s successor, Nikko Shonin. Later, however, adversely influenced by Niko, then the chief instructor of priests, he strayed from the Daishonin’s teachings.
22. Translated from Japanese. Nikko Shonin, “Reply to Hara,” in Hennentai Nichiren Daishonin Gosho (Chronological Compilation of Nichiren Daishonin’s Writings), compiled by the Soka Gakkai Study Department (Tokyo: Soka Gakkai, 1991), p. 1732
23. Ibid.
24. T’ien-t’ai (538–97): Also known as Chih-i. The founder of the T’ien-t’ai school in China. Commonly referred to as the Great Teacher T’ien-t’ai. His lectures were compiled in such works as The Profound Meaning of the Lotus Sutra, The Words and Phrases of the Lotus Sutra and Great Concentration and Insight. T’ien-t’ai refuted all the other Buddhist schools in China, and spread the Lotus Sutra.
25. “Reply to Hara,” p. 1733.
26. Ibid.
27. Nikko Shonin finally decided to leave Minobu, along with his close disciples, when he concluded that it would not be the right place to preserve the Daishonin’s teachings. Behind this was the slander of the Law committed by Niko and Hakiri Sanenaga. Under Niko’s influence, the latter commissioned a statue of Shakyamuni Buddha, made pilgrimages to Shinto shrines, contributed to the erecting of a tower of the Pure Land (Nembutsu) school and even had a Pure Land temple built. Nikko Shonin repeatedly warned them that such acts flagrantly contradicted the Daishonin’s teachings, but to no avail, thus prompting his departure
28. “Reply to Hara,” p. 1733.
29. On May 5, 1979, at the Kanagawa Culture Center in Yokohama, shortly after stepping down as third president of the Soka Gakkai, SGI President Ikeda took up his calligraphy brush and wrote the word Justice. Next to it, in the lower right hand corner, he wrote: “I carry the banner of justice alone.”
30. Nanjo Tokimitsu (1259–1332): A staunch follower of the Daishonin and the steward of Ueno Village in Fuji District of Suruga Province (part of present-day Shizuoka Prefecture). He aided Nikko Shonin’s efforts to spread the correct teaching of Buddhism in the Fuji area during the Daishonin’s lifetime, and made his own residence available as a center of propagation activities. During the subsequent Atsuhara Persecution, Tokimitsu used his influence to protect his fellow practitioners, sheltering some in his home. The Daishonin honored him for his courage and tireless efforts by calling him “Ueno the Worthy,” though he was only about twenty at the time. When Nikko Shonin left Minobu in 1289, Tokimitsu invited him to come and live at his residence in Ueno Village. He further donated a tract of land on which Nikko Shonin built a temple that became the latter and his followers’ new base of activities.
31. Atsuhara Persecution: A series of threats and acts of violence against the Daishonin’s followers in Atsuhara Village, in Fuji District of Suruga Province, beginning around 1275 and continuing until around 1283. In 1279, 20 farmer believers were unjustly arrested and sent to Kamakura, where they were interrogated by Hei no Saemon, who demanded that they renounce their faith; however, not one of them yielded. Eventually, three of these peasant followers were executed—the brothers Jinshiro, Yagoro and Yarokuro. They are known as the three martyrs of Atsuhara.
32. See footnote immediately above.
33. Ten demon daughters: In “Dharani,” the 26th chapter of the Lotus Sutra, they vow to guard and protect the sutra’s votaries, saying that they will inflict punishment on any who trouble the sutra’s practitioners.
34. Osaka Incident: The occasion when SGI President Ikeda, then Soka Gakkai youth division chief of staff, was arrested and wrongfully charged with election law violations in a House of Councilor’s by-election in Osaka in 1957. At the end of the court case, which dragged on for almost five years, he was fully exonerated of all charges.
35. In 1293, 14 years after the Atsuhara Persecution, Hei no Saemon’s eldest son, Munetsuna, secretly informed the regent Hojo Sadatoki that his father, Hei no Saemon, was plotting to overthrow the regime and establish his second son, Sukemune, as shogun. Sadatoki’s forces surrounded Hei no Saemon’s residence and set it on fire. Together with Sukemune and other members of his family, Hei no Saemon met his demise at the very place where the three martyrs of Atsuhara had been tortured. The eldest son, who had betrayed his father, was exiled to Sado, and Hei no Saemon’s line was effectively wiped out.
36. Fuji shugaku yoshu, vol. 9, p. 258.
37. Ibid., vol. 8, p. 217.
38. Ibid., p. 333.