Rationale for Submitting the Rissho Ankoku
- Ankoku Ron Gokan Yurai -
In the first year of the Shoka era (1257),
when the reverse marker of Jupiter was in the sector of
the sky with the cyclical sign hinoto-mi, on the
twenty-third day of the eighth month, at the time when the
hour of the dog gives way to the hour of the boar (around
9:00 P.M.), there occurred an earthquake of unprecedented
magnitude. In the second year of the same era (1258), cyclical
sign tsuchinoe-uma, on the first day of the eighth
month, there was a great wind. In the third year 1259),
cyclical sign tsuchinoto-hitsuji, a major famine
occurred. In the first year of the Shogen era (1259), cyclical
sign tsuchinoto-hitsuji, epidemics were rampant,
and throughout the four seasons of the second year (1260),
cyclical sign kanoe-saru, the epidemics continued
to rage without abating. By this time more than half the
ordinary citizens of the nation had been laid low by death.
The ruler of the country, alarmed at this state of affairs,
turned to the scriptures of Buddhism and the non-Buddhist
writings for help, ordering that various prayers be offered.
These, however, failed to produce the slightest effect.
On the contrary, famine and epidemics raged more fiercely
I, Nichiren, observing this state of affairs,
proceeded to consult the great collection of Buddhist scriptures.
There I discovered the reason why these prayers are without
effect and on the contrary actually make the situation worse,
along with passages of proof to support it. In the end I
had no other recourse than to compile a work to present
my findings, entitling it "Rissho
Ankoku Ron." In the first year of the Bunno era
(1260), cyclical sign kanoe-saru, on the sixteenth
day of the seventh month, at the hour of the dragon (7:00-9:00
A.M.), I handed it to Yadoya Nyudo for presentation to His
Lordship, the lay priest of Saimyo-ji1
who is now deceased. This I did solely that I might repay
the debt of gratitude that I owe to my native land.
The essence of this memorial is as follows.
This country of Japan is placed under the seven reigns of
the heavenly deities and the five reigns of the earthly
deities, and then under the hundred reigns of human sovereigns.
During the reign of Emperor Kimmei, the thirtieth of the
human sovereigns, Buddhism was for the first time introduced
from the kingdom of Paekche.2
From that time until the reign of Emperor Kammu, the fiftieth
human sovereign, a period of some 260 years, the various
Buddhist scriptures were brought to Japan, as well as the
six sects of Buddhism.3
At this time, however, the Tendai and Shingon sects had
not yet been introduced.
During the reign of Emperor Kammu, there
was a young priest named Saicho, who was a disciple of the
administrator of monks Gyohyo of Yamashina-dera temple.
(He later came to be known as the Great Teacher Dengyo.)
He made a thorough study of the six sects that had been
introduced to Japan earlier, as well as of the Zen doctrine,
but none of these seemed to satisfy him. Earlier, in the
reign of Emperor Shomu, a priest of Tang China, named
Chien-chen (Ganjin), had come to Japan and brought with
him the commentaries of Tien-tai. Forty or more
years had passed and Saicho was the first person to peruse
them and understand the profound meaning of Buddhism.
In the fourth year of the Enryaku era (785),
Saicho founded a temple on Mount Hiei4
in order to insure the continuance of peace in heaven and
on earth. Emperor Kammu paid honor to the new establishment,
designating it as a place of worship where prayers could
be offered to the guardian star of the ruler. He ceased
to heed the teachings of the six sects and instead gave
wholehearted allegiance to the perfect doctrines of the
In the thirteenth year of the Enryaku era
(794), the emperor moved the capital from Nagaoka to the
city of Heian.5 In the
twenty-first year of the same era (802), on the nineteenth
day of the first month, the emperor summoned fourteen great
scholars of the six sects from the seven major temples of
Nara, including such priests as Gonso and Choyo,6
to Takao-dera temple, and ordered them to engage Saicho
in debate. These masters of the six sects were not able
to hold their own against Saicho even for a single exchange
of opinions, to the extent that their mouths were as incapable
of speech as noses. The "five teachings"7
of the Kegon sect, the "three periods" of the
Hosso sect, and the "two storehouses and three periods"
propounded by the Sanron sect -- all of these doctrines
were demolished by Saicho. The doctrines of the six sects
not only were refuted, but it was demonstrated how they
all go against the correct teaching. On the twenty-ninth
day of the same month, the emperor handed down an edict
severely criticizing the fourteen debaters who had confronted
Saicho. These priests in turn drew up a letter apologizing
for their conduct and submitted it to the emperor.
Thereafter, one sovereign after another
paid allegiance to Mount Hiei, treating it with even greater
deference than a filial son shows toward his father and
mother, regarding it (with greater awe) than the common
people manifest before the might of the ruler. At times
the rulers issued edicts to honor it, at other times they
were obliged to give their approval to its unjust demands.
We may note in particular that Emperor Seiwa8
was able to ascend the throne as a consequence of the powerful
prayers of the priest Eryo of Mount Hiei. The emperors
maternal grandfather, the Minister of the Right Kujo, for
this reason submitted a written pledge of his fidelity to
Mount Hiei. The General of the Right Minamoto no Yoritomo,
[the founder of the Kamakura shogunate,] it will be recalled,
was a descendant of Emperor Seiwa. And yet the government
authorities in Kamakura, though they may or may not be following
the right course in their administration, ignore and turn
their back on Mount Hiei. Have they no fear of the punishment
In the time of the Retired Emperor Gotoba,
during the Kennin era (1201-1204), there were two arrogant
men, Honen and Dainichi.9
Their bodies were possessed of demons, and they went about
deluding the people of both high and low station throughout
the country, until everyone had become a Nembutsu believer
or else was hastening to join the Zen sect. Those who continued
to pay respect to Mount Hiei became surprisingly few and
lacking in ardor, and throughout the country, the priests
who were authorities on the Lotus Sutra or the Shingon teachings
found themselves ignored and rejected.
As a result, the Sun Goddess, Hachiman,
and the gods of the seven shrines of Sanno, who guard and
protect Mount Hiei, as well as the other great benevolent
deities who protect the different parts of the nation, were
no longer able to taste the flavor of the Law. Their power
and brilliance waned, and they abandoned the country. Thus
the demons were able to gain access to the nation and to
bring about disasters and calamities. These disasters, as
I stated in my memorial, were omens signifying that our
country would in the end be destroyed by a foreign nation.
Later, in the first year of the Bunei
era (1264), cyclical sign kinoe-ne, on the fifth day of
the seventh month, a comet appeared in the east, and its
light shone over the whole country of Japan. This is an
evil portent such as has never been seen before since the
beginning of history. None of the authorities on the Buddhist
scriptures or the non-Buddhist writings could understand
what had brought about such an ill omen. I became even more
grieved and distressed. Now, nine years after I presented
my memorial [to the lay priest of Saimyo-ji], in the intercalary
first month of this year, the official letter arrived from
the great kingdom of the Mongols. The events that have occurred
match the predictions made in my memorial as exactly as
do the two halves of a tally.
The Buddha left this prediction, saying:
"One hundred or more years after my passing, a great
ruler named King Ashoka will appear in the world and will
spread my relics far and wide." In the reign of King
Chao, the fourth ruler of the Chou dynasty, the Grand Historian
Su Yu made this prediction: "[A sage has been born
in the western region.] One thousand years from now, the
noble teachings of this sage will be brought to this country."
Prince Shotoku predicted: "After my death, when two
hundred years or more have passed, the city of Heian will
be established in the province of Yamashiro." And the
Great Teacher Tien-tai predicted: "Two
hundred years or more after my death, I will be reborn in
an eastern country and will spread my correct teaching."
All of these predictions were fulfilled to the letter.
When I, Nichiren, observed the great earthquake
of the Shoka era, and the great wind and famine that occurred
in the same era, as well as the major outbreak of epidemics
that took place in the first year of the Shogen era (I259),
I made a prediction, saying: "These are omens indicating
that this country of ours will be destroyed by a foreign
nation." I may seem to be praising myself for having
made such a prediction, but, if our country should be destroyed,
it would most certainly mean the destruction of the Buddhist
teachings as well.
The eminent Buddhist priests of our time
seem to be of one mind with those who slander the Law. In
fact, they do not even understand the true meaning of the
teachings of their own sects. It is certain that, if they
should receive an imperial command or instructions from
the government authorities to offer prayers in an effort
to avert the evils that beset the nation, they would only
make the Buddhas and deities angrier than they are already,
and then the nation could not help but face ruin.
I, Nichiren, understand the steps that
should be taken to remedy the situation. Other than the
Sage of Mount Hiei,10
I am the only person in all of Japan who does. Just as there
are not two suns or two moons, so two sages are not to be
found standing side by side. If these words of mine are
false, then may I be punished by the ten demon daughters
who protect the Lotus Sutra that I embrace. I say all this
solely for the sake of the nation, for the sake of the Law,
for the sake of others, not for my own sake. I will be calling
upon you in person, and so I am informing you of this. If
you do not heed my advice, you will surely regret it later.
The fifth day of the fourth month in the
fifth year of Bunei (1268), cyclical sign tsuchinoe-tatsu
To Hogan Gobo
- Lay monk of Saimycii: The retired regent, Hojo Tokiyori.
- Packche: An ancient state on the Korean Peninsula.
- Six sects: Sanron, Jojitsu, Hosso, Kusho, Ritsu and
Kegon, the six major sects of Buddhism which flourished
in the ancient Japanese capital of Nara.
- Temple on Mount Hiei: Enryaku-ji, the head temple of
the Tendai sect and site of the ordination center of Mahayana
Buddhism. Dengyo petitioned the throne for permission
to erect the ordination center, and it was completed by
his successor, Gishin.
- Heian: The ancient name of Kyoto.
- Gonso and Choyo: Gonso (758-827) was a priest and scholar
of the Sanron sect at Daian-ii temple in Nara. Kobo Daishi,
founder of the Japanese Shingon sect, was his disciple.
Details concerning Choyo are unknown.
- These are systems by which these sects sought to classify
the body of Buddhist scriptures. The "Five Teachings"
of Kegon divides the sutras into Hinayana, early Mahayana,
advanced Mahayana, abrupt teachings and perfect teachings.
The "Three Periods" of the Hosso sect divides
the sutras into: i) teachings that all is existence; 2)
teachings that all is void; and 3) teachings of the Middle
Way. The Sanron's "Two Storehouses" are teachings
for shat"on and teachings for bodhisattvas, and the
"Three Eras" ofthat sect are: 1) teachings that
both the subjective mind and its object exist; 2) teachings
that only the mind exists; and 3) teachings that both
mind and object are void.
- Emperor Seiwa (850-880): Prince Korehito, fourth son
of the Emperor Montoku. According to tradition, Montoku
was unable to decide whether he should name Korehito or
another of his sons at his successor, and had the two
princes hold a sumb match to settle the matter. It is
said that Korehito won because of the prayers offered
on his behalf by the priest Erya.
- Dainichi: A twelfth-century Japanese priest who spread
the Zen teachings before Eisai, the founder of the Rinzai
school. He was also called Nonin. Because he was criticized
for not having received his teachings from a master, in
i 189 he sent his two disciples to China to have his teachings
authenticated by a Zen master named Cho-an of Mt. Yfi-wang.
Thereafter he named his sect the Nihon DarUnla or Japanese
- Sage of Mount Hici: The Great Teacher Dengyo.
Major Writings of Nichiren Daishonin; Vol 2.