Nichidatsu Fujii

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This article incorporates a biographical account of Nichidatsu Fujii by Bhaktaraj Sunuwar published by Beacon Publications


The most venerable Nichidatsu Fujii, the founder and teacher of Nipponzan Myohoji, was born on August 6, 1885 in Aso Kyushu, Island of Japan. He became a Buddhist monk at the age of 19, at a crucial time when dominating phase and tendency of military superiority was upheld by Japan in the global scenario in the pretext of modernising the country. He resalised that his purpose in life would have to be the role cause of world peace and tranquility. He spent his time in studying and practising the ascetic value most sincerely and consistently.

He was born to an extremely poor peasant family. He finished his elementary school by the time the Sino-Japanese War ended (1894-1895). he also attended the Agricultural High School for professional education. But at the same time he remained attached to the Buddhist Temples. After his graduation from High School in 1903, he was initiated in Joonji Temple by late Venerable Nichiei Adachi as a novice. Anti-Buddhist Campaign and repression measures were still rampant in the country. people were discouraged from entering the Order of monks. His father had actually expected him to be a civil servant in future, but at last his mother conceded to her son's desire to become a monk fearing that he might desert his home and family forever if continued to exert pressure against his will.

He was an ardent follower of Nichiren Daishonin a 13th Century Buddhist Prophet and monk. He vehemently challenged the policy and practices of the Government, besides accusing the irrelevant religious practices prevalent during that tim. Nichiren Daishonin had also denounced all those misleading practices devoid of a true Buddhist teaching.

He started his first mission of Asian tour to propagate the doctrine in Korean peninsula, which was then ruled over by Japan. Then he visited Dairen, Manchuria, North China and so on. While on his foreign preaching mission the Great Kanto Earthquake in Harbin of September 1, 1923 forced him to stop his overseas mission and came back to Tokyo in early October. He set up Nihonzan Temples in a number of places after returning to Japan due to earthquake. The first Nihonzan Myohoji Temple in Japan was built by him at the foot of a renowned Mt. Fuji. His beloved mother Mina Fujii died at Nihonzan Myohoji [Japan Buddha Sangha] in Atami in February 1930. He erected a memorial tower for her on Mt. Minobu. has father had died in Korea in 1919.


He had a strong desire to go to India and propagate the doctrine beacuse of the fact that St. Nichiren had predicted that the Buddhism of Japan would ultimately return to India, the land of its origin. He left Kobe, Japan on September 1st, 1930 and arrived in Dairen travelling many parts of Manchuria. Then he arrived in Hong Kong on December 16th of the same year and arrived in Calcutta leaving Singapore on January 6th 1931. Another vital motive behind his travel to India was the presence of Mahatma Gandhi. Finally he arrived at Buddha's birthplace. But he was very much surprised to find the holy place in miserable condition. In an effort to reinstate the holy place he submitted a petition to the Nepalese Governemtn but the same was rejected. Being quite frustrated, he concentrated himself in missionary work visiting Calcutta and Bombay. But in Calcutta he did not get satisfactory responses even amongst a few believers. Even the Japanese Consulate could not respond him and the authority advised him to stop his shamful act of beating a drum and chanting the prayer while walking along the streets. So he gave up his scheme in Calcutta and decided to go to Bombay. In Bombay he just walked around beating the drum and chanting prayer, but engaged in no particular missionary work.

At first he was not able to increase his followers but after sometime one after another the children increased in numbers and learned to chant the prayer 'Na-Mu-Myo-Ho-Ren-Ge-Gyo'. The news immediately spread elsewhere and was even reported to Mahatma Gandhi, who was then living in Wardha, a small town west of Nagpur and came to see him with his wife Kasturba. Guruji came in close contact with Mahatma Gandhi, who was sprearheading the cause of national movement through non-violence means against the British Rule in India. It was Mahatma Gandhi himself who first bestowed on him with the title 'Guruji'. Mahatma Gandhi also used to practice the beating of drum and chanting 'Nag-Mu-Myo-Ho-Ren-Ge-Gyo' in the same spirit and manner. Mahatma Gandhi's Salt March was also one of the reasons why Guruji came to India beating his hand drum. The trust and sincerity between Guriji and Mahatma Gandji was unquestionable. Mahatma Gandhi had even requested Guruji to stay at the ashram permanently at Wardha on October 4, 1933. Referring to the vist of Guruji, Mahatma Gandhi wrote, "After my return to India from South Africa in 1915, I came in close contact with Japanese monks who lived as members of our Ashram from time to time. One of them became a valuable member of the Ashram in Sevagram (Wardha) and his application to duty affability, unruffledness under varying circumstances and natural smile which was so endeared him to all of us. And now that owing to the declaration of war against Great Britain he has been taken away from us, we miss him as a dear co-worker. he has left behind him as a memory his daily prayer and his little drum to the accompaniment of which we open our morning and evening prayer."

It wa sin 1931 that he made a vow to build a stupa and reinstate Buddhism in Rajgir, where Satyamuni preached the Lotus Sutra and it was completed in 1969. Japan Buddha Sangha then began to propagate its doctrine in Orissa and in Darjeeling in Bengal. Guruji himself once said about Darjeeling in this way, "Darjeeling, a summer resort in the northern part of Bengal is favoured with a mild climate and healthy air. There the water is clear and the landscape is uperb. One can enjoy the beautiful and majestic view of the world's highest Himalayas, and the Buddha's birthplace is located nearby. So I thought I should by all means propagate the faith in this place."

In February 1933, he went to Ceylon (Sri Lanka today) and climbed Mt. Sripada. It was after his unexpected and miraculous meeting with the Buddha's ashes at the foot of Mt. Sripada, he quickly departed for Colombo chanting, the prayr and beating the drum with the Buddha's ashes in a silver box hung from his neck. At first he planned to leave for Europe but changed his mission to visit Wardha.

Guruji incessantly travlled around the world spreading his message of peace and constructions of Peace Pagodas were symbols of World Peace Movement. Guruji's mission to spread the Dharma was not to convert people to his religion but to inculcate in them to create genuine faith to inculcate in them to create genuine faith in their own religion and tradition to work in their own relgion and tradition to work in their own religion and tradition to work together in creating a better peaceful world together in creating a better peaceful world for each and everyone. His relentless effort to abolish all nuclear weapons from the face of our planet was of utmost significance. The atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945 marked the dawn of the nuclear age and Guruji recognized the grave danger in humanity's near and unprecedented capacity for self innihilation. He dedicated himself to a life-long campaign for the abolition of nuclear weapons. After World War II Guruji also began the construction of Peace Pagodas as a means to build a universal, spiritual foundation for peace in this world.

A young devotee of Nipponzan Myohoji had once said about the humbleness of Guruji in this way, " In 1981 at one of our first meeting in Japan during World Assembly of Religious Workers for Nuclear Disarmament, Guruji asked me how I liked Japan. I told him it was like another home for me but that I do not get along very well with Japanese houses. The door ways are too small and I often bump my head, with a warm smile Guruji responded, "Oh that's good. You must keep lowering your head. You will remain humble." He beleived in his heart and soul that at the core of this mon's spirituality is the Buddha's consciousness, awake and illuminating. Regarding the concept of non-violence into practice is not for the timid of heart. The martyred Dr. Martin Luther King was a believer in Gandhiji. Non violence demands extraordinary courage. It takes uncompromising faith in human beings and unwavering confidence in spiritual values to beleive that there is Buddha's nature even in evil men and a resolve to sacrifice oneself for them. It is a path beset with hardship."

Such a profound personality whose sole aim and objective in this life and world was to dispel all darkness ignorance, hatred, rivalry and jealousy from this world had to leave this temporal world for his heavenly abode on the 9th of January 1985, six months after his 100th birthday celebration.

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