Rationale for Submitting the Rissho Ankoku Ron
- 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 than ever.
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-ji 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. 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. 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 T’ang China, named Chien-chen (Ganjin), had
come to Japan and brought with him the commentaries of T’ien-t’ai. 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 Hiei 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 Tendai sect.
In the thirteenth year of the Enryaku era (794), the emperor moved the capital from Nagaoka to the city
of Heian. 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, 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" 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 Seiwa was able to ascend the throne as a consequence
of the powerful prayers of the priest Eryo of Mount Hiei. The emperor’s 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 of heaven?
In the time of the Retired Emperor Gotoba, during the Kennin era (1201-1204), there were two arrogant
men, Honen and Dainichi. 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 Bun’ei 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 T’ien-t’ai 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, 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 Bun’ei (1268), cyclical sign tsuchinoe-tatsu
To Hogan Gobo