Namu Myōhō Renge Kyō

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An inscription of Nam Myōhō Renge Kyō by Japanese artisan Hasegawa Tohaku. Toyama, Japan. Circa Momoyama period, 1568.

Namu Myōhō Renge Kyō[a] (南無妙法蓮華経) are Japanese words chanted within all forms of Nichiren Buddhism. In English, they mean "Devotion to the Mystic Law of the Lotus Sutra" or "Glory to the Dharma of the Lotus Sutra".[2][3]

The words 'Myōhō Renge Kyō' refer to the Japanese title of the Lotus Sūtra. The mantra is referred to as Daimoku (題目)[3] or, in honorific form, O-daimoku (お題目) meaning title and was first publicly declared by the Japanese Buddhist priest Nichiren on 28 April 1253 atop Mount Kiyosumi, now memorialized by Seichō-ji temple in Kamogawa, Chiba prefecture, Japan.[4][5]

The practice of prolonged chanting is referred to as Shōdai (唱題). Believers claim that the purpose of chanting is to reduce suffering by eradicating negative karma along with reducing karmic punishments both from previous and present lifetimes,[6] with the goal of attaining perfect and complete awakening.[7]

Buddhist proponents[edit]

While the Tendai monks Saicho (767-822) and Genshin (942-1017) have been said by some to have originated the Daimoku [citation needed], the Buddhist priest Nichiren (1222-1282) is known today as its greatest propagator for popularizing it in Japan. The mantra is an homage to the Lotus Sutra. In Nichiren's writings, he frequently quotes passages from the Lotus Sutra in which the Buddha declared it to be his highest teaching. These passages include: "I have preached various sutras and among those sutras the Lotus is the foremost!", "Among all the sutras, it holds the highest place," and "This sutra is king of the sutras."[8][9]

Before Nichiren's time, during a Lotus Sutra lecture series in Japan in 1110 C.E., a tale was told of an illiterate monk in Sui-dynasty China who was instructed to chant from dawn to night the daimoku mantra "Namu Ichijō Myōhō Renge Kyō" as a way to honor the Lotus Sutra as the One Vehicle teaching of the Buddha since he could not read the sutra. The monk upon suicide plunged into to hell then recited "Namu Myōhō Renge Kyō", which was heard by Yama who subsequently sent the monk back to life. [10]

The Kūkan (Contemplation of Emptiness), a text attributed to the Tendai monk Genshin, advocates for those who aspire to Amitabha's Pure Land to recite "Namu Amida Butsu, Namu Myōhō Renge Kyō, Namu Kanzeon Bosatsu," which can be interpreted as honoring correspondingly the three jewels of Buddhism.[11] Nichiren, who himself was a Tendai monk, may have reappropriated the chant down to Namu Myōhō Renge Kyō, and Nichiren Buddhists are responsible for its wide popularity and usage all over the world today.


The Japanese Buddhist priest Nichiren was a known advocate of this recitation, claiming it is the exclusive method to happiness and salvation suited for the Third Age of Buddhism. According to varying believers, Nichiren cited the mantra in his Ongi Kuden,[12][dubious ] a transcription of his lectures about the Lotus Sutra, Namu (南無) is a transliteration into Japanese of the Sanskrit namas, and Myōhō Renge Kyō is the Sino-Japanese pronunciation of the Chinese title of the Lotus Sutra (hence, Daimoku, which is a Japanese word meaning 'title'), in the translation by Kumārajīva. Nichiren gives a detailed interpretation of each character (see Ongi kuden#The meaning of Nam(u) Myōhō Renge Kyō) in this text.[13]

The Lotus Sutra is held by Nichiren Buddhists,[14] as well as practitioners of the Tiantai and corresponding Japanese Tendai schools, to be the culmination of Shakyamuni Buddha's fifty years of teaching. However, followers of Nichiren Buddhism consider Myōhō Renge Kyō to be the name of the ultimate law permeating the universe, in unison with human life which can manifest realization, sometimes termed as "Buddha Wisdom" or "attaining Buddhahood", through select Buddhist practices.

Word-by-word translation[edit]

Namu is used in Buddhism as a prefix expressing taking refuge in a Buddha or similar object of veneration. Among varying Nichiren sects, the phonetic use of Nam versus Namu is a linguistic but not a dogmatic issue,[15] due to common contractions and u is devoiced in many varieties of Japanese words.[16] In this mantra, the Japanese drop the "u" sound when chanting at a fast pace, but write "Namu", seeing as it is impossible to contract the word into 'Nam' in their native script.[15]

Namu – Myōhō – Renge – Kyō consists of the following:

  • Namu 南無 "devoted to", a transliteration of Sanskrit námas meaning: 'obeisance, reverential salutation, adoration'.[17]
  • Myōhō 妙法 "exquisite law"[3]
    • Myō , from Middle Chinese mièw, "strange, mystery, miracle, cleverness" (cf. Mandarin miào)
    • , from Middle Chinese pjap, "law, principle, doctrine" (cf. Mand. )
  • Renge-kyō 蓮華 "Lotus Sutra"
    • Renge 蓮華 "padma (Lotus)"
      • Ren , from Middle Chinese len, "lotus" (cf. Mand. lián)
      • Ge , from Middle Chinese xwæ, "flower" (cf. Mand. huā)
    • Kyō , from Middle Chinese kjeng, "sutra" (cf. Mand. jīng)

References in film[edit]

Associations in music[edit]

The words appear in songs including:

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Sometimes truncated phonetically as Nam Myōhō Renge Kyō.[1]


  1. ^ Chinese Buddhist Encyclopedia - Five or seven characters
  2. ^ SGDB (2002), Lotus Sutra of the Wonderful Law Archived 2014-05-20 at the Wayback Machine
  3. ^ a b c Kenkyusha (1991), p. [page needed].
  4. ^ Anesaki (1916), p. 34.
  5. ^ SGDB (2002), Nichiren Archived 2015-09-24 at the Wayback Machine
  6. ^ "Myohoji". Archived from the original on 2016-08-09. Retrieved 2016-06-14.
  7. ^ "Soka Gakkai (Global)".
  8. ^ "The Teacher of the Law". The Lotus Sutra and its Opening and Closing Sutras. Translated by Watson, Burton Dewitt.
  9. ^ "Former Affairs of the Bodhisattva Medicine King". The Lotus Sutra and its Opening and Closing Sutras. Translated by Watson, Burton Dewitt.
  10. ^ Stone, Jacqueline, Original Enlightenment and the Transformation of Medieval Japanese Buddhism
  11. ^ Stone, Jacqueline, “Chanting the August Title of the Lotus Sutra: Daimoku Practices in Classical and Medieval Japan”, Re-envisioning Kamakura Buddhism
  12. ^ Watson (2005), p. [page needed].
  13. ^ Masatoshi, Ueki (2001). Gender equality in Buddhism. Peter Lang. pp. 136, 159–161. ISBN 0820451339.
  14. ^ "The Meaning of Nam-myoho-renge-kyo | Benefits & Miracles". Angel Manifest. 2020-01-13. Retrieved 2022-04-17.
  15. ^ a b Ryuei (1999), Nam or Namu? Does it really matter?.
  16. ^ P. M, Suzuki (2011). The Phonetics of Japanese Language: With Reference to Japanese Script. Routledge. p. 49. ISBN 978-0415594134.
  17. ^ "Monier-Williams Sanskrit Dictionary 1899 Advanced".
  18. ^ (2008-04-16). "Exhibition of 'Lotus Sutra' in the capital". Livemint. Retrieved 2020-07-14.
  19. ^ Archived at Ghostarchive and the Wayback Machine: "Gandhiji's Prayer meeting - full audio - 31 May 1947". You Tube and Gandhi Serve. Gandhiserve Foundation. Retrieved 6 September 2019.
  20. ^ Gandhi, Rajmohan. "Gandhi Voyage starts in world's largest Muslim nation". Retrieved 6 September 2019.
  21. ^ Gandhi, Rajmohan (1 March 2008). Gandhi: The man, his people and the empire (1 ed.). University of California Press.
  22. ^ Gandhi, Rajmohan. "What gandhi wanted for India". The Week. Retrieved 6 September 2019.
  23. ^ a b c d e "Myo in the Media". Ft Worth Buddhas. Soka Gakkai International-Fort Worth. Retrieved 7 April 2020.
  24. ^ "The Queen of Hope". Living Buddhism / World Tribune. Soka Gakkai International-USA. August 1, 2018. Retrieved January 11, 2019.
  25. ^ "Nam Myoho Renge Kyo". 11 June 2023.
  26. ^ "The Last Temptation of Homer". 20th Century Fox. 1993. Retrieved 2022-01-19.
  27. ^ Archived at Ghostarchive and the Wayback Machine: "Orlando Bloom on Buddhism, Nam Myoho Renge Kyo and Daisaku Ikeda". SGI-USA Media. Soka Gakkai International-USA. January 31, 2019. Retrieved July 16, 2019.
  28. ^ "Watch Buster Williams: Bass to Infinity | Prime Video". Amazon.
  29. ^ "Baggio: The Divine Ponytail", Wikipedia, 2023-08-02, retrieved 2023-08-14
  30. ^ Archived at Ghostarchive and the Wayback Machine: "Let Go and Let God". Grace and Gratitude. YouTube. November 30, 2013. Retrieved July 16, 2019.
  31. ^ Archived at Ghostarchive and the Wayback Machine: "yoko ono namyohorengekyo music video". Namyohorengekyo. YouTube. March 16, 2013. Retrieved September 28, 2021.
  32. ^ "Tina Turner - Nam Myoho Renge Kyo (2H Buddhist Mantra)". YouTube.
  33. ^ West, Kanye. "No More Parties in LA". Youtube. Retrieved 7 September 2022.
  34. ^ "Ugly - Sha Lyrics | 1 review".


Further reading[edit]