Nikkyō Niwano (庭野日敬 Niwano Nikkyō , 1906–1999) was one of the founders and first president of the Buddhist organization, Risshō Kōsei Kai.
Statue of Founder Niwano
November 15, 1906|
Niigata Prefecture, Japan
|Died||October 4, 1999(aged 92)|
|Occupation||President of Risshō Kōsei Kai|
|Known for||Religious work, Founder of Risshō Kōsei Kai|
|Title||Great Teacher of the One Vehicle|
|Term||March 5, 1939-November 15, 1991|
|Predecessor||None, Office Created|
|Successor||Rev. Nichiko Niwano|
Born on November 15, 1906 to farmers, Nikkyō had a humble life in a small town. Later in his youth he moved to Tokyo to work and it was here that he began to study several different religions. During his studies he attended a sermon on the Lotus Sutra and he became a Buddhist. Daniel Montgomery quotes Dharma World,(December 1980,4):
"It was because of the guidance of my teacher Sukenobu Arai, that I became fond of the Sutra, threw myself into it, and made it part of me. Until then I had gone from one religion to another; each had its power to save, but they were like coarse nets through which many fish could slip. The ecstasy of discovering this made me want to shout and sing and dance for joy"
Risshō Kōsei Kai
Mr. Niwano had been actively involved with the Buddhist group Reiyūkai, and it was then that he encountered Ms. Myoko Naganuma and lead her to convert to Reiyūkai. In 1938 they both attended a leaders meeting where the leadership of Reiyūkai made several comments stating that the Lotus Sutra was outdated. After discussing this matter with each other, they decided that they could not belong to an organization which held this type of view. On March 5, 1938 they founded Risshō Kōsei Kai, holding the first meeting in Mr. Niwano's house.
Mr. Niwano was to be the President and Ms. Naganuma to be the vice-president. As the organization grew he gave up his job as a milk man and devoted himself full-time to the ministry. He became involved in interfaith activities and helped to found the World Conference of Religions for Peace in 1970. During this time he became involved in numerous religious and cultural conferences and gathers, some of which include the Asian Conference on Religion and Peace and the 6th WCRP in Italy where he presided over the WCRP alongside Pope John Paul II. He also spoke on several occasions as the United Nations calling for world peace and the abolition of nuclear arms.
In 1991 he stepped down as president and was succeeded by his eldest son, Nichiko Niwano. Although retired, he continued to participate in interfaith and peace activities. He died on October 4, 1999.
In 1979 he was awarded the Templeton Foundation Prize for Progress in Religion. In 1992 he was made a Knight Commander with the Silver Star of the Order of St. Gregory the Great by the Vatican. In 1993 Mr. Niwano was awarded the Interfaith Medallion from the International Council of Christians and Jews. Fire in the Lotus (a Book by Daniel Montgomery) quotes that "no Buddhist leader in the World has become more widely known or showered with honours than him." 
Death and legacy
Nikkyo Niwano died on October 4, 1999. He was cremated and some of his ashes were placed in the Precious Stupa of the One Vehicle, a small stupa located on the grounds of the groups headquarters. He is remembered for his interfaith work and his calls for global peace and disarmament. While many people around the world regard him with the highest respect, some criticism occurred shortly after his death regarding the large fortune that he left behind, many claiming that this was un-Buddhist.
- Nikkyō Niwano: Buddhism for Today, A Modern Interpretation of the Threefold Lotus Sutra, Kosei Publishing Co/Weatherhill Inc; 1980. ISBN 0834801477
- Nikkyō Niwano: A Guide to the Threefold Lotus Sutra, Kosei Publishing Co 1989. ISBN 433301025X
- Nikkyō Niwano: Lifetime Beginner: An Autobiography, Kosei Publishing Co 1978. ISBN 4333003369
- Nikkyō Niwano: Invisible Eyelashes: Seeing What is Closest to Us, Kosei Publishing Co 1995. ISBN 4333016819
||Constructs such as ibid., loc. cit. and idem are discouraged by Wikipedia's style guide for footnotes, as they are easily broken. Please improve this article by replacing them with named references (quick guide), or an abbreviated title. (June 2010)|
- Fire in the Lotus, The Dynamic Religion of Buddhism, Daniel Montgomery, page 232.
- Official Profile
- Obit of leader
- Rissho Kosei Kai website
- Risho Kossei Kai do Brasil website
- Amazon Link to "Fire in the Lotus"
|Director General Rissho Kosei-kai
March 5, 1938–March 28, 1943
Himself as President
|President of Rissho Kosei-kai
March 28, 1943–November 15, 1991