Namu Myōhō Renge Kyō

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

Namu Myōhō Renge Kyō (南無妙法蓮華経; sometimes truncated phonetically as Nam Myōhō Renge Kyō)[1] (English: Devotion to the Mystic Law of the Lotus Sutra / Glory to the Dharma of the Lotus Sutra)[2][3] are words chanted within all forms of Nichiren Buddhism.

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) while mainstream 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]

Early Buddhist proponents[edit]

The Tendai monks Saicho and Genshin are said to have originated the Daimoku while the Buddhist priest Nichiren is known today as its greatest proponent. The mantra is an homage to the Lotus Sutra which is widely credited as the "king of scriptures" and "final word on Buddhism". According to Jacqueline Stone, the Tendai founder Saicho popularized the mantra Namu Ichijō Myōhō Renge Kyō "as a way to honor the Lotus Sutra as the One Vehicle teaching of the Buddha."[8]

Accordingly, the Tendai monk Genshin popularized the mantra Namu Amida, Namu Kanzeon, Namu Myōhō Renge Kyō to honor the three jewels of Japanese Buddhism.[9] Nichiren, who himself was a Tendai monk, edited these chants 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,[10][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.[11]

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,[12] due to common contractions and u is devoiced in many varieties of Japanese words.[13]

By syllabary, Namu — Myōhō — Renge — Kyō consists of the following:

  • Namu 南無 "devoted to", a transliteration of Sanskrit namas
  • 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 蓮華經 "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)

The Lotus Sutra is held by Nichiren Buddhists, 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.

Associations to film[edit]

  • 1947 – It was used in the 1940s in India to commence the Interfaith prayer meetings of Mahatma Gandhi, followed by verses of the Bhagavad Gita.[14][15][16][17][18]
  • 1958 – The mantra also appears in the 1958 American romantic film The Barbarian and the Geisha, where it was recited by a Buddhist priest during a Cholera outbreak.
  • 1958 – Japanese film Nichiren to Mōko Daishūrai (English: Nichiren and the Great Mongol Invasion) is a 1958 Japanese film directed by Kunio Watanabe.
  • 1968 – The mantra was used in the final episode of The Monkees to break Peter out of a trance.[19]
  • 1969 – The mantra is present in original version of the film Satyricon by Federico Fellini during the grand nude jumping scene of the patricians.[citation needed]
  • 1973 – In Hal Ashby's film The Last Detail, an American Navy prisoner, Larry Meadows (played by Randy Quaid), being escorted by shore patrol attends a Nichiren Shoshu of America meeting where he is introduced to the mantra; the Meadows character continues to chant during the latter part of the film.[19]
  • 1976 – In the film Zoku Ningen Kakumei (Human Revolution) produced by the Soka Gakkai, a fictionalized religious drama featuring the struggles of Tsunesaburo Makiguchi who is showcased chanting the words during World War II.
  • 1979 – Nichiren is a 1979 Japanese film directed by Noboru Nakamura. Produced by Masaichi Nagata and based on Matsutarō Kawaguchi's novel. The film is known for mentioning Jinshiro Kunishige as one of the martyrs persecuted, claimed to whom the Dai Gohonzon was inscribed by Nichiren in honor of his memory.
  • 1980 – In Louis Malle's acclaimed film Atlantic City, Hollis McLaren's Chrissie, the pregnant, naive hippie sister of main character Sally (Susan Sarandon) is discovered hiding, fearful and chanting the mantra after witnessing violent events.[19]
  • 1987 – The mantra is used by the underdog fraternity in the film Revenge of the Nerds II in the fake Seminole temple against the Alpha Betas.[19]
  • 1987 – In the film Innerspace, Tuck Pendleton (played by Dennis Quaid) chants this mantra repeatedly as he encourages Jack Putter to break free from his captors and charge the door of the van he is being held in.[19]
  • 1993 – American-born artist Tina Turner through her autobiographical film What's Love Got To Do With It details her conversion to Nichiren Shoshu Buddhism in 1973.[20] In a film scene after an attempted suicide, Turner begins to chant this mantra and turns her life around. Turner continues to chant this mantra in public venues and numerous publications.[21] Turner recited these words again on 21 February 1997, through a televised interview with Larry King, by which Turner credits her continuing practice to the Soka Gakkai International.
  • 2008 – In Generation Kill, Episode 2, Sargent Rudy Reyes recites the mantra while engaging an enemy RPG team.
  • 2016 − CyberSquad (Alt Balaji series)
  • 2017 − Journey to the West: The Demons Strike Back, directed by Tsui Hark, produced by Steven Chow. Chanting of Nam Myōhō Renge Kyō in the background as monkey god was against the imposter Buddha.
  • 2019 – Actor Orlando Bloom appeared in a video interview for Soka Gakkai USA in January 2019, citing his practice of chanting Nam Myōhō Renge Kyō since the age of 16 in London.[22]
  • 2019 − The Telugu language film, Sita.
  • 2019 - The documentary film, "Buster Williams, From Bass to Infinity", directed by Adam Kahan. Jazz bassist, Buster Williams, is a Buddhist practitioner and chants with his wife during the film. [23]
  • 2020 – Paatal Lok (TV Series)
  • 2021 – Baggio: The Divine Ponytail (Netflix film) The mantra is used in the film as Baggio discovers his Buddhist faith through being introduced to the religion, and in the process the mantra, by a friend after suffering a serious injury.

Associations to music[edit]

The words appear in songs including:

See also[edit]


  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
  4. ^ Anesaki 1916, p.34
  5. ^ SGDB 2002, Nichiren Archived 2015-09-24 at the Wayback Machine
  6. ^
  7. ^
  8. ^ Original Enlightenment and the Transformation of Medieval Japanese Buddhism by Jacqueline Stone
  9. ^ Re-envisioning Kamakura Buddhism by Richard Payne
  10. ^ Watson 2005
  11. ^ Masatoshi, Ueki (2001). Gender equality in Buddhism. Peter Lang. pp. 136, 159–161. ISBN 0820451339.
  12. ^ Ryuei 1999, Nam or Namu? Does it really matter?
  13. ^ P. M, Suzuki (2011). The Phonetics of Japanese Language: With Reference to Japanese Script. Routledge. p. 49. ISBN 978-0415594134.
  14. ^ (2008-04-16). "Exhibition of 'Lotus Sutra' in the capital". Livemint. Retrieved 2020-07-14.
  15. ^ 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.
  16. ^ Gandhi, Rajmohan. "Gandhi Voyage starts in world's largest Muslim nation". Retrieved 6 September 2019.
  17. ^ Gandhi, Rajmohan (1 March 2008). Gandhi: The man, his people and the empire (1 ed.). University of California Press.
  18. ^ Gandhi, Rajmohan. "What gandhi wanted for India". The Week. Retrieved 6 September 2019.
  19. ^ a b c d e "Myo in the Media". Ft Worth Buddhas. Soka Gakkai International-Fort Worth. Retrieved 7 April 2020.
  20. ^ "The Queen of Hope". Living Buddhism / World Tribune. Soka Gakkai International-USA. August 1, 2018. Retrieved January 11, 2019.
  21. ^
  22. ^ 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.
  23. ^
  24. ^ Archived at Ghostarchive and the Wayback Machine: "Let Go and Let God". Grace and Gratitude. YouTube. November 30, 2013. Retrieved July 16, 2019.
  25. ^ Archived at Ghostarchive and the Wayback Machine: "yoko ono namyohorengekyo music video". Namyohorengekyo. YouTube. March 16, 2013. Retrieved September 28, 2021.


Further reading[edit]