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Nichimoku Shonin

Nichimoku Shonin was one of Nichiren's direct disciples, and was one of the ones to transfer their allegience to Nikko Shonin after his passing. He is considered the Third Patriarch of the Nichiren Shoshu Fuji School of Nichiren Buddhism. He served Nikko Shonin and also was rector of Taisekiji after Nikko Shonin had moved to Omosu Seminary.

Faithful disciple of Nichiren

After Nichiren Daishonin went to Minobu, he sent two letters of remonstration to the Imperial Court. He employed as his messenger for the first one (1281) Nikko Shonin, and for the second one (1282) Nichimoku Shonin. Nichiren placed tremendous trust in Nikko Shonin and Nichimoku Shonin, just as he did in all of his disciples. These two routinely served the Daishonin with their lives. After becoming Nichiren Daishonin's disciple, Nichimoku Shonin followed Nikko Shonin, who was busy in propagation in the Fuji area, and after Nichiren Daishonin went to Minobu, where he was prone to illness, Nichimoku Shonin sacrificed himself in serving the Daishonin. At that time more than 100 priests were diligent in studying Buddhism under the Daishonin. Nichimoku Shonin was around 18 years old at the time, but everyday he went to scoop water from the mountain stream and carry the bucket of water back on his head, so it is said that the top of his head became concave. That is why portraits of Nichimoku Shonin show him to have a flat head.

After the Daishonin's Passing

Succession

According to Nichiren Shoshu Tradition he "transfered the Golden Utterance" to Nichido (1283-1341) at lake Biwa just before he headed to Kyoto. Nichigo (1272-1253), one of his other disciples, along with Nichizon, accompanied him on this trip to the nation’s new political center. Hoowever, Nichimoku collapsed—probably due both to age and exhaustion from cold weather — at Tarui, Mino Province. Nichigo was the one who returned with his ashes to the Mount Fuji region. Nichido, who had stayed behind claimed that the inheritance of Taisekiji was his. Nichigo claimed that the temple "Renzo-bo" which was one of the residence temples at Taisekiji was his. This issue wasn't resolved for a number of years and indeed the Renzobo to this day has a somewhat independent existence. Nichigo travelled to Hota, where he founded Myoho-ji sometime between 1342-1344. Nichizon, accompanying them founded "Yobo-ji" temple in Kyoto. This temple later competed locally with the temples established by the other elder priests, did so successfully, and even for a time dominated Taiskekiji

Nikko Shonin had left 6 priests in charge of Taisekiji and six in charge of Omosu Seminary. Before Nichimoku's corpse was cold they were fighting over who would succeed him.

see sixpriests.html for more on this.

Impact

Nichimoku died before he could deliver any remonstrations. It is recorded in the oral records that he stated that he was unable to accomplish his mission in that life by fulfilling the Daishonin's wish of remonstrating the Emperor of Japan and bringing him closer to the truth. This was his third attempt, but he was old and had had to walk because he was a monk. However, he promised that whoever will shakubuku the Emperor of Japan in future life times will be the reincarnation of Nichimoku Shonin. Hence every 15th November (whichever date is the anniversary of Nichimoku's death) all children aged 3/5/7 are celebrated, as one of them may be the reincarnation of Nichimoku Shonin.

Links and sources:

There are a wealth of Nichiren Shoshu sources about Nichimoku Shonin. Some of the information here comes from a Sermon by the young Reverend Kawabe:
http://www.nstmyosenji.org/sermons/1997/koshi.htm
I also got considerable materials from my SGI study materials. You can read some of them at these sources:
03_UHFS_Chapter_3.pdf: Untold story of the Fuji School
There is also a wealth of Succession information comes from the web:
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/GohonzonForum/message/2934
and other sources also corrobrate this information
The story about Nichimoku and his reincarnation was told to me a long time ago, but I recently reheard it from Mercia Nietsche in a post to the same forum above.
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