On the night of August 27, 1260, just forty one days after
Nichiren Shonin had submitted the Rissho Ankoku Ron to the
government, a ruthless mob, crept through the darkness toward
Matsubagayatsu. Persuaded by the powerful Nembutsu priests
that Nichiren Shonin was a worker of evil who must be destroyed,
the mob was determined to burn the hermitage to the ground,
and to murder the outspoken reformer.
Crowding into the grounds of the small mission,
the frenzied men threw burning torches into the thatched hut
where Nichiren Shonin was asleep; and, in a moment, the tinder
dry dwelling was a blazing inferno of orange flames clutching
at the night sky. In the confusion and disorder of the attack,
however, Nichiren Shonin had escaped. According to legend,
it was a white monkey, miraculously appearing before the sleeping
priest, which aroused him and led him to safety.
(Quotation from the book published by the Nichiren
Buddhist International Center,
On the afternoon of September 12, 1271, Nichiren was placed
astride a saddleless horse; and, like a common criminal, he
was paraded through the streets of Kamakura where the crowds
mocked and jeered him. As they neared the gate of the Hachiman
Shrine, where he had knelt in prayer on that day when he first
arrived in Kamakura so many years before, Nichiren Shonin
ordered the guards to stop, saying: "I am getting off
for nothing but to say a few words to the god Hachiman. Do
not be excited!" As the guards stood silently by, and
the crowd watched in amazement, he cried out in a loud voice:
"Hachiman Daibosatsu! Are you really a god? When the
Great Master Dengyo gave lectures on the Lotus Sutra, you
offered him a purple robe. Now, I, Nichiren, am the greatest
practiser of the Lotus Sutra, in Japan. There is no fault
in me, but I am proclaiming the Truth, simply in order to
save all the people of this country from falling down to hell
because of their degrading the Lotus of Truth. Should the
Mongols invade our country, would you, O Hachiman, together
with Amaterasu omi kami, alone be safe?
"When Buddha Sakyamuni expounded the Lotus Sutra, all
the Buddhas came together from the ten quarters; and when
numerous hosts, including the gods and saints of India, China,
and Japan were present in the congregation, each of you took
an oath to protect all those who practise the Lotus Sutra.
Be quick in fulfilling that vow. Why do you not appear now?
I am going to be beheaded this night.
When I go to the Pure Land of Vulture Peak, I will declare
before Buddha Sakyamuni that you and Amaterasu omi kami did
not keep your vow. If you do not want to be reported so, do
Remounting his horse, Nichiren Shonin rode through the muttering
crowd. "Is the man mad?" "May it not be that
he is truly a saint?" "He shows no fear at all!
Surely that is a sign of great power."
Through the evening, and into the dark of night, the guards
proceeded with the condemned man, leading him to the Beach
of Yuigahama. Along the route, his followers knelt in the
dusty roads, weeping at the coming death of their beloved
Midnight had already come and gone when the procession finally
reached Tatsunokuchi, the place of execution. All was in readiness.
Yoritsuna sat in the official chair of witness. Behind him
stood the executioner; and all around the circle of death,
lit by flickering torchlight, stood the armed guards.
Dismounting from his horse, Nichiren Shonin calmly made his
way to the straw mat wher death awaited him. Kingo cried out
in despair: "Now I must part with you;" and the
condemned man spoke to him: "What a fool you are! Rejoice!
This is my greatest pleasure. Why do you break your promise?"
Kneeling, he pressed his hands together in gassho, spoke the
Sacred Name: "Namu Myoho Renge Kyo." and bent his
head before the uplifted sword. But the sword never fell!
Suddenly, according to Nichiren Shonin's own account, the
midnight sky was ablaze with fire. "A ball of light as
bright as the moon, flew from the southeast to the southwest,
and all the people became visible although the moon of the
twelfth day had already set." The executioner grew dizzy
and fell to the ground as his sword was shattered in three
pieces, and the soldiers ran in fright, no one daring to return
to the execution ground. Even commissioner Yoritusna disappeared,
not to be discovered until some time later. "Some of
the got off their horsed, and others prostrated themselves
on horseback. I said, "Why do you run away? You think
I am a felon, Come!" But no one came. I said again, "Behead
me quickly! When the day breaks, it will not be good to see
me beheaded. But no one answered."
(Quotation from the book published by the Nichiren Buddhist