Sunday, May 1, 2011

Nam Myoho Renge Kyo .... Meaning

I have been practicing Nichiren Daishonin's buddhism for 4 months now (I know very less time) but the wonders it doing to my life is amazing ... Many a times people ask me what it is all about and how does chanting help me and what does Nam Myoho Renge Kyo mean ... So here goes the meaning :)

Nam Myoho Renge Kyo is a mantra that is chanted by the followers on Nichiren Daishonin buddhism. The mantra is referred as Daimoku and was first revealed by Nichiren Daishonin on the 28th April 1253 in japan. The mantra is written in the centre of the Gohonzon, the mandala. Shakyamuni Buddha expounded 80,000 teachings of which after studying all, Nichiren daishonin realized and came to a conclusion that MYOHO RENGE KYO - the title of the Lotus sutra is the most superior of all and hence appended the word NAM at the start which means .....

NAM :-
Nam comes from a Sanskrit word which means respect or dedication. So the phrase Nam Myoho Renge Kyo means devotion to the mystic law of the Lotus Sutra.

Nam is an action word that turns this principle from theory to reality. It also means to fuse our lives with an external truth of Myoho Renge Kyo and through this fusion, it enables us to draw forth wisdom from within ourselves in response to our daily lives.

It encapsulates both action we need to take and the attitude we need to develop if we are to attain buddhahood in this lifetime.

Its an expression of the middle way, encompassing and transcending both religious and secular aspects of devotion.

Nichiren Daishonin explains that 'Myo' is the name given to the mystic nature of life, and 'ho' its manifestation. In other words, while 'myo' refers to the essence of life itself which is unseen and beyond intellectual understanding, this essence always expresses itself in tangible form, one that van be understood by our senses.

For example:- if we were to consider that music is 'myo' its almost impossible to explain why it moves us i.e the sounds of the notes and their effect on our emotion can be felt and therefore are 'ho'

Taking another example, myo refers to the state of buddhahood, while ho refers to the 9worlds from hell to boddhisattva

On one level, this means that out buddha nature is not separate from the nine other worlds we all possess and that it can only be expressed through them. On another level, myo represents our full potential while ho stands for how much of that potential we have achieved.

Nichiren Daishonin explains that, as everyone posseses buddhahood, the potential of each individual is literally limitless. Thus just having great potential is no good to anybody, if it simple remains dormant in our lives. For instance, we cannot improve the quality of our loves and that of others unless we are able to turn our potential into reality and manifest it everyday in society.

Renge means the Lotus Flower which grows and blossoms in a muddy pond and yet remains pure from defilement. Since it produces seeds and flowers at the same time, it signifies the law of cause and effect.

The circumstances and quality of out individual lives are determined by the causes and effects both good and bad, that we accumulate (through our thoughts, words and actions) at each moment. This is called our "Karma."

The law of cause and effect explains that we each have personal responsibility for our own destiny. We create our destiny and we can change it. The most powerful cause we can make. Is to chant Nam Myoho Renge Kyo; and the effect of Buddhahood is simultaneously created in the depths of our life and will definitely manifest in time.

Kyo means sutra, the voice or teaching of the Buddha. It also means sound, rhythm or vibration.

When we talk of Vibration, which is so important in our practice, as we say the voice does the Buddha's work and that's why we recite the sutra aloud than doing it silently.

Also the chinese character KYO originally meant "the wrap in a piece of a woven cloth" symbolizes the unchanging and continuity of life throughout past present and future.

Nicherin associated the characters Nam Myoho Renge Kyo with the parts of human body to HEAD, THROAT, CHEST, ABDOMEN and LEGS respectively indicating that the mystic law is in no way separate from the realities of our lives

In a more broad sense, KYO conveys tje concept that all things in the universe are a manifestation of the mystic law and how our prayets or the sound of our chanting can affect people and situation around us.

So the literal meaning of Nam Myoho Renge Kyo does not mean to devote oneself just to the practice of Buddhism but rather to life as a whole.

Sent on my BlackBerry® from Vodafone


  1. i have always been really very intrigued by buddhism, looks like i need to give it a deeper thought

  2. hey pooja.
    i am fairly new to chanting. do you still chant? are there any experiences you would like to share?

    i want to know if you chant out loud, or under your breath? fold your hands or any other special thing?

    i ll appreciate your response.

    thank you.

  3. It best to chant out loud as long as you're not disturbing anybody, you can also chant under you breath. I chant under my breath when I'm nervous or don't want anyone else to hear me. If you what to learn more why not become a member of SGI, contact you nearest centre, there'll be someone there who we answer all your question, you can also attend buddhist meeting

  4. May be it is late, but still just one correction. The first word is not actually NAM. It is actually NAMU. But in japanese langage, it is very common to devoice the U sound in a word.

  5. I was at the train station and a nice Lady gave me this little card with it's mantra. I might think all the gods and Buddha itself are watching over my steps. Namaste.