On the Gohonzon: 
The Large Kanji 
Taho Nyorai 
The Top Row of Chinese Characters 
The Third Row of Chinese Characters 
The Fourth Row of Chinese Characters 

The Central Buddha of the Gohonzon (Great Mandala):    
   Nam
 
   Myo 
   Ho 
   Ren 
   Ge 
   Kyo 
   Nichiren 

An Overview on Mandalas 

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The Imagery of Nichiren's Lotus Sutra: The Gohonzon - The Great Mandala of the True Dharma 
Gohonzon Translation The Second Row 
The Imagery of Nichiren's Lotus Sutra: The Gohonzon - the Great Mandala of the True Dharma 
Now we will start on the second rank of beings on the Gohonzon (map here). 

From left (your left) to right: 
To the right of Aizen Myo-o (see the section on the Large Kanji) is Dai Myojotenno Great Heavenly King of the Stars. 

Right of Myojo is Dai Gattenno Great Heavenly King of the Moon. 

Right of Gattenno is Taishakutenno Great Heavenly King Taishaku (Skt. Shakra Devanam Indra), a deity similar to Zeus and Jupiter (see Taishaku and the Fine Feathered Bird on the Buddhist Myths, Parables and Essays website).  

Taishaku is served by the Four Heavenly Kings found in the corners of the Gohonzon.  He and his twenty thousand retainers appear in the first chapter of the Lotus Sutra.  

Right of Indra is Namu Dai Kasho Sonja The Venerable Mahakashyapa (Skt. Kashyapa). He was one of Shakyamuni's disciples known for his ascetic practice. He became Chief of the Order after Shakyamuni's passing. 

Right of Kashyapa is Nam Miroku Bosatsu Bodhisattva Maitreya. He also asks a question in the sixteenth chapter of the Lotus Sutra. He is a Buddha who will appear at the end of time to bring justice. He is sometimes called "The Buddha of the Future." 

Right of Miroku is Namu Fugen Bosatsu Bodhisattva Samantabhadra. He appears in the 28th chapter of the Lotus Sutra as Universal Worthy. 

Just to the right of Fugen is Nam Myoho-Renge-Kyo Nichiren in large kanji in the center of the Gohonzon. 

Right of Nam Myoho Renge Kyo Nichiren is Nam Monjushiri Bosatsu Bodhisattva Manjushri (Monju). He appears in the first and twelfth chapter of the Lotus Sutra. He introduced the Dragon King's daughter to Buddhism. The fact that she was able to attain Buddhahood as a woman proves that beings can attain Buddhahood as they are. 

Right of Monju is Namu Yakuo Bosatsu Bodhisattva Bhaishajyaraja. He is the Bodhisattva Medicine King in the 23rd Chapter of the Lotus Sutra. 

Right of Yakuo is Namu Sharihotsu Sonja Shariputra. This is the same Sharihotsu that is in the Hoben Chapter of Gongyo. He commonly asks the Buddha difficult questions. He proves that intelectuals can attain Buddhahood. 

Right of Sharihotsu is Dai Bontenno Heavenly King Brahma. Ruler of the saha world. 

Right of Brahma is Dairokuten no Mao The Great Devil of the 6th Heaven. He represents the fundamental darkness Gampon no mumyo. 

Right of Rokuten no Mao is Dai Nittenno Great Heavenly King of the Sun. 

Right of Nitten is Fudo Myo-o (see the section on the Large Kanji). 
 
 
  Dai 
 
 Nam
 
Your Gohonzon may have more or less of these characters. Most of the characters mentioned have either a Dai (Great) or a Nam(u) (Devotion) on top of them. The Dai looks like a person with their arms and legs fully extended. The Nam(u) looks like a cross, an upside-down person in a box, and a checkerboard with 4 dots underneath (see the section on Daimoku for more information). 

Fudo and Aizen are the large characters in the middle right and left of the Gohonzon. If you have ever been to a temple with large guardians on either side of the entrance, these are Fudo and Aizen. 

The Gohonzon is vast. I have given only the briefest of an account so far.  

 
Updated 6/7/06 
Copyright 2002 Imagery of Nichiren's Lotus Sutra website