On the Gohonzon: 
The Large Kanji 
Taho Nyorai 
The Second 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 

An Overview on Mandalas 

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Gohonzon Translation The Top Row 
The Imagery of Nichiren's Lotus Sutra: The Gohonzon - The Great Mandala of the True Dharma 
Starting on the left (your left) and excluding the large kanji: 
Just left of the large kanji is Kore o juyo su this means "This is presented to." Under this is the name of the person or temple the Gohonzon was bestowed. (This does not appear on all Gohonzon.) (Gohonzon map here.) 

Just right of this phrase in large Kanji is Dai Bishamontenno Great Heavenly King Bishamon. He is discussed in the section on the Large Kanji. 

Next to Dai Bishamontenno is Kuyo suru mono araba fuku jugo ni sugu. This means: "One who makes offerings will gain good fortune surpassing the Ten Honorable Titles."  The Ten Honorable Titles are:  

  1. Thus Come One
  2. Worthy of Offerings
  3. Right and Universal Knowledge
  4. Perfect Clarity and Conduct
  5. Well Gone
  6. Understanding the World
  7. Unexcelled Worthy 
  8. Leader of the People
  9. Teacher of Gods and Humans 
  10. World-Honored One
Next is Namu Anryugyo Bosatsu Bodhisattva Anryugyo (Skt. Supratishthitacharitra). Anryugyo is joy. (Beethoven did a little tune about him.) He appears in the 15th chapter of the Lotus Sutra. The Gyo at the end of his name means activity or practice. It is the same Gyo used in Gongyo. 

Next is Namu Jyogyo Bosatsu Bodhisattva Jyogyo (Skt. Vishuddhacharitra). Jyogyo is purity. He appears in the 15th chapter of the Lotus Sutra. Note the Gyo indicating activity. 

Next is Namu Shakyamuni Butsu Shakyamuni Buddha. He indicates the subjective wisdom of life. 

Next to Shakyamuni in large kanji is Nam myoho-renge-kyo Nichiren. I have translated this phrase from the original Chinese primitives and radicals (see the section on the Daimoku). 

Starting just right of the large kanji for Nam Myoho-renge-kyo is Namu Taho Nyorai (Skt. Prabhutaratna). Taho Buddha indicates objective reality. Taho means "Many Treasures." He vowed that after his extinction (nirvana) he would appear each time the Lotus Sutra was preached. To verify that Shakyamuni was preaching it properly, Taho recited it along with him as they faced each other in the Treasure Tower. 

Nam Myoho-renge-kyo sits between and connects subjective wisdom (Shakyamuni) and objective reality (Taho). One aspect of enlightenment is that subjective wisdom and objective reality are the same. One of the virtues of the Gohonzon is that it is the fusion of subjective wisdom and objective reality. 

Next is Namu Jogyo Bosatsu (Skt. Vishishtacharitra). Jogyo represents the activity of the True Self. (His name literally means "Superior Conduct.") True Self is the leader of the Bodhisattvas of the Earth. Only our true selves can inherit the Mystic Law. 

Next is Nam Muhengyo Bosatsu (Skt. Anantacharitra). Muhengyo means "boundless activity."  He represents the eternal nature of all things. 

Next is the phrase Moshi noran suru mono araba kobe shichibun ni waru "One who slanders will have [his] head broken into seven pieces." 

Next in large kanji is Dai Jikokutenno Great Heavenly King Jikoku (see the section on the Large Kanji). 

Next is Gento nisei no tame ni which means "For the sake of the present and the future." 

"However, even though you chant and believe in Myoho-renge-kyo, if you think the Law is outside yourself, you are embracing not the Mystic Law but some inferior teaching."  
Major Writings, Vol. 1, p. 3, "On Attaining Buddhahood" 
Updated 6/7/06 
Copyright 2002 Imagery of Nichiren's Lotus Sutra website