"On Itai Doshin" was given to Takahashi Nyudo, the uncle of Nikko Shonin. Nikko Shonin was
closest disciple and immediate successor, and it was through him that Takahashi became the
Since he was close to Nanjo Tokimitsu, a retainer of the Hojo clan, and the believers of
Atsuhara, his residence was
used as a headquarters when the persecutions occurred at Atsuhara in the late 1270's.
The manuscript is dated August 6 but the year is not indicated. It is thought, however, to have
been written sometime
between 1275 and 1280. The passage, "you demonstrated remarkable faith during the recent
incident at Atsuhara,"
hints at the date. The persecution started in 1275, some time after the first Mongol invasion,
and lasted until 1280.
The second Mongol invasion occurred in May 1281.
"On Itai Doshin" stresses the importance of unity. The Daishonin's believers were few, a
seemingly easy prey to rival
religious sects attempting to impede their growth. The Daishonin encouraged his followers to
intensify their faith and
to develop a unity which no outside force could disrupt. He cited a famous example from Chinese
history, where a
numerically inferior but staunchly united force emerged victorious over a huge army weakened by
In July 1260 the Daishonin finished the "Rissho Ankoku Ron," predicting foreign invasion if the
nation continued to
slander true Buddhism, and all of the Japanese leaders of the time knew about that document and
its warning. When
the Daishonin wrote "On Itai Doshin," he was certain that a second Mongol invasion was imminent
and knew that the
ruling class would be painfully aware that his prediction of fourteen years earlier was coming
On Itai Doshin
- Itai Doshin Ji -
I have received the white winter robe and the thick-quilted one, as well as one kan of coins,
through the offices of
Hoki-bo. Hoki-bo and Sado-bo and the believers at Atsuhara, united in their courageous faith,
proved the true
strength of itai doshin.
If itai doshin (many in body, one in mind) prevails among the people, they will achieve all
their goals, whereas in
dotai ishin (one in body, different in mind), they can achieve nothing remarkable. The more
than three thousand
volumes of Confucianism and Taoist literature are filled with examples. King Chou of Yin led
700,000 soldiers into
battle against King Wu of Chou and his 800 men. Yet King Chou's army lost because of disunity
while King Wu's
men defeated him because of perfect unity. Even an individual at cross purposes with himself is
certain to end in
failure. Yet a hundred or even a thousand people can definitely attain their goal if they are
of one mind. Though
numerous, the Japanese will find it difficult to accomplish anything, because they are divided
in spirit. On the
contrary, I believe that although Nichiren and his followers are few in number, because they
act in itai doshin, they
will accomplish their great mission of propagating the Lotus Sutra. Many raging fires are
quenched by a single
shower of rain, and many evil forces are vanquished by a single great truth. Nichiren and his
followers are proving
You have served the Lotus Sutra with devotion for many years, and in addition, you demonstrated
during the recent incident at Atsuhara. Many people including Hoki-bo and Sado-bo have told me
so. I have listened
carefully and reported everything to the god of the sun and to Tensho Daijin.
I should have replied to you earlier, but there was no one who could bring this letter to you.
Nissho left here so
quickly that I had no time to finish writing before his departure.
Some people may be wondering whether the Mongols will really attack again, but I believe that
invasion is now
imminent. An invasion would be deplorable--it would mean the ruin of our country--but if it
does not happen, the
Japanese people will slander the Lotus Sutra more than ever and all of them will fall into the
hell of incessant
The nation may be devastated by the superior strength of the Mongols, but slander of Buddhism
will cease almost
entirely. Defeat would be like moxa cautery which cures disease or acupuncture which relieves
pain. Both are painful
at the moment but bring happiness later.
I, Nichiren, am the emissary of the Lotus Sutra, while the Japanese are like King Mihirakula
Buddhism throughout India. The Mongol Empire may be like King Himatala of the Snow Mountains, a
from heaven sent to punish those hostile to the votary of the Lotus Sutra. If the Japanese
repent, they will be like
King Ajatashatru who became a devout follower of Buddhism, thereby curing his own leprosy and
prolonging his life
by forty years. Like Ajatashatru, they will profess faith in spite of their earlier disbelief,
and awaken to the entity of
With my deep respect,
The sixth day of the eighth month
Major Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, Vol. 1, page 153.