What Is HBS ?
HBS is a Buddhist organization which was originated in Japan, on 12th January of 1857 by Great master Nissen (otherwise known as Seifu Nagamatsu). Today HBS is an international Buddhist organization dedicated to the practice & propagation of Primordial Buddhism across the globe. HBS was earlier classified as one of the Japan’s new religious movements. Recent studies into the matter signify HBS to be a traditional Nichiren school.
Practices and teachings of HBS is based on the Primordial eight chapters (Ch.15 – 22) of the Lotus sutra. Main practice of HBS is recitation of Buddhist incantation Namu Myoho Renge Kyo which was revealed in the primordial eight chapters of the Lotus sutra. HBS does emphasize on living the Bodhisattva way in day to day life.
HBS stands for the Japanese term Honmon Butsuryu Shu. Simply it can be translated into English as The Primordial Buddhism.
In a broader view, Honmon means The Primordial Teachings of the Buddha. In other words, this refers to the Fundamental teachings (Dharma) of the Buddha from the beginning of existence in its original formation.
Turning on to the next word, Butsuryu means, Established by the Buddha he himself. Even though we mentioned that HBS was founded by Great Master Nissen in 1857, HBS is dedicated to propagate the fine dharma for the sake of all beings, which is precisely the intention of Buddha. Thereby HBS can be considered as a school established by the Buddha himself since HBS practices carry out the intention of Buddha. Thus it contrasts with many man-made sects, traditions in existence.
Finally, Shu refers to a Sect, a Tradition or a School.
Together they form the meaning, School of Primordial teachings established by the Buddha he himself. Origin of the name Honmon Butsuryu Shu can be trace back to the writings of Great Master Nichiren. However, this name was first used by HBS founder great master Nissen.
Logo of HBS is known as ‘Butsu-maru’ in Japanese, which means the Circle of Buddha, Budhists, or even Buddhism. Its circular shape must have gained it this name. This logo consists two Japanese- Kanji characters which are pronounced as ‘Butsu(?)’ & ‘Ryu(?)’ respectively. These two characters are written each in a half-circular shape, Butsu placed on top of Ryu, in a manner that two half-circular shaped characters together forming the circular logo. As mentioned in defining the name HBS, Butsuryu means the Establishment of Buddha by he himself.
There are three forefathers of HBS School. Great master Nichiren is the great forefather of HBS. Secondly Great master Nichiryu is considered the forefather of the tradition whilst Great Master Nissen is the founder forefather.
Based on teachings of the Lotus sutra, Great master Nichiren (1222-1282) is considered to be the reincarnation of Bodhisattva Vishishtacharitra (Jogyo) who appeared in the primordial eight chapters of the Lotus Sutra. Primordial Shakyamuni Buddha entrusted to this Bodhisattva, the mission of propagating into the latter day of the Dharma. Great master Nichiren was born in the Kamakura era to fisherman parents and named Zen-nichi-maro. When he was 16 years old he was ordained under the name Rencho-bo. He was educated in Buddhist teachings of all contemporary schools at the Enryakuji temple of Mt. Hiei. Enryakuji temple was not just a mere monastery, but one of the greatest international Buddhist scholarly institute world has ever seen. Upon completing his education and practices for a long term, he pioneered this tradition based on the Lotus Sutra, which came to known later as the Nichiren Buddhism or School of Nichiren. Initially Grreat master Nichiren had to encounter many difficulties in propagating his teachings, due to the obstacle set by his rival schools and traditions. However despite being twice exiled, once sentenced to behead, offended several times, Great master Nichiren never regress his practice of propagating the fine dharma. School of Nichiren thrived day by day and gained a large number of laity & priesthood. Roots of HBS tradition runs back to Daikoku Ajari Nichiro (1245-1320) who is one of the six senior (direct) disciples of Nichiren.
Great master Nichiryu also known as Keirin-bo Nichiryu (1385-1464) is the second forefather of HBS. Great master Nichiryu who was born in the Muromachi era, nearly a century after the passing away of great master Nichiren. He played an active role in reviving the teachings of Nichiren by transcribing many if not all of Great master Nichiren’s manuscripts. Great master Nichiryu emphasized that Nichiren’s teaching were fundamentally based in the Primordial eight chapters of the Lotus Sutra. If it is not for the endeavor of Great master Nichiryu, true teachings of Nichiren would have been lost in the course of time. Thus Great master Nichiryu has earned the title ‘the reincarnation of Nichiren’ who reinstated the correct teachings’.
HBS founder Great master Nissen (1817-1890) was born after four century from the passing away of Great master Nichiryu, during the latter part of the Edo era. Before his ordainment, he was famously known as Seifu Nagamatsu. He was well versed in literature, poetry, calligraphy and arts. His name being mentioned in a Directory of artists of the era whilst he was merely nine years old shows his excellence. He was already a Mentor in literature & calligraphy by the time he was in his mid 20’s. Seifu ordained as Buddhist monk in Honmon Hokke Shu which was one the oldest Nichiren schools, renouncing his life as a young celebrity of the time. He dedicate himself in propagating the fine dharma by following the path of great masters Nichiren & Nichiryu.
He became aware that the true teachings of Nichiren has been lost at the time and a reform should take place in order to reinstate the correct teachings. With this intention, Great master Nissen held the first gathering of Honmon Butsuryu Ko on 12th January 1857 (which became Honmon Butsuryu Shu in 1947) in affiliation with Honmon Hokke Shu. He composed many thousands of instructive poems and drawings depicting Buddhist teachings and the true message of Nichiren.
His creative & interactive means of presenting Buddhism to the community was highly effective as his new school thrived and followers gathered around him every day. Thus he is regarded a pioneer in Buddhist Renaissance in Japan. Great master Nissen’s methods & creativity can be considered classical as his poems, depictions are used as themes for sermons even up to this day after one and half centuries from his passing away.
Presently HBS is an international Buddhist organization whose head temple (Honzan Yuseiji) & headquarter is located in Kyoto, Japan. HBS headquarter hosts the Kyoto HBS Museum of Buddhism which is dedicated to introduce & propagate Buddhism to the present day society by reaching them with interactive means. HBS Education Institute is also located in Kyoto, where young HBS monks are trained in Teachings & Practices of HBS. Further HBS Research institute is established for the facilitation of Buddhist studies in the contemporary world.
HBS is a part of the Japan Buddhist Federation and of the World Fellowship of Buddhists, representing as a traditional Nichiren school.
During past decades HBS has propagated around the globe resulting establishment of HBS temples & centres in various countries such as Brazil, Italia, South Korea, Taiwan, USA, Australia, Philippines, India and in Sri Lanka as well. Also there are HBS member’s gatherings in Singapore.