Just a NAMU-MYOHO-RENGE-KYO away

by tybmmjourno

Come! Behold This World (body), Which Is Like a Decked Royal Chariot, Wherein the Foolish Immerse Themselves; But for the Wise there is no Attachment – Dhammapada 13/5

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As the ropes of timeless urgency bind our beloved city, the one and only buddhist temple amidst the chaotic Worlinaka provides peace, tranquility and a chance to unwind, to the those who desire it. Unlike the usual setting for a temple of such sorts, this one breaks the stereotype of a large compound and architectural excellence.

The Nippozan Myohoji Japan Buddhist Temple was built in 1952 by the charity of Raja Mohandas Baldeodas Birla’s family. The 13th century by a Japanese monk, Maha Bodhisattva Nichiren said that the ultimate salvation of humanity lay in India. In 1931, Japanese monk, Nichidatsu Fuji, founder of the Nippozan Myohoji order, arrived in India with a mission to fulfill that prophecy and founded the temple in 1952. It is open to all sects of people, which, at that point in time, seemed rather broadminded. Harijans, and followers of other forms of Buddhism were welcome, back then. Only those with contagious diseases where asked to refrain from entering the temple, which isn’t such a bad request. The caretaker of the temple, Bhikshu Morita, has been in India spreading the message of peace and love for the past 36 years now. He alone walked the deserted and destroyed streets of Mumbai during the communal riots of 1992, with nothing but a drum-and-stick in his hand, chanting namu-myoho-renge-kyo. Some may call it foolishness, but the purity of his intentions in turbulent times is what drew the people to him. He sits at ever prayer session, to this day, in simple cotton clothes and a drape one one shoulder, the look of of calm on his face.

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The simplicity associated with the temple is what attracts the few who trickle in during the prayer hours between 5-7 am and 6-7.30 pm. The gold statues of Gods watch over the pure white bust of the Buddha illuminated by a few diyas and a tube light. Paintings depicting the life of Buddha adorn the walls along with preachings from the Dhammapada engraved into the walls. Stone beams separate the various sections of the temple while the soft carpet invites all to sit and pray as one. Minimal paraphernalia and statues are neatly arranged around the temple so as to help the devotees un-clutter their minds.Neo-buddhists and believers do their tiny bit by coming to the temple during the prayers hours by beating an enormous drum with a curved stick, chanting Na-Mu-Myo-Ho-Ren-Ge-Kyo. The steady drone of the drum-beat and the low hum of the chanting along with the temple’s holy fragrance surely assists the main purpose of coming there. The structure has two main sections, the front the temple, and the back where the monks now reside. Surrounded by banyan trees and other beautiful plants, the boundary walls separate the meditative environment from sheer chaos.

The paradox of its existence in one of the busiest places in Mumbai definitely calls for everybody, Mumbaikar or non-Mumbaikar, to take a look at it themselves. The sound of the drums, the hum of the chant or the fragrance of the temple vanishes as soon as one steps out of the temple. What remains is the sublime feeling of peace and instant gratification.

Because one has banished evils, one is called a Brahmin, and, One is called a Monk (Samana) by just conduct. Because one has discarded one’s impurities, Therefore, one is called a Recluse (Pabbajita) – Dhammapada 26/6

-Disha Deshpande

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