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Nichiren (1222-1282) was the Japanese founder of Nichiren Buddhism. Born as a fisherman's son, he was called Zennichimaro. He went to Seicho-ji temple in his home province of Awa to study Buddhism in 1233. Shortly after his tonsure at sixteen, he took the name of Rencho and went to Kamakura for further studies. After returning from Kamakura, he travelled to Kyoto and Nara, the old centres of traditional Buddhism in Japan, where he mastered all the sutras and literature of Buddhism. In I253, returning to Seicho-ji, Rencho adopted the name Nichiren (Sun-Lotus) when he advocated chanting "Nam-myoho-renge-kyo" for the first time. He declared the establishment of a new Buddhism. In 1279 he inscribed the Dai-Gohonzon as the fundamental object of respect for the peace and happiness of all mankind. He died three years later.
The term "Daishonin" is an honorific title meaning "great sage" and has been traditionally used in reference to Nichiren.
The revolutionary nature of Nichiren's achievement lies in the fact that he made it possible, for the first time, for all people actually to practice the highest teachings of Buddhism, providing a means to establish a life-condition of absolute happiness, unswayed by changing outer circumstances.