Nipponzan Myohoji (Japanese) Buddhist Temple, Kolkata
Nipponzan Myohoji Buddhist Temple, Kolkata
Japanese Buddhist Temple, Kolkata
Kolkata, formerly Calcutta, has always been a melting pot of people of different religion and ethnicity. As the different religious group settled in a new city they set up there own place of worship.
Unlike the Christian, Jews and Parsis the Buddhist came much later to the city but they still have more than half a dozen Buddhist Temples scattered all over the city.
The Nipponzan Myohoji Buddhist Temple, which is popularly known as the Japanese Buddhist Temple, is one of the most beautiful and well maintained Buddhist Temples of Kolkata.
The Japanese Buddhist Temple is located on the Lake Road, now known as Kabi Bharati Sarani, in Dhakuria area of South Kolkata. Sadly its presence is unknown to most Kolkatans.
If you are approaching the temple from the north (ie Golpark) side, it is best not to take the Dhakuria Bridge (now known as Sri Chaitanya Mahaprbhu Bridge) but to take the side road which goes past the AMRI Hospital.
Go past the AMRAI Hospital and then take a right turn and pass below the Dhakuria Bridge, couple of yards away, on the left, is the milk white Japanese Buddhist Temple.
The milk white Japanese Buddhist Temple is housed in a beautiful compound complete with manicured lawns and landscaped gardens.
The temple was founded by Nichidatsu Fujii (1885 – 1985). Nichidatsu Fujii was a disciple of the great Japanese Buddhist monk Nichiren, who held the opinion of Lotus Sutra.
Lotus Sutra is a collection of teachings of the Buddha near the end of his life, was the sole means of attaining enlightenment. Nicherien had a dream that the Lotus Sutra would be preached in India.
In order to fulfill his guru’s dream Nicherien arrived in Kolkata, India in 1931 and set up the Japanese Buddhist Temple in 1935 on a land donated by industrialist Jugal Kishore Birla, the son of Baldeodas Birla.
At the entrance of the temple is a small signage, which reads “Na – Mu – Myo – Ho – Ren – Ge – Kyo.” translated it means “I take refuge in the wonderful law of the Lotus Flower Sutra.”
The Japanese Buddhist Temple consists of a two tiered milk white structure with golden boarders and is crowned with a stupa. At the corner of each tier there are similar smaller stupas. There is a extended portico and a small flight of stirs leads too the interior of the temple.
Inside is a marble idol of seated Buddha and the altar is richly decorated with colourful fabrics and brass lamps. Food offering is also quiet likely to be seen on the altar.
From the ceiling hung beautiful lamp shades and the walls are dotted with scrolls with beautiful flowing Japanese calligraphy. Also on the walls hang a photograph of Nichidatsu Fujii, the founder of the temple.
The monks’ quarters are located at the back of the temple and the front part consists of a beautiful well maintained garden.
The garden consists of a beautiful pillar with beautiful Japanese calligraphy in bright golden colour. It probably carries a message of peace. The pillar is guarded by a pair of golden lions.
Today the Nipponzan Myohoji Buddhist Temple is mainly run by monks from the North – East India and regular services are held in the morning and evening.
The morning services are held from 5:00 am to 6:30 am while the evening services are held from 5:00 pm to 6:30 pm and people of all faiths are free to attend the service and are welcomed in the temple.
Although unknown to most of Kolkatan the Nipponzan Myohoji Buddhist Temple, which is popularly known as the Japanese Buddhist Temple, remains a oasis of peace for people of all faiths.