Kechimyaku Sojo (Nichiren Shoshu sect) (血脈相承 (日蓮正宗))
According to Buddhism, Kechimyaku Sojo means the handing down of law (dharma) from a mentor to a disciple.
Declaration of Sojo by Nichiren
Nichiren, who was the founder of the sect, declared himself to be the reincarnation of Jogyo Bosatsu, who was directly bestowed Kecchofuzoku based on No. 21 of Nyoraijinrikihon of "Myohorenge-kyo" (Annex of "Mannen Kugo-honzon of December, 1274"). There are many other authorities.
Additionally, he asserted that he received Shingon Mikkyo's 'twenty-third chakuchaku (legitimate) sojo, as extended from Dainichinyorai to Nichiren' (from "Fudo Aizen Kankenki," a posthumous writing by Nichiren).
According to the description of "Risho-in Kechimyaku" of Daigo-ji Temple (collection of Kanazawa-Bunko), the name "Nichiren" appears twenty-fifth, and this position coincides with the name at the twenty-third position from Dainichinyorai; however, it is not clear whether "Nichiren" in "Risho-in Kechimyaku" and the founder are one and the same.
Positioning within the religious community
Since then, the sole inheritor of Kechimyaku Sojo has asserted the legitimacy of Nichiren Shoshu sect, and this position has been passed from the incumbent Hossu (chief priest) to his successor; the position itself guarantees absolute authority in controlling propagation activities, as well as the exclusive power to adjudicate on disputes concerning doctrine, to give permission for depicting the principal icon of a temple, and to bestow various titles.
Kechimyaku Sojo is often mystified by saying, for example, 'various elements that cannot be captured as objects (such as the attitude for faith, spirituality and accumulation of pious acts, etc.) are inherited by golden paper or through oral transmission.'
On the other hand, there is a simple understanding of Kechimyaku Sojo that its most essential core element exists only in the transfer of 'Honmonkaidan-no-Daigohonzon' (principal image of the Nichiren Shoshu sect).
Depending on the times and circumstances, Kechimyaku Sojo could be done in the form of confidential affairs whose dissemination to the public would not be expected for some time to come. It is said that in the past, Sojo from the third (Nichimoku) to the 4th (Nichido) and from the sixty-sixth (Nichidatsu) to the sixty-seventh (Nikken) was done in the form of confidential affairs, but some deny that regarding the case of Sojo to Nikken.
Disputes between the Nichiren Shoshu sect and the Nichiren sect
The Nichiren Shoshu sect asserts that only the chief priests of Taiseki-ji Temple inherited after Nichiren-Nikko-Nichimoku.
However, the Nichiren sect rebuffs the assertion of the Nichiren Shoshu sect on the following grounds:
If the assertion of the Nichiren Shoshu sect is true, it means that out of six old monks who were the disciples of the founder, five old monks who became anti Nikko were persons who had defamed the law (dharma); the question remains as to why the founder could not have predicted their behavior and acknowledged them as disciples.
Nika (two) Sojo, which consisted of two notes, 'Ikegami Sojo-sho' and 'Minobu Sojo-sho,' on which the Nichiren Shoshu sect's assertion is based, is bogus because it does not appear in the early record of Komon-ryu school. Minobu Sojo is bogus because its date and the activities of Nichiren don't coincide. Nika Sojo cannot even be the subject of discussion because it was stored at Omosu-dansho (an institute established in Omosu for the purpose of educating disciples; currently Kitayama Honmon-ji Temple), where Nikko lived after retirement, not at Taiseki-ji Temple which Nikko had ceded to Nichimoku, and because its original document is now missing.
As for the whereabouts of Nika Sojo, there are various assessments. One view holds that it was completely lost due to looting by the army of Katsuyori TAKEDA. The other view holds that it was not lost because there is a record that Ieyasu TOKUGAWA read the original copy and Kitayama Honmon-ji Temple is in fact storing it in confidence.
Kitayama Honmon-ji Temple
Traditionally, Kitayama Honmon-ji Temple has given little consideration to Kechimyaku Sojo.
From the very beginning, Nichidai, who was ceded Omosu by Nikko, was expelled by the people adherent to Omosu. Naturally, the temple did not approve the transfer of Kechimyaku Sojo from Nikko to Nichimoku.
Currently, it even denies Nika Sojo and strives solely to preserve the status of the 'head temple of the Nichiren-shu sect.'
Nishiyama Honmon-ji Temple
Nishiyama Honmon-ji Temple did not approve Kechimyaku Sojo from Nikko to Nichimoku but instead split away, claiming the legitimacy of Nichidai based on "Hattsu Yuzurijo (eight notes that document the will to transfer the property or possession to the offspring or disciples)."
Hota Myohon-ji Temple, Koizumi Kuon-ji Temple
Hota Myohon-ji Temple and Koizumi Kuon-ji Temple did not approve Kechimyaku Sojo from Nichimoku to Nichido but instead split off, claiming the legitimacy of Nichigo. They once came under the jurisdiction of Taiseki-ji Temple in 1957 but became independent again in the Heisei period after seeing the conflict between Soka Gakkai and the sect.
During the era of Nichizon, its original chief priest (of Kyoto Yobo-ji Temple) acknowledged Kechimyaku Sojo from Nichimoku to Nichido, and during the Edo period it turned out nine consecutive hossu as being the most overriding branch temple of Taiseki-ji Temple.
However, over the years it gradually became independent and dissolved the affiliation with Taiseki-ji Temple by denying Kechimyaku Sojo.
Currently, it is independent as the head temple of the 'Nichiren Honshu sect.'
Soon after the expulsion of five monks in 1980, Shoshin-kai filed court litigation requesting a confirmation of the non-existence of the position of the chief abbot (superintendent priest) on the grounds that Kechimyaku Sojo from Nichidatsu to Nikken doesn't appear to have been done, and that consequently the chief abbot in question lacked qualification. Since then, it has continued to deny Kechimyaku Sojo in various respects, doing so as ammunition for attacking the Nikken and Nichiren Shoshu sects.
The litigation itself was dismissed on the grounds that the subject matter cannot be the subject of litigation because, like the problem of temple occupation, it is a matter of faith.
(A well-known judicial precedent concerning the legal theory of a partial society)
Recently, some monks have remarked that Kechimyaku Sojo from Nichidatsu to Nikken was done. According to them, Kechimyaku Sojo was in fact performed but they had pretended otherwise as it provided ammunition for attack.
Since the excommunication in 1991, Soka Gakkai has asserted that Kechimyaku Sojo ended long ago.
Fuji Taiseki-ji Kensho-kai
After the headquarters instruction meeting held on April 12, 1999, Fuji Taiseki-ji Kensho-kai asserts, in the form of echoing the assertion of Shoshin-kai, that Nichidatsu could not bestow Kechimyaku Sojo to anyone because he had died suddenly as a consequence of Buddha's penalty relating to the change of doctrine. It further asserts that Nikken assumed the position of Hossu by pretending that he had been bestowed Kechimyaku Sojo, even though it had not occurred.