In the heart of Worli stands the tall stone Tori (otherwise known as a peace pagoda) of Nipponzan Myohoji, a Japanese temple built as a testament of respect shared between two great nations with a glowing Buddhist culture. Although its existence is unknown to many Mumbaikars the large Buddhist complex lies two minutes from Worli Naka and the local residents are accustomed to the tranquil hum of the prayer time drum as well as the happy shouting of children in the temple’s backyard playground for children of neighbouring slums.
The temple was originally a Japanese Buddhist Monastery founded by Nichidatsu Fujii Guruji, a Japanese monk who was a dear friend of Mahatma Gandhi and contributed much to India’s non-violent freedom movement during 1931-38. Upon the grounds of the monastery Jugal Kishore Birla built this temple (funded by Raja Baldeo Das Birla), which officially opened on December 27, 1956 and has been maintained by the Birla trust ever since.
Gandhi was so fond of Nichidatsu Fujii he began to call the Japanese monk “Guruji,” a name that has happily stuck for the rest of Nichidatsu Fujii Guruji’s 100 year life. In fact, the love and respect between the two men was so strong that Gandhi incorporated Guruji’s practice of drumming and chanting ‘Na Mu Myo Ho Ren Ge Kyo’ into his prayers for the rest of his life.
Prayer times are from 6AM to 7AM and again from 5:30PM to 7:30PM. Even if you are not Buddhist, this temple welcomes those of all faiths to both visit and pray. If’d you like to know more about this sanctuary in Worli click here.