Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Soka Gakkai International


Soka Gakkai International (SGI) is a lay Buddhist movement linking more than 12 million people around the world. SGI members integrate their Buddhist practice into their daily lives, following the Lotus Sutra based teachings of Nichiren, a 13th-century Japanese Buddhist priest.
Just as the lotus blooms in a muddy pond, all people can manifest the Buddha nature--inner resources of courage, wisdom and compassion that can equip them to overcome life's challenges and lead happy and fulfilling lives. As "engaged Buddhists," SGI members aim to create value in any circumstances and contribute to the well-being of others. Their practice sparks a process of ongoing inner transformation and empowerment known as "human revolution." The promotion of peace, culture and education is central to SGI's activities.
The Soka Gakkai International (SGI) is a worldwide network of lay Buddhists dedicated to a common vision of a better world through the empowerment of the individual and the promotion of peace, culture and education. It currently consists of 84 constituent organizations and has 12 million members in 192 countries and territories worldwide. The SGI was founded on January 26, 1975, but the movement has its roots in 1930s Japan and the struggle against the thought-control of the Japanese militarist government of the time. The Buddhism practiced by SGI members is based on the teachings of the 13th-century Japanese priest Nichiren and his interpretation of the Lotus Sutra.

Educational Reform (1930 - 1935) 

1930
Soka Gakkai founded

The Soka Gakkai (literally, "Society for the Creation of Value") began in 1930 as a study group of reformist educators. Its founder Tsunesaburo Makiguchi (1871-1944) was an author and educator, inspired by Nichiren Buddhism and passionately dedicated to the reform of the Japanese educational system. His theory of value-creating education, which he published in book form in 1930, is centered on a belief in the unlimited potential of every individual and regards education as the lifelong pursuit of self-awareness, wisdom and development.The publication of the first volume of Makiguchi'sSoka kyoikugaku taikei (The Theory of Value-Creating Pedagogy) on November 18, 1930, marked the establishment of the Soka Gakkai.
"When deluded, one is called an ordinary being, but when enlightened, one is called a Buddha. This is similar to a tarnished mirror that will shine like a jewel when polished. A mind now clouded by the illusions of the innate darkness of life is like a tarnished mirror, but when polished, it is sure to become like a clear mirror, reflecting the essential nature of phenomena and the true aspect of reality. Arouse deep faith, and diligently polish your mirror day and night. How should you polish it? Only by chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo" (The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, p.4).
Nichiren (1222-82) established the chanting of Nam-myoho-renge-kyo as the way to awaken one's Buddha nature and tap into the deepest levels of our existence, on which our own lives and that of the universe are one. He first taught the invocation of the phrase to a small group at Seicho-ji temple in Awa province, Japan, on April 28, 1253.
Myoho-renge-kyo is the name of the Lotus Sutra in Japanese pronunciation of classical Chinese characters, and so the literal meaning of Nam-myoho-renge-kyo is "I devote myself to the Lotus Sutra." As the following explanation shows, there are deeper levels of meaning attached to each element of the phrase.

Nam

Nam derives from the Sanskrit word namu, meaning "to devote oneself." Nichiren established the practice of chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo as a means to enable all people to put their lives in harmony or rhythm with the law of life, or Dharma. In the original Sanskrit, namu indicates the elements of action and attitude, and refers therefore to the correct action one needs to take and the attitude one needs to develop in order to attain Buddhahood in this lifetime.

Myoho

Myoho literally means the Mystic Law--the underlying truth or principle which governs the mysterious workings of the universe and our life from moment to moment. Myo refers to the very essence of life, which is "invisible" and beyond intellectual understanding. This essence always expresses itself in a tangible form (ho) that can be apprehended by the senses. Phenomena (ho) are changeable, but pervading all such phenomena is a constant reality known as myoMyo also means to open, to revive, and to be fully endowed with the qualities we need to develop our lives.

Renge

Nam-myoho-renge-kyo
Renge means lotus flower. The lotus blooms and produces seeds at the same time, and thus represents the simultaneity of cause and effect. The circumstances and quality of our individual lives are determined by the causes and effects, both good and bad, that we accumulate (through our thoughts, words and actions) at each moment. This is called our "karma." The law of cause and effect affirms that we each have personal responsibility for our own destiny. We create our destiny and we have the power to change it. The most powerful positive cause we can make is to chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo; the effect of Buddhahood is simultaneously created in the depths of our life and will definitely manifest in time.

The lotus flower grows and blooms in a muddy pond, and yet remains pristine and free from any defilement, symbolizing the emergence of Buddhahood from within the life of an ordinary person in the midst of the struggles of day-to-day existence.

Kyo

Kyo literally means sutra, the voice or teaching of a Buddha. In this sense, it also means sound, rhythm or vibration. In a broad sense, kyo conveys the concept that all things in the universe are a manifestation of the Mystic Law.
"Nichiren regarded Nam-myoho-renge-kyo as the Mystic Law, the natural principle governing the workings of life in the universe, the law to which all Buddhas are enlightened and the true aspect of our own lives. He saw the practice of repeatedly invoking this law as the 'direct path to enlightenment.' The phrase can be literally translated as 'I devote myself to the Lotus Sutra of the Wonderful Law.'"
People first coming into contact with the religious practice of the Soka Gakkai International may be struck by the stress placed on the phrase "Nam-myoho-renge-kyo." It may appear that everything starts from and returns to this single phrase. This does, however, accurately reflect Nichiren's (1222-82) view of its importance and the value he placed on its repeated invocation. As he put it: "[T]he soul of Nichiren is nothing other than Nam-myoho-renge-kyo." Indeed, Nichiren regarded Nam-myoho-renge-kyo as the Mystic Law, the natural principle governing the workings of life in the universe, the law to which all Buddhas are enlightened and the true aspect of our own lives. He saw the practice of repeatedly invoking this law as the "direct path to enlightenment."

The Voice

Many people associate Buddhist religious practice with silent, interior meditation. But the practice of vocalizing, reciting and chanting various teachings has played a vitally important role in the history of Buddhism. To voice one's innermost conviction and vow in prayer is an intensely public act. The emphasis on audible chanting as opposed to silent meditation reflects a core stance of Nichiren's Buddhism. Rather than simply exploring and withdrawing into the private realms of the inner life, religious practice is focused on bringing forth our highest inner potential in relation to and for the benefit of our fellow humans and human society. Nichiren often quotes the words of an earlier Buddhist philosopher that "The voice does the Buddha's work."
Using our voices to express and convey the state of our inner life--whether that be one of joy, gratitude, despair or determination--is central to our identity as humans. It is likely that the quintessentially human act of "prayer" grew from such semi-instinctual pleas, cries and thanks--directed toward the inscrutable forces of nature and prior to any consciously formulated system of doctrine or belief. Likewise, it is through song, the voice, that human beings have given primary expression to their innermost feelings of--and desires for--harmony with all life. The voice serves as a vital link between ourselves, our fellow humans and a universe that is itself vibrant with the rhythms of life and death.
Nichiren viewed the Lotus Sutra, with its message that all people are capable of becoming Buddhas--that, at the deepest level, all people already are enlightened Buddhas--as the ultimate teaching of Buddhism with an enduring and universal applicability. In line with earlier schools dedicated to the Lotus Sutra, he considered the five Chinese characters of the title of the sutra--myo, ho, ren, ge, kyo--as embodying the essence of the sutra, the Mystic Law to which Shakyamuni and other Buddhas are enlightened. Thus, when on April 28, 1253, he declared that to chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo was to activate its promise of universal enlightenment, Nichiren was establishing a form of practice that would open the way to enlightenment for all people--regardless of class or educational background. This was borne out in the diverse range of people who gathered around Nichiren, becoming his followers and fellow practitioners; they included people with a highly developed understanding of Buddhist doctrine and history as well as farmers with little if any literacy. It is also borne out in the astonishing diversity of people practicing Nichiren Buddhism globally today.

The Mystic Law

Nichiren devoted great energy to encouraging his followers to muster profound faith that chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo is a practice by which they can bring forth their inherent Buddha nature--strengthening their capacity for wisdom, courage, confidence, vitality and compassion--to successfully meet the challenges of daily life and establish a state of unshakable happiness in this world.
What, then, does Nam-myoho-renge-kyo mean? The phrase can be literally translated as "I devote myself to the Lotus Sutra of the Wonderful Law." In a number of his many writings--which include treatises, petitions, records of lectures as well as letters to individual believers--Nichiren delves into the deeper significance of each of the component characters.
Nam (or Namu) derives from the Sanskrit and means to venerate or dedicate oneself. (It is often translated as "hail" or "take refuge in," but from the perspective of Nichiren Buddhism, with its stress on the fact that the Law is inherent in all people, this cannot be considered the optimal translation.) Myoho-renge-kyo is the Japanese pronunciation of the Chinese characters comprising the title of the Lotus Sutra, or Saddharma Pundarika Sutra in the original Sanskrit.
Nichiren comments that the entire formulation thus fuses elements of Sanskrit and Chinese, the two great civilizations of his known world. This may be understood as expressing the universalist orientation of Nichiren Buddhism, its active embrace of human culture and civilization.
Myoho corresponds to Saddharma and may be translated as "wonderful or mystic Law." As Nichiren comments in one letter: "What then does myo signify? It is simply the mysterious nature of our life from moment to moment, which the mind cannot comprehend or words express."
Nichiren further cites three attributes of the character myo: To open, to be fully endowed, and to revive. Ho is the dharma or law, and together the two characters of myoho refer to the Mystic Law.
As SGI President Daisaku Ikeda has written: "The great power of the Mystic Law...embraces everything, brings out the positive possibilities of all situations, transforming everything toward the good, reviving and giving new life to all experiences."
Myo and ho are also identified by Nichiren as corresponding to life and death, which Buddhism regards as the two aspects--one active and manifest, the other latent and unseen--of a deeper life-continuum. This continuum is permeated and shaped by the law of causality, or cause and effect, which Nichiren identifies with renge, the lotus flower.
Specifically, the fact that the lotus flower already contains seeds when it opens symbolizes the principle of the simultaneity of cause and effect, the idea that causes we make are engraved in the deepest, most essential realms of life, and on this plane we immediately experience the effects of our thoughts, words and deeds. In terms of Buddhist practice this means that "Anyone who practices this Law will obtain both the cause and effect of Buddhahood simultaneously." The fact that the lotus flower sends forth pure white blossoms from roots sunk deep in muddy water expresses the idea that our highest nature is brought forth through committed engagement with the often difficult or disagreeable realities of life and society.
Finally, kyo signifies the sutra, the voiced and transmitted teaching of the Buddha. The Chinese character for kyo indicates the threads that run continually through a woven fabric. Nichiren writes: "Kyo represents the words and voices of all living beings.... Kyo may also be defined as that which is constant and unchanging in the three existences of past, present and future."
Elsewhere Nichiren associates each of the characters of Nam-myoho-renge-kyo with parts of the human body: head, throat, chest, abdomen and legs, respectively. This may be understood as indicating that the mystic principle or law that guides and governs the living cosmos is in no way separate from the concrete realities of our lives.
By invoking the Mystic Law and bringing forth our highest, most enlightened nature, we naturally inspire those around us to strive toward the highest, most creative and compassionate way of life. This develops into a "virtuous circle" of mutually reinforcing celebration of the infinite dignity and value of all human beings. Nichiren uses a poetic metaphor to describe this process: "[W]hen a caged bird sings, birds who are flying in the sky are thereby summoned and gather around, and when the birds flying in the sky gather around, the bird in the cage strives to get out. When with our mouths we chant the Mystic Law, our Buddha nature, being summoned, will invariably emerge."Seminar on Dr Daisaku Ikeda’s Peace Proposal organised in New Delhi 

 On August 25, 2008 Bharat Soka Gakkai (BSG) and the Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts (IGNCA) organised a seminar: "Harmonising Religion, Creating Peace” based on Dr Daisaku Ikeda's 2008 Peace Proposal submitted to the United Nations.

The seminar was a big success with an overwhelming response and participation of over 400 members and guests. There was a general consensus about one particular aspect - a change inside would produce a change outside. Various eminent speakers articulated this aspect, sighting examples from their own line of work, personal and professional experience.

Seminar on President Ikeda's 2008 Peace Proposal 
Harmonising Religion, Creating Peace
Seminar on Dr Daisaku Ikeda’s Peace Proposal organised in New Delhi

On August 25, 2008 Bharat Soka Gakkai (BSG) and the Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts (IGNCA) organised a seminar: "Harmonising Religion, Creating Peace” based on Dr Daisaku Ikeda's 2008 Peace Proposal submitted to the United Nations. 
The seminar was a big success with an overwhelming response and participation of over 400 members and guests. There was a general consensus about one particular aspect - a change inside would produce a change outside. Various eminent speakers articulated this aspect, sighting examples from their own line of work, personal and professional experience.
Delivering the welcome address, Joint Secretary, IGNCA Ms Aditi Mehta congratulated the BSG for organising such a relevant topic for discussion in this current political scenario. She said "I couldn't have thought of any other issue. The IGNCA and BSG share a very strong fellow feeling underlying Ikeda's values of humanism." 

Chairing the symposium, Former Attorney General for India, Mr Soli J. Sorabjee pointed out that even 60 years after the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, India is far short of its goal and that violence and conflict find root in the glaring social and economic disparities between the haves and the have-nots. ‘In India people are beginning to loose faith in the courts, there is a need for each human to be a peaceful judge of himself to make the country peaceful and positive’, said Sorabjee stressing the need for increased tolerance and spiritual self discipline. 
Delivering the keynote address, Dr V.N. Rajshekharan Pillai, Vice Chancellor of IGNOU, opined "I sincerely believe that the threat to peace all over the world has been caused by deprivation of one kind or the other." As an educationist, he spoke about how "value-based education can be the key to peace," Prof Pillai spoke of the need to prioritise literacy and education, and presented statistics that reflected the abysmal performance of India in both these spheres. He also spoke extensively on the need for value based and contextual education and how important it is “to review the content of education in relation to our understanding of the context of society”. Dr Pillai also shared the startling statistics related to universal education, access to primary education and the gap in university education that points to the need for greater outlays and reform in the sector. Dr Pillai stressed the need for contextual education so that students can actually apply the information and knowledge to their daily lives.
Social activist and famous policewoman, Dr Kiran Bedi illustrated the behavioural change brought about by spirituality as experienced in police training and by the inmates of Tihar Jail based on the Vipassana system. Dr Bedi was awarded the Ramon Magsaysay Award in 1994 for her prison reform policies implemented in Tihar Jail, one of the largest prison complexes in the world with around 10,000 inmates. Dr Bedi stressed on the need for "powering yourself to empower others." She declared, "Religion comes into play only after one is born. Everybody feels that my God is great. And peace will come. It needs to be believed. We also yearn for peace but do we yearn for it collectively?" 
She emphasised Dr Ikeda’s thought that ‘it is necessary that the vicious cycle of intergenerational poverty and poor living conditions is broken in the developing nations through policies that are more people-friendly and humanistic. The Vipasanna sessions in Tihar Jail are still conducted regularly though it has been over 15 years since it was initiated. Dr Bedi shared the moving anecdote of the Norwegian under trial in Tihar who confessed to his crime and accepted the judgement handed out by the court. Thanks to the coverage by media he was able to get a pardon from the President and now supports other inmates by sending clothes and other aids regularly to Tihar Jail. 

In the closing address, Dr KK Chakravarty, Member-Secretary IGNCA co-related the work that is being done by the BSG and IGNCA. Dr KK Chakravarty, emphasised on the importance of dialogue and contextual relevance of organisations that are working towards peace and culture He talked about how IGNCA had initiated "self-policing" and was able to re-orient itself in the process. Voicing the need for tremendous inner change, he said, “To heal the planet, we need to heal ourselves. Re-invention of knowledge is an imperative.” 
Delivering the vote of thanks, Ms Naveena Reddi, Director General, Bharat Soka Gakkai, reiterated the message of the seminar: that we all need to take up the challenge of the humanization of religion. The determination to respect all people that forms the bedrock of humanism brings us to see that differences of ideology, culture and ethnicity should be treated as flexible, fluid concepts that need to be constantly renegotiated so as to best serve human needs. People and not abstract principles are the protagonists of destiny.

She concluded with the unforgettable words of two champions:
Kim Ku, the champion of Korean independence who wanted his country to become the most beautiful country, not the richest or strongest said: What humankind today lacks is neither force of arms nor economic strength…We have already achieved a great deal in the natural sciences, making it fully possible for all people to live happily. The fundamental reason that humankind is miserable at present is the lack of humanity and justice, the lack of a spirit of compassion, the lack of love. If such a spirit could be developed, it would be possible, with the material resources existing at present, for all people on the planet to lead fulfilled lives.

Jose Marti, the champion of Cuban independence who proclaimed: All people have something immense and majestic and commonly shared, something vaster than the sky, larger than the earth, brighter than the stars and deeper than the sea- the human spirit.
The seminar was well covered in both the electronic and print media with Aaj Tak carrying a report on it on the night of 25th itself. Main newspapers like Pioneer, Hindu, Punjab Kesari and Rajasthan Patrika, Times of India- East Delhi plus also reported on the event
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Buddhism aims to awaken people to the limitless potential and value of their own lives. Buddhist philosophy and practice bring about a positive transformation in the depths of life, transforming fear into courage, deluded impulses into wisdom, and egotism to compassion.
Buddhism begins with individuals deciding to take responsibility for their own lives, reforming first themselves, overcoming their negative tendencies, then through the example of their own lives, their immediate surroundings and relations. Buddhism places the responsibility of change, in a person’s life, squarely on the individual himself. 
Nichiren’s Buddhism
SGI members follow the teachings of Nichiren , a Buddhist monk who lived in 13th century Japan. Nichiren asserted that every individual has the potential to become enlightened in his or her present lifetime. Buddhist practice is a vehicle of individual empowerment. Each person has within the power to overcome life's inevitable challenges, to live a life of value and become a positive influence in one's community, society and the world.

Origins in India
Nichiren's philosophy is rooted in the teachings of Shakyamuni (Gautam Buddha), the historical founder of Buddhism who lived in India some 2,500 years ago. His teachings were recorded as sutras and spread throughout Asia, giving rise to a number of distinct schools of Buddhism.

Accessible to All
Nichiren lived in Japan, during a tumultuous time of social unrest and natural disasters. The common people, especially, suffered enormously in this harsh feudal society. Appalled by this state of affairs, Nichiren, while a young priest, set out to find the solution to the suffering that surrounded him. After intensive study of the Buddhist sutras, he realized that the essence of the Buddha's enlightenment, and the means to bring an end to suffering and social turmoil, was found in the Lotus Sutra. This sutra affirms that all people, regardless of gender, capacity or social standing, inherently possess the qualities of a Buddha, and are therefore equally worthy of utmost respect.

Based on his study of the sutra, he established the invocation of Nam-myoho-renge-kyo as a universal practice for tapping and manifesting the life-condition of Buddhahood latent in one's own life. SGI members believe, that exerting oneself in both faith and practice--including taking action in reality based on wisdom and compassion--is the means by which one is able to realize one's Buddhahood.

Nichiren strongly believed that the true aim of Buddhism is to enable people living in the real world and facing real problems to become empowered and change their lives and society for the better. Nichiren Buddhism is a philosophy that respects the fundamental dignity of all life and stresses the profound connection between one's own happiness and the happiness of others.
Human Revolution
Buddhist thought outlines a practical method for not only helping individuals overcome various sufferings, but changing society as a whole. Human revolution is the name Josei Toda, Second President of Soka Gakkai, used to describe this process--the liberation of the spirit from within. It is a continual process of renewal and invigoration, the development of one person's boundless inner capacity to lead a creative and contributive life through his or her own effort.

Inner Change in a Single Person
There have been a number of different revolutions in recent centuries: political, economic, industrial, scientific, etc. Toda's view was that, regardless of how external factors are changed, society will not fundamentally improve as long as people--the foundation of everything--fail to transform the inherent negative and destructive tendencies of their own lives.

An inner change for the better in a single person is the essential first turn of the wheel in the process of making the human race stronger and wiser. Human revolution is the most fundamental and most vital of all revolutions. This revolution--an inner process of self-reformation--is completely bloodless and peaceful.


Process of Growth and Self-Realization
Every single person has tremendous potential which is largely untapped. Through one's human revolution, this potential can be revealed and we can establish an independent, unconquerable self; enabling one to deal creatively with any situation that life has to offer. This process enables one to keep growing and developing indefinitely.

Bharat Soka Gakkai
BSG Cultural Centre
C – 46, South Extension Part – 2,
New Delhi – 110 049
India.
BSG International Peace Centre
J 21, Hauz Khas Enclave,
New Delhi – 110 016
India.

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“Peace is not the absence of war. The surest way to peace is by fostering people of character. It lies in sowing and nurturing the seed of peace – the desire within each individual to respect and embrace other human beings. It’s about fostering self-motivated, empowered individuals who will confront the forces that lead nations to war” - Daisaku Ikeda 
The ultimate aim of the SGI is the establishment of a peaceful world. Towards that end, the SGI actively promotes peace as a Non-Government Organization (NGO), affiliated with United Nations. As a broad-based grassroots movement spanning 190 countries, the SGI’s activities typically focus on public education and awareness building on the themes of peace, humanitarian relief, environment protection and human rights.

Since the early 1980s, the SGI has sponsored exhibitions that have toured the world with a focus on nuclear disarmament, war and peace, children’s art and sustainable living.

Beginning in 1997, the SGI has become an active partner in the international movement to promote the “Earth Charter” as a set of ethics and values for sustainable living.

In India, Bharat Soka Gakkai, has taken the following initiatives in the realm of peace. 
Symposiums on President Ikeda’s Peace Proposal 
Every year since 1983, Dr Ikeda presents a peace proposal that offers practical, workable solutions to questions of human security and world peace, ased on Buddhist ideals and philosophy. The peace proposals are Dr Ikeda's endeavour to work with the UN - which he refers to as "the cngress of humanity" - in order to realise the goals of peace, culture and education. 
BSG has organized symposia on these peace proposals  since 2004 as a part of its ongoing effort to engage with peace activists and foster a culture of peace, a climate of mutual respect and trust. Details...
Earth Charter and I
(A symposium in consonance with Buddhist principles)
As a run-up to the World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD) in 2002, the BSG’s Women and Youth Peace Committees organised a symposium entitled ’Countdown to WSSD: The Earth Charter and I’, in New Delhi. Details...
Rescuing Heritage
Believing in a holistic view of peace, the BSG strongly supports the protection of the environment and heritage. Its members have furthered initiatives to abolish the use of plastic, encouraged recycling of garbage and adoption of rainwater-harvesting techniques. The BSG Youth Peace Committee has, with the assistance of the Archaeological Survey of India, the Delhi Development Authority and the Municipal Corporation of Delhi, restored the environs of the Ashokan Edict near Srinivaspuri in Delhi.
Another Way of Seeing Things
To further promote dialogue and a culture of peace, the Education Division has been screening this film — adapted from an essay by the same name written by Dr Ikeda — in public schools and colleges in Delhi. The film has also been translated in Hindi so that in penetrate the masses. It was also shown on Television by Doordarshan.
World is Yours to Change
Is the world yours to change? Dr Daisaku Ikeda, President of Soka Gakkai International , seems to believe so. A Buddhist thinker and philosopher, Ikeda believes that when ordinary people -- you and I -- alter modes of thinking and behaviour, a larger social transformation will automatically follow.

Prof K R Narayanan, the former President of India, released the Hindi-English edition of the path-breaking book, The World is Yours to Change. Published in India by Samskriti, the original edition is a Japanese-English version brought out by the reputed Asahi Press of Japan. (Press Release)
Building a Century of Peace
In July 2001, the young women of BSG organised a symposium titled, ‘Building a Century of Peace: The Role of Young Women’. Dr Kiran Bedi, Joint Commissioner of Police, Delhi, and Ms Lata Vaidyanathan, principal of Modern School, Delhi, participated in a discussion that centred on Dr Ikeda’s book, For the Sake of Peace. A key message in the book is that peace is not extraneous to our lives and that establishing it is the responsibility of every individual.
Seminar on Josei Toda’s Crusade Against Nuclearisation
The Seminar on “Josei Toda’s Crusade Against Nuclearisation,” held in March 2000 at Gandhi Smriti New Delhi was jointly organized by G. Ramachandran Institute of Non-Violence and Social Change, Gandhi Smriti and Darshan Samiti, Institute of Oriental Philosophy and BSG.
The speaker were - Prof. Panda , Registrar , Delhi University, Prof. Lokesh Chandra ,eminent scholar, Prof. Ravinder Kumar former Director Nehru Museum, Prof. Takagi from Soka University ,Tokyo and Dr. Radhakrishnan.
Manifesto 2000
A UNESCO initiative, Manifesto 2000 aims at raising awareness and motivating individuals to adopt a culture of peace by signing a pledge to: respect all life, reject violence, listen to understand, to share with others, preserve the planet and rediscover solidarity. BSG contributed to this peace effort by collecting over 100,000 signatures in support of the values of Manifesto 2000.(Press Release)
“Education at its best, is a process of liberation from prejudice which frees the human heart from its violent passions. It is through education that young people can be delivered from powerlessness, from the burden of mistrust directed against themselves. And those who have learned to trust in themselves are then naturally able to believe in the latent capacities of others” - Daisaku Ikeda
Why Education –

In an effort to implement Soka Gakkai founder, Tsunesaburo Makiguchi’s philosophy of Soka, or “Value Creating” education, Dr. Ikeda has founded, schools and educational institutions worldwide, giving concrete expression to his conviction that education is humanitys most important undertaking.

Soka Education is based on a belief in the infinite potential of the individual. Rooted in a profound respect for human life, it seeks to nurture courageous people of wisdom, who can contribute to the realization of a peaceful world.

Soka School System has been established in Japan, Hong Kong, Singapre, Malaysia and Brazil. Soka Universities are established in Japan in 1971 and in USA in 2001, with the objective of fostering global citizens.
Tsunami Longterm Relief
Responding to the urgent need of children affected by the devastating Tsunami of December 2004, the MS Swaminathan Research Foundation (MSSRF) and the Bharat Soka Gakkai (BSG) signed an MOU recently towards collaborating on a three-year programme to provide educational and nutritional support to these orphaned children. Press Release...
Encouraging the reading habit amongst children in MCD schools
A seminar on the role of storytelling was held by BSG’s Education Division in collaboration with National Book Trust (NBT) so as to refocus on this age-old highly interactive tradition. Responding to the aridity of an increasingly virtual world, this was done primarily to rekindle a love for books and also to reintroduce this traditional warm person-to-person method of imparting knowledge. Details...
Picture Books Catalogue
A unique catalogue of over 1,000 picture books for children in 20 Indian languages (titled ‘Picture Books in Indian languages — A Catalogue’) was compiled by the Education Division in 2001, and made available to schools and libraries nationwide. With details on each book, this catalogue is an invaluable resource for both parents and educators. These picture books were acquired for an international picture book exhibition (Read Me A Story), organised by SGI in 2002. The aim of this exhibition is to showcase the cultural diversity of different regions and countries through classical, traditional, modern and experimental picture books. 
For street and slum children
BSG’s most significant contribution is in reaching out to the vulnerable and the marginalised. The Youth Peace Committee’s initiatives to improve the lives of street and slum children associated with the NGOs Disha and Butterflies is one such. BSG members have also acted as scribes for blind children — bringing cheer and support to those who lead their lives in total darkness.
Soka Ikeda College for Women
The Soka Ikeda College of Arts and Science for Women is in the city of Chennai (formerly Madras) in southern India. Established through the efforts of the Indian poet and educator Dr. Sethu Kumanan, the college is presently housed at the Sethu Bhaskara Matriculation Higher Secondary School. Details...
The Challenges of the New Millennium and the Role of Education
A symposium on ``The Challenges of the New Millennium and the Role of Education’’ was organised by Gandhi Smriti & Darshan Samiti, and Bharat Soka Gakkai, at the India International Centre on October 25 1998. The symposium was divided into four sessions --- Agony of the Individual, Changing Value Systems, Brilliance of Experiments and Chaos to Cosmos. The participants comprised a distinguished array of academicians, Gandhians and sociologists included.
Humanitarian Activities
The humanistic movement of SGI seeks to alleviate all forms of suffering. BSG members too have been actively engaged in organising emergency relief activities nationwide. 
  • In 1998, BSG collected and delivered supplies to the Gujarat Cyclone victims in co-operation with UNICEF.
  • Similar support was given to the victims of the Orissa Cyclone during December 1999-January 2000. 
  • Support was lent to the victims of the Rajasthan Drought and BSG members delivered emergency supplies to the Chamoli Earthquake victims in 2000. Members and local citizens collected 15 tonnes of food, clothing, medicines and blankets, which were distributed in the affected villages of Chamoli. 
  • In February 2001, following the massive Gujarat earthquake, BSG responded with prompt relief efforts, organised by the Women’s and Youth Peace Committees. Essential items were identified, collected and distributed by over 20 volunteers in 10 devastated villages that had not yet been provided relief. Over 2,500 ‘family packages’ were given to more than 15,000 villagers. 
  • Responding to the devastation caused by the Tsunami in December 2004, BSG members at very short notice contributed Rs 500,000 to the Prime Minister’s Relief Fund.
  • When Mumbai was washed over with Floods in August 2005, Mumbai members of BSG went all out to provide basic necessities to people who were affected the most.

  • Buddhism

    Buddhism aims to awaken people to the limitless potential and value of their own lives. Buddhist philosophy and practice bring about a positive transformation in the depths of life, transforming fear into courage, deluded impulses into wisdom, and egotism to compassion.
    Buddhism begins with individuals deciding to take responsibility for their own lives, reforming first themselves, overcoming their negative tendencies, then through the example of their own lives, their immediate surroundings and relations. Buddhism places the responsibility of change, in a person’s life, squarely on the individual himself. 
    Nichiren’s Buddhism
    SGI members follow the teachings of Nichiren , a Buddhist monk who lived in 13th century Japan. Nichiren asserted that every individual has the potential to become enlightened in his or her present lifetime. Buddhist practice is a vehicle of individual empowerment. Each person has within the power to overcome life's inevitable challenges, to live a life of value and become a positive influence in one's community, society and the world.

    Origins in India
    Nichiren's philosophy is rooted in the teachings of Shakyamuni (Gautam Buddha), the historical founder of Buddhism who lived in India some 2,500 years ago. His teachings were recorded as sutras and spread throughout Asia, giving rise to a number of distinct schools of Buddhism.

    Accessible to All
    Nichiren lived in Japan, during a tumultuous time of social unrest and natural disasters. The common people, especially, suffered enormously in this harsh feudal society. Appalled by this state of affairs, Nichiren, while a young priest, set out to find the solution to the suffering that surrounded him. After intensive study of the Buddhist sutras, he realized that the essence of the Buddha's enlightenment, and the means to bring an end to suffering and social turmoil, was found in the Lotus Sutra. This sutra affirms that all people, regardless of gender, capacity or social standing, inherently possess the qualities of a Buddha, and are therefore equally worthy of utmost respect.

    Based on his study of the sutra, he established the invocation of Nam-myoho-renge-kyo as a universal practice for tapping and manifesting the life-condition of Buddhahood latent in one's own life. SGI members believe, that exerting oneself in both faith and practice--including taking action in reality based on wisdom and compassion--is the means by which one is able to realize one's Buddhahood.

    Nichiren strongly believed that the true aim of Buddhism is to enable people living in the real world and facing real problems to become empowered and change their lives and society for the better. Nichiren Buddhism is a philosophy that respects the fundamental dignity of all life and stresses the profound connection between one's own happiness and the happiness of others.
    Human Revolution
    Buddhist thought outlines a practical method for not only helping individuals overcome various sufferings, but changing society as a whole. Human revolution is the name Josei Toda, Second President of Soka Gakkai, used to describe this process--the liberation of the spirit from within. It is a continual process of renewal and invigoration, the development of one person's boundless inner capacity to lead a creative and contributive life through his or her own effort.

    Inner Change in a Single Person
    There have been a number of different revolutions in recent centuries: political, economic, industrial, scientific, etc. Toda's view was that, regardless of how external factors are changed, society will not fundamentally improve as long as people--the foundation of everything--fail to transform the inherent negative and destructive tendencies of their own lives.

    An inner change for the better in a single person is the essential first turn of the wheel in the process of making the human race stronger and wiser. Human revolution is the most fundamental and most vital of all revolutions. This revolution--an inner process of self-reformation--is completely bloodless and peaceful.


    Process of Growth and Self-Realization
    Every single person has tremendous potential which is largely untapped. Through one's human revolution, this potential can be revealed and we can establish an independent, unconquerable self; enabling one to deal creatively with any situation that life has to offer. This process enables one to keep growing and developing indefinitely.
    A symposium on ``The Challenges of the New Millennium and the Role of Education’’ was organised by Gandhi Smriti & Darshan Samiti, and Bharat Soka Gakkai, at the India International Centre on October 25 1998. The symposium was divided into four sessions --- Agony of the Individual, Changing Value Systems, Brilliance of Experiments and Chaos to Cosmos. The participants comprised a distinguished array of academicians, Gandhians and sociologists included. 
    Dr Lokesh Chandra, director, International Academy of Indian Culture, Prof K D Gangarade, former pro-vice chancellor of Delhi University, Prof Y Singh, Prof. Emeritus of the Dept of Sociology, JNU, Prof Ravinder Kumar, director, Nehru Memorial Museum & Library, and chairman of Indian Council of Historical Research, Prof R P Sharma, principal of Teachers Training College, Delhi University and Professor Emeritus of Delhi University, Prof M Mukhopadhyay, professor at the National Institute of Educational Planning and Administration and consultant to many international organisations like UNESCO, Y P Anand, director of Gandhi Museum, Namrata Sharma, a research scholar and budding educationist, Prof Mukesh Willaims who is teaching at St Stephens College, Delhi University, and Prof N Radhakrishnan, director of Gandhi Smriti & Darshan Samiti.

    Each session addressed the issues and problems facing individuals and society and the emerging world order. The main focus of the discussion was the role of education in bringing about a positive change in the individual and society through inculcation of the right values. However, education was shackled by problems of rigidity, lack of relevance and adequate resources.

    The Agony of the Individual was, in the studied opinion of Prof. Y P Singh, neither a national problem nor even a new one. It has existed from the beginning of humanity. Disenchantment is not a phenomenon of modern society alone. Traditional society, too, has been afflicted by the same problem.

    The general breakdown in society, the decomposition of communities and the resultant disintegration and politicisation of issues could be traced to an alienation from family values. The atmosphere of immoral ambience has only aggravated problems.

    The Western world in recognition of this crisis in values is looking towards Gandhian paradigms. The challenge of the day is not to go back to Gandhi but to bring Gandhi up and establish a link with his ideals. Productivity and morality have to be integrated.

    Dr Gangarade observed that children brought up by maid servants suffered as a consequence of lack of imparting of right family values. In his study of the work system in Japan of mothers and children, he concluded that mothers had no time or inclination to communicate with their children. Suicide rates were very high among adolescents in Japan. The role of education was therefore to bridge the communication gap, the veneration gap and finally the generation gap. How could this be achieved? The most important requisite lay in the ideal teacher. Tagore had said that a teacher who tells would be graded as `c’, while a teacher who demonstrates would be `b’ and a teacher who inspires would be graded as `a’.

    What kind of education does free India need? An education that is related to one’s work. What is imperative is a rethink on the relationship between education and occupation which, according to current trends, is going to be transient because of fast changing work culture and changes in technology and skills.

    Society needs to move away from utilitarian values to basic values which are not a means to an end but the end in itself. Basic values are not relative; they do not vary according to class, country or culture. Gandhi had recognised the pathology of modernity. While it is impossible to go back to the past, it is possible to evoke and maintain the values it espoused. Notions of sharing, caring and compassion are relevant and universal.

    One needs to ponder on what direction education has taken? Today modernisation of means of education is more focussed upon. The role of education today should be to bring knowledge and values together. There is a need to bring sanity to education. We need to change the present oppressive pedagogy. Values should not be imposed but rather students should be encouraged to arrive at values.

    Education has a very important role to play. It embraces various dimensions of society lending poise to the individual as he levers his way through life.

    The last two sessions of the symposium brought into focus two brilliant educators, Tsunesaburo Makiguchi and Mahatma Gandhi. Makiguchi, a Japanese educator laid stress on an education system where the teacher was a mentor or a guide empowering his students to self-actualisation and interact effectively with their environment. The similarity between Makiguchi and Gandhi was that both were distressed by the existing state of affairs, endeavoured to change it in a significant way and gave their lives for a cause. However, while Makiguchi was fortunate enough to have Josei Toda and later Daisaku Ikeda to carry on relentlessly the cause of a more meaningful value-based education, Gandhi did not have anyone to carry on his battle in the context of a mentor-disciple hierarchy.

    Prof. N. Radhakrishnan spoke at length on the components of the present millennium. A century, according to him, which had witnessed tremendous strides in science and technology, making available undreamt of resources. Close on the heels of this scientific development has followed a spurt in materialism and consumerism. The very same period has also seen the death of religion and the unprecedented spread of violence. Never before had the human mind subverted science to propagate such mass violence. Even though this century has seen a proliferation of scientific techniques for development, one cannot ignore the complete erosion and disregard for values. Today, even a child asks, ``What benefits do I derive from truth?’’

    The current situation is indeed chaotic. The challenges that education faces are the factors of dehumanising poverty, growing intolerance, greed and insensitivity with which we treat life.

    Dr. Radhakrishnan went on say that we should aim for a society with all boundaries dismantled, beyond languages, religion, caste and nationalities where respect for life should become the binding force. Religion is a major binder and being religious implies being anchored in values of compassion, love, morality, respect and tolerance.

    "A core theme of the sutra is the idea that all people equally and without exception possess 'Buddha nature.' The message of the Lotus Sutra is to encourage people's faith in their own Buddha nature, their own inherent capacity for wisdom, courage and compassion."
    Lotus Sutra
    The teachings of Shakyamuni, the historical founder of Buddhism, are recorded in an enormous body of texts, known as sutras. The manner in which the philosophy of Buddhism is presented within the sutras varies widely. This can be explained by a number of factors. During the some 50 years over which Shakyamuni shared his teachings with the people of his day, he traveled widely throughout India. Rather than expounding his philosophy in a systematic manner, his teaching mainly took the form of dialogue. Meeting with people from a wide range of backgrounds--from ministers of state to unlettered men and women--he sought to respond to their questions and doubts. Most of all, he sought to provide answers to the fundamental questions of human existence: Why is it that we are born and must meet the inevitable sufferings of illness, aging and death?

    The sutras were compiled in the years following the death of Shakyamuni; it is thought that the Lotus Sutra was compiled between the first and second century C.E. In Sanskrit it is known as theSaddharmapundarika-sutra (lit. "correct dharma white lotus sutra"). Like many Mahayana sutras, the Lotus Sutra spread through the "northern transmission" to Central Asia, China, Korea and Japan. Originally entering China in the third century C.E., the Lotus Sutra is said to have been translated into several different versions of the Chinese, of which three complete versions are extant. The fifth-century translation of Kumarajiva (344-413 C.E.) is considered to be particularly outstanding; its philosophical clarity and literary beauty are thought to have played a role in the widespread veneration of this sutra throughout East Asia.
    The title of the Lotus Sutra in Kumarajiva's translation, Myoho-renge-kyo, contains the essence of the entire sutra, and it was on the basis of this realization that Nichiren (1222-1282 C.E.) established the invocation of Nam-myoho-renge-kyo as his core Buddhist practice.
    The Lotus Sutra is considered the sutra that fulfills the purpose for Shakyamuni's advent in the world, expressed in these words: "At the start I took a vow, hoping to make all persons equal to me, without any distinction between us." In other words, the purpose of Shakyamuni's advent was to enable all people to attain the same state of perfect enlightenment that caused him to be known as "Buddha," or "awakened one."
    The Lotus Sutra contains a number of concepts that were revolutionary both within the context of Buddhist teachings and within the broader social context of the time. Many of these are not stated explicitly but are implied or materialized in the dramatic and even fantastic-seeming events portrayed in the text. Much of the genius of later scholars of the sutra, such as T'ien-t'ai (538-597 C.E.), lay in their ability to extract and systematize these principles.
    A core theme of the sutra is the idea that all people equally and without exception possess the "Buddha nature." The message of the Lotus Sutra is to encourage people's faith in their own Buddha nature, their own inherent capacity for wisdom, courage and compassion. The universal capacity for enlightenment is demonstrated through the examples of people for whom this possibility had traditionally been denied, such as women and people who had committed evil deeds.
    In many sutras a number of Shakyamuni's senior disciples are condemned as people who have, through arrogant attachment to their intellectual abilities and their self-absorbed practice, "scorched the seeds of their own enlightenment." The profundity of Shakyamuni's teachings in the Lotus Sutra, however, awakens in them the spirit of humility and compassion. They realize that all people are inextricably interlinked in their quest for enlightenment, and that if we desire happiness ourselves, it is imperative that we work for the happiness of others.
    In this sutra, moreover, Shakyamuni demonstrates that he actually attained enlightenment in the infinite past, not in his current lifetime as had been assumed by his followers. This illustrates, through the concrete example of his own life, that attaining enlightenment does not mean to change into or become something one is not. Rather, it means to reveal the inherent, "natural" state that already exists within.
    As Daisaku Ikeda has written, the Lotus Sutra is ultimately a teaching of empowerment. It "teaches us that the inner determination of an individual can transform everything; it gives ultimate expression to the infinite potential and dignity inherent in each human life."



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