Daisaku Ikeda with BSG members; 6th February 1979

Source: January 2011 VC, p.65

BSG’s growth has accelerated with the visits of Ikeda to India. As a result of each successive visit, the organization gradually began to take shape and on January 3, 1986, Bharat Soka Gakkai was officially formed as a registered organization, thereby planting its roots firmly in Indian soil.

Between 1961 and 1997, Ikeda made several visits to India. He met with eminent Indians from all walks of life which resulted in expansion of mutual understanding between Japan and India. During each of his visits, Ikeda expressed his deep gratitude to India for its contribution to Japanese spiritual development through introduction of Buddhism to Japan.

Spurred by these visits, BSG began to actively engage in activities for the promotion of peace, culture and education in cooperation with like-minded organizations. As a result, Ikeda’s writings and efforts for peace have become increasingly recognized and appreciated in Indian society. An indication of this is that Ikeda has to date (April 2022) received 19 academic honors from various universities and institutes across India and over 40 recognitions and honors from various organizations of India.

1961 – Ikeda’s First Visit to India – Building the Foundation for Peace

Daisaku Ikeda with the delegation during their travel to India in 1961

Source: January 2011 VC, p.23

This trip was also a practical step in response to the wishes of his late mentor, Second Soka Gakkai President Josei Toda, who was passionate that his disciples work to establish lasting peace and happiness in Asia by protecting the dignity of human life.

During this trip, and particularly during the visit to Bodhgaya, the site in India traditionally regarded as a place of great significance where Prince Siddhartha attained enlightenment, Ikeda began to ponder the idea of establishing an institution dedicated to research into Asian philosophy and thought traditions as a means of promoting dialogue and peace. The following year he established the Institute of Oriental Philosophy to pursue this vision.

1979 – Second Visit – Building Goodwill through Academic, Cultural & Educational Exchange

Daisaku Ikeda with then Indian Prime Minister, Mr. Moraji Desai; 7th February 1979

Source: January 2011 VC, p.66

In 1979, Ikeda visited India again at the invitation of the Indian Government (Indian Council of Cultural Relations (ICCR). The purpose of his visit was promotion of goodwill and academic, Cultural, and educational exchange on a people-to-people level.

During this visit, Ikeda had a significant meeting with the Prime Minister Mr. Morarji Desai. Ikeda also attended a welcome reception hosted by ICCR which was attended by many participants which included distinguished scholars and intellectuals. He also called on Mr. A.B. Vajpayee, the External Affairs Minister.

Daisaku Ikeda with then Vice Chancellor of Jawaharlal Nehru University, Mr K.R.Narayanan; 9th February 1979

Source: January 2011 VC, p.75

Ikeda’s delegation visited the Jawaharlal Nehru University and presented to its library 1000 books on Japanese culture and history. The delegation was welcomed by the Vice Chancellor K.R.Narayanan (President of India from 1992-97). Prior to this, Ikeda visited Delhi University and presented 1000 books.

Daisaku Ikeda with then Minister of External Affairs Mr. Atal Bihari Vajpayee; 8th February 1979

Source: January 2011 VC, p.70

Ikeda also attended a welcome banquet hosted by Mr. R N Goenka of the Indian Express. Also present were Mr. Atal Bihari Vajpayee the Minister of External Affairs and Mr. L.K. Advani, The minister of Information and Broadcasting.

Ikeda’s delegation also visited Calcutta and met with Mr. T.N. Singh the Governor of West Bengal. They also visited Rabindra Bharati University and presented books to the students.

1992 – Building Friendships in the Indian Society

Daisaku Ikeda and his wife Kaneko Ikeda, with then Vice President of India, Dr Shankar Dayal Sharma and his wife Vimala Sharma; 10th February 1992

Source: January 2011 VC, p.125

Ikeda’s third visit to India took place 13 years later, in 1992 also on the invitation of various Indian organizations such as Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR). During his visit, he met top government leaders and bureaucrats and delivered lectures.

Ikeda met with then Vice President of India Dr Shankar Dayal Sharma at his official residence in New Delhi. Dr Sharma heartily welcomed Ikeda and hailed him as an individual who has significantly contributed to the realization of world peace.

Gandhi Smriti and Darshan Samiti, the organization promoting greater awareness of Gandhian ideals, invited Ikeda to deliver its fourth Gandhi memorial lecture. In his address titled, “Towards a world without war – Gandhism and the Modern world”, he identified 4 important aspects of Gandhism – Optimism, Activism, populism and holistic vision of life and explored each of its characteristics through references to Gandhi’s words and actions.

Daisaku Ikeda and his wife Kankeo Ikeda, with then President of India Mr R. Venkataraman and his wife Janaki Venkataraman; 14th February, 1992

Source: January 2011 VC, p.131

During this visit, Ikeda met President of India R. Venkataraman at Rashtrapati Bhavan. Coverage of the meeting was aired on Indian national television. They discussed a number of topics including Gandhi’s influence on youth, cultural ties between India and Japan; Shakyamuni Buddha and the origin of Ahimsa; the Indian way of truth and dharma as a guideline towards world peace.

Ikeda received fellowship status from the Delhi school of Nonviolence in recognition for his dedicated efforts towards promoting world peace and unity among people.

Soka University and St. Stephen’s College of the University of Delhi signed an agreement for their educational exchange program during this period.

1997 – Laying a Solid Bedrock of Peace

Daisaku Ikeda with then Prime Minister of India Mr. I.K. Gujral; 19th October, 1997

Ikeda’s next official visit came in the autumn of 1997 at the invitation of ICCR, The Rajiv Gandhi Foundation and the Asiatic Society. This visit coincided with the 50th anniversary of Indian independence.

Daisaku Ikeda with then President of India Mr. K. R. Narayanan and his wife Usha Narayanan; 22nd October, 1997

During his stay, Ikeda met several dignitaries including Chairman of The Rajiv Gandhi Foundation, Sonia Gandhi; then Prime Minister of India Mr. I.K. Gujral and the then President of India Mr. K.R. Narayanan.

Daisaku Ikeda receives the first Tagore Peace Award from the Asiatic Society; 23rd October 1997

Source: https://www.bharatsokagakkai.org/sgi-president-ikeda/indian-awards/

Several ‘firsts’ marked the occasion of his visit, the photo exhibition Rajiv Gandhi: An Intimate Vision inaugurated for the first time in India, after its screenings in Japan; the first Tagore Peace Award conferred on Ikeda by the Asiatic Society; the first SGI South Asia Representative Meetings held in New Delhi and the first Indo-Japanese joint Culture Festival held at Siri Fort Auditorium.

Ikeda’s earnest efforts to conduct dialogues of hope and dialogues of friendship with leaders, educators, Gandhians as well as ordinary people created ripples of friendship in India. A number of educational and cultural institutions honored Ikeda’s efforts for Peace and Humanism in the subsequent years of his visit.