Dr. Daisaku Ikeda has been the President of Soka Gakkai International (SGI) since 1975 and Honorary President of Soka Gakkai since 1979. He was earlier the President of Soka Gakkai from 1960 to 1979.
The SGI is a global lay Buddhist movement that originated in Japan in 1930. It has more than 10 million members in Japan and more than 1.2 million members in 189 other countries and territories worldwide.
For SGI members, Buddhism is a practical philosophy of individual empowerment and inner transformation that enables people to develop themselves and take responsibility for their lives.
The promotion of peace, culture and education is central to SGI’s activities.
It is recognized by the United Nations as a nongovernmental organization and co-operates with the UN in a variety of humanitarian and public information programmes.
Dr Ikeda is also the founder of numerous educational, cultural and peace institutions. A prolific writer, he has published more than 100 works including philosophical treatises, poetry, children’s stories and photographic collections.
Central to his thinking is the idea that a self-directed transformation within each person’s life, rather than societal or structural reform, holds the key to lasting peace and human happiness.
This is expressed most succinctly in a passage in his best-known work ‘The Human Revolution’: “A great inner revolution in just a single individual will help achieve a change in the destiny of a nation and, further, will cause a change in the destiny of humankind.”
This statement, in fact, revisits Mahatma Gandhi’s own statement and belief embodied in the words “Ekla Chalore.”
Dr Ikeda often cites the achievements and words of wisdom of people whose thoughts and actions resonate with Buddhism.
In fact, Mahatma Gandhi is one of the most frequently cited world figures by Dr Ikeda’s writings, most of which are printed in the Japanese daily organ of the organization and other periodicals published by local SGI organizations in many languages.
Dr Ikeda also took the initiative to develop exchanges with like-minded individuals and institutions – including those that promote Gandhian values.
Dr Ikeda is a member of a large number of national and international organizations.
His name is associated, along with other eminent personalities, with the founding of the Gandhi Institute for Reconciliation. The institute’s objectives include “to heal and revive human hearts and minds deeply wounded by violent ideologies and open the way for a new chapter in human history,”
Dr. Ikeda has received numerous doctorates, awards and distinctions including the Commendation for Peace and Human Rights Contributions, Nelson R. Mandela School of Medicine, University of Natal (South Africa); Tagore Peace Award (India); Simon Wiesen thai Centre International Tolerance Award (USA); Rosa Parks Humanitarian Award (USA); UNHCR Humanitarian Award and the United Nations Peace Award.