It was until the 20th Century that the Soka Gakkai’s 3 Founding Presidents, Makiguchi Sensei, Toda Sensei and Ikeda Sensei, revived Nichiren Buddhism and established it as a world religion through the historical development of repeating a wide variety of dialogue on religion, ideology and culture. Today, as a great substantiation of "Westward Transmission" prophesized by Nichiren Daishonin himself, the SGI has established a solidarity of 150,000 Soka members in India.
What is the cause of the surge in membership that creates the time for the emergence of the great river? It has to be traced back to the very first drop of the river that took place in 1961.
Ikeda Sensei first visited India in January/February of 1961. He was 32 years old when he was inaugurated as Soka Gakkai’s 3rd President in the previous year. Carrying with him the photo of Toda Sensei who held the dream of kosen-rufu in Asia, Ikeda Sensei stared at the quiet great land of India which has not even a single member back then and chanted daimoku for the advancement of kosen-rufu of this land.
The real turning point of India’s kosen-rufu was during Ikeda Sensei’s third visit in February 1979. He spoke to the 40 members of India then, “The eternal flow of the Ganges River starts from a single drop. Just like the members now, at the very least, with the awareness of yourself as the single drop, believe in the boundless future and advance.”
In February 1992, during Ikeda Sensei’s 4th visit to India, the number of comrades whom he met and encouraged exceeded 1000. Ikeda Sensei composed and presented to the India’s members a long poem, titled "Dawn of India – In Praise of the Bodhisattvas of the Earth".
"So our friends will follow suit
in exact accord with the principle of
'emerging from the earth';
they will without doubt
become a great river
through the inexorable workings of time."
Two years ago, BSG accomplished a membership of 110,000 and last year, they broke through a membership of 150,000. In the centre of BSG’s explosive vigour, it is always the youth who takes the lead. There are indeed no limits to the flow of the great river of India’s kosen-rufu.
A recent interview by Soka Shimpo was conducted with BSG’s Young Men Division Leader (Saboo) and Young Woman Division Leader (Gupta). The interview was titled “India Youth Division - Going towards 100,000 disciples!” An excerpt of the interview is as follows:
Interviewer: This year, I heard that everyone in BSG aims to achieve "100,000 Youths".
YMD Chief Saboo: Currently, the number of youth members of BSG is 77,000. For the construction of the civilization of new India and the new world, we will surely have to build a formation of 100,000 people!
YWD Chief Gupta: Our goal is to create a solidarity of "100,000 Shinichi Yamamoto" rather than the mere increase of membership. It is the "expansion of disciples" that exists for our mentor, Ikeda Sensei. Both in shakubuku and encouragement of comrades, the first thing that we will talk about is "the splendor of living for the mentor and disciple".
Interviewer: What kind of efforts are you propelling in order to transmit the spirit of "mentor and disciple"?
Saboo: In BSG, we have determined these two years as "the most important time" to lay the foundation to eternalise the mentor and disciple's spirit. And we are progressing in the campaign of devoting ourselves to study the novel "The New Human Revolution" across the country.
Gupta: Once in every two months, we will gather at the chapter level in individual division to study the novel. We will also invite new friends. The chapter to study was selected in conjunction with the efforts at that time. The next round will be the "Victory" chapter of Volume 5. This chapter is written about Toda Sensei's appeal for "100,000 patriots" and is packed with beautiful guidelines to accomplish our objectives.
It is without doubt that the BSG Youths did not pluck the figure of 100,000 youths from the sky! Rather, they have set this target by following the same path as their mentor, Ikeda Sensei who had achieved "100,000 patriots" for his mentor, Toda Sensei. They are becoming the ‘Shinichi Yamamoto’ just as Ikeda Sensei has wanted them to be as shared in his various recent guidance!
While his mentor, Josei Toda, was still alive, Ikeda Sensei had wanted to reassure him by accomplishing a YMD membership of 100,000. Back in October 1954, there were no more than 10,000 YMD members. Nevertheless, Ikeda Sensei vowed, "Even if I have to do it alone, I will achieve Sensei's dream, no matter what!" As youth division chief of staff, Ikeda Sensei rose to the challenge and devoted all his energy to achieving that goal, calling out to his fellow members to join him in reaching their mentor's vision of "100,000 patriots".
In response to Ikeda Sensei’s call and the committed action he took, the YMD members gradually began to unite. Reaching a membership of 100,000 became their common goal. By December 1957, there were 78,000 YMD members; Ikeda Sensei knew they would reach their target within one more year. Toda Sensei had fallen ill in the autumn of 1957. Although he seemed to be recovering, he was still very weak.
In January 1958, Ikeda Sensei said to Toda Sensei, "Sensei, this year we will reach our goal of 100,000 YMD members."
"That's wonderful!" Toda Sensei replied. Sitting up on his futon, his eyes radiating joy, he continued, "When 100,000 young men are united, they can achieve anything. The dawn of a new age for the people is coming."
"Yes," Ikeda Sensei agreed, "Once we reach our goal, we will celebrate by gathering ‘100,000 patriots.’ I really want you to see it."
"Yes, I'd like that, I'd like that very much," Toda replied, nodding several times.
However, Josei Toda did not live to hear the announcement that his cherished dream had been achieved. He passed away on April 2, 1958. The YMD reached their target a little less than six months later, at the end of that September. Ikeda Sensei was deeply disappointed that his mentor could not witness the dynamic gathering of the 100,000 YMD members. Together with the youth division chief of staff, these original 100,000 YMD members became a core support for the Soka Gakkai. After Ikeda Sensei became President of SGI, the YMD members united with him even more solidly, working with one heart and mind to achieve an overall membership of 3 million households, initiating a powerful surge of growth and advancement.
The top leaders of the YMD shared Ikeda Sensei's spirit in this regard and worked with all their might. As a result of their efforts, within only a short span of six months, the YMD membership had surged from 250,000 since the May 3 Headquarters General Meeting to an incredible 350,000 by the November YMD general meeting. In other words, from the day on which Ikeda Sensei had proposed to the youth division leaders that they designated 1961 as the "Year of Youth," the YMD had expanded by 100,000 members.
Ikeda Sensei said, “Mr Toda declared that the existence of 100,000 genuine 'patriots' would guarantee that the people would be relieved of their suffering. I never want to let these words of our mentor become false.”
The 100,000 target set by the BSG’s Youth Division Leaders’ clearly resonates with the above episode from the New Human Revolution Novel, “Victory” Chapter.
“Create a solidarity of ‘100,000 Shinichi Yamamoto' rather than the mere increase of membership!” “Determined these two years as 'the most important time' to lay the foundation to eternalize the mentor and disciple's spirit!”
These are concrete targets showcasing the oneness of Mentor and Disciple! They must have surely wanted the mentor to witness their targets being achieved!
In concluding the interview in Soka Shimpo, the Interviewer states: Please share with me the origin of the mentor and disciple with Ikeda Sensei in which the Youth Division of BSG cherishes.
Gupta: It is "now". The disciple responds to the mentor's call. And delights the mentor. We have a mission which is to build up the expansion to transmit to the future.
Saboo: In 2014, in the message to BSG's general meeting, Ikeda Sensei called out to us, "Please lead the youth of the entire world." In order to meet the expectation of this mentor, BSG expanded the membership to 110,000 people the following year. And last year, we were able to extend it to 150,000 people. In addition to what Sensei concludes in the "headwater" chapter of New Human Revolution volume 29, we the BSG wrote down that the "the battle is now" through our huddle that created a breakthrough in membership of 150,000 people as our "eternal history". There is no limit to the joy of ours. We will continue to fight till the end of our lives. As "Shinichi" of the new era.
Congratulations to the BSG Youth! As long as the BSG Youths continue in the same spirit and action to emerge victorious as their YMD and YWD leaders who are in tandem to the mentor’s heart, the great advancement of kosen-rufu for India is assured! There will be no limits to the flow of the great river of kosen-rufu in India, the great land of the moon!