Soka Gakkai (“Value-Creation Society”) is a lay religious movement within Nichiren Buddhism, a branch of Mahayana Buddhism derived from the teachings of the thirteenth-century Japanese monk, Nichiren Daishōnin. It is regarded as one of the largest so called Shinshukyo.
Founded by educator Tsunesaburo Makiguchi in 1930, the organization was suppressed during World War II for its opposition to government-supported State religion Shinto. Makiguchi, Josei Toda, and other top Soka Gakkai leaders were arrested in 1943 and charged as “thought criminals”. In November 1944, Makiguchi died in prison of malnutrition at the age of 73. Toda was released in July 1945, just weeks before the first use of the atomic bomb. In the following years he rebuilt the Soka Gakkai membership from less than 3,000 families in 1951 to more than 750,000 before his death in 1958.
Soka Gakkai International (SGI) was founded in 1975, with Daisaku Ikeda as its president. SGI characterizes its organization as both a support network for practitioners of Nichiren Buddhism and as a global Buddhist movement for peace, education, and cultural exchange.
The SGI movement is based on the teachings of Nichiren Buddhism. The growth of the membership of SGI has been attributed in part to the organization’s tradition of small group, neighborhood and local community discussion meetings.
SGI claims to be a peace organization that opposes authoritarianism, welcomes all people and teaches people how to practice Buddhism so they can become happy. They are unlikely to mention that SGI is a multi-billion-dollar religious corporation that refuses to disclose its financial dealings even to members and donors who ask for information. Members have no voting rights, no grievance procedure, and no say in the policies of their own organization.
SGI does teach a version of Nichiren Buddhism, but it is an interpretation that reinforces the belief that SGI members are somehow “chosen” to save the world, and that their belief system is the one, true, correct religion for all time. SGI promotes and perpetuate itself through recruitment, fund raising and public relations activities. Members call this “working for kosen-rufu” or “world peace.” The group’s agenda includes promoting SGI President Daisaku Ikeda as a “peace activist” on par with Gandhi and Martin Luther King, Jr. — despite the fact that Ikeda lives a life of luxury (spending millions of dollars on classic art, for example) and has never once so much as engaged in a protest demonstration. Indeed, Ikeda is the de facto leader of a ruling-coalition Japanese political party called New Komeito. The New York Times and many others have reported that this is a militant political party that aims to establish theocratic rule in Japan. But many people in the world who join SGI thinking that they are joining a friendly group of Buddhists have no idea that they are in fact supporting and legitimizing one of the most powerful and controversial political movements in Japan.
As for the SGI welcoming all people, new and potential recruits should know that SGI has publicly condemned and maligned SGI members who have voiced constructive criticism of SGI and sponsored public discussion of SGI’s policies and activities. SGI has proven itself capable of and willing to crush dissent and dissenters among its ranks. And non-members or former members who criticize SGI are branded as enemies.
Nichiren Buddhism is a religion, and there are dozens of different temples and organizations in which people learn, teach and practice this religion. Soka Gakkai, on the other hand, is a cult that uses this religion as a cover and a justification for accumulating wealth, political power and more members. Members receive nothing in return except a distorted view of Nichiren Buddhism, peer pressure, emotional manipulation, phobia indoctrination, a misguided belief that SGI membership gives them a special mission in life, and a knack for demonizing all perceived “enemies of Buddhism.”
Bharat Soka Gakkai (BSG) is the Indian affiliate of the Soka Gakkai International (SGI). It’s making presence among the upper and upper middle class Indian homes. A large number of Indians have joined BSG but they are unaware of the dark and hidden sides of this cult. Most of these people either those who were brainwashed from the beginning to worship Daisaku Ikeda, the members of the so-called Ikeda Sect, or those too unfortunate to have an opportunity to learn the truth about Ikeda’s Soka Gakkai.