The history of the SGI

The international lay Society for the Creation of Value

Soka Gakkai International has its roots in the Soka Gakkai (“Society for the Creation of Value”). The Soka Gakkai was founded as an educational society in Japan in 1930 by first President Tsunesaburo Makiguchi. It was rejuvenated as a general lay society under the leadership of second President Josei Toda after the second World War, who led it through rapid expansion to nearly a million families in the fifties. In 1959, Daisaku Ikeda became the third President of the Soka Gakkai, founding the Soka Gakkai International (SGI) in 1975.

In Africa, the SGI has sprung up from grass roots, most notably Nigeria, Ghana and Zambia, where some thousands of members are practising the Buddhism of Nichiren Daishonin.

Till 1991, the SGI worked hand in hand with the priesthood of Nichiren Shoshu (meaning “Nichiren Orthodox Sect”), which was founded by Nichiren Daishonin’s disciple, Nikko Shonin.

Regretfully, in 1991, the then high priest, Nikken, declared himself to be a sage on a par with Nichiren Daishonin, and insisted (among other things) that priests are somehow superior to ordinary people. The SGI refused to accept this. Nikken then “excommunicated” the entire SGI from the sect of Nichiren Shoshu. Subsequently, many priests left Nichiren Shoshu to support the SGI.

These events were a great shock to members of the SGI, but faced with Nikken’s clear betrayal of Nichiren Daishonin’s teachings, the overwhelming majority continued to support the SGI. Freed from the constraints imposed by the authoritarian priesthood, the SGI continues to pursue the essential ideals of Nichiren Daishonin’s Buddhism, following the guidance provided by SGI President Ikeda.

Over the last fifteen years, the SGI has continued to grow and to deepen its roots in communities around the world, its members determined to assert themselves as true global citizens. SGI members are now to be found in over 190 countries and territories.

Building on the dialogues for peace of President Ikeda with numerous scholars and leaders, SGI continues to work for peace through campaigns against nuclear weapons, in support of refugees, and in celebration of a wide variety of traditions of peace-building.