Our History

May 3—The Starting Point of the Soka Gakkai

Our History

Photo: © 2009 ANTONIO M. ROSARIO / COURTESY OF BROOKLYN BOTANIC GARDEN.


On May 3, 1951, Josei Toda was inaugurated as the second Soka Gakkai president amid a war-torn defeated Japan.

Although the Soka Gakkai had just 3,000 households at the time, Mr. Toda vowed in his inauguration address to spread the life-affirming philosophy of Nichiren Buddhism to 750,000 households in his lifetime.

May 3 has since become New Year’s Day for the SGI, a day on which members take a fresh step forward.

The young Daisaku Ikeda watched as his mentor made this declaration, and he determined in his heart to accomplish the goal.

Mr. Toda dispatched the young Daisaku Ikeda to the most difficult places to blaze new paths in propagation. In February 1952, the young Daisaku led Kamata Chapter in introducing a record 201 families to Nichiren Buddhism in a single month. The chapter’s breakthrough became a clarion call for the organization; the Soka Gakkai in 1952 increased its membership fourfold.

By December 1957, the Soka Gakkai had achieved the impossible, surpassing 750,000 families.

The young Daisaku had won decisive victories toward this end—in Bunkyo Chapter in 1953 and Osaka in 1956—creating a blueprint for turning the impossible into the possible through faith.

On April 2, 1958, having bequeathed the mission and responsibility to accomplish kosen-rufu to the youth and to his most trusted disciple, Daisaku Ikeda, President Toda died peacefully.

SGI President Ikeda admires a painting depicting his inauguration on May 3, 1960, as third Soka Gakkai president, May 1993. Photo: Seikyo Press.
Soka Gakkai Day—SGI President Ikeda admires a painting depicting his inauguration on May 3, 1960, as third Soka Gakkai president, May 1993. Photo: Seikyo Press.

Two years later, on May 3, 1960, Daisaku Ikeda was inaugurated the third Soka Gakkai president. Gazing at a photo of President Toda, he vowed to accomplish the worldwide transmission of Nichiren Buddhism for the sake of peace.

Fifty-seven years later, the SGI today is a broad-ranging lay Buddhist movement centered on peace, culture and education, encompassing 12 million Buddhist practitioners in 192 countries and territories.

May 3 has since become New Year’s Day for the SGI, a day on which members take a fresh step forward, setting a dynamic rhythm for continual advancement and victory.

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