Eternalizing the Vow of Mentor and Disciple

SGI President Ikeda's 25 year journey to write The New Human Revolution

Photo by Shihina/Getty Images.

“I expect The New Human Revolution to comprise 30 volumes by the time it is completed. It will certainly be a supreme challenge to finish writing it within my lifetime.”[1]The New Human Revolution, vol. 1, p. xi. —Daisaku Ikeda

SGI President Ikeda was 65 when he began writing his epic, novelized series The New Human Revolution in Karuizawa, Japan (see p. 3).

He penned the first installment on August 6, 1993, 48 years after the atomic bombing of Hiroshima, the opening lines imbued with a deep pledge for world peace:

Nothing is more precious than peace. Nothing brings more happiness. Peace is the most basic starting point for the advancement of humankind.[2]Ibid., p. 1.

Through this work, President Ikeda sought to accurately convey the development of the SGI following his inauguration in 1960 as its third president, leaving for future generations a blueprint for expanding our movement for kosen-rufu.

Even the location where he chose to start the novel holds deep significance. Karuizawa was the place where he first determined, in August 1957, to write an account of second Soka Gakkai President Josei Toda’s monumental efforts for peace.

Josei Toda’s health was rapidly deteriorating at the time, and he was resting in the countryside town of Karuizawa in Nagano Prefecture. Pressing the limits of his own mortality, President Toda called for Daisaku Ikeda to visit him at his lodging on August 14, 1957, exactly 10 years to the day this mentor and his disciple first met at a discussion meeting.

President Toda and the young Daisaku touched on several topics that day, including the threat that nuclear weapons pose to humanity. Eventually, the topic turned to Mr. Toda’s novel, The Human Revolution, which had recently been published.

SGI President Ikeda congratulates junior high and high school members on their general meeting at the Nagano Training Center, Karuizawa, August 1993. Photo by Seikyo Press.

The month before, Mr. Toda handed one of the first available copies to Daisaku as he was boarding a flight to Osaka, where he would be arrested on trumped-up election violation charges and imprisoned for 15 days, enduring harsh interrogation to shield his mentor and Soka Gakkai members from the wrath of local authorities. Due to the circumstances in which he read the book, Daisaku remarked, “The book gave me the courage to risk my life for my mission” (The Human Revolution, p. 1721).

President Toda had explained that he wrote the novel with two objectives in mind. The first was to illustrate the principle that the Buddha nature resides in ordinary people who strive for kosen-rufu. The second was to portray an accurate picture of his mentor, founding Soka Gakkai President Tsunesaburo Makiguchi, so that future generations could learn from his dauntless spirit. He said:

I wanted to show how people of genuine faith should live when they are faced with a situation in which the Daishonin’s spirit is being trampled upon.[3]The Human Revolution, pp. 1723–24.

President Toda was referring to how, during World War II, the Nichiren Shoshu priests urged Mr. Makiguchi and Mr. Toda to accept the Shinto talisman in support of Japan’s Imperialist war efforts. Mr. Makiguchi flatly refused and vowed deeply to never turn his back on the spirit of Nichiren Daishonin, regardless of the persecution. The priesthood, on the other hand, succumbed to political pressure.

Mr. Toda’s version of The Human Revolution concludes with his fictitious character, Mr. Gan, vowing in prison to achieve his mentor’s vision of kosen-rufu. He explained that although he had no trouble writing about his mentor, he was too modest to fully convey his own story. President Ikeda later wrote his thoughts about that day:

I pondered and reflected over and over on what Mr. Toda had said. As I did, I was powerfully struck by the thought that he was entrusting me with the task of accurately conveying his life and spirit and leaving behind a record of the true story of the Soka Gakkai for posterity.[4]October 29, 2010, World Tribune, p. 11.

In August 1993, President Ikeda stood in Karuizawa exactly 36 years after he pledged to convey the truth of his mentor. Not only did he complete the 12-volume series of The Human Revolution, he also began writing The New Human Revolution, detailing his shared efforts with members to develop the SGI into a global movement for human harmony and happiness.

And now, 25 years later, at 90 years old, President Ikeda is completing the final chapter of the series, which has reached 30 volumes.

In writing The Human Revolution and The New Human Revolution, President Ikeda laid out a blueprint for social transformation based on the inner transformation of the individual through his own experience and the experience of countless Soka Gakkai members. Regarding the purpose of writing The New Human Revolution, in particular, President Ikeda said:

I wanted to outline the correct path of mentor and disciple and ensure the eternal flow of kosen-rufu for the sake of the peace and happiness of all humankind. And I continue to write The New Human Revolution so that I may leave a clear record of the formula that will enable the Soka Gakkai—the driving force for kosen-rufu—to endure forever.[5]November 5, 2010, World Tribune, p. 11.

(pp. 14-15)


1 The New Human Revolution, vol. 1, p. xi.
2 Ibid., p. 1.
3 The Human Revolution, pp. 1723–24.
4 October 29, 2010, World Tribune, p. 11.
5 November 5, 2010, World Tribune, p. 11.