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First Ikeda-Radhakrishnan Dialogue


Global realase of Ikeda-Radhakrishnan Dialoge

SGI President Daisaku Ikeda and the Dr.Radhakrishnan  met on 6th August 1993  at the Nagano Training Center, Karuizawa, in Japan. In a pleasant and stimulating conversation lasting an hour and a half, President Ikeda and Dr Radhakrishanan discusses topics like the ideal of an ‘open religion’ for which Gandhi had aspired, and the character of Gandhi who had charmed the people with his tremendous sincerity. They both agreed that people would play a vital role in the advance of humankind.

August 6, the day of the meeting, was the anniversary of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima. Before meeting with the SGI leader, Dr Radhakrishnan remarked:

“This is the darkest day in human history. On such a day I am able to meet with  mr Ikeda who travels the globe in pursuit of world free of war. I think this has profound meaning…..

There is no leader who is as active as Mr. Ikeda in conducting dialogues with people in various realms of society, in developing tide of mutual understanding that encircles the globe, and in leading the way to a new world of peace and friendship………..

 “When Gandhi heard the news about Hiroshima, he reportedly closed his and remained silent for a while. Gandhi rejects all form of violence (himsa). And he asserted that the ‘power of the spirit’ is great than that of the atom bomb. The thing is to draw forth this ‘power of the sprit’ which everyone possesses and crate peace—it is this movement that Mr. Ikeda is advancing.”

The meeting was the first between the SGI leader and Dr Radhakrishnan since Mr. Ikeda’s trip to India in February of last year. Dr Radhakrishnan’s first word as they met expresses his joy and appreciation: ‘Mr. Ikeda magnet you attract many people to you. You are like a human lodestone.

Excerpts from the Conversation

IKEDA:                         You must be tired from your long trip.

RADHAKRISHNAN:          Not in the least. Being able to meet with you is for me a profound joy that recharges, invigorates and elevates me. It’s impossible that should I feel any fatigue.]

IKEDA:                          I am touched by your humility. One who wages a true struggle is vigorous. Such person will not be defeated by fatigue.

                                    Seventy-seven years ago (in1916), your country’s great poet Rabindranath Tagore (1861-1941) came to Japan for the first time. At that time he too visited Karuizawa.

The poem, A fight of Swans, which is included in a collection of poems by

Tagore that was announced the year of his visit, reads in part:

We had march forward,

Who shall stop us?

Those who remain behind

Cry, they shall cry,

With bleeding feet

Shall we mount our obstacles,

And run forward

In shadow and the sun

But they shall get caught

In their own noose,

And cry, they shall cry.

“They shall get caught/ In their own noose” – just Tagore says, how numerous indeed are the foolhardy human dramas that people enact.

Even among the clergy, there are those pitiful creatures who, left behind by the changing times, inhabit a narrow, closed world and spend their time complaining and waving plots.

We must always seek to advance further and further ahead, overcoming all obstacles that arise before us. Toward the twenty-first century. Toward hope.

RADHAKRISHNAN:        My feelings are the same.

IKEDA:                          About Twenty years ago, I proposed that a compilation of Tagore’s work be made [in Japanese].

Recently, the Tagoru Chosaku Shu (collected writings of Tagore, in twelve volumes, published by Daisan Bunmeisha Public Co. Ltd) was presented to [Indian] Vice President K.R. Narayanan.

RADHAKRISHNAN:       it is a great cultural undertaking.

                                I am reminded of a poem by Tagore. It is the poem Walk Alone. This is a poem which Gandhi was very found.

                                In order to intercede in the religious strife that had developed India in 1947 (the year prior to his death), Gandhi set out for Calcutta, Bihar and other cities.

If no one responds to your call,

My friend travel your path alone.

If all abide in silence, gripped with fear,

My friend speak only the truth with an open heart and

a fearless voice.

Ignite the rich of your heart,

Alone burn the fire in the darkness.

IKEDA:                         Either poem rings true with our convictions and with the path that you yourself are walking.

                                  Tagore embraced the beautiful wish.

                                  It [India] must uplift human history; transport it from the confused valley of material struggles to the high plateaux of spiritual battles…. Our battle is a spiritual battle for human beings.

                                  The world is full of struggles. Life is a struggle. However, the most humane battle for human beings to undertake, human beings, is the’ spiritual battle’. It is this that elevates and purifies humankind.

RADHAKRISHNAN:        That is the battle of the SGI Movement.  A Buddhist scripture stares: “It is difficult to encounter a true person. For such a person will not be born just anywhere. However, a country where a true person has appeared and the family into which he has been born will definitely enjoy good fortune” I feel heartfelt gratitude for my good fortune in have encountered the SGI and the SGI President.

IKEDA:                         I am humbled.

There are many point of similarity between Gandhi’s view of religion and our own.

The religion that Gandhi aspired for completely transcende difference of race, ethnic group or nationality. It was a religion that would be open to all people and all life.

He perceived the supremely respect worthy brilliance that exist equality in all human beings.

Nothing could be further from his way of thinking than to draw distinctions between clergy and laity.

I have heard of an impressive episode.

Once a Christian paid a visit to Gandhi. “How can Christianity be spread in India?” the person asked.

Gandhi replied” “In the first place, the Christian followers, missionaries  and others like you must pattern their lives more closely after Jesus Christ.”

RADHAKRISHNAN:        I have read all of your books that are available in English. This has had the effect of elevating my thought. Your books are truly gems.

                                 As I listened to you just now, I was reminded of a certain episode.

                                 Once someone asked Gandhi: “India is still lagging behind. The British have left, so isn’t true that prosperity can be brought about only by our own efforts?”

Gandhi said in response: “There is nothing to worry about. It is perfectly alright for everything to be left to us Indians. This is because we have religion. We have human beings who can edify others with their outstanding power of insight and sense of value.”

The world is advancing. The hands of time cannot be turned back. Nor can the current of the age be reversed. This is the inevitable side of history.

Religion must not obstruct the progress of society.

On the contrary, it is the mission of religion to extend a helping hand, provide power of insight and spur society’s advance.

Religion must come down from the castle [where if is shut off from the world] and put down roots among people. The SGI is a model for this. There are sure to be obstacles on this path. There are sure to be evil people who will obstruct those coming among the people. The SGI is a model for this. However, Tagore sang, “My friend travel your path alone” Victory is brought about by a person of valour.

IKEDA:                         That is exactly right. Gandhi was a person who always continued advancing. He once commented that nothing remains the same in this world; every thing is on the move. For this reason, not advancing is equivalent to retreating. He also said the joy lies not in victory itself but in the midst of struggles, trials and difficulties.

                                   A person who embraces such a sprit is not content with a single victory, but dives again into the thick of the struggle. This is also the life of a Buddhist.

                                    The French author Romain Rolland (1866-1944) praised the way that Gandhi went among the people and made unceasing efforts at dialogue commenting,

                                   “He never … says: ‘that’s enough.”He never gave up, never grew disgusted, never felt satisfied [with what he had done]. Without resting, he continually strove to advance ways further. In the advance of this king of life, I see the brilliance of the ‘Mahatma ‘(‘great souled one’)

                                    All along, Gandhi continued to conduct dialogue with all of his might. Clad simply with just a piece of cloth wrapped around his, he was the very image of the common man, a stranger to power and authority. He did not put on airs, was not haughty. He was frank and openhearted. He was free of affectations. For precisely this reason, the people lived him and welcomed him whole heartedly.

                                   Buddhism teaches that human beings should aim for the state of life  of Musa means not created, unadorned; it is the state of life of one whose conduct is plain and unaffected, who spontaneously manifests compassion through his pr her actions.

RADHAKRISHNAN:        I understand very well.

IKEDA:                        Jawaharlal Nehru (1889-1964) said, “It is Gandhi’s thorough-going human earnestness, his character that has won the people.”

About Gandhi’s character, Romain Rolland wrote in his diary [in an entry dated June 5, 1930], “He is adored and venerated by all who surround him; he converses with them on  an equal footing, asking and giving advice with familiar good humor.

Equality in difficult times, in sad times, and I lonely times, he conducted dialogue and went among the people, without discrimination or favoritism, offering encouragement. This is the conduct of a true lead. Leaders who are estranged from the people are counterfeits.

Gandhi was subject to a continuing onslaught of calumny and criticism. Nehru clearly character used the nature of such detractors, saying, “To attack Gandhi’s bona fides is to injure oneself and one’s own cause.

“There is an expression, to spit at heaven”. One’s action backfires in oneself. Those who look down on human sincerity defile their own hearts and degrade their own lives.

RADHAKRISHNAN:       I hope you will visit India again at the earliest possible date.

The Soka Bodhi Tree Garden in India will open very soon. Until now, there has no facility such as the Bodhi tee Garden in my country.

The Garden’s completion will also represent an important milestone in the progress of kosen-rufu. It will receive the spirit of tolerance   and respect in the Indian continent, the birth place of Shakyamuni.

There were once Buddhist colleges in Nalanda and Taxila in India. The Soka Bodhi Tree Garden will be the Nalanda and Taxila of the present age. I believe it will become a “plaza of philosophy” where people from various countries of the will gather to cultivate their leadership abilities, unified world may be reailsed.

IKEDA:                        Thank you very much. On behalf of the SGI, I would like to say that I hope your future travels will be happy and significant. And please convey my best regards to Mrs. Radhakrishnan.

RADHAKRISHNAN:        On behalf of all people who love and seek peace, I jail you as a great leader and pray for your excellent health and longevity.

                                 Yours is a precious and irreplaceable existence for the sake of peace.

IKEDA:                        Your wisdom is like brilliance of the stars spanning the firmament of heavens. Your warm words of encouragement are like a sun rising in my heart. I am most grateful.

Following the discussion, Dr Radhakrishnan wrote in the visitor’s register: “Every time I visit the institutions connected with SGI, it gives me great insight into the marvelous leadership qualities of the President and his devoted staff. In the creation of a conducive atmosphere for world peace, institution such as the SGI have a great role to play. In fact the world is looking toward movements like the SGI in giving a new direction at a time when there is a crisis of confidence like the one that we witness.

“May the sprit of the Universe, may the wisdom of Lord Buddha guide all of us in achieving kosen-rufu, world peace and greater understanding among the peoples of the world”