Youth Study Session at Soka Bodhi Tree Garden, New Delhi, India
Some 1,000 Bharat (India) Soka Gakkai (BSG) youth members from throughout India gathered at an auditorium in New Delhi on March 24, 2007, and on the following day at the Soka Bodhi Tree Garden in the outskirts of New Delhi, India. The youth studied Nichiren's writings and SGI President Daisaku Ikeda's recent speeches. Several of the young people presented a skit based on Hall Caine's novel The Eternal City, which a youthful Mr. Ikeda had studied together with his mentor, second Soka Gakkai President Josei Toda. Representative youth also presented contemporary dances and songs during a cultural show. Several members shared how they had transformed their lives with their practice of Nichiren Buddhism.
Neena Bhatia spoke of her struggles of having to cope with the responsibility of looking after her family after the untimely loss of her father. Through her practice of Nichiren Buddhism, which inspired her to dedicate herself to humanity's happiness, she developed India's first nutrition software as her Ph.D. project which won her many commendations and wide media coverage.
Gaurav Saboo described his experience of transforming his life from being an introverted and confused teenager, always near the bottom of his class, into a youth with a firm sense of direction in life. He began practicing Buddhism to find answers to fundamental questions such as "Why was I born?" and "What is my purpose in life?" He recounted how he gained the direction in life he was desperately seeking through his activities as a BSG student division member. "I realized from studying Buddhism that we are the masters of our own destiny and that we are empowered to achieve everything."
He earned the highest grades in his class and became a certified accountant at age 21. Gaurav moved from his home town Mumbai to Hyderabad and joined a leading bank with high pay. He struggled with an intense schedule that entailed 12-14 hour work days, together with a long commute, while continuing to visit and encourage BSG members. In Hyderabad, the local group of 60 members grew into a district then into a chapter of 200 within a year. After challenging a disastrous first two months at the job, Gaurav ended up receiving a promotion in six months, when it usually takes two years. Returning later to Mumbai, Gaurav took responsibility as a leader in the BSG youth division. Despite his hectic work schedule, he continued to supported his fellow members in their practice of Buddhism, making their personal struggles his own. In the six years of practicing Nichiren Buddhism, Gaurav says, "I have changed... changed from a plain Joe to a successful, qualified and confident professional. From a boy with no specific goals to a vice president. From a teenager with no life philosophy to a young man with a mission."
At the conclusion of the session, BSG Chair Gopinath Menon remarked that India was a "nation of youth" with half of India's population 25 years and under. He reminded the youth of their responsibility as future leaders of India.
[Adapted from a report from Bharat Soka Gakkai and an article in the April 23, 2007 issue of the Seikyo Shimbun, Soka Gakkai, Japan]