Soka Bodhi Tree Garden, is located 60 km southwest of New Delhi, in Haryana. It was inaugurated on September 12th,1993 by Dr. Yoichi Kawada, Director of Institute of Oriental Philosophy.
The SGI President Daisaku Ikeda envisioned the garden — as a place that will be the prime point of all peace-related and Gakkai activities round the world, a garden where world leaders will gather to work for peace and harmony.
President Ikeda’s message on the inauguration foresaw the emergence of Soka Bodhi Tree Garden as a centre of beauty and learning: “I am positive that from among those who will come to visit this garden in the future — when the Bodhi trees that are saplings now have grown tall and robust and are luxuriant with fresh green leaves — there will emerge great leaders. I am also confident that this Bodhi Tree Garden will become a training ground for capable people. It will be a place where leaders from various fields around the world will come to meet in order to cultivate and develop themselves, inspiring and stimulating each other’s growth… We hope that this garden will be the centre of many cultural and educational activities. Let us think of 100 years, 200 years into the future, when huge Bodhi trees growing like a forest will embrace the many thousands who will come to the garden.”
While looking for an architect, the SBTG team also searched for a master landscaper. In 1996, the team approached Prof Mohammad Shaheer, then Head of the Landscaping Department at the School for Planning and Architecture in New Delhi.
Prof Shaheer’s landscaping showcases the beauty of Prof Kanvinde’s and Mr Kanwaljeet’s buildings. The lowlying area near the auditorium was landscaped to provide space for recreation activities. This area is also the picnic spot where members soak in the sunlight while sharing a meal after meetings.
The main walkway near the auditorium represents the flow of an undulating river, and a series of stepping stones, like a ghat on the banks of a river, leads the way down and across grassy knolls.
Four pavilions — symbolising the four elements Earth, Water, Fire and Air — with matching roof tiles and benches have been built in four zones to provide shelter from sun and rain. Stone benches in different shapes and formations — semi-circular, square, rectangular — where visitors can rest and admire the greenery dot the gardens.
There are at present about 3,000 Bodhi trees in the garden, more than 100 peacocks and a large number of geese and rabbits. Bodhi trees are still being planted; the aim is to plant 10,000 trees.
The garden was opened for BSG meetings in 1995. The BSG Cultural Meeting was the first meeting to be held in the garden. Besides the Annual General meetings, BSG hosts several training programmes in the garden. In 2005, family festivals were organised at Soka Bodhi Tree Garden, opening the garden to the families and guests of members for the first time.
Today the local community is well connected with Soka Bodhi Tree Garden. The SBTG team also allows villagers access to the road through the garden. Every year the mustard crop worth nearly Rs 2 lakh is donated to the local community.
The villagers invest the income from the mustard crop (above) for development, adding classrooms to the local school, for example. Each year the local panchayat, on behalf of the community, presents a letter of appreciation to the SBTG team for its support enshrined.
Sourced from February 2011 and February 2008 issues of Value Creation, BSG’s monthly journal