2. Exhibitions
  3. The Lotus Sutra―A Message of Peace and Harmonious Coexistence

The Lotus Sutra―A Message of Peace and Harmonious Coexistence

Held in 17 Countries and Territories of the World and Viewed by 900,000 Visitors

The Institute of Oriental Philosophy (IOP) plans and puts together ‘The Lotus Sutra ― A Message of Peace and Harmonious Coexistence’ exhibition, which has been touring the world since 2006. The exhibition displays IOP’s research on the Lotus Sutra, and introduces its teachings and the history of its dissemination in simple, easily assimilable language. As pillar of exhibition activities initiated by Soka Gakkai International President Ikeda, the IOP has conducted ‘The Lotus Sutra and Its World: Buddhist Manuscripts of the Great Silk Road’ (1998-2000), ‘The Lotus Sutra Manuscripts: The World’s Spiritual Heritage’ (2003-04), and ‘The Lotus Sutra ― A Message of Peace and Harmonious Coexistence’ (2006-present). In parallel, the ‘Buddhist Sutras: A Universal Spiritual Heritage ― Manuscripts and Iconography of the Lotus Sutra’ exhibition (2016-present) is also held for the public.

‘The Lotus Sutra and Its World: Buddhist Manuscripts of the Great Silk Road’, the very first Lotus Sutra exhibition of the IOP, was launched in 1998 with 47 treasured items including original Buddhist manuscripts and woodblock prints in 14 languages. Selected out of the approximately 100,000 artefacts in the collection of the Institute of Oriental Manuscripts of the Russian Academy of Sciences (IOM RAS), these items were displayed for the first time in Japan. The exhibition finally grew into the far larger and more comprehensive ‘The Lotus Sutra ― A Message of Peace and Harmonious Coexistence’ exhibition with many more precious items on display.

Full support by the IOM RAS, the Dunhuang Academy China and the International Academy of Indian Culture has made it possible to display facsimiles and replicas of the Lotus Sutra manuscripts and replicate the Dunhuang Mogao Caves along with other various Buddhist items and materials. The exhibits include the Petrovsky Sanskrit manuscript of the Lotus Sutra which seems to have been copied in the eighth century and the Gandhari replicated manuscript of Dharmapada which seems to have been copied from the first to second centuries. Moreover, the exhibition shows imitative paintings of flying beings in Mogao Caves, duplicated Dunhuang materials of the Lotus Sutra, replicas of iron pens and birch bark used for copying and other objects. On display, are approximately 160 items. The IOP also edited the guidebook to the exhibition that have been published in four languages: Japanese, English, Korean and Chinese (simplified and traditional characters).

Based on the idea of “visualizing the Lotus Sutra”, the exhibition attracted 900,000 visitors in 17 countries and territories of the world as of 2019: Japan, India the land of Buddhism’s birth, Nepal the birthplace of the Buddha, Thailand where Theravada Buddhism took root, the Islamic cultural area of Malaysia, and others in Asia, Europe and Latin America (see table). To date, Lee Soo-sung (former prime minister of South Korea), Vira Rojpojchanarat (Minister of Culture, Thailand), Jao Tsung-I (emeritus professor of the Chinese University of Hong Kong) and Burton Watson (English translator of the Lotus Sutra), many guests and representatives from every section of society have visited to the exhibition.

The following are comments shared by some of the guests:

I viewed a variety of Lotus Sutra manuscripts. These are the best materials through which we can develop our understanding of the spirit of Buddhism and spread the message of the Lotus Sutra all over the world. (Carlos Manuel Rúa, director of Escuela de Estudios Orientales, Universidad del Salvador, Argentina)

This is a historic exhibition that clearly shows the universal nature of Buddhism and makes it a part of the spiritual heritage of humanity. (Mushirul Hasan, director general of the National Archives of India)

List of host country and territory, and year of ‘The Lotus Sutra─A Message of Peace and Harmonious Coexistence’ exhibition

No. Country / Region Year
1 Hong Kong 2006-2007, 2015
2 Macau 2007
3 India 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010
4 Spain 2009, 2012
5 Nepal 2010
6 Brazil 2010, 2011
7 Sri Lanka 2011, 2013
8 United Kingdom 2011
9 Japan 2012, 2013, 2014
10 Taiwan 2013, 2015
11 Malaysia 2014
12 Argentina 2014
13 South Korea 2016, 2018, 2022
14 Peru 2016
15 Thailand 2017
16 Singapore 2017
17 Indonesia 2019