Though Ashoka University is just a few years old, it has a lot in common with Soka Gakkai International, a lay Buddhist organization’s goals and ideology in the following ways:
- Humanistic education– The first President of SGI, Sensei Makiguchi, discovered and joined the practice in the first place to advance humanistic education. Ikeda Sensei also supports education that harbors character and intrinsic motivation, rather than mechanical rote learning. Ashoka too was founded with the vision of advancing liberal arts (or choice based) education.
- Emphasis on Empathy and Leadership– Ashoka actively wants to recruit and even create students who go out and become leaders, question norms and help people. SGI too, with its emphasis on advancing kosen rufu (world peace through changing humanity’s karma) propagates the same principle. In fact, the philosophy encourages us to connect all our personal goals to a greater cause (kosen rufu).
- Revering King Ashoka– King Ashoka converted to Buddhism after the battle of Kalinga. Ashoka university took its name from the same king. President Ikeda too has spoken in favor of the King in one of his writings.
- Being Unconventional– The Buddhist philosophy was a reform against the excesses of the Hindu caste system and discrimination. People took to Buddhism to come out of system of divisions and distress. Ashoka Uni too, is built as a reform against traditional Indian education system. People attend this college to not go down the route of traditional, rote learning and purposeless education.
- Promoting Art, History and Culture– In most of President Ikeda’s writings, especially the ones that are addressed to the youth, he talks about the importance of being able to appreciate art and how to enjoy history as well without considering it boring. Ashoka’s YIF program has a whole course on Art appreciation and out of the 9 foundation courses that are compulsory for the undergrads, 3 are on history (trends in history, Great books with Rudy, and Indian civ).
- Political Economic Ideology– Though Ashoka promotes liberal thought, equality and empathy, it is itself a private institution that highly supports and promotes entrepreneurship. The practice too, is pro wealth, manifesting one’s material desires and living by one’s highest potential in the material and competitive world.