'There is life hidden within stones. Only we human beings can give meaning to all things in the cosmos through thought and words'. With these haunting and resonant words did Kyrgyz writer and novelist Chingiz Aitmatov, who died in June 2008, summarise the dialogue that he undertook with leading Buddhist leader Daisaku Ikeda. Aitmatov is best known for his novella "Jamila", on the publication of which he achieved great fame in the Soviet Union in 1958. But after the Soviet Union's collapse, this writer, who is often lauded as one of the great Soviet authors, felt that his work had been passed over. "Ode to the Grand Spirit" is both an enduring tribute to the thought of a powerful writer and a fascinating individual as well as a profound reflection on such themes of the process of literary creation, spiritual growth and the essence of humanity.
Chingiz Aitmatov (1928-2008) is widely viewed as the greatest literary figure of modern Kyrgyz stan. An author who wrote both in Russian and his native Kyrgyz, Aitmatov became best known for his novel Jamila (1958), though later novels such as The Day Lasts More than a Hundred Years (1980) and The Scaffold (1988) also garnered wide acclaim. As well as being a significant writer in any language, Aitmatov enjoyed a political career as his country's ambassador to the European Union, NATO and UNESCO. Daisaku Ikeda (1928-) is the President of Soka Gakkai International, a lay Buddhist organisation with some eleven million adherents in over 190 countries throughout the world. He is the author of over 80 books on Buddhist themes, and received the United Nations Peace Award in 1983.