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Shrimad Rajchandra-full name Sri Raychandbhai Ravajibhai Mehta-was born in A.D. 1867 at Vavania Bandar, a village in Saurashtra. He belonged to a well known merchant community. His father's name was Ravajibhai and mother's name Devabhai. His grandfather was a staunch devotee of Lord Krishna. His mother was bred up in Jaina religious traditions.
In Samucchaya Vayacharya Shrimadji writes: " I was born on Sunday, Kartik Sud Purnima (15th day of Kartik), Vikram Samvat 1924. Therefore today, I have completed 22 years. In this apparently short span of life, I have experienced much about the soul, the nature and mutations of mind, the integrity of speech, the physical body, the wealth, various impressions of the variegated or multicolored wonderful world formations of various orders, many worldly ups and downs and the causes of interminable misery and unhappiness. All these have been experienced by me in many ways.
In my short life I have entertained all the thought-forms which were thought over by all the powerful saints and philosophers and by the formidable skeptics. I have thought of the universe of desires and aspirations which were discussed by the great rulers. I have also thought of the disinterestedness par excellence, an attitude of serene indifference. I have much meditated on the acquisition of immortality and of minute temporariness or transitoriness. Many similar great thoughts I have traversed in very few years of my life.
I look at all of them as a seer, and I realize the unfathomable gap between my present state of knowledge and experience and the state of my being when I cherished or entertained these great and multifarious thought-systems.
All these minute and big differences and gradual development of my Self have been only recorded in my memory. I have never made any effort to publicize these thoughts. I felt that giving these thoughts to a wider public or sharing my experiences with them might bring good spiritual dividends but my memory refused to do so and I was helpless. By cooperative understanding if my memory could be persuaded to open its treasures to the world by putting them in writing, I shall surely do it in future. I give below a very brief recollection of my early years:
For the first seven years I played alone. I still remember to have cherished a wonderful imagination in my mind. Even in play I had strong desire to be victorious and to be the lord of everything. I aspired to be a great man of a resigned nature. I had no attachment to wearing clean clothes, selection of good food, good bed, etc. Still my heart was extremely soft. I still recollect that side of my nature at an early age. Had I had, at that time, the discriminative knowledge which I now possess, I would not have cared more for liberation. It was a life of such spotless innocence that I love to recollect it very often.
For four years, from seven to eleven, I devoted myself to study. At that time I remembered all what I once saw or read. My recollection was faultless, as my mind was sinless. As a child, I had no idea of fame, hence the bugbear of publicity never bothered me. I had unique retentive memory which I find very few men even today possess.
Still, I was indifferent to my studies. I was given much to talking, play and merrymaking. Because of good memory, my teacher was pleased with me as I used to recite all what I once read in front of the teacher. At that time I was full of affection and natural sympathy towards all around me. I learnt that a spirit of affectionate brotherhood was the key to family and social happiness. If I found a separatist feeling or behavior in anybody, it used to pain me very much and my heart used to cry. In my eighth year I composed poems which at at later age I found to be very well done.
I studied so well that I could explain the book to my teacher who started teaching it to me. I cultivated very wide reading.
I had much faith in man kind and I loved the natural world order.
My great grand father was a Vaishnava, a staunch devotee of Lord Krishna. I heard from him many devotional songs about Radha and Krishna, also the mysterious stories of the wonder-works of Lord Krishna and other incarnations of God.
I took religious initiation at the hand of a Sadhu named Ramadasji. I daily went for the Darshana of Lord Krishna and attended lectures and devotional congregations. I believed the incarnation of God as real God and I cherished a strong desire to see His residence. I dreamt to be a great spiritual follower of Lord Krishna and a powerful preacher of His faith. I considered it to be the pride of my life if I could become a great Sanyasi performing Hari Kirtana in the public and leading an upright ascetic life.
I was so much saturated with such thoughts that I hated the Jains who did not accept God as the creator of the world. I believed that nothing could be created without a creator that the world was a masterful creation and such a uniquely supreme creation could only be the work of God and none else.
The Jain Banias in my native place praised me as the most intelligent student of the village. But they ridiculed my initiation in Vaishnavism and they argued with me to dislodge me from my faith. I did not succumb but I gradually read the Jain sacred books such as Pratikramana Sutra. The fundamental idea of the Jain works was the advocacy of non-violence and love to all high and low in the world. I liked this idea of universal love and non-violence very much.
Occasionally I visited the residence of the ruler of Kutch as a writer since my hand-writings were praised as best.
After the age of thirteen, I started attending to my father's shop. While sitting in the shop I have composed many poems on the heroic and spiritual life of Rama and Krishna. But in my dealings with the customers of the shop I have never weighed less or more."
Jati Smarana Jnana
Shrimad Rajchandra possessed the knowledge of his previous births. It is called Jati Smarana Jnana. In reply to a question from Padamshibhai, his friend in Bombay as to, whether Shrimad possessed the mysterious knowledge of one's past lives, he replied yes and he explained as to when and how he obtained it. It is a picturesque description. He said - "Once when I was seven years old, an elderly man named Amichand , well-built stout and sturdy, a neighbour in my villlage, suddenly expired of a serpent bite. I did not know what was death. I returned home and asked my grandfather as to what the meaning of death. My grandfather tried to evade the reply and advised me to finish my meals. I insisted to get a reply. At last he said "To die means to seperate the Soul from the body. A dead body has no movement, it contaminates and decays. Such a dead body will be burnt to ashes near a river-bank as it has ceased to function.' Thereupon I went stealthily to the cremation ground and climbing a Babul tree I saw the whole process of burning the deceased body. I pitied the burning of the dead man and I felt that those who burnt him were cruel. A train of thoughts started on the nature of death and as a result I could recollect my previous lives."
Such a knowlege of ones' previous lives is called Jati Smarana Jnana. It is but natural that death and disease are the great humansing forces in individual and social life of thinking men. It is by being conscious of them that we develop modesty humility in our behaviour and we reduce our attachment to wordly life. By the meditation on death we realise the supreme and sole importance of knowing and experiencing the Atma alone. Therefore Jati Smarana Jnana - the memory knowledge of one's previous lives is very helpful in developing detachment from the world, and a spritual affection for eternal imperishable ever-living soul. Shrimad obtained this exceptional knowlegde of his previous lives at his very young age of seven, a rare phenomenon.
In A.D. 1889 at his age of 22 years he wrote in a poem that the only friend of unqualified happiness is lonely indifference which in turn is the mother of spritiuality. He also says therein, "In my very young age I knew the nature of final reality and that suggested to me that henceforth I had no future birth nor will I have to fall back from what I had already gained in spritual life. I easily reached the state of the Soul which would require long study and spritual pratice by others." In another letter, he says "I realized that when in infinite stretch of time in the series of my past lives I felt that I could not live without my dearest and nearest, but I could live without them in those lives too. This proves that my affections and attachments were based on ignorance."
He pithily declares that without right insight the scriptures are helpless, that without true spritual contac, even meditation degenerates into wild imagination, that without the active guidance of a realized Saint final truth cannot be realized, that by following the normal path of the worldy people one cannot be their leader and saviour, that without resigning the world and its myopic calculations a life of extreme non-attachment is very difficult to be obtained.
He says that he salutes the great Tirthankaras who realized the Soul and described it as it was for the benefit of the World. It is only by the teachings of the Tirthankaras that one can easily know his Soul
HIS CHILDHOOD: MANIFESTATION AND DEMONSTRATION OF HIS EXCEPTIONAL INTELLECTUAL AND SPIRITUAL ACQUISITIONS (POWERS)
The knowledge of past lives proves the height of spirituality he had already reached in his previous lives. He was apparently young in his present life but form the point of view of his achievements of previous lives, he cannot but be regarded as a highly advanced Soul.
From his early childhood modesty, perfection in speech and conversation, exceptional reasoning power and a sharp spirit of non-attachment or disinterestedness and such other qualities made him a pet student of his school as well as of his village. He possessed a sharp and unfailing memory, unusually powerful retentiveness and faculty of recollection. He grasped all that he read or heard only once.
He entered the school at his age of seven and a half years. In about a month after his joining the school he completely mastered the preliminaries in calculation and within two years he finished the study of seven standards.
The monitor of his class, who had initiated him in the study of the first standard book, had to take his help in completing the book. On account of his exceptional performance in study he became the favorite of his teachers and normally he conducted the classes while his teachers used to witness with admiration the work of this gifted Soul. All his colleagues loved him.
Once his teacher scolded him and the next day he did not go to the school. Thereupon all other boys of the class followed him to a field where they ate berries. His teacher was surprised at the absence of all his students, inquired about it and went to the field where Shrimadji was sitting with his friends. Upon knowing the reason of absence of the students in his class, the teacher assured Shrimadji that he would never scold him again and brought them back to the class.
He started composing poems at the age of eight and he supposed to have written five thousand stanzas in the first year. In his ninth year he composed Ramayana and Mahabharata in verse and at ten he was mature in his thinking and reasoning. At this age he had unique curiosity to know new things, a passion to hear new facts, to think new thoughts and to perform fine orations.
While he was eleven he started contributing articles to the newspapers and he won many prizes for writing competitive essays. One of his essays was on the need for women-education. At the age of twelve he composed three hundred stanzas on `a watch'. At thirteen he went to Rajkot to study English but about his English education very little is known.
Before his age of fifteen he studied and mastered many subjects. He became famous as a young poet of astounding memory and with brilliant prospects.
Once Shrimadji, at the age of ten, accompanied Shri Dharshibhai, a judge of Morbi state, from Morbi to Rajkot. During the journey Dharshibhai was much impressed by the unusual talents of Raichand, a boy of ten, and by way of admiration Dharshibhai suggested that Raichand should stay with him in Rajkot. But Shrimadji preferred staying at his maternal uncles' house but he promised to meet Dharshibhai often during his stay in Rajkot.
His maternal uncles came to know from him about the arrival of Dharshibhai in Rajkot; and while Shrimadji was taking lunch there they were loudly planning to kill Dharshibhai. Shrimadji heard this and lost no time to warn Dharshibhai about the criminal intentions of his maternal uncles. This is how this boy of ten, returned the obligation to Dharshibhai.
Shrimadji by his mystic powers of clairvoyance and telepathy, mind reading, etc. learnt that two persons from Kutch were on their way to Rajkot to meet him. So he requested Dharshibhai to allow these two guests to stay with him and Dharshibhai readily agreed to do so. Thereupon Shrimadji went to receive the two guests and welcomed them by their names. When the guests asked him as to how he knew their names and about their coming to meet him, he replied that all this was possible by the infinite powers of the soul.
These two guests, named Hemrajbhai and Malsibhai, having heard of the exceptional talents of Raichandbhai, had come to persuade the latter to go to Kashi for higher education but when they came to know of the wonderful spiritual powers possessed by Raichandbhai, they dropped their idea. Dharshibhai was much impressed by this incident and gradually he began to respect Shrimadji.
For his return journey to Vavania he had no money, so he sold the sweets he was given by his maternal uncles and with the proceeds thereof he returned to Vavania. This shows his firm determination not to beg of anyone for his personal benefit.
STRI NITI BODHAKA AND OTHER ETHICAL WRITINGS
In his book Stri Niti Bodhaka Part 1 on `The nature of ideal moral life for women', he has advocated the cause of women's education as essential to national freedom. He advised his brethren to spread education in women, to remove internal quarrels and crippling social customs and thereby expedite the recovery of national independence.
This book was the first of his writings before he was sixteen and it was published in Vikram Samvat 1940 or 1884 A.D.
In this book of 50 pages he has analyzed the causes of backwardness in women, such as child-marriage, forced marriage of the unequals in health, age and intelligence and lastly, endless superstitions and ignorance. The matter of the book is divided into four sections:
The first section deals with prayer to God, devotion, transitoriness of the living body, advice given by a mother to her daughter, avoidance of waste of time, diligence in work and the excellent results obtained by diligence.
The second section deals with learning, advantages of education, select reading of good books and acceptance of good and useful lessons.
The third section deals with self-improvement, adoption of virtues, spread of moral and healthy atmosphere, nature of truth and avoidance of profligacy and debauchery.
The fourth and the last section deals with the description of the wise and virtuous people and it includes a composition of hundred verses on words of wisdom for all.
Shrimadji, from his childhood had a fine command of language and diction, so his style is simple, natural and elegant. In his writings, words follow the sense.
In the Sad-bodh-shatak he has discussed subjects like unity, morality, patience, courage, truthfulness, innocence, devotion, patriotism, social reforms, diligence, avoidance of bad company, learning, avoidance of pride, devotion to own husband, avoidance of skepticism or nihilism, sympathy, love of religion, writing good books, thriftiness, reduction of the household expenditure, forgiveness, merit, humility, modesty, keeping good and virtuous company, avoidance of the company of foolish women, avoidance of betting etc., thinking of death, search for the path of knowledge, doing charity to the deserving persons, love for doing good to others, increased reading etc. Anticipating the question why should Shrimadji have written on ethical topics, he writes: "Persons desirous of Self-realization, living in worldly life, should try to find the root of all ethical life in their soul and they should be just and honest in earning their living and collection of wealth. This is good moral life for them and it should be observed by them at all cost.
In its strict observance, renunciation and non-attachment and such other qualities develop in them and by that they begin to appreciate the effectiveness of the teachings of the same by the Gurus and of the obedience to the same. They rightly interpret their teachings and they easily follow the path to Self-realization.
Shrimadji wrote a rosary of 108 golden advice for the benefit of the seekers of Self-realization in Vikram Samvat 1940 or 1884 A.D.
There he advises the people to think of the Self, not to repent for the life already led but to make the best of the life yet to come. A man should repent for his immoral acts and should determine to be thoroughly moral in his future dealings.
A person should allot his time of the day in the following manner: 3 hours to devotion, 3 hours to doing religious rites, 3 hours to food and bodily nourishment, 3 hours to education and learning, 6 hours to sleep and 6 hours to take care of his family and social life, if he is a householder. One who has renounced the world should be absorbed in thoughts of Self-realization and should control his mind from passions and prejudices.
The only path to Self-realization or soul's liberation consists in realizing the Self as completely different from the body and the worldly attachments. The soul is free and pure, enlightened and immortal.
Man should keep his eye on death and utilize every moment of life in realizing his goal of liberation. One may be a prince or a pauper, but all should know for certain that they are guests of death.
The adoption of the path of non-violence in thought, word and deed; the intense desire for Self-liberation and for acquisition of right knowledge and experience for the same; the searching out of an enlightened Guru and the undaunted obedience to his advice; Self-control in food, talk and other behavior; keeping clear of all sins; purity all around; observing honesty and justice in worldly life; curtailment of worldly activities in order to lead a really happy and Self-meditative life; keeping in mind the principles of health, purity, magnanimity and duty; keeping company of the good and wise as a powerful method of maintaining purity of mind and body - are some of the invaluable advice given by Shrimad Rajchandra to men, women, and children in all walks of life, the advice which all should think over before their daily round of duties.
AVADHANA OR POWERS OF ATTENTION AND RECOLLECTION
In about Vikram Samvat 1940 or 1884 A.D. Shrimadji came from Vavania to Morbi. In Morbi, Shastri Shankarlal M. Bhatt was performing the feat of attending to eight objects or eight activities at a time. At the same time in Bombay, Gattulalji Maharaj was performing similar feats. These were the only two well-known persons for their exceptional memory and attention feats. Shrimadji saw the performance of these feats in Morbi and quickly picked them up.
Within two days after he saw the memory feats, he started performing similar feats before his friends and then for the open public. He was already known as a learned man but when he performed a memory feat of attending to twelve activities at a time before a public of 2,000 persons he became famous as a prodigy with exceptional powers. Some admirers used to address him as the precious diamond of India.
In an exhibition at Wadhwan he performed his memory feat of attending to sixteen activities at a time before an audience of rulers and highly educated public, and all were extremely pleased. The dailies published articles in his praise.
In Botad, before his millionaire friend Sheth Harilal Shaivalal, he performed the memory feat of attending to 52 activities at a time. They included:
* Playing Chopat with three other players;
* Playing cards with three others and at the end to call out all thirteen cards he had;
* At the same time playing chess and at the end of the memory feat to declare all the pieces which were removed from the chess board;
* To count grains which were dropped on his back while he was engaged in the memory feat;
* To perform addition, subtraction, multiplication, division, and to keep the results in mind and to declare them at the end of the memory feat;
* To tell as to how many beads, a man sitting opposite him, had turned from a garland till the time he stopped turning them;
* To hear words of 16 sentences in 16 different languages in a random fashion and later on to speak out all the 16 sentences in the 16 languages;
* To supply individual letters in a random way in a chart to be completed and at the end to compose a verse;
* To prepare problem poems;
* To compose complete verses on being supplied only with one line or half lines,
* To compose 16 poems in 16 different poetical forms starting with one line of each of the recollected complete poems at the end.
Later on Shrimadji easily performed memory feats of attending to 100 things and activities at a time. Even than he used to say that his powers were merely a drop in the ocean, that the powers of the Self were infinite.
Shri Chatrabhujbhai, the brother-in-law of Shrimadji, said that Shrimadji used to tell whether a person uses his right hand or left hand to fix a Paghadi (a head dress - turban) just by looking at the shape of the Paghadi on the wearer's head.In Vikram Samvat 1943 or 1887 A.D. Shrimadji went to Bombay and there, in Faramji Kavasji Institute and at other places he performed various memory feats and all the newspapers in Bombay gave wide publicity and praise to these performances. He was awarded gold medals by the public and institutions, for his excellent, unheard of and amazing memory feats.
In one of the memory feats he was shown twelve books of different sizes and told their names too. Then he was blind-folded and he used to touch a book he had seen before and immediately call out its name. Dr. Peterson who presided over the performance had nothing but admiration and praise for this outstanding feat.
On another occasion he was shown different food dishes and just by looking at them he told in which there was less salt, without touching the dishes or tasting the food in them.
Some of his admirers suggested Shrimadji to tour the foreign countries and show his ability and powers to the outside world. But he refused the suggestion on the ground that he could not observe religious discipline in foreign countries.
Shrimadji thought the wide publicity of his exceptional powers may hinder his march towards the Self-realization and so before he reached twenty he gradually discouraged it and after twenty we hear next to nothing about his performances of memory feats.
OTHER ARTICLES WRITTEN BY HIM UPTO THE AGE OF TWENTY
Shri Vinaychand Popatlal Daftari, a friend of Shrimadji, declares in a booklet `Sakshat Saraswati' published in 1887 A.D., as follows:
"In accordance with the rules of epic poetry, Shrimadji composed `Namiraja' a work of five thousand verses wherein he has explained the nature of the four Purusharthas - Dharma, Artha, Kama and Moksha. This book was composed by him in six days. His spotless divinity and a very high order of thoughts are evident throughout the book.
One religious head requested Shrimadji to prepare a book in verse, of the fundamental tenets of his religion and offered to pay Rupees One Thousand to him for such composition. But Shrimadji turned down the offer.
Shrimadji also edited a newspaper named Vairagya Vilas or the enjoyment of non-attachment.
To our grief nothing of the above is available.
In some of the advisory compositions prepared by him at the age of eighteen years he enunciates a doctrine and then illustrates it.
He says: "The gift of all scriptures can be summed up in two words - devotion to God and adoption of a life of benevolence in the world.
In 1885 A.D. his composition on `Shurvir Smarana' (in memory of the brave) he has given in verse a picturesque description of the brave warriors of the past, who victoriously fought the battles in India; and he compares those glorious moments with the present times when he does not find any one of that caliber to free India from foreign domination. The poem gives us sharp contrasts between the brave of the past and the cowards that inherit them in his days. Had Shrimadji lived a long life, his aspirations of Indian freedom would have been amply rewarded. He would have been happy to see his friend Mohandas Gandhi, the harbinger of Indian freedom and of the betterment of the peoples of the world, liberating India from British yoke by the Jain method of truth and non-violence.
In all forms of literature Shrimadji has made his mark and had he turned all his energy to literature, he would have given us a vast literature which would have been a milestone in Gujarati literature. But literature to him was a means of expression and not a method of liberation. He was interested in teaching the people the art of Self-liberation, the foundation and the climax of all arts.
Shrimadji used to say that telling truth about one's own Self is neither Self-praise nor Self-abuse; telling otherwise than truth is a vice.
"One who possesses wider intelligence and outlook, equaminity of mind, straightforwardness and complete sense-control is a properly qualified person for truth-realization. From ages immemorial attachment, avarice and infatuation have clouded the soul's strength and so it has not been able to think of itself. Human birth and that too in Arya Desha or India, and in a noble family and a sound healthy body are the proper means for the soul to think of itself and of its liberation.
If all this is there, then one has only to grow a strong desire in his mind to liberate oneself. If these qualifications are fulfilled one would automatically follow the path of the wise and liberated souls. No doubt will distract him.
As compared with other systems of philosophy and religion, Jain religion is preached by the most pure and holy, by those who have been completely free from all attachments, avarice and infatuations, hence, it is unqualifiedly a path of personal purification and Self-realization by Self-improvement. Therefore, all what the liberated have said and advised is thoroughly believable and should be easily acceptable.
The eternal path preached by the liberated souls is mixed with many undesirable offshoots and developments in course of time. One should distinguish between the path of the liberated and the path of the initiate and erring.
Shrimadji has been very strong in his criticism of these various creeds that have developed in the name of the religion of the liberated Jinas. He has shown in his Atmasiddhi Shastra that the founders of the various creeds have measured their own level and substituted their imperfect beliefs for the true religion.
The wrangling of the Jain religious heads in support of their self-chosen paths of liberation and ethical discipline flows from ignorance and leads to the sharpening of prejudices. Sometimes the highly advanced religious souls are misguided by the rise of infatuating (Mohaniya) Karmas in them and in such circumstances they offer sham religion for the real one, to their followers.
It also happens that finding the difficulty of attaining to the path of the liberated souls, one decides for himself and his followers that the path is not worth following and that what he has achieved for himself is the last limit of achievement for all. Besides, one may not have enough intelligence and discrimination to grasp the reasonableness of the path of the liberated Jinas.
Unfavorable times, selection of wrong persons as the religious teachers, general ignorance of the Shastras and the reluctance to study them for oneself are also some of the causes why various religious castes and sub-creeds develop in the body of the old established religions. Shrimadji says that the present times are such that the educated are bankrupt in the fund of faith needed for religious discipline. Very few have faith in religion. Those who have faith do not study the religion for themselves nor do they seek proper Guru who can explain them the truths of religion. In case a few try to understand religion there are many who will obstruct their path rather than help them. This is the plight of the educated people of the time and they keep away from religion.
The uneducated in the present times, on the other hand, are so inert and orthodox that they fear to go a step beyond the beliefs of their forefathers and they go the easy way of following blindly the religion of their ancestors. Hence, they believe that the religious teachers, accepted by the elders in age, know everything and that they should be followed wholeheartedly. Neither worshipped nor the uneducated worshiper cares to obtain knowledge and both are rocked in the cradle of a few accepted slogans and pet forms of prayer.
One can rarely find in the present religious folds of Jain religion, one who has intense desire for knowing and following the eternal path of the liberated Jinas.
Normally the Jain Sadhus are initiated by force of adverse circumstances or by an accidental rise of the spirit of intense non-attachment by distressing events.
One who really wants to follow the eternal path of the Jinas gets suffocated in the clumsy practices of the Jain creeds and he runs out of these clutches to a wider atmosphere and freedom wherein he can make real progress.
Shrimadji says that there are very few souls interested in spiritual religious research. Those, who would heartily desire to be free and would actively work for it, are still few. Even for such souls the proper guides by way of an enlightened Guru, proper religious contacts and the supply of adequate religious scriptures are difficult to obtain.
Every one who is given a hearing by them, blows his own trumpet and never inquires whether what he says is true, half-true or untrue. Besides, even these few souls starving for Self-liberation are compelled to waste their precious time in many worldly activities that they find it difficult to maintain the continuity of their spiritual progress. Shrimadji admits that there are a few souls following the eternal religion propagated by Lord Mahavir but the rest of the Jain religious public present a sorry debacle.
"What pains me," he says, "is not that the Jains lose anything but that only a few are ready to take the advantage of the magnanimous achievements of the great realized souls to the credit of the Jain philosophy and religion. Any well thinking mind will appreciate the truth of what I say.
Two fundamental divisions of Jainism are on the importance of the idols of the great Tirthankaras in the practice of Jain religion.
One side believes that these idols of the Jinas and their worship are authorized by the Jain religious scriptures and they are direct means for Self-realization. The other side believes that the idols need not be worshipped at all.
Shrimadji holds to the first view and declares that the worship of the idols of the Jinas is necessary, desirable, and always helpful in the path of spiritual progress.
By an improper use of reasoning all the tenets of Jainism may be shown contradictory but that is not what a man of spiritual experience does. None will benefit by the way of logical wranglings. Truth which is tested by the touchstone of religious experience is the religious truth and no amount of denying it, can serve any useful purpose.
"I did once believe that idol worship is unmeaning, but now I am convinced of the need and authenticity of it by my own spiritual experience and so I endorse the religion which accepts the worship of the idols of the great Tirthankaras.
In these fearless statements, Shrimadji advises all seekers of truth to keep truth alone and part with prejudices wherever they are found. Shrimadji says that the Jain religion would have been easy of approach and benefit to seekers of Self-liberation, had it not divided itself into two powerful sects on the ground of idol-worship.
A truly religious man does not pamper this or that opinion, he is ready to accept truth and sacrifice everything on the alter of truth and the experience of the Tirthankaras or the great liberated souls.
Shrimadji declares his complete faith in the sayings and experiences of Lord Mahavir. He says: "The author of Jain scriptures does not mean to say that all those who accept the Jain religion will obtain liberation. One has to work for what he believes. One, whose soul will practice religion, will gain by it. Worship of the idols of the Tirthankaras whose obligation on us is unreturnable is a great purificatory agent and an effective means to Self-liberation. It is meant for us to realize the objective for which worship of the idols is enjoined by the scriptures."
SHRIMAD RAJCHANDRA AS A HOUSEHOLDER
In a letter to his friend in his twentieth year he writes: "Having no intrinsic love of money and yet to use it for the benefit of the distressed and the needy, I tried to earn some money for the future. On other side, wealth, even if acquired for benevolent works, may breed in the person possessing it, blindness, deafness and dumbness. Hence, I do not care for wealth at all.
Shrimadji married Zabakben, daughter of Popatlalbhai, the elder brother of Jagjivandas Mehta on the 12th day of the bright half of the month of Maha in Vikram Samvat 1944. He was twenty at that time.
One year after his marriage, he writes to a friend, under the caption `My thoughts on woman', that unqualified and unrestricted happiness lies in pure knowledge of the Self and never in the worldly enjoyments of married life. Bodily happiness is only a shadow of the real happiness. Besides enjoyments of the body are only short-lived and the sources of consequent misery, disease and death. It is painfully surprising to find the human mind enjoying in worldly and physical pleasures. One should pray for the complete freedom from all desires concerning the bodily and sense-pleasures.
Regarding one's wife, Shrimadji writes: "My desire is for liberation but forced by the fruits of my previous actions, I lead a married life. But here too I normally maintain equanimity, neither attachment nor non-attachment. I feel pained to find sometimes my behavior contrary to my intense desire for liberation.
To a friend, he writes in Vikram Samvat 1946 or 1890 A.D.: "I have married earlier than you by a little over two years. Within these two years I have come to know my wife's mind and I can say that none of us is dissatisfied with the other. Nor can I say that it is absolutely satisfactory. Our relations are common and normal. And this is more due to my indifference. While thinking of high metaphysical thoughts I get strong suggestions for renouncing the householder's order. I had similar thoughts even before my marriage but I had to pacify them as I found that following them would make the very continuance of my life impossible.
In Mokshamala, in lesson No. 12 `Best Householder', lesson No. 45 `Common Aspiration', lesson No. 55 `Rules of daily observance by the Householder' and in six lessons Nos. 61 to 66 under the title `Thoughts on Happiness' he gives his views on the ideal householder's life.
He writes: "Though I am happy as householder as compared with others, but the worldly happiness is to be suffered and not to be enjoyed. It is not true happiness. Normally people in the world are unhappy and so the people who are happy in worldly life are called fortunate and favored souls. I have decided to utilize my life in the practice of religion. I normally read and think of the revealed scriptures, keep contacts with the enlightened souls, observe prohibitions and injunctions, observe celibacy for twelve days in a month, give in charity without declaring my name.
I have renounced much of my burden of worldly life. I want to be a forest recluse after entrusting the care of my family to my sons no sooner they come of age. At present I have deliberately chosen to remain as a householder in order that I can guide the householders in the path of religious practice better than the Sanyasis or Yatis can do. The householder's order requires much improvement and I want to expedite it. A householder can easily advise another householder and guide his behavior by his example and practice.
Shrimadji declares that as a principle complete renunciation from the householder's order is necessary for lasting happiness.
SHRIMADJI AS A BUSINESSMAN
Shrimad Rajchandra was also an accomplished businessman in jewelry and pearls. Of all the jewelry merchants he was known as one of the most reliable and honest.
Once a younger brother of a pearls merchant sold his pearls to Shrimadji at a certain price. When his elder brother came to know this he scolded the younger brother for selling the pearls at a much lower price then expected. Thereon the younger brother returned to Shrimadji and narrated to him what his brother thought about the transaction. Shrimadji immediately returned the pearls and canceled the deal as it was a mistake by the younger brother. This shows his honesty and sympathy.
Shri Maneklal Ghelabhai, while appreciating Shrimadji's business acumen, writes that even foreign customers used to praise the excellent business organization and exactness of Shrimadji.
Shrimadji wrote in his diary certain rules of discipline which he decided to observe after he joined a partnership business in Bombay in Vikram Samvat 1946 or 1890 A.D. These rules are in brief as under:
1. Do not see anybody's fault. Believe that whatever difficulties come your way, are due to your own shortcomings.
2. Never indulge in self-praise as in self-praise one only lowers himself. Behave in such a way as it may win affection of others. It may not be so easy to start with but gradually by strong self-determination and resolute effort, you will be able to mold your behavior.
4. Declare your line of thought and action to one with whom you wish to join in business or in any worldly matter.
5. Also win his confidence by your word and deed and assure him that you shall never think or do anything to harm his interests. Should any of your thought or deed prove harmful to your partner or colleague, repent for it and tell him that it will never recur.
6. Tell him that you shall do the work entrusted to you with care and diligence but without pride or egotism.
7. Tell your partner that on no account you are prepared to sacrifice your discipline for Self-realization, that he should not use you as a means to secure his unethical motives, that when assured of a possible conflict on the above conditions, you will clear out of the joint partnership with no harm to your partner.
In case your partner doubts your bonafides, request him to declare them freely and explain to him that there is no ground for such doubt. Should he not accept your explanation, respectfully terminate partnership.
TRANSLATIONS AND COMMENTARIES
* He has written 51 sayings about the religion of a Sanyasi and a Muni (Samyati Dharma) as described in "Dasha Vaikalika Siddhanta". This is a fine exact Gujarati rendering of the original Magadhi text prepared in Vikram Samvat 1945.
* In Vikram Samvat 1953 he wrote on "The doctrine of liberation" or Moksha Siddhanta.
* He had started the Gujarati translation of "Swarodaya" by Shri Chidanandji. His writings are marked by his simple attractive style.
* He had also started writing a commentary on the 24 prayers for 24 Tirthankaras written by Shri Anandghanji. His reflections on the first two of these 24 prayers are worthy of deep study and emulation for any one who wants to complete the commentary. He has brought out in his reflections all the spiritual associations of Shri Anandghanji, in a lucid and inimitable style.
* On one of the couplets of the sixth out of the eight perspectives composed by Shri Yashovijayji, Shrimadji has commented so beautifully well in his three letters Nos. 393, 394 and 395 printed in "Shrimad Rajchandra".
* He prepared a Gujarati equivalent translation of the first one hundred verses of "Atmanushasan".
* Besides, he wrote on the Anitya and Asharan Bhavana and a little on Sansara Bhavana out of the twelve Bhavanas or spiritual sentiments from Shri Ratna-karand Shravaka-achar.
* Shrimadji is the only author who has prepared a complete translation of the Panchastikaya, a work of the celebrated Shri Kundkundacharya. In appreciation of this great work, the Panchastikaya, Shrimadji writes to Shri Dharshibhai: "It is rare and subtle to obtain the contact with the spiritual Self. The aim of the discourse is to obtain this difficult objective. The study of this work will develop in a person pure meditation which will lead to absolute knowledge of the absolute reality, the Self, the Atma. The contact with this Self results from the reduction and destruction of perceptual delusions, from the indifference to the sense-pleasures, from a single minded devotion to the Self-realized Guru. As, by these means, the Self-control gets ascendant, the Self begins to manifest its nature in its entirety. A right insight develops and in result, the Self-knowledge.
* He had prepared an index on the Pragnavabodh in Vikram Samvat 1956 which was lately written by the late Shri Brahmachariji of Shrimad Rajchandra Ashram, Agas.
SOME ANECDOTES OF SHRIMADJI'S LIFE
1. Once he had gone out with a friend for a walk in Bombay and on his way he came near a cemetery. He asked his friend as to what was the place they came by. His friend replied: "Cemetery". Shrimadji said that he viewed the whole Bombay city as a cemetery.
2. Once Shrimadji's neighbor knowing his superhuman powers told him that he must be knowing the market rates of all commodities and such knowledge could be used to his financial benefit in his dealings in shares. To this Shrimadji replied that he was not a fool to use his spiritual powers for such petty selfish benefits.
3. Once Padamshibhai, a resident of Kutch, sought from him the remedy for removing his fear of death. Shrimadji advised that till life is fully led according to fixed destiny there is no death. Why then should we not live well until death visits us ? By the fear of death one cannot be free from death. Be fearless, lead a chaste life and embrace death when it comes.
4. His servant Lallu, a resident of Morbi, who had stayed with his family for a number of years caught a deadly disease in Bombay. He used daily to nurse him personally till Lallu breathed his last.
5. Once Shrimadji went to see Tokarshibhai, who had Pneumonia and whose sickness was growing fatal. In his presence Tokarshibhai became quiet and experienced peace and joy. After some time Shrimadji receded from him and said to other relatives of Tokarshibhai that the latter was gradually sinking. When he was asked as to how did he know it and as to what did he do by which Tokarshibhai got a relief from his pain and enjoyed peace, Shrimadji replied that he could see Tokarshibhai's death and he therefore tried to change his mind and last desires so as to improve his spiritual prospects for the future birth. Once Shrimadji asked his three years old daughter her name, to which she replied that her name was Kashi. Shrimadji lovingly said: "No you are the Self." But Kashiben refused to agree to it. Shrimadji laughed at the child's ignorance.
HIS PERCEPTION OF SELF-KNOWLEDGE
On Kartik Sud 14th, Samvat 1947, Shrimadji writes in a letter as follows: "That my soul has attained complete knowledge of its nature is an indubitable fact, that my knots of the heart and head have been removed, is a truth of all times and all Self-realized souls will easily recognize and endorse my experience."
At other place he writes: "O you Self-knowledge, the source of all heights of joy and bliss, to you I bow down with all devotion and humility. Innumerable souls without you suffer from ignorance. It is solely by your grace that I could know you and I could reach the goal of my soul's pilgrimage. As a result, I enjoyed unprecedented peace. I felt freedom from all worries and burdens, mental and physical."
"In Vikram Samvat 1947 I could realize the full stature of my spiritual being, and from then onwards I am enjoying increasing peace and bliss."
"In a wink the knowledge which drew me to the worldly life, changed its course and has led me to my proper goal i.e. Self-realization.
In a couplet he says: "One gets a spiritual insight by his spiritual eye and without it he cannot obtain soul-saving knowledge at all. This is not a matter of physical perception and it is foolish to try that way. Only by unqualified, concentrated devotion to a spiritual Guru or guide, one can obtain the soul-saving knowledge. Only a Guru can give this spiritual eye to see the spiritual reality.
In Vikram Samvat 1948, in the month of Magh, Shrimadji writes: "The system which contains a clear description of the right positions of bondage and freedom is the only guide to Self-liberation and such a system is that of the great Mahavir - the Jain system. If in my humble opinion, there is any living man available, in whom the heart of the great Tirthankara is residing, he is no other than the author of these lines. The result of the soul-saving knowledge is the experience of complete renunciation from all worldly considerations and this is what I experience in my own being. Hence, I consider myself to be the perfect disciple of the great Tirthankara. One who gains the soul's knowledge in accordance with the enlightened Guru's opinion, has obtained correct insight and experience, and none else. When the goal and the path are clearly seen there is no difficulty for a sincere disciple to follow the path and reach the goal.
In his talks with Muni Mohanlalji, Shrimadji said: "I do not forget the Self even for a second." Once Shrimadji said to Shri Devkaranji Muni, an associate of Shri Lalluji Maharaj, that he lived in his body as a separate pulp would be felt in a dried coconut shell.
At Kheda one day Shrimadji in a soliloquy says: "In Samvat 1948, you the great soul of infinite peace and calmness visited Ralaj, in these days you visited Vaso and there you were a great Yogi absorbed in deep meditation and now you are the same Yogindra enjoying bliss and peace here at Kheda." This is Shrimadji's description of himself as a disembodied soul.
In a letter Shrimadji writes: "I think in my mind that I have all qualifications to re-establish and propagate the Vedic religion, but in order to settle and propagate the Jain religion I do require some more qualifications than I actually possess, though of all the available person I am better qualified for the purpose."
LETTER OF SIX FUNDAMENTAL TRUTHS
Shri Lalluji Maharaj being sick in Surat requested Shrimadji for Samadhi Maran. In reply, Shrimadji wrote the famous letter of six fundamental truths, and inspired Lalluji Maharaj not to fear death.
This letter is the theme, of which "Atmasiddhi" is the development. Shri Lalluji Maharaj appreciates this letter as follows:
"This letter has helped us to remove all our stray ideas and wandering thoughts, it has removed our doubts, confirmed our faith in the fundamentals of Jainism and those of all religions in general, namely the nature and development of soul.
It has taken us out of our prejudicial attachments to the Jain sects; it has kept us clear of fixing our faith in the Vedanta; it has, in brief, re-established our pursuits in the nature of the Self and its knowledge.
Thus, this letter is uniquely wonderful in many ways. If the disciple is deserving, the constant meditation on this letter, on the truths contained in it, would put him to the path of Self-realization."
HIS LAST SPIRITUAL STATURE
In Vikram Samvat 1957, Shrimad Rajchandra with his mother and wife stayed at Agakhan's Bungalow in Ahmedabad. One day Shri Devkaranji Muni asked the reason for reduction of his body to which he replied: "I am on a war with my body as it took unwholesome food during my stay in Dharampur.
One day prior to going to Wadhwan Camp he called Shri Lalluji and Shri Devkaranji to his residence in Agakhan's Bungalow at Ahmedabad and advised them to see no difference in him and in Shri Mahavirswami.
On the day prior to his death at Rajkot, Shrimadji said to Shri Mansukhbhai, Shri Revashankarbhai, Shri Narbherambhai and others around him: "Be sure this soul is eternal, it is reaching increasingly higher stages, it has a very bright future. You remain quiet and behave with calmness and peace. I may not in future tell you with my tongue nor there is now the time for it. I only advise you to continue your efforts towards Self-realization.
At 8:45 a.m. on Chaitra Vad 5th Vikram Samvat 1957 he said to Shri Mansukhbhai: "Mansukh, do not be afflicted, take care of mother, I retire to my soul's true nature." From 8:45 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. he lay on his death bed quiet as a machine, in deep meditation, and he left his body for ever.
Shri Lalluji Maharaj heard in Kavitha the sad news of his Guru's expiry and he retired to the fields in solitude and passed his day in dedication to the departed Guru. According to English calendar Shrimadji left his body for good on 9th April 1901 at Rajkot after a little over one year's sickness.
In brief, Shrimadji lived and died as a Self-realized soul, though in body, completely independent of it.
He had in his mind an aspiration to re-establish the pure religion of Shri Mahavirswami which had been distorted in the institutional sectarianism which cut at the very root of Jainism. To some extent this purpose has been fulfilled by his great disciples in recent years.
Shrimad Rajchandra was a universal man practicing the universal religion of Atma, the only reality and he defined a person as Jain if he followed an enlightened Guru's advice and practiced the religion of Atma.
Infinite salutations to the great Shrimad Rajchandra and to equal and superior souls of all times.
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