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Who is a Jain Shravak: 36.3 A Few Distinguished Shravaks and Shravikas

Published: 03.04.2020

8. Gerulalji Vyas

GerulaljiVyas was a Pushkarana Brahman from Jodhpur and fond of visiting saints. He would visit the Jain monks occasionally and evinced an interest in Jain tattvagyaan.

In V.S.1816 AcharyaBhikshu had chaaturmaas in Jodhpur prior to his religious revolution (establishing Terapanth) and there he for the first time met up with GerulaljiVyas. Vyasji was intensely influenced by

Bhikshu's revolutionary insights. A few months later, AcharyaBhikshu quit the Sthanakavasi sect and came to Jodhpur where Vyasji and other shravaks extended great support to his unconventional teachings. Vyasji accepted Jain religion in spite of being a Brahman and was amongst the thirteen keen shravaks from Jodhpur who initially became his devotee. Vyasji comprehended the belief-system and principles of the newly founded Terapanth and its radical spiritual teachings by AcharyaBhikshu impeccably that people would approach him to learn about Terapanth.

When Terapanth got its name in Jodhpur, AcharyaBhikshu was not present there. Shravaks who understood the new conduct and philosophy of AcharyaBhikshu, started to perform their religious activity including 'saamaayik' in the shops. It was on one such evening when divaan (a court minister) FatehmaljiSinghvi was passing through the market when he saw some shravaks doing saamaayik. He curiously asked them the reason for doing so. It was Vyasji who then described AcharyaBhikshu's religious revolution to him. Being thirteen in number, Fatehmalji composed a verse and recited the name 'Terapanth'.

One more such illustration showing his devotion to Acharya Bhikshu is as follows:

Singhviji was managing the properties of a Mahant, follower of Vedic tradition of Mandavi (Kutch) located in Pali and Jodhpur. He appointed Vyasji as a supervisor of both the properties. Vyasji would frequently travel to Mandavi to inform Mahant about the the income and management issues related to these properties. On these frequent visits, Vyasji would have his night stay at Jain upaashray (religious place) or sthaanak (place where Jain monks or nuns stay). He would do Saamaayik and recite the songs composed by AcharyaBhikshu which would enhance his conduct and faith. He would also have discussions with religious people. Thus, Vyasji spread the message of AcharyaBhikshu in several villages and towns. Realising the essence of religion, many people became sulabhbodhi and samyaktvi.

We can convincingly say that Vyasji was the first shravak of Terapanth sect and amongst the initial shravaks to spread the principles of Terapanth far and wide.

9. Santok Chandji Sethia

Ridi is a village situated between Bidasar and Shridungargarh. It was densely populated by the Oswal community who were all Terapanthi. SantokChandjiSethia was an authoritative personality. He adorned Jayacharya as his Guru. Santokji was a dedicated and a devoted shravak who abided by the rules and regulations of the sangh. He was very aware of permissible and prohibited activities of the order. In V.S. 1937 muni Chhogji and some other monks quit the sangh along with sadhviHarkhuji and other nuns. Once, sadhviHarkhuji reached Ridi before Chhogji. She visited Santokji's home and said, 'PujiMaharaj, a title used only for the Acharya of Terapanth, is reaching your village today.' Hearing this, Sethiaji questioned surprisingly, 'As far as I know, PujiMahaaraaj (Jayacharya) is in Jaipur. I haven't received any message of his arrival here. I don't understand you.' sadhviHarkhuji replied 'Not he, but ChhogjiPujiMahaaraaj is coming here.'

Santokji already knew of Chhogji!s separation from the sect, but he continued to pretend ignorance and asked, 'sadhviji! There is only one Acharya in Terapanth sect. How can you address Chhogji as PujiMahaaraaj?' This embarrassed sadhviji who was at a loss of words. Eventually she said, 'Don't you know he has formed his own Sect?' Sethiaji replied 'sadhviji! During reciting the MaryaadaPatra (an oath of Terapanth constitution), Chhogji committed to follow the rules and regulations of the sect until his last breath. Now, has he changed his body or is it the same?' sadhviHarkhuji was completely perplexed and speechless. With disappointment, she returned quietly to her place.

This incident reveals the fact that shravakSantokchandji was fairly acquainted with the rules and regulations of the Terapanth sect and made decisions with his wisdom.

10. Bhuri devi (Mother of Lajpatji)

The entire family of LalaRanjitsingh Jain of Tuhana were devout Jain followers. He had four sons namely Lajpatrai, Madanlal, Omprakash and Kamal, and four daughters Rakhi, Shanti, Shakuntala and Ilaichi. Bhuridevi, the wife of Lalaji, had enormously contributed to inculcate values in her children. Recognizing her devotion, AcharyaTulsi awarded her with the title 'shraddhakipratimurti. One of the illustrations of her dusk of life shows her great devotion.

In V.S. 1938 some of the expelled monks of Terapanth, namely Dhanya muni, Chandan muni and others visited Tuhana. They asked Lalaji whether they could stay at his residence. Monks were staying at the upper floor and the family at the ground floor. They stayed there for seven days, but Bhuridevi never went upstairs to meet them. The last day Dhanya muni intentionally came to her and asked, 'Mother! We stayed here for seven days and you did not come even once. It is beyond our understanding how could you live without meeting us. If you recall, during our last visit we stayed here for a month and we taught you tattvagyaan for which you honoured us heartily.'

Listening to Dhanya muni she responded, 'Maharaj! It is beyond my understanding why a monk like you left the sangh? I do remember your past stay and teachings. You know that we are devotee of the sangh. When you have broken the discipline of the sangh, then how can I come to you? If you follow the discipline of the sangh, then observe whether we come to you or not.' Listening to her honest answer, the monk became speechless.

 11. Jhamakuji (Wife of Lalchandji)

AcharyaShriKalugani initiated Muni Champalalji (Chanchiya) from Bidasar in 1979. He was was selected as a group leader in V.S. 1991. He was a diligent monk and spread the religion in places far and near. Muni Champalalji'schaaturmaasik stay in V.S. 2010 was in Daulatgarh (Mewar). There he criticized the sect and the Acharya before the shravaks. AcharyaTulsi got this news through devout shravaks. After completion of chaaturmaas, Champalalji came to AcharyaTulsi. Owing to his negative attitude, he was suspended from his group-leadership. In spite of numerous attempts, Champalalji could not regain his leadership and his efforts were in vain. Consequently, the same year he quit and disconnected himself from the sangh in Ranavas.

After separation from the sect, muni Champalalji inveigled some people and stayed in Chhapar for some time, holding his discourses. Lalchandji Kothari from Chhapar was under his influence. Lalchandji and some people would attend his discourses. However, not a single woman would participate in his discourses. Muniji persuaded them to request their wives to attend the lectures along with them. The presence of women will make the sessions more effective. At Muniji's, insistence, Lalchandji said to his wife Jhamaku, 'Muniji delivers effective discourses, why don't you get benefit of the opportunity? Moreover, the assembly is incomplete without ladies and so muniji is less interested in giving discourses. Don't be adamant in going there.'

Indian women are quiet, obedient and respectful towards their husbands, but in religious matters their thinking is crystal clear. Jhamkuji retorted, 'Your wish for me to attend the discourses of Chanchiyaji will never be fulfilled. If the presence of ladies in Chanchiyaji's assembly is important, then you may disguise yourselves as a lady. Put on the lady's outfit and serve the purpose of the monk.' Lalchandji never expected such a bold reply from his wife and from that day onwards, he never made any request to Jhamkuji. The religious firmness of an illiterate common housewife made history in the Terapanth sect.

12. Jay Chandlalji Kothari

AcharyaTulsi started Anuvrat movement in 1949. At that time, many people were engaged in promulgating the message of Anuvrat. Jaychandlalji (Ladnun) was one of them. He was a devoted shravak, social reformer, and a personality dedicated to make everyone aware of the moral values. He participated actively in cultural, literary, and social institutions. He had actively contributed in establishing the publishing organization AdarshaSahityaSangha', and worked as a journalist for the magazine 'Jain Bharati. His motto was 'simple and restrained living. He was always ready to execute any task assigned to him by his Guru AcharyaTulsi, no matter how demanding it was.

Kothariji was a great scholar of Jain ontology. Without any formal education, he was gifted with the boon of insight. People, who opposed the beliefs of Terapanth, would stand speechless by his irrefutable logic. Opponents would use rude and harsh language, but Kothariji would always respond in a polite and peaceful demeanour through his reasoning power which would render them silent. Sometimes, he would pose the question in such a manner that even learned nuns and monks would be constrained to answer. Many monks and nuns studied Aagam from him and understand the thokada (ontological concepts). The nuns residing in LadnunSeva Kendra would learn the tricks of learning the thokadas. He was passionate in working in the field of ontology. His aim was to simplify thokadas, and to make the necessary amendments but the cruel hands of destiny didn't allow him to do so as he passed away. His name will always be remembered with immense respect amongst the tattvagyashravaks.

In the conclusion of ShravakSambodhAcharyaTulsi has mentioned the name of a meritorious pair of shravaks, Jaychandji and ShrimadRajchandra. They perfectly blended faith, conduct and knowledge. ShravakbhushanShriRupachandjiSethia was also an outstanding shravak. Every moment of his daily routine was a conscious living.

13. Shrimad Rajchandra

ShrimadRajchandra was born in 1967 in a village named Vavania in Maharashtra in a merchant's family. Initially his name was Laxminandan but was later renamed as Rajchandra and became famously renown as ShrimadRajchandra. His father was a devotee of lord Krishna and his mother believed in the Jain religion. ShrimadRajchandra had the combination of both beliefs. He was endowed with a remarkable intelligence. He went to Mumbai from Vivania at the age of 21 and engaged in the jewellery business.

Shrimad Rajchandra once made a deal for diamonds with a businessman. The businessman promised to deliver a quantity of jewels. The price of the jewels and the date of delivery were decided. The agreement was written up and signed. Unexpectedly, just before the date of delivery, the prices of jewels went high. The businessman realized that if he delivered the jewels, he would suffer a heavy loss. ShrimadRajchandra knowing the market value went to merchant, who was under stress. Ripping the contract paper into pieces, he said, 'You are bound to pay as per this document, and with rising prices, it amounts to 60,000/70,000 rupees. I am very much aware of your financial situation and know that you cannot pay such a huge amount. ShrimadRajchandra can take milk but not blood! Now be relaxed.' Such a compassionate behaviour of ShrimadRajchandra made the merchant obligated to him forever.

Shrimad Rajchandra was a spiritual personality. His insight was continuously enhancing. He was a good writer, poet and excellent composer. His popular works are Atmasidhi, Pushpamala, Mokshamala etc. He translated Panchaastikaay in Gujarati which was authored by AcharyaKundakund. He had a good relation with Mahatma Gandhi, who considered ShrimadRajchandra as his spiritual Guru. Gandhiji writes, 'I am impressed by three people: Tolstoy, Ruskin and Rajchandrabhai. Whenever I had any doubt about Hindu religion, it was Rajchandrabhai who resolved my queries.'

ShrimadRajchandra was the one who developed deep understanding of ahimsa in Mahatma Gandhi. Gandhiji was highly fascinated by his behavioural skill and dutiful attitude. On ShrimadRajchandra's birthday, Gandhiji had written, 'I have learnt many things from a great many people, but the most from the life of ShrimadRajchandra. I've learnt the most prominent ahimsa dharm (the principle of non-violence) from him.' In fact, ShrimadRajchandra was a bright mentor in the spiritual world. He had enlightened the spiritual path by his philosophy and practices of life. Many people have achieved great spiritual inspiration from his life and writings.

jinamat-mani Shrimad Rajchandra se shravak,
pure aadhyatmika path ke param prabhaavak.

14. Rupachandji Sethia

ShriRupachandji was an extraordinary shravak in Jain tradition. AcharyaTulsi had addressed him as a gem of the Jain society and a supreme practitioner of spirituality. Recognising their contributions, irrespective of differences in sects, AcharyaTulsi has narrated in the book:

shri Rupa-sethia jaise shravak -bhushan,
jinaki charya jeevant bolati kshan-kshan
tattvagy shravakon ka yah vimal yugal hai,
aasth aaachaar gyaan ka aviral bal hai.

ShravakRupachandjiSethia from Sujangarh was a man of vision. He had strong faith in religion and was endowed with prudence. He would practice religion in his daily life. His main objective was to apply non-violence in every walk of life. He would try to avoid even mental violence. Despite being affluent, he would lead an austere and simple life. Observing his self-restraint, people used to say, 'He lives like a monk, despite having a family.'

RupachandjiSethia's life is a splendid example of renunciation and detachment. At the age of 32, he started practicing celibacy for five years, and subsequently took a vow for life.

Rupachandji's self-control was very strong. He would use very little water for baths. In the initial years, the usage of water was approximately 4.5 litres a day and gradually it decreased to about 450 ml. He would not use cotton cloths for any purpose. He had a limit (around 8 meter) of cloth, even in severe cold season. He would attentively observe his daily routine: saamaayik, pratikraman - two times a day, raatri-chauvihaar (no intake during the night), not drinking live (sachitta) water and so on.

Rupachandji was true and honest in his business. He had even instructed his staff not to cheat any customer. Once, a customer came to his shop and the employee sold the cloth. The transacted price was much less than the display price. Rupachandji questioned his staff regarding it. He answered, 'The customer was not ready to purchase at our indicated price. Therefore, I sold it at the customer's rate, but correspondingly gave him less amount of cloth. Rupachandji did not like this deceptive behaviour and immediately called upon that customer to be given an extra two metres of cloth and apologised on behalf of his staff, and he fired the staff.

ShravakRupachandji loved studying and was a scholar of Jain ontology. He had memorized many of the thokadas. Because of his deep understanding of the thokadas, he held a significant status amongst the Jain shravaks. He also learnt many eulogies and tattvik (ontological) bhajans. Jain values were an integral part of his life. Therefore, he had no interest in the worldly rituals and deities. Rupachandji was a well-wisher of the sangha. He had witnessed the tenure of five Acharyas of Terapanth. ShriDalgani, the seventh Acharya had distinct respect for him and he even discussed with him regarding the selection of his successor. During the last stage of his life, he was fortunate to get the blessings of the eighth acharyaKalugani. In his lifespan of 60 years Rupachandji became an example of an ideal shravak. His faith, knowledge, distinguishing power, and pure conduct conveys to us about his gracious life.

Acharya Tulsi concludes his work as:

'Shravak-Sambodh' sangh mein mangalmay ho,
Shri Jinshaasan ki 'Tulsi' sadavijay ho.

May this Shravak Sambodh bring auspiciousness in the sangh and pray for the victory of Jin shaasan.

Sources

Title:  Who is a Jain Shravak?
Author: 

Acharya MahaPragya

Translator: 

Sadhvi Vishrut Vibha

Publisher:  Adarsh Sahitya Vibhag, JVB
Edition: 
2019
Digital Publishing: 
Amit Kumar Jain

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Page glossary
Some texts contain  footnotes  and  glossary  entries. To distinguish between them, the links have different colors.
  1. Aagam
  2. Acharya
  3. Acharya Bhikshu
  4. Acharya Tulsi
  5. Acharyas
  6. Acharyas of Terapanth
  7. Ahimsa
  8. Anuvrat
  9. Anuvrat Movement
  10. Bhajans
  11. Bhikshu
  12. Bidasar
  13. Body
  14. Brahman
  15. Celibacy
  16. Chhapar
  17. Dharm
  18. Discipline
  19. Gandhi
  20. Gandhiji
  21. Guru
  22. Jain Bharati
  23. Jaipur
  24. Jayacharya
  25. Jin
  26. Jodhpur
  27. Kendra
  28. Krishna
  29. Ladnun
  30. Maharashtra
  31. Mahatma
  32. Mahatma Gandhi
  33. Mewar
  34. Mumbai
  35. Muni
  36. Non-violence
  37. Oswal
  38. Pali
  39. Pratikraman
  40. Sangh
  41. Sangha
  42. Shravak
  43. Shravaks
  44. Shrimad Rajchandra
  45. Sthanakavasi
  46. Sujangarh
  47. Terapanth
  48. Terapanthi
  49. Tulsi
  50. Vedic
  51. Violence
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