Umrala, Bhavnagar State, British India
|Died||November 28, 1980
|Occupation||Jain Scholar, Philosopher and Spiritual leader|
|Parents||Ujamba & Motichand Bhai|
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Kanji Swami (Gujarati:કાનજીસ્વામી) (1889-1980) was a mystical Jain teacher. He was the founder of the Kanji Panth within the Digambar Jain tradition. He influenced the practice of swadhyaya (study of texts) among the Jain laity.
He was born a Sthanakvasi Jain and was initiated as a Sthanakvasi monk. He was deeply influenced by the works of Pandit Todarmal and Samayasar of Acharya Kundakunda in 1932. He later used these Digamabar Jain principles in his discourses formulate his philosophy. His movement later emerged as a new sub-sect which followed Digambar Jain Principles.
Kahanji Swami was born in Umrala, a small village in the Kathiawar region of Gujarat, in 1889 CE to a Sthanakvaasi family. His mother died when he was thirteen and he lost his father at the age of seventeen. After this, he started looking after his father's shop. He utilized the frequent periods of lull in the shop in reading various books on religion and spirituality. Turning down the proposals of marriage, he confided in his brother that he wanted to remain celibate and take renunciation.
Renunciation and later life
Kanji Swami became a Sthanakvasi monk in 1913 by the hands of Hirachanda. During the ceremony, while riding on an elephant, he inauspiciously tore his robe, which was later believed to be an ill omen in his monastic career. He embarked upon a rigorous study of the Swetamber scriptures and finished a detailed study of the forty-five Agama (Jain Scriptures) Being a believer in self effort for achieving emancipation, he quickly became a learned and famous monk and, backed by his seventeen renditions of the Bhagvati Sutra. He was known as "Koh-i-noor of Kathiawar".
During 1921, he read Acarya Kundakunda's Samayasar; the study of which influenced him. He also studied writings of Todarmal and Shrimad Rajchandra. During his discourses he began to incorporate the ideas picked from these studies and began to lead a kind of double life, nominally a Sthanakvasi monk but referring to the Digambar literature.
His assertions that "vows, giving and fasting were ultimately worthless if performed without any understanding of the soul" did not endear him to the Sthanakvasi community. He left the Sthanakvasi monk-hood and proclaimed himself to be a celibate Digambara layman scholar at Songadh in Gujarat in 1934. His lectures were recorded on tapes and have been published. His emphasis was on nishcaya naya, the higher level of truth, over vyavahara naya, ordinary life. Kanji Swami died on 28 November 1980 at Mumbai.
He directed his teachings to the subject of the soul and to Acharya Kundakunda's representation of it as the one eternal and unconditional entity. Kanji Swami's insistence on the primacy of the absolute level of truth over the relative one of ordinary life is obvious from his frequent comment: "Please try to understand. No soul, with or without knowledge, has the slightest ability to move even a particle. In such circumstances, how can it do anything to the human body, or to any other thing for that matter?"
For him Samyak darshan (right faith) was a prerequisite to any meaningful progress upon the spiritual path. He was convinced that the three jewels of Samyak darshan, Samyak gyan and Samyak charitra (right faith, right knowledge and right conduct) could only function effectively on the basis of a prior experience of the soul, and considered the various rituals and merit-making practices as subordinate. In an interview in 1977 he denied being hostile to the traditional Jain monk-hood and regarded them as personifying the fundamental principles of Jainism. However, he also pointed out that taking up formal initiation and behavioural practices, like the abandonment of clothes (common for Digamber monks) and other possessions, could not make an individual a true monk unless he had abandoned internal possessions as well.
'Digamber Jain Swadhyay Mandir' was built in 1937. It houses Samayasar in the main temple and the words of Acharya Kundakunda's five main treatises have been engraved on its walls. A temple dedicated to Shrimandhar Swami was consecrated in 1941. Kanji Swami traveled throughout India where he gave discourses and consecrated many temples. Songadh is major centre.
- Jestice, Phyllis G. (2004). Holy People of the World: A Cross-Cultural Encyclopedia 1. ABC-CLIO. p. 464. ISBN 9781576073551.
- Jain, Ravindra K. (1999). The Kanji Swami Panth, The universe as audience: metaphor and community among the Jains of North India. Indian Institute of Advanced Study. ISBN 8185952647.
- Dundas. "Kanji swami Panth". University of Cumbria. Division of Religion and Philosophy. pp. 231–2. Retrieved February 21, 2013.
- Dundas 2002, p. 255.
- Dundas 2002, p. 256.
- Lectures by Kanji Swami in Audio, Text and Video
- Webste about Kanjiswami
- About Kanji Swami
- About Sect
- Pictures of Kanji Swami