Shrimad Rajchandra

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Shrimad Rajchandra
Srimad Rajcandra.jpg
Religion Jainism
Sect Svetambara
Other names Kavi, Raichandbhai
Personal
Born Laxminandan Ravjibhai Mehta
(1867-11-09)9 November 1867
Vavania near Morbi (now in Gujarat, India)
Died 9 April 1901(1901-04-09) (aged 33)
Rajkot (now in Gujarat)
Spouse Zabakben (m. 1887)
Parents Ravjibhai and Devbai
Works Atma Siddhi, Mokshamala
Website www.shrimad.com

Shrimad Rajchandra was a Jain poet, philosopher, scholar and reformer. Born near Morbi, he was prodigy and claimed to have recollection of his past lives at the age of seven. He performed Avdhan, a memory retention and recollection test which gained him popularity but he later discouraged it in favour of his spiritual pursuits. He wrote large number of philosophical poetry including Atma Siddhi. He also wrote large number of letters and commentaries and translated some religious texts. He is best known for his teachings on Jainism and as a spiritual guide of Mahatma Gandhi.[1][2][3]

Life[edit]

Early life[edit]

Shrimad Rajchandra was born on 9 November 1867 (Kartik Sud Purnima, Vikram Samvat 1924), in Vavania, a port near Morbi (now in Gujarat, India). His mother, Devbai, was Svetambara Jain and his father, Ravjibhai Mehta, was Vaishnava Hindu. He was initiated in Vaishnavism by a Sadhu named Ramadasji.[4][5]

His birth name was Laxminandan. He was renamed Raichand by his parents when he was four years old. Later his name changed to Sanskrit form, Rajchandra. Shrimad, an honorific was added by his disciples after his death.[4]

Jati Smarana Gnan

He claimed the possession of the knowledge of his previous lives, Jati Smarana Gnan, in reply letter to a question from Padamshibhai, his friend in Bombay written in 1890. He described the incident to him,[5][6]

"When I was seven years old, an elderly man named Amichand, well-built, stout and sturdy, a neighbor in my village, suddenly died of a snake bite. I did not know what was death. I asked my grandfather as to what was the meaning of death. He tried to evade the reply and advised me to finish my meals. I insisted on a reply. At last he said: "To die means the separation of 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." Then I went secretly to the cremation ground and climbing a Babul tree I saw the whole process of creamation of the dead man's body and I felt that those who burnt him were cruel. A train of thoughts started on the nature of the death and as a result I could recollect my previous lives."

He had Jati Smarana Gnan at the age of seven in 1874. This incidence instilled his belief in rebirth and played a pivotal role in his perception of the world.[7] He described his spiritual journey in one of his poem. He wrote that he advanced on the path of spirituality he had already attained in his previous life. He claimed that he developed complete resignation and detachment to his mortal body and the rest of the world in 1897. He thanked the day of the experience in one of his poem written at the age of 30.[5]

He again experienced the same when he visited the fort in Junagadh. His experience influenced him to live religious life.[4]

Prodigy

He had an exceptional memory retentiveness and recollection. He joined the school at the age of seven and half but mastered the preliminaries in calculation in just a month. In two years, he completed the study of seven grades. At the age of eight, he started composing poems and it is believed that he had composed five thousand stanzas in the first year. He composed verse on Ramayana and Mahabharata at the age of nine. He gained maturity in thinking and reasoning by age of 10 started public speaking. He started writing articles in newspapers and magazine at the age of 11, such as in Buddhiprakash and won several prizes in essay writing competitions. He wrote 300 stanza poem on 'a watch' at the age of 12. In 1880, he went to Rajkot to study English but very little is known about his education there. By 1882, he had studied and mastered several subjects. He became popular as a young poet and referred as Kavi due to it. He occasionally visited the residence of the ruler of Kutch as a writer where is hand-writings were praised as best. He started attending his father's shop at age of 13. He had composed many poems on life of Ram and Krishna while sitting in the shop.[A][5][4][5][8]

Later life[edit]

Avdhan

Avdhan is a difficult test of attention and recollection in which a person attends multiple objects and activities at a time. In 1884, he came from Vavania to Morbi where he saw Shastri Shankarlal M. Bhatt performing eight Avdhan at a time. Gattulalji Maharaj was performing the same in Bombay. He saw the performance and quickly picked it up. Just two days after the performance, he performed it in front of his friends and later in public. Initially he performed 12 Avdhan in public but later he performed 16 Avdhan in audience of 2000 in Wadhvan which was praised in newspapers. He performed 52 Avdhan in Botad which included playing Chopat game with three players; playing cards with three players; playing chess; keeping count of the sound of a small gong; mentally compute arithmetic sums involving addition, subtraction, multiplication and division (4); keeping count of the movement of beads along a thread; solve eight new problems; compose verses on eight diverse topics selected at a time, and in the specific metre chosen by various members of the audience (16); rearrange 400 words of various languages spoken in random order including Greek, English, Sanskrit, Hindi, Arabic, Latin, Urdu, Gujarati, Marathi, Bengali, Maru, Jadeji, in the right order of subject, predicate (16); teach a student; contemplate various figures of speech (2); all at a time.[5]

He performed Shatavdhan (100 Avdhan) at Sir Framji Cowasji Institute in Bombay on 22 January 1887 which received him praise and publicity. He was awarded gold medals by institutes and public for his performances. Rajchandra believed that the publicity gained by such Avdhans may became obstacle in spiritual pursuits so he gradually discouraged the performances and stopped it completely by age of 20.[5][9] In September 1893, when in Chicago, Virchand Gandhi mentioned this feat at the Parliament of the World's Religions.[10]

Last years

In 1887 (Maha Sud 12, VS 1944), he married to Zabakben, daughter of Popatlal, the elder brother of Jagjivandas Mehta, a Zaveri merhant family. He then engaged in the pearls and diamond business.[5][11][6] They had four children. His in-laws wanted him to move to Bombay and establish business there but he was interested in his spiritual pursuits.[4]

He is well known as a spiritual guide of Mahatma Gandhi. They were introduced in Mumbai in 1891 and had various conversations through letters while Gandhi was in South Africa. Gandhi noted his impression of Shrimad Rajchandra in his autobiography, The Story of My Experiments with Truth, calling Raichandbhai his "guide and helper" and his "refuge… in moments of spiritual crisis". He had advised Gandhi to be patient and to study Hinduism deeply. His teaching directly influenced non-violence philosophy of Gandhi.[1][2][4]

He continued to stay in Gujarat with his disciples and avoided moving to Bombay. He spent a year in Idar. In 1900, he contracted an illness during his stay in Dharampur from which he never recovered. In 1901, he Shrimad Rajchandra with his mother and wife stayed at Aga Khan's Bungalow in Ahmedabad before moving to Wadhwan Camp. He died on 9 April 1901 (Chaitra Vad 5, VS 1957) in Rajkot (now in Gujarat) surrounded by his family, friends and disciples.[11][6][4]

Works[edit]

He wrote Stri Niti Bodhaka (The Nature of Ideal Moral Life for Women, 1884) in which he had advocated women's education as essential to national freedom. Sad-bodh-shatak (1884) is his work on ethical topics. Mokshamala (1887) is about self-liberation written in an easy style understandable to young people.[4] Due to delay in publication of Mokshamala, he composed Bhavna Bodh for his readers, It was a small book of fifty pages in which he gave instructions to cultivate 12 sentiments to lead the life of non-attachment. He had composed Namiraja, a work of five thousand verses explaining the nature of the four Purusharthas. In Shurvir Smarana (1885), he described the brave warriors of the past and compared them with their decedents who are not able to free India from British dominance.[5]

In Atma Siddhi, a Gujarati short verse poem, he propounds six fundamental truths on soul which are also known as satapada (six steps). He lays special emphasis on right perception (samyaktva), personal efforts and a true teacher’s guidance in the path to self-realisation. It is summary of his interpretation of Jainism.[5] It is adapted in musical bhajan form by Shefali Shah. It is translated in English several times; the first by J. L. Jaini in 1923. Its popular translation was published by Brahmachari Govardhandas in 1957.[4]

He wrote more than 900 letters which charts his spiritual journey and teachings to disciples.[6] He also edited a newspaper, Vairagya Vilas.[5]

Shrimad Rajchandra or Vachanamrut is collection of his complete works including letters and other writings.

His several poems are popular including "Apoorva Avsar Evo Kyare Aavshe..", "Mool Marg Sambhlo Jinno Re..", "Bina Nayan Pavey Nahi..", "Hey Prabhu! Hey Prabhu! Shu Kahu..", "Yam Niyam Sanjam Aap Kiyo..", "Ichche Chhe Je Jogijan..". "Apoorva Avsar Evo Kyare Aavshe.." and "Hey Prabhu! Hey Prabhu! Shu Kahu.." were Mahatma Gandhi's favourite bhajans and were included in the Ashram Bhajanavali.[12]

Translations and commentaries

He wrote 51 sayings on Samyati Dharma (the religion of monk) as described in Dasha Vaikalika Siddhanta (VS 1945). It is Gujarati rendering of the original Magadhi text. He wrote commentary on Moksha Siddhanta (VS 1953). He incompletely translated Chidanandji's Swarodayagyan. He wrote an incomplete commentary on Chauvisi of Anandghan. In his three letters (No. 393, 394 and 395 printed in "Shrimad Rajchandra"), he commented on one of the couplets of sixth out of the eight perspective, Ath Yogdrashtini Sajjhaya composed by Yashovijaya. He had wrote equivalent Gujarati translation of the first 100 verses of Atmanushasan. He wrote on three Bhavna or sentiments (Anitya, Asharan and a little on Sansara Bhavna) out of 12 Bhavna described in Shri Ratnakarand Shravakaachar. He completely translated Panchastikaya of Kundakunda. He had prepared an index on the Pragnavabodh (VS 1956).[5]

Legacy[edit]

Shrimad Rajchandra Vihar located at Idar, Gujarat

Rajchandra was inspired by works of Kundakunda and Digambara mystical tradition and in turn inspired several spiritual teachers and followers including people from all schools of Jainism. His followers sometimes consider his teaching as a new path of Jainism, neither Svetambara or Digambara, and revere him as saint. His path is sometimes referred as Raj Bhakta Marg, Kavipanth or Shrimadia which has mostly lay followers as was Rajchandra himself.[4] His teachings influenced Kanji Swami, Dada Bhagwan,[13] Rakesh Jhaveri, Saubhagbhai, Lalluji Maharaj (Laghuraj Swami), Atmanandji and several other religious figures. Some of them established temples and institutions in his dedication and to spread his teachings. Such temples often house his pictures and images based on photographs taken in a studio in various meditation postures.[4] Shrimad Rajchandra Vihar, the Jain temple complex dedicated to him was erected on the eastern hillock of Idar hill in Gujarat where he had spent significant time.[3]

Rajchandra’s teachings have been popular in the Jain diaspora communities; mostly in East Africa, the United Kingdom and North America.[4]

A special cover featuring him and Rabindranath Tagore was published by India Post on occasion of Gandhi Jayanti in 2002.[14]

In popular culture[edit]

A Gujarati play entitled Yugpurush: Mahatma na Mahatma depicting the spiritual relationship between Shrimad Rajchandra and Mahatma Gandhi produced in November 2016. The play was produced by Shrimad Rajchandra Mission, Dharampur.[15]

Further reading[edit]

Notes and references[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ as written by Shrimad in his Samucchaya Vayacharya.

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Mahatma Gandhi (1957). An Autobiography: The Story of My Experiments with Truth. Beacon Press. ISBN 978-0-606-30496-2. 
  2. ^ a b Thomas Weber (2 December 2004). Gandhi as Disciple and Mentor. Cambridge University Press. pp. 34–36. ISBN 978-1-139-45657-9. 
  3. ^ a b Anjali H. Desai (2007). India Guide Gujarat. India Guide Publications. p. 188. ISBN 978-0-9789517-0-2. 
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l Petit, Jérôme (2016). "Rājacandra". Jainpedia. Retrieved 9 January 2017. 
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l "Life of Shrimad Rajchandra". Computer Science Department, Colorado State University. Retrieved 8 January 2017. 
  6. ^ a b c d Shrimad Rajchandra; Jagmandar Lal Jaini (rai bahadur) (1964). The Atma-Siddhi: (or the Self-Realization) of Shrimad Rajchandra. Shrimad Rajchandra Gyan Pracharak Trust. 
  7. ^ Rajchandra, Shrimad. "Shrimad Rajchandra". Haathnondh-1 (6th edition): 801. Retrieved 24 December 2016. 
  8. ^ Jhaveri, Pujya Gurudevshri Rakeshbhai. Shrimad Rajchandra Saga of Spirituality (First ed.). India: Shrimad Rajchandra Mission Dharampur. pp. 14–30. ISBN 978-81-929141-1-4. 
  9. ^ Jhaveri, Pujya Gurudevshri Rakeshbhai. Saga of Spirituality (First ed.). India: Shrimad Rajchandra Mission Dharampur. pp. 40–52. ISBN 978-81-929141-1-4. 
  10. ^ Bhagu F. Karbhari; Vīrchand Rāghavajī Gāndhī (1911). The Jain Philosophy: Collected and Ed. by Baghu F. Karbhari. N.M. Tripathi & Company. pp. 116–120. 
  11. ^ a b Shrimad Rajchandra: A Pictorial Biography. Mahavir Seva Trust. 1990. 
  12. ^ Gandhi, Mahatma. Swar-Lipi-Mein-Ashram-Bhajanavali. Navjivan. ISBN 817229266X. 
  13. ^ Flügel, Peter (2005). King, Anna S.; Brockington, John, eds. Present Lord: Simandhara Svami and the Akram Vijnan Movement (PDF). The Intimate Other: Love Divine in the Indic Religions. New Delhi: Orient Longman. pp. 194–243. ISBN 9788125028017. 
  14. ^ "Shrimad Rajchandra Archives". Indian Stamp Ghar. 6 April 2014. Retrieved 8 January 2017. 
  15. ^ "Play looks at a scholar who shaped Mahatma Gandhi's spiritual journey". 16 November 2016. Retrieved 16 November 2016. 

External links[edit]