Evolution of Sthanakavasi and Terapantha Sect [3.0] Ācārya Bhikşu

Posted: 23.05.2008
Updated on: 06.08.2008

Evolution of Sthānakavāsi and Terāpantha Sect

3.0 Ācārya Bhikşu

Bhikhanji was born in A.D. 1726. His father’s name was Shah Baluji and mother’s name was Dipabai. He became a Sthānakavāsi muni in A.D. 1751 and founded Terāpantha sect in A.D. 1760. He expired in A.D. 1803.

In his early days as a householder, he paid reverence to idol-worshipping sect, but after some time, he left them complaining that they led a degenerated life in contravention to monastic rules. Leaving them, Bhikhana began to pay homage to the Sthānakavāsi ascetics. The Sthānakavāsis of Marwar held Ācārya Raghunāthji who was the head of the Sthānakavāsi Sangha in high esteem. According to a story current among the people of Marwar, Raghunāthji told Bhikhanji, that the aspirant should be fully qualified to receive Dikşā and that he was not versed in Jaina scriptures in order to grasp the spirit of lord Mahāvīra’s teachings and he should pursue religious studies for some time before his request for ordination could be granted. It was not a regular and systematic study of the scripts on repeatedly requesting, Raghunāthji took pity and admitted him in the samgha. He observed the conduct of the monks in the observance of certain monastic rules and found fault with their food habits. Taking courage, he criticized Raghunāthji and the monks for their loose conduct. He even began to publicly criticize them for their laxity in conduct.

Raghunāthji initiated Bhikhanji. He remained with his guru for about eight years but Bhikhanji found that the monks were not living their lives according to the code and were not preaching the principles of Jainism correctly. He discussed the matter with Raghunāthji seriously, but the latter did not pay proper attention and due consideration to the request of Bhikhanji. He put forward the excuse that as it was the Duşama Kāla and Pancama āra. It is impossible to lead life of a true monk. Bhikhanji, unsatisfied with the answer, left his Guru, in the town of Bagdi in Marwar State (Rajasthan).

Agreeing with Lonkā, who protested against the religious practice of offering worship to the images, Bhikşu contented that the Ācāryas of the middle ages wrote commentaries in which they interpolated the principles of image worship and devotional religion as a means of self purification on the path of salvation. The Acaryas also interpolated in the commentaries their own views on benevolence emphasizing the worth of charity and social service as indispensable acts for the accumulation of punya or merit leading to a higher spiritual life. Bhikhana asserted that charity and social service are not helpful to the path of freedom.

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