JVBL ►Celebrates Akshay Tritiya 2013 & 12 Years' Varshitapa by Samani Sheel Pragyaji ►Report

Published: 26.05.2013



is pleased to inform you of the following programme
in the auspicious presence of respected

Samani Pratibha Pragya & Samani Sheel Pragya


On Sunday 12 May 2013, Jain Vishwa Bharati (London) celebrated Akshaya Tritiya and Twelve years Varshitap of Respected Samani Sheelpragyaji at Whitchurch School hall, London.
The event started with the recitation of the auspicious Navkar Mahamantra by Samani Pratibha Pragyaji and Samani Sheel Pragyaji. this was followed by Samohik chanting of Bhagwan Rsibhnath Japa. With approximately 150 people repeating the mantra recited by Respected Samanijis, the entire hall reverberated with the chanting of 'Om Rsabhaya Namah'.
Sagar Malde with his melodious voice recited the Manglacharan extolling the various virtues and attributes of Lord Rsabhdeva such as - Avinashi, Ajar, Amar, Adbhuta, Atishaya, Siddha, Buddha, Jag Chintamani, Jag Guru, etc.
Vinodbhai Kapashi, President of Mahaveer Foundation, briefly explained the importance of Akshaya Tritiya and humbly did anumodan to Samani Sheel Pragyaji for doing Varshitapa for 12 continuous years and embarking on the 13th year. He said he prays to Sashan Deva to give Samaniji strength to carry on with her tapa. Pravinbhai Mehta then mentioned that the entire London sangh was very fortunate to have the Samanijis and even more fortunate to have an opportunity to do parnu to Respected Samani Sheel Pragyaji on her inspiring tapa.
Sudhaben Kapashi sang a beautiful Stavan in Gujrati she composed extolling the virtues of tapa.
Arti Bhandari and her sister sang a beautiful Stavan and Respected Samani Pratibha Pragyaji said that everyone was drowned in ecstasy hearing the praises of The Lord and therefore requested her to sing one more Stavan.
On behalf of His Holiness Gurudeva Acharya Mahashraman, Smt. Manju Sethia recited his message. Gurudeva gave his blessings to Samani Sheel Pragyaji for completing 12 years of Varshitap and said that she has made such a difficult tapa seem as simple as 'daal, roti'. He gave his best wishes to Samani Sheel Pragyaji on her foreign trip and blessed her to carry on with her sadhna and good work with the community in London and be of assistance to Samani Pratibha Pragyaji.
Smt. Pushpa Banthia recited the message on behalf of Sadhvi Pramukhaji who is the head of all the Sadhvijis and Samanijis of the Terapanth sect. She mentioned that Samani Sheel Pragyaji is not only doing tapa for the past 12 years, but also dhyan, japa, swadhyaya, yatra and providing services to all the nuns with dedication and serenity. In this day and age, to perform such tapa with complete peace of mind is indeed remarkable. On this occasion your Parna will be in London in the presence of Samani Pratibha Pragyaji and may you achieve Pratibha in your continuing tapa.
Various ladies then joined Respected Samanijis in reciting Rsibh Stuti embedded with mantras.
To show her appreciation, Samani Pratibha Pragyaji gifted Samani Sheel Pragyaji with photo of Parsvanath and Saraswati and few items which would be useful in their daily lives such as rosary to Samani Sheel Pragyaji.
Rajeev Shah gave a brief introduction to Samani Sheel Pragyaji who has MA in Sanskrit and Art of Living and has been doing Pansathiya Yantra since the past many years, with her birthday being on 17 May, Risabh and Yash sang Happy Birthday to Samaniji.
Samani Sheel Pragyaji addressed the audience and explained that Akshaya Tritiya festival is a historic, Mangalik, pure and spiritual festival of the Jain tradition. We are paying reverence to Bhagwan Rsiabh as all his sadhana, tapa, sanyam, aradhana, Sanskriti are Akshyay. This festival is important to many other traditions too. Bhagwan Rsiabh had fasted for 400 days and after his Antray karma were annihiltated, this day commemorates the ultimate donation by way of food his great grandson gave to break the Lords fast. This festival signifies fasting, restraint and spiritual effort. Anyone who practises penance, purifies their life. What is penance? Penance is mental and physical restraint and with peace of mind becomes satyam, sivam and sundaram. We do not need to disheartened that we cannot embark on difficult penances, but we all can strive to do small penances and gradually progress further. Too much production of lactic acid in the body causes diseases. Penance regulates this production of lactic acid and prevents diseases from arising. When Samani Sheel Pragyaji embarked on her first Varshitap, she confessed that it would not be right to say that she did not get any negative thoughts, but at most two or three times. This made her think that why not lead a life doing tapa and sadhana to prevent negative thoughts from arising at all times. Gurudeva Acharya Tulsi blessed her to carry on doing the tapa as long as she could. This blessing from Gurudeva was a turning point of her life. She did MasKhaman (fasting for 30 days) and then during her 3rd Varshitapa she could not carry on for some time. She contemplated at thought that whilst fasting, her mind is very peaceful, serene with pure thoughts and decided that she should carry on with her fasts. Her own personal experience is that through tapa one's internal disposition becomes pure and accordingly conduct becomes pure. Gurudeva Acharya Shramana mentioned to her that when Gurudeva Acharya Tulsi has blessed you to carry on as long as you can, who am I to curtail you and therefore carry on with your sadhana. She has gained inner strength and support from her religious community. She concluded that everyone needs some illumination to remove darkness from their life, needs a star to dispel darkness and makes one life bright and spiritual. She was grateful to Samani Pratibha Pragya and wished her all the best for her academic pursuits.
Mr. Lalit Chhajed gave a brief overview of the Acharya Tulsi Centenary celebration and how through his media company intends to involve the global community for this celebration.

Samani Pratibha Pragyaji requested all to recite 'Rsiabh Niranjan Saab Dukh Bhanjan'. She welcomed Samani Sheel Pragyaji as a tapasvi Samani in their order. She recited a wonderful poem congratulating her on the highest tapa to date in their order. Samani Pratibha Pragyaji has known Samani Sheel Pragyaji for the past 30 years. She has special kind of seva for sadhvijis. Samani Sheel Pragyaji has seva bhavana, simple living and high thinking. She is dedicated to penance and japa and her sadhana is speaking through her face and behaviour. Samani Pratibha Pragyaji acknowledge that she is thankful to Gurudeva Acharya Mahashraman to send Samani Sheel Pragyaji for her seva. She described in detail the history behind Akshyaya Tritiya whereby Lord Rsibhdeva did parnu after 400 days by his great grandson Prince Shreyans kumar. The devas rejoiced by recitingd "Aho Danam".

She encouraged everyone to perform some fasts be it for one, two or three hours. Acharya Mahapragya, an open minded personality, polyglot of Prakrit and Sanskrit, mentioned that there are many paths one can travel through. One can do a years tapa of silence (e.g. I will observe silence for 1 hour daily for a whole year) or will do contemplative study of sutra (every day 1 page ie varshitap of swadhyaya) or everyday one can meditate for 30 mins daily for a whole year.

She gave her own personal experience whereby she was diagnosed with rheumatic fever and advised to take steroids. She though she didn't want to be dependent on medicines life long and did nine days fasts with different items (first set of 9 days only water, then only juice, etc) and after about 36 days her pains and aches were cured. This should be a source of inspiration to all to embark on some sort of tapa.

Gabriela, who is a student of SOAS, told the audience that about a year ago she met with a critical accident whereby she almost lost her life. She realised the fragility of human existence. It made her think who she is, what's the purpose of her life, her reason for being here etc. However, she was fortunate enough to meet Samani Pratibha Pragyaji who introduced her to spiritual side of existence and began to meditate with Samaniji. Being raised in the western world which values in things that brings us way from our real selves, she found a nectar in meditation. For her meditation has been extremely important because it has brought her closer to realising who she is, why is she here and she thinks it would be really beneficial for everybody to have a small encounter with themselves through meditative practises.
Rajeshbhai Jain finally gave a vote of thanks to Samani Pratibha Pragyaji who inspite of her intense academic schedule takes time very Sunday to give discourses to the London community. He mentioned that we should consider ourselves fortunate to anyone who shows us the right path and therefore we should all be immensely grateful to Respected Samanijis. All JVB activities are run voluntarily and without any fees or charges so he encouraged all to participate in the various activities organised by JVB London. As her name indicates, Samani Pratibha Pragya has brilliance, power, radiance and all should experience that. As Samani Sheel Pragyaji's name indicates, she is full of modesty, humility, politeness. He mentioned some people break records and others get broken. Samani Sheel Pragyaji is one who certainly has broken her own record for the past 12 consecutive years through her penance and humility. He thanked Mahaveer Foundation for enabling JVB London to host activities every Sunday. The Jain community should unite with one another and ensure that the glory of Jainism benefits one and all. He thanked the Marwadi community for providing the meals and hosting the parna and to Hasubhai Vora for coordinating this festival.
Finally, Respected Samanijis recited the Mangal Path followed by dinner sponsored by the Marwadi sangha.
Rajeev Shah, who was the Master of Ceremony thanked everyone for attending the event and mentioned that one a I message we can all take away is that the more we learn to give fix* tk or restrain, the more benefits we accrue.

Parana (fast breaking) Ceremony on Akshav Tritiya (13 May 2013)


There is a great importance given to 'Parana ceremony' on auspicious day of Akshay Tritiya. A big group of London Jain Samaj was present with full devotion at the residence of Smt. Sayerji Choraria to take advantage of this rare occasion of twelfth varshitap parana. The programe started with Bhaktamar path and jap and at 9: 30 people personally offered 'ikshuras' to Samani Sheel Pragyaji for parana. Samani Pratibha Pragya spoke on the importance of 'Daan' offering and as great cultural heritage of India. Smt. Sayerji experessed her heart-felt gratitude to Gurudev Mahashramanji and Samanjijs for this great opportunity given to her family. The programme concluded with Mangalpath and refreshment.


Hasu J. Vora
JVB London
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  1. Acharya
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  5. Akshay Tritiya
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