28.10.2013►VRG Gandhi ►Chicago Jains Celebrated his 150th Birth Anniversary

Posted: 31.10.2013

Chicago Jains Celebrated 150th Birth Anniversary of Jain Scholar Shri Virchand Raghavji Gandhi


2013.10.28 ►Chicago ►Virchand Raghavji Gandhi In the celebration of life of an extra ordinary Jain scholar who brought Jainism to the attention of the western world 120 years ago, also a super patriot and ambassador of India, Jain Society of Chicago arranged various programs.

It was a memorable day of Sept 11, 1893, the Columbus hall of Art Institute of Chicago was overflowing with more than 3000 delegates of different nations and religions. It was first such conference ever organized in the history of mankind for leaders of different faiths from around the world. Two young men among them dressed in oriental rob and white turban, a world famous Shri Swami Vivekananda who represented Hinduism and Shri Virchand Raghavji Gandhi arrived to represent Jains. Both these hero made such an impact at Parliament and attracted main streams of western part of the world to explore on Hinduism and Jainism.

Co-incidentally, when Vishwa Hindu Parishad of America, Chicago Chapter celebrated historic event of 150th Birth Anniversary of Swami Vivekananda at Jain Center of Chicago, on Saturday, 28, 2013, Chicago Jains also celebrated Sri Virchand Gandhi’s 150th Birth Anniversary at Jain Center where his bust has been established in his memory of his presence at World Parliament 1893.

2013.10.28 ►Chicago Jains celebrated 150th Birth Anniversary of Jain Scholar Shri Virchand Raghavji Gandhi 2

 

Among prominent guest, H H Chidanand Saraswatiji, Acharya Lokesh Muniji and Sadhavi Bhagavatiji attended this program at Jain Center.

On this auspicious occasion, HH Swami Chidanand Saraswati, President and spiritual head of the Parmarth Niketan Ashram in Rishikesh, India, started the commemorative celebration by offering the flowers and garlanding the status of Sri Virchandji Gandhi in presence of Aacharya Lokesh muniji, Sadhvi Bhagavati of Parmarth Niketan and members and leaders of Jain Society.

Chief Guest, HH Acharya Dr. Lokesh Muni, a founder of "Ahimsa Vishwa Bharti" Delhi, India said that, today Virchand Gandhi is still commemorated as “the 1st Jain to land in America”, who explained Jainism in very coherent manner and played a pioneer role in establishing Jain religion as ancient vibrant and world religion.

 

2013.10.28 ►Chicago Jains celebrated 150th Birth Anniversary of Jain Scholar Shri Virchand Raghavji Gandhi

Photo: From left:
Dilip Shah, Himanshu Jain, Sunil Shah, Tejas Shah, Swami Chidanand Saraswati, Aacharya Lokesh Muniji, Sadhvi Bhagawati, Atul Shah, Dharmi Shah, Hemant Shah, Sunil Jain and Sanjay Shah


Hemant Shah, JAINA Vice President-Midwest and a Member of proposed VRG Chair committee at Claremont Lincoln University in California, mentioned that, recently a delegation of Jains from the US in the presence of Aacharya Lokesh muniji, went to India to meet with the Prime Minister Shri Man Mohan Singh on the occasion of Government of India launching a yearlong commemorative celebration for the 150th anniversary of Shri Virchand Raghavi Ji Gandhi.

Earlier Lokesh Muniji had presented to the Prime Minister a written copy of a proposal - request from Claremont Lincoln University to setup a Chair for Peace and Non-Violence in honor of Shri V R Gandhi at Claremont Lincoln University just as the Government of India had setup a similar chair for Hindu studies at University of Chicago in the honor of Swami Vivekananda’s 150th birth anniversary.

Having lived the first 25 years of life in a traditional Western way, graduated from Stanford University, Sadhavi Bhagawati, also mentioned that Virchandji was great exponent with impartial ideology of Ahimsa and Anekantvada.

In a separate program of Jain Mela, in August 2013, Jain Society made a special presentation focusing the biography of this Jain Scholar Sri Virchandji Gandhi.

Virachand Gandhi (25 August 1864 - 7 August 1901) was born in Mahuva, Gujarat, India. A polyglot who reputedly spoke fourteen languages, Gandhi was educated as a lawyer. In 1885, at the age of 21, he became the first honorary secretary of the Jain Association of India. During his term, he fought against a tax being levied by the ruler of Gujarat on pilgrims visiting Mount Shatrunjay, Palitana. Gandhi also fought to close a pig slaughterhouse that had been started in 1891 close to Mount Sametshikhar, a holy place of Jain pilgrimage.

He propagated the relevance of Jain tenets and Mahavira's message of non-violence. In total, he delivered about 535 speeches on Jainism, other religions, and social and cultural lives in India, all of which received wide publication. He was invited two more times, first in 1897 and then in 1899 to the West. He was awarded various medals for his lectures.

He was a contemporary to Swami Vivekanand, who deeply admired him. Vivekananda, impressed with his adherence to vegetarianism in the face of the cold Chicago. Herbert Warren, who studied Jainism under him and adopted the Jain religion, published a book on his lectures titled Herbert Warren's Jainism.

The Indian government also issued a postage stamp in 2009, depicting Virchand Gandhi's photo.


For further information, please contact:

Hemant Shah, Bartlett, IL
630-933-8311, hemantil@yahoo.com

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