The Quest for the Royal Road: About Ourselves and Others

Published: 13.03.2016

Question

What were your ideas about the progress of the Sangh when you became the Acharya and what form did they take during the later period?

Answer

At that time, I did not have the scope to give a free rein to may ideas and think of as many possibilities as now. My sphere of functioning was limited and I thought also within that limit. Respected Kalugani told me in his last moments, "This Sangh is now in your hands. It is your responsibility to take good care of it." To me, that was the limit within which I had to perform my duty. Therefore, I kept myself limited to that work. Our Dharma Sangh had been wel-organised right from the beginning. Hence, I had not thought about introducing any new things in it. One thing about which I was particular was that on account of any addition or alteration made by me the functioning of the Sangh should not become different from what it was under my preceding Acharyas.

The atmosphere in those days was different. Standards were different. Therefore, there was no scope for thinking or doing anything new. We regarded the education we were given as sufficient. We studied Bhikshushabdanu- shasan for grammar, Shantinath Mahakavya for poetry and Shaddarshanasamuchchaya for philosophy and felt we had learnt a great deal. Of course, something had to be thought about the education of our nuns, for which respected Kalugani had indicated something to me. Therefore, I was particularly keen about their education. I started work in that field without losing any time.

It was not our aim to introduce any new process of sadhna. We were satisfied with our routine of ascetic life. I had thought that the progress of the Sangh was unique and it could not be found anywhere else. Those were the times when faith was a dominant factor. The atmosphere around us was inspired by that faith. We did not think about any far-fetched matter nor heard about them. However, as I advanced a little from that stage, I felt that our situation was flexible. I felt that our way of teaching was ancient and new avenues were not opening for Sadhana. These thoughts came to my mind after about five to seven years after accepting the responsibility of the acharya of the Sangh. By that time, opposition was beginning to be raised against the Terapanth Sangh. This opposition provided some inspiration and I looked beyond our set limits. I was irked by the deficiency in education we were imparting. Some other persons also discussed about the new possibilities. By 2000 Vikrami Samvat (1944) A.D. I was lost in my world of imagination.

One day, I invited a few monks and said, "Times have changed so much and we are still where we were. There is not a single monk among us who can give a discourse in correct Hindi, who can write or speak in Sanskrit and can express his views in any debate. Can I imagine that one of you would be able to become a poet, speaker or a writer? Is there any scope for intellectual development in our Sangh?"

They were greatly impressed by what I said. After that, some monks made progress in certain fields. They progressed so fast that people found it amazing.

As time passed, I dwelt more and more in imagination. I thought about a number of things including shaping myself, expanding the field of my study, educating monks and nuns, doing creative writing, propagating and presenting Jain philosophy in modern terms, compilation of the agamas, establishing moral values in society, new directions, creating interest in study, providing leadership to the nuns, developing new fields for study, going deep into spiritualism, etc.

I had some ideas about the internal management of the Sangh too. Some of those ideas were implemented straight away and some were gradually introduced. Our fourth Acharya Shrimad Jayacharya had made many reforms in that direction. Still, somethings have to happen in particular age. I am in favour of accepting contemporary values while keeping intact the set limits of the Sangh. Accordingly, I prepared an outline of the tasks I had to perform and I got full support and co-operation of Muni Maganlalji Swami in putting those ideas into practice. I do not know whether he belonged to the new age or old, but he always gave due importance to my ideas that belong to the present age. All my colleagues in the Dharma Sangh also gave me their full co-operation.

Question

Have all your ideas been fulfilled during these four decades since you became the Acharya? If not, what still remains to be done?

Answer

I can say that all my ideas have been fulfilled if I do not cherish any new ideas. But new ideas thrust themselves even before one idea is implemented. The chain becomes so long that every halt in my thought process seems incomplete. I have dreamt a great deal in my life. Some of my daydreams were such that I had never imagined that they would ever become a reality. But due to favourable circumstances, those ideas were successful, which was beyond my imagination. Even now, I am cherishing new dreams and I feel that those dreams are slowly revealing the path before me. My important dreams at the moment are:

I want to see our Sadhu Sangh devoted to yoga, that is, to sadhana. This does not mean that education, literary activities, religious awakening, etc. would be interrupted. But these activities are not the objective but the means to attain the objectives of life. The ultimate aim of life is equanimity and samadhi. The loss of faith in the present age is likely to affect the Sadhu Sangh as well. Scriptures and gurus are the centres of faith. Unflinching faith in spirituality is needed more even than having faith in scriptures and gurus. The lack of spiritual faith indicates a very great misfortune. From that point of view, I was to breathe into our Dharma Sangh spiritualism. We are studying the agamas also in this context. Right now, many secrets of spiritualism are being revealed through the thorough study of the acharanga. The day my dream of spiritual development becomes a reality, I shall feel gratified.

It is also my dream to see all old and new forms of education develop in our Sangh. At the same time, I also wish that some scholars from the shravakas are able to represent Jain philosophy. I have also dreamt of an intermediary third category between the asceties and the shravakas. I expect to fulfil these dreams with my own endeavour and also co-operation from my well-wishers.

Question

You have faced many difficulties in implementing your plans. How have you reacted in such a situation?

Answer

I have passed through many favourable and unfavourable situations in my life. Whenever I am faced with an adverse situation, and when it becomes more terrible, I do feel a certain weight on my mind for a few moments. I feel, I am standing in the dark as it were. But that mental state does not persist for long. Very soon that darkness turns into light which shows me the way. I prepare myself to fight against such a situation.

I have given a new definition of life on the basis of my past experiences. According to that definition, life is that in which one faces new conflicts and new obstacles and he marches ahead, battling against them. "A moment of brightness, not prolonged haziness is the highest happiness."[1] These words always ring in my ears. That is why I am not interested in leading an inactive life. I prepare a clear outline of the experiments and processes involved in the implementation of my plans. I also consult my colleagues. I have many expectations from those colleagues who are given to serious thinking. In my moments of conflict, my greatest strength is the memory of my respected guru Kaluganiji. It shows me a new path, gives me fresh inspiration and strength and keeping my mental equilibrium, I proceed, acquiring new experiences as I pass through difficult situations.

Question

What do you think about the future of your Dharma Sangh?

Answer

The future of my Dhanua Sangh appears bright to me. The main reason why the future of the Dharma Sangh is bright is that we are not rigid in our attitudes. We accept both the high tide as well as the low tide. Matter and its properties, eternal and temporal, permanence and change—when all these are thoroughly understood, they find acceptance in every age. I do agree that the coming age is going to be very difficult. But our Sangh has got over difficulties times without number. That is why I am confident about the future. I think the foundation of our Sangh had been laid by a highly competent architect at some auspicious time. Its foundation is so strong that it can never shake. The Sangh had faced trying situations many a times, when some people feared that it may crumble. But those situations could bring it no harm and they passed. We may have to face extremely hard times in future. We must keep on trying to get over any difficulty that may come our way and work hard to enhance the dignity of the Dharma Sangh.

Question

The celebration of your sixtieth birthday during the year of the great celebration of Bhagwan Mahavira's nirvana would bring new awakening in society. What do you think about it?

Answer

It is not in anyone's hands on brings new awakening in society. Everyone working at the social level thinks that he would change the society. But it is not easily done. So many great man have celebrated their sixtieth birthdays. Have they been able to shape the society the way they wanted?

I too have many ideas about changing social values and establishing right criteria. I too wish to give a new direction to the society accordingly. On the basis of whatever I have learnt during these sixty years of my life, I am entering the seventh decade of my life, with a firm resolve to contribute my utmost for elevating the spiritual awareness among the monks and the shravakas.

Question

What are the factors that have kept the spirit of youthfulness in your thoughts, words and actions intact?

Answer

I do not know to what that credit should go. If I mention only one thing, it would not be the full answer to the question. In my view, the greatest credit should be given to my respected guru Kaluganiji, who shaped me right from the beginning. I think whatever I have in my life has been granted by him. He trained me to lead a balanced life. Because I have avoided being too happy or too sad, working too much and resting too much and such extremes, I feel myself youthful even today.

Another factor which has helped me to maintain myself in this state is the yogic studies for over 25 or 30 years. Yogasanas, restrained diet, long travels and experience gained through them, are responsible for my physical and mental health in my view.

I would like to give part of the credit to the monks and the nins who have been with me. They keep me so much engaged in work that I am never without something to do. An active person can remain healthy and cheerful. With that faith, I am always engaged in some constructive activity and feel happy and cheerful in nature in return.

I would like to wind up this subject by referring to one more thing, that is, the sense of contentment. I desire to have that feeling of contentment to the maximum extent. I do agree that the middle state between too much hope and too much disappointment is the real secret of having a contented mind. Many other factors operating at individual and social levels, can also be included in the above-mentioned statements.

Question

What message would you like to give to the Dharms Sangh and to the country on the occasion of your sixtieth birthday?

Answer

The fist thing in my message is that old age and senility are two different states. That is old age should not be interpreted as senility. What is regarded as senility makes man inactive. Age and senility are not connected with each other. We must recognise this fact and breathe freshness into our life by seeking new openings.

The second point in my message is to stick to restrained diet. It has been experienced that restriction of diet is the true friend of life. I have practised this and I am still doing it. I am fully convinced that the person who lives by this rule benefits in several ways.

The third point is about putting our time to good use. I have spent lot of my time beneficially. It is my ardent wish that each moment of my time should be spent in doing something good. Monks and nuns have changed considerably in this matter. So far, I have found this lacking among the shravakas. I would exhort them to remember Bhagwan Mahavira's words about not wasting time and learn to make the best use of their time.

In my message to the country I would like to say that every individual should resolve to determine his own way of life. Shaping the world, according to ideals, is hoping for too much. It is an illusion. Let this illusion be dispelled and an atmosphere be created by reforming the individual.

In the context of the increasing violence in the country, this is the most opportune time to instill faith in non­violence. Non-violence is the only thing which contains within itself the possibilities of happiness and welfare of the whole world. Many problems of our age can be automatically solved by establishing the values of non­violence and non-possession in society. In brief, my message would be to wish that people wake up and engage themselves in working for raising the level of moral values.

Footnotes
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Sources

Title: The Quest for the Royal Road
Authors:
Acharya Tulsi
Publisher: Adarsh Sahitya Sangh
Edition: 2013
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Page glossary
Some texts contain  footnotes  and  glossary  entries. To distinguish between them, the links have different colors.
  1. Acharanga
  2. Acharya
  3. Acharyas
  4. Agamas
  5. Dharma
  6. Equanimity
  7. Guru
  8. Jain Philosophy
  9. Jayacharya
  10. Kalugani
  11. Muni
  12. Nirvana
  13. Non-violence
  14. Sadhana
  15. Sadhna
  16. Sadhu
  17. Samadhi
  18. Sangh
  19. Sanskrit
  20. Shantinath
  21. Shravakas
  22. Swami
  23. Terapanth
  24. Violence
  25. Yoga
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