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Jain Vidya (2): Acharya Raichandji

Published: 11.01.2018

Birth and Initiation

Acharya Raichandji is the third acharya of terapanth. He was born on vikram samvat 1847 in Ravalia, a small town near Gogunda in Udaipur district of Mewar in an aristocrat family. His father's name was Shah Chataroji and mother was Kushalaji. In the very tender age of 11, he got initiated into ascetic life by swami Bhikhanji in Ravalia on V.S. 1857 on Chaitra Shukla Purnima.

Eloquent Speaker-

After initiation, in a very short span of time, Muni shri Raichandji was authorized in agamas and memorized hundreds of verses. He shuffled the scriptures with meaning several times. He was at hand in discussing religious concepts.

He was expert in delivering vyakhyana. He had memorized many vyakhyana and was well versed in delivering sermons (with songs). His was a man of melody and a voice of high resonance. It is said that when he used to deliver lectures, his voice reached the nearby villages.

Yuvacharya

Muni Bharmalji was a very trusted person of Acharya Bhiksu. After him, Raichandji won the trust of Acharya Bharmalji also. His suggestions were welcomed for the internal management of sangha. When Bharmalji grew old, he wished to declare his successor but there were many other monks equally eligible for acting as acharya, he could not reach to any final decision. Generally, in this regard of appointment, acharya does not need

to consult any other person in terapanth religious sect but Bharmalji did consult Muni Hemarajji and Khetasiji. Both welcomed his decision and said, 'be assured, Your choice will be accepted whole heartedly by all of us and for the future benefits of sangh direct us as you feel good and we will happily accept your directions. Raichandji is eligible to be enthronement of acharyaship. You can appoint him as your successor. Influenced and inspired by the thoughts of both, he wrote the letter of appointment. Writing two names in the letter, he wrote- all the monks and nuns (ascetics of tradition) must follow the directions of Khetasiji and Raichandji. The very young monk Jitamalji was sitting nearby. He requested Bharmalji, 'Gurudev! as you please, It is better to choose either of them. Kindly write one name.

Accepting his suggesticon, Acharya Bharmalji crossed out a name and only Raichandji's name remained. That letter, he read out before all the monks and Bharmalji was enthroned as a yuvacharya. It happened on Vaishak Krishna navami V.S. 1878 in Kelava.

Acharyaship-

Acharya Raichandji was enthroned as acharya on maagh krishna navami in Rajnagar. He was physically very fit and healthy. Good height and resplendant personality highly influenced the people. He himself never used medicines and inspired others also to remain away from medicines as much as possible. He believed that one, who survives on medicines is actually a weak person.

He formulated many newer desciplines in his span of Acharyaship and made many rules of etiquettes and courtesy in mutual relationships that were proved to be very beneficial for sangha in future. He also motivated people to do tapasya (austere practies). Many monks and nuns practiced tapasya during his region. The tapasya of remaining for 6-8 month only on the basis of drinking the watery upper layer of butter milk (aacha) are worth mentioning.

Control over Tobacco.

Some of monks in those days used tobacco. The monks coming from other sects and getting re-initiated in terapanth were more addicted to tobacco. Raichandji did not find this good for the sangha. He was cautious that this addiction should not spread in other members of the sangha. So he strongly opposed and controlled it. He never allowed the monks for getting into addiction and inspired the addicts that it is beneficial for them to try and come out of such habits soon. His strong passion made the whole sangha free from addiction. Today our lay followers can not even think of allowance of addiction in ascetic group.

Is there any Rajputa?

Raichandji had a very daring and courageous personality. He used to put his ideas in such an influencive manner that the person in front would not remain uninfluenced. It created a kind of respect in the people.

Once, he was crossing the jungle of mewar. Some of monks were walking at a distance. Those were the times of dacoits in practices. Dacoit thakurs were very much interested in such practices. Some of dacoits reached those monks walking ahead and said them to put down all their belongings.Monks said, 'we possess only clothes. We have nothing valuable. Till then a dacoit riding on horse moved forward and tried to snatch the blanket of a monk kept on his shoulders. Immediately he threw his blanket down and sat upon it. The dacoit rode down the horse tried to pull the blanket from the monk sitting upon it. Raichandji (Rishiraya) was observing everything from distance. From there itself, he asked in roaring voice- 'Are you all foolish or is there any Rajput also in this group?" His strong voice reached to the dacoits. The leader of dacoits came forward and asked, 'why are you in need of Rajputs?' Raichandji said with courage, 'I am not asking for the need. But I just want to know- is there any Rajput in your group or not?' because I have a firm belief that the character of Rajputs of our country has not fallen down to that extent that they can snatch the blanket even from sadhus.'

Listening to his powerful statement, the leader and other docoits felt ashamed of their deeds and asked forgiveness from acharyashri for their misdeed falling into his feet.

Then thakur requested, 'Maharaj! Some of our group members are on the road ahead. So permit our two persons to accompany you to avoid any mishap. They will drop you to next village and return."

'Nakheda tithV (An auspicious date) -

Rishiraya did not believe much in Muhurta etc.of astrology. One, who believes in self efforts, would not get trapped in astrology and such sciences. The day, when he was enthroned as Acharya was a nishiddha tithi, an inauspicious date. This date is believed to be unfair to do anything good. In mewar area, it is called as 'nakheda'. Somebody requested Raichandji, 'Oh Lord! today is nakheda day. Immediately Raichandji said, 'Nakheda (rejected) word when split, it becomes na kheda, which means no problem. So it is a great day, because we will have no problem in this. Thus, he was very bold and courageous.' He was very fond of journey. Thus, he travelled to many new areas. Terapanth was well established in those areas. He was the person to open this new vista of development in sangha. Bikaner and whole state became the travelling point of ascetics in his reign. He was the first acharya who reached Malwa. There he debated on Jain terapanth concept at many places. As a result, the eminent people of that area turned his follower. He was the first to visit Gujarat, Saurashtra and Kutch. No terapanthi sadhu travelled in those areas before him. He travelled on foot almost 1400 miles that is 2240 kilometers while covering the visit of the above said three areas.

Visit to Thali (Bikaner state)

The Thali of that time was completely different from todays' condition. Heavy food, thick clothings, livelihood on farming

and animal breeding, Cow dung plasted and floored houses, no modern means of communication, no rails, no roads were there. High dunes of sand made travelling people tired. That was the condition of that area in those days.

Then, most of the oswal families followed yati tradition. Acharya Bhikshu had also visited this areas but it was for some special cause. The travelling for the deliberation of dharma in this region was undertaken by Rishiraya for the first time. It is his efforts that today we have good terapanth community in Bikaner region.

Departure for this world

He had some respiratory problems but it was very slight to give special attention After relaxation or rest for a while, he used to recover. In the year 1908 (vikram samvat), he completed his chaturmas in Udaipur. After chaturmas, he went to Choti Ravalia village nealy). On magha krishna chaturdashi 14th day of lunar calendar), he felt heaviness in breathing while going out of village to get fresh. Being difficulty in breathing, he accomplished all his daily jobs. In the evening, after pratikramana, again he had an asthamatic attack and experienced difficulty in breathing. Monks made him to lie down but uneasiness was felt. He got up and in sitting position, he said 'I never had such a difficulty in breathing before. These were the last words. He left the mortal body.

Two hundred and fourty five people got initiated in terapanth sangha during his acharyaship. Among them 77 were monks and 168 were nuns (sadhvis).

Questions

  1. How many miles did Rishiraya travelled at a stretch?
  2. What modifications did Rishiraya brought in sangha?
  3. 'Is there any Rajputa" - what do Rishiraya mean by these words!
  4. What meaning did he derive of the word 'nakheda"?
Sources
Title: Jain Vidya (2)
Editor: Muni Sumermal (Sudarshan)
Translation: Dr. Samani Shashi Pragya
Publisher: Samana Sanskriti Sankaya, Jain Vishwa Bharati, Ladnun
20th 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. Acharya
  2. Acharya Bhikshu
  3. Agamas
  4. Bharmalji
  5. Bhikhanji
  6. Bhikshu
  7. Bhiksu
  8. Bikaner
  9. Body
  10. Chaturmas
  11. Dharma
  12. Gogunda
  13. Gujarat
  14. Kelava
  15. Krishna
  16. Malwa
  17. Mewar
  18. Muhurta
  19. Muni
  20. Oswal
  21. Pratikramana
  22. Raichandji
  23. Rajnagar
  24. Rajput
  25. Sadhu
  26. Sadhus
  27. Sadhvis
  28. Sangh
  29. Sangha
  30. Shukla
  31. Swami
  32. Tapasya
  33. Terapanth
  34. Terapanthi
  35. Tithi
  36. Udaipur
  37. Vikram Samvat
  38. Yati
  39. Yuvacharya
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