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Acharya Shree Tulsi - A Legend Of Humanity: Monkhood

Published: 20.12.2013
Updated: 20.12.2013

Permission for Diksha

When Tulsi was nine years old, Acharya Shree Kalugani came to visit his home town, Ladnun. The moment Tulsi saw Acharya Shree Kalugani, he was spellbound and resolved to become his disciple. Tulsi was mesmerized by his divine presence. He sought the permission of his family to be initiated as a monk. So he went to his mother and expressed his feelings to her. Tulsi's mother did not reply and sent him to his eldest brother, Mohanlal. He thought about it and refused to accept Tulsi's decision.

Spiritual Values

From childhood, Acharya Tulsi was inculcated with religious values. His main support was his mother. Though she was not formally educated, she played a pivotal role in shaping his values. She would rise early in the morning, visit monks and nuns, wait for them patiently until they arrived and offer them alms. She would also relay what she had learned in sermons back to the young Tulsi, playing a lead role in shaping his religious values.

Forging His Path

Tulsi's elder brother, Muni Champalal, himself a monk, was well aware of Tulsi's strong, persistent desire to live the life of an ascetic. Tulsi had constantly expressed these feelings at a very early age. This led Muni Champalal to suggest Tulsi to take two resolutions ahead of any initiation. Tulsi felt very fortunate to have the blessings of his elder brother whom he deeply respected. He was so motivated that he stood up in the midst of Acharya Kalugani's sermons and declared in front of the large assembly:

"Gurudev! I am ready to take the lifetime oath. I commit to never marry and I shall not travel for commercial purposes."

Everyone was astonished to witness the firm resolve displayed by this boy. Mohanlal, his elder brother, was spellbound because by taking these resolutions, Tulsi had excluded the possibility of marriage from his future. Even Kalugani was taken aback that this young boy was so forthright and determined to pursue his vision, undeterred by the large audience. For a young boy, his maturity and dedication to pursue the monkhood were readily apparent; he was very mature for his age. Despite Tulsi's sincerity and enthusiasm, Kalugani was not ready to grant his approval. He suggested that young Tulsi contemplate deeply before making such a definitive decision.

Tulsi was not ready to take 'no' for an answer. He had made up his mind. He stood in the assembly and boldly recited the two resolutions.

The events of this day had paved the way for Tulsi to commence the life of a monk. When Mohanlal observed that Tulsi remained firm in his decision, he gave his approval to follow his desire to pursue the life of an ascetic.

The Night before His Initiation

After securing his brother's permission, Tulsi could feel his life's goal coming closer. He was keen to begin his life as a monk. Finally the last night at his home came. That night, as Tulsi was asleep, Mohanlal came; sat by him, and woke him up.

Mohanlal reminded Tulsi that he was to become a monk and he was to undergo the rigors of a monk's life.

"The life of a monk," Mohanlal said seriously, "is full of hardships. It will be very tough for you to live the life of an ascetic at such a young age. You never know when you will get food or go hungry, or when you will get water or go thirsty."

To this Tulsi replied, "I have considered my decision thoroughly and I am ready to accept the path of spiritual practice - I am ready to take diksha (initiation)."

Mohanlal had full confidence in Tulsi and his decision; but was compelled to test him one last time.

"Tulsi! I trust you, but sometimes difficult situations make us weak." He insisted Tulsi to keep a hundred rupee note with him and told him to use it whenever he would experience hardship.

Seeing the money Tulsi protested, "My dear brother, this is a possession, and a monk cannot keep money."

Mohanlal chose to take the test a step further. He said, "You are absolutely right. A monk cannot keep money with him, but the idea of money is just a state of mind. What is this note but a piece of paper? You can keep it inside a book".

Hearing this, Tulsi replied with a smile, "True, the note is simply a piece of paper, however it holds the value of one hundred rupees and is thus a possession, and I cannot keep it".

Mohanlal realized that his efforts to dissuade Tulsi were futile and he knew the boy was firm in his decision. Mohanlal finally had the assurance that his younger brother was making the right choice and thus was comfortable in supporting Tulsi's decision.

Diksha and Early Life as a Monk

The required waiting period passed quickly. On December 5th, 1925 with great fanfare Muni Tulsi - was initiated into the Terapanth sect by Acharya Kalugani. He was just 11 years old.

During his diksha (initiation) he took a lifelong pledge to observe the five mahavrat (great vows) of Jainism:

  • Ahimsa - to live a non-violent (physical, mental and verbal) life
  • Truth - to always speak the truth
  • Non-stealing - never to take anything without approval of the owner
  • Celibacy - to abstain from contact with opposite gender
  • Non-possession - not to keep any possessions like money etc.

Kalugani guided Muni Tulsi to live his new life and follow these vows with absolute awareness. Acharya Kalugani encouraged him to be fully aware and focused always, "Move not a step without consciousness, lest an insect can be hurt by your feet, monitor each word that you utter, lest it should offend an individual. While you are taking your meals, be cautious." These were formative lessons for Muni Tulsi.

Muni Tulsi had demonstrated an outstanding personality as well as keen intelligence. He had a photographic memory which enabled him to recall information heard or read just once. Recognizing his genius, Acharya Kalugani focused holistically on the development of Muni Tulsi's personality and moulded young Tulsi into a learned, scholarly and mature young monk.

Muni Tulsi was a dedicated student and would precisely follow all instructions put before him by Acharya Kalugani. Under the guidance of his Gurudev he learned Sanskrit, Prakrit and other ancient languages and memorized thousands of verses in their original form.

Acharya Kalugani also taught Tulsi to write and compose verses of his own creation.

He studied many Jain scriptures as well as Jain philosophy. He learned to discipline his mind through the spiritual practices of chanting (Jap), fasting (tap), yoga and meditation.
Muni Tulsi grew into a man of high excellence. In this formative time he was conscientious, disciplined and followed a strict routine. He stood out as a unique role model for one's own spiritual progress.

Proclamation of a Successor

During the holy period of Chaturmas[1] Acharya Kalugani stayed in a small village named Gangapur, in the Bhilwara district of Rajasthan. His health was failing and thus he was actively contemplating in selecting and announcing his successor. In the Terapanth sect, only the existing Acharya can nominate his successor as the next Acharya. All disciples and followers accept and respect this selection without any question.

The situation gave a sense of urgency to plan for the future of the Terapanth order. In the early morning of August 21st, 1936, Kalugani wrote the nomination letter selecting his successor. The monks were called immediately by Acharya Kalugani. Muni Maganlal, a senior monk of the order, read the selection letter to the assembly. The name announced as Yuvacharya (successor), was the 22 years old young visionary monk - Muni Tulsi.

Muni Tulsi never imagined that he would be chosen to shoulder such great responsibilities. He was always focused in his studies and had no experience in administration. Nonetheless, Acharya Shree Kalugani saw extraordinary qualities in Muni Tulsi which led to his selection among many well qualified disciples. After the announcement, Acharya Kalugani entrusted Muni Tulsi by handing over the selection letter. The entire assembly was thrilled that Muni Tulsi was chosen as the future leader of the Terapanth order. In a celebratory atmosphere, everybody accepted him as Yuvacharya.

Coronation to Acharya

Acharya Kalugani's health was failing rapidly. Three days after the appointment of Muni Tulsi as Yuvacharya, Acharya Shree Kalugani took his last breath.

Thus, the overall responsibility of the Terapanth order fell squarely on the shoulders of a 22 year old Muni Tulsi. Muni Maganlal chose the auspicious morning of Shukla Navami in the Hindu calendar month of Bhadrava, 27th Aug, 1936 for his coronation. On that morning Muni Maganlal presented a new pachewari (white robe) as a symbol of the highest position and responsibility of the entire Terapanth organization. The atmosphere was euphoric and hailed a new, progressive era under Acharya Tulsi. He became the spiritual leader and teacher of five hundred monks and nuns and millions of common followers who willingly accepted him as their Guru.

Allaying Doubt

When Muni Tulsi became Acharya, he was just 22. The news spread quickly that a young Acharya has been appointed and people were both taken aback and astounded by this news. Everyone wondered how this young and inexperienced leader could show the way for an organization of millions.

Many were skeptical of his lack of demonstrable leadership experience. Many people rushed to the town of Gangapur to talk to Muni Maganlal, an elderly and wise monk in the Terapanth order about their apprehensions regarding the selection of such a young Acharya. Muni Manganlal's retort was enough to allay their fears, "Who says that Acharya Shree is an adolescent? Age is nothing but a number. In terms of wisdom he is eighty two years old, combining sixty years of Kalugani and twenty two of his own."

The answer was powerful enough to convince skeptical heads and hearts. They were not only convinced, but were impressed by the creative and confident response of Muni Maganlal. The excitement and trust generated through Muni Maganlal ensured that Acharya Tulsi was respected and accepted, quickly removing doubts about his leadership skills.


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Acharya Shree Tulsi - A Legend Of Humanity

First Edition:

Acharya Tulsi Janam Shatabdi Samaroh Samiti, Anurvat Bhawan, New Delhi HN4U Online Edition:

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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 Kalugani
  3. Acharya Tulsi
  4. Ahimsa
  5. Bhilwara
  6. Celibacy
  7. Consciousness
  8. Diksha
  9. Discipline
  10. Fasting
  11. Gangapur
  12. Guru
  13. Gurudev
  14. Jain Philosophy
  15. Jainism
  16. Jap
  17. Kalugani
  18. Ladnun
  19. Meditation
  20. Muni
  21. Prakrit
  22. Rajasthan
  23. Sanskrit
  24. Shukla
  25. Tap
  26. Terapanth
  27. Tulsi
  28. Yoga
  29. Yuvacharya
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