Acharya Tulsi - Fifty Years Of Selfless Dedication: ANUVRAT: An Introduction (2) ◄Yuvacharya Mahapragya (copy 1)

Published: 14.09.2012
Updated: 02.07.2015

Original Thinking

In some quarters there was a rumbling that the Anuvrat Movement does not go to the base. It merely skims the surface. Without solving the economic problem it is in vain to think of moral development. Acharya Shree did not term it a one-sided untruth but he did not subscribe to the view that people having no economic problems are necessarily moral. People have a very limited view of morality. Is the aggressive instinct not immoral? The Movement mainly aims at creating a climate of nonaggression, peaceful living and satisfaction with one's rightful share of things. Is this not something basic?

Some thinkers expressed the opinion that if individuals like Lord Mahavir, Lord Buddha and Mahatma Gandhi could not make the world moral, how could Acharya Shree do it? To this Acharya Shree replied, 'When do I say that I am going to make the whole world moral? Of course our efforts should be directed towards that goal. The torch of morality should never be allowed to go out. Our efforts may not succeed, but we will at least not be blamed for not making them.'

The work relating to anuvrat made some headway. But a new confusion arose. Our own followers started saying, 'Acharya Shree no longer insists on the people becoming Jains. He has slackened the propagation of Terapanth... On the other hand some non-Jains started saying that Acharya Shree wanted to convert everyone to Jainism under the cover of anuvrat. If on one side there were these reactions, on the other quite a few people stressed the great need for the Movement. C. Rajgopalachari had written at the time of the first session, 'In my opinion this (Anuvrat Movement) is the first step in the direction of people's moral and cultural emancipation.'

The aged Arya leader of the province of Sindh Tara Chand R.D. Gajra had written, 'Your ideas are sublime and your efforts noble... I would like to humbly submit that if you wish to succeed in achieving your object, you should get booklets and pamphlets published in all languages and have them distributed free in the schools.' The great philosopher S. Radhakrishnan said, 'We live in an age of acedia, spiritual drought and torpor of the soul. Youngmen are more inclined towards materialistic doctrines and any movement which recalls to us the spiritual character of human nature is welcome. In our country the Anuvrat Movement is fulfilling this function. Its work, therefore, deserves encouragement.'

The popular leader Jai Prakash Narayan said, 'We are really fortunate now that great personalities like Acharya Vinoba Bhave and Acharya Tulsi are leading us. Both these great public figures want to establish equality and tolerance by asserting the essential humanity of man and want to end all exploitation. Bhoodan (land donation as propagated by Vinoba Bhave) and the Anuvrat Movement are powerful agents in bringing about a change of heart and thus creating a nonviolent society... Acharya Tulsi has put forward a very good programme. Vinoba and Tulsi belong to all castes and classes; both of them want to do good to everybody.'

Of course there were also counter voices which held that Acharya Shree had become utterly fond of publicity. Thus the Movement ran its course through a large number of criticisms and reactions. They might have caused a few lean periods for it but the Movement undoubtedly gained from them. It faced two questions: Should it grow quantitatively? or should it grow qualitatively? Acharya Shree chose the latter course. At the time of the first session he said, i have no liking for mere does not matter how few or how many people become anuvratis, so long as those who do become are the ideal ones.'

Another question which cropped up was who would lead the Movement. All those who supported the Movement wanted Acharya Shree himself. This created complications. It was hard to believe that one and the same person could lead both the Terapanth and the Anuvrat Movement. Acharya Shree declared in the first session, 'At present I have taken upon myself to lead the Sangh (originally the body was called Anuvrati Sangh). This does not mean that members of the Sangh will also have to become members of the Terapanth. Believers of all religions can join the Sangh'. This liberal attitude attracted the people and in a few years the Movement became universal. Hindus, Sikhs, Christians, Jains, all of them became anuvratis. The Movement thus became a common denominator of all religions.

Matching Thought and Action

According to Acharya Shree the development of character remains incomplete until there is perfect consonance and unity between thought and action. There was much need for such an integrated form of religion as would cut across and transcend all sectarianism. The Anuvrat Movement met this need. At the same time religion had ceased to be coextensive with life. People had begun to think that it was only at prayer-time that religion came into play. The Movement made people realize that one misses the true meaning of religion by confining it to a place of worship and keeping it out of the office or the shop.

The success of a movement is to be measured by the results it produces. Of course the Anuvrat Movement has in no sense failed. In fact it has succeeded in all places. It has left its imprint on the Indian psyche and has effectively contributed to a moral renaissance. Success encourages more action. New vistas opened as people of different classes and categories got attracted towards the Movement. It grew in new directions. Different vows were fixed for students, businessmen, government servants, teachers, workers, etc. From time to time students' weeks, government employees' weeks, businessmen's weeks and prohibition weeks were celebrated. Anuvrat Student Councils were formed at Delhi and many other places. The Anuvrat Committee was formed to coordinate various activities of the Movement. It started the publication of the fortnightly 'Anuvrat'. The Anuvrat Thinkers' Forum was started.

Anuvrat activities are not confined to towns; they are carried on in villages also. As a matter of fact, efforts are on in a few cases to change whole villages into anuvrat villages. Whether these efforts to make the Movement popular were adequate is not possible to say. As a matter of fact full advantage was not taken of the widespread contacts that had been made, of the attraction of the people towards the Movement and of the almost magical effect of Acharya Shree's personality on the people. There were also other weaknesses like lack of proper organization and absence of direction before the field-workers. A situation developed in which the mellifluous voice of Acharya Shree flowed like a torrent wherever he went but lost its momentum for want of an adequate follow-up. Consequently the results were not commensurate with the efforts.

In the Eyes of the National Leaders

A congruence of the will to work automatically results in mutual sympathy. The Movement never begged for sympathy but unexpectedly it got it in abundance. Dr Rajendra Prasad said, 'I have known the Anuvrat Movement for many years. From the very beginning I welcomed it and expressed my views about it... A life of self-control is the best life. Therefore it is my wish that the Movement should be popularized among all classes and everyone should be encouraged to be drawn towards it.'
Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru said, 'If we want to build a great country, it should have a firm foundation... such a foundation is of character... What a good piece of work is being done within the Anuvrat Movement! I think the more this work progresses, the better it is.'

It is an age of politics. It colours the view of everything. Dr Rajendra Prasad and Pt. Nehru were both the pillars of the Congress. The Movement was unfolding itself against the backdrop of the Congress. Naturally quite a few people like Dr Ram Manohar Lohia felt that Acharya Shree was strengthening the Congress. Shri N.C. Chatterjee had also raised the same objection, 'You are rendering support to a weak Congress.' Acharya Shree replied, 'I am not associated with any political party and at the same time there is no political party with which I am not connected. Therefore, I don't think I'm lending support to anybody's weakness.'

It was for the above reason that a little later the Anuvrat Parliamentary Forum was formed. At the time of the first general election a seminar was organized in the presence of Acharya Shree for ensuring clean elections. Representatives of many political parties took part in it. The Congress President Dhebarbhai, the leader of the Praja Samajvadi Party Acharya Kriplani, the Communist leader A.K. Gopalan and many others came to attend it. Everyone gave an assurance to act upon and observe the vows of the Movement. Shri Gopalan's assurance was so firm that everyone was taken aback. In reality the Anuvrat Movement could get such a massive support simply because its workers never sought any financial assistance from the government.

In the Legislative Assemblies

Shri Sugan Chandraji, a member of the Uttar Pradesh Legislative Assembly, moved the following resolution in the Assembly, signed by twenty-seven MLAs: 'This house resolves that the Government of Uttar Pradesh should render the necessary cooperation and support to the Anuvrat Movement launched by Acharya Shree Tulsi.'
Shri Lalta Prasad Sonkar, an MLA, said, 'This resolution demands neither money nor anything else from the Government. It only asks of it that people under its rule improve their character morally and spiritually.'

On the same lines a non-official resolution was moved in the Rajasthan Legislative Assembly on January 30, 1968 by three MLAs, Shri Prem Singh Sanghvi, Shri Mahendra Singh and Shri Adityendraji. It read as follows: ‘This House resolves that the Anuvrat Movement launched by Acharya Shree Tulsi be supported and be recognized as a national, moral movement'. Speaking on the motion the then Chief Minister of Rajasthan, Shri Mohan Lai Sukhadia, said, 'Personally I fully support the Anuvrat Movement. It is very useful for putting the country on the right road. No one in the country, whatever his affiliations, could disagree with it.'

It is therefore obvious that the followers of the Anuvrat Movement never felt dependent upon the government for financial assistance. Like the ordinary people State Governments also have their duty to make their contributions to moral development. From time to time they have carried out this duty. Many States like Bihar, West Bengal, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Orissa and Mysore (now Karnataka) made efforts to encourage the Movement and also passed orders to acquaint members of the educational institutions with the anuvrats.

Towards Collective Reforms

In the absence of adequate preparation the anuvrats cannot have any meaningful effect on life. The life of the masses is so shackled with cramping traditions that without breaking them it would not admit of anything new. For this reason while camping at Rajasamand during the rainy season Acharya Shree gave the following message to the people: The rituals observed at the time of birth, wedding and death must be given up, dowry must be put an end to and the use of the veil must be discontinued. Once these basic problems are resolved a new way of progress will open itself.

Even today the Movement is engaged in many-sided activities aimed at the welfare of the people. It is going on thanks to Acharya Shree's inspiration, active work by the monks and the nuns and the devotion of sympathetic householders. If it succeeds in creating a band of dedicated workers, India will once again earn the right of preaching morality to the world.

When Acharya Shree was leaving Bombay, the President of the Indian National Church, Father J.S. Williams, said, 'A few days ago I was going to take part in the Peace Council meeting being held in Norway. Under the inspiration of Acharya Shree I pledged myself to observe the anuvrats. I reached there when it was terribly cold in December. My friends said, "Without liquor you will be frozen to death." But I was bound by the anuvrats. How could I take liquor? My determination did not in the least weaken. I returned home unharmed. I talked to the westerners about the Anuvrat Movement and acquainted the people of Britain, Norway, Sweden, France and Russia with it. They evinced a great interest in it. I will appeal to my Christian brothers here that they should cooperate with the moral movement in our country.'

Preksha Meditation and Anuvrat

Mental tension has emerged as a dreadful disease of the age of industrial progress. To remedy it the Anuvrat Movement has added a new chapter to itself in the form of Preksha Meditation. Through its practice thousands of people have had a profound experience of both physical and mental peace. An organized programme to include Preksha Meditation as the science of living in the fields of administration and education has also been undertaken. The possibilities of future growth are in fact infinite.

Only he deserves to be called young who does not lose balance in moments of crisis.

Acharya Tulsi

Acharya Tulsi - Fifty Years Of Selfless Dedication
Jain Vishva Bharati Ladnun
Shrichand Bengani


R.P. Bhatnagar


● S.L. Gandhi
● Rajul Bhargava, Department of English, University of Rajasthan, Jaipur
● Ashok K. Jha, Department of English, LBS College, Jaipur

First Edition, 1985-2000

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Some texts contain  footnotes  and  glossary  entries. To distinguish between them, the links have different colors.
  1. Acharya
  2. Acharya Shree Tulsi
  3. Acharya Tulsi
  4. Anuvrat
  5. Anuvrat Movement
  6. Anuvrati
  7. Anuvrats
  8. Bihar
  9. Body
  10. Bombay
  11. Buddha
  12. Cooperation
  13. Delhi
  14. Gandhi
  15. Jainism
  16. Karnataka
  17. Mahatma
  18. Mahatma Gandhi
  19. Mahavir
  20. Meditation
  21. Mysore
  22. Orissa
  23. Pandit
  24. Pradesh
  25. Prasad
  26. Preksha
  27. Preksha Meditation
  28. Rajasthan
  29. Rajendra Prasad
  30. Ram
  31. Sangh
  32. Science
  33. Science Of Living
  34. Soul
  35. Terapanth
  36. Tolerance
  37. Tulsi
  38. Uttar Pradesh
  39. Vinoba Bhave
  40. West Bengal
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