14 May 2010

Acharya Mahapragya

Sun can feel proud of it self if it pierces the dense layer of clouds and provides light to the earth. An artist is satisfied if he engraves and creates a lively statue from a huge unshaped rock. Acharya Mahapragya was one such personality who was gifted with both the virtues. A difficult job is encouraging for those who are transparent towards their goal and their commitment to serve mankind is evident. Nourishment amid darkness is meaningful only if it has ability to converge into light. “Nathu” as he was called in his childhood encouraged himself and got the nourishment to become Mahatma “Mahapragya”.Acharya Mahapragya born to Tolaramji Choraria and Baludevi Choraria at Tamkore (a small village in Jhunjhunun district of Rajasthan, India) in Choraria family was famous for his simple undeveloped image. But once he was admitted to monk hood by Acharya Kalugani, the 8th Acharya of Terapanth Order, he began his steps of the long journey of about 80 years under able guidance of Acharya Shri Tulsi. His determination, devotion, effort, politeness, sense of gratitude and his journey around soul enabled him to make great contribution to the society and world at large by discovery of modern meditation techniques named – ‘Preksha Meditation’ and ‘Science of Living ‘ to teach people the art of living purposeful life.
His enlightened spirituality has offered great solution to the modern world problem of terrorism, nonviolence and economic imbalances. His philosophy of relative economics offers amazing solution to the modern economic recession and related problems. His way of presentation of the teachings of Lord Mahavira i.e. principles of truth, non-stealing, non-violence, practice of chastity and non possessiveness have made Lord Mahavira more meaningful in the present scenario.
He has in the young age of about 80 years commenced the Ahimsa Yatra and studied the root causes of violence and has been regularly preaching people to remove those evils to eradicate terrorism and violence from the earth. Besides the Study of the modern problems he never ignored the smallest unit of the institution named family. He always preached to develop Equanimity, amity, assurance, compassion, affection, tolerance, endurance, encouragement of others to have peaceful co existence. He was a world renowned philosopher, writer of hundreds of books and commentaries. Even though he did not complete formal primary education, he has created such literary works that many research scholars have completed their Phd. on his literature.

Being a member of the Choraria Family of Tamkore, I too feel proud of the contributions made by His Holiness. His glorified effort has made the tiny village of Tamkore more prominent on the World Map.

The news of his untimely demise came as a great shock to our family. We are deeply saddened. a large vacuum has been created. I pray for his spiritual journey abode. May his soul get liberation from the bondage of karma and attain Moksha soon. I pray for myself to apply his teachings and experiments for spiritual development of my own soul.
I bow with folded hands –



Acharya Mahapragya cremated Raj Sadosh

Sriganganagar/Abohar, May 10
Acharya Mahapragya, the 10th Acharya and supreme head of the Jain Swetambar Terapanth community was cremated today evening in Sardarshehar — the place where he gained monkhood and where he was staying for the past few days to conduct Chaturmaas.

Former President Abdul Kalam, who had co-authored a book with the Mahapragya, too turned up and said “I have come here for ‘antim darshan’ of the great saint and philosopher".

Special emissaries of President Pratibha Patil, AICC president Sonia Gandhi and Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi visited the town to deliver condolence messages. Modi was expected to attend the funeral procession but the programme was changed.

Baikunthi (procession carrying body of the deceased saint) was taken out from Shree Samvasaran complex where tens of thousands of devotees had made a beeline to have ‘antim darshan.’ People stood on both sides with folded hands, most of them bowing heads in reverence as the procession proceeded to the cremation ground through main roads of the historic town.

Punjab Governor Shivraj Patil said in his message, “The Acharya was a great sage and philosopher who gave a new direction to Anuvrat movement and spread the message of non-violence through his Ahimsa Yatra.”

Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot, his cabinet colleagues and other prominent people, attended the funeral along with Rajasthan Pradesh Congress president and Central minister CP Joshi. “He was a guru to all, including followers of other communities,” said state home minister Shanti Dhariwal. Gehlot said, “The country has lost a great guru and a social reformer.” Former CM Vasundhara Raje and Rajasthan BJP president Arun Chaturvedi too condoled the demise.

Notably, late Indian President S Radhakrishnan had termed Acharya Mahapragya (then known as Muni Nathmal) as one of the two finest philosophers of modern India along with Swami Vivekananda. Acharya Mahapragya is credited with the formulation of the ‘preksha’ meditation system in 1970s. He was also the supreme head of Jain Vishva Bharati University and played a key role in its establishment. He also took forward the Anuvrat movement launched by Acharya Tulsi.

Lalit Garg

A brilliant mind – a beloved teacher — Sudhamahi Regunathan—

It is a struggle to find the right words to describe Acharya Mahaprajna. Either idolatry adjectives describe him best, like ‘the greatest saint’, “an apostle of peace”, ‘a supermind’ and so on. Or they fall wide off the mark and are tame semblances to the perfect picture. Acharya Mahaprajna referred to himself as an ascetic or a student of philosophy. So be it.

On Sunday the 9th of May 2010, Acharya Mahaprajna, the tenth spiritual head of the Terapanth Jain community left his bodily abode. The world lost a brilliant mind and the most twinkling pairs of eyes of his generation. Many people lost their precious teacher. He was ninety.

Nathmal, as his parents had named him, was the only son of businessman Tolaram and his wife Baluji. He was born on 14 th June 1920 in the village of Tamkor , Jhunjhunu district, Rajasthan. Even as Nathmal was playing with his friends, a sage passing through the village prophesied that this young boy would one day be a leader among men.

The little boy adjusted his pride possession, the gold watch and ran home, unaware of importance of what the saint had said. A few years later destiny saw Nathmal initiated into monk hood on 18th February 1930.

In today’s world of wondering and whimsical morals, Acharya Mahaprajna’s challenge was to be still relevant as a custodian of high principles and purity of heart. If he was equal to it, it was not just because of his erudition but also because of his alert mind which was in step with the ever-changing world with clarity and curiosity, not to mention humour.

Acharya Mahaprajna combined in his detachment, the best of enlightenment with an almost naive romanticism. And yet as a leader of a community he could take all kinds of people in his stride.

While Acharyaji practiced a religion that is seen as severe and dry ...he was anything but that. A sensitive writer, he wrote in every genre ranging from poetry to philosophy imbuing his writings with a sensitivity that was polished and subtle. Using his strength of self restraint like a musician uses a moment’s pause in his choreography Acharyaji wove layers of meaning into his writings.

Acharya Mahaprajna wrote in Hindi, Sanskrit and Prakrit. Elegance and logic are central to his writing be it in their clarity of thought, choosing the right word, not to mention writing with an element of suggestion and not with aggressive assertiveness.

Nonviolence was his religion. He saw it as the only solution to the problems of today and has written many books explaining its role in creating a peaceful society. He has also unfurled the idea of nonviolence in many aspects: as the other name for diplomacy, as respect for fellow beings and so on.

Walking across the length and breadth of the country became Acharya Mahaprajna’s method of seeking the truth. His interaction with people of diverse backgrounds and beliefs made him further develop the Jaina philosophical principle of anekanta which says everything is relative; even truth. Extending this idea as his basis for peaceful co-existence, this social artist - a communicator; a private, often enigmatic person was nonetheless keen to be widely and clearly understood, so as to draw more and more people towards a harmonious way of life.

Acharya Mahaprajna’s urge to communicate was not born of self aggrandizement for it spun far beyond his writings. He developed a system of meditation to nurture and protect the spirit of human kind. The problem of the present generation which would be bequeathed to the future, Acharya Mahaprajna said would be one of emotional imbalances. To keep control over emotions was a contemporary interpretation of the Jaina dictum for detachment. How to manage life and your mind without needing to become an ascetic?

In answer to this question he developed a system of meditation called Preksha dhyan which though eventually led you to moral edification, ans could in shorter spells calm the mind to attend to day to day matters without stress.

That which makes a lasting impact on everyone’s mind after a meeting with Acharya Mahaprajna is his affability. He was deeply revered and respected by not just the disciples in his fold and community members but also by intellectuals and influential people from all over the country. Under his patronage, urged by Dr. A.P.J Abdul Kalam, former President of India, Acharya Mahaprajna founded an organization for unity of religions and enlightened citizenship. The spiritual leaders from nine different religions who came together on the occasion had no hesitation in accepting Acharya Mahaprajna’s leadership.

When someone precious and deeply revered is no more, the happiest memories get recollected with regret bordering on sorrow. With Acharyaji there is a compulsive urge to fight such an expression. He gave so much so many people; he touched so many lives that one must be resolute, as perhaps he would have too, on treasure his influence beyond mourning.

So Acharya Mahaprajna lives on in many ways: first and foremost in the memories he leaves for those lucky enough to have known him or heard him speak, secondly in the system of meditation, preksha dhyan and thirdly in one of the most impressive and important bodies of work on philosophy and Jainism.

Lalit Garg