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Acharya Mahapragya
Born 14 June 1920
Tamkor, Rajasthan, India
Predecessor Acharya Tulsi
Jainism
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Acharya Shri Mahapragya (Mahapragyaji, Mahaprajna. देवनागरी: आचार्य महाप्रज्ञ) is Tenth Acharya, supreme head of Jain Swetembar Terapanth group.[1] He promotes nonviolence and leads the Ahimsa Yatra movement.[2][3] Followers refer to him as Gurudev, the Godly Teacher. He has traversed more than 100,000 km on foot covering more than 10,000 villages reaching out to the masses spreading the message of harmony and peace. Walked across the length and breadth of India From Kachchh in Gujarat to Kolkata and from Punjab to Kanyakumari, Mahapragya undertook travel on foot earlier under the leadership of Acharya Tulsi and later himself being the leader. During these travels, he addressed thousands of public meetings.

Acharya Mahapragya formulated Preksha meditation system in 1970s[4].

He is the supreme head of Jain Vishva Bharati University and also played a key role in its establishment[5]. The University draws its spiritual strength and direction from Acharya Mahaprajna,who is above any sectarian bias. Anuvrat movement is also functioning under his leadership.

His discourses are telecast daily on Indian television.

Contents

Biography

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Early life

Mahapragya was born 14 June 1920 to Tola Ram Choraria and Baluji in the small village of Tamkor in the Jhunjhunu district in Rajasthan[6]. It was a Jain Shwetambar Terapanthi family. He was called Nathmal by his family. He lost his father when he was just two and half months old[7]. It was a joint family and the child had support from all the family members. Nathmal's mother was very affectionate for the child and took utmost care in the upbringing[8]. There was no formal school in Tamkor village in those days and he didn't get any formal education. Nathmal took some lessons on letters and mathematics tables from local teacher[9]. Mahapragya's mother was a religious lady. She preferred to devote all spare time in spiritual exertion. She also used to recite religious songs which made imprints on young child's heart. Her indulgence towards spirituality inspired the young child[10].

The family and child Nathmal used to be in regular touch with Jain monks. He got lessons on Jain philosophy from monks who visited the village. Regular contact with monks nourished the spiritual seed in the child. Nathmal then conveyed his wishes of getting initiated into monkhood to his mother[11]. On 29 January 1931, he became a monk at the age of ten. Acharya Kalugani, eighth Acharya of Jain Swetambar Terapanth, initiated Nathmal to monkhood in the town of Sardarsahar (Rajasthan). With this, Nathmal became Muni Nathmal[12]. Acharya Kalugani arranged for Muni Nathmal's studies under Muni Tulsi's classes, who later became Ninth Acharya. Nathmal started getting lessons in the monastery on various subjects of Jain philosophy[13].

Nathmal had a great learning capacity and a good memory. With Muni Tulsi, the child’s intellectual development got accelerated and he memorised thousands of sermons and verses in Hindi, Sanskrit, Prakrit and Rajasthani. His education at the monastery included history, philosophy, logic, grammar[14]. He made an in-depth study of Jain scriptures became a scholar of Jain Agamas and a critic of Indian and western philosophy. By age 22, he was competent in Hindi, Sanskrit, Prakrit and Rajasthani languages and literature. In Sanskrit, he is also an expert impromptu or extempore poet and has demonstrated this skill in many gatherings of intellectuals. Thrust for knowledge made him also study physics, biology, ayurved, politics, economics, and sociology[15].

Spiritual endeavor (1945 - 1978)

Anuvrat movement

Mahapragya played an instrumental role in the Anuvrat movement launched 2 March 1949 by his guru and then head of Jain Shwetambra Terapanth, Acharya Tulsi. The ultimate aim of the movement was and remains to create a nonviolent socio-political world order with the help of a worldwide network of self-transformed people. Since its inception it has inspired millions of people to practice purity and self-discipline in personal life[16]. Mahapragya helped Acharya Tulsi in the preparation of the contents of Anuvrat and worked as a core member in the movement, many times playing the role of Acharya Tulsi's representative in explaining the principles of Anuvrat to society[17].

Acharya Shri Tulsi nominated Muni Nathmal as the Secretary (Nikaya Sachiv) of Terapanth in 1965 at Hissar Harayana after being Group leader (Agraganya) for almost 21 years[18].

Agam research and editing

Acharya Tulsi, Mahapragya during Agam research

Acharya Tulsi after consulting Mahapragya decided to start research, translation and annotation of the Jain Agamas[19]. The work started in 1955 in Ujjain under the leadership of Acharya Tulsi with Mahapragya being the editorial director[20]. Joint activity of Acharya Tulsi, Mahapragya and other intellectual monk and nuns began to facilitate the permanent preservation of many thousand years old canonical scriptures and embellished them with a scientific outlook acceptable to the people. Mahapragya edited and critically annotated the agamas. This old literature is in Prakrit language and its commentaries are either available in Prakrit or Prakrit mixed with Sanskrit[21]. Mahapragya first undertook their deep, sustained study and started editing them and provided their new meanings and interpretations. Through strenuous work day and night for many years continuously, the original text of the thirty-two Agam scriptures was determined and their Hindi translation also completed[22]. Detailed commentaries thereon made them more interesting and comprehensible. This task carried out in accordance with the verbal renderings by Acharya Tulsi was guided by an entirely non-sectarian and open mind and is therefore viewed with respect by the heads of other sects as well as intellectual and oriental scholars of the East and the West. Acharang Bhasyam is Mahapragya's commentary for Acharang in sanskrit. He uncovered many Agam mysteries, presented root philosophies and Mahavir's philosophy and vision in this commentary[23].

Formulation of Preksha Meditation System

While in his late twenties, Mahapragya started to realize the wonders of meditation[24]. He was open to experiment with spiritual techniques. He discussed with Acharya Tulsi and since then Mahapragya started dedicating more time for meditation practices. He exercised deep practice of meditation, experimented with various techniques. He made a deep research of Jain Aagam, ancient scriptures, Yoga science, Biology, Modern Physics, Naturopathy, Ayurveda, etc. After a deep practice for over 20 years, he formulated Preksha Meditation system in 1970[25]. He formulated the meditation system in a very well organized, scientific way. The basic four wings of the meditation system can be summarized as - Meditation, Yogasana and Pranaayam, Mantra and therapy[26].

Before presenting Preksha meditation in formal training camps, Mahapragya made a special practice of meditation and spiritual exertion for a period of nine months which started on 3rd March 1977[27]. First formal Preksha meditation camp was organized then later in 1977[28]. Since then he conducted hundreds of camps for the training in Preksha Meditation[4]. Many Preksha Meditation centers are operative across the globe. Research, detail training and studies on Preksha Meditation is an important activity at Jain Vishva Bharati University[29].

Successor-designate to Acharya Tulsi

Acharya Tulsi honoring Muni Nathmal with title "Mahapragya" on 12 November 1978

Acharya Tulsi impressed with Muni Nathmal's (later Mahapragya) vision, intellect and genius honored him with the qualitative epithet of Mahapragya (highly knowledged) on 12th November 1978[30]. On 4th February 1979, his appellation ‘Mahapragya’ was converted into his new name by Acharya Tulsi and he was also made ‘Yuvacharya’, successor designate to the present Acharya[31], the second highest position after the Acharya himself. With this event, he was now referred as Yuvacharya Mahapragya. As a Yuvacharya , Mahapragya became a close associate of Acharya Tulsi in all the major decisions and activities related to the sect.

In a mammoth public meeting on 18th February 1994, Acharya Tulsi declared that Mahapragya would now have the title of ‘Acharya’ also and that the former was renouncing this position forthwith. Subsequently, on 5th February 1995, Mahapragya was formally consecrated as the 10th Acharya – the supreme head – of Terapanth religious order in a big public meeting in Delhi[32]. Mahapragya having taken over the reins of Terapanth, is now endowed with many responsibilities. Further intensification of the movements of Anuvrat, Preksha dhyan and Jeevan Vigyan now became his primary concern. A Vikash Parishad – development council – has been constituted by Mahapragya to give further fillip to all these movements and underline their importance[33]. The forum of Terapanth is now actively involved in propagating these movements.

Jain Vishva Bharati University

Acharya Mahapragya is the mastermind behind the conception of Jain Vishva Bharati University, Ladnun, Rajasthan. It was established under the spiritual patronage of Acharya Tulsi in 1991[34]. Acharya Mahapragya is the Anushashta of this deemed University since 1995. The Anushasta is a statutory post of the Institute, empowered to discipline the Institute spiritually and morally. University's objective is to revive truths and values hidden in the ancient Indian traditions in general and in the Jain tradition in particular. It provides platforms and infrastructures for doing the research in various subjects and pursuing for Doctorate Degrees. One of the prime objectives of this University is to spread the literacy in subjects like Non-Violence and Peace, Jainology, Sanskrit, Prakrit, Yoga, Meditation, Literature, etc. Regular Degree Courses leading to Bachelors and Masters Degrees are being conducted[35].

Ahimsa Yatra (2001 - 2009)

Acharya Mahapragya during Ahimsa Yatra

Worldwide terrorist attacks, communal and ethnic clashes, conflicts arising from globalization, poverty, exploitation and the increasing lust for power and wealth among people have made social life insecure and vulnerable. This pathetic situation touched Acharya Mahapragya deeply[36]. In response, he came up with the solution of Ahimsa Yatra, a journey on foot to advance the cause of non violence, was launched by Mahapragya 5 December 2001 at Sujangarh in Rajasthan[36]. With Ahimsa Yatra, Acharyaji's mission is to train and spread nonviolence and its broad perspective to people. It is an endeavor to awaken a new faith in the infinite power of nonviolence. It aims at bringing the problems of all forms of violence into sharp focus[37]. Its mission is to provide training for transforming the negative thoughts/emotions into positive direction. The spiritual aspect of non-violence training is to ignite the consciousness of non-violence and to cultivate the values of non-violence. And its practical aspect is the employment training for livelihood[38].

They eschewed violence and pledged to refrain from killing innocent creatures. Political leaders, social workers and spiritual leaders came to him for advice[39]. He took his Yatra from Gujarat to Maharashtra, Daman, Madhya Pradesh, Haryana, Delhi, some parts of Uttar Pradesh, Punjab and Chandigarh[40]. He passed through 87 districts of the country, and covered more than 2400 villages, towns and cities, where he held meetings with many spiritual and political leaders and appealed for communal harmony. 40,000 voluntary hands were associated with the various responsibilities in their local areas.

This Yatra allowed him to come in direct contact with farmers, common and poor people of villages. He stopped at the every small villages that came on route and held open mass meeting. Through this public speaking, Acharyaji created awareness on the broad perspective of nonviolence, unemployment eradication, leading a life free from drug addiction, bad habits, communal harmony, living healthy and harmonious social and personal life. Side by side volunteers spread into different directions and establish personal contact with the families afflicted with drug addictions, unemployment and stressful life. They stay behind and solve their problems. Verily the villages and towns trekked by the Acharya become centres of training in ahimsa.

The Yatra concluded 4 January 2009 at Sujangarh, the same place where it started[41].

FUREC

President of India, Dr. A P J Abdul Kalam's vision for a fully developed beautiful India with prosperous and harmonious life for its citizens, especially the youth, motivated enlightened spiritual and religious leaders who organized a Conclave under the aegis of Acharya Mahapragya at Surat on 15th October 2003, also the birthday of Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam[42]. The Action Plan discussed during the Conclave was documented and is known as 'Surat Spiritual Declaration' (SSD).

The SSD Action Plan envisages Five Garland Projects. The emphasis of four projects was on celebration of inter religious festivals, multi religious projects, healthcare and employment, imbibing value based education in schools and encouraging interfaith dialogue among religious/spiritual heads[43]. In order to pursue these in sustained manner and to coordinate all activities, a national level independent and autonomous organization managed by religious/ spiritual leaders as well as scholars and Enlightened Citizens was set up. This organization was named "Foundation for Unity of Religious and Enlightened Citizenship' (FUREC). FUREC was launched by the President Dr. A P J Abdul Kalam on the birthday of Acharya Mahaprajna, the 15th June 2004 at Rashtrapati Bhavan, New Delhi[44].

FUREC combines the objectives of the Surat Spiritual Declaration and President Dr. A P J Abdul Kalam's Vision 2020 and is a Non-profit organization set up by 15 spiritual leaders

Spiritual practices

Meditation

Mahapragya himself is a great practitioner of meditation, spirituality, Mantras, Anekaant, and nonviolence. He has written extensively on these topics. He is practicing meditation since his twenties. He also has high regards for Mantra chanting (recitation of special letters and words) and practice it daily. He says from his experiences that Mantra can help people in awaking his hidden powers.

Mahapragya observes silence (Mauna) for more than three hours during the evening hours.

Disciplines of monkhood

Mahapragya took five major vows as a part of initiation to monkhood at the age of ten. These Mahavrata are Non-violence (Ahimsa), Truth (Satya), Non-stealing (Asteya), Chastity/Celibacy (Brahmacharya), and Non-possession/Non-attachment (Aparigraha). As a Jain Muni (monk), he has to travel only on foot and can't use vehicle unless and until he is incapable of walking. He does not eat after sunset and before sunrise. He does not cook food but has to go out for alms. He accepts only vegetarian food. He does not own a house. He cannot stay in a single place for long periods. He constantly has to change places and can only move in to a house with the owner's permission.

Writing

Acharya Mahapragya

Mahapragya started writing when he was 22 and since then it never stopped[45]. Mahapragya has written more than two hundred books in Hindi, Sanskrit, Prakrit, and Rajasthani languages. Topics include intense and indepth contents on meditations, mind, human psyche and its traits, root of emotions, manifestation of emotions through human behaviour, Mantra saadhana, Yog saadhna, Anekaant, Non violence, and Jain history.

In his book Art of Thinking Positive, he explores the root causes of negative thoughts, and provided methodology towards its transformation[46]. Other book titles include Towards Inner Harmony, I and Mine, Mind beyond Mind, Mysteries of Mind, New Man New World, Mirror of Self. He has provided a great detailed analysis on hidden causes of the emotions, functioning of human psyche, manifestation of psyche through one's behaviour.

He also wrote many books on Preksha Meditation. In these books he as described various techniques of meditations and their effects, human psyche, human physiology, hormonal influences, endocrine system, nervous system[47].

He has done extensive work on Anekaantvad - the philosophy of nonabsolutism. He himself is a great follower of this philosophy propounded by Lord Mahaveer and affirms that there is no problem that can't be resolved with the application of Anekaantvad. He has explained how can it be useful in our daily life. He has shown the ways how one can improve his thought process towards Anekaant and use it for a peaceful life and co-existence[48]. His book Anekanta The Third Eye discusses the details of the philosophy.

His writings on economics provide a detail model of economic structure which works for the benefit of each and every individual. He has given vision for a peaceful society free from evils. He has suggested conduct for people to lead a happy individual as well as a social life.

He has written many big books on Jain Philosophy providing a serious material on Jain beliefs and vision. Jain darshan: manan and mimaansha is one of those important creation and a research work in which he has brought out numerous deep facets of Jain belief system with detail interpretation. Another precise work is Philosophical Foundations Of Jainism. Shraman Mahaveer is biographical work on Mahaveer. Mahapragya has tried to depict Mahaveer through his experience and achievements in meditation. Sambodhi is a rhymic conservation between Lord Mahaveer and the prince-monk Megha Kumar, in which Mahaveer enlightens the later. Mahapragya has extensively written on lives and philosophies of Acharya Bhiksu and Acharya Tulsi

Mahapragya has made great contribution to Sanskrit through his poetry. Has also written poems and bhajans in Hindi. Ashruvina, Mukulam in Sanskrit and Rishabhayana in Hindi are some of his poetic creations.

Acharya Mahapragya writes in with great clarity. His sentences are short and his style direct. He only suggests, he never forces his view. He may assert his belief, but his language is conscious of relativity even in expression. He often resorts to passive voice. Between one full stop and the next sentence, a kingdom can be built. [49]

Views

Stand on religion

Mahapragya says

"The religion which does not bring about a change in a man’s life, which does not impart peace to him, deserves to be thrown into the river Ganges rather than carried on as burden on one’s shoulders. Rituals or idol worship alone are not enough unless one’s conduct also gets transformed. Religion is not confined only to temples, mosques or churches, but extends to the man’s day-to-day living as well."[50]

"I believe in that religion which has moral values at its foundation and spirituality at its peak. I don't believe in that religion that doesn't have moral values and spirituality. I accepted that religion which made me physically, mentally, emotionally healthy. Religion is beyond rituals. Religion has the ability to solve our problems if you believe in pure religion."[51]

Influence

Rashtrakavi (National poet) Ram Dhari Singh Dinkar said “Mahapragya is a Modern Vivekananda. We have not seen Vivekananda, only heard and read about him. But now we can see Vivekananda through his Vision”[36].

Indian Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee has often said in mass meetings “I am a lover of Mahapragya’s literature”. The Eminent Scholar of Philosophy, Dr. Daya Krishna has recognized Acharya Shri Mahapragya as the most knowledgeable person on the subject of Jain Logic.

The famous Bangla writer Shri Bimal Mitra used to say, “I find new truth in Mahapragya’s work. When I read his books, I feel as if I write for the masses and he writes for me. If only I could have met him in the initial stages of my career, my literature would have had a new path to follow”.

Dr. A.L. Bashim says "While meeting Acharya Mahapragya, one gets the thrill of meeting the ‘Spiritual Ideal’ or the ‘Wonder that India was’".

Awards and Honours

  • Mother Teresa National award of peace by Inter faith Harmony foundation of India in 2005
  • Communal harmony award i.e. Sampradayika Sadbhavana Puraskar by Govt. of India in 2004[52]
  • Ambassador of Peace (London) by Inter Religions and international federation in 2003
  • Lokmaharshi by New Mumbai Municipal corporation in 2003
  • Indira Gandhi National Integration award in 2002
  • D.Litt by Netherland Inter Cultural Open University in 1999

See also

References

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  35. ^ "ADMISSIONS". http://jvbi.ac.in/admissions.html. Retrieved 2009-10-26. 
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External links


Quotes

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiquote

Soul is my god. Renunciation is my prayer. Amity is my devotion. Self restraint is my strength. Non-violence is my religion.

Acharya Mahapragya (14 June 1920) is an Indian Jainist monk and acharya, leader of the Swetembar Terapanth group. He runs a project called Ahimsa Yatra to promote Ahimsa, an Indian concept of non-violence. In 1995 he succeeded Acharya Tulsi as leader of the Anuvrat Movement.

Contents

Sourced

Truth is beyond space and time. One who does not yearn for truth, will be trapped within space and time and become dogged. That man alone can remain free from mulish tendencies, who has the capacity to think across time: in the past, present and the future.

Thought at Sunrise (2007)

Thoughts at Sunrise (2007) is a collection of the thoughts of Acharya Mahapragya, published by Jain Vishva Bharti, Ladnun.
  • Truth is beyond space and time. One who does not yearn for truth, will be trapped within space and time and become dogged. That man alone can remain free from mulish tendencies, who has the capacity to think across time: in the past, present and the future. One who draws from the innumerable events of the past, will never be obstinate.
  • We should not be obsessed with the present alone, we must heed the past too. Is it fair, for instance, to see only the 25 ft. tall tree and forget the seed that brought it forth? Will the tree accept it if we forget the seed of it all? Is it possible to visualise a future without the seed? We must learn to appraise ourselves of the past if we want a meaningful present. You could call this an act of gratitude or an evaluation of reality.
  • Conversations cease when we learn to discover the joys of internalization.
  • To search for truth should be the main goal in one's life. This is a very difficult task. Let us begin by asking what is truth? What is untruth? To make this decision itself is difficult. Once the decision has been made, it is even more difficult to understand the limitations possible even in truth: elements of doubt and illusion. The Ultimate Truth is still far away, even if we are anywhere near relative truth, it should be deemed a great achievement. Those who live by truth sometimes become so dogged in their pursuit that even their truth seems a lie. Without control over passions and practicing neutrality, purity and straightforwardness, do we have a right to seek the truth?
  • Thinking is good, but excessive thinking is not. Between thoughts if there is a period of thoughtlessness, thoughts will be fresh and pathbreaking. A thinker will be able to cultivate a strain of healthy thoughts only when he pays attention to thoughtlessness also.
  • The balance between karma and akarma gives holistic vision..Lots of discussions regarding Karmayoga.No work can be completed without karma.That is the truth.Everybody accepts this truth.Our world is one of incompleteness.Where there is incompleteness, there is relativity.Both karma and akarma are relative.No work is completed without akarma.
  • Desire itself is an inspiration.Every man desires to do something in life.Where there is no desire no way would open out.Yet too much of desire creates problems.If we understand where to draw the limits to our ambition then we would experience a constant need to keep our inspiration alive and the desire to make something of one's life would never be ignored.

Unsourced

  • Walk with the help of others but do not loose the strength in your legs. Other helps only when your legs are STRONG.
  • What is good? To remember or to forget? Try to forget that which creates tensions. You will be HAPPY.
  • You wish that everybody trust you. First observe how much you TRUST YOURSELF.
  • Do you understand the value of Patience? If you do, then make the right USE of waiting
  • We are speaking. Have we thought Why? If it is worth speaking speak, otherwise observe SILENCE.
  • Do not look at the tree. Look at the seed. The magic of small seed is that the small becomw BIG

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