Life Sketch -Shrimad Rajchandraji

Shrimadji's full name was Shri Raichandbhai Ravjibhai Mehta. He was born in 1867 A.D. at Vavania in Saurashtra. His family belonged to a well-known merchant community. His father's name was Ravjibhai and mother's name was Devabai. His mother was brought up in Jain religious traditions. His grandfather was a staunch devotee of Lord Krishna.

Early Life in His Own Words

In Samucchaya Vayacharya Shrimadji writes :

"I was born on Sunday, Kartik Sud Purnima (15th day of Kartik), Vikram Samvat 1924. Therefore today, I have completed 22 years. In this apparently short span of life, I have experienced much about the soul, the nature and mutations of mind, the integrity of speech, the physical body, the wealth, various impressions of the variegated or multicoloured wonderful world formations of various orders, many worldly ups and downs and the causes of interminable misery and unhappiness. All these have been experienced by me in many ways.

In my short life I have entertained all the thought-forms which were thought over by all the powerful saints and philosophers and by the formidable skeptics. I have thought of the universe of desires and aspirations which were discussed by the great rulers. I have also thought of the disinterestedness par excellence, an attitude of serene indifference. I have much meditated on the acquisition of immortality and of minute temporariness or transistorises. I have traversed many similar great thoughts in very few years of my life.

I look at all of them as a seer, and I realize the unfathomable gap between my present state of knowledge and experience and the state of my being when I cherished or entertained these great and multifarious thought-systems.

All these minute and big differences and gradual development of my Self have been only recorded in my memory. I have never made any effort to publicize these thoughts. I felt that giving these thoughts to a wider public or sharing my experiences with them might bring good spiritual dividends but my memory refused to do so and I was helpless. By cooperative understanding if my memory could be persuaded to open its treasures to the world by putting them in writing, I shall surely do it in future. I give below a very brief recollection of my early years:

For the first seven years I played alone. I still remember to have cherished a wonderful imagination in my mind. Even in play I had strong desire to be victorious and to be the lord of everything. I aspired to be a great man of a resigned nature. I had no attachment to wearing clean clothes, selection of good food, good bed, etc. Still my heart was extremely soft. I still recollect that side of my nature at an early age. If at that time, I had the discriminative knowledge which I now possess, I would not have cared more for liberation. It was a life of such spotless innocence that I love to recollect it very often.

For four years, from seven to eleven, I devoted myself to study. At that time I remembered all what I once saw or read. My recollection was faultless, as my mind was sinless. As a child, I had no idea of fame; hence the bugbear of publicity never bothered me. I had unique retentive memory which I find very few men even today possess.

Still, I was indifferent to my studies. I was given much to talking, play and merrymaking. Because of good memory, my teacher was pleased with me as I used to recite all what I once read in front of the teacher. At that time I was full of affection and natural sympathy towards all around me. I learnt that a spirit of affectionate brotherhood was the key to family and social happiness. If I found a separatist feeling or behaviour in anybody, it used to pain me very much and my heart used to cry. In my eighth year, I composed poems which at later age I found to be very well done.

I studied so well that I could explain the book to my teacher who started teaching it to me. I cultivated very wide reading.

I had much faith in mankind and I loved the natural world order. My grandfather was a Vaishnava, a staunch devotee of Lord Krishna. I heard from him many devotional songs about Radha and Krishna, also the mysterious stories of the wonder-works of Lord Krishna and other incarnations of God.

I took religious initiation at the hand of a Sadhu named Ramadasji. I daily went for the Darshana of Lord Krishna and attended lectures and devotional congregations. I believed the incarnation of God as real God and I cherished a strong desire to see His residence. I dreamt to be a great spiritual follower of Lord Krishna and a powerful preacher of His faith. I considered it to be the pride of my life if I could become a great Sanyasi performing Hari Kirtana in the public and leading an upright ascetic life.

I was so much saturated with such thoughts that I hated the Jains who did not accept God as the creator of the world. I believed that nothing could be created without a creator that the world was a masterful creation and such a uniquely supreme creation could only be the work of God and none else.

The Jain Banias in my native place praised me as the most intelligent student of the village. But they ridiculed my initiation in Vaishnavism and they argued with me to dislodge me from my faith. I did not succumb but I gradually read the Jain sacred books such as Pratikramana Sutra. The fundamental idea of the Jain works was the advocacy of non-violence and love to all high and low in the world. I liked this idea of universal love and non-violence very much.

Occasionally I visited the residence of the ruler of Kutch as a writer since my hand-writings were praised as best.

After the age of thirteen, I started attending to my father's shop. While sitting in the shop I have composed many poems on the heroic and spiritual life of Rama and Krishna. In my dealings with the customers of the shop I have never weighed less or more."

Jati Smaran Gnan

Shrimad Rajchandra possessed the knowledge of his previous births. It is called Jati Smarana Gnan.

In reply to a question from Padamshibhai, his friend in Bombay as to, whether Shrimadji possessed the mysterious knowledge of his past lives, he replied: "Yes" and then he explained as to when and how he obtained it. It is a picturesque description. Shrimadji said:

"When I was seven years old, an elderly man named Amichand, well-built, stout and sturdy, a neighbour in my village, suddenly expired of a serpent bite. I did not know what death was. I asked my grandfather as to what was the meaning of death. He tried to evade the reply and advised me to finish my meals. I insisted on a reply. At last he said: 'To die means the separation of the soul from the body. A dead body has no movement, it contaminates and decays. Such a dead body will be burnt to ashes near a river-bank as it has ceased to function.'

Thereupon I went stealthily to the cremation ground and climbing a Babul tree I saw the whole process of burning of the dead man's body and I felt that those who burnt him were cruel.

A train of thoughts started on the nature of the death and as a result I could recollect my previous lives."

Such knowledge of one's previous lives is called Jati Smarana Gnan.

It is but natural that death and disease are the great humanizing forces in individual and social life of thinking men. It is by being conscious of them that we develop modesty and humility in our behaviour and we reduce our attachment to worldly life.

By meditation on death we realize the supreme and sole importance of knowing and experiencing the Atma. Therefore Jati Smarana Gnan is very helpful in developing detachment from the world, and a spiritual affection for eternal imperishable ever-living soul.

Shrimadji obtained this exceptional knowledge of his previous lives at very young age of seven, a rare phenomenon. In 1897 A.D. at the age of 30 years, he wrote his famous poem in which he thanked the day when he realized unique peace. He has described in the poem the order of his spiritual development as under:

"In 1874 A.D. I obtained the Jati Smarana Gnan. In 1875 A.D. I began to advance on the spiritual path from the point I had already reached in my previous life. In1886 A.D., I developed a spirit of complete resignation and detachment to the mortal body and the rest of the world."

In 1889 A.D. at the age of 22 years, he wrote in a poem that the only friend of unqualified happiness is lonely indifference which in turn is the mother of spirituality.

He also says therein: "In my very young age I knew the nature of the final reality and this suggested to me that henceforth I had no future birth nor will I have to fall back from what I had already gained in spiritual life. I easily reached the state of the soul which would require long study and spiritual practice for others."

In a letter he says: "I realized that when in infinite stretch of time in the series of my past lives I felt that I could not live without my dearest and nearest; but I could live without them in those lives too. This proves that my affections and attachments were based on ignorance."

He pithily declares that without the right insight, the scriptures are of no help; that without the true spiritual contact, even meditation degenerates into wild imagination; without the active guidance of a Self-realized Guru, the final truth cannot be realized; that by following the normal path of the worldly people, one cannot be their leader and saviour; that without resigning the world and its myopic calculations, a life of extreme non-attachment is very difficult to be obtained.

He salutes the great Tirthankara who realized his soul and described it for the benefit of the world. It is only by the teachings of the Tirthankaras that one can easily know his soul.

Childhood: Manifestation & Demonstration of Exceptional Intellectual and Spiritual Powers

The knowledge of past lives proves the height of spirituality he had already reached in his previous lives. He was apparently young in his present life but form the point of view of his achievements of previous lives, he cannot but be regarded as a highly advanced Soul.

From his early childhood modesty, perfection in speech and conversation, exceptional reasoning power and a sharp spirit of non-attachment or disinterestedness and such other qualities made him a pet student of his school as well as of his village. He possessed a sharp and unfailing memory, unusually powerful retentiveness and faculty of recollection. He grasped all that he read or heard only once.

He entered the school at his age of seven and a half years. In about a month after his joining the school he completely mastered the preliminaries in calculation and within two years he finished the study of seven standards.

The monitor of his class, who had initiated him in the study of the first standard book, had to take his help in completing the book. On account of his exceptional performance in study he became the favourite of his teachers and normally he conducted the classes while his teachers used to witness with admiration the work of this gifted Soul. All his colleagues loved him.

Once his teacher scolded him and the next day he did not go to the school. Thereupon all other boys of the class followed him to a field where they ate berries. His teacher was surprised at the absence of all his students, inquired about it and went to the field where Shrimadji was sitting with his friends. Upon knowing the reason of absence of the students in his class, the teacher assured Shrimadji that he would never scold him again and brought them back to the class.

He started composing poems at the age of eight and supposed to have written five thousand stanzas in the first year. In his ninth year he composed Ramayana and Mahabharata in verse and at ten he was mature in his thinking and reasoning. At this age he had unique curiosity to know new things, a passion to hear new facts, to think new thoughts and to perform fine orations.

While he was eleven he started contributing articles to the newspapers and he won many prizes for writing competitive essays. One of his essays was on the need for women-education. At the age of twelve he composed three hundred stanzas on 'a watch'. At thirteen he went to Rajkot to study English language but about his English education very little is known.

Before his age of fifteen he studied and mastered many subjects. He became famous as a young poet of astounding memory and with brilliant prospects. At the age of ten, he accompanied Shri Dharshibhai, a judge of Morbi state, from Morbi to Rajkot. During the journey, Dharshibhai was much impressed by the unusual talents of Raichand, a boy of ten, and by way of admiration Dharshibhai suggested that Raichand should stay with him in Rajkot. But Shrimadji preferred staying at his maternal uncles' house but promised to meet Dharshibhai often during his stay at Rajkot.

His maternal uncles came to know from him about the arrival of Dharshibhai in Rajkot; and while Shrimadji was taking lunch there they were loudly planning to kill Dharshibhai. Shrimadji heard this and lost no time to warn Dharshibhai about the criminal intentions of his maternal uncles. This is how this boy of ten, returned the obligation to Dharshibhai.

Shrimadji by his mystic powers of mind reading, etc. learnt that two persons from Kutch were on their way to Rajkot to meet him. So he requested Dharshibhai to allow these two guests to stay with him and Dharshibhai readily agreed to do so. Thereupon Shrimadji went to receive the two guests and welcomed them by their names. When the guests asked him as to how he knew their names and about their coming to meet him, he replied that all this was possible by the infinite powers of the soul.

These two guests, named Hemrajbhai and Malsibhai, having heard of the exceptional talents of Raichandbhai, had come to persuade the latter to go to Kashi for higher education but when they came to know of the wonderful spiritual powers possessed by Raichandbhai, they dropped their idea. Dharshibhai was much impressed by this incident and gradually he began to respect Shrimadji.

For his return journey to Vavania he had no money, so he sold the sweets his maternal uncles gave him and with the proceeds he returned to Vavania. This shows his firm determination not to beg of anyone for his personal benefit.

Ideal Moral Life for Women and other Ethical writings

In his book ‘Stri Niti Bodhaka Part 1’ on `The nature of ideal moral life for women', he has advocated the cause of women's education as essential to national freedom. He advised his brethren to spread education in women, to remove internal quarrels and crippling social customs and thereby expedite the recovery of national independence.

This book was the first of his writings before he was sixteen and it was published in Vikram Samvat 1940 or 1884 A.D.

In this book of 50 pages he has analyzed the causes of backwardness in women, such as child-marriage, forced marriage of the unequal in health, age and intelligence and lastly, endless superstitions and ignorance. The matter of the book is divided into four sections:

The first section deals with prayer to God, devotion, transistorises of the living body, advice given by a mother to her daughter, avoidance of waste of time, diligence in work and the excellent results obtained by diligence.

The second section deals with learning, advantages of education, select reading of good books and acceptance of good and useful lessons.

The third section deals with self-improvement, adoption of virtues, spread of moral and healthy atmosphere, nature of truth and avoidance of profligacy and debauchery.

The fourth and the last section deal with the description of the wise and virtuous people and it includes a composition of hundred verses on words of wisdom for all.

Shrimadji, from his childhood had a fine command of language and diction, so his style is simple, natural and elegant. In his writings, words follow the sense. In the Sad-bodh-shatak he has discussed subjects like unity, morality, patience, courage, truthfulness, innocence, devotion, patriotism, social reforms, diligence, avoidance of bad company, learning, avoidance of pride, devotion to own husband, avoidance of skepticism or nihilism, sympathy, love of religion, writing good books, thriftiness, reduction of the household expenditure, forgiveness, merit, humility, modesty, keeping good and virtuous company, avoidance of the company of foolish women, avoidance of betting etc., thinking of death, search for the path of knowledge, doing charity to the deserving persons, love for doing good to others, increased reading etc.

Anticipating the question why should Shrimadji have written on ethical topics, he writes: "Persons desirous of Self-realization, living in worldly life, should try to find the root of all ethical life in their soul and they should be just and honest in earning their living and collection of wealth. This is good moral life for them and it should be observed by them at all cost.

In its strict observance, renunciation and non-attachment and such other qualities develop in them and by that they begin to appreciate the effectiveness of the teachings of the same by the Gurus and of the obedience to the same. They rightly interpret their teachings and they easily follow the path to Self-realization."

Shrimadji wrote a rosary of 108 golden advices for the benefit of the seekers of Self-realization in Vikram Samvat 1940 or 1884 A.D.

There he advises the people to think of the Self, not to repent for the life already led but to make the best of the life yet to come. A man should repent for his immoral acts and should determine to be thoroughly moral in his future dealings.

A person should allot his time of the day in the following manner: 3 hours to devotion, 3 hours to doing religious rites, 3 hours to food and bodily nourishment, 3 hours to education and learning, 6 hours to sleep and 6 hours to take care of his family and social life, if he is a householder. One who has renounced the world should be absorbed in thoughts of Self-realization and should control his mind from passions and prejudices.

The only path to Self-realization or soul's liberation consists in realizing the Self as completely different from the body and the worldly attachments. The soul is free and pure, enlightened and immortal.

Man should keep his eye on death and utilize every moment of life in realizing his goal of liberation. One may be a prince or a pauper, but all should know for certain that they are guests of death.

The adoption of the path of non-violence in thought, word and deed; the intense desire for Self-liberation and for acquisition of right knowledge and experience for the same; the searching out of an enlightened Guru and the undaunted obedience to his advice; Self-control in food, talk and other behaviour; keeping clear of all sins; purity all around; observing honesty and justice in worldly life; curtailment of worldly activities in order to lead a really happy and Self-meditative life; keeping in mind the principles of health, purity, magnanimity and duty; keeping company of the good and wise as a powerful method of maintaining purity of mind and body - are some of the invaluable advice given by Shrimad Rajchandra to men, women, and children in all walks of life, the advice which all should think over before their daily round of duties.

Bhavanabodh and Mokshmala- Compositions on Non- attachment and Self-liberation

Shrimad Rajchandra had composed Mokshamala at the age of sixteen years and five months and it was completed within three days in Vikram Samvat 1943 or 1887 A.D.

He wrote this book in an easy style understandable to youngsters with a view to turn their minds from trash readings to reading of good books by which they can obtain the invaluable results of Self-liberation.

In the opening lesson he requests the reader to read the book with due care and consideration which it deserves as its goal is very high. While other books deal with worldly life, this book deals with Self-liberation. All religious readers have agreed in liberation as the goal of life and discrimination of the different natures of the soul and the body as the means to its realization. Hence, as a sound educationist interested in the lasting benefit of young minds he has offered this book to his readers.

He suggests his reader to think of the inequalities of life and thereby to reflect all the good and bad deeds as causes of these inequalities.

Human birth is the only stage opportune for a soul to think of and work for its salvation. If it is misused in doing other things, a golden opportunity is lost. Hence, with the intense desire to work for the spiritual salvation of all living beings, this book and such others are written by Shrimad Rajchandra. Those who write such books are called men of unqualified sympathy and compassion and they live for the benefit of other souls.

The soul gets human birth as a result of many good deeds done in previous births and therefore it is very precious. If a man controls his mind he can attain Godhood.

Shrimadji says, every word of Mokshamala has been properly considered and after much thought it has been composed.

He holds that his readers should not be guided by his writings simply because they flow from his pen. Every reader should weigh the thoughts expressed and should develop the habit of discriminative thinking. The writer should stimulate the reader's thinking but not substitute it.

These expressions indicate the high maturity and balanced views on education on the part of Shrimad Rajchandra and that too at a very early age.

Though Mokshamala was composed in three days Shrimad Rajchandra found that it would take a long time to publish it. So, he composed a small book of 50 pages called Bhavana Bodh or the instructions to cultivate ‘twelve reflections’ necessary for leading the life of non-attachment to the world; and gave this book to his readers in anticipation of the delay in publication of Mokshamala.

The Twelve Reflections (Bhavana) in Brief

  • Anitya Bhavana : Everything in the world except the soul is transitory and subject to destruction. The soul is alone, remains in its nature, eternally.
  • Asharan Bhavana : In the world none can protect a living being from death. Therefore the only shelter one should seek in life is true religion. Religion alone can be man's saviour.
  • Sansara Bhavana : The soul has been passing through a chain of births and deaths and it is high time for it to think of its freedom from Sansara - a cycle of births and deaths. One should consciously realize that the soul's nature is freedom and so it is but natural to think of its salvation from Sansara.
  • Ekatva Bhavana : My soul has always been and is alone. It will suffer the fruits of its deeds and it is the lone pilgrim.
  • Anyatva Bhavana : All souls are independent and none is really related to the other.
  • Ashuchi Bhavana : This body is unholy; it gives out and absorbs many unholy and impure substances. I, as a soul, am quite independent of my body which is subject to disease and death.
  • Asrava Bhavana : Attachment, avarice, ignorance, sense of futility, etc. are binding the soul.
  • Sanvar Bhavana : One should devote his time to acquiring knowledge and meditation and thereby save oneself from the bondage of fresh actions.
  • Nirjara Bhavana : To act with full knowledge of the nature of the Self is the way to cut the knot of binding actions.
  • Lok Bhavana : To think of the world in which the soul wanders in bondage.
  • Bodhidurlabh Bhavana : To determine that a man cannot attain the right knowledge of the nature of the Self while living the worldly life. Even if such knowledge may be had, conscious abidance in the true nature of the Self will become difficult. Hence, one should feel intense obligation of the enlightened Guru who explains the true nature of the Self.
  • Dharma Bhavana : Therefore one should appreciate the rare possibility of obtaining the right preceptor of religion and one should lose no time in following his advice, should he be available.

Shrimadji writes about the Mokshamala that a reader, on deep thinking and reflection on the subjects discussed in it will find his way to salvation. The book is an impartial composition on philosophy and ethics. Its aim is to retrace young minds from acquiring wrong information of truth and reality and to put them on the path of right knowledge and action leading to liberation. Shrimadji himself stated that his spirit of non-attachment, at the time he composed Mokshamala, could only be compared with the spirit of non-attachment that was found in Shri Ramchandraji as described in Yoga Vashishta. He said that he studied all Jain scriptures in fifteen months and during the study, the level of his detachment was extremely high to the extent that he would not be aware whether he ate or not.

In Mokshamala Shrimadji explains :

  • The nature of true God, true preceptor and true religion. He protests against the description of Jainism as a skeptical religion. To him Jainism is the true appreciation of God, man and the world. It does not deny Godhood; it only denies God as the creator of the world.
  • That the man's true greatness lies in the practice of telling the truth, universal sympathy towards all living beings, celibacy, benevolence and equanimity of mind. Vanity and self-pride block man's progress. Man can be great by removing these elements from his nature. Keeping to truth is essential to the maintenance of the world. Hence truth-telling is the first of the great religious observances.
  • Company of the good and the great is the source of all happiness. It purifies man. It brings him nearer to the knowledge of the Self and the final liberation.
  • Reading and reflecting on the teachings of the religious scriptures also serves the same purpose; namely soul's salvation.
  • Solitude does not necessarily mean keeping aloof from all company. Keeping company of persons of similar aims (liberation) and practice is also known as solitude. Company of the Saints is a powerful purifying force. As you can't swim on earth, you cannot sink in good company. Hence it is the sure medicine for the ailing soul.
  • Covetousness and greed, oppressive acquisitiveness, result in the performance of sinful deeds.
  • The scriptures should be read, understood and practiced. Parrot-like cramming of scriptural texts leads nowhere.
  • The desire is the root cause of endless miseries. Desire grows on what it feeds. There is no end to the mind's desires. The world-tree grows on the seed of desire. Desire is ever young. True happiness springs from the abandonment of all desires. Real peace lies in contentment. By contentment the soul obtains equanimity, discrimination and lasting joy.
  • The soul has lost much by infatuation and sloth due to ignorance of its true nature. It is advised to wake up from killing slumber and lose no time in expediting its salvation. Wise men do not wait for future opportunities, they strive for liberation in the present by all possible religious ways and leave the future to its own future. Their sense of the value of time is admirable.
  • Discrimination is the light to recognize the soul in darkness. By discrimination religion is sustained and maintained. Religion without discrimination is meaningless. To understand truth and untruth as they are is known as discrimination.
  • Non-attachment is the only guide to the soul to its lasting happiness. To aspire for lasting happiness in the pursuit of the pleasures of the world is to live in a fool's paradise.
  • In the lessons on differences of opinion and beliefs of different religions of the world, Shrimadji argues that while all other religions are incomplete or imperfect paths to Self-realization, Jain religion is complete and perfect as it has elaborately described the nature of reality and the sure method of soul's salvation. The founders of Jain religion were omniscient. Their description of sympathy, celibacy, chastity, discrimination and non-attachment is unique. Besides, it contains minute descriptions of pure knowledge of the Self, its hierarchical gradations and the mutations of the soul's states.
  • In the lesson on celibacy, he states nine prohibitions conductive to the observance of celibacy.
  • The lessons on Jain philosophical doctrines are lucid and simple expositions useful for every student of Jain philosophy and religion.
  • He has also enumerated the eighteen obstacles to the control of mental modifications which a seeker of the Self-realization should remove from his life.
  • He has also described fourteen mental states which make gradual development of the highest virtues.

'Avadhana' - Power of Attention and Recollection

In about Vikram Samvat 1940 or 1884 A.D.,Shrimadji came from Vavania to Morbi. In Morbi, Shastri Shankarlal M. Bhatt was performing the feat of attending to eight objects or eight activities at a time. At the same time in Bombay, Gattulalji Maharaj was performing similar feats. These were the only two well-known persons for their exceptional memory and attention feats. Shrimadji saw the performance of these feats in Morbi and quickly picked them up.

Within two days after he saw the memory feats, he started performing similar feats before his friends and then for the open public. He was already known as a learned man but when he performed a memory feat of attending to twelve activities at a time before a gathering of 2,000 persons, he became famous as a prodigy with exceptional powers. Some admirers used to address him as the precious diamond of India.

In an exhibition at Wadhwan he performed his memory feat of attending to sixteen activities at a time before an audience of rulers and highly educated public, and all were extremely pleased. The dailies published articles in his praise.

In Botad, before his millionaire friend Sheth Harilal, he performed the memory feat of attending to 52 activities at a time. They included activities like :

  • Playing Chaupat with three other players;
  • Playing cards with three others and at the end, to call out all thirteen cards held.
  • At the same time playing chess and at the end of the memory feat to declare all the pieces which were removed from the chess board;
  • To count grains which were dropped on his back while he was engaged in the memory feat;
  • To perform addition, subtraction, multiplication, division and to keep the results in mind and to declare them at the end of the memory feat;
  • To tell as to how many beads, a man sitting opposite him, had turned from a garland till the time he stopped turning them;
  • To hear words of 16 sentences in 16 different languages in a random fashion and later on to speak out all the 16 sentences in the 16 languages;
  • To supply individual letters in a random way in a chart to be completed and at the end to compose a verse;
  • To prepare problem poems;
  • To compose complete verses on being supplied only with one line or half lines.
  • To compose 16 poems in 16 different poetical forms starting with one line of each of the recollected complete poems at the end.

Later on Shrimadji easily performed memory feats of attending to 100 things and activities at a time. Even than he used to say that his powers were merely a drop in the ocean, that the powers of the Self were infinite.

Shri Chatrabhujbhai, the brother-in-law of Shrimadji, said that Shrimadji used to tell whether a person uses his right hand or left hand to fix a Paghadi (a head dress - turban) just by looking at the shape of the Paghadi on the wearer's head.

In Vikram Samvat 1943 or 1887 A.D. Shrimadji went to Bombay and there he performed various memory feats in Faramji Kavasji Institute and at other places. All the newspapers in Bombay gave wide publicity and praise to these performances. He was awarded gold medals by the public and institutions for his excellent unheard of amazing memory feats.

In one of the memory feats he was shown twelve books of different sizes and told their names too. Then he was blind-folded and he used to touch a book he had seen before and immediately call out its name. Dr. Peterson who presided over the performance had nothing but admiration and praise for this outstanding feat.

On another occasion, he was shown different food dishes and just by looking at them he identified the dishes containing lesser salt without touching the dishes or tasting the food.

Some of his admirers suggested Shrimadji to tour foreign countries and show his ability and powers to the outside world. But he refused the suggestion on the ground that he would not be able to observe religious discipline in the foreign countries.

Shrimadji thought the wide publicity of his exceptional powers may hinder his march towards the Self-realization and so before he reached age of 20, he gradually discouraged it and in a couple of years, he gave up his performances of memory feats.

Other Notable Articles

Shri Vinaychand Popatlal Daftari, a friend of Shrimadji, declares in a booklet 'Sakshat Saraswati' published in 1887 A.D., as follows:

"In accordance with the rules of epic poetry, Shrimadji composed `Namiraja' a work of five thousand verses wherein he has explained the nature of the four Purusharthas - Dharma, Artha, Kama and Moksha. This book was composed by him in six days. His spotless divinity and a very high order of thoughts are evident throughout the book.

One religious head requested Shrimadji to prepare a book in verse, of the fundamental tenets of his religion and offered to pay Rupees One Thousand to him for such composition. But Shrimadji turned down the offer.

Shrimadji also edited a newspaper named 'Vairagya Vilas' or the enjoyment of non-attachment." Unfortunately, nothing of the above is available.

In some of the advisory compositions prepared by him at the age of eighteen years he enunciates a doctrine and then illustrates it.

He says: "The gift of all scriptures can be summed up in two words - devotion to God and adoption of a life of benevolence in the world."

In 1885 A.D. his composition on 'Shurvir Smarana' (in memory of the brave) he has given in verse a picturesque description of the brave warriors of the past, who victoriously fought the battles in India; and he compares those glorious moments with the present times when he doesn’t find anyone of that calibre to free India from foreign domination. The poem gives us sharp contrasts between the brave of the past and the cowards that inherit them.

In all forms of literature Shrimadji has made his mark. However to him, literature was a means of expression and not a method of liberation. He was interested in teaching the people the art of Self-liberation, the foundation and the climax of all arts.

Shrimadji used to say that: "Telling truth about one's own Self is neither Self-praise nor Self-abuse; telling otherwise is a vice."

"One who possesses wider intelligence and outlook, equaminity of mind, straightforwardness and complete sense-control is a properly qualified person for truth-realization. From age’s immemorial, attachment, avarice and infatuation have clouded the soul's strength and so it has not been able to think of itself. Human birth and that too in Arya Desha or India and in a noble family and a sound healthy body are the proper means for the soul to think of itself and of its liberation.

If all this is available, then one has only to grow a strong desire to liberate oneself. If these qualifications are fulfilled one would automatically follow the path of the wise and liberated souls. No doubt will distract him.

As compared with other systems of philosophy and religion, Jain religion is preached by the most pure and holy, by those who are completely free from all attachments, avarice and infatuations. Hence it is indisputably a path of personal purification and Self-realization by Self-improvement. Therefore, all what the liberated have said and advised is thoroughly believable and should be easily acceptable.

The eternal path preached by the liberated souls is mixed with many undesirable offshoots and developments in course of time. One should distinguish between the path of the liberated and the path of the initiate and erring."

The wrangling of the Jain religious heads in support of their self-chosen paths of liberation and ethical discipline flows from ignorance and leads to the sharpening of prejudices. Sometimes the highly advanced religious souls are misguided by the rise of infatuation and ignorance. In such circumstances they offer sham religion for the real one, to their followers.

Shrimadji says that: “The present times are such that the educated are bankrupt in faith needed for religious discipline. Very few have faith in religion. Those who have faith do not study the religion for themselves nor do they seek proper Guru who can explain them the truths of religion. In case a few try to understand religion there are many who will obstruct their path rather than help them. This is the plight of the educated people of the time and they keep away from religion.

The uneducated in the present times, on the other hand, are so inert and orthodox that they fear overstep the beliefs of their forefathers and they go the easy way of following blindly the religion of their ancestors.

One who really wants to follow the eternal path of the Jinas gets suffocated in the prevalent clumsy practices of the Jain creeds and he runs out of these clutches to a wider atmosphere and freedom wherein he can make real progress.

There are very few souls interested in spiritual religious research. Those, who would heartily desire to be free and would actively work for it, are still few. Even for such souls the proper guides by way of an enlightened Guru, proper religious contacts and the supply of adequate religious scriptures are difficult to obtain.

Every one who is given a hearing by them, blows his own trumpet and never inquires whether what he says is true, half-true or untrue. Besides, even these few souls starving for Self-liberation are compelled to waste their precious time in many worldly activities that they find it difficult to maintain the continuity of their spiritual progress.

There are a few souls following the eternal religion propagated by Lord Mahavir but the rest of the Jain religious public present a sorry debacle.

What pains me is not that the Jains lose anything but that only a few are ready to take the advantage of the magnanimous achievements of the great realized souls to the credit of the Jain philosophy and religion. Any well thinking mind will appreciate the truth of what I say.

The author of Jain scriptures does not mean to say that all those who accept the Jain religion will obtain liberation. One has to work for what he believes. One, whose soul will practice religion, will gain by it. Worship of the idols of the Tirthankaras whose obligation on us is invaluable, it is a great purificatory agent and an effective means to Self-liberation. It is meant for us to realize the objective for which worship of the idols is enjoined by the scriptures."

Shrimad Rajchandra - As a Householder

In a letter to his friend in his twentieth year he writes: "Having no intrinsic love of money and yet to use it for the benefit of the distressed and the needy, I tried to earn some money for the future. On other side, wealth, even if acquired for benevolent works, may breed in the person possessing it, blindness, deafness and dumbness. Hence, I do not care for wealth at all."

Shrimadji married Zabakben, daughter of Popatlalbhai, the elder brother of Jagjivandas Mehta on the 12th day of the bright half of the month of Maha in Vikram Samvat 1944. He was twenty years old at that time.

One year after his marriage, under the caption 'My thoughts on woman', he wrote to a friend that: "unqualified and unrestricted happiness lies in pure knowledge of the Self and never in the worldly enjoyments of married life. Bodily happiness is only a shadow of the real happiness. Besides enjoyments of the body are only short-lived and the sources of consequent misery, disease and death. It is painfully surprising to find the human mind enjoying in worldly and physical pleasures. One should pray for the complete freedom from all desires concerning the bodily and sense-pleasures."

Regarding his wife, Shrimadji writes: "My desire is for liberation but forced by the fruits of my previous actions, I lead a married life. But here too I normally maintain equanimity, neither attachment nor non-attachment. I feel pained to find sometimes my behaviour contrary to my intense desire for liberation."

To a friend, in Vikram Samvat 1946 (1890 A.D) he writes: "I have married a little over two years before you. Within these two years I have come to know my wife's mind and I can say that none of us is dissatisfied with the other. Nor can I say that it is absolutely satisfactory. Our relations are common and normal. And this is more due to my indifference. While thinking of high metaphysical thoughts I get strong suggestions for renouncing the householder's order. I had similar thoughts even before my marriage but I had to pacify them as I found that following them would make the very continuance of my life impossible."

In Mokshamala, in lesson No. 12 `Best Householder', lesson No. 45 `Common Aspiration', lesson No. 55 `Rules of daily observance by the Householder' and in six lessons Nos. 61 to 66 under the title `Thoughts on Happiness' he gives his views on the ideal householder's life. He writes: "Though I am happy as householder as compared with others, but the worldly happiness is to be suffered and not to be enjoyed. It is not true happiness. Normally people in the world are unhappy and so the people who are happy in worldly life are called fortunate and favoured souls. I have decided to utilize my life in the practice of religion. I normally read and think of the revealed scriptures, keep contacts with the enlightened souls, observe prohibitions and injunctions, observe celibacy for twelve days in a month, give in charity without declaring my name.

I have renounced much of my burden of worldly life. I want to be a forest recluse after entrusting the care of my family to my sons no sooner they come of age. At present I have deliberately chosen to remain as a householder in order that I can guide the householders in the path of religious practice better than the Sanyasis or Yatis can do. The householder's order requires much improvement and I want to expedite it. A householder can easily advise another householder and guide his behaviour by his example and practice."

Shrimadji declares that as a principle complete renunciation from the householder's order is necessary for lasting happiness.

Shrimad Rajchandra- A Businessman

Shrimad Rajchandra was also an accomplished businessman in jewellery and pearls. Of all the jewellery merchants of his time, he was known as one of the most reliable and honest.

Once a pearls-merchant sold his pearls to Shrimadji at a certain price; merchant’s elder brother scolded him for selling the pearls at a much lower price than expected. Thereon the younger brother came back to Shrimadji and narrated his brother’s unhappiness about the transaction. Shrimadji immediately returned the pearls and cancelled the deal. This shows his honesty and sympathy.

Shri Maneklal Ghelabhai, while appreciating Shrimadji's business acumen, writes that even foreign customers used to praise the excellent business organization and exactness of Shrimadji.

Shrimadji wrote down certain rules of discipline in his diary which he decided to observe after he joined a partnership business in Bombay in Vikram Samvat 1946 or 1890 A.D. The rules are in brief were as under:

  • Do not see others' fault. Believe that the difficulties which come your way are due to your own shortcomings.
  • Never indulge in self-praise; since by doing so, one only lowers himself.
  • Behave in such a way as it may win affection of others. It may not be so easy to start with but gradually by strong self-determination and resolute efforts you will be able to mould your behaviour.
  • Declare your line of thought and action to one with whom you wish to join in business or in any worldly matter.
  • Also win his confidence by your word and deed and assure him that you shall never think or do anything to harm his interests. Should any of your thought or deed prove harmful to your partner or colleague, repent for it and tell him that it will never recur.
  • Tell him that you shall do the work entrusted to you with care and diligence but without pride or egotism.
  • Tell your partner that on no account you are prepared to sacrifice your discipline for Self-realization, that he should not use you as a means to secure his unethical motives, that when assured of a possible conflict on the above conditions, you will clear out of the joint partnership with no harm to your partner.
  • In case your partner doubts your bonafide, request him to declare them freely and explain to him that there is no ground for such doubt. Should he not accept your explanation, respectfully terminate partnership.

Shrimadji and Gandhiji

Gandhiji regarded Shrimadji as his friend, philosopher and guide. He acknowledges the debt he owes to Shrimadji in his recollections of his friendship with Shrimadji. From 1891 to 1901 A.D. for a period of ten years they were best friends.

Gandhiji says that most of his lessons for self-improvement and on truth and non-violence have been learnt from Shri Raichandbhai.

Gandhiji says: "I have drunk to my heart's content the nectar of religion that was offered to me by Shri Raichandbhai. Raichandbhai hated the spread of irreligion in the name of religion and he condemned lies, hypocrisy and such other vices which were getting a free hand in his time. He considered the whole world as his relative and his sympathy extended to all living beings of all ages.

Shrimadji was an embodiment of non-attachment and renunciation. He has written only that which he has experienced. He has never allowed his poetic imagination to get ahead of truth and experience. There is therefore no artificiality in his writings. They come from the heart and appeal to the very heart of the reader. He used to keep diary and a pen with him in all his daily routine and he immediately wrote down important thoughts that occurred to him. I never remember any occasion when Shri Raichandbhai got lost or infatuated in any worldly matter."

Gandhiji had pen-pictured Shrimadji as: "His living was simple. He was satisfied with whatever food was offered to him. He put on simple but clean clothes. He used to wear Dhoti, Peharan, Khesa and a turban. He used to sit on a mattress on the floor in his shop or at home. He was slow in his walk and he used to think while walking. There was a spark in his eyes full of lustre and steadiness. They declared the single-mindedness of his purpose. His face was round, his lips thin, nose not pointed nor flat, body single, height average, colour darkish white and general appearance that of an idol in peace.

His tone was so sweet that one would love to hear him more and more. His face was smiling and in full bloom and joy. It clearly declared the internal joy and peace.

His language was so effective and measured that he was never found to be searching for words. Language was his maidservant. He was described by some as an incarnation of the Goddess of Knowledge, Saraswati. He never changed a word while writing a letter. He expressed his thoughts and meditations in fine and appropriate language.

This description befits only a self-controlled person. By renunciation the external forms one cannot be self-controlled. The real self-control is not an imposition; it is an inspiration and an internal illumination.

Complete non-attachment and renunciation is the gift of the soul. It should be spontaneous and from within and not sporadic or externally imposed. Very rare souls by virtue of their high spiritual attainments in their previous births possess these qualities in them. Only those who actively try to keep away from all attachments from them, know how difficult it is to attain that state. Such a difficult achievement was easily found in Shri Raichandbhai. The first step to Self-realization is a cultivation of a spirit of complete non-attachment and it was natural in Raichandbhai.

People normally believe that truth and successful business never go together. Shri Raichandbhai on the other hand firmly believed and advised that truth and honesty were not only useful but essential to all good business. Morality is not packed within a prayer book, it is to be practiced and lived in all stations of life. Religion and morality sustain both good life and good business. Though Raichandbhai never played tricks with others, he used to find them out quite easily when they were played by others. He used to snub the persons using the tricks and force them to give them up.

While we are worldly souls, Shrimadji was from quite other world or liberated from the worldly life. While we may have to take many further births, for Raichandbhai his present life may be the last. While we perhaps are running away from liberation, Raichandbhai was heading towards liberation with a tremendous speed. This speaks volume of Raichandbhai's self-effort.

Whoever will read his teachings and follow them may speed up his march to Self-liberation. From this is evident that Raichandbhai has written for the advanced and the initiate in religion and not for all and sundry.

Some Anecdotes from Shrimadji's Life

  • Once he Shrimadji had gone out with a friend for a walk in Bombay and on his way he came near a cemetery. He asked his friend as to what was the place they came by? His friend replied: "Cemetery". Shrimadji said that he viewed the whole Bombay city as a cemetery.
  • Knowing his superhuman powers, once Shrimadji's neighbour told him that he must know the market rates of all commodities and such knowledge could be used to his financial benefit in his dealings in shares. To this Shrimadji replied that he was not a fool to use his spiritual powers for such petty selfish benefits.
  • Once Padamshibhai, a resident of Kutch, sought remedy for removing his fear of death. Shrimadji advised him that till life is fully led according to fixed destiny there is no death. Why then should we not live well until death visits us? With the fear of death, one cannot be free from death. Be fearless, lead a chaste life and embrace death when it comes.
  • His servant Lallu, a resident of Morbi, who had stayed with his family for a number of years caught a deadly disease in Bombay. Shrimadji daily nursed him till Lallu breathed his last.
  • Once Shrimadji went to see Tokarshibhai, who was suffering from Pneumonia and whis sickness was growing fatal. In Shrimadji’s presence, Tokarshibhai became quiet and experienced peace and joy. After some time Shrimadji told his relatives that Tokarshibhai was gradually sinking. When he was asked as to how did he know it and as to what did he do by which Tokarshibhai got a relief from his pain and enjoyed peace, Shrimadji replied that he could see Tokarshibhai's death and he therefore tried to change his mind and last desires so as to improve his spiritual prospects for the future birth.
  • Once Shrimadji asked his three years old daughter her name, to which she replied that her name was Kashi. Shrimadji lovingly said: "No you are the Self." But Kashiben refused to agree to it. Shrimadji laughed at the child's ignorance.

Shrimadji's Perception of Self-Realization

On Kartik Sud 14th, Samvat 1947, Shrimadji writes in a letter as follows: "That my soul has attained complete knowledge of its nature is an indubitable fact, that my knots of the heart and head have been removed, is a truth of all times and all Self-realized souls will easily recognize and endorse my experience."

At other time he writes: "O you Self-knowledge, the source of all heights of joy and bliss, to you I bow down with all devotion and humility. Innumerable souls without you suffer from ignorance. It is solely by your grace that I could know you and I could reach the goal of my soul's pilgrimage. As a result, I enjoyed unprecedented peace. I felt freedom from all worries and burdens, mental and physical."

"In Vikram Samvat 1947 I could realize the full stature of my spiritual being, and from then onwards I am enjoying increasing peace and bliss."

"In a wink, the knowledge which drew me to the worldly life changed its course and has led me to my proper goal i.e. Self-realization."

In a couplet he says: "One gets a spiritual insight by his spiritual eye and without it he cannot obtain soul-saving knowledge at all. This is not a matter of physical perception and it is foolish to try that way. Only by unqualified, concentrated devotion to a spiritual Guru or guide, one can obtain the soul-saving knowledge. Only a Guru can give this spiritual eye to see the spiritual reality."

In Vikram Samvat 1948, in the month of Magh, Shrimadji writes: "The system which contains a clear description of the right positions of bondage and freedom is the only guide to Self-liberation and such a system is that of the great Mahavir - the Jain system. If in my humble opinion, there is any living man available in whom the heart of the great Tirthankara is residing, he is no other than the author of these lines. The result of the soul-saving knowledge is the experience of complete renunciation from all worldly considerations and this is what I experience in my own being. Hence, I consider myself to be the perfect disciple of the great Tirthankara. One, who gains the soul's knowledge in accordance with the enlightened Guru's opinion, has obtained correct insight and experience, and none else. When the goal and the path are clearly seen there is no difficulty for a sincere disciple to follow the path and reach the goal."

In his talks with Muni Mohanlalji, Shrimadji said: "I do not forget the Self even for a second."

Once Shrimadji told Shri Devkaranji Muni that he lived in his body as a separate pulp would be felt in a dried coconut shell.

At Kheda one day Shrimadji in a monologue, he says: "In Samvat 1948, you the great soul of infinite peace and calmness visited Ralaj, in these days you visited Vaso and there you were a great Yogi absorbed in deep meditation and now you are the same Yogindra enjoying bliss and peace here at Kheda." This is Shrimadji's description of himself as a disembodied soul.

Atmasiddhi - A Lyrical Illustration of Six Fundamental Truths

Shrimadji wrote out famous Atmasiddhi Shastra in the form of a poetic dialogue in 142 verses at Nadiad, Gujarat at the request of Shri Sobhagyabhai. In the gathering darkness of the night, Shri Ambalalbhai stood with a lantern in his hand while the composition was on. The prose version by the name "A letter about six fundamental truths" could not be easily memorized by the aspirants and hence, Shri Sobhagyabhai requested Shrimadji to put the matter in verse.

This succinct and accurate composition is a masterpiece in philosophical literature. The poet in a simple form of question and answer, explained the gist of Jainism in form of six fundamental truths:

  • that the soul exists;
  • it is eternal;
  • it is the performer of its activities;
  • and therefore is responsible for the results of its activities;
  • it aspires for self liberation and 6) self liberation is achieved by following a right kind of religion.

Shrimadji's Last Spirital Stature

On the day prior to his death at Rajkot, Shrimadji said to Shri Mansukhbhai, Shri Revashankarbhai, Shri Narbherambhai and others around him that: "Be certain that this (my) soul is eternal, it is reaching increasingly higher stages, it has a very bright future. You remain quiet and behave with calmness and peace. I may not be there in future to tell you with my tongue nor there is now the time for it. I only advise you to continue your efforts towards Self-realization."

At 8:45 a.m. on Chaitra Vad 5th Vikram Samvat 1957, (9th April, 1901 AD) he told his younger brother: "Mansukh, do not be afflicted, take care of mother, I retire to my soul's true nature."

From 8:45 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. he laid on death bed quiet in deep meditation and left mortal body for ever.

In brief, Shrimadji lived and died as a Self-realized soul, completely independent of body.

Infinite salutations to great Krupaludev Shrimad Rajchandra!!!