2014 celebrations of Param Pujya Bapuji’s Birth Anniversary View the timetable Click here for the Invitation in Gujarati Every word spoken and every task undertaken by a self-realised master who always abides in the truth, itself becomes an act of truth. Param Pujya Bhaishree Nalinbhai Kothari is one such enlightened soul working for the spiritual […]
A living tradition with ancient roots
At the heart of India’s culture lies the Guru-Shishya relationship. It is the essential mechanism by which India’s spiritual and artistic tradition have been preserved for the benefit of this generation.
Nothing typifies it more than the relationship of Lord Mahavir with his chief disciple (Ganadhara) Gautam Swami. Raj Saubhag Ashram is part of a continuous living tradition which can be traced directly back to the times of Shrimad Rajchandra and his Soul-mate Saubhagbhai, who passed it on to Shamaldasbhai, who passed it on to Maniben, who, with the encouragement of Kalidasbhai, passed it on to Vajabhai who passed it onto Chotabhai, Guru to Param Pujya Bapuji. The Shree Raj Saubhag Ashram was formerly established on 31st December 1976.
In Sayla, locally known as the Town of Saints, the guru-disciple relationship can be traced to Shrimad’s times and still thrives today. Shri L M Vora (1905-1997), fondly known as Param Pujya Bapuji was the sixth disciple in line from Shri Saubhagbhai. He cast light on Shrimad Rajchandra’s spiritual achievements and also inspired in our hearts true love and devotion for Shrimad. Bapuji was fully aware of the intimate spiritual relationship between Shrimad and Saubhagbhai and credited this with many powerful insights which Shrimad shared in his most touching letters. This provided Bapuji with tremendous insight and impetus on his inner journey and thus created a sense of gratitude and a desire that the whole world know Saubhagbhai.
He was born in 1905 and performed brilliantly in his academic studies and won awards for his essays on Jain philosophy based on his reading of Mokshamala. He joined the local government after completing his matriculation. His adroit management style soon led to his promotion in the government hierarchy, rising to the post of a Judge and then Deputy Collector. He was a role model for his honesty and moral uprightness. Whilst he carried out his duties faithfully and competently, his own objective was to achieve self realisation and pursue his spiritual goals. He achieved self-realisation at the age of 33 years. He was such a self-contained person that, except for his immediate satsang colleagues, nobody realised what his spiritual achievements were. For forty years he kept his secret.
It is a matter of great fortune, the fruition of auspicious (punya) karma that Bapuji was eventually discovered by the late great seeker Shantibhai Ambani. Shantibhai spent 5 years studing Vachanamrut, the collection of Shrimad’s writing, at Devlali and was perplexed by expression related to Gurugam (esoteric wisdom imparted by the Guru) and about the living presence of a self-realised guru. This inspired his search for a self-realised True Guru.
He searched far and wide in places like Vrajreshwari, Ganneshpuri, HariOhm Ashram, Aabu, Ider, Aagaas, Kaavithaa, Vadvaa. Eventually, due to the benevolence of a MahaSatiji (Jain Nun), he came to know about Pujya Chhotabhai and Bapuji. Shantibhai thus approach Bapuji.
Bapuji told him that he would not utter a word on the subject during the lifetime of his Guru Pujya Chhotabhai, who was at the time resident in Calcutta. As Shantibhai was preparing to visit Calcutta, he received the news that Pujya Chhotabhai had just passed away. So he came back to Bapuji. Referring to Bapuji’s resolution to remain silent on the subject during the lifetime of his Guru, Shantibhai sought his refuge again. Bapuji relented and agreed to take him under his shelter on the condition that he did not tell anybody else; but this caused further dilemma as Shantibhai had made a pact with Nagindasbhai Kalyanji Shah and Lavchandbhai Ghelani that whoever found a SadGuru (True Guru) should inform the other two. Eventually in his compassion Bapuji agreed to show the path to all three. Then, imparting the truth of the spiritual teachings to the three, he lifted them to a level of spiritual worthiness. He then bestowed the BeejGnaan upon them.
As the three progressed spiritually, their family members sought Bapuji’s refuge, as did many others. Seekers from overseas even came to Bapuji. Now that the number of visitors to Sayla had increased so much, an ashram was to be established at Sayla.
Bapuji, who had tremendous regard for Saubhagbhai, highlighted his importance by establishing the ‘Raj Saubhag Ashram’ in Sayla on 31st December 1976, initially at the house of Pujya Chhotabhai Desai and later on to the current larger premises on 25th February 1985.
Thus the legacy of the two spiritual soul mates, Shrimad Rajchandra and Shri Saubhagbhai, was kept alive by the establishment of the Ashram. Besides continuing to serve his wisdom to the mumukshus at the Ashram, due to his compassion, Bapuji made several trips abroad at the many requests of the overseas mumukshus to serve them as well.
Thus Bapuji led the seekers along the path of spiritual progress so that eventually nearly a dozen seekers reached the high spiritual state of Brahmanist. When Bapuji was satisfied that the tradition of Guru & Disciple was well established and there were highly developed individuals who could continue the tradition, he relinquished the high seat of ‘Guru’ to Pujya Sadgunnaben C U Shah (Pujya Gurumaiyaa) and Pujya Nalinbhai Kothari (Pujya Bhaishree).
This relinquishment was so complete to Bapuji that during any Swadhyay sessions if Bapuji wanted to speak he would first ask for Pujya Bhaishree’s permission! Also, in his wider vision, Bapuji appointed two younger Brahmanishts, Pujya Vikrambhai and Pujya Minalben, to guide the incoming younger generation.
Bapuji passed away on 9th December 1997 soon after returning from one of his overseas trips.
Thus the tradition of Guru & Disciple was continued by Bapuji, to become the cause of emancipation for us all and the Jain path of salvation has come down to us from Mahavir Swami down through Shrimad Rajchandra, Shree Saubhagyabhai and their disciples who had implemented it in their lives and succeeded in their spiritual quest.