Foodgrain distribution to the needy in Sudan

Raj Saubhag Ashram mumukshu, Ashokbhai Parekh sponsored and organized foodgrain distribution drive to the needy in Sudan, in cooperation with volunteers from Arham Group (mumukshus of Pujya Namra Muni) and a local Sudanese NGO.  His wife, Parulben also wholeheartedly supported and participated in the distribution drive.

A total of 2,700 cartons were distributed in various regions in the suburbs of capital city Khartoum and Omdurman. Beneficiaries consisted of previously identified needy families, who expressed gratitude and gave heartfelt blessings on receiving their precious gifts.  Among the benefactors were 50 blind people.

Wheat, flour, lentils, dal, rice, sugar, chickpeas, dates, fruit drink powder and sunflower oil were distributed to individual families in their homes by volunteers who cheerfully worked long hours in the extremely hot climate.

The governor of Omdurman City and President of Omdurman Indian Community were present to witness this humanitarian activity, which was covered by the local news channels, radio stations and newspapers.

Ashokbhai Parekh said: “This activity was carried out under the grace of our Guru, Pujya Bhaishree.  His inspiration and his krupa inspired us to serve our fellow beings.”

IVY Swadhyay - Mothers Day Special

If the only Prayer you said in your life was “Thank you” that would suffice!

The one person in everybody’s life, who deserves a special ‘Thank You’, more than anybody else, is our mother. Mother is special and precious, not just because she goes through pain and gives us life, but also because she knows how to give selflessly and ask for nothing in return.  She practices and teaches compassion and kindness; she is the first one to rejoice in our happiness and feel our pain, and she comforts us when we are scared or fearful.  She spreads sweet fragrance in our lives.

For a spiritually inclined person, there is twice the cause of celebration on Mother’s Day – since he celebrates the presence of his mother and the Guru in his life.

A guru like Pujya Bhaishree plays a dual role – that of a caring mother and a motivating father. He is a friend as well, who lends his ear without judging, happy in our happiness and supportive during the lean phases of our life.

Brahmnisht Minalben shared a beautiful poem describing the sacrifices made by a mother and the efforts taken by her to mould her children.

માં  કેવી  તું
કયા  શબ્દો  માં   કહું  કે  માં , કેવી  તું
પીડા  ની  પુકાર  માં , મારી  પેહલી  છીઝ  તું
મારો  પેહલો  પ્રગાઢ  વિશ્વાસ  તું
મારા  હૃદય  ના  દરેક  ધબકાર  માં  તું
કયા  શબ્દો  માં  કહું , માં  કેવી  તું
મારા  જીવન  ના  સુખનો  બાગ  તું
ક્યારેક  ગુસ્સા  માં  સૂર્ય  ની  આગ  તું

માં , કયા  શબ્દો  માં  કહું  કે  કેવી  તું
અંધકાર  ને  દૂર   કરનારો  પ્રકાશ  તું
મારી    અપેક્ષાઓ  ની  ધરતી  તું
મારી  આકાંશા  નું  આકાશ  તું
માં , કાયા  શબ્દો  માં  કહું  કે  કેવી  તું
ધાકધકતા  જીવન  પ્રવાસ  માં  શીતળતા  તું
જીવન  ને  છેલ્લી   શ્વાસ  નો  વિસામો  તું …

Br. Minalben also shared another beautiful poem by Kathleen J. Shields:

‘There are Angels God puts on this Earth
Who care for us and guide us.
You can feel their love and gentleness
as they walk through life beside us.

They do great things for us every day
they whisper in our ears,
they even hold us in their hearts
when we are filled with all our fears.

They are always there to give a hug
and try to make us smile.
They treat us with respect and love;
they treat us like their child.

God blessed me with an Angel,
I’m proud to call my own.
She’s been with me throughout my
life, been with me as I’ve grown.

She guided me the best she can,
she taught me like no other,
and I’m thankful I’m the lucky one
who gets to call her... MOTHER’

To show our appreciation and gratitude to our Mother, we must help them as much as possible and support them when they feel low.  Likewise, we must also be grateful to our Guru for leading us to eternal happiness.  There is no way we can repay our Guru for lifting us from the cycle of births and deaths.  The Guru’s efforts as well as virtues should be applauded wholeheartedly.

Voltaire said, “Appreciation is a wonderful thing, it makes what is excellent in others belong to us as well’.

Minalben also shared a powerful analogy of a monkey, who mistakenly thinks the rosemary seeds to be the fire-stone, and tries to ignite a fire but naturally fails in his endeavours.  Likewise, an ignorant person seeks happiness in places where there is none.

As much as appreciation is important, being ethical is equally important and it’s the very first goal of inner transformation. Stressing on some really important questions, Brahmnisht Vikrambhai asked the young mumukshus to reflect on:

  • How ethical am I?
  • How long does it take me to admit to something unethical that I have done?
  • How do I feel when I compromise on my values? Justified? Guilty? or Sad?
  • What are the things for which I compromise my values? Does my want for something cloud my understanding of the ethics of that situation or can I remain clear minded and objective?
     

Without being ethical, there is no uplifting.

It is the power of discrimination (vivek-vichar) that guides our actions. The pure mind will filter and safeguard our soul from many negative influences. Along with the pure mind, it's our inner conscience, the voice of the soul that will lead us to act appropriately.

When a person is able to applaud goodness, be kind and humble, honest and uncompromising where integrity is concerned, only then can the Guru’s teaching bear fruit.

We must take example from the life of Pujya Bhaishree.  His every action is the epitome of virtue, patience and mindfulness.  Let us cultivate these qualities and walk on the path shown by the Master.

75th Ladies Swadhyay

IMG-20170518-WA0019.jpg

The 75th ladies swadhyay was held on 30th April, at Brahmnisht Minalben’s residence in Mumbai.

Pujya Bhaishree graced the occasion and gave a discourse on a poem written by Ganga Sati.  He likened Minalben to Ganga Sati and the lady mumukshus to Paanbai.

Briefing the mumukshus about the life of Ganga Sati, Pujya Bhaishree said that she was an elevated, enlightened Vedanti Saint, who composed many divine, meaningful bhajans.   Her life reflected her writing and many bhajans were composed to guide Paanbai on the spiritual path.  (There are 2 version of Ganga Sati’s relationship with Paanbai – one version says that Paanbai was her daughter-in-law and another version says that Paanbai was her maid who was part of her dowry) Ganga Sati’s husband Kahalchand, was also deeply spiritual. 

According to traditional account, he utilized his spiritual powers to prove himself in the presence of the villagers.  Later, regretting this misuse of powers (since people would now be attracted to him due to these powers rather than his spirituality), Kahalchand decided to take samadhi and end his life. Gangasati urged him to let her take samadhi too but he refused and instructed her to wait until she had perfected Paanbai, her daughter-in-law/maid on path of devotion.  Obeying the instructions of her husband, Ganga Sati through her bhajans and devotional songs, laid out the path for Paanbai and then accepted Samadhi. 

પરિપૂર્ણ સતસંગ હવે તમને કરાવું,
ને આપું જોને નિર્મળ જ્ઞાન રે,
જનમવા મરવાનું તમારું મટાડીને
ધરાવું અવિનાશીનું ધ્યાન રે ... પરિપૂર્ણ.

નામરૂપને મિથ્યા જાણો ને
મેલી દેજો મનની તાણાવાણ રે,
આવો બેસો એકાંતમાં ને તમને,
પદ આપું નિર્વાણ રે ... પરિપૂર્ણ.

સદા રહો સતસંગમાં ને
કરો અગમની ઓળખાણ રે,
નુરત સુરતથી નિજ નામ પકડીને
જેથી થાય હરિની જાણ રે ... પરિપૂર્ણ.

મેલ ટળે ને વાસના ગળે,
ન કરો પુરણનો અભિયાસ રે,
ગંગા રે સતી એમ બોલિયાં,
થાય મૂળ પ્રકૃતિનો નાશ રે ... પરિપૂર્ણ.

Ganga Sati says: “I will bequeath to you true knowledge herewith.  Let go of our beliefs in births and deaths, and strive to attain the Absolute Truth – that which is beyond life and death.  Do not associate yourself with this body, your name and the thought processes of the mind. Seek solitude and immerse yourself in satsang.  Strive to know your Atma – which is the absolute truth.  Know your Atma –which is timeless.  This striving will help you rid yourself of negative qualities."

Pujya Bhaishree elaborated further.  He highlighted the immense benefits that will accrue from consistent satsang. This was a fail proof way overcoming one’s attachment to this transient, material world and walk on the path of spirituality. 

  • Until he reaches his goal (the Atma), the mumukshu should seek refuge of an enlightened Master and immerse himself in satsang.
  • This satsang will help him overcome his bad qualities and inculcate purity
  • Every mumukshu should aim to be consistent and single-minded in his pursuit of purity.
  • Sansaar-bhaav has ensured that we are constantly taking new births and dying new deaths.
  • Pujya Bhaishree added that only the followers of a true Guru can understand the underlying, deep meaning of the last part of the above composition.  

Swadhyay was followed by skits and dance performances, by the mumukshus, highlighting all that they hadlearned; a cake-cutting ceremony and dinner.

We rise by lifting others - Seva activity by Raj Saubhag Dubai Mumukshus

On a warm morning of 12th May, 43 enthusiastic volunteers gathered in Sajja labour camp in Sharjah to distribute to 450 + 50 (total beneficiaries 500) labourers - rice, sugar, dal, dry fruits, dates, biscuits, t-shirts and caps.  This was part of the seva activity undertaken bymumukshus on a regular basis.  Surging ahead the labourers gratefully received their share, smiling widely on receiving the precious gifts. 

A total of 1500 kilos of foodgrains, 225 kilos of dates, 50 kilos of nuts and dried fruits were repackaged into individual bags and distributed.  The task of repackaging took 3 days, and volunteers participated in the entire process wholeheartedly and selflessly, fully aware that the smallest act of kindness is worth more than the grandest intention.


We can't help everyone, but everyone can help someone

IVY Swadhyay - Ayambil Oli

The auspicious ‘Ayambil Oli’ also called ‘Navpad oli’ had just ended on 11th April; so, in this IVY swadhaya, Pujya Minalben shed light on the history and importance of this festival and its value in a true seeker’s life.

Observed twice a year, Aymbil Oli involves special fasting in which a person eats one meal a day consisting of boiled grains with no spices, seasoning, oil or greens.  Eating fruits, vegetables, milk or yogurt is also forbidden for 9 days.  Special prayers are offered to the 9 auspicious pillars of Jainism - Arihant, Siddh, Acharya, Upadhya and Sadhu along with Gnaan, Darshan, Charitra, Tap.

Minalben highlighted the importance of Ayambil Oli through the inspiring story of King Shripal and his wife Mayna Sundri.

During the time of 20th Tirthankara Munisuvarat Swami, who lived approximately 1.1 million years ago, King Singhrath ruled over Champa-nagar.  A son was borne to him by queen, Kamalprabha.  The young prince was named Shripal.

King Singhrath’s brother Ajitsen was an ambitious man who was waiting for an opportunity to usurp the throne. On the death of King Singhrath,  Ajitsen conspired to get rid of the 5-year old crown prince, Shripal.  Anticipating his evil intent, Queen Kamalprabha fled into the jungle with her infant son.  Fearing for their lives, the queen hid her son among a group of 700 lepers and escaped from that place to save her life.

Unaware about his true identity and growing up with the lepers, the young prince (now named Umar Rana) contracted leprosy, but since he grew up to be an intelligent young man with exceptional leadership qualities, he was named leader of this group.  Under his leadership the troupe travelled place to place and one day arrived in Ujjayini city, which was the capital of Malwa region.

The king of Ujjayini was Prajapal and his queen Roopsundri. They had two beautiful, intelligent and skillful daughters – Sur Sundri and Mayna Sundri, whom they loved equally.

Deciding to test his daughters, the King asked them: “By whose favor, do you enjoy all these amenities, skills and luxuries?”

The elder daughter, Sur Sundari replied, “Father, it is because of your generosity and care, that I have acquired all these amenities, skills and luxuries.” Extremely pleased by her answer, King rewarded her appropriately.

Expecting a similar response from his younger daughter Mayna Sundari, King eagerly waited for her to answer. Mayna replied: “With all due respect and gratitude to you father, everything that I have acquired today, is the merit of my own past karma”.

While Sur Sundri’s reply was not a lie, but Mayna Sundri’s perspective was indeed the Truth; a truth that germinated from her spiritual inclinations and reflected her philosophical beliefs.

Exasperated by this unexpected reply, King decided to teach Mayna Sundri a lesson. He ordered his men to find the ugliest man in the city so he could get his daughter married to him. The soldiers spotted Umar Rana (infected by leprosy), who was in the city at that time and presented him to the king.

To spite the supposed insolence of his younger daughter, the King instantly got Mayna married to leper Umar Rana, and immediately sent them away. On the other hand, the king looked for a suitable match for Sur Sundari and got her married to Prince Aridaman of Shankhapuri.

Mayna was a deeply religious and elevated soul. She accepted her fate and the leper as her husband and took good care of him. Being a devout lady, she would visit temples and participate in sermons and discourses given by monks.

One day Mayna Sundari and her husband went to see Jain Acharya Munichandra who was a well-known scholar.  On learning about his leprosy, the monk advised both of them to do penance through fasting and worshipping of the sacred Siddhchakra for four and half years.

At the end of four and half years, Umar Rana (Shripal) was miraculously cured of his disease and now resembled his real, handsome self. Feeling happy and blessed both Mayna Sundari and Umar Rana continued fasting during Ayambil (twice every year).

Shripal now embarked on a mission to reclaim what rightfully belonged to him, which was the throne of Champa Nagar.  On achieving hisgoals, Shripal happily passed the rest of his life as King of Champa-nagar.

Siddhchakra, Navpad is a popular yantra or mandala (mystical diagram) used for worship in Jainism. Navapad, includes 5 supreme beings, having 108 virtues in all, and 4 right virtues/Gunas.

Panch Parmesthi:

Arihant: Ari means Enemy and Hant means destroyer. Thus, prayingto the Arihants means praying to the one who has conquered his inner enemies such as anger, greed, ego, and deceit and lives in perfect equilibrium. Out of 108 virtues, Arihant pad has 12 attributes.

Siddh, the liberated soul, without a physical form, also called the Vitraga, has 8 attributes.

Acharya, the spiritual master, first among all the saints, teaches the Holy Scripture through self-practice and has 36 attributes.

Upadhya, spiritual teacher, second among the Guru Tatva, is one with knowledge and teaches in absence of Acharya. Upadhya pad has 25 attributes.

Sadhu, the monk, is third among the Guru Tatva, who has left their worldly belongings and observes 5 Mahavrat and has 27 attributes.

Pillars of Jainism:

Gnaan – Darshan – Charitra – Tap: Right Knowledge – Right Faith - Right Conduct – Right Penance

Right Faith: It is to cultivate right and utmost faith in the Trinity -SatDev, SatDharma and SatGuru.  Our goal is to be happy in all given circumstances. The right approach is to have faith in the Trinity and adopt one of the following ways to be happy – Be content, Become a witness, Rise above the situation, Make amends in the thinking – Adjust oneself instead of trying to change the situation.
Right Knowledge: I am not the body; but the soul inside the body is my true self.
Right Conduct: Being truthful, adopting non-violence, no stealing and being content
Right Penance: There are different types of penance. One done for the right reason to gain right knowledge, get rid of Karmas is the right penance. Observing chauvihar, doing ekashna, upvaas etc are modes of penance. The ultimate penance is ‘iccha nirodh’ – getting rid of all desires.

Thus, we bow down to 5 supreme spiritual souls and resolve to win over our inner enemies and scale spiritual heights.

Mahavir Janma Kalyanak Celebration in the UK

We greeted the Mahavir Bhagwan’s Janma Kalyanak on a glorious spring day on 9 th April. Mumuxus, full of enthusiasm and anticipation, gathered at Niranjan, Bentley Priory to celebrate this auspicious day.

Palak began our morning with her melodious voice, reciting the stuti of panch parmeshti and our gurus followed by one for Vir Prabhu. 

Br Minalben, with her enchanting voice, recited Navkar Mantra, followed by a stuti for all our gurus before her swadhyay. She started by highlighting the paramount importance of Bhagwan Mahavir’s teachings. She cited the example of how a small spark can set fire to a whole house with its contents. Similarly, a small spark, kindled by Bhagwan’s teaching, can bring about true realisation.

She asked everyone whether they were ready to kindle that fire in their hearts, then they should join her in the journey.

She read letter 105 from Vachnamrutji which, she said, needed no explanation as both Bapuji and Bhaishree had explained it many times in the past.

She explained took five points from the letter for discussion:

1. Who is eligible for being Bhagwan Mahavir’s disciple? One who is desirous to serve at the true guru’s feet.

2. We are the inheritors’ of Bhagwan’s legacy and for that we should be courageous and fearless. We should not show cowardice in face of obstacles but be brave and have the fortitude to overcome the obstacles progress.

3. Bhagwan described the virtue of forgiveness as an ornament for the brave and that it was the magnificent gateway to Moksha. Greatness lies not only in forgiving but also in forgetting the whole episode.

4. The fundamentals of Jain dharma are based on Syadvad (multifaceted view). It is only the Omniscient who can see the whole truth, a true seeker is never insistent on a particular view point.

5. After observing the above four points – one must try to recognise their own true nature. They must realise the soul merely resides in the body and should not remain deluded it is the body.

Br Minalben told us that we all have the shelter of a true guru, we have been shown the path and have been given the means to progress on the path. She encouraged us to strive vigourously on the path and wished everyone success in their perseverance assuring us, realisation is possible in this lifetime.

Br Vikrambhai accompanied by Hiren sang the last composition by Param Krupaludev – ‘Iche che Jogijan’ in his typical style, setting the scene for Bhaishree’s swadhyay.

Bhaishree had undertaken considerable preliminary studies of the subject he wanted to cover in his swadhyay. He started by citing the 150 th birth anniversary of Param Krupaludev and 2615 th birth anniversary of Bhagwan Mahavir. He mentioned that Krupaludev’s spiritual development had been evolving since the time of Bhagwan Mahavir which has benefitted us tremendously. He cited various quotations of Krupaludev regarding Bhagwan Mahavir, and then referred to Letter 254, highlighting the qualities of one eligible to be addressed as a mumuxu.

He then embarked on his main subject for the swadhyay, Letter 680, which Krupaludev had written on Bhagwan’s birth anniversary (Chaitra Sud Teras). This letter was not addressed to anyone but was a personal note. Each word from it oozes with compassion, the reason for which, is explained half way through the note. Krupaludev starts by referring to his own inner state where there is no desire left. By dwelling ceaselessly within his own true nature, even his desire for moksha has subsided. It is only someone like him can ask the God that ‘even though you are pleased with my inner state what else is there for you to offer me?

‘By residing within my nature all my materialistic activities have come to an end and that is my supreme bliss’.

Krupaludev wrote this note on witnessing a procession of people, celebrating Bhagwan Mahavir’s birth anniversary dancing and merry making, as it passed by his shop. He noted in his observation that people who lacked the true wisdom, did not understand the true path. They imagined the path in their own minds and acted in a variety of ways to seek liberation and all they had achieved was extending the cycle of their rebirths – my selfless compassionate heart is crying out in pain.

Bhaishree concluded the swadhyay by citing more quotations of Krupaludev of how Bhagwan Mahavir’s true message is misinterpreted and the misinterpretation being propagated leading to thousands of people continue sinking in to the quagmire of the materialistic word.

There were a few more stavans on Bhagwan Mahavir to end the swadhyay session for the day.

Param Pujya Bapuji's Birthday Celebrations 2017

Param Pujya Bapuji, Shree Ladakchand Vora was the founder of Shree Raj Saubhag Satsang Mandal and a Guru in a spiritual lineage inspired by Param Krupaludev Shrimad Rajchandra and Shree Saubhagbhai of Sayla.

The thread of truth remains unbroken and the path to liberation very much alive in Sayla today. It is Bapuji's inspiration and profound bodh that we remember today in these 3 days of celebrations.


Day 1

In the ashram a special puja was held. In LMV Girls High School and College a celebration of Bapuji's birthday was held in conjunction with the graduation and leaving ceremony of the 10th and 12th standard girls as well as the 10th anniversary of the LMV Girls College.

As is customary every year Shree Raj Saubhag Mumukshus make a special visit to Chorvira village. This village was the birth place of Param Pujya Bapuji and has a special place in the hearts of mumukshus.

Param Pujya Bhaishree was welcomed to the village by the village elders and residents. He first visited the Mandir in the village centre which was sponsored by the Ashram in Bapuji's name. Following this mumukshus went to the small hall built in commemoration of Bapuji. It was here that the garland changing ceremony was held along with emotional heart felt bhakti, vandan and garba.

Finally Bhaishree visited the Shree Raj Saubhag Prathmik Shala - Primary School, built in Bapuji's memory. A large expansive campus with 8 school teaching rooms, living quarters and vegetable and fruit gardens and playing fields. Quite something for a small village like Chorvira, and an appropriate memory of Bapuji who was keen to promote education for both boys and girls in Sayla District. The students gave a spontaneous bhakti performance and their enthusiasm won over the hearts of mumukshus.


Day 2

On this day of beej, Param Pujya Bapuji's birthday, the morning started with Agnabhakti and Vandan at Param Pujya Bapuji's samadhi along with vandan of Param Krupaludev's murti.

Param Pujya Bhaishree and mumukshus conducted puja and chaityavandan at the Jinalay.

In the front of Kalyan Hall, 3D pictures of Krupaludev and Saubhagbhai's life incidences were inaugurated. The first depicts the first meeting upon which the Saubhagbhai goes to meet Shrimadji to pass on the technique of meditation. The centre image is that of Shrimadji writing Shri Atmasiddhi Shastra which he sent to Saubhagbhai.

A sabha was held in celebration of Param Pujya Bapuji's Birthday. An emotional rememberance of his great qualities and inspiration. The sabha started with the children of Ashirvad Kendra with different abilities performing a dance of devotion. Br. Vikrambhai sang a soulful and emotional pad. Shree Mahasatihi spoke of her interactions with Bapuji and Br. Rasikbhai spoke of some of the key messages he learnt from Bapuji. Param Pujya Bhaishree's topic for the celebrations was the importance of a Sadguru - reading from both Vachanamrut and drawing inspiration from Guru Gita.

At the end of the Sabha the garland of Param Pujya Bapuji's chitra was changed with much dance and devotion. It was changed by the hands of the Sayla village elders who had come to grace the celebrations.

Bapuji janmadin 40.jpg

Day 3

On the day of treej, the third day of the month we celebrate the anniversary of the inauguration of the deraser, the sthapna of Bhagwan Vasupujya and the sthapna of the Chitrapaths in Kalyan Hall, by ceremoniously opening the doors to the deraser, changing the deraser flag and changing the garlands on the chitrapaths in the hall.
 


LMV Girls High College celebrates its 10th and 12th Standard Graduation and Leaving ceremony

27th February 2017

On this day Shree LMV Girls High School and College celebrated the 10th anniversary of the college, the graduation of 10th and 12th standard as well as Param Pujya Ladakchand Bapuji's Birthday.

Head teacher Shree Chandrakantbhai Vyas reaffirmed the school and college's aim to give all girls the opportunity of education, independence and freedom in life, whatever their background and ability. He gave his heart felt blessings and best wishes to the graduating girls and best wishes for those sitting exams.

The atmosphere created in the school is that of a family. Love, support, education, life lessons, and friendship. The teachers see their students as their children, and now that they are leaving they were overcome with emotion. The students in reciprocation were grateful for everything they had received, they expressed their love for the school, the protective nurturing environment, the advice from the teachers and the friendships they had made. In their dances, their plays and their orations they marked their gratitude. The leaving students make a collection every year to donate equipment to the school as their leaving legacy. Microphone and speaker systems, carpets for the assembly hall, whatever the need they fulfill to their ability. Such a harmonious friendship is rare to witness between the students, their school and teachers. A privilege to witness. The students welcomed all the visitors with hand drawn individual cards made by the students themselves. over 50 cards were given, each with a beautiful message or quote from a Mahatma.

Param Pujya Bhaishree, Br. Minalben and Br. Vikrambhai gave their blessings to departing students: "live you life immersed always in good thought (suvicharna), be noble and truthful in all you, realise your weaknesses and cultivate yourself to become all you can be, expand your potential and there is nothing you cannot achieve in life. Above all imbibe spirituality into your lives."

Gift of Buddha Bhagwan picture to Chandrakantbhai Vyas for the school's principal office.

Gift of Buddha Bhagwan picture to Chandrakantbhai Vyas for the school's principal office.