Mumbai to Parbhani
In this the 150th year of Param Krupalu Dev Shrimad Rajchandra, Param Pujya Bhaishree led the mumukshus on a pilgrimage visiting sacred sites of historical and spiritual significance. A number of sites are rarely visited.
A True guru is also an embodied pilgrimage and travelling with him to such sites purely magnifies the impact on seekers.
On the night of 2nd January, the pilgrimage began on an overnight journey from Chhatrapati Shivani Terminus, a fighting start to a journey exploring great sites in Maharashtra.
Nemgiri, Chandragiri and Shirpur
Nemgiri and Chandragiri
Straight from the train the pilgrims headed to Nemgiri.
The complex of interconnected caves house a number of wondrous and ancient idols carved in the Digambar tradition.
Of particular note is the miraculous pratimaji of Antariksh Lord Parshwanath. It is estimated to weigh nine tonnes and it used to float without any support. During a particular war in the vicinity, locals filled the space beneath it with chalk and sand.
In recent years most of this support has been removed and the idol sits improbably on a small stand away from its centre of gravity. A light is shone from behind which can clear by be seen from the front of the idol. This indicates the miraculous history.
Another noteworthy idol is that of Lord Shantinath which has huge dimensions. In total there are seven caves, each with inspiring idols, dating back to over 1,000 years ago.
Param Pujya Bhaishree recited the Uvassagharo Mantra and the atmosphere was transformed, seekers sensing a great peace and strength to overcome obstacles in their practical lives and spiritual striving.
Near to this Hill stands Chandra giri Hill. This is hallowed as the Divine Assembly (Samavsaran) of Lord Mahavir had passed this location. The sacred hill, once sanctified by the sermon of the omniscient lord, had at its crest a simple and beautiful temple decorated to Lord Chandraprabhu.
This site had also been graced by the patriarch Bhadrabahu Swami. He is said to have visited with 1200 disciples including Chandragupta Maurya. The scholar-saint Pujyapad had also once visited the site and composed a treatise on Nirvana thereafter. There are monuments to the footsteps (paduka) of these great souls at the site.
The site is near Jintur, once called Jainpur when ruled by the Ratrakuts, but then the local Jain population diminished. Legend has it that a Jain householder called Veer Sangavi Dreamt that there were idols within the hill and the hillside was excavated I and reconstructed in 1609 CE.
Virtually all seekers were inspired to climb the hill to reach the crest of Chandragiri, powered by Param Pujya Bhaishree’s loving encouragement and the melodious Bhakti of Brahmnisht Vikrambhai.
In the evening, the pilgrimage stopped in the ancient town of Shirpur, also famous for a miraculous idol, another Antariksh Lord Parshwanath.
At night, the pilgrims visited two temples led by Param Pujya Bhaishree. The town is blessed with two temples to Lord Parshwanath. The colourful Shwetambar temple dedicated to Vignaharan Lord Parshwanath, who overcomes obstacles, at which we conducted Aarti and Mangal Divo.
The Digambar temple resembles a fort and has a very small entrance. It houses ancient idols including the miraculous Antariksh Lord Parshwanath which is currently housed in the basement with a very restricted view.
This ancient idol is said to also float above the ground so that once could run a handkerchief cleanly underneath it without obstruction.
Returning back to the dharmashala, mumukshus enjoyed a Swadhyay with Brahmnishts Minalben and Vikrambhai. Minalben revisited the subject of the recent December Shibir. Param Pujya Bhaishree had taken as the subject Updesh Chaya from the writings or Shrimad Rajchandra. In one instance, a disciple asks his master to summarise the Canon and the replied that it is the elimination of inclinations (vrutti no kshay).
Br. Minalben asked us if we had genuinely attempted to contemplate our inclinations at all. She noted that on a pilgrimage it was easy to get carried away in outer concerns, even those at higher stages of the path.
Taking this subject of vrutti, Minalben explored the fact that indications are outwardly directed for a number of reasons
Vibhaav - inclinations away from the true nature of the soul.
Vikaar - deluded perception
Vair - hatred
Vaibhav - wealth
We have to be mindful and careful of our inclinations. Minalben reminded us of the importance of patience (Dhiraj), and reminded us of how Param Pujya was never flustered nor disturbed. He remained a silent observer in the midst of all change around him.
Minalben reminded us that all meditators (Saadhak) at Raj Saubhag ashram already have the technique of patience and those who do not, they can focus their attention on the virtues of great saints or their gestures and actions.
Br. Vikrambhai picked from Minalben’s Swadhyay. He described the mind as the background against which our inclinations play out. It is with the power of the soul that these inclinations are driven and that the mind needs to be purified, so that it can welcome pure and uplifting thoughts.
Mumukshus enjoyed and contemplated the wonderful pad, O Shilpi (O Master Sculptor), which marks out many virtues of the True Guru.
Vikrambhai observed that patience (dhiraj) requires us to be mindful, to live in the present moment, and be fully present therein.
Vikrambhai then stated his belief that Patience in all his deeds (Dhiraj) is Param Pujya Bhaishree’s master key and recommended we emulate and adopt it.
End of Day
With the close of the Swadhyay, mumukshus prepared themselves for the next days’ dhyan in the Digambar temple and puja at the Shwetambar Temple.
Walking on sacred ground, in the footsteps of great souls, all this in the loving presence of Param Pujya Bhaishree, the living embodiment of all their teachings.
Celebrating their great fortune, mumukshus closed the day with the resolution of being mindful and firm in the face of everyday challenges a pilgrim faces.
Shirpur, Karanja, Bhatkuli