Foundations of Shree Raj Saubhag
The foundation of the Ashram lies in the thread of truth that connects the lineage of self realised souls throughout time. These enlightened souls illuminate the inner path to remove delusional ignorance and to experience one’s soul. This inner path shown by Tirthankar Bhagwan Shree Mahavir Swami remains hidden from the mind, and the soul cannot be experienced through our senses. Yet it surfaces over time in the hearts of those that have experienced the soul. Param Krupaludev Shrimad Rajchandra and Shree Saubhagbhai were two such saints. In their their compassion, they illuminated this path so that the thread of truth remains unbroken. They form the very foundation for the inner path at Shree Raj Saubhag Satsang Mandal.
One must find this thread of truth in whichever religion, culture, background or heritage. For truth is the only path to Enlightenment. Once found, one must adhere strictly to the instructions of Truth so that truth may be unveiled within.
Lord Mahavir Bhagwan
Lord Mahavir was the last of the twenty-four noble omniscient preceptors who formed an illustrious lineage known as the Tirthankars. He was born to Queen Trishla and King Siddharth just as the fourth era of the current time cycle was about to end and the malevolent fifth was about to begin. The sole aim of this divine child was to sow the seeds of spiritual enlightenment so that they would flower into the wish-fulfilling trees of spirituality.
Renouncing His royal pleasures, He adopted monkhood at the age of thirty-two and spent the next twelve years as a mendicant, practicing intense penances and meditation. He eventually overcame the veils of delusion that had clouded the soul since time immemorial and attained the glory of omniscience. He thereby unearthed the infinite knowledge, perception and bliss that lie dormant within each soul. Thus He had attained liberation while living. Now all that was left for Him was to deplete His remaining karma and thereafter rest in that blissful state of perfection known as moksha or liberation, beyond all confines of mortality and materialistic existence.
Devoid of the least semblance of any egoistic existence and any possessions, Lord Mahavir gracefully traversed the land for the remaining thirty years of His life. He preached the fundamental tenets so as to enable a seeker to realise their true nature, distinct from the body, to realise the nameless, timeless and formless pure awareness, identified by its characteristics of existence, consciousness and bliss.
Universal and selfless love were His guiding principles of ‘Ahimsa paramodharma’ or ‘Non-violence’ and love for all life and these formed the essence of all He preached. His divine legacy lives on unto this day and continues to inspire countless seekers to rid themselves of the shackles of materialistic existence and be free from the wretched cycle of transmigration or life and death.
Param Krupaludev Shrimad Rajchandra and Shree Saubhagbhai
Twenty-five hundred long and volatile years had passed since Bhagwan Mahavir conquered the ocean of materialistic existence and attained the everlasting bliss of liberation. Much had changed in these passing years. Most of all the true essence of religion and spirituality had been obscured by blind ritualistic practices and dogmatic misinterpretations of the canons. Religion was burdened by countless warring factions and the greed of the fanatics had made society succumb to practices led by fear.
At such a time was born a beacon of hope: Param Krupaludev Shrimad Rajchandra. He would live for no other reason but the deliverance of sincere seekers. In his short but divinely productive life, Shrimad Rajchandra unearthed the essence of Jainism that had long been lost in the sands of time. He set about a new spiritual revolution that rekindled the passion for spirituality amongst countless souls. He was an everlasting fountain of divine nectar, and seekers from far and wide managed to quench their thirst with a few drops of his loving compassion.
Shrimad in his own words had been a seeker for many a lifetime. The inner revolution in his life began at the young age of seven when he recollected his past lives whilst enraptured in deep contemplation. In his early twenties there came an inflection point in his spiritual ascension thanks to an opportune meeting with Shree Saubhagbhai of Sayla. It was as if this momentous encounter had been orchestrated by a divine conspiracy of the universe itself so as to benefit numerous seekers.
Saubhagbhai passed onto Shrimad an ancient and esoteric technique of meditation known as ‘Sudharas’. It was on meeting Saubhagbhai that Shrimad remembered the technique of remaining still in pure awareness. For this he remained indebted to Saubhagbhai throughout his lifetime and would fondly address him as his spiritual soulmate.
Their spiritual intimacy has impacted Shrimad’s vast literacy legacy. It is rare indeed for any elevated divine master to leave behind their intimate and detailed thoughts. They usually leave behind esoteric poetry and aphoristic scriptures, if anything. Fortunately for us, Shrimad laid out the path to Self-realisation and Moksha, as well as openly sharing his innermost experiences in over 250 letters to Saubhagbhai. Even Atma Siddhi, Shrimad’s great poem, which is itself an independent scripture, was dedicated to Saubhagbhai, containing three references to him.
It was Shrimad’s spiritual relationship with Saubhagbhai that illuminated the path and kept the thread of truth unbroken. It led to the creation of a whole lineage of enlightened souls in Sayla that has kept the flame of spirituality alive to this day. Seven years after this divine meeting, as Saubhagbhai lay on his deathbed, Shrimad wrote to him three powerful letters filled with all his love and compassion that eventually led Saubhagbhai to distinctly experience the soul as above and beyond the materialistic body.
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Lineage of Truth: The Enlightened Teachers of Sayla
Shrimad Rajchandra’s true inner legacy of self-realisation remained alive against all odds in the little village of Sayla, Gujarat. During his frequent visits to Sayla to spend time with his spiritual soulmate and benefactor, Shree Saubhagbhai, Shrimad would often deliver soulful sermons. Thanks to these visits and his numerous writings, letters, poems and such other material, several sincere seekers were empowered to attain the highest states of self awareness. Indeed the words of an enlightened master are like seedlings planted in the hearts of seekers, sooner or later they are bound to flower into the tree of spirituality.
Saubhagbhai’s cousin, Shree Shyamaldas Sheth was the first in this esteemed lineage of enlightened masters. Shyamaldasbhai's keen eye identified Shree Kalidas Mavji Doshi as a sincere seeker and by his grace, Kalidashbhai attained self-realisation. Further, Shyamaldasbhai passed on this esoteric wisdom and technique of meditation to his daughter Smt. Maniben who had been widowed at a young age. By the grace of Maniben and the cultivation of Kalidasbhai, Shree Vrajlal Devji Belani and Shree Chhotalal Desai attained enlightenment. Thus for several decades after the passing away of Shrimad Rajchandra and Saubhagbhai, the essence of their esoteric wisdom was kept alive by a discreet group of seekers. The spiritual writings and poems of these masters contain within them the distilled essence of the path and continue to inspire many a seeker unto this day.
Around this time a blessed child was born in Chorvira village who would one day spread the essence of Shrimad’s teachings far and wide. The boy was Shree Ladakchand Manekchand Vora, fondly addressed as Bapuji, the founder of the Raj Saubhag Satsang Mandal. At a young age, Bapuji was drawn to Kalidasbhai, Vrajlalbhai and Chhotabhai, the trio of enlightened masters in Sayla. Seeing the potential that this boy held, the three of them poured all their love and grace in teaching Bapuji.
After many years of spiritual association, and pleased with his thirst for knowledge, they initiated him in the Sudharas technique of meditation and to their amazement Bapuji attained self-realisation within a matter of a few days.
Bapuji remained so self-contained that, except for his immediate spiritual compatriots, nobody realised his spiritual achievements. He remained a silent householder performing his duties to the best of his capabilities. For forty years he kept his spiritual attainment to himself. It is a matter of great fortune that Bapuji was eventually discovered by the late great seeker Shantibhai Ambani.
Param Pujya Bapuji, Shree Ladakchand Manekchand Vora
A group of seekers from Mumbai, who had been on a quest for a true enlightened master, finally found Bapuji in the remote village of Sayla by a magnanimous stroke of divine luck. Despite his adamant resistance to accept them as his disciples, they persisted and finally he had to relent. Thus the Ashram was established on the 31st of December 1976. Its name honours the two spiritual soulmates ‘Raj’ and ‘Saubhag’ who had benevolently created this lineage. Soon spiritual aspirants from far and wide flowed in drawn towards Bapuji’s loving grace like honeybees to nectar.
Upholding the fundamental principles of Jainism, the teachings of the great Jain sages of the past centuries, the essence of Shrimad Rajchandra’s precepts and the very words of his own spiritual masters, Bapuji set alight a divine flame of spirituality. Patiently and gracefully Bapuji worked with each disciple to unlock the divinity that lay dormant within every one of them.
A few disciples stood out with their unrelenting love for the master and their fervent thirst to experience the truth. Foremost among them were Shree Sadgunaben C. U. Shah and Shree Nalinbhai Kothari. Sadgunaben’s determined and dedicated pursuance could open up the gates of grace and Bapuji worked hard and took utmost care for her spiritual development. Her silence spoke louder then words, and her tranquil serenity flowed unabated.
In the year 1993, at the age of 88, Bapuji handed over the spiritual leadership of the Ashram to Param Pujya Nalibhai Kothari, who fondly came to be known as Bhaishree and Param Pujya Sadgunaben Shah, reverently addressed as Gurumaa.
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Param Pujya Gurumaa, Shree Sadgunaben Shah
Smt Sadgunaben C U Shah was fondly and reverently called Guruma. She used to head the institution Shree Raj Saubhag Satsang Mandal along with Bhaishree. Her calm and reticent approach earned her respect from everyone who met her.
One who takes birth will surely die, the one who rises surely sets, but what makes a difference is the way in which one lives.
In the midst of mortality she breathed immortality, and even in interminable worldly misery and dualism her inner soul was never perturbed. Her warmth, serenity and happiness would envelope those around her.
Under her guidance innumerable disciples strove hard in their pursuit of self realisation and to break the incessant bondage of birth and death.
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Param Pujya Bhaishree, Shree Nalinbhai Kothari
Param Pujya Bhaishree is an enlightened master and the spiritual head of Shree Raj Saubhag Satsang Mandal.
What strikes each and every soul encountering him is his ethereal gentleness. His deep and loving eyes that shine bright with his inner attainment, graciously pierce through the very soul of the onlooker and create a lasting impression that cannot be described in words. Indeed the scriptures proclaim that purely the glance of the enlightened master is capable of awakening a seeker and Bhaishree is testament to that truth. His gentle voice that contains the most profound essence of spiritual wisdom never fails to resonate with the keen listener.
Like a loving mother, Bhaishree patiently dedicates his time and energy to each and everyone that seeks his shelter and provides them nurturing and nourishment based on their own unique backgrounds, experiences and notions.
Bhaishree met Bapuji at the young age of 33, while the latter was in Mumbai. An inexplicable, magnetic attraction grew in Bhaishree and he knew that he had met his spiritual master as a deep sense of awe and love swelled up in him towards Bapuji. Balancing his household and business duties with spiritual progress, within a few years he attained the very heights of spirituality that even great ascetics yearn for. Fully recognising his potential, Bapuji kept Bhaishree close to him and trained him comprehensively. At the opportune moment, Bapuji annointed Bhaishree, and would lovingly say that he was himself now under the spiritual command of his own former disciple – such was the respect Bapuji held for the Master-disciple spiritual relationship. Bapuji poignantly declared that disciples should seek him within Bhaishree, so much had he absorbed.
Under the auspices of Bhaishree, the ashram has scaled unprecedented heights. Bhaishree’s spiritual teachings have drawn from the writings of not only great Jain sages of the past such as Hemchandracharya, Anandghanji, Yashovijayji, Pujyapad Swami, Umasvati, Nemichandra, Vinayvijayji and Shrimad Rajchandra, but also enlightened seers from other faiths. He has lovingly initiated thousands in the technique of meditation that led him, and numerous great saints before him, to experience the soul. He has generously created every possible means of supporting seekers on their inner quest and experiencing their oneness with the Lord. Indeed Bhaishree is a living embodiment of divinity.
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