Uttar Pradesh - The Land of 48 Jin Kalyanak - Jatra 2019

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January 2019 Jatra (pilgrimage), took participating Raj Saubhag mumukshus to the Northern State of Uttar Pradesh, to the cities of Allahabad, Kaushambi, Varanasi, Ayodhya, Ratnapuri, Shravasthi and Lucknow, janma bhumi of 12 Tirthankars of current chovisi and their 48 Jin Kalyanak Tirths.

Uttar Pradesh, the land of Tirthankars

A land mass that holds utmost importance to Jain Mythology, where non-violence, peace and truth have been understood and practiced for thousands of years, where 17 of the 24 Tirthankars of current chovisi, were born and is home of 67 Jin Kalyanak Tirths. The innumerable Jain Shrines that dot the state of Uttar Pradesh speak of a myriad of intimate associations with the lives of Jain Tirthankars. A power-house of spiritual energy that has attracted and moulded sentiments of millions of people across the nation and around the world.

Tirthankara, (Sanskrit: “Ford-maker”) also called Jina (“Victor”), in Jainism, a saviour who has succeeded in crossing over life’s stream of rebirths and has made a path for others to follow.

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There are 5 kalyanaks (auspicious events) in life of a Tirthankar:

1. Chyavana Kalyanak: When the soul of Tirthankara enters mother's womb.
2. Janma Kalyanak: Birth of the Tirthankara.
3. Diksha Kalyanak: When a Tirthankara renounces all worldly possessions and becomes an ascetic.  
4. Kevalgnan Kalyanak: The event when a Tirthankara attains Kevalgnan, absolute knowledge. A divine samavasarana (preaching hall) appears, from where the Tirthankara delivers sermons.  
5. Nirvana Kalyanak: When a Tirthankara leaves their mortal body, it is known as Nirvana, the final liberation, Moksha.

48 Kalyanak Tirths:  

Kaushambhi Tirth:  Padmaprabhu Swami 4 kalyanaks
Purimtal:             Adinath Bhagwan 1 kalyanak
Bhelupur:        Parshwanath Bhagwan 4 kalyanaks
Bhadani:      Suparshwanath Bhagwan 4 kalyanaks
Chandrapuri:     Chandraprabhu Bhagwan’s 4 kalyanaks
Sinhapuri:       Shreyansnath Bhagwan’s 4 kalyanaks
Ayodhya:               19 Jin kalyanaks- Adinath Bhagwan (3), Ajitnath Bhagwan(4), Abhinandannath Bhagwan (4), Ananthanath Bhagwan (4), Sumatinath (4)   

Ratnapuri:    Dharmanath Bhagwan’s 4 kalyanak
Shravasthi:     Sambhavnath Bhagwan 4 kalyanak

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“બધાનાં અંત:કરણની અંદર ભગવાન પ્રત્યેનો ખૂબ ખૂબ ભક્તિભાવ જાગવો જોઈએ કારણ કે જે તીર્થભૂમિ પર જઈએ છીએ, તે તીર્થભૂમિ અને ભગવાનના જે કલ્યાણકો થયાં હોય એની જે સ્પર્શના છે એ આપણા શરીરની અંદર નવી ઊર્જા ઉત્પન્ન કરે અને અપૂર્વ ઉત્સાહ અંદરથી જગાડે કે જેમ ભગવાને આ ભૂમિ પર આત્મકલ્યાણ સાધી લીધું તેમ હું પણ મારું આત્મકલ્યાણ સાધી લઉં.”
— Param Pujya Bhaishree

Day 3: 02.01.19 - Allahabad

Visit to Triveni Sangam
Early morning start, 6:00AM, to visit Triveni Sangam. As mumukshus made way to the boats to reach holy Sangam, heavy fog obscured view of Kumbh Mela 2019 setup. Millions of tourists arrive annually for a sacred dip in the confluence of two physical rivers Ganga, Yamuna, and the subterranean mystical river, Saraswati. In Hindu mythology taking a bath in the holy Triveni Sangam is said to cleanse the soul of its sins, setting it free from the cycle of rebirth. The sight of the confluence of water of River Ganga (brownish) with Yamuna (slightly greenish), along with the flocks of chirping migrating Siberian birds flying over the boats, jostling for space for a holy dip, along with the pilgrims, is truly a mesmerising sight. Bhaishree likened the confluence of rivers to the sadhna he has blessed the mumuxus with.

The origin of Kumbh Mela was transcribed by the 8th-century philosopher Shankara. The founding myth of the Kumbh Mela points to the Puranas (compilation of ancient Hindu legends). It recounts how heavenly angels and demons fought over the sacred pitcher, the Kumbh of Amrit, the nectar of immortality called the Ratna of Samudra Manthan. It is widely believed that Lord Vishnu, disguised as the enchantress ‘Mohini’ whisked the Kumbh out of the grasp of the covetous demons who had tried to claim it. As he took it heavenwards, a few drops of the precious nectar fell on the four sacred sites which are now known as Haridwar, Ujjain, Nasik and Prayag. The fight and the following pursuit is said to have lasted twelve divine days which is equivalent to twelve human years and therefore, the Mela is celebrated every twelve years, staggered at each of the four sacred sites in this cycle. The corresponding rivers are believed to have turned into Amrit at the cosmic moment, giving pilgrims the chance to bathe in the essence of purity, auspiciousness and immortality.

Once again, we can liken the fight of devas and asuras as that of Arhat conquering the four inner enemies to attain the inner nectar or the eternal bliss.

Kaushambi

Visit to Jain Shwetambar Tirth
Post breakfast, Yatris departed for Kaushambi Tirth, home of Padmaprabhu Swami’s 4 kalyanaks (chyavan, janma, diksha and kevalgnan). Immersed in bhakti bhaav, mumukshus had opportunity to do puja and chaityavandan with Pujya Bhaishree.

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Visit to Shri Prabhash Giri Tirth Kshetra Pabhosa, Ancient Gardens of Kaushambi

Next, the Sangh headed to Prabhashgiri tirth - Pabhosa, for darshan at Digambar Derasar built in 1834 with mulnayak, Padmaprabhu Swami. Digambars believe Padmaprabhu attained diksha & Kevalgnan here.

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Mahavir Bhagvan accepts food (boiled unsplit black beans) from Chandanbala and breaks 5 months & 25 days fast

Mahavir Bhagvan accepts food (boiled unsplit black beans) from Chandanbala and breaks 5 months & 25 days fast

There is also a life size idol of Chandanbala giving alms to Bhagwan Mahavir. Chandanbala was enslaved and taken to Kaushambhi. After facing several trials and tribulations with equanimity and forgiveness, she was freed when Mahavir Bhagwan accepted alms from her.

Prabhash giri, small hill, near the Digambar temple has a cave (9ft by 7ft) and a small Derasar. Padmaprabhu is said to have spent large part of his life in the cave.

Prabhash Giri

Prabhash Giri

Bhagwan Mahavir had also visited Kaushambi many times, His samavarsan was also setup here. Legend also has it, Shri Krishna and Balram visited gardens of Kaushambi (Pabhosh) after the burning of Dwarka. It was here Lord Krishna, resting beneath a tree was mistaken as a deer and fatally wounded by the arrow of his brother Jarakumar.

Day 4: 03.01.19

Varanasi (Kashi, Benares) - 16 Jin Kalyanak  
Sprawling city along the banks of River Ganges, Varanasi dates back to 11th century B.C., one of world's oldest inhabited cities with a maze of narrow alleys leading to its 88 ghats. A unique symbiotic relation exists between its diverse culture & heritage, spirituality and rituals, new and classical, all coexisting in sublime harmony.

For Hindus, Kashi is ultimate pilgrimage point, to wash away sins in the sacred waters of Ganga, to cremate loved ones, or to simply die here, in order to fast track journey to moksha. Along with Hinduism, this city of lights, is a magnet for Jains and Buddhists.

For Jains, Varanasi is a home for 16 Jin Kalyanak, 4 kalyanak each (Chyavan, Janma, Diksha & Kevalgnan) for Bhagwan Parshvanath, Suparshvnath, Chandraprabhu and Shreyansnath, respectively.

Varanasi : Chintamani Parshvanath Temple, Ramghat
Ancient temple of Chintamani Parshwanath, over 2,500 years old temple, built over three floors. Mumukhsus had opportunity to do seva puja and darshan of the several prachin murtis before settling down for Parshva Padmavati pujan.

Mulnayak Shri Chintamani Parshwanath Bhagwan

Mulnayak Shri Chintamani Parshwanath Bhagwan

Shree Shantinath Bhagvan - Shree Parshwanath Bhagvan - Shree Ajitnath Bhagvan

Shree Shantinath Bhagvan - Shree Parshwanath Bhagvan - Shree Ajitnath Bhagvan

Ancient murtis

Ancient murtis

On the ground floor of the temple, a beautiful idol of Lord Parshwanath atop Padmavati Devi has been installed, at the Kamath Yagna Sthal, the very spot where the first interaction between Kamath and Bhagwan Parshwanath occurred.

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Legend goes, once Prince Parshva, passing by this area, witnessed a mendicant named Kamath conducting yagna outside the city. Coming closer to yagna sthal, the Lord noticed some logs of wood burning around the mendicant. Inside one of these logs was a pair of serpents, writhing in pain from the intense heat of the flames. Overcome by compassion the prince requested the mendicant to remove the log, "Burning a five sensed being in fire, what sort of self improvement do you strive for?" To that the mendicant replied angrily, "Prince! You are a child; go and enjoy your princely games. It is mendicants like me who know about religion not you."

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When all efforts to persuade him were in vain, Parshva ordered his attendants to pull out the particular log from fire and split it open. As soon as the attendants did that, a pair of partially scorched serpents, fell on the ground writhing in pain. Realising that they were about to die, Prince Parshva asked them to remain equanimous during the last moments of their lives and not to have hatred towards the ignorant mendicant. He then recited the Namokar Mantra. With equanimous bhaav and hearing the Namokar Mantra in their final moment, the pair of serpents, after death were born in heaven as the king and queen of the Nag Kumar clan (Dharanendra and Padmavati - yaksh & yakshini of Prabhu Parshvanath).

Parshva Padmavati Pujan
Mumukhsus settled for an uplifting Parshva Padmavati pujan lasting about 3 hours.

The pujan was led by Bhaishree, comprising of mantras, stuti & prayers officiated by Hiteshbhai, and augmented by soulful bhakti rendered by Deepbhai. The power of the mantras with mind gripping bhakti and aatma bhav of the devotees, the entire temple reverberated with pure, divine energy. A truly profound experience.

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Visit to Trailinga Swami Math
After pujan, mumukshus headed to the nearby Trailinga Swami Math (Ashram).

Trailinga Swami, was a Hindu Saint from Benares recognised as an Avadhuta, a great Saint, by Ramakrishna, Yogananda, and other Saints of his time. Referred to as the “The walking Lord Shiva of Varanasi”, he was believed to live for around 280 years, 150 of which residing in Varanasi. Ramakrishna had said that Trailinga Swami had exalted state of knowledge, and no body-consciousness, a real paramahansa ("Supreme swan") illuminating Benares.

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Day 5: 04.01.19

Visit to Shwetambar Parshavanath Bhagwan Tirth, Bhelupur

The day started with visit to Shankeshwar Parshavanath Shwetambar Tirth in Bhelupur. Located in south of Varanasi town, Bhelupur Jain Tirth is dedicated to Lord Parshwanath where 4 kalyanaks are located.

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A charan paduka (a sacred rock having the foot impressions) of Bhagwan have been installed to mark the sacred spot. Mumukshus had opportunity for seva puja, darshan and chaityavandan with Bhaishree.

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Kashi Vishwanath Temple Visit
In the afternoon, yatris visited the famous Kashi Vishwanath temple, also known as the Golden Temple, due to the massive gold plated dome on 15.5 meter high spires, dedicated to Lord Shiva. Revered Hindu pilgrimage site, the Temple enshrines one of the 12 jyotirlingams of Lord Shiva. Shiv devotees believe one who prays and worships Vishweshwar, the “Lord of All”, with devotion will attain liberation.

Evening Ganga Aarti Cruise
An amazing Ganga Aarti cruise was organised for the evening. Mumukshus boarded the boat from Assi Ghat, the southernmost Ghat in Varanasi. Hindus believe that it was at Assi Ghat that saint Tulsidas left for his heavenly abode.

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The cruise enabled a beautiful view of the sunset, with its hues adding a delicate tint to the river, as well as the opportunity to witness, from the boat, the Ganga Aarti  – a daily ritual of offering devotion to the holy river Ganga – held at several ghats almost simultaneously. The entire experience was simply divine, just magical.

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View of Aarti from the boat

View of Aarti from the boat

Pujya Bhaishree’s inspiring message after the aarti,
“Ganges gives nourishment and life to all beings from one sensed to five sensed. We are indebted to the Ganges for inspiring spirituality to so many people and we see them doing aarti with so much ‘bhaav’. This devout aarti looks much more stunning from the river than from the ghat. The Ganges is such that it takes peoples’ dirt and sinks it into the ground and in return gives them it’s pure water. We should take inspiration from Mother Ganga, it is our duty to strive hard to progress on our spiritual path and for inner purity. We should have unshakable faith and devotion for the path given to us.

Every house in Varanasi has a temple, be it small or big! There must be some reason behind it. We must take inspiration from this.”

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Mumukshus returned to the hotel feeling exhilarated.  

Day 6: 05.01.19

Bhadaini Tirth

Morning visit to Bhadaini Tirth, also known as Jain Ghat, home of Suparshwanath Bhagwan’s 4 kalyanaks. After puja and chaityavandan mumukshus settled down on the terrace for Bhaishree’s swadhyay.

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Bhaishree reminded mumukshus of their good fortune, to be able able to be present on bhumi of 4 kalyanaks of Tirthankar Bhagwan. He then explained the Suparshvanath Bhagwan stavan by Devchandraji Maharajsaheb. Devchandraji described Suparshavnath Bhagwan as ‘Avyabadh sukh na Swami’ (Master of unimpeded happiness). For a striving sadhak,  observation of such “sukh”, would trigger within him, a desire to awaken the same sukh (eternal bliss) that is dormant within him.

Sarnath

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Sarnath is a sacred pilgrimage site for Buddhists and Jain devotees alike.

It is an immensely important Buddhist pilgrimage site. It is also referred to as Isipatana, a city mentioned by the Buddha as one of the four places of pilgrimage which his devout followers should visit. After enlightenment in Bodh Gaya (528 BCE), Buddha traveled to Sarnath. Delivered his first sermon to his 5 disciples teaching the “four noble truths” and setting in motion “The Wheel of Dharma”. Emperor Ashoka had also erected magnificent stupas and monasteries and engraved pillar here, in 3rd century BC.

Visit to Wat Thai Sarnath Temple
Referred to as Thai Temple, the Hinayana Buddha temple built in 1933, is located amid lush and manicured gardens. There is a statue of a laughing Buddha just before the main Thai temple and on the right side is an enactment of Buddha delivering a sermon to his disciples. There are other statues of Buddha in various mudras.

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Visit to Sinhpuri Tirth
Birthplace of Shreyasnath Bhagwan and home for 4 kalyanak (Chyavan, Janma, Diksha and Kevalgnan). A beautiful temple complex with a Samavasaran with paduka of Bhagwan at the top.

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Visit to Chandrapuri Tirth
Onwards to Chandrapuri Tirth, birthplace of Shree Chandraprabhu Swami and home for his 4 kalyanak (Chyavan, Janma, Diksha and Kevalgnan).

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Day 7: 06.01.19

Ayodhya Tirth Kshetra -19 Jin Kalyanak Bhumi
Day spent travelling from Varanasi to Ayodhya. Important pilgrimage center for Hindus, Jains & Buddhists, alike. Name derived from Sanskrit ‘A’ and ‘Yudha’, meaning place of no conflict; the invincible, “one which cannot be conquered by vices”.

River Saryu, that flows through Ayodhya, has been a silent witness to great personalities that once walked the earth here.  

Besides association with Hindu mythology, Ayodhya has also nurtured spiritual values from Jainism. It is place where five Tirthankars, were born and preached the profound Jain values and is home for 19 kalyanaks.

Bhagwan Mahavir and Gautam Buddha too had visited this pious city many times.

Shree Ajitnath Shwetambar Jain Tirth, Ayodhya
Early evening arrival for a night stop at the Dharamshala within Derasar campus. Derasar is located in Katara mohalla near banks of Sarayu & Ghaghara rivers.

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Evening spent with aarti and mangal divo at the temple, presiding deity Ajitnath Bhagwan in copper colour, and visits to Shri Digamber Jain Derasar and to Kanak Bhavan.

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Day 8: 07.01.19

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Ratnapuri Tirth
The Derasar has a beautiful chaumukhi (idol facing in all 4 directions) within shikharbandi stupa. The 4 Kalnayaks of Bhagwan Dharamnath (Chyavan, Janma, Diksha and Keval Gnan) took place here.

Four corners of the temple compound are anchored by Shree Dharmanath Bhagwan’s 4 Kalyanak Mandirs.

Four corners of the temple compound are anchored by Shree Dharmanath Bhagwan’s 4 Kalyanak Mandirs.

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The temple is mentioned in Acharya Shri Jinprabhusurishwarji’s book, " Vivid teerth Kalp" written in fourteenth century of Vikram Samvat. The ancient temple is associated with number of miraculous stories. Temple pujari talked about sound of temple bells ringing in the night and of saffron rain falls. Stains, dried droplets of a recent rainfall were visible on temple campus paving.

After seva puja & darshan, yatris settled down, mumuksus at the ground level, and Bhaishree, Brahmnishts Minalben and Vikrambhai up above near mandir doorway, to revere the Lord with bhaav pujan (chaityavandan), stavans and garbas.  

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Sravasti Tirth, Shravasthi   
After lunch at Ratnapuri, the sangh proceeded towards Shravasthi, to Sravasti Tirth. A sacred historic place celebrating 4 Kalyanak of Bhagwan Sambhavnath, (Chyavan, Janm, Diksha and Keval Gnan). A beautiful Derasar of white marble, with a white pratimaji of Sambhavnath in padmasan posture.

Shantinath Prabhu had also visited Shravasti and Mahavir Swami had spent several chaturmas here with Samosaran erected for Him on number of occasions. First meeting between Keshi Muni and Gautam Swamiji occurred here. Goshala had struck Mahavir here with tejoleshya (lightening ray produced out of his body).  

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After aarti and mangal divo mumukshus retired for evening at the hotel.

Day 9: 08.01.19 - Shravasthi

In the morning mumukshus gathered at the Derasar for final seva, puja, darshan and chaityavandan.  

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And thus ends, a spiritually divine jatra. 9 days spent in presence of Param Pujya Bhaishree on the revered bhumi of the Tirthankars, enabling a unique opportunity for spiritual development, steadiness of mind, meditation and eternal peace.

Param Pujya Bhaishree's Amrutotsav 2018

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Param Pujya Bhaishree, spiritual head of the Raj Saubhag Ashram, Sayla, has lovingly and masterfully guided disciples for 25 years as their guru.  He also turned 75.

Param Pujya Rakeshbhai (Bapaji) of Shrimad Rajchandra Mission Dharampur, Param Pujya Ben Prabhu of Shrimad Rajchandra Mission Delhi, Param Pujya Sarmishtaben, Param Pujya Gokulbhai and Shri Kurmapral Desai, Param Pujya Acharya Chandanaji, Pujya Sadhviji Sanghmitraji, Pujya Sadhviji Chatanaji and Pujya Sadhviji Vibhaji of Veerayatan graced the festivities which marked these two anniversaries.

On the first of the five days, there was a wonderful and uplifting Sidhhachakra Pujan, followed in the evening by an inspiring session of Bhakti performed by the band called “Sparsha”, formed by followers of Shri Pappaji of Parli Ashram.  On the second day, a wonderful Gautam Swami Puja was performed, followed in the evening by Bhakti performed by the renowned Sachit Limye and his wife Ashitaben, followers of the Art of Living. Sadhviji Sanghmitraji also presented some glorious bhakti that evening.

On the third day, the full moon of Kartik, the birth anniversary of Shrimad Rajchandra, there was a morning procession and installation of a plaster cast model of Shrimad installed in the nearly complete Raj Mandir Hall. Sanghmitraji shared half an hour or so of Bhakti that day. In the evening, Shrimad’s poem Mula Marg was presented in dance form and the innovative and moving play Tejovalay was performed. On the fourth day, Bhaishree’s birthday, there was the performance of a play on the life of Dadu Dayal and further dance presentation.

The performances of the 3rd and 4th evenings were by Raj Saubhag members.  It was also wonderful to witness the tremendous teamwork, behind the scenes of so many Ashram members, a great sense of empowerment and dedication.  A number of the visiting dignitaries and other guests remarked on this favourably..

Throughout the course of the 5 days, Bhaishree and the other saints and speakers gave inspiring swadhyays or expressions of their feelings.

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Param Pujya Bhaishree had visited Pujya Ben Prabhu at the Shrimad Rajchandra Mission in Delhi, during a Jatra in January 2015.  Ben Prabhu has translated all of Shrimad’s poems into Hindi. She inspires introspection about our mental inclinations and thought processes, which can lead us to an inner focus.  The thoughtful, devoted, disciplined, Ben Prabhu analysed various types of Bhakti, and explained how the eternal, unchanging soul can be seen in the midst of the the ever-changing world by means of devotion.  

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Pujya Gokulbhai has often met Bhaishree at the Ashram and on various Jatras.  A striver, a yogi, with vast scriptural knowledge, he has purified his life with reflection, meditation and penance. Focused on the Nishchay (absolute) point of view, he brings a strict and precise interpretation which often awakens the audience in a striking way.  Gokulbhai described the soul as independent while karma bears its fruits, but that we surrender that independence by identifying and engaging with the fruits of karma.

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Pujya Rakeshbhai, founder of Shrimad Rajchandra Mission, Dharampur, has inspired a large number of youngsters in India and abroad, bringing them closer to a life of contemplation and purity.  He fondly remembered Bapuji, to whom he was greatly attracted, and expressed the great impact on all of us of Saubhagbhai of Sayla, Shrimad’s soulmate. In his humorous and analytical style, he covered a wide variety of examples, and differentiated between suffering and pain, describing pain as the fruition of inauspicious karma, but suffering as self-inflicted, the result of negative reaction and feelings towards that pain.

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Unfortunately, Pujya Atmaandandji of Koba was not able to join us, but we were graced by the peaceful, motherly, spiritual prsence of Sarmishtaben, his spiritual and life partner, whoread out a message from Pujya Atmaandandji in a gentle and peaceful style.  

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A recipient of the Padmashree, author, scholar and friend of the Ashram Kumarpalbhai Desai, has ancestral connection to the village of Sayla, and has long been associated with the Ashram.  He spoke of attaining the vision to see the invisible by grace of the True Guru, and to rise above the dependence we have on external material things, adopting a much greater perspective.

Acharyaji Chandanaji had first heard of the village Sayla in 1962, when she was in Rajkot, but had not been able to come here.  Param Pujya Bapuji, the previous guru of Raj Saubhag Ashram had visited Veerayatan a number of times, and in January 2018, Param Pujya had visited Rajgir and stayed at Veerayatan with several hundred pilgrims.  It was at this time, that he had personally invited Acharyaji, especially during these celebrations. Vikrambhai of Raj Saubhag Ashram had fondly called her Ma in Rajgir as well as in Sayla, likening her to Mother Teresa.

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Acharyaji expressed her feeling of delight at being there.  She said that she would direct anyone looking for heaven to come to Sayla.  In her own sweet and loving style, Acharyaji explained that Bhakti cannot exist where the notion of “I” persists, that such Bhakti can be attained at the shelter of a True Guru.  She expressed her revolutionary ideas of service (seva) as striving (sadhana) and that God can be seen (and served) in those less fortunate than ourselves.

She was keen for Veerayatan and Raj Saubhag to cooperate, meet and work together. Among the Sadhvijis accompanying her Pujya Sanghmitraji sang bhajans in her supremely  melodious voice. Needless to say, she set the mood each time she took the mike.

Param Pujya Bhaishree was fecilitated for his many years of continuous service to seekers and to those suffering materially. He was noted for his tremendously tolerant, open-hearted nature. This could be seen by the wide variety of viewpoints shared during the celebrations. On various days, he took swadhyay on verse 129 of Atma Siddhi, describing the True Guru as the highest doctor, capable of curing the disease of delusion by compassionately prescribing contemplation and meditation in his agna.

On some of the days, the audience was privileged to hear Bhaishree speaking personally about his own experiences on the path.  He expressed much gratitude to Param Pujya Bapuji, his guru, for opening his eyes to the beauty and depth of the message of Bhagwan Mahavir, and to the teachings of Shrimad Rajchandra.  He opened Bhaishree’s eyes to Saubhagbhai of Sayla, Shimad’s soulmate: to understand Shrimad, one has to understand Saubhagbhai, and Bhaishree was grateful to connect to the living tradition and lineage of Saubhagbhai in Sayla.  Bhaishree also spoke fondly of the late, Param Pujya Gurumaa, who was a leading disciple of Bapuji and anointed at the same time as Bhaishree. He spoke about Bapuji’s fondness for her striving and character. How she progressed swiftly and silently.

The five days of celebration allowed Raj Saubhag Ashram and its members to come closer to the love, care, service, devotion, spirituality, and scholarship of the noble guests, forming deeper connection, gaining inspiration. Ultimately, we learned yet more about our beloved Bhaishree, through the praise and respect accorded to him, through the experiences of other saints and scholars, and through the precious opportunity to observe him closely, deeply equanimous and tolerant throughout the five days of celebration.

Let the divinity of the enlightened saints grace the world!


Gallery of photos

Day 1:

Ashirvad viklang mobility aid distribution and sewing machine distribution

Siddhchakra Pujan

Bhakti evening with Sparsha Band from Shri Pappaji of Parli Ashram

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Day 2:

Shri Gautamswami Pujan

Sant Sabha, Satsang and Swadhyay

Bhakti evening with performance by the renowned Sachit Limye and his wife Ashitaben, followers of the Art of Living as well Sadhviji Sanghmitraji soulful bhakti.

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Day 3 (Kartik Purnima - Shrimad Rajchandra’s Janma Jayanti):

Morning procession and installation of a plaster cast model of Shrimad in the nearly complete Raj Mandir Hall.

Sant Sabha, Satsang and Swadhyay

Sanghmitraji’s Bhakti

Evening cultural programme included: Shrimad’s poem Mula Marg was presented in dance form by Nilpa and Naytika Shah, and the innovative, moving play ‘Tejovalay’ was also performed.

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Day 4: (24th Nov - Param Pujya Bhaishree’s Birthday:

Sant Sabha, Satsang and Swadhyay

Evening cultural programme included the film presentation of Bhaishree’s spiritual journey: ‘Niranjan, In love with Truth’, the performance of a play on the life of Dadu Dayal, and further dance presentation.

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Day 5:

Sant Sabha, Satsang and Swadhyay

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Swadhyay Videos

23rd November 2018 - Param Krupaludev Shrimad Rajchandra’s Janma Jayanti

23rd November 2018 - morning

On the occasion of Param Krupaludev Shrimad Rajchandra’s Birth Anniversary, the sabha held in Sayla Ashram had swadhyays by Pujya Ben Prabhu, Acharya Chanadanashriji and Param Pujya Bhaishree.

23rd November 2018 - afternoon

On the occasion of Param Krupaludev Shrimad Rajchandra’s Birth Anniversary, the sabha held in Sayla Ashram had swadhyays by Pujya Ben Prabhu and Acharya Chanadanashriji.


24th November 2018 - Param Pujya Bhaishree’s 75th Birthday Amrutotsav

24th November 2018 - morning

On the occasion of Param Pujya Bhaishree’s 75th Birthday Amrutotsav, the sabha held in Sayla Ashram had swadhyays by Pujya Ben Prabhu, Param Pujya Gokulbhai, Param Pujya Rakeshbhai (Bapaji), Shree Kumarpal Desai, Acharya Chandanashriji and Param Pujya Bhaishree.

24th November 2018 - afternoon

On the occasion of Param Pujya Bhaishree’s 75th Birthday Amrutotsav, the sabha held in Sayla Ashram had swadhyays by Shree Kumarpal Desai, Param Pujya Gokulbhai and Acharya Chandanashriji.


25th November 2018 - Param Pujya Gurumaa’s Birth Anniversary

25th November 2018 - morning

Param Pujya Rakeshbhai (Bapaji), Param Pujya Gokulbhai and Param Pujya Bhaishree’s swadhyay on the final day of the Amrutotsav, also the birth anniversary of Param Pujya Gurumaa, Shree Sadgunaben C U Shah.

When students turn teachers

Many primary students studying in the schools in Sayla Taluka lag behind their classmates in reading, writing and mathematics.  70 girl students studying in schools run by Raj Saubhag Ashram Sayla offered to tutor extra classes to help these students cope, taking the load off from the State Government.  Over 2000 students from 65 schools in 35 villages are receiving extra coaching in this novel initiative where students have turned teachers.  This is their way of giving back to the society – a valuable lesson they were taught in school.

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The primary students that will receive extra coaching hail from Kashipara, Naliya, 4 schools in Sudamada,  9 primary schools from Sayla, Navaniya, Khitala among others.

The girl students who have benefitted from a hugely subsidised education in L M Vora College, have volunteered to take extra classes on the weekends. Along with the coaching classes, they are making progress and report cards to monitor the progress of each child.

Tejal Aal and Payal Katosana say: “It is our goal and earnest desire that every student reaches 100% of their potential, and they are able to read, write and calculate effortlessly.”

Applauding their initiative, Principal and Director of Prem ni Parab project, C K Vyas said: “This Prem ni Parab project has been instrumental in imparting quality education to over 25,000 students in the region. And now these college students are using their spare time to coach underperforming students and nurture their growth right from the beginning.”

Chief Minister of Gujarat, Shri Vijay Rupani visits Raj Saubhag on 72nd Independence Day

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Chief Minister of Gujarat, Shri Vijay Rupani  visits Raj Saubhag on 72nd Independence Day

15th August 2018

The Honourable Chief Minister of Gujarat, Shri Vijaybhai Rupani visited Shree Raj Saubhag Ashram on 15th August, India’s 72nd Independence Day.

The purpose of the visit was to witness the Ashram’s achievements in the fields of education, social welfare, medical and ophthalmic services which are provided to the local community; as well as to honour and motivate the staff members who provide these services. Due to the quality of equipment used, the commitment of doctors and educationists, complete dedication of care givers and the services provided, these institutions have often been described as ‘centres of excellence’ and ‘unique, especially in India’.

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The Chief Minister and first lady were warmly welcomed by the spiritual head of Shree Raj Saubhag Ashram, Param Pujya Bhaishree (Shri Nalinbhai Kothari), along with Brahmanishts Minalben and Vikrambhai on the steps of Raj Mandir (the new hall which is nearing completion).

The column-less, brilliantly lit auditorium with its intricately carved marble and stonework has seating capacity for almost 2000 people, is an architectural masterpiece, which resonates divinity.

Raj Saubhag Ashram follows the teachings of Bhagwan Mahavir as explained by Shrimad Rajchandra. Outside the Jain community, Shrimad Rajchandra is better known as the spiritual guide and mentor of Mahatma Gandhi. Disciples of Raj Saubhag Ashram living in India and abroad spend days, weeks and even months in its hallowed premises pursuing their spiritual growth.

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Smt Minalben formally welcomed the Honourable Chief Minister and other invited dignitaries, as Pujya Bhaishree presented him with a crystal engraving of Shrimad Rajchandra as a momento.

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Compering the event, Minalben and Vikrambhai described the various humanitarian activities undertaken by the Ashram, and introduced the people in charge. Each head was called on the dais and honoured.   

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Shri Chandrakant Vyas – Director of Prem Ni Parab Education Program

Shri Chandrakant Vyas – Director of Prem Ni Parab Education Program

Dr Kamal Shah - ophthalmic surgeon at the Eye Hospital

Dr Kamal Shah - ophthalmic surgeon at the Eye Hospital

Dr Vidhyut Shah - Opthalmic Surgeon at the Eye Hospital

Dr Vidhyut Shah - Opthalmic Surgeon at the Eye Hospital

Shri Rambhai Jadav – director, Ashirvad Trust for the Disabled Children

Shri Rambhai Jadav – director, Ashirvad Trust for the Disabled Children

Dr Dharmendra Sharma - Dental Surgeon

Dr Dharmendra Sharma - Dental Surgeon

Dr Ambalal Raval - Community Health Centre  

Dr Ambalal Raval - Community Health Centre
 

Pujya Bhaishree then delivered his address. First, he expressed his extreme pleasure with the visit by the Chief Minister on the country’s Independence Day. He went on to explain that the Ashram was located at Sayla primarily because it was the hometown of Shrimad’s soulmate, Saubhagbhai and that the founder of the ashram, Late Shri Ladakchand Manekchand Vora (Param Pujya Bapuji) was also from Sayla.

Pujya Bapuji firmly believed that one should always give back to society and that spirituality cannot flourish in the absence of compassion. Inspiring kindness in the hearts of disciples who came to the ashram, welfare activities in the region bloomed.  Starting from a small scale, the humanitarian projects have grown exponentially, with women’s education getting a tremendous boost. Until some years ago, Sayla taluka was regarded as having an extremely low female literacy rate, now has over 1000 girls attending Raj Saubhag High School. Similarly medical and social welfare has grown tremendously, said Pujya Bhaishree while thanking the Chief Minister once again for his visit.

Responding with equal warmth, the Chief Minister said that it was his earnest desire to visit the ashram since he had heard so much about it. He conveyed greetings of the national Independence Day and spoke about a number of patriotic Indians right from 1857 to 1947, who had advanced the cause of India’s independence. He singled out Mahatma Gandhi for his courage, perseverance and above all, his moral ethics including ahimsa and aparigrah (living with less). These characteristics were inspired in Gandhiji by Shrimad Rajchandra.  He also spoke about Jain philosophy and illusory happiness, while giving an indication that there would be a 150th anniversary celebration for Mahatma Gandhi in a similar style to that of Shrimad Rajchandra.

The Chief Minister sincerely congratulated Raj Saubhag Ashram for its selfless service to the poor in the region, adding that in reality this was the duty of the government.  He added that the state government has been increasing its allocation for welfare activities, especially in the field of education and gave details about his government’s current education project ‘Mission Vidhya’, while highlighting the major contribution being made by the teachers in developing the education.  

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Chief Minister having lunch with Bhaishree

Chief Minister having lunch with Bhaishree

The auditorium was live with the cheerful voices of over one thousand girls from Raj Saubhag School and college and over 900 teachers from schools in Sayla taluka. Leading members from various communities in Sayla were also present.

Link: Chief Minister’s facebook post on his visit to Raj Saubhag

https://m.facebook.com/story.php?story_fbid=2062749413777968&id=320511514668442

News Coverage:

Gujarat Samachar, dated 17 August 2018

Gujarat Samachar, dated 17 August 2018

Fulchhab Newspaper, dated 17 August 2018

Fulchhab Newspaper, dated 17 August 2018

Divya Bhaskar newspaper, dated 17 August 2018

Divya Bhaskar newspaper, dated 17 August 2018

Gurupurnima Celebrations 2018

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|| Akhand-mandalakaaram vyaptam yena characharam

Tatpadam darshitam yena tasmay shree gurave namah ||

Guru Poonam is the exhilarating celebration of the divine presence of an enlightened Guru in our lives. Just as the full moon embellishes the night, Guru’s gracious refuge has bought meaningful luster into this worldly darkness. He removes the endemic ignorance that is prevalent and gives us the light of knowledge. Surrounded by ephemeral things, the blessing of having an unbroken lifeline must not go without being paid homage to.

This year (2018), this purest festival of mentor-protégé lineage, was celebrated for 3 days in Ashram, 26th of July to 28th of July.

From the outset, the ambience in the ashram had a seraphic overtone. Day one was scheduled to have swadhyaay and bhakti in the morning, darshan at P.P Bapuji’s birthplace (Chorvira) & visit to L.M.V school in the afternoon and cultural program in the evening.

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If for seekers like us, Bhaishree’s significance on this inward journey is immeasurable, we can only imagine what importance Bhaishree’s heart would hold for P.P. Bapuji who not only showed him the path but also whose grace helped him reach great heights of spirituality. Such is the glory of an enlightened Guru and it is a privilege to worship this pure soul. So, with buses and cars occupying around 100 mumukshus, P.P. Bhaishree and brahmanisths, all left for chorvira. On reaching Bapuji’s home, P.P. Bhaishree lit a candle in front of Bapuji’s portrait and bhakti songs were sung.

Then the next stop was LMV School where 3 girls dedicated bhajan ‘Tu mane Bhagwan ek vardan aapi de’ to the Almighty, in Bhaishree’s presence and the humble Principal expressed gratitude towards Pujya Bapuji and Raj Saubhag Ashram and how their love for humanity feeds the hungry for knowledge minds and supports many vehement students.

While the afternoon was filled with reverential feelings, the evening was as devotional as cultural. The very first presentation was that of a 30 minutes film made on P.P. Bhaishree’s UK Dharmayatra (20th May to 7th June, 2018). With pictures and videos capturing candid euphoria and devotion of London mumukshus, to background music providing lyrical form to their raw emotions, each frame of the film gave a glimpse of how overjoyed mumukshus were to welcome P.P. Bhaishree, the eagerness to hear his golden-wisdom filled words and being able to spend quality time in his divine presence and connect with him so closely, be it through swadhyaay or spiritual retreats or talks or insightful games.

After the film, were beautiful solo and group dance performances, bhajan glorifying the importance of a true Guru and insightful play on Sulsa Sati and her virtues, through which mumukshus expressed their gratitude and vowed to completely and unconditionally surrender at guru’s lotus feet.

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Day two, the day of Guru Poonam, began early with Guru Welcome and Guru Ashirvachan, right after aagna-bhakti. Little later that morning, like every year was special dance performance by the students of Viklang Centre, card presentation by Dubai mumukshus and reading of gratitude filled messages from mumukshus from various parts of the globe. All requesting our Sadguru to help them get rid of the darkness and fill their lives with divine light.

Later that evening was Bhakti by professionals who reflected the devotion of mumukshu’s heart through their songs and brought all gopis from tapping their feet to dancing in ecstasy with the devotion–filled heart.

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Another key feature of this festivity was 9 mumukshus, over the course of 2 days, sharing their close encounters with P.P Bhaishree. Each and every story shared, illuminated the raw depth of Bhaishree’s virtues, his modesty, humbleness, perception, sagacity, his unconditional love & care, precious grace and his profound understanding. How cannot one fall in love with such pristine true self? 

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The next day, mumukshus had the privilege to hear Bhaishree’s swadhyaay in the morning as later that afternoon, P.P.Bhaishree and many other mumukshus departed for Amrutotsav celebration (Talk/Dance/Film/Play – Tejovalay) in Ahmedabad.

Over these three days, Bhaishree relentlessly elaborated on verse 98 of Aatmasiddhi and fervently focused on three pillars of spirituality all mumukshus must work on – Faith, Surrender and Devotion. Stronger the faith, deeper is one’s understanding; more pure your surrender, more humble you become and more devoted you will be, more virtues you shall develop. The biggest obstacle on this spiritual path is our ignorance. Thus, practice stillness, be more focused and observe peace. Actions and feelings go hand in hand. One ignites the other. Hence, re-direct your karma bhaav towards Moksh Bhaav. Do not hurry but do not be sluggish as well. Deepen your understanding and work single-mindedly towards your goal, Bhaishree says.

Bhaishree’s Ashirvachan on Guru Poonam complemented the same ardor as his swadhayas. Even then, he reminded us of our blessings and made only one entreaty – The shortest road to liberation is ‘Ashray’ and ‘Bhakti’. Be reminded of your blessings and make sure you strengthen your enthusiasm, firmness and passion for this path and uncompromisingly stay devoted to the true enlightened master.

Contemplate his compassion and unconditional universal love for each and every soul.

|| Manasa bhajore guru charanam, Dustara bhavasagara taranam ||

Do not just sing the glory of HIS divine grace but ensure that you never forget this matchless shelter that we have acquired. By all means, bow and surrender at HIS lotus feet and completely engulf yourself with HIS purity and divinity. This is the best way to celebrate not only Guru Poonam but also each and every day of this otherwise misused life. There is no cause for spiritual welfare as powerful as association with an enlightened master (Vachnamrut, letter 375). As, it is only through HIS refuge are we going to overcome birth-death cycle and its sufferings. While most vaporize in the blink of an eye, bowing at HIS lotus feet with gratitude & Faith and holding onto that with steadfast devotion is our only escape from the fear of being caught up in this worldly mess. O soul! Awaken! Make the most of what you have received.

IVY Swadhyay - July 2018

 “A truly awakened soul is not attached to anything” says Brahmnisht Minalben.

‘When we step into the outside world, we realise that we are different from a lot of people in many ways. The lessons that we are taught, the perspective with which we observe our surrounding and the ways in which we learn to deal with situations, makes IVY mumukshus realize that we are extra-ordinary. With the help of the teachings of an enlightened Master like Krupalu Dev,  we learn to be able to maintain a balance between the society as well as our spiritual life, so that we can also attain such spiritual peaks like Him.’

What does it mean to be living a spiritual life?

1.         When we do the agnas given to us by our satguru

2.         Not giving upon anything, but centering our lives around the satguru and his agna

3.         Not to get entangled in the seen but to seek the unseen

“Happiness in materialistic things is going to be temporary,” Minalben reminded all of us. “So at a certain age, we might like something but after a few years we might not like it at all. This shows that happiness is ephemeral and transient when attached to an object, place or a person.”

All of us were encouraged to read at least one page from the book – ‘The pinnacle of spirituality’ everyday, to better understand Krupalu Dev‘s life. With the help of this book we get to know how Shrimad perceived Jainism and also helped us realise its importance and depth.

Minalben also helped us understand the qualities of our soul and drew our attention to our individual strengths. While discussing the outstanding talents of Krupalu Dev and especially his phenomenal memory, she pointed out that our soul is as beautiful and powerful as that of Krupalu Dev and Tirthankars. The degree to which we clean the karmas maligning our soul is the degree to which we would be able to experience its virtues and purity.

This swadhyay was unique for the basket full of topics that were discussed and also because  the IVY group was fortunate to hear insightful stories of Pujya Bapuji’s life from Brahmnisht Vinubhai. He stated that just like Krupalu Dev, Bapuji too had great memory. He would concentrate well in the class. And because he would stay focused on his task, even with few hours of study, he could score great marks in his examination.

Next Vinubhai talked about an inspiring story from the life of Albert Schweitzer, a French-German theologian, humanitarian and physician. Schweitzer often said that ‘the purpose of human life is to serve, and to show compassion and the will to help others. “True compassion means not only feeling about others’ pain but also being moved to help relieve it ”. With this thought, Albert served and treated many people in South Africa. He was so dedicated to his work that he didn’t even go to receive the Noble Peace Prize award. Vinubhai urged all of us: ‘just like his soul, we all have a soul that is filled with Daya and Karuna Bhaav, awaken it and dedicate it for serving others’.

Vinubhai reminded us of how extremely fortunate we all were to have got this human birth. We need to do such work that our cycle birth and death gets diminished and eventually break and we can reach moksh.

- Vidhi Boradia

Summer Camp in Science Center, Sayla 2018

A 4-day summer camp was organized in the Science Center in Sayla, between 18th and 21stApril.  Forty-five students from 7 schools participated in the program which consisted of over 60 different activities including science experiments, paper models, activities to demystify maths and mathematical equations, audio-visual presentation about the planets and solar system. 

In an informative and inspiring speech, project director of Prem Ni Parab project, Shri Chandrakantbhai Vyas encouraged the students to weave science into their daily lives, supporting his speech by giving many examples.  Principals and teachers  from many other schools were also present to encourage and teach the students, who were given certificates of participation at the end of the course

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Welcoming the marble that will gift us the idol of Param Krupaludev

ગુરુ કારીગર સરીખા, ટાંકે વચન વિચાર
પથ્થર સે પ્રતિમા કરે, પૂજા લહે અપાર
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“રાજમંદિર” એ પ.પૂ ભાઈશ્રીના હૃદયમાં રહેલો પરમ કૃપાળુ દેવ પ્રત્યેનો ઉત્કૃષ્ટ ભક્તિભાવ છે. મુમુક્ષુઓનાં કલ્યાણ અર્થે જે દાયકાઓ સુધી મદદરૂપ થવાનું છે તે અતિ સુંદર “રાજમંદિર” પૂર્ણ થવાના આરે છે. પરમ કૃપાળુ દેવની અત્યંત જીવંત પ્રતિમાજી ઘડાય અને તેનું અવલંબન પામી મુમુક્ષુઓ મોક્ષના માર્ગે વીતરાગ બનતા જાય એ ભાઈશ્રીનો પરમાર્થ મનોરથ છે. આપણે ભાગ્યશાળી છીએ કે બે વર્ષના અંતે દૂધ જેવો સફેદ આરસનો પથ્થર વિયેટનામની ખાણમાંથી મળી આવ્યો છે જેને તારીખ ૧૪-૬-૨૦૧૮ ના રોજ બહુમાનપૂર્વક, આનંદ ઉલ્હાસ સાથે વધાવી, આશ્રમના પ્રાંગણમાં સ્થાપવામાં આવ્યો છે.

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જોગાનુજોગ તે સમયે પ.પૂ. છોટાબાપુજી તેમજ પ.પૂ. બાપુજી સાથે જેમનો ઘનિષ્ઠ આધ્યાત્મિક સંબંધ હતો, તેવા ગચ્છાધિપતિ આચાર્ય માણેકસાગર સુરી મહારાજ સાહેબની પરંપરાના સાધુ ભગવંતો ગચ્છાધિપતિ પૂ. શ્રી ચન્દ્રસાગર મ.સા. (પૂ. આગમોધ્ધારક સૂરિ) વિહાર કરતા આશ્રમમાં પધાર્યા હતા.

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તેમણે અર્થપૂર્ણ પ્રવચન દ્વારા ઉત્તમ સમજણ આપી અને મંત્રોચ્ચાર દ્વારા તે એકેન્દ્રિય જીવોને ભાવપૂર્વક વિનંતી કરી કે, તેઓ કૃપા કરી મૂર્તિ કંડારવા માટે અનુમતિ આપે.

આપણી ઉપર તે એકેન્દ્રિય જીવો અનુગ્રહ કરે તે માટે આપણે નાનો પણ સંકલ્પ કરવો જોઈએ એવી પ્રેરણા સાધુભગવંતોએ કરતાં ત્યાં ઉપસ્થિત મુમુક્ષુઓએ મૂર્તિ પૂર્ણપણે ઘડાય અને તેની પ્રતિષ્ઠા થાય ત્યાં સુધી પોતાની ઈચ્છા અનુસાર પ્રતિજ્ઞા લીધી હતી.

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ભલે આપણે ત્યાં હાજર ન હતાં પણ આપણે પણ આ વાંચી આપણી શક્તિ અનુસાર સંકલ્પ લેવો જોઈએ. ઓછામાં ઓછું રોજ, ૫ માળા સહજાત્મસ્વરૂપ પરમગુરુ અથવા તો નમસ્કાર મહામંત્રની ગણવી એવી ભલામણ આ પુણ્યાત્મક પ્રસંગે ભાઇશ્રીએ કરી છે.    

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