સંત પરમ હિતકારી, પરમ પૂજ્ય આત્માનંદજીનું રાજમંદિરમાં આગમન
જેમની નિશ્રામાં દેહકેન્દ્રિત જીવન આત્મકેન્દ્રિત બને, કષાયો ઉપશમિત થાય, ઇન્દ્રિયો સંયમિત વર્તે અને મન પવિત્ર તેમજ સ્થિર રહે એવા મહાપુરુષોનું પવિત્ર આગમન જ્યારે સાયલાના આશ્રમમાં થાય ત્યારે મુમુક્ષુઓ ઉત્કૃષ્ટ ભક્તિભાવથી તેમને આવકારતા હોય છે.
છેલ્લા એક વર્ષથી પરમ પૂજ્ય ભાઈશ્રી તેમજ સર્વે મુમુક્ષુઓ જેમની આતુરતાપૂર્વક રાહ જોઈ રહ્યા હતા એવા પરમ શ્રદ્ધેય, પરમ પૂજ્ય શ્રી આત્માનંદજી સાહેબ ગુરુવાર, તારીખ ૧૮ જુલાઈ ૨૦૧૯ની સવારે ૧૦:૪૦ કલાકે સાયલા આશ્રમમાં પધાર્યા હતા. તેઓની સાથે શાંતમૂર્તિ પૂજ્ય શર્મિષ્ઠાબેન, પરમ આદરણીય, બાળ બ્રહ્મચારી શ્રી સુરેશજી તેમજ કોબા આશ્રમના અગ્રગણ્ય મુમુક્ષુઓ પણ પધાર્યા હતા.
તેમની ગાડી મુખ્ય દ્વારમાંથી દાખલ થઇ અને હર્ષવિભોર મુમુક્ષુઓએ ગરબા રમી ચહેરા પર આનંદના ભાવો સાથે તેમનું સ્વાગત કર્યું. પરમ પૂજ્ય ભાઇશ્રીએ આંટી પહેરાવી અને નાદુરસ્ત તબિયત અને સફરનો થાક હોવા છતાં પૂજ્ય આત્માનંદજી સીધા રાજમંદિરમાં પધાર્યા.
પરમ આદરણિય મીનળબેન તેમજ બ્રહ્મનિષ્ઠ વિક્રમભાઈએ તેમનું ભાવઊર્મિઓથી શાબ્દિક સ્વાગત કર્યું અને ત્યારબાદ ૧૦૮ ઇંચ ઊંચી, પરમ કૃપાળુ દેવની દિવ્ય પ્રતિમાજીની આગળ રહેલા પડદાને શ્રી આત્માનંદજી સાહેબના હાથે બટન દબાવી ઉપર લેવડાવ્યો. ૮ મિનિટ સુધી તે પ્રતિમાના સ્વરૂપસ્થ ભાવોમાં સર્વે ખોવાઇ ગયાં! તેમના જ્ઞાન નેત્રો પ્રત્યે સહુ એવા સ્થિર થયા કે દેહભાવ ભૂલાતો ગયો. પવિત્ર ચેતના સાથે વૃત્તિઓ એકાકાર થઇ અને સર્વે ધન્ય થયાં.
ત્યારબાદ આ સજીવન સમી પ્રતિમાજીને વર્ણવતું એક પદ વિક્રમભાઈએ ગાયું અને સમતાધારી ભાઈશ્રીએ તેમજ મીનળબેને સાથે મળી આત્માનંદજી સાહેબ તેમજ સતી સીતા સમા શર્મિષ્ઠાબેનનું શાલ ઓઢાડી બહુમાન કર્યું.
સંતશ્રી આત્માનંદજી સાહેબને વિનંતિ કરતાં તેઓ એક નમસ્કાર મંત્ર બોલ્યા અને ત્યાર બાદ જે સૂત્ર તેમના ભાવચારિત્રની ઓળખ બન્યું છે તે તેઓએ ત્રણ વાર સહુને બોલાવડાવ્યું. “હું આત્મા છું, આપનો સેવક છું, સૌનો મિત્ર છું.” શારીરિક પ્રતિકૂળતા હોવા છતાં તેમના ચહેરા ઉપર સતત અંતરઆનંદની છાયા ઊભરાતી હતી. સંતનું સંતપણું દૈદીપ્યમાન થતું હતું.
ત્યારબાદ સ્વાધ્યાયમાં પ્રજ્ઞાશીલ ભાઇશ્રીએ પૂજ્ય છોટાબાપુજીનો પુષ્પાબેન ઉપર લખેલ પત્ર નંબર ૨૧ લીધો હતો. મૃત્યુની ભય પ્રકૃતિનો પ્રશ્ન પુષ્પાબેનનો હતો. જવાબમાં છોટાબાપુજી કહે છે કે “મૃત્યુ વિષે મનમાં જેટલા ઘોડાઓ ઊઠે છે તેના તમે સાક્ષી રહી શકો છો. પહેલા ભળેલા રહેતા તે હવે ક્રમે કરી છૂટાં રહેવાય છે તો તે ભય પ્રકૃતિ ઊછળી ઊછળી સામે આવતી તેના તમે સાક્ષી ખરા કે નહિ? સાક્ષી આત્મા હંમેશા નિર્લેપ, અપરિણામી તથા અક્રિય છે. તેમાંથી ઉપયોગનો કે જ્ઞાનનો પ્રવાહ ચાલ્યો આવે છે. આપણા જ્ઞાનનો પ્રવાહ કે ઉપયોગનો પ્રવાહ, તે નિર્લેપ આત્માની સમય સમય જ્ઞાન અવસ્થા, તે દેહના ધર્મો, સુખ દુઃખ કે જ્ઞાન ઇંદ્રિયોની સાથે બંધાયેલા છે. એટલે દરેક ઉદય વખતે આપણે જાગૃતિ રાખવાની છે કે આપણે નિર્લેપ ચેતન છીએ, સાક્ષી છીએ.”
શાંતભાવે ભાઇશ્રીએ સમજાવ્યું કે ઇન્દ્રિઓની પાછળ મન છે અને મનની પાછળ આત્મા રહ્યો છે. જો આત્મા મનને પ્રેમથી નિયંત્રિત કરે તો ઈન્દ્રીઓ સંયમિત રહે. સાક્ષીભાવે આ જગતમાં અકરતૃત્વબુદ્ધિએ કાર્યો કરવાનાં છે. ઉપયોગને પરવસ્તુઓથી પાછો વાળી સ્વકેન્દ્રિત કરીને બહિરાત્મભાવને ત્યજી અંતરાત્મભાવમાં સ્થિર થવાનું છે. તેમ કરતા આપણે અસંગ, નિર્લેપ અને નિ:સ્પૃહ રહી શકીશું. ભય કે આંતરિક ચંચળતા નહિ રહે. ચિત્ત પ્રશાંત થતા આપણે આત્માનંદને અનુભવીશું.
ત્યારબાદ પ્રેમમૂર્તિ શર્મિષ્ઠાબેને બાપુજીની સાથેની પ્રથમ મુલાકાત યાદ કરી હતી અને કહ્યું હતું કે મને બાપુજી મારા પિતાતુલ્ય લાગતા હતા અને સાયલા આવી છું તો એવું લાગે છે કે હું મારા પિયરે આવી છું. આત્મસિદ્ધિની એક મહત્વની કડીનો ઉલ્લેખ કરીને કહ્યું કે,
“સ્વચ્છંદ મત આગ્રહ તજી, વર્તે સદગુરુ લક્ષ;
સમકિત તેને ભાખિયું, કારણ ગણી પ્રત્યક્ષ.”
આપણા સમર્પણભાવમાં ક્યાંય કચાશ ન રહી જાય અને આજ્ઞાઓનું પાલન અપૂર્વ રુચિ તેમજ પૂર્ણ શ્રદ્ધાન સાથે થાય તે બહુ જરૂરી છે. પ્રત્યક્ષ નિશ્રામાં આમ વર્તાશે તો જીવ સમ્યગદર્શન અવશ્ય પામશે.
છેલ્લે વિક્રમભાઈએ રાજમંદિર વિષે થોડી માહિતી આપી અને સૌ બેઝમેન્ટમાં રહેલી પરમ કૃપાળુ દેવની ખડગાસન મુદ્રાની પ્રતિમાજીનાં દર્શન કરવા ગયા, જ્યાં સ્તુતિ કર્યા બાદ કૃપાનિધાન આત્માનંદજી સાહેબે એક ભજનની પંક્તિ ગાઈ હતી.
અન્નપૂર્ણામાં સૌએ સાથે ભોજન લીધા બાદ થોડો આરામ કરી બપોરના ૩:૧૫ આસપાસ તેઓ કોબા જવા માટે રવાના થયા. બે સંતો અને મુમુક્ષુઓનું આનંદસભર મિલન તેમજ પારમાર્થિક પ્રેમની પવિત્રતાનો દિવ્ય અનુભવ જીવનભર આપણે માણતા રહીશું.
Faith & Surrender
This shloka from the ancient Vedic Scriptures explains the supreme place a teacher or Guru holds in the hearts of his disciples:
Gururbrahmā Gururviṣhṇu Gururdēvōh Mahēśhvaraḥ...I
Guru Sākṣhāta Paraṁ Brahmah Tasmai Shrī Guravē Namaḥ...II
Meaning: Oh teacher, you are akin to the Gods. You are Lord Vishnu and you are Lord Shiva – the God of the Gods. Oh teacher, you are the supreme being, and you are Lord Brahma for me. Thus, oh revered teacher, I bow in front of you.
The Full Moon day in Shukla Paksha during the Lunar month Ashad is celebrated as Guru Purnima. In the word Guru - Gu means darkness, ignorance and Ru implies elimination or removal. So, Guru is literally the one who removes the darkness of ignorance from our lives, and extricates us from the potentially eternal cycle of births and deaths.
Day 1: 15th July
The 3-day celebration began with waking up in the Brahma-mahurat and doing meditation followed by the morning regime of love (Agna Bhakti) and Chaityavandan.
Eye Camp in Matushree Kashiben Harjivandas Sanghrajka Eye Hospital, Sayla
Mumukshus participated in an Eye Camp sponsored by UK-based Deepakbhai Kamdar. A total of 100 cataract surgeries were performed free of cost, at this camp (which is part of multiple camps organised throughout the year, since many years).
After lighting the inaugural lamp, trustee Shri Vinubhai Shah said: “In the very initial years, eye operations were performed by Raj Saubhag Ashram in collaboration with Virpur Ashram. In the secondary stage, operations were performed in the ashram complex itself. Government regulations and increasing number of patients required enhanced facilities, and therefore this eye hospital was built and later expanded in Sayla village itself. A lot of people advised against establishing a hospital in a centre as small as Sayla, since larger centres were unable to attract large numbers of patients and not more than 10 surgeries are performed every month. However, due to Pujya Bhaishree’s characteristic long term vision, and with his selfless efforts and grace, the hospital in Sayla was established and expanded some years later. Today, over 700 surgeries are performed every month in Sayla.”
Unveiling of Dr. Ambedkar Open University Study Centre
The morning special session in the newly opened, architectural masterpiece Raj Mandir, witnessed a historic unveiling of a collaboration between L.M.Vora College of Arts and Commerce and Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar Open University (affiliated to Government of Gujarat offering distance learning diploma and degree programs). The available degree courses would be M.A (Master of Arts), B. Com (Bachelor of Commerce), BPP (Bachelor Preparatory Programme) and CCC Computer course. L.M.Vora College has been chosen as one of the study centres for Dr. Ambedkar Open University.
In a village like Sayla, where a mere 20 years ago, educating the girl child beyond primary school and sending her to high school was unimaginable; slowly but surely a tectonic shift is taking place. Now, girls would be able to spread their wings and become university graduates without opposition from family members and society. All this has been achieved due to the tireless efforts and vision of Pujya Bhaishree.
Project director Chandrakantbhai Vyas said: “I have always explained to my girl students, that education is the main reason for all progress – intellectual, economic and social progress. The L. M. Vora College girls students are making their place in the whole zilla district. To all those who support educating the girl child, I say that, this is superior to all other donations. When we started the Arts and Commerce college, there were 7 enrolments in the first year. Today, over 500 girls are studying in the college. In the same way, we have 11 admission applications for the graduation course, and I can foresee that this number will grow to hundreds and thousands. The ceremonial lamp that has just been lighted will drive away the darkness of illiteracy. I thank Pujya Bhaishree again and again for his unflinching support and vision.”
During the morning param satsang on Gnansaar, written by the venerable, eminent Upadhyay Shri Yashovijayji Maharaj Saheb, Pujya Bhaishree said: “A majority of the people are immersed in sansaaric activities, searching for happiness in transient objects like wealth, indulgence of the senses, worldly comforts, or fame; while an Atma gnaani has found happiness within himself, just like the Mansarovar swan. Merely memorizing verses from the scriptures is not enlightenment. For a sadhak aiming to reach his spiritual goal – he would need to focus on qualities to purify his soul, and not be blinded and weighed down by knowledge for the sake of knowledge. Atma Gnaan or Granthi Bhed should be every seeker’s goal and that is the highest, greatest, ultimate goal of this human birth.”
Emphasising the wisdom of the above words with narratives from the lives of Adi Shankracharya, Manjhibhai Patel among others, Bhaishree explained in great detail how the quality of Sambhaav (equanimity - not getting swayed by likes or dislikes) contributes greatly on the path of spiritual progress. Bhaishree ended his discourse with: “I send good wishes and prayers to every mumukshu to progress on this spiritual path with great speed.”
Visit to Chorvira & Evening Celebrations
In the afternoon session, the mumukshus participated in a Jatra to Chorvira, (birthplace and school of their benefactor Pujya Bapuji) and Panch Kalyanak Puja with great enthusiasm. After dinner, was the daily Arti, Mangal Divo and evening Dev Vandan; followed by Bruhad Alochana (a deeply meaningful prayer in which devotees recount their misdeeds and ask forgiveness with great humility). Since it was the auspicious day of chaudas, everyone recited the Bruhad Alochana together.
A cultural programme by mumukshus from different parts of the world and different parts of India, brought this eventful day to an end.
Day 2: Guru Purnima – 16th July
After the morning meditation and agna bhakti, mumukshus lined up from Pujya Bhaishree’s kutir to the Raj Mandir to welcome their benefactor with soaring devotion in their hearts. At the first glimpse of Pujya Bhaishree coming out from Pujya Bapuji’s kutir, after bowing before his Guru (P Bapuji), warmed every heart beholding him. Each and every mumukshu bowed at his lotus feet as he passed them, while Pujya Bhaishree remained in his perfect balanced, unmoved inner state – a witness, full of humility and kindness in the midst of so much veneration and adoration.
The mid-morning session began with distribution of aids and appliances to individuals with motor impairment; and a dance performance by children with special needs from Ashirvad Trust for the Disabled. This centre has been doing exemplary work by empowering individuals with impairments via access, equal opportunities and love.
The morning Guru Purnima session also witnessed divine bhakti, messages and cards from mumukshus around the world were read and presented to Pujya Bhaishree by Minalben. Dubai mumukshu group presented their Guru Purnima card themselves with a 5-minute group performance.
In his param satsang, Pujya Bhaishree said: “An ever increasing faith in the True Deity, True Guru and True Path, with complete devotion will surely lead to spiritual progress. Such a sincere devotee will achieve salvation within 15 births, say Tirthankars. Having said that, the qualities of Upsham (calming the passions) and Vairaagya (detachment) need to be cultivated and nurtured constantly and consistently. As Param Krupalu Dev says: “ભક્તિ પ્રધાન દશાથી વર્તવાથી, જીવના સ્વચ્છંદ આદિ દોષ સુગમપણે વિલય થાય છે”. Just like the Gopis, who though living in sansaar, remained detached from sansaari relations, objects and situations. They were only connected to the Divine. In the same way mumukshus must remain detached from worldly objects and situations and be connected only to the Satdev, Satguru and Satdharma. This supreme devotion of the disciple towards his Guru, will elevate the disciple to the spiritual level of his enlightened Master. This is Para-Bhakti.”
The afternoon session continued with selected mumukshus sharing with the audience their divine experiences with Pujya Bhaishree, giving everyone a glimpse into the divinity that personifies our benevolent Guru.
Evening session consisted of Arti, Mangal Divo, Dev Vandan and Atma Siddhi. A 30-minute film on the UK Dharma Yatra and bhajans and bhakti immersed every person in the audience in devotion and bhakti bhaav.
Day 3: 17th July
Day 3 arose with meditation, agna bhakti and veneration to all our Guruvaryas.
Mumukshus also participated in another eye camp, sponsored by the Parekh family based in Baroda and UK.
Two more mumukshus shared their experiences and Bhaishree gave a discourse on purusharth (spiritual striving). During the Param Satsang in the mid-morning, Pujya Bhaishree questioned: “If you want to progress on the spiritual path, can you do so while giving in To Anger? To Egotism? To Malice? To Greed? Each and every mumukshu must master the art of suppressing his negative qualities and trying sincerely to overcome them. The reins of likes and dislikes (raag and dvesh) must be firmly held within our own hands, and we must not allow any of these to supersede us, overwhelm us.”
Pujya Atmanandji and his disciples from Koba Ashram arrived in the Ashram on the 18th July, to an extremely warm welcome by Pujya Bhaishree, Vikrambhai, Minalben and all the mumukshus of Shree Raj Saubhag Ashram.
The three days celebrations ended with Bhaishree’s key message urging seekers to strengthen their spiritual foundation by cultivating inner faith and complete surrender. These two foundational virtues will help us remove vices, increase our focus and become one with our enlightened mentor.
Swadhyays - video recordings
A disciple who sped up his master’s spiritual journey
Shree Saubhagbhai’s Dehvilay Commemoration - 2019
Soulmate Shri Saubhag – this was the address used by Param Krupalu Dev Shrimad Rajchandra for Pujya Saubhagbhai, his disciple and his benefactor. For a person like Shrimadji who could recognise the world and its pleasures as a mirage that should be actively shunned, meeting Saubhagbhai was the providential blessing in his feverish and angst-ridden quest for ‘Samyak Darshan’ (self-realisation). In an unusual happenstance, Saubhagbhai became Shrimadji’s disciple as well as a guide and soulmate who enabled him to achieve ‘Samyak Darshan’.
Shree Raj Saubhag Satsang Mandal observed the death anniversary of Saubhagbhai on June 27, 2019. In attendance were dignitaries and mumukshus from several Shrimad Rajchandra ashrams. On the evening of June 26, the large number of attendees soaked in the devotional atmosphere created by the soulful singing of Meghalben from Shree Rajchandra Mission, Dharampur.
The next morning, Brahmnisht Vikrambhai elaborated on the endearments used by Shrimadji for Saubhagbhai in his letters, each of which expressed their exceptional bond as well as his abiding gratitude to the latter – “Param pujya (most revered),” “supreme benefactor,” “liberated,” “Param saral (supremely straightforward) and an icon of peace,” and many more.
In his discourse, Sudhirbhai, a well-known scholar from Rajkot, asserted that one can strive endlessly for spiritual upliftment without guidance but it yields little. A self-driven pursuit of spirituality leads nowhere. Hence, one has little choice but to opt for the shelter of a liberated soul for therein alone lies his liberation.
Before beginning his discourse, Param Pujya Bhaishree warmly welcomed all the mumukshus and invitees of the Shrimad Rajchandra family who had arrived for the occasion from different parts of the country. In his discourse, he explained in depth the concept of “ashray bhakti”, which defined the relationship Saubhagbhai had with Shrimadji. Shrimadji instructed mumukshus to give predominant weightage to the path of devotion (‘bhakti marg’) over the path of knowledge (‘gnan marg’). When devotion takes precedence, many obstacles, difficulties, and hardships are easily overcome.
For Saubhagbhai, adopting this path came easy as he had the refuge of a powerful and enlightened master such as Shrimadji. He worshipped every utterance of Shrimadji; he valued these pearls of wisdom which eclipsed everything – his troubles, his agonies, the human shortcomings of his personality - and helped him steadily ascend the spiritual ladder to the state of self-realisation that Shrimadji had envisioned for him and for which the seer held his hand gently but firmly through the seven years of their spiritual connect from 1946 to 1953.
During their close association, the two spent 560 days together. Each time they parted, they wrote to each other. Each sought the other’s company earnestly and fervently as each had renounced the world in their mind even while inhabiting it materially; each craved to break free of their worldly lives and dwell in spiritual solitude and communion; each knew that the other mirrored their state of mind even though their spiritual evolution followed different trajectories.
In his letters, Shrimadji has consistently expressed his longing for ‘nivrutti’ (time to pursue his spiritual goals). He would tell Saubhagbhai that his company was akin to ‘nivrutti’ as every moment of their time together was spent in spiritual activity and discussions. Bhaishree said that their profound and intimate relationship was characterized by Saubhagbhai’s role as the catalyst in Shrimadji’s attainment of self-realisation and Shrimadji’s assiduous spiritual grooming of Saubhagbhai.
After steering the gathering into a state of deep devotion through the glorious example of Saubhagbhai, Bhaishree read out a few letters written by Saubhagbhai to Shrimadji from the book, ‘Hridaysakha Shri Saubhag.’
At the foundation of their relationship was the shared knowledge of a meditation technique, ‘beej gnan’, the seed of Samyak Darshan. Saubhagbhai was instrumental in giving ‘beej gnan’ to Shrimadji, which gave direction to Shrimadji’s restless and relentless search for his soul. Acquiring it at a young age of 23, Shrimadji dived deep into himself to attain samyag darshan. He felt indebted to Saubhagbhai for this invaluable knowledge that afforded him a giant leap in his spiritual journey and opened the door to salvation.
Shrimadji’s focussed pursuit of spirituality after acquiring ‘beej gnan’ led him to attain pure, vibrant and liberating realisation of self in Samvat 1947 at a young age of 24. His readiness as a seeker, his extraordinary faculties of the mind and spirit, the purity of his consciousness needed that single trigger of divine knowledge that Saubhagbhai sought him out to share with him. In the process, Saubhagbhai became immortal as the seeker who helped the seer.
In letter number 165 (‘Vachanamrut’), Shrimadji wrote in Gujarati as translated: “All spiritual achievers have sung the glory of the knowledge that you (Saubhagbhai) have. With each passing day, this soul also experiences the speciality of this knowledge incrementally.”
In letter number 259, a grateful Shrimadji tells Saubhagbhai, “I feel you must have taken birth for me. I owe you a huge debt of gratitude. You have given me my desired happiness. What can I offer you in return other than my salutations?”
It was to facilitate easy understanding of ‘The letter of six precepts’ for Saubhagbhai and his kin that Shrimad wrote the most revered treatise in his literature, ‘Shri Atmasiddhi Shastra’ in lyrical form. In the process, the treatise has become the most potent scripture on the reality of the soul.
Dr Bhagwandas Mansukhbhai Mehta mentions in the book, ‘Adhyatma Rajchandra’ that Saubhagbhai’s relationship with Shrimadji played a very important role in Shrimadji’s spiritual life. It was his meeting with Saubhagbhai that led to the cathartic fulfilment of his innermost craving for self-realisation.
Why did Saubhagbhai share his divine knowledge with someone he did not know well? He was very impressed with Shrimadji’s ‘avdhaan’ prowess (ability to attend to many things at a time showcasing one’s mental and spiritual competence) and the way he welcomed Saubhagbhai by name in their very first meeting even though he did not know him, among other things. He felt a high degree of veneration for Shrimadji and, on an inner call, surrendered his whole being to him.
Saubhagbhai informed Shrimadji in a letter just before his demise that he had attained self-realisation. This is evident from letter number 54 dated Jeth Sud 14, Samvat 1953. In another letter dated Jeth Vad 11, Samvat 1953, Ambalalbhai conveyed that Saubhagbhai passed away peacefully in samadhi.
On the morning of Jeth Vad Dasam (June 27), Bhaishree led everyone to Vishranti Dham, where Saubhagbhai lived, in Sayla village to pay homage to this great son of the soil.
Bhaishree reminded us that we were very fortunate to be able to comprehend and appreciate a gnani like Shrimadji through Saubhagbhai’s copious correspondence with him. In a world tainted with greed, material acquisitiveness, and smallness of spirit, there are barely a handful of people who are blessed with Saubhagbhai’s exemplary qualities such as compassion, contentedness, largeness of heart, forbearance, straightforwardness, sincerity, inner purity and evolution of soul. Each of his qualities is worthy of emulation and will inspire generations to come.
Saubhagbhai remains immortal as a human being, an ideal disciple and as the one who shone the light for one of the greatest torchbearers of Jainism – on the passage to his soul.
The most mesmerizing Pratistha
Only an ardent disciple can truly understand what it means to consecrate the Lord, the Guru and the faith in the innermost realms of his heart. The most holy days of March 2019 witnessed the Pratistha Mahotsav of the simply awesome, jaw-droppingly majestic Raj Mandir and breathtakingly divine pratimaji of Shrimad Rajchandra in Sayla. This much awaited program spanned over 7 days, was presided over by eminent heads of various ashrams, and infused thousands of disciples with overwhelming devotion.
On the beautiful morning of 4th March, after morning meditation and nityakram, mumukshus participated in soulful bhakti and swadhyay. Pujya Bhaishree gave an insightful discourse on Updesh Chhaya 9. He made special mention of the devotion of the gopis for Shri Krishna. Even while going about their daily chores, their whole being was immersed in devotion for the Lord. Similar should be the devotion of every mumukshu aiming to reach their ultimate goal – enlightenment or samkit. The Panch Kalyanak Pujan in the afternoon and audio-visual film – ‘Divya Jyoti no Amar Prakash’ in the evening, brought in the first devotion filled day of the 7-Day Pratistha Mahotsav.
On the 5th of March, among the special programs were Atma Siddhi Pujan and transformation message delivered through comedy by well-known performer Shahbuddin Rathod. By some divine co-incidence Pujya Fulchandbhai Shastri, founder of Adhyatmik Sadhana Kendra in Umrala arrived in Sayla on the very day and time when the Atma Siddhi Pujan was being conducted. He graced the occasion with his presence, arriving in ashram in the morning hours, accompanied by other mumukshus. During the afternoon swadhyay, Pujya Bhaishree gave a discourse on Vachnamrutji letter 569.
On the 6th of March, the entire day was filled with swadhyay, agna bhakti, meditation, collective recitation of the Atma Siddhi shastra and ultimately devotional bhakti by Shri Ashokji Pandey and his immensely talented troupe from Varanasi, which filled the Raj Mandir hall with melodious bhajans and lingering notes of musical instruments.
The triple day special fest 7th-8th-9th March saw a flurry of celebrations – from the ceremonial procession of the Pratimaji, along with visiting dignitaries, all seated in magnificent chariots. The whole parade of devotees leading and following the chariots brought to memory, the holy rath-yatra of Bhagwan Mahavir’s diksha ceremony as described in the Kalpa Sutra. So divine was the entire occasion, that it drew a candid comment from Pujya Gokulbhai: “The entire event is reminiscent of Mahavideh Kshetra. So palpable is your devotion, O mumukshus, that I suggest all of you extend your stay in Sayla. Follow up your sadhna. Strike while the iron is hot just now. You will surely reach your goal of Samkit, and make this human birth successful.”
Parshwa Padmavati Pujan was conducted by the well known pujakaar – Shri Hiteshbhai, who explained the meaning of many shlokas which helped in fully engaging the participants during the entire 4-hour ceremony. With every consequent event matching up to the excellence of its predecessor; there remained one more cherry on the cake: a 35-minute dance performance by trained classical dancer-mumukshus from London, Nilpa and Naitika. So emotively was the message conveyed in their performance on Shrimadji’s composition – ‘Bahu Punya Kera Punj Thi’, that the audience was held spell bound. The entire moksh marg, the pitfalls on the way, the shelter provided by an enlightened master and value of this priceless human birth were explained through dance, drama, dialogue, music and emotions. Their perfectly coordinated steps along with the hand and eye movements were a delight to watch.
On the auspicious day of 8th March (Fagun sud 2, birthday of Param Pujya Bapuji), after the ceremonial procession, was the Pratistha ceremony of Bhagwan Mahavir and the inauguration of 3-D images of the lineage of enlightened masters of Sayla. All the visiting dignitaries from different ashrams in India then gave their discourses and sent good wishes and blessings.
Below are excerpts from the discourses of visiting heads of ashrams:
After the Pratistha, Pujya Ben Prabhu said the bhaavs of all the the mumukshus were extremely elevating. “I am sure that the planning for this 7-day occasion was backed by 7-year vision, consolidated by numerous years of sadhna of an enlightened master – Pujya Bhaishree. And all of us were able to participate, witness and experience this divinity due to the compounded punyas of 7-births. The whole event was complete. When a combination of bhakti and satsang lead to an inner stillness, an inner silence – the entire journey radiates completeness. I have never witnessed such a Pratistha before.”
Pujya Gokulbhai said: “This Atma is the knower of all pleasure and pain, it does not feel the hurt, sting or discomfort of pain and neither does it experience any excitement or thrill from worldly pleasures. The great Atma is completely unmoved and a witness of external events. This is the path of total non-attachment.”
Pujya Gangjibhai said: “Always remain aware that you are the powerful soul. Every activity, every action must be done with awareness. The bhakti bhaav of every mumukshu that we have witnessed during this Pratistha reminded me of the incidence in Shrimadji’s life when mentioned to Laghuraj swami that in the entire day he was reminded of the satsang he partook in when he was the disciple of Bhagwan Mahavir. In the same way, all of you mumukshus must have inculcated this bhakti bhaav in your previous births, such that in this birth too, all of you are drenched with devotion.
Pujya Chandanaji said: “So beautiful and divine was the collective bhakti bhaav that I was unable to remember anything else, or feel anything else. I felt that I was present in the Samvasaran. I have experienced such magnanimity, inclusiveness and large-heartedness in Pujya Bhaishree that he is able to unite so many different people and different streams of thoughts within him, that I shall pray to the Lord that he is able to connect people in all four corners of the earth and unite them through love and compassion. This bhakti marg will surely overcome all the hatred and jealousy that is released into societies at the behest of religion. Thank you Bhaishree, for inviting me to experience this divinely uplifting occasion. Thank you again and again, and I also send my love to all the mumukshus.”
Pujya Ben Prabhu said: “There is always an objective or goal in every event conceived by an Enlightened Master. So when a colossal sized pratimaji of Shrimadji is planned to be consecrated in this equally large Raj Mandir, there is surely a divine message that accompanies this occasion. When I attempted to connect to Pujya Bhaishree’s vision, four points came to my mind as significant factors:
Make your vision large; reach for the sky, reach for enlightenment, rather than groping for insignificant things like wealth, power, family ties etc.
Expand your thoughts and discussions to ‘Who am I? Where have I come from? Whence forth my journey?’; rather than narrow, lowly thoughts about politics, food, women or government.
Become large-hearted; inculcate qualities of brotherhood, forgiveness, understand the perspective of the other person.
See the big picture in every incidence of your lives. Auto-suggest to yourselves ‘this too shall pass’
The ashram trustees and mumukshus expressed heartfelt gratitude and felicitated architect and interior designer Shri Devenbhai and civil engineer Shri Chandrantbhai Jasani and their entire team for their selfless service in the construction of the spectacular Raj Mandir.
Shri Ashishbhai and his group immersed the audience in devotional bhakti towards the end of the evening.
9th March – Fagun Sud 3 (also inauguration day of the Ashram and Jinalay (temple) in Sayla)
The Sattar Bhedi Puja was conducted from 6.45 am on the artificial turf outside the Raj Mandir. Mumukshus gathered for participating in the puja as well as changing the Dhaja (Jain flag over the temple). This ceremony is a veneration of the 5 holiest beings – Arihants, Siddhas, Acharyas, Upadhyays and Sadhus in the entire universe.
At 10. 45 am, was the climax of the entire occasion – Pratistha of Shrimad Rajchandra’s pratimaji in the new Raj Mandir. To the uplifting music of bhajans and chants, disciples danced in gay abandon, deeply grateful to be part of this most holy event. So breathtakingly beautiful and mesmerizing was the inauguration of the Pratimaji, that every eye turned moist and every heart overflowed with pure devotion. The nectar-clad image of Shrimadji seemed like the very replica of Bhagwan Mahavir in the Samvasaran. A deep silence descended in the auditorium filled with 2000 people and every soul was overwhelmed.
10th March - Shanti Pujan
To bless the new hall, to expel negative energy and to fill with pure energy a shanti pujan was conducted in the new Raj Mandir in the final day of the Mahotsav.
Day 1 - Mon 4th March
Day 2 - Tues 5th March
Day 3 - Wed 6th March
Day 4 - Thurs 7th March
Day 5 - Friday 8th March
Day 6 - Sat 9th March
Day 7 - Sunday 10th March
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
Ashirvad viklang mobility aid distribution and sewing machine distribution
Bhakti evening with Sparsha Band from Shri Pappaji of Parli Ashram
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.
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
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.
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.
Sant Sabha, Satsang and Swadhyay
23rd November 2018 - Param Krupaludev Shrimad Rajchandra’s Janma Jayanti
24th November 2018 - Param Pujya Bhaishree’s 75th Birthday Amrutotsav
25th November 2018 - Param Pujya Gurumaa’s Birth Anniversary
The community in Dubai, UAE, came together to celebrate Param Pujya Bhaishree’s Amrutotsav with the Tejovalay play on Friday 5th October 2018, hosted in the Indian Consulate and with the esteemed presence of Consul General Vipulbhai and many leaders of the Jain and Indian community.
The Tejovalay play was met with rapturous applause, emotional tears and an inner awakening in many of the audience. For a seeker of truth, happiness and spiritual enlightenment, the practical questions being asked and explored in the play really connected within.
6 - 13th September 2018
Swadhyay - Video recordings.
Day 1 - 6th Sept - Morning - Verse 105
Day 1 - 6th Sept - Afternoon - 105
Day 2 - 7th Sept - Morning - Verse 106
Day 2 - 7th Sept - Afternoon - Verse 107
Day 3 - 8th Sept - Morning - Verse 108
Day 3 - 8th Sept - Afternoon - Verse 109
Day 4 - 9th Sept - Afternoon - Verse 110
Day 5 - 10th Sept - Afternoon - Verse 110
Day 6 - 11th Sept - Afternoon - Verse 111
During the holy festival of Paryushan, we are inspired to reflect, seek forgiveness for transgressions and spend 8 days in quiet inner stillness.
Dushkrut Garha - sincere repentance for ones transgressions. The Jain religion summarises the desire of seeking forgiveness in two beautiful words, "Michami Dukkadam". Param Pujya Bahishree often descirbes these words when explaining the 'Panch Sutra nu Pehlu Sutra' sacred Jain text -
MI : Stands for gentle at heart. One should cultivate a tender and humble heart.
CHA : Stands for giving up of transgressions
MI : Stands for always remaining within the boundaries of dharma
DU : Stands for cursing one's soul for all the offenses that it has committed in the past.
KKA : Stands for renouncing all the four passions (anger, ego, deceit and greed)
DAM : Stands for adopting equanimity and tranquility and thereby overcoming worldly existence.
મિચ્છા મિ દુક્કડં
મિ : મૃદુમાર્દવપણા ના અર્થમાં છે, હૃદય કોમળ અને અહંભાવ વિનાનું કરવું
ચ્છા : દોષનું છેદન
મિ : મર્યાદામાં રેહવું, ધર્મની મર્યાદામાં રેહવું
દુ : દુગંછા કરું છું, દુષ્કૃત્યો કરનાર મારા આત્માની દુગંછા, ઘૃણા કરું છું
ક્ક : મરાથી કરાયેલા તે પાપ કષાયનો ત્યાગ કરી
ડં : ઉપશમભાવથી આ સંસારને ઉલંઘી જઉં છું