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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IVY Swadhyay - June 2018

Your mind must arrive at your destination before your life does!

Mumukshus revisit their destination everyday in the form of 3 malas – which highlight the path and destination, specifically focusing on the spiritual Master, who can help us maneuver the difficult bend.

Mala is meditation in itself. It strengthens our ray of concentration. It connects us to the enlightened ones, strengthening our faith and purity. Delving within, the mumukshu questions - Who am I? What do I want to achieve? Where do I want to reach? Which road shall I take? Who will show me the path? What is the path?

In this swadhyaay, Brahmnisht Minalben simplified the answers to these questions by explaining the profound meaning of the 3 malas that we are asked to mindfully recite every day and Brahmnsiht Vikrambhai narrated a dharma katha and underscored the importance of the 3 malas.

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·        Sahajatma swaroop param guru

Meaning:  The Guru, or an enlightened Master resides within, in the stillness of his being.

Practice: Practice stillness. It is possible to fulfill all the worldly responsibilities and yet be aware & be still in your true nature which is peaceful and full of happiness.

Importance: This particular mala holds the strength of Navkar Mantra as it addresses the Panch Parmesthi and the purity of their soul. Thus, when I practice the stillness and harmony of my mind, body and words, I can be my own guru. Surrendering at our Guru’s feet is the beginning of our path which is given to us in the form of these malas. The guidance of an enlightened Guru who has walked the path himself and will show us how to walk it, that is going to help us reach the destination of our soul - complete, pure and blissful self-realization. This mala is the antidote for all pain; it plays the role of an anchor in turbulent situations and that of refuge in loneliness - just as it did for Muni Lalluji when he suffered the agony of being away from KrupaluDev.

·        Aatam bhav na bhaavta jiv lahe kevalgnaan re

Meaning: One who contemplates the foundational virtues of the soul, eventually experiences and attains omniscience.

Practice: Contemplate deeply on the absolute truth, which is ‘the transient nature of this body and the purity and permanent nature of the soul’. This body is the hotel we have booked for this lifetime and are going to check-out of one day. This body cannot be mine forever; and I am not this body.

Importance: Contemplating on the mala helps us reach the spiritual state that our Guru has achieved. It will shift our focus from the outside world to our inner world. The suffering of birth-death cycle reduces. This mala is a form of Nirgun Bhakti that helps us gain infinite knowledge, wisdom and vision.

·        Param guru nirgranth sarvagna dev

Meaning: The foremost guru is completely unfettered and totally enlightened.

Practice: Be a witness, not a participant.

Importance: On becoming aware of our destination (omniscience), walking on the path shown by our Guru, we start to untie the knots because of our ignorance and ego. The more we become aware of the knots and what causes them, the faster would their power over us dissolve.

We have a Sadguru; he has reminded us of our true destination and showed us the path as well! He is our constant guiding light. Are we unwavering enough to focus on our destination and are we working on building on our capability to walk that directed road?

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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Buttermilk and Ready-made Garments distribution in Sayla

Since the last 25 years buttermilk distribution has been organized by Raj Saubhag Ashram, Sayla during the blistering summer months.  This year too many free buttermilk-distribution camps in 18 villages including Sayla, Sudamana, Chotila, Dhandhalpur, Dhajara, Chorvira were set up and have distributed over 3,000 liters of buttermilk.  This year ready-made garments were also distributed in a joint initiative with Arpana Foundation.

Each day over 200 poor villagers queued up to receive their share of the nourishing drink and garments. These camps start their distribution activities from mid-April, going on until mid or end of June, with volunteers distributing the buttermilk every single day for 3 months.  About 8,600 families have been benefiting from this noble initiative. 

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