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Param Pujya Acharya Shri PadmaSagarsuriji

Kailasasagarsurishwarji Param Pujya Acharya Shri PadmaSagarsuriji
This heritage is collected by Acharya Shri Padmasagarsuriji from various remote interior villages throughout India during his Vihar from North to South and East to West. In the modern era of the Jain Acharyas, the name of Acharya Shri Padmasagarsurishwarji Maharaj shines as a beacon light. His tremendous courage, dynamism, frankness, devotion to duty, discipline, powerful oratory and ability for leadership are the highlights of his life. These virtues have become stronger with the passage of time. His life is dedicated to high ideals and noble deeds which have proved a boon to humanity and very beneficial to the Jain community in particular.
Acharyashri is a source of inspiration and hope for all. His life is founded on great ideals. He has always remained undaunted and unmoved in the face of all obstacles and hindrances and he never lost his tranquility and peace of mind. The historical city of Azimganj, a part of the former Murshidabad State on the boundary of Bengal has been a witness to the birth of many great personalities and their immortal deeds. This town is a symbol of the boundless prosperity and deep religious belief in Jainism. There are seven spacious Jain temples here with their huge and beautiful domes indicate how the Jains made good and generous use of their wealth.

Birth and Childhood

A child was born in this town on the auspicious day of Sep 10, 1935. He was named Premchand. He was to become a National Saint great Jain Acharya Shri Padmasagarsurishwarji Maharaj of great fame and wide & deep learning who attained unimaginable success beyond all expectations. Premchand's father had expired three months before his birth. He was brought up very tenderly and carefully by his mother Bhawani Devi. Divine shine on his face, bright eyes and gentle nature were indicative of his making of genious. Popularly known as Labdhichand among his friends he made up his mind to follow the ideals set by his mother. After her husband's death Bhawani Devi learnt to face all the challenges of the world. This, determination of mother, had a deep impression on Labdhichand. He got accustomed to face boldly the hard realities of life and remained unperturbed amidst all struggles that surrounded him. These virtues, which he learnt from his mother have paved the way of his success in future. Premchand was growing well under his mother's loving care and direction.

At the age of six, he was admitted to the Shri Raibahadur Budhsingh Primary School. There he received his elementary education up to Std Sixth but he was not satisfied with this academic education. However because of his wonderful memory, excellent performance and intelligence, he was held with high regards in his school. Full of energy and developing genius mind shaped his journey for future greatness. His father was a powerful landlord and had good relations with the family of Shri Nirmalkumarji Navalakha, a landlord of great fame. Premchand's life style was influenced by the high traditions of that respectable family. Their innate refined behavior, good manners, decorum, polite conversation, impressive dresses and luxurious living became the conspicuous features of Premchand's life. Azimganj was a center of the Yatis in those days. They used to visit the homes of almost all the landlords to impart general and religious education to their children. Yati Motichandji visited the Navalakha family regularly. It was here that seeds of noble thoughts were sown in Premchand's mind.

He got acquainted with the Jain history and principles of Jainism. The innocent and pious heart of the young child was filled with religious and spiritual thoughts. This process continued to flow unabatedly and finally the seeds of spiritualism sown in his fertile mind sprouted in the form of his embracing asceticism. Premchand passed initial thirteen years of his life in his native place and then got admission into the famous Jain School of Shivpuri run by Veer Tattwa Prakashak Mandal for further education. This historical institution was established by the ceaseless efforts of Acharya Shri Vijaydharmasurishwarji Maharaj (A profound scholar of Jainsm) and run under the efficient guidance of his disciple Muniraj Shri Vidyavijayji Maharaj. Muniraj’s guidance sharpened & developed Premchand’s intelligence profoundly during this crucial period. Here he passed Std. Eighth. He attained many fufilments in this short period of two years. He learnt by heart Panch Pratikraman and Jeev Vichar Prakaran.

Deeply inspired by the powerful oratory of the Munishri, he also learnt to give short discourses. This made him a successful orator of Jainism and the Jain Sangh conferred on him the title of Pravachan Prabhakar. Shri Sharat Chandra Pandya of Madhya Pradesh who later became an I.A.S. officer was his close friend and class-fellow. This institution had the proud privilege of educating great personalities like Jay Bhikkhu, Ratilal Deepchand Desai and Lal Bahadur Shastri. In 1950, Premchand went to Kolkata and stayed there with a relative. He passed the 9th and 10th class examinations from Vishudhanand Saraswati Higher Secondary School in Kolkata. In the last days of 1952, Premchand came back to Azimganj. He was highly influenced by the teachings of Swami Vivekanand. Then he set out on a long journey to the historical and religious cities of Pondicherry, Dehradun, Haridwar, Rishikesh, Mathura, Delhi, Agra, Kota, Gwalior etc. He very attentively observed all the religious and spiritual activities carried out in these cities.

In search of a life-architect

During his tours, he came to Ahmedabad on his way to Palitana. Here he stayed with an old friend who was his class-fellow at Shivpuri. Thereafter, he went on a pilgrimage to Palitana with this friend. This pilgrimage proved to be a great blessing to young Premchand. After coming back to Ahmedabad, he visited Sanand to have the darshan of the Great Visionary, Great Saint, The Most Venerable Shashan Prabhavak, Ajatshatru, Gachchhadhipati Acharyadev Shri Kailasasagarsuriji Maharaj. This was a golden period of his life. Here, he got the right answers to all his doubts. Acharyashri's divine words sowed the seeds of asceticism in his mind. He experienced the call of Agam. This close association with Acharyashri and his loving guidance was a turning point in his life. He now prepared himself to follow the path shown by The Veetaraag Parmatma.His association with the Acharyashri was a very important achievement of his life. In the heart of his heart, he was determined to embrace deeksha from Acharyashri. Thereafter, he returned to Ahmedabad. His search for the architect of his life was now over.

Premchand leaves home

Path of Veetrag can be scaled only by the braves. His Bengali adventurous origin further inspired him to accept this path of immortality. The inspiring words of the Acharyashri were echoing in his ears. For persons of materialistic world, the path of self-restraint is full of thorns. For the Sadhakas, these thorns are like flowers. None can achieve this aim without facing difficulties and those who face these challenges are destined to become Siddhas. After taking leave of his friend, Premchand left for home. The journey began. His eyes were appreciating the nature from the lonely corner of his railway compartment. However, his thought proecess, self-introspection started. "What is the real meaning and aim of this life?" After three days of continuous journey, Premchand reached home but he was always lost within himself. After fulfilling all his essential obligations he expressed his desire to ordain deeksha before one of his closest friend. One fine morning, he bowed to his mother and left home. He had only a few coins in his pocket however he was enriched with full faith on the path of Jina/ Sanyam and was sure that will spread fragrance of kind.

On the path of Veetaraag

After leaving home, Premchand reached Ahmedabad via Delhi and Vadodara on the Deepavali Day. He Stayed with his friend for a day and then went to Sanand in the morning of the New Year. He was extremely joyous when he met Acharyadev Shri Kailasasagarsurishwarji Maharaj. - The architect of his life. As if lamp got fuel. His desire to become a monk became irressistable. After listening to the Mangalika of the New Year, he expressed his desire to Acharyashri with great devotion and humility. Reciprocating to his desire, Acharyashri advised him to stay with him for a few days. Premchand now began to study the rules and conduct of the life of Shramans (monks) and practice them fully. Observation of Monk’s life and study of religious scriptures began. When Acharyashri was fully convinced that Premchand was fully prepared for asceticism, he proposed to Sanand Jain sangh for preparations of deeksha.. The sangh was also ready for such a moment. They immediately accepted the proposal of Acharyashri whole-heartedly and started the preparations for the celebration of Deeksha Mahotsava. Then came the auspicious morning of Nov. 13, 1955. Sanand witnessed a great historical event. Huge gathering of people were singing Sanyam praising songs (Bhajans). Trumpets were blowing. Premchand decorated like a Prince saw his determination taking place. At last, the auspicious and happy moment arrived. The Acharyashri gave him Rajoharan. After the ceremony he was dressed in bright white clothes indicative of his future life as a sadhu now as Muni Padmasagarji Maharaj. He deeply impressed the hearts of all present. He came under the tutelage of Acharya Shri Kalyansagarsurishwarji Maharaj.

His love for learning

After becoming an ascetic, Muni Padmasagarji Maharaj dedicated himself to sublimate his life and make it a complete success. His association with Acharya Shri Kailasasagarsurishwarji Maharaj made him see, understand and practice the codes of conduct as well as restrictions of a Sadhus life. In a very short period, all could see how talented he was. He took long strides not only in the field of education but also in the field of spiritual life. His sharp memory, intelligence and perseverance also helped him a lot. He was an embodiment of tolerance, perseverance, equality and compassion. He had totally surrendered himself to his Dada Guru. Tolerance Greatness cannot be achieved without sacrifices. One has to struggle hard to become great, one has to face obstacles steadfastly. Muni Shri Padmasagarji had to face many an obstacles but he never wavered from the right chosen path. He knew that difficulties were transitionary. There were times when he had to live without any support from anywhere. There were very unfortunate times when he was criticized but none can harm a person from whom God wants creative work. Fortune favoured the brave.

Today Acharya has reached the highest pinnacle of reverence. Hundreds and hundreds of persons worship him. His success i.e. resultant victory over the past struggle is based on his tolerance. Saying goes “Only successful are they who (in there long drawn batter) can tolerate the biting sarcasm of the opponent and remain steadfast on their chosen path, at the and get the praise as `wise�from those very opponents.� These words are perfectly true in the case of the life of Acharya Shri Padmasagarsuriji Maharaj This world worships the powerful. Everybody worship the rising sun but they care little for the setting sun. When the opponents criticized Muni Shri Padmasagarji, he always remained tranquil (Nischal). He did not deviate from the right path, and ignored sarcasm. He was never perturbed and marched ahead on the path of progress and when he was donned with success, these very opponents acknowledged his greatness and wisdom. In fact, struggles and opposition make a man firm, successful and great. He always remember the aim of life and never forgotten his mission. Thus acknowledging his intelligence & genius and faith in Jain Shasan, he was conferred with the title of Gani at Jain nagar in Ahmedabad on January 28, 1974 and with title of Panyas at Jamnagar on March 8, 1976. In that same year on Dec. 9, he was bestowed with the title of Acharya in the historical and holy city of Mehsana before a huge gathering. After becoming Acharya, his name and fame has spread everywhere which is unheard of before.

A Great Orator

People say that Acharya Shri Padmasagarsuriji Maharaj is a wizard. He is a great orator. None can equal him in keeping the audience spell-bound. He is a versatile genius. His lucid and simple style, frankness, universality of his ideas, original way of presentation, deep meaning and so on are the main characteristics of his lectures. Innumerable non-Jains also come to listen to him. His sermons have earned him wide popularity. The changes brought about by him are indescribable. The entire Jain Shasan is proud of him. His first Chaturmas (four months of the rainy season) as an Acharya was at Bhavnagar with his Guru (master) and Dadaguru (grand master). During this period, he did two very important things. First, it was due to his unrivalled intellectual prowess and popularity that the ban imposed on bala deeksha (renunciation by children) by the Bhavnagar Sangh was amended and he gave deeksha to a Bal Mumukshu (child ascetic) with the consensus of the whole Sangh. Not only this, he also established a record by inspiring the devotees to perform Upadhan penance. Second, after a long period of seven decades, he successfully urged Babubhai Jasbhai Patel a devotee of Acharyashri and the then Chief Minister of Gujarat to stop fishing then prevalent at Shatrunjay Dam. Further, due to his efforts, the proposal to supply eggs to the students / children, of Maharashtra Municipal Corporation run schools was dropped.

In his first sermon on “harms of egg eating", he had convinced Shri Shanker Rao Chavan, then C. M. of Maharashtra. The Chief Minister made a proclamation to this effect in general lectures of the Acharyashri organized at Navjeewan Society, Lamington Road, 48, Mumbai. Thus, by inspiring the public to perform important beneficial deeds, he did a great service for the propagation of Jainism. He drew attention of the public to take interest in deeds of welfare for humanity. On the completion of 25 years of his saint hood, inspired by the Acharyashri - the then Honourable President of India, Shri Neelam Sanjiv Reddy, bestowed on him the State honour of Rashtra Saint in the Assembly Hall of Raj Bhawan of Bombay (Mumbai). It is worth to mention, that for this gathering, in consultation with Shri Kasturbhai Lalbhai, the President made it possible the special seating arrangement for the monks, as per the principles of Jain religion. This honour given to the Acharyashri was the honour for the whole Jain sangh.

On the Journey to the South

His tour in the southern parts of the country factually made him a National Saint. During this tour, he undertook many schemes for the welfare of humanity and religious awakening among the masses. He inspired his devotees to start a school, which would acquaint students with the culture of Jains. The south has been fortunate enough to have this Great Saint on that land and in future many more benefits will accrue to the South. The services rendered by Acharya Shri Padmasagarsurishwarji Maharaj have their own specialties. His journeys have given the South a new direction and enlightenment. His stay there has rejuvenated the life of the Jains. His sweet and gentle temperament has made them disciplined. His compassionate and noble behaviour was instrumental in solving their long-standing religious controversies. They have been united once again. The religious minded pious people of the South have seen in him an efficient and successful Dharmacharya (religious head). The near extinct stream of knowledge began to flow rapidly once more.

After his tour of the South he came to the North with a view to visiting Gujarat and Rajasthan and the installation ceremony of Mahaviralaya at Shri Mahavir Jain Aradhana Kendra, Koba in Gandhinagar which was performed with great religious & pious ceremony on Thursday, Magh Sudi 14. V.s. 2043 i.e. 12 Feb 1987. He again went on a tour to the South but returned to Gujarat in 1992 to perform the inauguration ceremonies of Acharya Shri Kailassagarsurishwarji Gyan Mandir and Acharya Shri Kailassagarsurishwarji Samadhi Mandir. The Anjan Shalaka installation ceremony of Munisuvratswami and Neminath Prabhu in the Kulikas miniature shrines of Mahaviralaya was also celebrated. Thereafter, he left for North India in May 1993. Shri Mahavir Jain Aradhana Kendra, Koba, Dist. Gandhinagar dedicated to the Shasan is an immortal creation of Acharyadev. Devotees engage themselves here in pursuit of attaining Samyak Gyan (true knowledge) and spiritualism. Acharya Shri Kailasasagarsuri Gyanmandir - a part of this Aradhana Kendra contains more then 2,50,000 manuscripts, about one Lac books, some manuscripts written in golden letters, priceless pictorial manuscripts, idols, 3000 books written on Palm leaves and so on. Needless to say that Acharyashri's personality is impressive and his deeds are glorious.

His pilgrimage of North India and Nepal

In the first phase of his journey to the North, Acharyashri and his disciples stayed at the historical city of Bhinmal for the Chaturmas of the year 1993. During this period, the installation of Ashtapada Jinmandir, a fine replica of art was performed. After his Delhi Chaturmas (1994), he went to Haridwar, where the Anjan Shalaka ceremony of Bhagwan Chintamani Parshvanath was performed. This is the first Jain Mandir (temple) of this area. Proceeding towards Kolkata a Jain Mandir was established at Shouripur tirth. The Kolkata Chaturmas of 1996 will always be remembered for a host of activities and for his prabhavana of Jain Shasan. A sum of Rs. 50 Lac was collected by Parshva foundation with the aim of helping the Jains in pursuit of religious activities. This is indeed a great historical event worth remembering. After his Chaturmas of Kolkata in 1995, he went to Sammet Shikharji. The installation ceremony of Jinabimbs (idols) was performed in Bhomiaji Dharmashala and then he entered Nepal via Birganj. This was the first visit of any Jain Dharmacharya (religious head) to Nepal after many a centuries. The Mahavir Janma Kalyanak ceremony was performed at Birganj by all the sects of the Jains together with the Agrawals and Vaishnavas. Mahavirswami Derasar was installed at Kathmandu with great enthusiasm.

The late King of Nepal, Shri Veerendra Vikram Shah and Maharani Aishwarya Lakshmidevi along with the prominent members of all the sanghs from all over India graced this program. The King of Nepal expressed his keenness to give all possible co-operations to the Jain sanghs. On this occasion, Guruvani - a compilation of the lectures of Shri Padmasagarsurishwarji Maharaj was released by Shri Deuba Sher Bahadur, Prime Minister of Nepal. After a long period of 43 years, he went to Azimganj, with his disciples for the Chaturmas of 1996. Four Jain temples were renovated during his stay there. Thereafter, he came to Delhi for the second time - visiting Shikharji, Varanasi, Ayodhya, Shrawasti, Lucknow, Kanpur, Agra, Mathura and performing many deeds for the prabhavana of Jain Shasan. After this Chaturmas in Delhi, he went to Haridwar again. There the foundation stone of a new Dharmashala was laid and Bhagwan Adinath Charan Paduka Mandir was installed.

On his return journey, the foundation ceremonies of a Jain Derasar were performed at Ashokvihar in Delhi. Under his guidance, a federation of 18 Youth Manuals was formed. This was indeed an important event. After the completion of Chaturmas at Delhi, he proceeded to Koba through Rajasthan. During this journey, the following auspicious events were performed under his auspices. Establishment of a Jain temple at Sokalia. Opening ceremony of a new Upashraya - Kailash Smruti Bhawan at Adpodara (Gujarat) and the installation of the idol of Shrimad Acharya Shri Kailasasagarsurishwarji Maharaj therein. Anjan Shalaka ceremony of Munisuvratswami Jinalaya at Vinayak Park in Mehsana Ashtahnika Mahotsava organized on the 100th birth anniversary of Pujya Ravisagarji Maharaj and the opening ceremony of the new Upashraya of Mirambika Jain Shwetamber sangh, Naranpura in Ahmedabad

The 1999-year Chaturmas at Koba satisfied the desires of his devotees for they had been eagerly awaiting for his Chaturmas for the last five years. Shri Mahavir Jain Aradhana Kendra found new avenues by his presence and guidance and many new events were celebrated in its precincts. In this year Jain Shwetamber Murti Pujak Yuvak Mahasangh, Jain Doctors Federation and Jain Chartered Accountants Wing were formed under the Jain Professionals Fora. At the sacred place of Pawapuri (where Bhagawan Mahavir attained salvation) all the people, without any distinction of caste, creed or religion have taken a pious vow to abstain from vices, eating non-vegetarian and drinking. Fishing has also been prohibited in the Jalmandir forever to safeguard its sanctity. The Jain Sanghs of Delhi, Calculta, Azimganj, Jiyaganj, Goa, Mumbai, Koba, Rajat Jayanti & Sadari have expressed their consent to utilise Dev Dravya purely for the causes as prescribed by the Jain religious traditions.

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