Tola Ram Choraria (Jain)
Tamkor (Distt Jhunjhanu,Rajasthan,India).
14th june 1920.
Initiation to Monkhood (Jain Asceticism)
29th january 1931, at Sardarsahar(Rajasthan):Named as Muni nath mal.
Shrimad Kalu Gani (The 8th Acharya i.e. the supreme head & preceptor of the religious order of Jain Shwetambara Terapanth)
Acharya Shri Tulsi (The 9th Acharya of the religious order of Jain Shwetambra Terapanth)
Nomination as Successor-designate to Acharya Tulsi 4th February 1979 at Rajaldesar, Rajasthan Consecration as the 10th Acharya of Terapanth 5th February 1995, Delhi.
Left for Heavenly Abode
9 May 2010 (aged 89) Sardarshahar, Rajasthan, India
Acharya Mahapragyaji "A Living Legend" is not merely a person but also a purpose, not just a being but also a belief. He is that perception that cannot be bound by Time or Territory. Popularly known as a 'mobile encyclopaedia', was a treasure house of infinite knowledge. The eminent poet Ramdhari Singh dinkar designated him as the 'Second Vivekananda of India'. He is not a reservoir of wisdom but its very fountain-source. The former may not always have fresh and clean water, which the later i.e. the source would always possess. Such a source alone has the capacity to quench the thirst of innumerable persons. Paradoxically, Acharya Mahapragya has acquired the power of not only quenching but also creating such thirst in the people.Thought's churned out from the depths of his meditation are lasting and effective.
Acharya Shri Mahapragya, a humanitarian leader, spiritual Guru and an Ambassador of peace, was the tenth Acharya, supreme head of the Svetambar Terapanth sect of Jainism. He was a highly venerable saint, yogi, spiritual leader, philosopher, author, orator, poet.
This noble soul and great thinker was born in 1921 at Tamkor, a small village in Jhunjhunu district of Rajasthan, India. He began his life of religious reflection and development as a Jain monk at the age of ten. On 29 January 1931, Acharya Kalugani, eighth Acharya of Jain Swetambar Terapanth initiated him to monkhood in the town of Sardarsahar, Rajasthan. With this, Nathmal became Muni Nathmal. Under the able guidance of Acharay Shree Tulsi, he got his education and proved himself as an ardent disciple. A study of History, Philosophy, Logic, Grammar etc. made the foundations of his Knowledge strong and secure. He also made an in-depth study of Modern Physics and Bio - sciences, Ayurved ( Indian systems of medicines) Politics, Economics, and Sociology with the modern trends of Communism, Socialism and Capitalism and gally became a leader of all the senior and talented saints of Jainism. On several occasions he was honored in recognition of his extra ordinary scholarship and out standing contribution to the organizational affairs. Impressed by Muni Nathmal, Acharya Tulsi honored him with the qualitative epithet of “Mahapragya” (highly knowledgeable) on 12 November 1978.
On 4 February 1979, his appellation ‘Mahapragya’ was converted into his new name by Acharya Tulsi and he was also made ‘Yuvacharya’, successor designate to the present Acharya, the second highest position after the Acharya himself. In a public meeting on 18 February 1994, Acharya Tulsi declared that Mahapragya would now have the title of ‘Acharya’ also and that the former was renouncing this position forthwith. Subsequently, on 5 February 1995, Mahapragya was formally consecrated as the 10th Acharya – the supreme head – of the Terapanth religious order in a public meeting in Delhi.
Founder of Preksha Meditation System
Acharya Mahapragya, the rare confluence of Power, Peace and Dedication, has, after diving deep into the depths of spiritualism, supplied us with many invaluable jewel. While adding lustre, prestige and glow to the 'terapanth' sect, through his sustained efforts, he has also served as a beacon to the human mind engulfed in countless problems.
While in his late twenties, he started to realize the wonders of meditation, he was open to experiment with spiritual techniques. He discussed his discoveries with Acharya Tulsi and thereafter started dedicating more time to meditation practices. He exercised deep practice of meditation and experimented with various techniques for over 20 years, and formulated the Preksha Meditation system in 1970. He formulated the meditation system in a very well organized and scientific way. The basic four wings of the meditation system can be summarized as - Meditation, Yogasana and Pranaayam, Mantra, and Preksha Therapy. He made a deep research of Jain Agamas, ancient scriptures, Yoga science, Biology, Modern Physics, Naturopathy, and Ayurveda, etc. His experiments of 'Preksha Meditation and Science of Living’ has succeeded in bringing people of different religions, sects or casts on one platform and to integrate the West with the East. Before presenting Preksha meditation in formal training camps, Acharya Mahapragya made a special practice of meditation and spiritual exertion for a period of nine months which started on 3 March 1977.The First formal Preksha meditation camp was the organized later in 1977. Since that time Acharya Mahapragya had conducted hundreds of camps for training in Preksha Meditation. Many Preksha Meditation centers are operative across the globe. Research, detail training, and studies on Preksha Meditation is an important activity at Jain Vishva Bharati University.
His favourite topic was mind. Majority of the man's problems would be resolved with the resolution of problems of mind. Individuals usually get perturbed, even unbalanced, due to adverse circumstances. His Holiness advised instead of functioning like the slipping and flowing water, one's mind should be solidified like ice and should remain so, as if kept in a refrigerator. His deep understanding enabled him to look beyond Time. He anticipated the needs and expectations of the coming era. Instead of getting entangled with problems, he looked for their solution. He was the blending artist of heart and wisdom on one hand and thought and action, on the other.
Acharya Mahapragya himself was a great practitioner of meditation. He has also written extensively on these topics. He started practicing mantra and meditation with his initiation to monkhood. In his twenties he started delving deeper into meditation and realized his profound interest for it.
He used to practice it for hours and hours. His experience of meditation resulted in formulation of Preksha meditation system. He also practiced Mantra chanting daily and became a Mantra expert with rich experience in it. He said from his experiences, the practice of Mantra can help people in awaking their hidden powers. Mahapragya used to practice Yogasana, Pranayama to keep himself fit. Mahapragya observed silence (Mauna) for more than three hours during the evening hours. Mahapragya used to be very conscious of his daily activity and meditative during all his activities like walking, eating etc.
Acharya Mahapragya played an instrumental role in the Anuvrat movement launched on 2 March 1949 by his guru and the head of Jain Shwetambra Terapanth, Acharya Tulsi. The ultimate aim of the movement was and remains to create a nonviolent socio-political world order with the help of a worldwide network of self-transformed people. Since its inception it has inspired millions of people to practice purity and self-discipline in their personal lives. His Holiness helped Acharya Tulsi in the preparation of the contents of Anuvrat and worked as a core member in the movement, many times representing Acharya Tulsi by explaining the principles of Anuvrat . He leaded the Anuvrat Movement for almost 21 years.
Agam Research and Editing
After consulting Acharya Mahapragya, Acharya Tulsi decided to start the research, translation and annotation of the Jain Agamas. The work started in 1955 in Ujjain under the leadership of Acharya Tulsi with Mahapragya being the editorial director. Joint activity of Acharya Tulsi, Mahapragya and other intellectual monks and nuns began
to facilitate the permanent preservation of many thousands of years old canonical scriptures and embellished them with a scientific outlook acceptable to the people.
Acharya Mahapragya first undertook his deep, sustained study and started editing them and provided their new meanings and interpretations. Through strenuous work day and night for many years continuously, the original text of the thirty-two Agam scriptures was determined and their Hindi translation was accomplished
Science of Living Education System
Science of Living education system is an effort to implement value-based education and moral education. Its goal and approach is overall development of student and not simply just the intellectual development. It aims for a balanced emotional, intellectual and physical development. Acharya Mahapragya conceived the idea of 'Science of Living' in 28 December 1979 at Jain Vishva Bharati, Ladnun, Rajasthan. Day by day Science of Living is gaining more recognition and wider acceptance in Indian education system.
Jain Vishva Bharati University
Acharya Mahapragya was responsible for the conception of Jain Vishva Bharati University, Ladnun, Rajasthan and played a key role in its establishment. It was established under the spiritual patronage of Acharya Tulsi in 1991. Acharya Mahapragya served as head of this university since 1995. The university's objective is to revive truths and values hidden in the ancient Indian traditions in general and in the Jain tradition in particular. It provides platforms and infrastructures for doing research in various subjects and for the pursuance of doctorate degrees. One of the prime objectives of this University is to spread literacy in subjects like nonviolence and peace, Jainology, Sanskrit, Prakrit, yoga, meditation, and literature.Regular degree courses leading to bachelors and masters degrees are presently being conducted.
Acharya Mahapragya was an exemplary practitioner of Anekantavada and Non-violence. The personality and contribution of this practitioner of non-violence and nonabsolutism is multi-dimensional. The world's problems touched him deeply. In response, he came up with the solution of Ahimsa Yatra, a journey on foot to advance the cause of non violence, was launched by Mahapragya 5 December 2001 at Sujangarh in Rajasthan. With Ahimsa Yatra, His Holiness's mission was to train and spread nonviolence and its broad perspective to people
It is an endeavor to awaken a new faith in the infinite power of nonviolence. It aims at bringing the problems of all forms of violence into sharp focus. Its mission is to provide training for transforming the negative thoughts/emotions into positive direction. Having eschewed violence and pledged to refrain from killing innocent creatures; political leaders, social workers, and spiritual leaders came to him for advice.
He took his Yatra from Gujarat to Maharashtra, Daman, Madhya Pradesh, Haryana, Delhi, some parts of Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, and Chandigarh. He passed through 87 districts of India, and covered more than 2400 villages, towns and cities, where he held
meetings with many spiritual and political leaders and appealed for communal harmony. Approximately 40,000 volunteers were assigned to various responsibilities in their local areas. This Yatra allowed him to come into direct contact with farmers and common and poor people of the villages which he visited.The Yatra concluded January 4, 2009 at Sujangarh, the same place where it had been begun.
President of India, Dr. A P J Abdul Kalam's vision for a fully developed beautiful India with prosperous and harmonious life for its citizens, especially the youth, motivated enlightened spiritual and religious leaders, who organized a Conclave under the aegis of Acharya Mahapragya at Surat on 15 October 2003, also the birthday of Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam. The Action Plan discussed during the Conclave was documented and is known as 'Surat Spiritual Declaration' (SSD)
The SSD Action Plan envisages "Five Garland Projects". The emphasis of four projects was on celebration of inter- religious festivals, multi- religious projects, healthcare, and employment, imbibing value based education in schools and encouraging inter-faith dialogue among religious/spiritual heads. In order to pursue these in a sustained manner and to coordinate all activities, a national level independent and autonomous organization managed by religious/ spiritual leaders as well as scholars and enlightened Citizens was set up. This organization was named "Foundation for Unity of Religious and Enlightened Citizenship' (FUREC). FUREC was launched by the President Dr. A P J Abdul Kalam on the birthday of Acharya Mahapragya, the 15th June 2004 at Rashtrapati Bhavan, New Delhi.
FUREC combines the objectives of the Surat Spiritual Declaration and President Dr. A P J Abdul Kalam's Vision 2020 and is a non-profit organization which was founded by 15 spiritual leaders.
Prolific Writer & Outstanding Poet
Mahapragya started writing when he was 22 which did not ceasel till his last breathe. He authored more than 300 books. These works deal with meditation and spirituality, the mind, the human psyche and its traits, the roots of emotions and their manifestation through behaviour, Mantra saadhana, Yog, Anekantavada, Non violence, and Jain philosophy and history.
In his book Art of Thinking Positive, he explored the root causes of negative thoughts and provided a methodology for its transformation. Some other book titles include Towards Inner Harmony, I and Mine, Mind beyond Mind, Mysteries of Mind, New Man New World, Mirror of Self. He analysed the hidden causes of emotions, the functioning of the human psyche, and the manifestation of the psyche through one's behaviour.
Acharya Mahapragya formulated Preksha meditation and wrote extensively on this topic. In these books he described various techniques of meditations and their effects on the psyche, physiology, hormonal influences, the endocrine system, and the nervous system
He has done extensive work on Anekantavada, the philosophy of non absolutism and relativity. He was a practitioner of this philosophy propounded by Lord Mahaveer which affirms that there is no problem that cannot be resolved with the application of Anekantavada. He showed ways how one can improve his thought process with Anekaant and use it for a peaceful life and co-existence. His book Anekanta The Third Eye discusses the details of the philosophy.
He has written many books on Jain Philosophy providing a serious material on Jain beliefs and vision.
Jain darshan: manan and mimaansha is one of these creations and a research work in which Acharya Mahapragya elaborated numerous deep facets of the Jain belief system via a detailed interpretation. Another precise work is Philosophical Foundations Of Jainism. Shraman Mahaveer is biographical work on Mahaveer. Mahapragya wrote extensively on the lives and philosophies of Acharya Bhiksu and Acharya Tulsi
He wrote with great clarity. His sentences are short and his style was direct. He only suggested, he never forced his view. He may haved asserted his belief, but his language is conscious of relativity even in expression. He often resorted to the passive voice. As one of his translator's once said "Between one full stop and the next sentence, a kingdom can be built".
Besides being a Philosopher - thinker lost in Philosophy he was also a sensitive poet. His verses both in Hindi and Sanskrit, reveals his subtle delicate feelings. As a poet, it is difficult to categorize him into a type. Is he a poet of torrential waves of ecstasy or renunciation, a singer of the nature ’s beauty or its monstrosity or of the man in clutches of machine, mechanization or machinations nobody can tell. His epic 'Sambodhi' represents the soaring heights of his poetic capacities. Thy rhythmic conversation between Lord Mahavir and the Prince-Monk Megha Kumar, in fact, unties many a knot of life and philosophy. Another book, 'Rishabhayan' also gives a glimpse of his maturity as a poet. His poetry is illuminated by the divine light of life's philosophy.
Divine Stand on Religion
The religion which does not bring about a change in a man’s life, which does not impart peace to him, deserves to be thrown into the river Ganges rather than carried on as burden on one’s shoulders. Rituals or idol worship alone are not enough unless one’s conduct also gets transformed. Religion is not confined only to temples, mosques, or churches, but extends to the man’s day-to-day living as well.
"I believe in that religion which has moral values at its foundation and spirituality at its peak. I don't believe in that religion that doesn't have moral values and spirituality. I accepted that religion which made me physically, mentally, emotionally healthy. Religion is beyond rituals. Religion has the ability to solve our problems if you believe in pure religion."
- National poet Ram Dhari Singh Dinkar said "Mahapragya is a Modern Vivekananda. We have not seen Vivekananda, only heard and read about him. But now we can see Vivekananda through his Vision"
- Indian Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee has often stated: "I am a lover of Mahapragya's literature".
- The Eminent Scholar of Philosophy, Dr. Daya Krishna has recognized Acharya Shri Mahapragya as the most knowledgeable person on the subject of Jain Logic.
- The famous Bangla writer Shri Bimal Mitra said: "I find new truth in Mahapragya's work. When I read his books, I feel as if I write for the masses and he writes for me. If only I could have met him in the initial stages of my career, my literature would have had a new path to follow".
- Dr. A.L. Bashim said: "While meeting Acharya Mahapragya, one gets the thrill of meeting the 'Spiritual Ideal' or the 'Wonder that India was'.
Awards and Honours
- Mother Teresa National award of peace by Inter faith Harmony foundation of India in 2005
- Communal harmony award i.e. Sampradayika Sadbhavana Puraskar by Govt. of India in 2004
- Ambassador of Peace (London) by Inter Religions and international federation in 2003
- Lokmaharshi by New Mumbai Municipal corporation in 2003
- Indira Gandhi National Integration award in 2002
- D.Litt by Netherland Inter Cultural Open University in 1999
Acharya Mahapragya left for his heavenly abode on 9 May 2010 at 2:52 pm in Sardarshahar, in Churu district, the place where he gained monkhood. Mahaprayan of Mahapragna created a vacuum across the globe.
Subsequently, Acharya Mahashraman was appointed the 11th acharya of Jain Terapanth, previously Acharya Mahapragya had made him the Yuvacharya of the Terapanth sect at Gangashahar (Bikaner) in 1997
H.H. Acharya Mahapragya was a blossomed rose of inner refinement whose fragrance pervades not only through his verses but also the spoken word. The crowds, which regularly throng around him, were enthralled and got peace in his presence as he was also in peace with himself!!