Acharya Tulsi
A Splendoured Personality

 


 

The story of the life of Anuvrat Anushasta- the saint who marches barefoot exhorting people to give up violence and hatred is in truth the story of a noble soul, a peacemaker par excellence. His neighbourhood always resounds with the words :

A human being is an human being first. He may be a Hindu or a Muslim only after that.

The name of this great man is Achraya Tulsi, a great exponent of human religious in the cenutry. He has added a new context to Ved Vyas's* view that man ia the finest of all kthe living being of the world. Therefore, He diserves to be pardoned for whatever he does. Achrya Tulsi has change this concept.

Man's excellence lies in his ability to Judge what is right. He is imbued with discretion which enables him to exercise self-control. He has in him the ability to give up what he deems fit to be abandoned and take in what he thinks useful. He can make his character sublime.

Some people who didnot know about Achrya Tulsi asked him, "Who are you ?" He introduced himself in the following words:

I am a huming first and then a religious man. As regards my being a Jain and Head of a Jain sect, I put these position in the third fourth places. People who accord the first place to their sect only cover the light of religion with a veil of ashes. Acharya Tulsi has revitalised religion with his new concept. The secret of the incessant flow of vitality lies in his personality composed of the atoms of generosity.

Fair complexion, medium stature, imposing forehead, large shining eyes, long ears - it is the out ward visual image of his personality which fascinates anyone even at first sight. A cheerful disposition, in born purity, a feeling of equanimity towards all, subtle perception of spiritual love, broad thinking, an unruffled state of mind even in the midst of hostile opposition and complete absence of parochial, sectarian, racial and linguistic narrowness sum up his inward personality which, despite being invisible, reveals itself from time to time.

Childhood : There is a beaurtiful and well-planned town called Ladnun situated in Nagaur district of Rajasthan. It also known for its historoical importance for some of its Jain temples date back to the tenth century. One of them has a rare image of Saraswati - Goddess of learning. The town is in habited by a large number of Jains belonging to both Swetambar and Digambar traditions. Most of the Swetambar Jains are followers of the terapanth Jain sect. It was here that Ascharya Tulsi was born in an Oswal Khattar faimly. His father's name was Jhumarmalji and his mother's Vadanaji. He had six brothers and three sisters. The child Tulsi was the youngest of his brothers. He was brought up in the circumtances often encountered by a middle class faimly in India. He first went school at the age of eight years. His teacher was a Brahmin named Nand Lal who taught him for one year in the beginingm. Then he joined a private school run by shri Heera Lal Jain. He studied in this school for two years. He studied in this school for two years. He was also the monitor the his class.

A Monk Today - An Achrya Tomorrow : Venerable Kalugani, eight Acharya of Terapanth Dharm Sangh, came to Ladnun in 1925(Vikram Samvat 1982). The child Tulsi had already completed 11 years then. His visit to Kalugani aroused in him a strong desire to become a Jain monk. In less then a month yong Tulsi was initiated into the Terapanth Dharam Sangh at the benign hand of Acharaya Kalugani. Though he was young in age, venerable Kalugani Visualized in him the seeds of genius, manly courage and great fortune. It was in a sudden and dramatic way that both Guru (master) and Shishya (disciple) were seized with a feeling of oneness. His process of educationbegain into under his supervision with the direct patronage of the Achrya himself. He achieved mastery over the Sanskrit language in just seven years. WIth it began the period of thorough study of Jain Agamas and Jain philosophy. During this period he performed an astounding feast of memory by learning about twenty thousand Sanskrit slokas by heat.He also began to write poetry in tge Rajasthanni language , besides having acquired the knack of deliverring discourses. Every on left fasciunated by his melodious voiceand accomplished resonance. He moved about in the three disatricts of Rajasthan for eight years along with revered Kaluguni. The young monk Tulsi accompanied him when he visited Jodhpur, Udaipur and Malwa during the last three years of his life. When Acharya Kalugani fell seriously ill during hes chatumas at Gangapur, a otwn near Bhilwara in Rajasthan, in 1936 and when he was nearing his end he nomited young tulsi as death. He was only twenty two years ago old at that time. He was entrusted with the responsibility of leading a large religious order consisting of 500 monks and nuns ans lakhs of shravaks order spred all over the country. It is an Unprecendented incient in the history of religious orders. It significance increaseses all the more since the Terapanth connstitution stipulates that there must be one Acharya and a uniform pattern of discipline.

Signs of Future : Everyone comes into this world woth inborn glory. His horoscope is the coded record of coming events . One can read his future by deciphering the Zodiac sign given in it.

The basic attribute of Achraya Tulsi's life in his heroic courage. A man born in Simha Lagna (Leo born) is known to be valorous, refulgent, impressive and invincible. He has an outstandingpersonality and is reputed to be a man of indomitable will. Jupitr in the sixth house gices rise to conflict in life. The presence of Mars in the third house gives rise to conflict in life. The presence of Mars in the third house and that of Saturn in the eleventh house in the eleventh house keep one's morale high in spite of opposition and antagonism. Jupiter of Makar Rashi (capricorn) makes the new born devoted to work. Jupiter in Navamsa Kundali looks at one's desire for knowledge with a perfect glance. It shows one's onclination towards higher education and literary genius. The sun in the third house and Mars of Tula (Libra) symbolise honour and inner vitality respecctively. The union of the Moon and Mercury hints at the possibility perpetual struggle in the life of the new-born.

In Acharyashree's horoscope Chandra in the Navamsa Kundali is at its highest zodiac position. It indicates that he will recieve help from as many highly placed people as three are opponents. Even those who oppose him in the beginning will eventually turn friendly.

Pandit Surya Narayan, an emient astrologer, is of the view that if Jupiter had not been so powerful in Navamsa, the antagonistic situation would have taken a serious turn in Achryashree's life but the presence of strong Jupiter has made it possible for him to make great strides in life and earn destinction despite opposition.

Some palmists have studied Acharyashree's life on the basic of the science of palmistry. AcharyashreeTulsi belong to the squre type. One who possesses this type of palm is foresighted, idealistic and kindly by nature. The miixed square tyhpe shows that he is man of revolutioary ideas and gives birth to new activites. The incomplete line of Mars on his right palm. It suggests that he will be dedicated his entire life to a noble cause. He will have to encounter internal dissension in the beginning but will attain to perfect state of mental peace in old age. The lines on the mount of Moon are deep and inclined towards Saturn, Which indicated that he will continue to travel on foot till the end of his life.

The sun line originates from the Life Line, Murcury line also ownes its origin to the same place and goes up to its mount. It shows an increasing tendency towards research and speakes of new dimaension in the examining the line of his palm and the signs in his horoscope. On the basis of the both studies this is the sketch we get of his life :

1. Courageous
2. Devoted to duty
3. Persevering
4. Refulgent
5. Impressive
6. Gifted with will-power and Determination
7. Struggling
8. Endowed with strength of mind even in adverse circumstances
9. Sponsor of new ideas
11. A great saint
12. Source of inspiration for research
13. Responsible for new dimensions in his order
The incidents in Acharyashree's life bear ample testimony to this sketch.

Acharya of Terapanth : The heavy reponsibility of the august office of Achuaryaship which even many experienced monks were not considered capable of shouldering devolved on the tiny shoulders of reverence, I would say that he was the foursightedness of the venerable Kalugani. In reality it was the need for a new way of life in a new age. If some one unaware of the mood of the age had become the Acharya, Terapanth would not have reached the height of glory where it finds itself today. Our traditions shows that we get the Acharya we need at a particular time. The new age was in need of an Acharya who could influence the thinking of the age.

Political Environment : When Acharya Tulsi assumed the responsibility of his new position, he was breathing in an old environment. Rajasthan was the land of his marches. In the marches system of Government education was at a low ebb. The mean of communication and contact with the people were limited. It was not a fertile land for new ideas. Everyone was carried away by the wave of the gorgeous style and splendour of feudals. Feudalism had it on merits and demerits.

Both the power of religion and the power of the state were being mutually influenced. If religion wielded its authority on the state, the rulers way of thinking also left its imprint on religion Gangasinghji - the ruler of the erstwhile State of Bikarner - didnot hide his dislike for those who used modern Hindi in their day to day dealings. Venerable Kalugani was also known for his distaste for the language. The dialect that pleased him most was Marwari. He loved to speak in Sanskrit. It was this outlook on life that Acharya Tulsi inherited as a leherited as a legacy from his predecessor. No wonder he hardly made any use of modern Hindi in his discourses for the first ten years of his office as Acharya.

Social Environment : Casteism was predominant. No one had the courage to touch the untouchables. Even people belonging to ordinary castes were not looked on with respect. Adorning oneself with gold and silver ornaments were very much in vougue. Ostentation and exhibitionism were accepted as part of the social system. It was obligatory for women to live in Purdah. There was no question of women's education. Popular opinion was that only men could read and write. Marriages eere also held at young age. A common social custom among women enjoined them to weep aloud while going through public places in the event of a death in their faimly. When the husband died the wife had to remain confined to a corner of her house for years.

Economic Environment : There were both poverty and prosperity in social but there was no problem of starvation. The poor were friendly to one another. Neither the poor envied the rich nor the latter ever thought of alleviating the lot of the former. The fantalistic view of life was responsible for the status quo.

Religious Environment : People attached greater impotance to their sect then to be the spirit of the religion was much higher then that of sect. Fanaticism was considered a virtue. Refuting of defending a point with regards to one another's religious beliefs was the order of the day. Open debates on shastras (scriptures) also attracted a large number of people. The scene of religion lay enmeshed in discussions and disputes. Immoral practices were minimal. People had faith in integrity and honesty. The conviction that dharma was just a mean to happiness in hereafter dwelt deep in the minds of the people. They gave it little thought that it could also be a means to transform their existing life. What the age needed most was a new interpretation of the old treatises. But not able to undertake the writing of a critical commentary on them during the first decade of his Acharyaship.

After assuming the responsibility of his new office Acharya Tulsi returned to the erstwhilestate of Bikaner. For the next eleven years he remained wandering from one place to another withen this region only. During this period he concentrated on the education and training of his monks and nuns. He undertook to teach them himself. He encouraged them to develop their skills in writing and speaking. In fact he had taken to teaching a large number of monks. Prominent among them were muni Dulichandji and the writer himself. His flair for teaching changed into a profound taste during the period of his Acharyaship. Later the disciplines taught by him emerged as erudite scholars in various streams of knowledge like Sanskrit, Prakrit, philosophy, comparative studies, etc.

Sponsor of Anuvrat Movement : The beginning of the second decade of his Acharyaship was marked by his vision of ushering in a new awakening in the life of an individual. The seeds of thinking began to sprout now. It was the elated. Acharya Tulsi realized that the independence of our country would be futile unless the national character was developed. He composed a soul-stirring poem on the eve of the first independence Day entitled " Let us have real independence." Real independence means more elavation. Anuvrat Movement is an expriment in this direction. Achryashree launched the movement in 1949. The freedom movement had already made the indian masses aware of the immence power of Ahimsa. It had also enabled innumerable people to know of Ganghiji eleven vows (vrats). Though vrat and morality had not been new to the people of India, they could be considered important form the view point that religion and morality had been at a snail's pace during these centuries. It was expected to be still lower in independent India. Keeping this possibility in View, a code of conduct aimed at developing the character of an individual was drawn up and placed before the people. The code of Vrats (vows) meant for shravaks formmed its basis. It was modified keeping in view the problems of the age. The step was welcomed all over the country. Thousand of people extended their support to it. It become instrumental in carring the voice of moral awakening to distant parts of the country. Everyone accepted it as a movement dedicated to the cause of dfeveloping national character.

Our monks and nuns undertook long barefoot marches and took the message of Anuvrat from one virtually swept away by the wave of Anuvrat. Acharyashree's marches throught the country lent further strength to it.

Anuvrat Movement passed thought many stages of its progress. It underwent changes in the context of social problems sectarian narrowness lay ata the root of India's partition. Everyone suffered due to religious fanaticism. Polticial wranglers were fanning communalism for their own narroe selfish ends. In some circumstances Anuvrat Movement put forward the following secret before the people:

* Dharma occupies the first place, sect comes next.
* There may be many sect but Dharma belongs to all.
* Dhrma is quite distinct from politics. It must not be subjected to poltical interferences.

The message had a great impect on the outlook of the people. It encouraged them to know the truth about religion and sectarianism.

A devotee of dharma is unlikely to be morally debased. But the conviction about religion was bound up with the hereafter. Hence Religion was being used an a instrument of achieving happiness in the other worled and fulfilling selfish endsin the present life. The religious leaders were wallowing in the mud and labouring under the misconception that they would be rid of sin by mean of some ritualistic practices. Againest the backdrop of this social and religious enviroment. Anuvrat Movement raised its voice in the following words:

* Dharma is not merely an instrument of ensuring happiness in the hereafter but it is also a means to bring happiness to the present life.
* Who was fails to make his present life better is unlikely to achive happiness in the hereafter.
* The primery aims of dharma is to purify character. Its ritualisticf practices are secondary.

This ideology aroused a new sense of awareness in the people. It dawned on the atheist that felt something atheistic in their way of living. Speaking at the seminar the eminent journalist Acharya Kumar Jain said, "Achrayashree ! the way you have defined religious has emboldened me to tell my friends that I am religious. "The religion based on ritualistic Practices has a fascination for all. Anuvrat Movement does not attach any importance to rituals. It only calls upon people to lead a moral life. It, therefore, does not have much fascination. Despite this, the movement has attracted quite a sizable number of intellectuals. The people who looked on religious with apprehension found an emotional affinity in this new religious devoid of epithets. It spontaneously emerged as a forum for human religion.

Dr. Rajendra Prasad, the then President of India, said, "Achrayashree, Anuvrat Movement is very useful for our country. You must speak to our Prime Minister, JawaharLal Nehru, about it. He will not only appreciate it but will also be helpful in its progress."

Achrayashree : What you say is right but you are not acquainted with him.
President : I shall let him know about you by writing a letter. This will facilitate your meeting with him.
The president wrote to the Prime Minister :

Dear Prime Minister,

I feel that your meeting Acharya Tulsi will be in the interest of our country. He is Delhi now. Please give thought to it if possible.

The Prime Minister sent the following reply :

Dear President,

I shall be glad to meet Acharya Tulsi. I am very busy these days. It would be very kind of him if he could undertake the trouble of coming to my residence.

The President conveyed the Prime Minister's message to Achrayashree. He went to the Prime Minister's residence. A small plank had already been laid in the corridor. Achrayashree seated himself on it While Pandit Nehru sat on the square piece of mat placed just in front of him. It was the first ever meeting between the two. Pandit said, "Achrayaji, now let me know what you want me to do for you. Acharyashree replied, "I do not want to do anything for me." The talk between the two came to an abrupt end even before it got off. For a movement or two there was complete silence. Panditji continued to look at Acharyashree. How could the tasks proceed when there was not any demand ? Breaking the silence Acharyashree said, "we havenot come here with a particular demand . Instead we have come to offer you something. Today the country is passing through an unprecedented moral crisis. It needs a constructive programme for moral development. We have started some work in this direction. We want you to observe it, evaluate it and make use of it." The Prime Minister gave him a patient hearing. He promised to help him in that work. This is now the first meeting between Acharya Tulsi and Pandit Nehru came to end.

Gradually Pt. Nehru's relationship with the Movement grew intimate. He evaluated it in the following words :

If you wish to build the edifice of our nation, its foundation must be laid deep. If we lay the foundation on sand the whole structure will collapse the movement it comes into contact with water. The edifice erected on the foundation of character is always strong. We have to undertake many important projects in this country. For caring out this great responsibility we must have a strong heart, a good brain, a great deal of power to control ourselves. We have to learn this things. They are all embedded in character. What is good piece of work is being done within the Anuvrat Movement ! I think that the more this work progresses, the better it is. I wish it wish it all success.

Dr. Rajendra Prasad made great a contribution to the noble cause of the Movement. It was identical with his temperament and ideas. Speaking on ,the occasion of the friendship day he marked, "I have supported the Movement since its inception. If you want me to held any office in its organizational set-up, I would like it to be that of an Anuvrat supporter." Commenting on the president of this great country should be an Anuvrati. He should be a symbol of moral uplift." When some numbers of the opposition parties noted that the Congress stalwarts like Morarji Desai, Anantsayanam Ayangar, Rajarshi Purushottamdas Tandon, Gulzarilal Nanda were in intimate contact with the Movement, they felt that Acharyashree was extending his indirect to the Congress. Prominent Political leaders like Dr. Rammanohar Lohia resented the possibility of the Congress regime being strengthened by Acharyashree. N.C. Chatterjee also raised the same objection and said to Acharyashree, "You are rendering support to a weak Congress." Acharya replied, "I am not associated with any political party hence I do not think I am being instrumental in leading support to anyone 's weakness. In fact, I do not want the Anuvrat Movement to belong to one Political parties are taking interest in it."

At the time of the second general election a seminar was organized under the auspices of Acharya Tulsi for ensuring clean elections. It was attended by a large number of representatives of many political parties. Prominent among them were U.N. Dhebar, the then leader of the Praja Socialist Party, A.k. Gopalan, the Communist leader, and many others. Every one gave Acharyashree an assurance to observe the vows of the Movement. Shri Gopalan's assurance was so firm that everyone was taken aback.

In order to plan and organize multifarious Anuvrat activites, an all-India organization named Akhil Bhartiya Anuvrat Samiti was constituted. It was the culmination of the dedicated work carried out by Jaychandlalji Daftari, Hannatmalji Surana, Sugan Chandji Anchaliya and Devendra Kumar Karnawat. Eminent personalities like Gopinath Aman, Jainendra Kumar, Yashpal Jain, Shrimannarayan and Madalsa Bahim (sister) contributed significantly to its progress. Provincial and local committees were also formed in various provinces and towns. A series of campaigns launched from time to time under its aegis against the evils of adulteration, Corruption, untouchability, dowry, etc. generated a new wave of consciousness in the Indian masses. In the field of education, Anuvrat Students Council was set up. Many experimental Projects aimed at Cleansing educational institutions of their ills were undertaken. The various commercial transactions entered into by Anuvrat Vyapar Mandal proved it beyond doubt that business could be run efficiently without sacrificing honesty. A resolution on the Anuvrat Movement was Moved in the Uttar Pradesh Legislative Assembly. It evoked a good deal of discussion among its members. The Rajasthan Legislative Assembly Went a step further and passed a resolution lauding the work done by the Anuvrat Movement and extending its support to its activities. A little later a parliamentary Anuvrat Forum was also launched. Radio, television and newspapers played no mean role in popularizing the Movement.

With a view to giving an impetus to Anuvrat's constructive activities, Anuvrat Nyas and Anuvrat Vihar were established. The main force behind these twin organization was Samaj Bhushan Prabhudayal Dabariwala. Besides a large number of our Shravaks, Shahu Shantiprasad also worked fervently for the fulfillment of this task. One important project undertaken by the Nayas Was the establishment of Adhyatma Samiti and as eminent Anuvrat workers Ravishankar Maharaj. Sri Jaisukhal Hathi, Dr. Atmaram, Shri Jainendra Kumar, Shri Devilal Samar and Shri L.O. Josi rendered yeoman services to the Movement.

On the occasion of the celebration marking Jayacharya's nirvan, Jai Tulsi Foundation took an important decision of instituting a yearly. Anuvrat Award carrying one lakh rupees. At Gandhiji's Sabarmati Ashram in Ahemedabad, a new Anuvrat activity Ahimsa Sarbhom was inaugurated. In this way we find that Anuvrat has made rapid progress.

Acharyashree and his companions did not imagine the wide extent of the Anuvrat's welcome and impact. Initially they had a modest desire to change the outlook of those in their immediate contact and inspire them to regard religion not only as a part of worship but also as an instrument of purifying character so that they could be models of good religious living. This thought troubled Tulsi's mind for a year or two. Occasionally it was also talked about. It finally matured in 1949. Keeping the shravasks in view, a list of vows was drawn. Acharyashree saw it. It was felt that it should be further expended. More and More thought was given to it. Compilation of lists of evil habits as well as of vows went on. Finally an outline emerged and Acharyashree launched the Anuvrat Movement in Sardar Shahar on March 1, 1949. Earlier nine-point and thirteen point programmers had been propagated in an experimental manner. Those programmers had been adopted by some twenty five thousand people. They could be regarded be as a prelude to Anuvrat Movement.

With the Passage of the time many organizations with their roots in the Anuvrat Movement came into existence. When Acharyashree was staying in Delhi, a special seminar on " The Role of MPs in the Building of National Character" was convened in the Parliament House. Many Mps and ministers attended it.

The people who spoke on the occasion were Atal Bihari Vajpai, External Affairs Minister, Dr. Karan Singh, a former Minister, Sikandar Bakth, Housing Works Minister Dhanikalal Mandal, Minister of state for Home , Kedar Nath Sahni , Chief Executive Councillor, C. Subramanyam, a former minister and K.S. Hegde, Speaker of Lok Sabha. Addressing the member of Parliament Acharyashree came forward with a new constructive suggestion. He said :

We have fixed certain criteria of eligibility for the people desiring to be considered for various offices like those of principals, Collectors Accountant Generals, Inspector Generals of Police, etc. Before there selection for these posts they are required to pass competitive examinations. Do you not think that a similar criterion of eligibility consisting of minimum qualifications is essential even for MPs and Ministers ? It is not proper to consider the number of votes cast in a persons favor as the sole basis of his eligibility for the membership of this august body. It is imperative that those who hold the reins of the country in their hands should posses specific qualities of head and heart exhibiting high standards of character.

This suggestion attracted many members but we have yet to hear of its being put into practice.

A GREAT WANDERING ASCETIC

The Jain Monks and nuns remain under a vow of moving on foot all their life. Acharya Tulsi given it a new dimension. He has broken all record in barefoot marches. He has already coverd more than seventy thousand Kilometers in the course of his long marches throughtout the length and breadth of the country. Let us have a look at the unique of his marches given below :

Year 1949 : From the erstwhile Bikaner State to Jaipur, Delhi, Harayana, Punjab and back to Rajasthan.
Year 1955 : From Rajasthan to Gujarat, Bombay Khandesh (Maharastra), Madhya Pradesh and back to Rajasthan.
Year 1958 : From Rajasthan to Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Bengal, again Bihar, Uttar pradesh, Delhi, Haryana and back to Rajasthan.
Year 1966 : From Rajasthan to Gujarat, Maharastra, Tamilnadu, Pondicherry, Kerala, Karnataka, Andra Pradesh, Orissa, Madhya Pradesh and back to Rajasthan.
Year 1974 : From Rajasthan to Haryana, Delhi, Punjab, and back to Rajasthan.
Year 1981 : From Rajasthan to Haryana, Delhi and back to Rajasthan.
Year 1987 : From Rajasthan to Haryana and Delhi and is expected to be back in Rajasthan.

In the course of these marches, widespread mass contact, propagation of Anuvrat-oriented life and abstinence from alcoholic drinks went on.

Acharyashree also enjoined his monks and nuns to undertaken long marches. This step widened the area of their movement and took them to the remote areas of the country, inculuding Tamilnadu, Karnataka, Andhra Assam, Bengal, Bihar, Utter Pradesh, Sikkim and Tripura. Some of them visited Nepal and Bhutan also. This dedicated band of monks and nuns has carried the message of Anuvrat to multitudes of People.

The celebrated Journalist Satyadev Vidyalankar has rightly observed, "In Delhi the people feel that after that Mahatma Gandhi the other Mahatma who was own their hearts in Acharya Tulsi. In simple language he talks about the need of purify in social life with remarkable candiur and utmost sincerity. His mellifluous voice, Which has in it a natural fascination for all, leaves a migical effect on his audience. He is doing everything for his own spiritual uplift. Neverthless, what he has been able to do for the people is impossible to be achieved by those who say that their life is solely dedicated to the well-being of the people."

In The Midest of Common People : Not only did his marches grow in size but he also grew into a colossus of a man. He visits small villages. There too crowds swell beyond our expectation. Many a time I have observed closely how people throng to have his glimpse. They are drown towards him, as it were, by a magnetic pull. They leave him with great difficulty even when it is time for him to have his meal. Very often Acharyashree says, "I have now become a part of the masses. "Acharyashree didnot want religion or a monk to be bound by any restrictions. He become generous and the outlook of the people around him also underwent a change. Now all section of society, irrespective of their caste, class, religion and party, look on him as their own saint. In his eyes there is nobody who is not his own. Once when Acharyashree was speaking at a huge assembly, a man stood up and asked, "Are you Hindu or a Muslim ?" Acharyashree replied, "Brother, I am not a Hindu because I donot have a choti ( a lock of hair) on my head, nor am I a Muslim since I was not born in a Muslim faimly. He asked him again, " what are you, then ?" Acharyashree replied, " I am a human being by birth. I am also a Jain because I am trying to conquer myself." At an assembly of scholars in Poona, a sanskrit scholar asked him whether he considered the Jains Hindus. Acharyashree replied that the Jain could be considered Hindus in case the world 'Hindu' meant someone belonging to India. If it meant someone following the Vedic religion, the Jains were not Hindus.

In Acharyashree's view a man should only be a man (human being) Before he becomes a Jain or a Vedic follower or a Muslim or a Buddhist.

Pilgrimages : Acharyashree thinks that the greatest shrine on the earth is man himself and that all shrines are the creations of his inner power. He undertook ling marches for developing man's inwardness. Hence, in a way, they are pilgrimages in athemselves. In the course of his long barefoot journeys he also visited some of the shrines. Viewed from that standpoint too, his marches are veritables pilgrimages i.e. Maithan, Mayurakh Dam, Juumari Talaiya Dam, etc. Besides, he has also been to some old shrines. He went to see the well-known Vedic shrine Devghar Prayag. He visited the Buddhist shirnes at bodh Gaya, Sarnath, Nalanda, etc. He spent many days at the Jain ahrines like rajgrih, Sammed Sikhar, Abu Ranakpur, etc.

Acharyashree always went on a pilgrimage to new shrine to new shrines. He went to see the prestigious educational institutions like Banaras Hindu University, Shantiniketan, Baroda Sanskrit University, Bhandarkar Research Institute, Poona, etc.

His life is a living example of anekant philosophy. He visites all places and meets all people.

He rejects the one-sided view that stresses complete agreement or disagreement.

Inspiring Incidents from Acharyashree's Long Marches : In the course or his padyatra (travelling on foot) Acharyashree reached Bombay at that time. For an exchange of views a meeting was arranged between hin and Acharyashree. The talks lasted for three days. Jaiprakash Narayan has recorded the impression his meeting with Acharyashree left on his mind in these words :

Both the Anuvrat and the Sarvodaya Movements are complementry. Almost all the leaders of this country and some leaders of the other countries have by now become familiar with the aim of this Movement. Acharya Tulsi has in fact set forth a magnificent ideal in order to march towards the accomplishment of our own ideal. Both Vinoba and Acharya Tulsi belong to all castes and all classes. Both of them desire the good of all. I was able to get a glimpse of Acharya Tulsi's loftly aims in the course of my discussion with him in bombay. He is of the view that it all the violent forces of the world can Join hands for destruction why can't the forces nonviolences follow suit ? The unity of the nonviolence in the world will surely pave the way for the fullillment of the ultimate dream of unhering in a nonviolent society. Both the movement for Sampati Dan (gifting awat property) and the Anuvrat Movement cherish the common aspiration. One inspires, advices or even comples society to let its weaker section share in its resources. The other other lays emphasis on the renunciation of ones lust for acquisition. It doesnot call upon people to gift away what they have in excess but simply exhorts them to leave it for use by society. Anuvrat regards possession in all its forms as the root of sin. It is the main cause of violence. when there is a desire for acquisition as its natural corollaries.

Dr. Sampurnanand was a statesman. More then that he was a profound scholar. During Acharyashree's visit to UttarPradesh he styayed atr his residence. It afforded him an opportunity to exchange views with him on many subjects. Later, when he was Governor of Rajasthan, he held long disicusions with Acharyashree at Jaipur. He observed Acharyashree's life very closely. Hence he potrayed it authoritatively in the following words :

Acharya Tulsi, the sponsor of the Anuvrat Movement, is far away from the sphere of politics. He has nothing to do any 'ism' and yet, despite his being miles away from all these ways of earning fame, he is one of those who have more or less influenced the lives of millions. He is called Acharya since he is the head of a particular Jain sect. It is natural for anyone to exspect that he could impart the knowledge of the basic canons of Jainism and those of his own sect to the disciples, the monks and nuns of his order and yet no one has ever heared him or his followers say swch thing as may lacerate the feeling of others.

In the course of his barefoot marches, he visited thousands of villages, met millions of villagers and inspired many of them to relinquish addictions. What Acharyashree's marches have been able to achieve effortlessly in the field of moral uplift and charracter building is not possible even if crores of ruppes are spent. One will be ableto realize the truth of this statement just from a single incident.

Acharyashree was on his way to Nathvada village after his departure from Idava (district Nagaur). He halted briefly at Palyavas village. As usual, he delivered a discourse on the evils of addictions. Many people responded to his call to give up evil habit like smoking, alcoholism and meat eating. The Thakur of the village (the Rajput chief of the village) also expressed a desire to renounce his addication to drinking. Thereupon the villagers commented that his action would release half of them from his menace. Once of the villagers who was sceptical of the Thakur's sincerity asked, "Thakur Sahib, will it be possible for yout to give up drinking ?" The Thakur replied with unmistable firmness, "I have already given it up. If you ever see me touching it again you may chop my head off."

Addication to drugs results in a vicious circle. It involves a large number of people. A man who takes opium, drinks or smokes a hookah or a chilam (a kind of tabacco pipe) persuades other to follow suit. In this way he creates a new generation of addicts. Thousands of people who came into contact with Acharyashree were able to free themselves from the use of intoxicants. Those who were not able to give them up were asked at least to refrain from persuading others to take them. Mr. Gopal Singh Shekhawat, General Secretary, Rajasthan University Students' Union, Took the vow that he would neither have wine nor offer it to his guests.

Achrayashree's padyatra is in fact a great march for the awakeing of the people. Evaluating it President Gyani Zail Singh once remarked, "Acharya Tulsi is a Padyatri (a wayfarer or a traveller on foot). He is rending a great service to the individual, society and nation by travelling round the country on foot. He does not seek any help from the Government. As a matter of fact he is helping the Government Acharyashree does not need the Government but the Government needs him."

Underlying the miraculous personality of Acharya Tulsi is his own dedication. He attracts all small or big. His life too is varied. Sometimes he is an a mansion and sometimes in a hut. Sometimes he finds himself in the midest of scholars and sometimes in the midst of simple unassuming village came for his darshan (paying obeisance to him). Acharyashree asked them what made them come so late.

One woman : We were going to our fields when you came.
Acharyashree : Did you take bhata(lunch) with you for your men on the farms ?
Woman : Yes, your Holiness.
Acharyashree : What do you have for launch ?
Woman : Roti (Chapati), Whey and rabari (maize cooked in whey).
Acharyashree : Do you not take milk with you ?
Woman : Milk is meant for childern and not for elderly people.
Acharyashree : Do you have launch before you go to your field or do you go there without having it ?
Woman : I have it before I go to my field. Some woman think we must not eat before our husbands have done so but I donot subscribe to this view. My husband does not treat me well. He abuse me and sometimes whacks me also.
Acharyashree : It is not fair for a husband and a wife to pick aquarrel
Woman : It is not fair, I agree, but what can one do ? peace in a faimly is not a one-way traffic.
Acharyashree : Do you sell adulterated milk ?
Woman : Yes I do.
Acharyashree : Can you give up adulterating milk ?
Woman : I will do it if you so desire.

Acharyashree's padyastra gives him ample opportunity of wide contact with the people, insteresting talks with individuals, theoretical discussions, spiritual experimments and soultions of individual problems. What has been reproduced here is a mere glimpse of the pageant of Acharyashree's varied life. We have no knowedge of one such individual ina hte past as might have undertaken so extensive and endless a padyatra (barefoot journey). We donot think we shall have one in future.

Acharya Tulsi's first meeting with Vinoba Bhava took palce at Rajghat (a sacred place where Gandhiji's cremation took place)Vinobaji said, "The shtramans (Jain ascetics) tradition of Padyatra dates froma the ancient days. I have also adopted your way of living in my life. "Acharyashree said, " It augurs well. At least we two have become padyatris. The people of India live in villages. Padyatra is a powerful medium for being in touch with them."

Vinobaji : How many miles do you walk a day ?
Acharyashree : Ten to twenty miles.
Vinobaji : Approximately I also cover the same disttance in a day.

Anuvrat and bhoodan yatra (Vinobaji's travelling on foot with the specific purpose of asking the people to gift away their excess land) once again revealed the significance of padyatra to the people of India.


-----------------------------------------------------

Source From : Acharya Tulsi (A Peacemaker Par Excellence)
By : Yuvacharya Mahapragya

-----------------------------------------------------

Mail to : Ahimsa Foundation
www.jainsamaj.org
R10111