Rashtra Sant Yug Diwakar Pujya Gurudev Shree Namramuniji M.S.
Biography of Pujya Gurudev He is one of the youngest sadhu (Jain ascetic) of the Gondal Sampraday (clan) and loved and adored by both the young and old. A renowned personality both in India and overseas, he has been conferred with the title and was recentlyarded the title of “Rashtra Sant” by the World Jain Mission. Yug Diwakar Pujya Gurudev Namramuni Maharaj Saheb (known to many as Pujya Gurudev) has inspired and touched the hearts of many and brought about life changing experiences for Jains and non-Jains in India and overseas. He attained true realization and understood that the ultimate purpose of life is to free oneself from all worldly attachments and attain liberation. It has thus been his endeavor to help others realize their true identity and walk on the path towards liberation. Pujya Gurudev’s powerful persona, striking humility, profound wisdom and simplicity has touched many. His endearing disposition combined with the ability to read the pulse of the youth today has made him a favourite with the young generation. His unbiased love for all has been instrumental in weaving a fabric of cultural unity and bringing about universal peace. The work of his missions has helped to elevate the lives of many from all sectors of society.
Early Childhood This dignified personality’s humble beginnings began in Nagpur, India. Kumar Mahavir (Pujya Gurudev’s birth name) was born on 26th September, 1970. His early childhood was marked by tragedy, when at the tender age of 2 years and 9 months, he lost his father. Thus, began a journey of struggle and hardship for Mahavir and his family. Upon his father’s death, Mahavir’s family moved from Nagpur to their native place Lathi. Later, his maternal uncle took him to Delhi for further education. It was early in his childhood that Mahavir became interested in religion. Mahavir’s mother, Pushpaben Kanhaiyalal Bhayani, was a staunch follower of 2|Page
Jainism and instilled such habits in him at an early age. Mahavir often accompanied her to the upashray (Jain place of worship-prayer hall) and spent time with the sadhus and sadhvis (ascetics). As an inquisitive youth he learned quite a bit from them and before long, he had memorized the Samayik Sutra (prayers to practice equanimity). At just six years old, Mahavir’s sixth sense had awakened. He was able to predict things and they would happen exactly as he foreshadowed. He developed a reputation in his town as an honest, reliable, mature, and kindhearted boy. Among his classmates, he possessed an uncommon empathy that led others to seek out and trust his opinions in matters large and small. Mahavir attended many children’s shibirs (spiritual retreats) conducted by senior saints of those times. Through this course, he developed a deeper understanding of Jainism’s science based principles. He continued to win accolades as the bestdisciplined and quietest child. At the age of seven, he applied his newfound learning to his daily life when he realized that there is life in water. At that point he vowed to drink only boiled water. The seeds of mercy and compassion embedded in him during his formative years had taken fruition. Mahavir understood the concept of maryada or restriction on use of things. He vowed to stay within the limits of materialism, area, time, and feelings. Such a practice of restraint helped him build a fortress around him to abstain from worldly affairs.
Challenging Teenage Years Mahavir continued to display compassion as a young adult even during hard times. When a severe famine struck in Lathi, Mahavir, along with his brothers, started the “Janta Tavdo,” and prepared Indian snacks such as Jalebi (sweet) and gathiya (made from gram flour) to distribute to the needy. It was around this time that an incident occurred during his visit to Bhavnagar- a place in Gujarat, that distracted and confused Mahavir to the extent that he did not visit the Upashray any more, instead a vortex of thoughts changed the direction of his life as he decided that he had to shoulder the responsibility of providing for his family. 3|Page
Mahavir acquired various jobs including working at a lottery store, bookstall and a grocery shop. Unhappy with those positions, Mahavir moved to Mumbai where his inclination towards religion started declining even further. Surrounded by the glamour of Mumbai, he became attracted to fashion, material objects and fell prey to bad habits.
A U-Turn in Life One night, Mahavir dreamt of a voice from Heaven that advised him, “Life is too short. Do not waste it and do what you have to.” It led him thinking deeply for himself and announced an indication that he did not have much time to waste. The following morning, he shared his dream with his mother and asked her, “What should I do?” His mother had always wished that at least one of her three sons would renounce the world and become a Jain monk. Now was the right time to fulfill her wish. Taking this opportunity in her stride, she immediately replied, “Son! Renounce this world and adopt the path of salvation!” Upon hearing these words, Mahavir recollected his forgotten values and pious thoughts. He started going to the upashray again to obtain guidance and knowledge from the mahasatiji (female Jain ascetic). Mahavir then traveled to Marwad (Rajasthan) to attain higher religious knowledge. Every day, for a period of eight months, he memorized 40 verses from the Aagam (Jain Scriptures). He was so dedicated to learning that he did not consume even a single drop of water until he memorized the entire set. Mahavir’s deep concentration and power of meditation was an inspiration to many. Upon his new found dedication, Mahavir attended several religious shibirs and absorbed almost everything. These seminars had a profound impact on him and sparked within him thoughts of renouncing the world. But before Mahavir adopted Jainism and diksha (detachment and renunciation from the material world), he performed a comparative analysis on the various religions of our time.
With such diligence, he decided that he would take the path of liberation and he decided to adopt it formally.
Renunciation – The Great Sacrifice At the age of 21, Mahavir, adopted the five major vows of monastic life. On the auspicious day of 10th February, 1991, Mahavir was initiated in the presence of innumerable senior sadhus and sadhvis. He vowed to adopt Aparigraha (nonposession), Bramacharya (complete celibacy), Achaurya (non-stealing), Satya (truthfulness), and Ahimsa (non-violence). He committed himself to life-long dedication and service to God and man-kind. He was renamed Pujya Namramuni Maharaj Saheb. The name “Namra” defines him as polite and gentle. Pujya Gurudev spent his initial five years of ascetic life in research, spiritual practices, and religious disciplines for the attainment of moksha (liberation). His first sermon, “The Importance of Time,” explained the deep secrets of reality. Pujya Gurudev mastered the 32 Aagams (Jain Scriptures) and unveiled its secrets. The more he learned the deeper he went within his soul. He was able to decipher the scriptures’ in-depth meanings with great ease. Through such understanding, he led powerful sermons that have led many souls to adopt the path of liberation. Today, his analytic power and vast knowledge about Jainism enables him to impart discourses that touch the hearts of thousands of people.
Discovery and Spreading of Shree Uvasaggahar Stotra In 1992, Pujya Gurudev became severely ill due to an infection while in Jamnagar. The infection was so severe that he vomited out 80% of his blood. Doctors conceded that there was no hope. Instead of experiencing fear in the face of death, this young saint closed his eyes and started chanting Parmatma’s (the eternal soul) name. At this time, something implausible happened. Astonishingly, he realized that he was chanting “Shree Uvvasaggahar Stotra,” which he had never heard or read before. This stotra was not known to Pujya Namramuni nor 5|Page
had he ever learnt it. The words of the stotras just began to flow out of his mouth miraculously. These words then became his breath of faith. Upon reciting these verses, his sixth sense overtook him – “You have to live. You will live…!” He told the doctors to continue their treatment whilst he continued reciting the stotra (verse). As he chanted, he began to recover and soon within hours, he was out of danger. Pujya Gurudev realized that the strong vibrations and influence of chanting the Shree Uvvasagahar Stotra had brought him back from the clenches of death. Thus, from that day forward, he developed extensive faith in the Shree Uvasaggahar Stotra. After getting a second lease on life, Pujya Gurudev doubled his efforts on deep reflection, meditation, and sadhana (spiritual practice). While Jain ascetics are traditionally not allowed to stay in one place for more than several months, during the four month monsoon period, they remain in one location to avoid interfering with nature. This period is known as Chaturmas. Pujya Gurudev has performed remarkable Chaturmas in Gujarat, Bombay, Kolkatta, Chinchan and Chennai, leaving a lasting impact on thousands of devotees from all sects of life.
True Devotion When Pujya Gurudev met Tapsamrat Pujya Ratilalji Maharaj Saheb, he immediately felt a heart to heart connection with him. It was similar to the union of two long lost souls! Pujya Gurudev was predominantly attracted to Tapsamrat Pujya Gurudev Shree Ratilalji Maharaj Saheb’s divine love and affection. He spent one chaturmas with him and completely surrendered to him. Tapsamrat Pujya Gurudev Shree Ratilalji Maharaj imparted his knowledge and blessed Pujya Gurudev who became his true disciple. Pujya Gurudev served his Guru day and night in H. J. Hospital in Rajkot when the latter was taken ill in his last days. The Guru-disciple bond is exemplary and remains alive even today as Pujya Gurudev never fails to show respect to his 6|Page
Guru wherever he goes. He has been building spiritual centers, health centers, veterinary hospitals and other such humanitarian centers after his Guru and keeps his legacy alive. Today Pujya Gurudev’s endeavor to spread Jainism remains strong. He desires that individuals provide their time, energy and resources to bettering themselves (through mind and soul) and their community. These acts of charity aim to spread that our lives should follow a path towards spirituality raher than excessive materialism. Some of his notable legacies are detailed below:
His Divine & Revolutionary Missions House of Positive Energy Parasdham is religious and multi-activity complex that has been constructed in Ghatkopar (suburb of Mumbai) and in Kolkatta. They stand as powerhouses of positive energy, a concept Pujya Gurudev has taught to his many followers. Each facility contains a large divine hall, a spiritual store, a meditation room charged with pyramid energy, a library, and a canteen (Bhojanshala). Here, Pujya Gurudev has also instituted Parmatma Parshvanath’s Siddhapithika, where positive vibrations combined with people’s faith and devotion become instrumental in the fulfillment of their wishes. Various charitable and Jivdaya activities are also conducted daily at each Parasdham. Children attend a learning series titled, Lookn-Learn Jain Gyan Dham, which are classes that teach the essential values of Jainism. Finally, arogyadham, acupressure, and homeopathy medicine services are also available in the complex. A believer in equality, Pawandham in Kandivali, Mumbai and in Baroda (Gujarat) was built thereafter. This center, just like both Parasdham centers, welcome all religious backgrounds. Devotees are attracted to Parmatma Parshvanath’s divine Siddhapithika. They also perform sadhana with deep devotion and worship and often experience the inexplicable divinity. Pawandham is characterized by pyramid-shaped meditation rooms, a spiritual hall for the Jain ascetics, a spiritual store where one can obtain various literature, books and audio-visuals, a discourse hall, a well-equipped library and rooms for Look-n-Learn Jain Gyan 7|Page
Dham classes, and acupuncture therapy and homeopathy medication. It also houses the following: canteen (Bhojanshala), Annapurna Griha, Satvik food centre, Yoga centre, book bank, Guru temple, Goddess Saraswati and Radha Krishna temple, shelter for cows, art gallery, auditorium, and a student’s study centre. Additionally, Dharma Shravan classes, parent’s classes, senior citizens’ group classes, Arham satsang, Senior Citizen satsang (devotional gathering) are held at Parasdham and Pawandham on a regular basis. The center also broadcasts live webcasts of Pujya Gurudev’s discourses on special occasions. Shasan Prabhavak Group Pujya Gurudev’s desire to spread Lord Mahavir’s precious sermons to inspire people to walk on the path of emancipation, and to give them guidance and impart knowledge has led to the creation of the Shasan Prabhavak Group. Members of this group have travelled abroad to Kenya and Sudan (Africa), Malaysia, and to various small and large centers of India during Paryushan to convey the message of Parmatma Mahavir. The group’s fundamental mission is to impart knowledge of the pure divine soul and make people turn towards the path to liberation through wisdom, faith, right conduct, and austerities. Arham Yuva Group One of Pujya Gurudev’s dreams is to stop youngsters from falling into vices such as smoking, consuming alcohol, and falling prey to other harmful habits. Gurudev’s aim is to divert the youth from the excessive materialism. Rather than spending free time on wining, dining, and disco; he challenges today’s youth to turn towards spirituality and humanity. He realizes that today’s youth are tomorrow’s future - responsible for carrying forward Jainism and its practices. Pujya Gurudev has taken this challenge to heart by starting numerous youth camps where attendees are encouraged to serve society and humanity. Today, there are more than 55 Arham Yuva Groups in India. The Arham Group conducts humanitarian activities in the field of education and health and has 8|Page
touched the lives of millions. Its main motto is to serve the needy, which, in turn brings about an inner growth among its participants.
Look-n-Learn Jain Gyan Dham Pujya Gurudev also realized that not many children were going to pathshalas (religious learning centers). To that end he modernized the Jain schools and established Look-n-Learn. Each lesson is conducted in a lighthearted manner that allows children to learn and play simultaneously. Values such as humility, politeness, and discipline are instilled through interactive teaching learning aids, films and Powerpoint presentations. This starkly compares to the traditional teaching method of memorization of scriptures and verses. Pujya Gurudev desire for children to learn was so strong that he worked rigorously for two years to publish a Samayik and Pratikrman book with fascinating colorful illustrations, serving as an instrumental component of Look n Learn. Today, activities like yoga, music, dance and arts & crafts are also conducted as part of the classes. It is a concept where the children â€˜Pray while they Play.â€™ There are now 75 Look-n-Learn Jain Gyan Dham centers in India and abroad. Both Jains and non-Jains benefit from this children-centric program to inculcate human values and learn the principles of Jainism. Pujya Gurudev wishes to have such Gyan Dhams in every corner of the world so that the possibility of becoming a future God is aroused in the soul of each and every child. Malaysia, Sudan London, USA and many other places have already launched the Look-n-Learn centres with hundreds of children attending regular classes and benefitting their souls. Pujya Gurudev strongly believes that Lord Mahavir has a universal message of love, compassion and brotherhood and this should not be restricted to a small community. Uvvasagaharam Bhakti Group
Pujya Gurudev, himself an ardent worshipper of the Shree Uvvasagahar Stotra, initiates the Shree Uvasaggaharam Bhakti Group in every place he visits. Members of the Shree Uvvasaggaharam Bhakti Group in Saurashtra, Maharashtra, Mumbai, Gujarat, Kolkata, Delhi, as well as, abroad obtain peace and eternal bliss by chanting the Shree Uvvasaggahar Stotra in a group. This stotra is supposed to protect one from all evils and grant good health and wealth. This group is involved in charitable activities as well.
Guru Spandan Group To create reverence and feelings of worship towards God and Guru and to blossom internal strength, Pujya Gurudev inspired his followers to start this group. Individuals among this group, through meditation and prayer, have experienced the vibrations of His divine love.
Arham Satsang Pujya Gurudev initiated the Arham Satsang in Kolkata in the year 2009. At the end of his Chaturmas, the people of Kolkata felt that they needed something to keep the connectivity between them and Gurudev alive. They pleaded and requested Gurudev to do something that would help them to have a heart to heart connection with Gurudev. After giving deep thought he fulfilled their requests by initiating the Arham satsang. Satsang means the company of truth seekers. These are spiritual sessions held once or twice a week for about an hour, wherein people of all ages gather to create an environment of healing, support, and to reinforce the teachings of Jainism. A feeling of love, compassion, brotherhood and holistic living are entrusted through the sessions which are also marked by experiential learning. Here, the direct transmission of spiritual energy via meditation, chanting, and social interaction takes place among its attendees. Pujya Gurudevâ€™s recorded discourses are played to ensure that one remains connected with him and away 10 | P a g e
from other worldly activities, thereby, averting from binding new karmas. Arham Satsang has been a tremendous success and is held when large crowds gather to purify their thoughts Publications Many audio-visuals of Pujya Gurudev’s literature, discourses, preachings, meditation and various camps have been published. Shree Uvasaggaharam Stotra Jaap (Prayer), Manglik Jaap (prayer), Arham chants, Gurubhakti songs and Guruvandana are amongst the popular ones. Books of the discourses are available in Gujarati and English. Since the year 2000, a monthly magazine, Pranpushpa, has been published under Gurudev’s guidance and inspiration. Similarly, since 2005, a fortnightly magazine for children, Look-n-Learn, has been published in English and Gujarati and has received a positive reception in both India and abroad. Additionally, a newspaper titled, Jain Kranti, was published with Gurudev’s inspiration.
Events Pujya Gurudev organized the Aagam Mahotsav, to instill the truth, which he personally experienced from the Aagams, into the hearts of others. Through this Mahotsav, he has aroused love and reverence for Parmatma Mahavir. This inspired many children and youths to read the Aagams at home. The rallies and the Aagam exhibitions conducted along with the Mahotsav are marked by profound energy and participation. Pujya Gurudev’s birthday is celebrated by performing a pujan (prayer) of the Mahaprabhavak Shree Uvasaggahar Stotra, which is worshipped by the celestial deity Parshva Yaksh. People are so impressed by the divine power of the stotra that they request Pujya Gurudev to perform the pujan wherever he goes. This day is celebrated as the Manavta Mahotsav and a series of humanitarian activities are conducted on that day too.
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The Aagams Pujya Gurudev’s many dreams have seen the light of the day. His present dream is to translate the Aagams, the Jain religious scriptures, into English. In so doing, the scriptures will become accessible to a world-wide audience, inclusive of today’s youth and English speaking readers in foreign countries. To turn Pujya Gurudev’s dream to reality, more than 50 learned intellectuals from different countries and cultures have provided immense support. The intense editing and publication required of this enormous mission even received guidance from the holy and divine monks and nuns of various religious sects (may want to provide example here). The compilations of translated Aagam scriptures will be distributed to various libraries, universities and Jain centers within India and abroad. In addition, it will be made available on the web and in electronic form of eBook, iPad, DVDs, etc. Honors Due to Pujya Gurudev’s countless efforts to spread Jainism, he has been honored with the title “ShasanPrabhavak” (glorifier of the community). The eldest, most knowledgeable and visionary saint, Gondal Gachha Shiromani Param Darshanik Pujya Shri Jayantilalji Maharaj Saheb, residing at Peterbar was most impressed by the leadership qualities, the divine thinking power, disciplined execution of activities and the ability to progress the soul on the divine path. He, thus, honored Pujya Gurudev with the title of “ShasanArunoday” (one who awakens the society like the sunrise) and “Yugdrashta Yuva HridaySamrat”. The World Jain Mission has honoured Pujya Gurudev with the title of “Rashtra Sant” in November 2012. “Some blossom during the day and some at night, but the Enlightened One stays ever blossomed.” 12 | P a g e