RENOWNED Jain saint and 10th spiritual head of the Terapanth Anuvrat sect Acharya Mahapragya passed away at Sardarshahr town of Churu district in Rajasthan on May 9. He was 90. He was taking rest in the afternoon at Terapanth Ashram when he suffered a cardiac arrest. He was in the town for chaturmaas.
Born on June 14, 1920 at Thamkor village under Jhunjhunu district of Rajasthan in a traditional family, this extraordinary boy—Nath Mall—became the disciple of Acharya Tulsi from his childhood and had transformed himself into a thinker, philosopher-monk who had spearheaded the Anuvrat movement propounded by his mentor Achraya Tulsi.
The saint, who was known for his work on Prekshya Dhyan (meditation) and Jeevan Vigyan, also attracted attention of the world by carrying out Ahimsa Yatra in the country for strengthening communal harmony. He was spearheading the affairs of Terapanth sect as its spiritual head and the Jain Vishwa Bharati deemed university in his capacity as Anushasta administrative and spiritual head.
He was a great practitioner of meditation, spirituality, mantras, Anekaant and non-violence and wrote extensively on these subjects. He traversed over 10,000 km on foot, covering 10,000 villages, towns and cities, and addressed many public meetings during the Yatra. He walked across the length and breadth of India from Kachchh in Gujarat to Kolkata and from Punjab to Kanyakumari, and undertook travel on foot earlier under the leadership of Acharya Tulsi and later himself being the leader.
Prominent among the awards presented to him during his lifetime are the Indira Gandhi National Integration Award (2002), Lokmaharishi by Navi Mumbai Municipal Corporation (2003), Ambassador of Peace Award in London (2003), Union Government’s Communal Harmony Award (2004), and Mother Teresa National Award of Peace (2005).
Acharya Mahapragya started writing when he was 22 and since then he never stopped. He has written more than two hundred books in Hindi, Sanskrit, Prakrit and Rajasthani languages. The contents include intense and in-depth treatments of meditations, mind, human psyche and its traits, root of emotions, manifestation of emotions through human behaviour, Mantra sadhana, Yog sadhna, Anekaant, non-violence and Jain history. His writings on economics provide a detailed model of economic structure which works for the benefit of each and every individual. He has given vision for a peaceful society free from evils. He has suggested conduct for people to lead a happy individual as well as a social life.
He was cremated at Sardarshehar—the place where he gained sainthood and where he was staying for the past few days to conduct Chaturmas, on May 10. Former President of India Dr APJ Abdul Kalam, who had co-authored a book with the Mahapragya, also turned-up and said, “I have come here for antim darshan of the great saint and philosopher”. Special emissaries of President Pratibha Devi Patil and Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi also visited the town to deliver condolence messages.
Baikunthi (the last journey) was taken out from Shree Samvasaran Complex where tens of thousands of devotees had made a beeline to have antim darshan. People stood on both sides with folded hands, most of them bowing heads in reverence as the procession proceeded to the cremation ground through main roads of the historic town. Former Chief Minister of Rajasthan Smt Vasundhara Raje and Rajasthan BJP president Shri Arun Chaturvedi also condoled the demise.
In his condolence message, RSS Sarsanghachalak Shri Mohan Bhagwat described the passing away of Acharya Mahapragya as ‘unbearable setback for the mankind’. “The RSS was always blessed with his eternal affection and love. I got the opportunity to meet him many times. I practically realised his unbiased compassion, style of finding simple but unfailing solution to the problems, capacity to lead all to the right path and his profound knowledge. The passing away of such a great personality is highly painful and unbearable for all. The memories of his life are now eternal guide to the human beings. Now, we have to depend upon on those memories. I offer my personal tribute and that on behalf of the RSS.”
RSS Jodhpur Prant Sanghachalak Shri Bhanwar Lal Kothari, Jodhpur Vibhag Sanghachalak Dr Shantilal, Mahanagar Sanghachalak Shri Kantilal Thakur and Prant Pracharak Shri Vijay Kumar also described the demise of Acharya Mahapragya as unbearable loss to the nation. In a statement issued from Jodhpur Shri Vijay Kumar pointed out that there had been extensive discussion between RSS Sarsanghachalak Shri Mohan Bhagwat and Acharya Mahapragya on many vital issues concerning the nation. Former RSS Sarsanghachalak Shri KS Sudarshan had also participated in many of his functions. RSS Jaipur Prant Sahsanghachalak Dr Ramesh Agrawal said the passing away of Acharya Mahapragya developed a vacuum in the spiritual world which is difficult to fill.
In his tribute, VHP president Shri Ashok Singhal said the path shown by Acharya Mahapragya can help the world getting rid from terrorism, violence and ideological differences. His contribution in the movement started by his Guru Acharya Tulsi in 1949 has been notable and he dedicated his entire life for the restoration of peace in the world. He believed that the way of worship which cannot bring peace in the life of its follower should be immersed in the Ganga.
After the passing away of Acharya Mahapragya, Acharya Mahashraman has been appointed the 11th Acharya of the sect. Acharya Mahapragya had nominated him as the Yuvacharya of the Terapanth in 1997 at Gangashahar, Bikaner.