Archive for January 31st, 2012
1!JLce Emperor Akbar was looking towards the main road from the balcony of his royal palace in Fatehpur Sikri. Meanwhile he saw a huge procession passing by, wherein at the centre a Jain laywoman (shravika) named Champa sat in splendour and attired in expensive clothes. On inquiry, the emperor came to know that the shravika had undertaken fast for 6 months during which she had taken only boiled water from sun-rise to sun-set and no other food. The Emperor was greatly surprised and on asking the shravika he ‘came to know that it was possible because of the blessings of religious saint like Guru Hirvijaysuri.
The subedar of Ahmedabad and other Jain laymen (shravaks) requested Shri Hirvijaysuri to pay a visit to Akbar in the interest of Jain religion. In A. D. 1582 Shri Hirvijaysuriji left the Gandhar port. In the course of his journey he gave religious discourses to an outlaw named Arjun Thakore and made him abjure his wicked ways. On the 13th day of Jyeshta month of A. D. 1583, Shri Hirvijaysuriji reached Fatehpur. On seeing the Suriji arriving, Akbar descended from the throne and went to him and bowed to him. His three princes also bowed and paid their respects. In ho~our of Suriji’s arrival, very costly carpets were laid inthe royal palace but Suriji refused to walk on them. Akbar was surprised. Hirvijaysuriji explained that Jain saints were forbidden to walk on land covered with cloth because that might kill the ants and other insects moving under the cloth. Akbar ordered the carpets to be removed and indeed there were many ants and insects underneath.
As Akbar came to know that Suriji had made the journey of so many miles on foot, he was greatly surprised.
Akbar wanted to know about his horoscope and future life. Whereupon Suriji said that only householders would read horoscopes and make predictions as they were required to earn a livelihood. Saints like him simply aspired for knowledge and ultimate bliss. Akbar, by way of deference to Suriji, requested him to accept some gold and silver. Thereupon Suriji said that he would not accept anything. Suriji added that if he was keen to offer anything, he should order to set free the birds and animals kept in the cages. Suriji also added that he should prohibit large scale fishing in the huge pond named Dabar and should also issue a mandate to stop violence of any kind by anybody during the festivals of Paryushan. Akbar issued orders as was desired by Suriji. Moreover Akbar added 4 days on his own accord to the 8 days of Paryushan festival and ordered to stop the killing of animals for a total of 12 days. The mandate was also conveyed throughout his empire including Gujarat, Malwa, Ajmer, Delhi, Fatehpur, Lahore and far upto Multan. The Emperor also issued a mandate not to indulge in any sort of animal-killing in the vicinity of pilgrim places like Girnar, Taranga, Shatrunjaya, Kesariyaji, Abu, Rajgruhi and Sametshikharji. In Vikram Samvat 1640 Suriji was honoured with the title of ]agadguru (universal. preceptor). Subseque~tly, Suriji toured Agra, Gwalior and other places and propagated Jain religion. Asa re’sult of his efforts, thousands of Hindus and Muslims gave up non vegetarianism and alcoholism.
Nagarheth (chief, respectable person in a city) Shantidas Jhaveri was a devout person who espoused many a social, religious and cultural causes. Kshatriya (warrior caste) by caste, Shantidas was the son of Sahasrakiran and had forged close ties with Mugal emperors such as Akbar, Jehangir, Shah Jahan, Muradbux and Aurangzeb. He enjoyed the trust of the emperor and was allowed to enter the harems as the official jeweler. It was he who secured protection of the centres of pilgrimage from all the four powerful Mugal monarchs, a feat never achieved by any other person. Such was the influence he wielded over them! Once Aurangzeb had demolished a temple built by Shantidas Jhaveri but the same Aurangzab later chose him as his messenger of peace. He became the nagarsheth (an important person of the town), and endeavored to solve the problems, big and small, faced by the society. In A.D. 1680, he took out a sangh (a congregation on pilgrimage) consisting of more than 15,000 Sadhus, Sadhvis and Shravak-Shravikas. He moved through the length and breadth of India to propagate the message of Jainism and worked tirelessly for the upliftment of Jain community. He used his good offices with the emperor Shah ]ehan to restore to Chintamani Parshvanath temple of Ahmedabad its pristine glory and dignity. Similarly, he helped in arranging a fun,ction at which Shri Muktisagarji, who had helped him in achieving the desired goal through chintamani mantra, was conferred the title of Acharya. He had traveled extensively for business but religion had remained an integral part of his life.
Shantidas Jhaveri of Surat was also a very wealthy jeweler. He requested Nemsagargani and Muktisagargani to bless him with a child. Both began reciting Shri Chintamani mantra (hymn) in a cellar which would produce result after six months. At the end of six months, Dharanendra would appear in the form of a snake and the fearless devotee would have to make his tongue touch the snake’s. Then only Dharanendra would grant a boon to the devotee. Six months passed but Shantidas JhaveriofSurat did not come but Shantidas Jhaveri of Ahmedabad came and paid his respects to the monks. He wastaken into the celler, thinking that he was from Surat. Dharanendra appeared as a snake but Shantidas was so frightened that he could not stick his tongue out. Dharanendra then disappeared without blessing him. The monks said that had he stuck his tongue out to touch the snake’s tongue, he would have become a king, but now he would only be a respectable
At the age of twenty-five Sheth Shantidas Jhaveri was appointed a jeweller to emperor Akbar. To Jahangir he was an uncle and was given the title of nagarsheth of Ahmedabad and made asuba (administrator). He used to be a special invitee to the court on important occasions. He did everything for the protection of Shatrunjaya Tirth. With a serene demeanour, sweet tongue and courteous behaviour, Sheth Shantidas Jhaveri had endeared himself to one and alL Shantidas attributed his success in life to the following of religious path and the blessings of dev-guru (God and spiritual teacher). He, therefore, decided to devote his life to religion and to the service of dev-guru. He constructed a huge fort around the temples in Shatrunjaya Tirth and a step well at the foothill. He also contributed generously to the construction of Jain temples, in the renovation of those in dilapidated conditions and to other philanthropic activities such as distribution of grains, clothes etc. during famines. He donated grains and clothes during the year of famine and was a torch-bearer of mahajan tradition.