Acharya Samrat Shri Jaymalji Mahara jSaheb

Since time immemorial India has been the cradle for towering spiritualand religious personalities of the world. Whenever ignorance, injustice,social and religious disorder disrupted the peace of the society, somegreat soul is born to restore justice, order and peace by kindling thebeacon light of right knowledge, wisdom and spirituality. Sri Ramadestroyed the evil demons and Ravana, Sri Krishna crushed the evilKansa and Jarasandh, Mahavira removed the evil custom of slavery byretrieving Chandanbala besides uplifting the souls of Arjunmali, Chandakaushik and many others.

During the second half of the eighteenth century of Vikram Era,Indian society witnessed a lot of turmoil and social upheaval. The rulersindulged in extravagant lifestyles, exploited the innocent people andoppressed the civilians and made them impoverished. The incessantinvaders, the unconcerned and arrogant rulers, the never ending battlesand many other forces caused the downfall of the Indian society. Around three centuries ago, Jaina ascetics too became Yatis and forgot their austerereligious practices and led a life of luxury and comfort. They misledpeople and propagated false beliefs and practices.

At such a crucial hour Jaymalji Maharaj Saheb was born to KâmdârMohandasji Mehta and Mahimâ Devi in Lambiya village in MertaPargana,Jodhpur, Rajasthan on BhadraShuklaTrayodashiin Vikram Era 1765.His father had won over a dacoit gang just after his birth and so the childwas named Jai meaning victory.

In his childhood itself he exhibited immense talent, radiance andbrilliance and this attracted one and all to him. His soft-hearted nature,disciplined character, compassionate and caring attitude, simplicity,gentleness and other virtues contributed to his charishma and made himloving and respectable. He was extra-ordinary in his studies and hisintelligence surpassed everything and everybody.

At the age of twenty two he was married to Lakshmi Devi, daughterof ShivkaranjiMutha of Riyan. But as the Muklava/Gauna(a ceremonyconducted post-marriage and before the daughter leaves for her husband’shome) had not been conducted, she stayed at her mother’s place. Sixmonths after marriage Jaymalji went to Merta for business along with hisfriends. As it was KartikShuklaChaumasi(the day the Châturmasgetsover) all the markets were closed and all the people had gone to hear thediscourses of Jain ÂchâryaBhudharjiMaharajSaheb. Jaymalji too wentthere to hear the discourses along with his friends. The great Âchâryanarrated the life history of the charishmatic Seth Sudarshan who remainedfirm in his character inspite of the allurements of Queen Abhayâ andKapilaDâsi; the king sentenced him to death but due to his noble characterthe crucification turned out to be a celebration. All this and more on thesignificance of celibacy inspired Jaymalji to a great extent and he wasdetermined to take up the great vow of celibacy throughout his life. Theyoung lad was exuberant and high-spirited and his face radiatedunprecedented spiritual brilliance and firmness. He further astonishedeverybody by expressing his desire to renounce the world and lead a lifeof self-restraint.

When his parents, relatives and in-laws came to know of thisshocking news, they all reached Merta and tried to persuade Jaymaljito reconsider and give up his decision but all in vain. Ultimately theyall had to consent to the firm decision of Jaymalji and grant him thepermission to renounce the world. Standing on one leg, he memorizedthe ‘Pratikramana Sutra’, (a pre-requisite for taking up the ascetic order)within three hours and eventually renounced the world on MargashirshKrishna Dvitiyâin Vikram Era 1788 at Merta and was ordained in theholy order by Âchârya Sri BudharjiMaharajSaheb in Merta itself.

The purpose of his accepting initiation was to break the karmicfetters and free himself from the cycle of births and deaths; to give up thefleeting pleasures and seek eternal bliss of Moksha. In order to achievethis sublime purpose, he resolved to remain steadfast in observing ‘rightfaith-knowledge-conduct and austerity’. The newly initiated JaymaljiMaharajSaheb confined himself strictly to the restrained monastic life.As soon as he was ordained he started the ‘EkantarTapasya’ (completefasting on alternate days) and observed the same for sixteen long years.In the Pârana(day of breaking fast) on the five tithishe gave up the fiveVigayas(on the day of breaking the fast, if it happened to be one of thefive auspicious days, he gave up milk, curd, oil, ghee and sweets). In hisaustere life Jaymalji observed the following penances-16 years of twoday fasting, 2 years of three day fasting, 3 years of five day fasting, 20one-month long fasting, 10 two-month fasting, 40 eight-day fasting, 90days fasting with Abhigrahaonce, four-month fasting-once and sixmonthfasting-once and VardhamânAyambil Tapas. He led an ‘apramatt’life and took to rigorous austerities only to purify his soul.

Along with the austerities he never failed to serve his Gurus. He wassteadfastly involved in scriptural study and also meditated for long hours;in other words he took to external as well as internal austerities with thesame spiritual zeal. He debated with the opponent Yatis and propagatedthe right religion, after defeating them in philosophical debates. Pipâd,Jodhpur, Bikaner, Nagaur, Jaisalmer, Sanchor, Barmer, Jalore – all theseplace were hitherto closed for the true ascetics, but now after the sincereefforts of Jaymalji the ascetics could visit the above places and propagatethe true faith.

ÂchâryaJaymalji was extremely talented and far-sighted. He wassincere, hard-working, dedicated, devoted and steadfast in his practices.During his first Châturmasitself he memorized eleven Âgamasand fiveof them within three hours. Within a span of three years he memorizedthe rest of the sacred canons and knew the thirty two Âgamasby heart.He also mastered the Vedas, Shrutis, Pittakasand philosophical texts ofother schools. He was a rare combination of right knowledge and rightconduct.

After the sad demise of ÂchâryaSri Bhudharji, the great Muni Jaymalresolved never to lie down and sleep. He observed this difficult vow forfifty long years till his death i.e., from Vikram Era 1804-1853. He initiatedseven hundred worthy souls in the holy order. Such was the toweringpersonality of His Holiness ÂchâryaJaymalji, that whosoever came incontact with him was undoubtedly influenced and inspired by thischarishmatic saint. He inspired many Kings, Rulers, Nawabs, Thakursand Jagirdars to give up all debaucheries i.e, addictions (vyasanas) likehunting, meat-eating, taking to intoxicating drinks, visiting prostitutes,etc. He voiced his views against animal sacrifices, slavery, custom ofsati and many other social ills which had paralyzed the society at thattime.

His discourses used to be thought-provoking and inspiring. Kings, chiefs, chieftans and many others flocked to hear this great saint of India. Among them Maharaj Abhaysingh of Jodhpur, MahârajGajsingh ofBikaner, MahârajMânsingh of Sirohi, Ahalyadevi of Holkar (Indore),MahârajBakhatsingh of Nagaur, MahârajMadhavsingh-I of Jaipur,Akhesingh of Jaisalmer and last but not the least the Mughal prince, sonof the Mughal Emperor Muhammad Shah were some of the many rulerswho were completely devoted to this great saint.

PujyaSri Jaymalji Maharaj Saheb was a committed and devotedsaint full of spiritual zeal and vigour. He was a great spiritual saint parexcellence, having extra-ordinary memory, besides learning, teaching,managing and poetic skills. He has to his credit more than two hundredand fifty poetic works. He hardly slept during the nights and remainedabsorbed either in contemplation or composing beautiful devotional andinspirational poetry to be documented in the day.

His contemplation was always fundamental and supernatural. This contemplation was depicted in words in the form of influential discourses and simple but interesting composition of poems. These forms entered the heart (inner part) of the people at large and enabled them to overcome bad traditions, bad rituals and superstitions in the erstwhile plagued conventional society. There are more than 250 such all time and universal poetries composed by AcharyaSamrat which led to blowing the counch for revolutionizing the society. This was the reason he became famous as a great social reformist and saint-poet.

On VaishakhShuklaTritiyain Vikram Era 1805 he was conferredthe Âchâryahoodand that very day he established the AkhilBharatiyaJaymal Jain ShravakSangh. His tradition came to be known asJaygaccha. He roamed barefoot and inspired people of Rajasthan,Gujarat, Mewad, Malwa and Delhi. From Vikram Era 1841 to 1853, dueto oldage and failing health he spent his last years in Nagaur, Rajasthan.He gave up his Âchâryahoodduring his life time itself in order to pursuehis spiritual practices. He conferred the same title on his worthy successorYuvacharyaSri RaychandrajiMaharajSaheb. Thus on JyesthaShuklaDvitiyain Vikram Era 1851, the latter was made the pontiff (Âchârya)by the four- fold Jaina congregation of Nagaur, Rajasthan. Thus thegreat Âchâryaspent every moment of his life in pursuing spiritual practicesto annihilate the karmas in order to purify his self.

Anticipating his end to be near JaymaljiMaharajSaheb called ÂchâryaRayachandraji from Bikaner and expressed his desire to take the lastgreat vow of Sallekhana. He observed eleven days of alternate fastingand two-day fasting. On the eve of MahavirJayanti he did not break hisfasting and on ChaitraShuklaPurnimain Vikram Era 1853 he took thevow of Sallekhana-Santhara. The above news spread like wild fire andpeople from all quarters including many chiefs, chieftans and wealthylandlords flocked to Nagaur to pay homage to the great saint. His asceticdisciples too came from far off places and served him in his last days.Sri Gajoji Swami, Sri GhasiramjiMaharajSaheb and other forty-ninemunis devotedly served him during his Sallekhanaperiod.

On the 16th day of Santhârâ, Pujya Sri RayachandrajiMaharajSaheb was reciting the Santhârâ-Painna, other ascetics too were recitingother scriptures. Saint Jaymalji remained absorbed in deep spiritualcontemplation, listening to the sacred canons. All of a sudden a divinelight filled up the prayer hall (upâshraya). All the monks seated there sawthat two divine figures approached JaymaljiMaharajSaheb,circumambulated him thrice and venerated before him. When enquiredby ÂchâryaRaychandrajiMaharajSaheb they said that they were Udayand Keshav. Sri RayachandrajiMaharajSaheb understood that the two were thedisciples of ÂchâryaSri Jaymalji who had expired some time ago. When enquired fromwhich heaven they had come they said that they had come from the firstKalpato venerate before their Guru. When they enquired about the futurebirth of ÂchâryaJaymalji, the divine beings remained silent for a while,then got the answer from Sri Simandhar Swami and replied that he wouldbe reborn as Jayadev in the first Kalpaand in his next birth be reborn in thePushkalavati Vijay in MahavidehKshetra and be liberated from there. Thusthe celestial beings announced that Pujya Sri JaymaljiMaharajSahebwasEkBhavâvatari. Saying thus they departed for their heavenly abode afterrepeatedly venerating to their Pujya Guru Bhagavant. Suddenly the placebecame dark but the devoted ascetics and householders became all the moredevoted in thought, word and deed.

PujyaSri ÂskaranjiMaharajSaheb recorded the above incident ina poem (dhâl) during the Santhârâperiod itself. Forty nine Sadhus andtwo hundred and fifty Sadhavis were present during this pious occasion.Of the forty-nine, sixteen Sadhus served the great Âchâryaby thought,word and deed and they too had the good fortune of observing monthlongSanthârâin their last days. ÂchâryaSamratJaymalji had a Santhârâof thirty-one days and this is a record in itself that no Âchâryain fivehundred years has been so fortunate.Three of his successors(pattadharas) had one-month Santhârâsand ten of his successors toohad Santhârâs.

Thus the great saint led an ideal, austere, self-restrained, pious,inspiring and revolutionary life and ultimately died like a spiritual hero,detached, self-realized and enlightened. He left the ephemeral body andascended to heaven. His body perished but his soul become immortal.