Anuvrat Movement commenced by Acharya Shri Tulsi with in a span of two years after achieving independence, has been working towards the aims of bringing about a transformation in the society including moral improvement of the individual and, thereby, of the society. In order to streamline the activities of the moral reformation movement, it was found that an organized body in the form of a committee was absolutely necessary. With this end in view and as a sequel to the setting up of the apex Anuvrat Samiti in New Delhi, an Anuvrat Samiti was constituted during Acharya Shri Tulsi’s so-journ in the then Madras. This committee of the distinguished personalities was set up in the year 1968. The founder members of the Tamilnadu Anuvrat Samiti, as it was then called, included interalia, Shri Manikkavelu, former Revenue Minister of the State, besides Shri Jaswantmulji Sethiya, Shri Nemkaranji Sethiya, Shri Sovanrajji Bohra, Shri Inderchandji Bohra and Shri G.Subramaniam, the former General Secretary of Dakshin Bharat Hindi Prachar Sabha. This Samiti was serving as a coordinating committee to make the arrangements for the Acharya Shri to meet the distinguished personalities of the State and other VIPs.it was entrusted with the liaisn work. Soon after it was decided to publish a monthly organ of the Samiti christened as ‘Anuvratam’ in Tamil, which informed the public about the Anuvrat Movement, its distinguished features and various articles explaining the activities undertaken to further the cause of the movement. This committee has grown from strength to strength and has been serving as a mouth-piece of Anuvrat movement by publishing various titles of the discourses and writings of the Acharyas. Presently it has been spreading and propagating the social welfare activities of Anuvrat just as de-addiction, no addiction and a war against female foeticide.
The Anuvrat movement was started with a view to make India aware of its spiritual independence and to arouse the keen desire among the people to reach that stage. The word anuvrat is made up of two words, anu and vrat. Anu means the smallest, as anu is the smallest particle of every matter and the word vrat means vow. As such, anuvrat means small vrats. The sole objective of anuvrat is to inspire man to take to the path of restraint by establishing moral values in the society. All the rules of anuvrat have been based on the five formulae of non-violence, truth, non-stealth, celibacy and non-accumulation. With the passage of time, the anuvrats have been categorized for people of all walks of life, just as workers, students, teachers etc., The Anuvrat Movement, launched on the Second March, 1949, has been initiated with the express purpose of changing human perspective and the criteria of judging human achievements. Anuvrat seeks to see every one of us voluntarily achieving a certain degree of moral evolution. The movement seeks to create an environment to impel the people to generate in themselves a moral and spiritual feeling and thereby subjugate the urge to tread on others’ rights. Anuvrat movement has created a conducive atmosphere for an ideological revolution with regard to moral values. Today the moral sense of the people of India has been reawakened. The Anuvrat principles are in conformity with the best and basic principles of all religions and therefore do not bear the label or the stamp of any religion. It is a matter of immense pleasure that the Movement has addressed itself to all communities and religions, eschewing sectarianism of all brands. The specialty of the movement is that it gives importance to gradual development. Thus Anuvrat Movement became the prelude to the character formation and its refinement. It requires strict adherence to the principles of good life. Anuvrat is the philosophy of change. Its sole purpose is to enable man to introspect, understand his own nature and to make efforts to transform it. Anuvrat seeks to see every one of us voluntarily achieving a certain degree of moral evolution. The movement seeks to create an environment to impel the people to generate in themselves a moral and spiritual feeling and thereby subjugate the urge to tread on others’ rights. The movement aims at ushering in an era of self-awakening, which provided an antithesis of the Atomic Age.
Realizing the inherent potential danger in store for the nation and beset with moral deprivation, Acharya Shri Tulsi, the Ninth Chief of Jain ShwetamberTerapanth Jain Sangh had propagated the gospel of humaneness, i.e., nonviolence, brotherhood and Anuvrat. He was drawn to his mission in life at the age of eleven when he was initiated into asceticism. At the age of 21, he was appointed as Acharya, the Supreme Head, by his predecessor. He embarked upon the task of educating the saints of both sexes of the order which enabled them to command an honourable and commendable place in the religion. He was a philosopher, writer, poet, singer, powerful orator, spiritual saint and a great social reformer. He fought for the upliftment of women. He was an erudite scholar and a polyglot enjoying a good command over Prakrit, Sanskrit, Hindi and Rajasthani. He earned a great distinction and glory for having undertaken the Herculean task of research and published critical editions of all the 32 Jain Canonical Literature called the Agamas. ‘Jain Vishva Bharati’, a deemed university for studies, research and practical training in oriental studies, was his brain-child and is acclaimed all over the nation and abroad. He has authored more than fifty books in Sanskrit, Hindi and Rajasthani. He was the recipient of the “Indira Gandhi National Award” in 1992. The Tibetan Buddhist Research Institute, Sarnath conferred on him the degree of “Vakpati”(D. Litt.,) (Honouris Casua) in 1992. The RajasthanVidyapeeth conferred on him its highest title of “Bharati Jyoti” at the hands of His Excellency Giani Jail Singh, the then President of India. In the peak and glory of his stint as Acharya, he made an exemplary renunciation of his post and anointed Mahapragya as his successor. He passed away at the age of 83, on 23rd June1997 at Gangasahar. His glorious and noble mission has been carried on by his successors and the sadhus and sadhwis of his order. Achrya Tulsi, an itinerant on foot, covered the entire nation propagating the ideals of humanity and honesty, lived and breathed his last for the sake of moral and spiritual awakening in individual and society. His selfless service for the humanity as Acharya is embedded in golden letters in the history of the nation. He has been acclaimed as a National saint.
He was none other than Muni Nathmal, who was later christened as ‘Mahapragya’ by the Acharya himself. The story of Mahapragya’s ascendance to the pinnacle of the intellectual and spiritual development and his surpassing prowess in each and every field undertaken by him proved his prowess and innate capabilities.
Born in Tamkor, a tiny village in Rajasthan, on the 14th June, 1920 and baptized as Nathmal, he was initiated into sainthood by Acharya Kalugani, the eighth Acharya of Terapanth of Jainism. Nathmal then dedicated his whole being at the feet of his master. AcharyaKalugani entrusted this child to the utmost care of his young and talented disciple, Muni Tulsi. Under the able guidance of spirited Muni Tulsi, Nathmal’s intellectual prowess got accelerated and he memorized thousands of verses and sermons in Prakrit, Sanskrit, Rajasthani and Hindi. He took special interest in Jain Scriptures and studied them in depth. He was also an expert in giving long and extempore discourses in Sanskrit. He also studied history, Philosophy, logic and grammar that made his great knowledge strong and scholarly. Later on, he turned his attention towards modern Physics, Bio-sciences, Ayurved, Politics, Economics and Sociology. He also observed and studied the modern trends of Capitalism, Communism and Socialism. His speeches, lectures, discourses and writings became the talking point amongst all the people and his fame and popularity travelled far and wide.
Having been associated from the very beginning, Muni Nathmal made an illustrious and original contribution to the Movement which was philosophical in nature by emphasizing the utility of Anuvrat together with its relevance to the people in the present context. He had the proud privilege of accompanying Acharya Tulsi in the unique historical ‘Padayatra’ (Travel on foot) from Kachh in Gujarat to Kolkatta and from Punjab to Kanyakumari in the deep South. During the sojourn, he addressed thousands of public meetings wherein he deftly conveyed the extremely reassuring message of the unity and brotherhood of the mankind with nationalism.
On 12th November,1978 AcharyaTulsi aptly recognized the significant contribution of Muni Nathmal and conferred the qualitative epithet of ‘Mahapragya’. On 4th February 1979, his appellation ‘Mahapragya’ was converted into his new name and he was also made the ‘Yuvacharya’, the successor designate to Acharya Tulsi. In a mammoth public meeting on the 18th February,1994, Anuvrat Anushasta Tulsi proclaimed that Mahapragya would thenceforth have the title of ‘Acharya’ also and was formally consecrated as the Tenth Acharya or the Supreme head of the Terapanth religious order in a public function in Delhi.
AcharyaMahapragya undertook an intensive and in-depth study of the Jain scriptures, the ‘Agamas’. He made a practical study of the meditation processes and systematized them by providing a scientific basis. He found out and practiced ‘prekshadhyan’. This made many intellectual commentators justifiably call him the ’Columbus of Jain Meditation’.
AcharyaMahapragya was both a thinker and a genius. His horizons are all-pervasive. He pondered over the problems of modern education and observed that mere literacy or theoretical knowledge did not develop the total personality of an individual. He had conceived and formulated a comprehensive syllabus coupled with practical training courses ensuring a proper and balanced development. It was given the nomenclature of ‘JeevanVigyan’ or ‘Science of living’.
The brightest star in the sky of spirituality and the founder of Prekshadhyan and JeevanVigyan departed for the heavenly abode at Sardarshahar in Rajasthan at 14.55 hours on the 9th May, 2010.
AcharyaMahapragya was succeeded by his Acharya designate (Yuvacharya) Shri Mahashraman. He assumed office as the Eleventh Acharya of Terapanth on the 22ndMay, 2010 at Sardarshahar. He pledged to render spiritual guidance and nourishment to the Samaj as also to serve the humanity and mankind to the best of his abilities.
He is quite handsome with a well-built physique, a broad forehead, brilliance radiating face with a peaceful look. His appearance depicts his humility and modesty. His lustrous eyes say whatever he wants to convey without himself telling them. His looks and postures foretell his warm feelings and noble character. He was born to Shri.Jhamarmul and Smt. Nema Devi in a fertile village called Sardarshahar in Rajasthan on the 13th May,1962. It is sheer coincidence that the same boy named Mohan was initiated into sainthood at the same village when he was Twelve in the same month, May. He was then called Muni Mudit. His admirable qualities of head and heart endeared him to one and all. His discourses have been very simple, lucid and down-to-earth. Common people can easily understand the messages given by him. His oratory depicted his skill in expressing himself and stirring people’s emotions. This made him popular and he became a prolific speaker. Thus he endeared himself to one and all. His desires, resolutions, goals and efforts gave him an incredible success and achievement in the path chosen by him..
Muni Mudit was forging ahead in the saintly path by being extremely kind, patient and generous. In due course,he was conferredwith the epithet of ‘Mahashraman’, meaning a great muni. He gradually ascended the ladder and got the status of ‘Yuvacharya’ or the successor- designate.
When AcharyaMahapragya reached his heavenly abode, Mahashraman duly succeeded him and was consecrated as the Eleventh Acharya of Terapanth in a formal function. He shows unabated interest in the patent pursuits of Anuvrat, Prekshadhyan, JeevanVigyan and is working constantly to take them to one and all for the welfare of the public. His expertise in solving social, economic and national problems is indeed laudable. His sweet temper and affability have earned a lot of respect, regard and goodwill for him. His hard working nature reminds us of Gurudev Tulsi, while his earnestness and thoughtfulness are similar to those of Acharya Mahapragya. His brevity in summing up and discussing the various issues are appreciated by everybody. His pose of blessing his audience with a raised hand makes them bow down in rapt attention. He has been undertaking his religious sojourn and exhorting people to follow a virtuous and disciplined way of life. He is following the footsteps of his predecessor and has embarked on an ‘AhinsaYatra’ covering Nepal also. There is no doubt that during his stewardship the Terapanth and its various social missionary activities will scale and reach new heights and revive the past glory of our nation.