by Vinod Doddanavar
Jain monk Munishri Tarunsagarji Maharaj attained Samadhi by performing Sallekhana (willful fasting unto death) at Delhi today morning. Known for his short but impactful discourses and quotes, his books named ‘Kadve Pravachan’ have been bestsellers for years. His most famous quote would be “I want to bring God out from the temples to the town squares” received lot of flak.
But what he actually meant was that common people, who worship Gods in the temples and then come out and indulge all sorts of vice, must remember God at their homes, shops, businesses, everywhere. He was the one who said that everyone can become God through good deeds. His departure brings back a deluge of memories of the impact that he has left, not just on Jains across India but on every person whose life he touched with his revolutionary words. No wonder then that he is called Krantikari and Rashtrasant. Jain munis follow a strict regime in their life, where they discard clothes, have food only once in a day that too standing, only as much as fills their cupped palms, sleep on thin bamboo mats and walk barefoot without halting at any place for more than four days except during Chaturmas (rainy season).
It is this strict discipline and austere life that is just part of the hardships that they endure in a mission to cleanse their soul through detachment. Tarunsagarji Maharaj brought about a revolution, especially among the Jain community.
He graciously accepted to conduct the Chaturmaas (4 months in the monsoons when Jain monks do not travel and stay at one place performing rituals and studying religious texts) at Belagavi in 2005. Those 4 months literally changed the lives of people in this part. His Sunday special pravachans and special discourses would be attended by thousands of people. Many would recall that it was the same year when Belagavi district faced torrential rains and subsequent flood. The Jain community was already running a community kitchen for thousands of people attending the chaturmaas discourses. Upon the request from the district administration, and under the directions of the Chauturmass Committee, Bharatesh Education Trust, Gomatesh and other institutions appealed to its students to bring food packets. Within a few hours, students brought in 20000 food packets and another 30000 were packed at the community kitchen and all these 50000 packets were airlifted to be dropped in flood-affected regions of Athani, Ugar, Ainpaur, etc. A score of people who benefitted from this timely help then went on to call up and thank for the assistance.
Another fond memory of his Belagavi stay was his appeal to the people to seek forgiveness during the Dashlakshan festival and the last day of Kshamavali. Many people simply stood up and sought pardon from the public. Another fond memory is that of his discourse at the MLIRC, which, he was perhaps the first Jain monk to address. At that time in 2005 when it was raining very heavily, the organizers were worried about the open air address in the rains. However, he was unfazed and as he set forth walking towards Shani mandir, miraculously, the rains stopped. In spite of an assurance from the Station Commandant that the jawans would be seated come rain or sunshine, it did not rain till he was done with his discourse. Tarunsagarji also administered a vow to the school students at the Gomatesh grounds that they shall not commit suicide and lead a good life.
I was fortunate to have been able to accompany him on his walk from Belgaum to Dharwad and from Hosdurg to Shravanbelagola, for a distance of almost 200 kms as he proceeded towards the holy town for the 2006 Mahamastakabhishek. His was a special presence at that year’s Mahamastakabhishek and still remains etched in devotees’ minds.
In his departure, we have lost a leading light who guided people towards moral fortitude. His words, books, and thoughts shall forever remain with us.
About the Author: Vinod Doddanavar is Member-Managing Committee, Bharatesh Education Trust