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Acharya Shantisagarji Maharaj

 Shri ShantiSagar ji Maharaj

 Shri ShantiSagar ji Maharaj contributed very much to uphold, strengthen and establish the traditions of Digambar traditions.  He revived the character and some beliefs of Digambar Jain sect and that is why he is remembered and respected as the great saints of old age.

  He was born in 1871 AD at Belgul village is in Belgaum District of South India.. His mother's name was Shrimati Satyavati (Satyabhama) and father's name was Shri Bhimgonda. His name was kept as Satgonda.From the very childhood, he was reserved detached from homely affairs and took active part in religious celebrations and rituals. He used to go to temple with his mother everyday. Mother always advised him and taught good things. He was, thus, invested with all virtues from his childhood.

  Satgonda was married at the age of only nine years with a girl of six years of age but the girl died within six months of marriage. He was then pressed for second marriage but he clearly declined and observed complete, clear and holy celibacy for the whole of his life.

    Santisagarji

 He wanted to adopt Dixa at the age of 17 but he could not do so because his parents did not consent. Thus, he was totally detached with worldly lie right from his age of understanding.   He used to sit at the cloth-shop of his father but dealt with total honesty and maintaining absolutely truthful behavior with all. He was careful not to be at lapses of integrity at any stage. Even while working at the shop he kept his mind in the service of the Lord, his prayers, self-study, company of saints and high thoughts. Since he was intending to adopt Dixa, his parents allowed him to observe certain vows, rules and non-eating but directed that he should not leave the house until they were alive. He used to sit at the shop more time but continued to think of eternal element.

 At the age of 32, he went to the great pilgrimage of SamedShikharji.   His longing for pilgrimage was very deep. In the memory of this pilgrimage he took vows not to eat ghee and edible oil for the whole of his life. He, thus, started his steps on the way of future mendicant ship. Return from pilgrimage he took a vow of only one time dining in a day. is father also took water and meals only for once in a day for 16 years. He accepted meditation-death and left the mortal body while muttering the name of Lord Arihant.   Satgonda was of 37 at this time.His mother also passed away after three years by adopting meditation

  After this he stayed in house for some years and prepared himself for permanent Dixa. When Digambar Mooniraj Shri Devapa Swamy (Devendra Kirtiji Maharaj) came to Uttoor Village, Satgonda requested before him for Dixa.

 The learned saint explained him that it was a difficult path to be Nirgranth Dixa-holde. and by sincere adoption of this Dixa, there is no fear for the soul to turn back to worldly affairs. Then after, as per the advice and guidance of Gurudev Devapa Swamy, Shri Satgonda took dixa in 1915 AD at the age of 43 in Uttoor village. He left everything after keeping only two clothes to wear and on begging bowl to ask for alms and to eat. He accepted the position of a minor mendicant. Satgonda was now free from the attachments of house and family. He was now worthless man named ShantiSagar.

  He kept away his attachments with the region of Bhoj Bhoomi and accepted the whole earth as his own nature place. He now started moving on earth seeking eternal freedom for him and for others. He suffered several large and minor troubles for long time and then he was steady in the quite sea of peace. He, on his way of moving from place to place came to the mountain Girnar that was holy with the footprints of Tirthankar Neminath. In this Holy Land Shri ShantiSagarji Maharaj adopted Elak Dixa as he was very much increased in his feelings of non-attachment

  Once moving in routine course, Maharaj came over to Parnal village where the celebrations of Panch Kalyan Pratishtha Mahotsava of Lord Jinendra-a big religious rite) were going on Digambar mendicant Shri Devendra Kirti Maharaj was also there. Shri ShantiSagarji Maharaj requested for Nirgranth Dixa-Possession less mendicantship by placing his head on his feet. The great teacher mendicant Devendra Kirti Maharaj explained him that this was as painful as walking on the edge of a sword, but ShantiSagarji Maharaj said that he had sufficient power of restraint, celibacy, sympathy, tolerance and truth and therefore, Devendra Kirti Maharaj invested him with the title of Mooni ShantiSagar by granting him higher stage of Dixa in the presence of thousands of followers and disciples on the holy day of Dixa-Kalyanak of Panch Kalyan Pratishtha Mahotsava, Maharaj ShantiSagar was of the age of 45 at this time.

Award of Charitra Chakravarti

 While maintaining his vows very strictly, he moved towards the south and expanded religion at all places through which he passed. He advised people to shun evil practices. By time, he became famous. He granted Dixa and vows to several Shravaks (Jain family-holders). In 1834, he regularly established Shraman Sangh at the time of Mooni Dixa of Shri Nemisagarji. The Jain community gave him the title of Acharya at his age of 52; and after 26 years in 1951 at the holy celebrations of Panch Kalyanak Pratishtha Mahotsava at Gajpantha in Maharashtra, Acharya Shri ShantiSagarji was given further award of Charitra Chakravarti.

 In 1928, Acharya Shri Shantisagar ji started for the pilgrimage of SamedShikhar along with his disciples and followers. This was the first occasion after many centuries that a large group of possession less mendicants was moving in north India and there was a sharp wave of religious fervor in this region. He was honored at all places and Panch. Kalyanak Celebrations were also held at SamedShikhar. Lacs of devotees arrived there for this celebration from the whole of India. Acharya Shri walked about 35,000 miles in seven years and lacs of devotees had taken advantage of his spiritual knowledge.Maharaj Shri had cleared the way of Mooni-Vihar (movement of mendicants). The number of Acharyas, Moonis, small persons, women and celibates who had taken Dixa at the hands of AcharyaShri was about 3 to 400.

  Once AcharyaShri came to know that a big volume of religious teachings collected from the preaching heard from time to time and completed by Swamy BhootBali was written an one thousand years old leaves and trees. It was then very old and was about to be destroyed by insects. He felt importance of preserving it and hence he proposed to get the whole book re-written on copper sheets so that it can remain totally secured for thousands of years. He requested the rich Jains to bear the costs and expenses for this task. Thus,Acharya Shri ShantiSagarji got these Agam books re-written on copper sheets and this was his most important work of his life. It will be noted by golden writings in the history of Shrutoddhar of invaluable books of Jainism i.e.. Re-writing of books, which were written, on leaves of trees by hearing the preaching of Jain saints & mendicants. Acharya had to face many difficulties in his life and he faced all the adverse circumstances with fearlessness, patience and tolerance.He has, thus, established his highest character and we are confirmed of his greatness. AcharyaShri was famous as charitra-chakravarti only because of his achievements and accomplishments for the up-life of Jainism.

  Once Acharya Shri was performing Samayik (religious rite) in a cave. At this time, thousands and crores of red ants came up on his body and began to suck his blood by severely painful biting. AcharyaShri did not move for about two hours and went on suffering this pain. Afterwards, some Shravakas saw this and they removed the ants by throwing sugar nearby. Maharaj Shri opened his lips only after all the ants were gone away from him.

  AcharyaShri was performing noon-Samayik in the cave named Kagnoli. At this time a dangerous black snake came over his body and wrapped him. The snake was for more than 20 minutes in this position pressing the body of Acharyaji.Acharyaji, however, maintained Mauna- (non-speaking) and meditation. There have been many such instances in the life of Acharyaji wherein he has been proved to be victorious over rigorous physical pains and mental worries.

  AcharyaShri had created deep impressions on common people by religious preaching and restrained life. Rulers of Sangli, Faltan, Kolhapur, Pratapgadh, Idar, Dholpur and other states used to come to see him. Even several European officers were also attracted towards Acharyaji. His preaching were highly philosophical; his thinking was of the highest level. He considered people of all religious equally. His disciples had also created very good impressions on the people.

  Acharya Shri ShantiSagarji adopted ultimate vow of Yam-Sannllekhana fast unto death at the closing years of his life. His welcome death was as good as putting up a golden pot on the top of temples. He had adopted 12 year vow of Sannllekhana in the presence of Lord Jinendra in the Gajpantha region and he had stopped taking food since then.

  When his eye sight began to weaken in 1955 AD, he thought that it was then different for him to observe several vows like kindness to animals and several rules of daily routine life.He had, therefore, started preparations to adopt Sannllekhana Vow-fast unto death. In the first eight days, he took only two bits of food everyday. Then after he took only juice from black grapes for another eight days and after that he used to take water only. He took water at an interval of four days and sometimes after five and six days. This continued for about two months. When he was absolutely weak and unable even to stand without help from someone, he adopted Yama-Sannllekhana and stopped taking water till the end of his life. He did not take services from others even in his total weakness and continued to be in meditation of soul-salvation and muttering religion phrases and hymns.

 In these days he was at Kunthalgiri holy place in Sangli District of Maharashtra. More than one lac of people took his Darshan within two months. People considered them to have been purified with his Darshan and held that their lives were fulfilled. Acharya Shri ShantiSagarji Maharaj breathed his last.It was September 18, 1955 AD. He had touched Jinendra Murti with his hand just before five minutes of his passing away and had moved his head towards his feet. He was muttering "Namah Siddhebhya: -"- respects to the Absolute when he breathed last.

 Acharya Shri ShantiSagarji Maharaj was an ideal digambar jain saint who observed rigorous vows and restrained life with total celibacy for about forty years. He had won over his senses and had captured anger, greed, attachments, sensuality, pride desires with six enemies. His life was a lamppost for all mendicants, disciples and followers. He re-incarnated the Digambar traditions.

 

                                                                                                                                                                      

 

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