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Sallekhanā by Acharya Shantisagar

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Acharya Shanti Sagar Ji Maharaj was the greatest Digambara Jain saint of the modern India. He was the first Digambara saint to visit North India after many centuries.

‘Charitra Chakravarti Shanti Sagar Ji Maharaj, embraced the historic ‘Sallekhana’ in Kunthalgiri (Hyderabad) on August 14,1955 giving the position of Achharya to his chief disciple, 108 Shri Veer Sagar Ji Maharaj, on August 24 and a written announcement to the effect was sent to Jaipur (where Muni Veer Sagar Ji was stationed)

Renouncing meals gradually, step by step, he finally gave it up altogether except water on 14* August, and on 4* September, taking water for the last time, renounced it as well forever. He delivered his immortal divine message for 22 minutes for public welfare on 26* day of his ‘ Yam Sallekhana ’ by displaying the strength of self. He had always been attempting to remain alert and cautious in “Aatma-Sadhana” (strive for the Self).

Acharya Shri assumed the ‘Ingnimaran Sanyas' and told the people that he had no expectation from any one after that. Acharya Shri took only water for twelve days during the entire period of 36 days of 'Sallekhana'. Finally, by abandoning complete attachment with the body, this Mortifier-king courted great departure (death) on September 18, 1955 at 6.50 A.M., the astrologically auspicious moment, i.e.‘Amrit Siddhiyog’, accordingly Sunday, the sacred day of Bhadrapad Shukla. He breathed his last with the repetition of ‘Om namah Siddhebhyah' (Obeisance to liberated souls). Acharya Shri, through his arduous penance and following the daily routine of the Muni described in religious texts of Jain scrip­tures, very effectively diffused Jain preaching by reviving “Jain- Shraman” culture.

He had adopted the twelve years duration ‘Sallekhana ’ vow in Gajpantha, a place of Jain pilgrimage, in 1950.

He carried out an illustrious work of making it available- for-all and giving a new direction to the continued trend of Digambar Jain Saints in the 20th Century by living it appropriately in practice in the present era according to the scriptures. Great philosopher and the then President of India, Dr.S.Radha Krishnan expressed his emotions, “Acharya Shanti Sagar ji is the symbol of the soul of India and such persons are intangible form of the soul of our country”. This ascetic, who took tireless efforts for the “Aatma- Sadhana ” and for the amelioration of the society, shall forever remain unforgettable.

Last discourse by Acharya Shantisagar ji

The eleven Angas and fourteen purva scriptures were an ocean of philosophy. There are no Sruta kevalis to expound the same. I am too insignificant to do it. Those who adopt the way of life preached by the Jina would attain happiness. Even he who repeats the word Om would gain liberation. Everybody says that life and matter are different but very few have the faith in that principle. The characteristics of both are different. Our task is to strive for attainment of perfect happiness for our soul, but our karmas have worked havoc with our soul. The mohanlya karma has created such veil of infatuation that we have all forgotten the Reality. The darsana-mohaniya karma has affected the very fundamentals of our faith. So also about our conduct. What is it that we can do? We should try to destroy the destructive karmas in order to regain our Right Faith and Restraint. Since times immemorial, the atma has been suffering births and deaths. Kundkund acharya has given a clear exposition of all these points in his great books : Samayasara, Niyamasar, Pravacanasar, Pancastiksya and the eight Pahudas. But who has the Faith in these scriptures ? If any person desires to elevate his own soul from the samsara, he ought to develop his Faith and find out how he could realize happiness. We can destroy our darshanavaraniya and mohanlya karmas by atma-cintana- self-contemplation. Charity and worship bring in only merit (punya). Even pilgrimages bring in only merit. But to acquire Keval Jnana (Perfect Knowledge), we must cultivate the science of contemplation and practise it as long as it is possible every day. You cannot destroy your karmas without Right Faith and Right Knowledge. Cultivate control of your body, mind and speech. Try to attain the state of a muni. You can aspire for salvation by contemplation and destruction of all the karmas, that is the word of Jina. In sum, compassion is the basis of religion; Ahimsa and Truth form the foundation of Jainism. We speak of all this but few of us practise the principles in actual life. We must translate these principles into action. Therein lies our salvation.