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Acharya Mahapragya – A Living Legend

Muni Prashant Kumar
Muni Lokprakash ‘Lokesh’


Rendered into English by Jainarayan R. Gaur

Edited by Carla Geerdes



Acharya Mahapragya is not merely a person but also a purpose, not just only a being but also a belief. He is that perception which cannot be bound by time or territory. Thoughts churned out from the depths of one’s meditation are lasting and effective.

He is not a reservoir of wisdom but its very fountain-source. The former may not always have fresh and clean water, which the later i.e. the source would always possess. Such a source alone has the capacity to quench the thirst of innumerable persons. Paradoxically, Acharya Mahapragya has acquired the power of not only quenching but also creating such thirst in the people.

This rare confluence of power, peace and dedication, has, after diving deep into the depths of spirituality, supplied us with many an invaluable jewel. He has served as a beacon not only to the ‘Terapanth’ Jain sect,  but to the human mind engulfed in countless problems.

His experiments of ‘Prekshadhyan’ – perceptive meditation – and ‘Jeevan Vigyan’ – science of living – have succeeded in bringing people of different religions and sects on one platform and to integrate the West with the East.

An effort has been made to present this multi-dimensional practitioner of non-violence and non-absolutism.


Acharya Mahapragya – A Living Legend

Over the centuries, philosophers and intellectuals have appeared on this planet who have influenced humanity and whose thoughts have continued to guide and stimulate generations after generations and even change the course of social progress. In the field of science, the contribution of Newton, Faraday or Einstein can never be forgotten. The names of Freud, Bergson and Jung in the field of psychology or Marx in socialism would ever remain shining.

Mahavir, Buddha, Christ, Shankaracharya and many others have moulded the lives of countless followers of the spiritual path, but in the current times, Acharya Tulsi has become a household name for propagating gospel of humanness – non-violence, brotherhood and ‘Anuvrat’. Tulsi having renounced voluntarily and passed on the mantle during his own life time to his chief disciple and now the Acharya, Mahapragya, a pragmatic thinker, preceptor and a blender of spirituality and science.

The entirely new precepts, principles and perceptions of Acharya Mahapragya have enlightened the intellectuals, he has also carved a permanent place as a philosopher-saint in the hearts of the masses by his concrete proposals to improve the quality of life and living. The new vistas opened by him in the field of spirituality would serve as a lighthouse to the tossing mahayana – ship – of mankind for centuries to come.

In the last century, it was Swami Vivekananda who had emphasised the harmonious synthesis of science and spirituality for the first time, which some years later was reinforced by Mahatma Gandhi and Vinoba. Acharya Mahapragya has further crystallised this thought through his writings in which both spirituality and science have been projected as mutually complementary. His stand that far from destroying religion, science has in fact revived it, is an entirely new concept in religion.

The credibility of this proposition was further confirmed by him with practical tips in the art of living. ‘Prekshadhyan’ – perceptive meditation – is one such dimension of this concept. By looking inwards and with detachment, spirituality no more remains either dry or a supernatural subject but becomes an attractive proposition for even a common man.

The various scientific methods of ‘Prekshadhyan’ not only projected the ‘Dharma’ in an entirely new perspective but it also became an integral part of one’s daily life. This was nothing less than a miracle in the religious world and a new perception gained ground that religion without science is in fact lame and cannot gain necessary confidence of the people.

But science without religion is also blind. This was also propounded by Einstein some years back. It cannot get a meaningful spiritual awareness and, without the latter, could also be used for destruction, annihilation and perverting perceptions.

In the sublime proximity to Gurudev Tulsi, Acharya Mahapragya has invented the ‘Prekshadhyan’ procedure for the spiritual and moral development of the individual. By adopting this, tens of thousands of people have liberated themselves from their mental tensions and have commenced their lives’ journey on an entirely new path.

The scientific process of Prekshadhyan has proved unique for the wholesome development of an individual’s inner consciousness and his entire personality. It is said that the hardened aptitudes or attitudes of a grown up man, cannot be changed. There is a saying that neem (umbrella) tree –whose leaves and fruits are bitter in taste – leaves cannot be sweetened, even if the tree is irrigated with butter and honey.

The Prekshadhyan procedure has demolished this time-tested theory. On the basis of many experiments and surveys, it can now be conclusively stated that by this procedure, not only significant changes occur in the individual physically but his mental and emotional attitudes and aptitudes are also transformed and his past habits changed.

On the direction of his spiritual mentor Ganadhipati Tulsi, the Acharya undertook an intensive study of the Jain ‘Agam’ scriptures and through an in-depth study of meditation processes, he also systematised them by providing a scientific basis. Before presenting Prekshadhyan procedure to the people in an organised manner, Mahapragya subjected himself to many a trial and tribulation of meditation process.

As a recluse for months together and even in the jungles, he lost himself into sustained reflections whereby his inner powers were awakened. With his reaching the unfathomable depths of meditation, many mysteries, hitherto unknown, began to unfold themselves before him.

Ganadhipati Tulsi then inspired and encouraged him in this unique experiment and on 3rd March 1977, when Mahapragya undertook one such exercise of long seclusion, the former wrote to the latter “This experiment is not yours alone but mine also as also of the Sangh (Sect). The whole Sangh will be benefited by it.”

By diving deep into the depths of contemplation, Mahapragya has supplied us with many a jewel. ‘Chaitanya Kendra Preksha’ – perception of psychic centres – and ‘Leshyadhyan’ – perception of psychic colours – procedures of Prekshadhyan are the fruits of innate vision.

Albert Einstein was once asked how he invented the Theory of Relativity. His spontaneous reply was that it had just happened to him and he could not say how it happened. It is the same story with Mahapragya.

He thinks, ponders and deliberates upon a particular subject, issue or problem and when he cannot find a solution, leaves that problem alone and then, suddenly during his morning meditation, a crystal clear solution, evading him till now, springs up before him. This is possible only when one transcends the realm of mind or intellect and enters the realm of intuition which is an innate faculty of ones own consciousness or rather psyche.

During the initial training course camps, many renowned intellectuals, thinkers and social workers also participated and as to date, thousands and thousands of persons of all castes and creeds, sects, classes or areas have gained from Prekshadhyan. Lord Mahavir and thereafter some Jain saints had also practised it, but this mode of contemplation gradually disappeared and the credit of reviving goes to Acharya Mahapragya and thus many intellectual commentators justifiably call him the ‘Columbus of Jain Meditation’. 

The Acharya is both a thinker and a genius and his horizons are all-pervasive. He is deeply concerned with day-to-day life, as also social, national and international problems and thinks aloud about all of them. Significantly, he not only presents the problems but also simultaneously provides their solution. He first gives deep and sustained thinking about the possible remedies before placing them before the people.

About the problems of modern education, it appeared to him that mere literacy or even knowledge does not necessarily develop the individual’s total personality. With intellectual development through higher education, a person does not automatically develop morally, emotionally and spiritually:

    ‘Many educated persons are found involved in crime, violence or other immoral activities. In fact, in the elaborately preplanned economic scams or treason, it is the educated persons who are mostly involved.

    In the absence of proper emotional development, such reprehensible activities are only natural because in a person devoid of tender feelings like love, compassion, tolerance, patience, contentment, altruism, etc., it is only futile to expect any moral development or humane behaviour or conduct. It would therefore not be surprising if such a person then indulges in violence, crime or other unethical activities or even suicide.’

Today’s education has therefore failed to fulfil the expectation society has from it. Its aim should be to build up the human being but despite manifold increase in the number of higher education institutions like colleges, universities etc., the criminal and beastly tendencies of man are on increase.

In this context, Acharya Mahapragya has formulated the concept of ‘Jeevan Vigyan’ – science of living – as a panacea for this universal problem. Both Ganadhipati Tulsi and Acharya Mahapragya have stated that the modern education cannot be dubbed as entirely faulty because it has produced such innumerable doctors, engineers, lawyers, judges, professors, bureaucrats and administrators who have excelled in their respective fields.

Therefore, today’s education, though otherwise useful, is in fact inadequate. It equips the individual to earn his livelihood but not in the art of living. In today’s education, while there are ample avenues for physical and intellectual development, it does not necessarily provide for mental and emotional development. There is no technique or mode in the input of the current educational system which may control and mitigate human perversions like cruelty, jealousy, selfishness, vengeance, fear, hate or lust – it does not provide any specific training programmes for the students to control their anger, rashness or other impulses detrimental to his proper development. In order to achieve this, Ganadhipati and Acharya, in their concept of the ‘Science of Living’ made specific proposition of a comprehensive syllabi and training courses for students and many scientific tests were formulated whereby the internal transformation gradually occurring in a student could also be monitored.

It is now a well accepted theory that the internal biochemicals affect our thoughts and behaviour. The endocrine hormones interact with the nervous system and many functions of the latter are thereby balanced and co-ordinated.

In extremely adverse circumstances, when tension aggravates, it puts additional, sometimes unbearable, pressure on the endocrine system thereby disrupting the existing balance between the sympathetic and the parasympathetic nervous system. In such a situation, the sympathetic nervous system gains the upper hand, which is the root cause of many negative emotions even in educated intelligent persons.

By the proper functioning of endocrine system, the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous system also remain unbalanced whereby a person can find a satisfactory solution of his inner problems and resist the onslaught of external pressures. The ‘Science of Living’ is a singular experiment in this direction.

The main objective of the ‘Science of Living’ is threefold:

      1. To build such a personality which could maintain in equilibrium its physical, mental, emotional and social health.

      2. To build such a new society which is free from violence, exploitation and immorality and

      3. to build such a new generation which has a spiritual-cum-scientific personality.

The training courses and practises enunciated by Mahapragya result in crucial bio-chemical and bio-electric changes ultimately transforming the practitioner. But, this procedure does not prelude the existing syllabi meant for intellectual development. The former, in fact, only supplements the latter.

About value-oriented education, the Acharya further says that mere preaching this procedure would not suffice and the practitioner must be made to go through various exercises and experiments and to periodically repeat them in order to kindle his desire to lead a value-oriented life. A mere command to any tree to supply sweet, succulent fruits would be meaningless, sow the proper seed first. As you sow, so shall be your reap, provided the seed is nurtured by proper air, manure and watering.

Besides being a thinker and a genius, Acharya Mahapragya is also an excellent writer and a poet. Admirers of his writings range from the common man to literary personalities, sociologists, journalists and political leaders. On wide-ranging subjects like Logic, History, Philosophy, Poetry, Grammar, Yoga, Spiritualism, Travelogue, Reminiscences and Biography, the Acharya has written more than a hundred books, many of which have also been translated into English, Gujarati, Tamil, Telugu, Kannada and Bangla languages, and also one or two in German and Japanese.

Despite being overloaded by serious thoughts, his literature has attracted even the common man. This is because he practises what he preaches and his perceptions, besides being original, are also crowned with concrete remedies proposed for various problems. His exceptional trait is that his intellectual excellence permeates the very grandeur of his actions.

He does not restrict his thoughts only to the thinking level but wants their consummation into actual conduct. Every individual is engulfed in some mental – either imaginary or circumstance-based – problem or the other, and he craves for some proper diagnosis and a possible cure. Acharya’s literature provides him precisely what he wants and thus his books which are a craze, have gone into many editions.

The renowned Bangla novelist, Late Vimal Mitra once said ‘I discover new truths from Mahapragya’s writings. When I read him, it appears while I write for the people, Mahapragya is writing for me. Alas! Only if I had read him during my initial formative years, the course of my own literature would have been entirely different.’

Atal Behari Vajpai, an eminent political leader says, ’I am a lover of Mahapragya’s literature.’

A renowned poet, late Ramdhari Singh Dinkar said, ‘Mahapragya is the modern Vivekanand. We never saw Vivekanand but only read and heard about him. But we do see him now in Mahapragya.’

Jainendra Kumar, a renowned writer and thinker, says, ‘Detached thinkers like Mahapragya are rare. His sweet temperament and deep thinking inspire me to sit with him for as long as possible.’

Mahapragya is gifted with that rare acumen which is free from any prejudice or preconceived notion and his tackling of a problem is always comprehensive. His all-pervasive assessment is clearly reflected in the ‘Jain Agam (classical) Literature’ edited and critically annotated by him. By this colossal work, he has facilitated the permanent preservation of many thousand years old canonical scriptures and has embellished them with a scientific outlook acceptable to the people.

This old literature is in Prakrit language and its commentaries are either available in Prakrit or Prakrit mixed with Sanskrit. Mahapragya first undertook their deep, sustained study and only thereafter commenced the gigantic Herculean work of editing them and through sheer talent and insight, provided their new meanings and interpretations.

Through strenuous work day and night for many years continuously, the original text of the thirty-two Agam scriptures was determined and their Hindi translation also completed. Detailed commentaries thereon made them more interesting and comprehensible to the people.

This awesome task carried out in accordance with the verbal renderings by Ganadhipati Tulsi was guided by an entirely non-sectarian and open mind and is therefore viewed with respect by the heads of other sects as well as intellectual and oriental scholars of the East and the West. This difficult work which otherwise would have cost huge amounts of rupees, was accomplished under the editorial direction of Mahapragya by the selfless and dedicated service of a team of talented male and female saints paying their homage to this sacred cause in the shape of their hard intellectual work.

Mahapragya also wrote a Sanskrit commentary – Bhashya – on Aacharang Sutra, the most oldest and most incomprehensible Jain scripture and thereby revived and re-established a very old tradition of elucidation of holy literature.

While meeting Mahapragya, one gets the thrill of meeting the ‘Spiritual India or the ‘Wonder that India was’ to borrow the words of Dr. A. L. Bashim. While reading him, one gets the sensation of flowing in a river, a river though which initially is a mere rivulet but as one goes along it swells into a big river spreading its bed encompassing a huge territory and occasionally hands over some sparkling pearls or some flowers of indescribable fragrance, which the reader wants to permanently preserve.

His language as also his style is endearing and creates an instant rapport with the reader and keeps him engrossed even in subjects otherwise deep, serious and dry. Besides being a philosopher-thinker lost in philosophy, he is also a sensitive poet. His verses both in Hindi and Sanskrit, reveal his subtle, delicate feelings.

In Sanskrit, he is also an expert impromptu or extempore poet and has demonstrated this rare skill in many gatherings of intellectuals and of general masses also. Poetry has in fact seeped into his entire life. As a poet, it is difficult to categorise him into a type. Is he a poet of torrential waves of ecstasy or renunciation, a singer of the nature’s beauty or its monstrosity or of the man in the clutches of machine, mechanisation or machinations, nobody can tell.

His wings as a poet are all-encompassing and reach territories hitherto unexplored. His sensitive dynamism is not confined to any specific area but reach and quench the thirst of even the distant deserts of man’s mind. Sambodhi, Ashruvina, Mukulam in Sanskrit and Rishabhayana in Hindi are some of the literary jewels contributed by him to the world of literature.

Sambodhi’ represents the soaring heights of his poetic capacities. The rhythmic conservation between Lord Mahavir and the prince-monk Megha Kumar, in fact, unties many a knot of life and philosophy. ‘Rishabhayana’ also gives a glimpse of his maturity as a poet. His poetry is illuminated by the divine light of life’s philosophy.

His narration of the life of Lord Mahavir reads like an engrossing novel. In his book ‘Shraman Mahavir’, he has woven the fabric of Prince Mahavir’s life who renunciated the luxuries of a palace and went away to the jungles for his penance and then this saint prince also went to the tribal areas, where the tribals harassed and harmed him. Mahapragya depicts Mahavir from the depth of his meditation and in such a way that he seems to come alive to the readers.

He is a blossomed rose of inner refinement whose fragrance pervades not only through his verses but also the spoken word. The crowds, which regularly throng around him, are enthralled and get peace in his presence as he is also in peace with himself.

Mahapragya’s favourite topic is mind. Majority of the man’s problems would be resolved with the resolution of problems of mind. Individuals usually get perturbed, even unbalanced, due to adverse circumstances. To them, Mahapragya’s advice is that instead of functioning like the slipping and flowing water, one’s mind should be solidified like ice and should remain so, as if kept in a refrigerator.

The dirt and dust falling on it, will then slip away and will not stick while in the water these are bound to assimilate and also pollute it. Similarly, all outside influences in the form of tension, unhappiness etc. seep only into a slippery, shifty mind but when the mind is stable, tensions etc. shy away without affecting it.

The story of Mahapragya’s ascendance to the pinnacle of spiritual and intellectual development commenced when he was just a child of ten years. Born on 14th June 1920 in Tamkor, a very small village in district Jhunjhunu, Rajasthan, and named as ‘Nathmal’, this child, on 29th January 1931 renunciated the family and worldly pleasures and started on the thorny path of asceticism.

He was taken as a disciple by Acharya Kalugani, the eighth Acharya of ‘Terapanth’ of Jainism and the child dedicated his whole being at the feet if his master. Acharya Kalugani then entrusted this child to the care of his young and talented disciple Muni Tulsi and by his simplicity and unaffectedness, the child instantaneously endeared himself to his new teacher.

With Muni Tulsi, the child’s intellectual development got accelerated and he memorised thousands of sermons and verses in Hindi, Sanskrit, Prakrit and Rajasthani and made an in-depth study of Jain scriptures.

A study of History, Philosophy, Logic, Grammar etc. made the foundation of his knowledge strong and secure. He also made an in-depth study of modern physics and bio-sciences, ayurved, the Indian system of medicine, politics, economics, and sociology with the modern trends of communism, socialism and capitalism and gradually became a leader of the senior saints of his order. His fame now travelled far and wide and his speeches and writings became the talking point amongst the people.

When Muni Tulsi ascended the Acharyahood, he started the ‘Anuvrat’ movement, in which Muni Nathmal was associated from the very beginning and by giving it a philosophical content, Muni Nathmal made an original contribution to the movement, not confined to any creed but covering the entire humanity, and he also emphasised Anuvrat’s usefulness and relevance for the people in the present context.

From Kacch in Gujarat to Calcutta and from Punjab to Kanyakumari, Mahapragya undertook the historical ‘Padyata’ – travel on foot – with the Anuvrat Anuhasta Tulsi. During these travels, he addressed thousands of public meetings and conveyed the message of unity and brotherhood. He was the centre of attraction and thousands of people used to throng to hear him.

He dispelled many myths about religion and its rites and rituals,

    ‘The religion which does not bring about a change in a man’s life, which does not impart peace to him, deserves to be thrown into the river Ganges rather than carried on as burden on one’s shoulders. Rituals or idol worship alone are not enough unless one’s conduct also gets transformed. Religion is not confined only to temples, mosques or churches, but extends to the man’s day-to-day living as well.’

According to him, in India, out of ninety people, only six to seven consider themselves to be non-followers of any religion, but the remaining eighty-three to eighty-four do profess themselves as religious. But are they indeed religious? Unless one is also righteous and honest, both to himself and to others, and leads a value-oriented life, one is not religious despite the proclamation to the contrary. For bringing about an ultimate transformation from within and modifying the whole life-style, Mahapragya’s Prekshadhyan course has been adopted, till date, by thousands of people.

On 12th November 1978, in view of his hallowed vision, intellect and genius, Acharya Tulsi endowed Muni Nathmal with the qualitative epithet of ‘Mahapragya’ and on 4th February 1979, his appellation ‘Mahapragya’ was converted into his new name and he was also made ‘Yuvacharya’, successor designate to the present Acharya, the second highest position after the Acharya himself. For this exceptional and sustained contribution to the cause of ‘Jain Yoga’ the epithet of ‘Jain Yoga Ke Punruddharak’ – Reviver or Resurrector of Jain Yoga – was also conferred to him.

In a mammoth public meeting on 18th February 1994, Anuvrat Anuhasta Tulsi declared that Mahapragya would now have the title of ‘Acharya’ also and that the former was renouncing this position forthwith. Subsequently, on 5th February 1995, Mahapragya was formally consecrated as the 10th Acharya – the supreme head – of Terapanth religious order in a big public meeting in Delhi. It is an unprecedented event of history, where a renowned, talented and competent Acharya suo-moto abdicated his position in his own lifetime and entrusted it to his successor. The implicit rapport between Ganadhipati and Acharya was astonishing.

Accumulation of knowledge and arrogance usually go together. But Mahapragya symbolises that fruit-laden tree which, due to the weight of his own fruits, is bowing down. His knowledge wears the crown of humility. Even after rising to the Acharyahood, his dedication and devotion to Ganadhipati Gurudev Tulsi, remained undiminished. Anybody could see, nay, feel the transparent sincerity and simplicity oozing from Mahapragya. The affection and confidence of Ganadhipati in Mahapragya was also beyond description. People doubt if there was such a unique team of master-disciple.

Tulsi and Mahapragya were two in form, one in spirit.

Acharya Mahapragya is fortunate in having taken over the reins of ‚Terapanth’ in the life time of his own preceptor. Due to his leadership of one of the most disciplined religious organisations, Mahapragya is now burdened with many responsibilities.

Further intensification of the movements of Anuvrat, Prekshadhyan and Jeevan Vigyan is his primary concern. A ‘Vikash Parishad’ – development council – has been constituted by Mahapragya to give further fillip to all these movements and underline their importance. The forum of Terapanth is now actively involved in propagating these movements for the renaissance of society.

The deep understanding of Acharya Mahapragya enables him to look beyond time. He can anticipate the needs and expectations of the coming area. Those who know him are aware that he is the creator of new perceptions. He is the blending artist of heart and wisdom on one hand and thought and action, on the other. In 1999, he was elected ‘Man of the year’ by the philosophical departments of two universities in England and in the USA.

The Jain community and the entire humanity can have tremendous hopes in this rare personality. May he live for more than a century and serve as a beacon for mankind.



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