The Pontiff With Phenomenal Icon

Swastisri Charukeerthi Panditacharyavarya Mahaswamiji, the pontiff of the Jain Math, Moodabidri was a renowned personality in the annal of Jaina religion and an exponent in Jain logic and discourses. Moodabidri is situated about 35 Kms to the north east of Mangalore and is considered as the Jaina Kashi of the south. It is here that two rare manuscripts ‘Dhavala’ and ‘Jayadhavala’ the great Jaina texts are preserved. He was consecrated to the altar on 30th April 1939. Since then he proved his mettle as a great exponent of Jaina literature and its concepts. The Swamiji enriched the image of the math to high heights due to his excellent erudition and rare personality. His was an unequalled scholarship.

He hailed from a family well known for it religious and literary contribution. It glittered with sense of generosity and humility. Late Sri Parshwankeerthi Swamiji also belonged tot his family. He was assigned himself with ‘Kshullak Diksha’. Sri Devapal Shetty and Smt Sankamma of Nagareshwara family were the parents of Sri Panditacharya. It is said that the Nagareshwara family was the abode of the famous poet Ratnakaravarni. The Swamiji was popularly known as Jnanayogi considering his meritorious service to the enrichment of knowledge in Jainism. He inherited the great qualities of conduct and perseverance. He was born on 3rd August 1939. He was named Dharmaraja. He completed his schooling at the Jain High School, Moodabidri. He derived unique interest in adyathma philosophy by his parents. He proceeded towards North India to pursue his higher studies. He studied in Madhya Pradesh, Varanasi, Jaipur, Sagar and Monera Universities with high esteem. He obtained his M.A. in Sanskrit and also in Hindi. He attained the status of Sahitya Shastri, Siddantha Shastri and Upadhya from the Institute of Jaina Studies. Furthermore he obtained doctorate (PhD) in Jaina philosophy accomplished with deep study and achievement. He was a man with inherent interest, determination and untiring efforts. He was one of the architects of the Moodabidri Jain math and reformed and strived for its glory. He took lead in rennovating the Jain temples in Moodabidri and around. He founded Smt Ramarani Shodha Samsthana for protecting the old manuscripts (palm leaves). New guest houses were built for the visiting pilgrims in Moodabidri during his time.

Spread of Jainism Abroad
He gave a clarion call for the spread of Jainism through out the length and breadth of the globe. His message of peace and ahimsa drew attention of all the people. His continuous study acquiring knowledge made him a perfect man. He spread the message of Lord Mahavira calling for the protection of humanity. He meant that the revival of the religion is highly essential for its survival. He used to tour the world at least once or twice a year with the intention of propagating the message of the tirthankaras. He was known for his cleverliness and intelligence. He imbibed the spirit of oneness and contentful with the message of peace. He visited many countries in the world and to mention a few-

1. He participated as a representative of Jainism and preached peace in the Third World Conference for Religion and Peace from 29th August to 7th September 1979 in America.

2. He attended the world conference on Vegetarianism held in Honover Edwins Scarf House in West Germany from 22nd to 25th July 1982.

3. He presided over the World Conference of Jaina Awareness held in Toronto – Ontorio from 1st of July to 14th July, 1989.

4. He was felicitated and conferred with the title of “Great Religious Saint” by the Mayor of Clevland, Ohio city on 17th July 1989.

4. He was given a public felicitation in Chicago on 2nd of August 1989.

6. He was honoured with the citation presented by the people in New York city on 7th August 1989 in a gorgeous celebration.

7. He delivered an eloquent speech on all religions in the cities such as Georgia, Orlando and Florida on 9th of August 1989.

8. He was honoured by the Kannada Association of Pennsylvania and Philadelphia in a public function held from 16th to 18th of August 1989.

9. He actively participated in the installation of the idol of a Jain tirthankara in Washington on 21st August 1989 in a religious meet.

10. He delivered speeches on Panchanuvratha and Ankenthavada in New York and in the important places of Canada from 31st of July 1990.

11. He was presented with a citation by the Jaina Society of Gerland and Florida on the 14th of October 1990.

12. He was the chief delegate of world awareness conference held in Sanfrancisco on 6th March 1991.

13. He also participated in the All Religious Conference held in Sanfrancisco on 24th June 1991. He stressed the historical aspects of non-violence.

14. He hoisted the historical religious flag of Jainism in accordance with the request by the devotees in Japan, Singapore, Thailand, Malaysia and Hong Kong from 28th June 1991.

15. He preached the structure of Jainism, clemency for animals and philosophy with utmost importance in the World Jaina Conference held at Pittsburg from 2nd to 4th April 1993.

16. He declared the message of Jaina adyathmik philosophy emanating from Bhagawan Adinatha to Bhagawan Mahavira in Tokyo on 7th August 1994.

17. He also delivered a lecture on the role of non-violence, vegetarianism and world peace in Chicago on 21st June 1995.

18. He was the sole Indian representative of Jainism who participated in the world conference on vegetarianism and Jain principles held in Malaysia on 2nd of November 1995.

19. He delivered an impressive and impromptus lecture on Jainism and Humanity in Frankfurt (West Germany) and Lisbon (Portugal) on 19th of July 1996.

20. He visited New York at the behest of the devotees to give a discourse on the cream of religious principles in Jainism on 4th of May 1997.

21. He undertook a long tour to Malaysia, Japan and America from 26th of June 1997 & spread Shramana Culture.

He was associated with many organisations as convener and patron, those include the various religious abodes and publications. He also served term as the member of the senate at the Mangalore University. He was the president of Jaina organisations of Moodabidri and also South Canara (Mangalore). He was the honorary chairman of the committees such as Sri Vardhamana Prashasti Peetha and Sri Ratnakaravarni Smruthi Vedike. He was closely associated with All India Jain Mission, New Delhi; Sri Syadvadha Mahavidyalaya, New Delhi and Kunda Kunda Vidyapeetha, New Delhi.He was also the chairman of Sri Devakumar Jaina Oriental Research Institute, Sri Jaina Siddantha Bhavana and also Sri NKCK Jain gallery of Art and Culture, Arrah, Bihar. He was the chief editor and patron of ‘Vivekabyudhaya’ published by the math.

Bhattarakha Jnanayogi Swasti Sri Charukeerthi Panditacharyavarya Swamiji attained samadhi on 15th of January 1998 leaving behind a great heritage of Jaina literature and religion to the present world.

Post Author: Parshwanath H A