Acharya Hemachandra Suri was an Indian Jain scholar, poet, and polymath. He is credited with writing on grammar, doctrine, prosody, and contemporary history. He is noted as a prodigy by his contemporaries and was bestowed with the title Kalikal Sarvagya, meaning all-knowing of the Kali age.
Acharya Hemachandra Suri was born in Dhandhuka, Gujarat
about 100 km south west of Ahmadabad
. His father Chachadev and mother Pahini Devi named him Changdev. The Jain temple of Modhera Tirtha is located at his birthplace. At a very young age his parents initiated Chandradeva as an ascetic at a Jain temple. He took the name Somachandra. The boy was imparted training in religious discourses, doctrine, logic and grammar. At the age of 21 in 1110, he was ordained as an Acharya of the Shvetambar denomination of Jainism
. It was then that he was given the name Acharya Somchandra and was popularly known as Hemachandra.
Impact of Hemachandra
During the time of Hemachandra Gujarat was ruled by the Solanki Dynasty
. Under the reign of Siddharaj Jaysinh I, Hemachandra rose to prominence. He served as the advisor to his successor Kumarapala
in 1143-1173. During the reign of Kumarapala Gujarat became a reputed centre of culture. In the year 1121, Hemachandra was involved in the construction of the Jain temple at Taranga. The influence of the teachings of Hemachandra had a soothing impact on Kumarapala. As a result of this effect the Jain religious faith became the official religion of Gujarat. Even animal slaughter was banned.
Taking an approach of anekantavada, Acharya Hemachandra is said to have displayed a broad minded attitude and pleased the Kumarapala. Perceiving the rise and popularity of Hemachandra certain Brahmin
s grew jealous of him. They thus complained to the Emperor that Hemachandra was a very arrogant person who did not have any respect towards the Hindu Gods, and that he refused to bow down to Lord Shiva
. Upon hearing this, the Emperor called him to visit the temple of Lord Shiva. Hemachandra readily bowed before the idol of Shiva, but said that he is bowing down only to that God who has demolished the passions like attachment and hate which are the cause of corporeal life, whether he is Lord Brahma
, Lord Vishu
, or Jin. He ensured that he always remained true to the principles of Jainism like a Jain should bow down only to a passionless and detached God such as a Jin. This approach of Hemachandra pleased the Emperor who ultimately became an ardent devotee and follower of Hemachandra and a champion of Jainism.