(Last Updated on : 26/04/2012)
Shrimad Rajachandra also known as Raychandbhai Ravajibhai Mehta was a prominent Jain philosopher. He had attempted to point to the truth of Jainism
on the basis of direct individual experience. He was born in the small Gujarati port of Vavania in a household which was partly Jain from his mother's side and partly Vaishnava Hindu. Shrimad Rajachandra was thus also influenced by Hinduism
. His writings had a touch of Hinduism and he also talked about God in the vocabulary of Vaishnava theism. He was intellectually and spiritually a gifted child. By the age of sixteen he had already read the Jain and other religious literatures. He had also written a variety of writings before he was twenty that reflected his familiarity with the technicalities of Jain doctrine.
Shrimad Rajachandra was particularly influenced by the Digambara
texts, especially those of Kundakunda
's writings that described about the about the true nature of the soul. He vehemently criticized sectarianism and the rites in the extant brand of Jainism. However, he accepted the strength of image-worship as an aid to divine advancement. The main part of Rajachandra's writings includes about eight hundred letters throughout his life. This displays his divine growth.
Life of Shrimad Rajachandra
Shrimad Rajachandra at the age of twenty made his claims as a spiritual leader. In the year 1890 he attained what he held to be a state of realization. Rajachandra summarized his interpretation of Jainism in his 'Attainment of the Soul' (Atmasiddhi), a short verse treatise that he wrote in the course of one night in 1896.
According to the devotees of Shrimad Rajachandra, his divine climax had taken place on a hill outside Idar, a small town in north Gujarat
. There he practiced intense austerities and also preached seven Swetarnbara
monks who had become his followers. One of his followers had also broken his ascetic vows to follow Rajachandra.
Rajachandra died in 1901 in Rajkot
. It is believed he attained death by continuous fasting. Rajachandra is also known for the brief relationship he had formed with the young Mohandas. Even later Mahatma Gandhi
became his follower. Gandhi had also recorded his impressions about Rajachandra in his autobiography. He paid his tribute to the role that Rajachandra had played in his divine growth. There Gandhi also mentioned that while he was in in South Africa, he became attracted to Christianity. It was the Rajachandra who by his divine counsel through letters lead him back to Hinduism. Gandhi's understanding of the nature of religion and stress on ahimsa was possibly influenced by his early contact with Rajachandra.
There are many devotees of Rajachandra who regard him as a great teacher. There are many Shrimad Rajachandra temples throughout India and in East Africa, Britain and North America.