Acharya Shri Bhikshu



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Fast Facts
AcharyaShriBhikshu.jpg
Other Names and Nicknames: 
Bhikhu, Bhikanji, Bhikamji, Swamiji
Function: 
Guru
Traditions: 
Jainism
Main Countries of Activity: 
India
Date of Birth: 
01 / 07 / 1726
Place of Birth: 
Kantalia in Rajasthan, India
In His/Her Body ("alive"): 
No
Date Left His/Her Body: 
1803
Ancestor Gurus: 

Biography

Acharya Shree Bikshuji was the first of the 'Terapanthi' ascetic. The various beliefs and teachings of the religious orders of those times greatly influenced his thinking and he chose to follow the way of the search for truth and to understand it. He studied and analyzed the various disciplines of the Jain religion thoroughly and on this basis he compiled his own ideologies and principles of the Jain way of life. Based on the doctrines he propagated, A. S. Bikhshuji rigorously followed the principles and thus set an example for all to follow. He showed the way for a life of discipline, purity and self-control. It was this way of life that was demonstrated by A. S. Bikshuji which came to known as Terapanth.
It is this narration of the life and times of A. S. Bikshuji which has been complied and presented in the Rajasthani language and serves as a fountain of knowledge of those traditions and times.
In ancient times A. S. Bikshuji has been referred to as 'Bhikhanji', 'Bhikhamji', 'Bhikhu' etc. His followers piously referred to the great monk as 'Swamiji'. A.S. Bikshuji was a monk who was far ahead of his times.

Acharya Bhikshu was one of the great revolutionary saints and reformer of Jainism. He was the founder and first spiritual head of Jain Swetembar Terapanth sect.

He was a staunch disciple of Bhagwan Mahavir and completely immersed his life onto the path given by Lord Mahavir. In the initial phase of his spiritual revolution, he moved out from the group of Sthanakvasi Acharya Raghunath ji. That time he had 13 saints,13 followers and 13 the basic rules. This coincidence results in the name of "Terapanth" (Thirteen Path).

The various beliefs and teachings of the religious orders of those times greatly influenced his thinking and he choose to follow the way of the search for truth and to understand it. He studied and analyzed the various disciplines of the Jain religion thoroughly and on this basis he compiled his own ideologies and principles of the Jain way of life. Based on the doctrines propagated, Acharya Bhikshu rigorously followed the principles and thus set an example for all to follow. He showed the importance of discipline, purity and self-control. It was this way of life that was demonstrated by Acharya Bhikshu which became the foundation principle of Terapanth. The Letter of Conduct was written by him is still followed in the same manner with due respect with slight changes as per the time & situation. The original copy of letter written in Rajasthani language is still available. His followers piously referred this great visionary monk as 'Swamiji'.
1st Page of Letter of Conduct written by Acharya Bhikshu
2nd Page of Letter of Conduct written by Jain Swetamber Terapanth First Spiritual Head Acharya Bhiksu in Rajasthani Language nearly 200 years ago

Though gold is invaluable by itself it yet needs to be tested and molded by fire to win the admiration and appreciation of the masses. Similarly the life of Acharya Bhikshu was a prodigy of ups and downs that tested and molded him to become a supreme individual. While in the first half of the life, he faced ordeals and difficulties, the second half reveals (unfolds) the success and accomplishments.

Acharya Bhikshu had a very broad vision who was far ahead of his times. He rose above the present conditions of the society and strived to present an example to the people of all times of a life of discipline and truth. In pursuit of this objective, he sacrificed material goals, honor and luxuries.He revolutionized the various principles which had become meaningless with the passing of time and gave conception and birth to these tenements. He visualized a systematic, well established and orderly religious sect and saw it taking shape through Terapanth. To organize and stabilize this religious order he propagated the ideology of one guru and brought to an end the concept of self discipleship. In this way his ideology of one Acharya, one principle, one thought and similar thinking became the ideal for other religious sects.Acharya Bhikshu showed the way from desire to desirelessness. He said the common man should understand and practise true religion which would take him to the path of salvation.

In the middle of the 18th Century, Acharya Bhikshu led a reformist movement in a society griped in fundamentalist religious beliefs and blind faith. A philosopher, writer, poet and social reformer, the Jain leader wrote 38,000 "shlokas", now compiled in two volumes as "Bhikshu Granth Ratnakar". His "Nav Padarth Sadbhav", which advocated a society free from exploitation, is regarded as a significant philosophical composition that deals exhaustively with the nine gems of Jain philosophy.

Swamiji was an ideal of tolerance, non-violence, generosity and equality and at every instance of his life he strived to stand against what was immoral and wrong in society fearlessly. The life of Bikhshu sets out an example for human to follow of a life of the positive human traits. We hope that this presentation of the life of swamiji will be an inspiration to all to lead a life of simplicity and self discipline.

On 30 June 2004, The Vice-President, Bhairon Singh Shekhawat had released a special commemorative postage stamp in memory of Jain saint Acharya Shri Bhikshu on the occasion of the "nirvana" bicentenary of the great social reformist. The stamp issued by the Department of Posts is in Rs.5 denomination.Two special functions were organized to release this Rs.5/- stamp. The first function was organised at the residence of Vice President of India, Shri Bhairo Singh Shekhavat at New Delhi. Second release function was organized at Siriyari (Distt. Pali, Rajasthan) where Acharya Bhikshu had attained Nirvana.

Sources: 
wikipedia

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