Idar Ashram History

Shrimadji in Idar
Idar has played a significant role in Shrimad Rajchandraji’s spiritual journey. Param Krupaludev, as Shrimadji is affectionately referred to, visited Idar on four different occasions. He first came to Idar in Vikram Samvat (VS) 1952, and stayed here for 10 days. He returned in VS 1953, in the month of Vaishakh, when he stayed with Shri Sobhagbhai .

In VS 1955, he took a break from all worldly affairs and came to Idar on Magshar Sud 2. This time, his stay lasted for three months. During the same year, he once again visited Idar for another 12 days.

These visits to Idar and subsequent interactions with devotees and the seven sages have been noted in the Ardhashatabdi Smarak Granth. It is also believed that the ‘spiritual climax’ of Shrimadji’s seeking, took place on the hill here.

Excerpts from Writings at Idar

The following excerpts from Shrimadji’s writings throw light on the significance of Idar.

Excerpt 1

‘There He sat on a giant rock and recited the first gaatha (lines) of the third chapter in Uttaradhyayansutra and the entire Dravyasangrah. At that time He had said, “This is Shiddhsheela (abode of the liberated) and one who is sitting here is Siddha--the liberated one”.’

• Ardhashatabdi Smarak Granth (page 172)

During his stay in Idar in VS 1955, Shrimadji met the Maharaja of Idar and had an interesting conversation with him. When the King desired to know his thoughts about Idar, Shrimad Rajchandraji told the Maharaja that the heritage as well as the historic places in Idar spoke volumes about the cultural, financial and spiritual prosperity of the people of Idar. He also added that the Idario Ghadh, as well as the various Jain temples, Rukhi Raani nu Maliyu, Ramanlal ni Chauki, caves and medicinal plants, made Idar a sacred and unique place. Shrimadji added that he could sense that many enriched souls, including Lord Mahavir Swami and His disciple, Gautam, had been to Idar and spent valuable time there. And while all of Mahavir Swami’s disciples had departed, one got left behind. That disciple was born again and there were chances that he would enlighten many souls in the times to come.

Shri Lalluji Swami, one of the seven monks who Shirmadji interacted with in Idar, has noted down their meetings and discussions.

Excerpts from Shri Lalluji Swami’s Notes

The next day we reached Idar and sat under the mango tree and waited for Shrimadji, who was chanting the gaathas of the Dravyasangrah Granth (Compilation of Basic Substance.) The meaning of those gaathas was:

“If you want to concentrate your mind in absolute meditation, avert illusion, craving and aversion towards the desirable or undesirable object.”

“While contemplating about any one subject, when one stays absorbed of and devoid of any desire, that is called absolute meditation.”

“If you want to remain steady, do not undertake any physical activity, do not speak, do not think; the superb meditation arises when the soul stays within thyself.”

Shrimadji chanted the above gathas for half an hour with utmost concentration. Then, restraining his mental, verbal and physical faculty, he stayed absorbed in concentration for half an hour and then said, “Think it over.”

Shrimadji directed us towards the Shwetambar and Digambar temples on the hills with Thakharshi. That was the first time we bowed to the idol of omniscient Lords. The superb mode which arose by bowing to the idols of the hills, as per Shrimadji’s directive, was beyond words. There were relics and memoirs of Digambar munis on one of the cliffs and cemetery, ponds and caves, which were shown to the monks.

The next day we were asked to go to the mango tree. Devkaranji was feeling feverish. Shrimadji asked him, “Are you feeling cold, do you want to get rid of it?” After saying this, he started walking and so did we, passing through thorns and pebbles, spider webs and sharp stones. We came to a slab and sat on it, facing east as we sat before him. That slab, he said, was Pudhavi Sheela.

Shrimadji got a manuscript copy of the Bruhad Dravyasangra Granth from the library of Digambar Jains in Idar and started reading it. When he reached halfway, Devkaranji mentioned:

“Do we now go down to the town?” Shrimadji asked, “Who asked you to go down?” “Where is the alternative,” Devkaranji replied. “Monks also have a stomach.”

“The stomach of the monk exists for the well being of the people and so they go to the towns or else would stay in caves and move in forests with total detachment. The stomach of the monk is for the well being of the populace,” Shrimadji said.

Once, while explaining meditation, Shrimadji said, “An ascetic visualises what he contemplates in meditation. If he contemplates a soul being a huge buffalo as large as this slab, the ascetic would visualise the soul as that type but that is not soul. The one that knows it is the soul.”

Another time, all the monks were sitting before Shrimadji when Mohanlalji said he often took more time in tying muhupatti after the meals and that his guru penalised him for it. On hearing this Shrimadji asked all the monks to remove the muhupatti and asked them not to tie the same within 40 miles of Idar. If anyone inquired about it, they were advised to satisfy the question with peaceful explanation.

On the last day, the monks showed their reverence and sat before a big sheela on which Shrimadji sat. Shrimadji said, “This is Siddhsheela (abode of the liberated) and one who is sitting is Siddha - the liberated one.” Saying thus, he asked that if a person were sitting at that height, would a person at the foot of the hill be able to see him? “No,” I said. “He cannot see us.”

Shrimadji explained, “Similarly, a person belonging to a lower stage cannot accurately make out the state of the enlightened belonging to a higher state. If however, one becomes worthy and reaches the higher state, he can make it out. Since we are at the top of the hill, we can see the whole town and other far off places, while the person at the foot of it can see only things surrounding him. The enlightened being therefore suggests to the person below that if he comes up a little and sees, he can make things out better.”

Shrimadji asked the monks to remain seated in the lotus posture, like the omniscient Lord, and continued explaining the Drayasanghra Granth. The monks remained in same position till the discourse was completed. Devkaranji felt very excited on the occasion and said, “Of all the contacts with the great Guru, this was as superbly beneficial as a metal pitcher placed on the top of the temple. This explanation has occurred to the highest order.”

Then Shrimadji made a reference to Acharya Gunabhadra, the author of the Atmanushasan (Order of the Soul) and said, “In the later part of the book, Acharya has blossomed forth in wonderful enlightenment that vividly explains the nature of soul.” Thus saying, he began to read it.

Under the same tree, Shrimadji once said, “Due to devotion and detachment, the tendency and state of Ambalal had earlier been of a level that manifested various accomplishments. If we might have talked for three or four hours and asked him to bring the conversation in writing the next or the third day, he could recreate it ad verbatim (corresponding word for word to the original discourse). His tendency has not slackened on account of indolence, greed, etc. We knew 12 months in advance that this fault will arise.” I felt sad upon hearing this, and immediately responded, “Would it remain the same for now?” Shrimadji said, “Do not worry. When a leaf floating in a river halts due to a web, it will free itself and resume the journey of meeting the ocean. Similarly, the indolence of Ambalal will be overcome by our preaching and he will attain the higher state.”

Origin of Idar Ashram

The Shrimad Rajchandra Viharbhuvan is built upon the same hallowed rock upon which Shrimadji sat and recited the first gaatha (lines) of the third chapter in the ‘Uttaradhyayansutra’ and the entire ‘Dravyasangrah.’ Shri Girdharbhai, the son of Shri Mansukhbhai Devshi of Limadi, built the Viharbhuvan in Vikram Samvat (VS) 1966, with the blessings of Param Pujya Laghurajswami and Shri Chhotalal Malukchand Shah. In the same year, on Vaishakh Sud 1, Param Krupaludev’s paduka were instituted here. Later on, an idol of Lord Sumatinath; three paintings of Param Krupaludev in the Swadhyay Mandir; and the paduka of Shri Chandraprabhuji on the hill opposite to the Viharbhuvan, were respectively established.