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    Acharya Maharaj was camping at Dronagiri along with his sangha. It is hallowed ground and a very charming place. There are ancient Jain temples on the hill. At its foot, there are a monastery and a temple with shrines to the twenty four Tirthankars. Once, Varneejj had referred to it as the Little Sammed Shikhar. The entire sangha, including Acharya Maharaj, stayed on the hill, absorbed in spiritual pursuits. Every day, the sangha would come down for ahar and go back to the hill once it was over. All through this sojourn, Acharya Maharaj would meditate for three hours a day, sitting on a rock under a scorching sun. He instructed the sangha in ascetic practices as well as spiritual knowledge.


    In those days, the sangha of Acharya Maharaj comprised only ailaks and kshullaks. None of us had yet been ordained a muni. One fine morning, we came to know that Shri Samayasagarji, who was an ailak, was performing keshalunchan. We were all intrigued as his hair was quite short; he had done keshalunchan hardly two months ago. But the very next moment, we stopped worrying and returned to our studies and reflections with the confidence that the future would reveal itself in due course. In fact, the greatest joy in being with Acharya Maharaj is the freedom from anxiety over the future, which enables you to live in the present. Whatever happens then is pleasant.


    At about nine o'clock, with utmost simplicity and without any ostentation, Acharya Maharaj performed his first ordination ceremony of a muni. We paid our homage to Muni Samayasagar, the first nirgrantha shraman to be ordained by Acharya Maharaj. Overjoyed by the experience, we were engaged in an animated discussion when Acharya Maharaj walked in and stood amongst us. “What is the matter? You all seem so happy", he asked. We answered, "Indeed, we feel very happy today. It is a joyous occasion for us; one of us has become a nirgrantha". He smiled and said, “Such enthusiasm is of great help in self-development.” This benediction reassured and overwhelmed us.


    When I recall that experience today, I think that the image of such a nirgrantha Acharya must have formed in the mind of Poojyapad Swami when he wrote years ago -

    “Engaged primarily in exposition of the welfare of other beings, the great nirgrantha Acharya, worthy of being served by noble men."

    Dronagiri (March, 1980)

    Varneeji - Ganesh Prasad Varnee, a renowned Jain saint and scholar of the first half of the 20th century. He had dedicated his life to the revival of Jain scholarship.

    Sammed Shikhar - A high mountain near Giridih in the eastern state of Jharkhand, It is the holiest of all Jain pilgrimage centers, as twenty of the twenty four Tirthankars attained salvation from this mountain

    Ailak - A Jain renunciant, who wears just a loin cloth and eats only once, off his cupped hands, the food that is offered by a shravak.

    Kshullak - One step below the ailak, a kshullak is also allowed a sheet to cover his torso and a utensil for eating.

    Poojyapad Swami - A renowned muni of the 5th century belonging to the Nandisangha tradition. He is said to have possessed a number of supernatural powers. He is the author of numerous works, notably Jainendra Vyakaran, Sarvartha Siddhi, Samadhi Shatak and Shantyashtak.


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