Acharya Shri Dharmaghoshsuriji | Jain Stories

Acharya Shri Dharmaghoshsuriji’s life is full of miracles.Before renunciation his name was Virdhawal. When Virdhawal was very busy with worldly life, some external cause inspired him to go for renunciation. Just at a moment when Virdhaval was getting married, he adopted white dress as a token of renunciation. With his brother Bhimdev, Virdhawal accepted initiation from Rajendrasuriji n Vijapur in North Gujarat. Both of them were sons of Sheth Jinchandra Pallival.

At the time of granting the status of a preceptor, there was kesarvrushti (showering of blessings from heaven), and the status of Acharya, given he came to be known as Acharya Shri Dharamghosh Suri.

On Shrisangh’s request Dharmaghoshsuri composed Samudrastotra. Once he recited it at the seashore in Saurashtra and a miracle took place. Suddenly a huge tide brought a huge heap of jewels ashore at the feet of Dharmaghoshsuri and then receded.

Acharya Shri Dharmaghoshsuriji | Jain Stories
Illustrations: Shri Ashok Shaha

At that time Kapardi yaksha (demigod) had become a nuisance. When he heard Dharmaghoshsuri’s sermon, the darkness of his ignorance disappeared and the light of understanding changed his course of life. Thus, Dharmapuri achieved victory over the wicked and the vicious.

In his home town of Vijapur, some of the women had used some conjuration against him so as to destroy the religious discourse. But with the power of his incantation, Acharyashri made those women motionless; only when those women confessed and apologized were they set free by the Acharyashri.

One yogi in Ujjain was engaged in harassment. He was so envious of Jain monks that he would always block the entry of Jain monks in the city. If by chance any Jain monk happened to enter the city, the yogi would so harass him using some charm that the latter would have to run away from the city.

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Once when Acharya Dharmaghoshsuri arrived in Ujjain, the yogi invoked the fury of thousands of serpants, scorpions and ants in the upashraya at night. Suriji took an earthen pot covered with cloth and putting his hand over it, began to recite prayers. Soon the yogi felt burning pain of stings of a lakh of scorpions. He rushed to the upashraya and apologised to the Acharya.

Acharya Dharmaghoshsuriji composed many volumes and established libraries as storehouses of knowledge. He imparted sermons to different castes like Brahmins, Maheshwari Vaishya and Kshatriyas and propagated non-violence amongst them and thereby made them followers of the Jain religion. Acharyashri had a penetrating knowledge of grammar, and also had a mastery of the philosophical system of Nyaya (logic). He could competently speak on Sutra-artha (meaning of canonical texts).

His memory was extraordinary. He could memorise 500 shlokas within six seconds.

All the rulers honoured Acharyashri as their ‘Gurudev’. Impressed by his preaching, Vigrahraj (Vishal Dev), the king of Ajmer, became a follower of the Jain religion and he had banned animal killing in his state on the eleventh day (agiyaras) and some other specific days of the month. He was the guru of Pethadsha, a gem amongst the Jains.

-Dr Kumarpal Desai

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