Anuvrat Pravartaka Acharya Shri Tulsi

Name: Acharya Shri Tulsi
Birth date: 20 Oct 1914
Birth place: Ladnun, Rajasthan, India
Name of parents: Jhumarmalji, Vadanaji
Guru: Acharya Shri Kalugani
Designated Acharya: 26 August 1936
Expired on: 23 June 1997

Born 20th October 1914 in Ladnun, Rajasthan to Jhumarmalji Khatter and Vadanaji. Tulsi, first went to school at the age of eight years. Acharya Shri Kalugani, the 8th Acharya of Terapanth order and also the family guru, greatly influenced Tulsi, later recalling: "His divine face fascinated my heart and I used to gaze at him for hours." When Acharya Shri Kalugani came to Ladnun, in 1925, child Tulsi was only 11 years old but in less than a month, he got impressed to become a Jain monk and got initiated in Terapanth order by Acharya Shri Kalugani.

Acharya Tulsi began his journey as the head of the order by educating and training his monks and nuns. At the age of just seventeen, he was already teaching a large number of monks who later turned out to be erudite scholars in Sanskrit, philosophy, etc. He initiated more than 776 monks/nuns. Terapanth was founded in Sam. 1817 (1760 AD) by monk, Bhikanji, the first Acharya of the Terapanth sect. Tulsi was the 9th Acharya of the sect.

Tulsi ji realized that the independence that India has been fighting for so strongly for so many years would go waste if the countrymen had no morals amongst them. So, on 2 March, 1949 he launched the anuvrat movement to instill the very same idea of morality and integrity amongst the people of the nation. During his long career, he faced a number of challenges. Dr. Radhakrishnan in his famous book "Living with Purpose" included him in the world's 15 great persons. He was given the title "Yuga-Pradhan" in a function officiated by President V.V. Giri in 1971. Tulsi had since shown great organizational ability and the mind of a progressive man. Among other things, he had instituted a rigorous training program for the monks and nuns of his order. A mammoth project to edit and computerize the 32 Agamas went on under his guidance. And to obviate the injunction against monks using mechanical means of travel, he created a new order of semi-monks called ‘Samans’ who routinely fly to other countries. Acharya Shri Tulsi had also tried to unite the fractious Jain community by opening lines of communication among the sub-sects of the Digambers and Shwetambers.

He started his Anuvrata movement in the year 1949. He has been a proponent of Jain unity regardless of the sectarian differences. His message was not just for the jains but for the entire humanity. In Sam. 2037 he created a new rank of apprentice monks "samanas/ samanis" who are allowed to travel overseas. He created "Jain Vishva Bharati" institute in Ladnun. Anuvrat literally means small vows (‘anu’ meaning small, and ‘vrat’ meaning vow). Anuvrat aims at developing a humane code of conduct to instill an individual, moral conduct in people. In 1970s, researching, translating, and annotating the Jain agamas.

He was the first of all to rediscover Jain meditation along with Muni Nath Mal(who later become Acharya Mahapragya)- Preksha meditation. According to him religion is the ultimate solution to end human suffering. Religion according to him is not just model worship which varies religion to religion but rather a code of conduct which is more or less universal.

Acharya Tulsi, the most high profile Jain guru of all times was asked to mediate when the work in the Indian parliament came to a standstill some years ago during the boycott by the opposing parties against the official “whitewash” of the joint parliamentary committee reports on a stocks scam. He succeeded in resolving the conditions, which could have brought the government down, using a singular strategy: talking to the parties concerned about anekantavada, the Jain doctrine of non-absolutism, which holds that all human judgments and perceptions of truth are only partially valid, and that one must accommodate points of view other than one's own.

Tulsi was keenly aware of the relevance of non-absolutism (nonviolence at a psychological level), an important ideology of Jainism. He also believed that although the danger of another world war may have receded, human greed and economic imperialism continue to give away their fair share of violence on the world. Consequently, he was thinking global. Ahimsa, a campaign to impart practical training in non-violence was launched under his guidance. His missionaries carried his message abroad, while he himself continued to meet many dignitaries and religious heads such as the Dalai Lama, contributing to promotion of peace and harmony in the world. "Both peace and war originate in the minds of men," he said in his address to the world conference on peace and nonviolence held at Ladnun, in the western Indian state of Rajasthan, in December 1995. "We have paid little or no attention to the question of transforming the human psyche."

Religious teacher and late ninth Acharya of Terapanth Swhetambar Jain and predecessor of Acharya Mahapragya. He initiated Anuvrat into Terapanth sect and introduced many other reforms together with now Acharya Mahapragya who was his proxy person for many years. They had a classical and very profound Indian Guru-disciple relation for sixty years. In Tulsi’s lifetime, he covered more than 70,000 km influencing many with his immense power and wisdom. He was a man of pure genius, manly courage, and great fortune. He has been an accomplished poet, and author of over 100 books, as well as a distinguished religious leader.

He has been awarded with many titles and honors namely, title of ‘yug pradhan’ in 1971 by the then president of India, Mr. V. V. Giri; Bharat Jyoti award; Vakpati Award; and the Indira Gandhi Award for National Integration in 1993. On 20 October 1998, the vice-president, Mr. Krishna Kant, released an Indian commemorative three rupee postage stamp of Tulsi as he believed that Tulsi gave a new and contemporary direction to the high ideals of Jainism. To keep Acharya Shri Tulsi's teachings immortal, followers built a memorial in the village of Todgarh named Mahashila Abhilekh.

Acharya Sri Tulsi’s personality is a complex one within which the significance of the doctrine of non-absolutism (Anekantavada) is strongly established. In the history of the religious world for the past many centuries, his is a rare personality. In the historical tradition of human effort, one seldom comes across the instance of such a heroic person who, disregarding his own comforts and convenience, lives a life of public welfare. Acharya Sri has given a new form to religion.

Founder of anuvrat and Jain Vishva Bharti Institute, Ladnun, he is also belovedly called as “Ganadhipati Anuvrat Anusastha Acharya Shree Tulsi”. The five principles of Anuvrat i.e. truth, non-violence, non-posession, non-stealing and celibacy have become pillars in changing the life of millions of people by inspiring them to practice purity and self-discipline in personal life. Acharya Shree Tulsi ji departed on his journey to heaven on 23rd June 1997, while at Gangasahar, Rajasthan. But he left us with a way to live life in the real and pure sense.