Sushil Kumar (Jain monk)

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Sushil Kumar
Acharya Sushil Kumar.jpg
Picture of a marble plaque showing Acharya Sushil Kumar (from a private collection)
Personal
Born(1926-06-15)15 June 1926
Died22 April 1994(1994-04-22) (aged 67)
ReligionJainism
SectŚvētāmbara; non-sectarian
Sthānakavāsī; Arhat Sangh

Sushil Kumar (15 June 1926 – 22 April 1994) was a Jain teacher and monk (later Acharya).[1] His primary ashram in North America, Siddhachalam, located in Blairstown, New Jersey was established in 1983, he was among the founding fathers of American Jainism.[2][3]

He was born in Shikhopur, in modern day Haryana in India on June 15, 1926. At the age of eight, he started living with Shri Chotelalji Maharaj, a Jain monk; when he was fifteen years old, he formally renounced the life of a householder and became a Jain monk. He came to be addressed as Guruji.

Although he was ordained as a monk in the Sthānakavāsī Jain tradition, he regarded himself to be non-sectarian. In 1979, he formed Arhat Sangh, a syncretic, non-sectarian group within Jainism.[4]

Life[edit]

Sushil Kumar was born into a Brahmin household;[5] as a Jain monk, he traveled on foot thousands of miles across the length and breath of India. He represented the Sthānakavāsī Jain tradition in the making of Saman Suttam, a compilation of Jain principles that was acceptable to all sects of Jainism,[6] he discovered and mastered the secrets of sounds behind the Namokar Mantra, an auspicious rendering that is central to Jains and wrote a book on the subject, Song of the Soul.[7]

For hundreds of years and as long as historical records are available, Jains monks did not use any mechanical means for travel. However, on June 17, 1975, Kumar made the decision to travel outside India by aircraft;[8] this act allowed other Jain monks and nuns to begin using mechanical means of travel, including outside India.[9] The decision caused some controversy in the Jain community.[10][11]

During his travels, Kumar helped found many organizations and communities across the globe that engage in promoting ahimsa and anekantavad. One of the principal organizations he founded in North America was the International Mahavira Jain Mission which manages the ashram Siddhachalam that he founded in New Jersey. Siddhachalam is regarded as the first tirtha (site of pilgrimage) outside India.[12]

In 1986, Kumar was formally conferred the title of "Acharya," the master, in New Delhi at an event presided by the then President of India.[citation needed]

Kumar gained wide attention in India for his efforts to bring peace in the Punjab during the early 1980s. Later,in 1992, he was actively involved in promoting dialogue between Muslim and Hindu factions during the Ayodhya dispute.[13]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Harold G. Coward; Gordon S. Smith (1 January 2004). Religion and Peacebuilding. SUNY Press. p. 22. ISBN 978-0-7914-8585-9.
  2. ^ A Jainist Monk Brings Ascetic Ways Here, KENNETH A. BRIGGS, New York Times, August 28, 1975
  3. ^ Jainism: A Pictorial Guide to the Religion of Non-Violence, Kurt Titze, Motilal Banarsidass Publ., 1998, p. 241
  4. ^ Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Jones, Constance A., and Ryan, James D, Facts on File Inc., 2007, p. 251.
  5. ^ Titze, K. & Bruhn, K. (1998). Jainism: A Pictorial Guide to the Religion of Non-Violence. Motilal Banarsidass Publishers. p. 241. ISBN 9788120815346.
  6. ^ Varni, Jitendra (5 April 1993). Saman Suttam (First ed.). Rajghat, Varanasi, India: Sarva Seva Sangh Prakashan. p. Introduction.
  7. ^ Kumar, Acharya Sushil (1987). Song of the Soul. Blairstown, NJ: Siddhachalam Publishers. ISBN 0943207002.
  8. ^ Jain, Jaipat Singh. "What's So Special About Siddhachalam". Siddhachalam. International Mahavira Jain Mission. Retrieved 11 December 2016.
  9. ^ Jain, Jaipat. "Guruji Opens Doors". Siddhachalam. International Mahavira Jain Mission. Retrieved 11 December 2016.
  10. ^ Jeffery D. Long. "JAINISM". Retrieved 1 February 2013.
  11. ^ Queen, E.L. and Prothero, S.R. and Shattuck, G.H. (2009). Encyclopedia of American Religious History. ISBN 9780816066605.CS1 maint: Multiple names: authors list (link)
  12. ^ Ryan, James; Jones, Constance (2007). Encyclopedia of Hinduism. Infobase Publishing. pp. 250–251. ISBN 9780816075645.
  13. ^ "The World Honors You, Acharya Sushil Kumar Ji". Hinduism Today. Retrieved 3 April 2012.