ATMASIDDHI SHASTRA Six Spiritual Truths of the Soul

December, 2021 by Dilip. V Shah

Concise & Complete Commentary on Shrimad Rajchandraji’s signature creation by
Gurudevshri Rakeshji
Published by Harper Collins. Available on Amazon $20.00

To celebrate the 125th anniversary of the Shrimadji’s magnum opus – Atmasiddhi Shastra, the Shrimad Rajchandra Mission Dharampur (SRMD) has presented this elegantly produced spiritual guide for the English-speaking world by his ardent follower Pujya Gurudevshri Rakeshji.

The Atmasiddhi Shastra is in fact a version of the letter Shrimadji wrote to one of his followers – Lalluji Muni. Battling a long illness, Lalluji feared he was nearing the end of life without grasping the essence of religion needed for his salvation. He wrote letters pleading Shrimadji to enlighten him with that kind of benevolent knowledge. As an act of benevolent compassion, Shrimadji wrote him a letter explaining six characteristics of the soul -understanding of which is the key to salvation with advice to commit it to memory and daily recital. A copy of the letter reached Saubhagbhai, an elderly associate of Shrimadji who found it extremely beneficial but too arduous to memorize. He suggested to Shrimadji that it will be easier to remember if it were poetry. Again, Shrimadji acquiesced and in just one sitting penned the most beautiful 142 stanzas under the title Atmasiddhi that has been known to the world as Atmasiddhi Shastra. It is a work of beauty in poetry that rhymes. The discourse proceeds in a logical manner without using complicated words. There are several versions of it on YouTube in melodious and haunting tune that pulls in the listener and awaken him.

Shrimadji had developed a wide and all-encompassing view of the six main philosophies of Indian tradition:

  • Chārvāk.
  • Jainism.
  • Buddhism.
  • Nyāy-Vaishesik.
  • Sānkhya- yog.
  • Purva Mimānsā- Uttar Mimānsā.

The six fundamentals are the very basis on which each Philosophy builds its opinion. The genius of Atmasiddhi is in integrating and weaving them in expounding the six fundamentals. It logically arrives at the supreme truth by examining all perspectives. Shrimadji accomplishes that without mentioning any philosophy by name, denigrating, or endorsing anyone. In fact, the entire text does not name any religion by name. The focus is on self-realization and self-realization alone.

The central theme of the Atmasiddhi – the six steps – has appeared in much earlier Jain writing by the sages like the seventeenth century Mahopdhyay Yashovijayji in Adhyatma Sār, Kundkundacharya -Digambar intellectual giant of the first century, and Siddhant Chakravarty Nemichandra of the 10th century. The same six points were also the theme of the doubts harboured by Gandhars as they first approached Lord Mahavir 2600 years ago as famously documented in Gandharvād. Shrimadji also used Bhagwan Mahavir’s question-and-answer mode of teaching to instil divine knowledge. Stanza 134 reaffirms “all the enlightened ones of the past, present and future have attained, do attain and will attain liberation in the same way, there is no difference in the path” indicating
Science of the soul is sort of like the laws of nature. They are eternal.

In the early part of 2021, Gurudev Rakeshji gave discourses on Atmasiddhi at Dharampur in English under the title of Rajgita. This undertaking by Gurudev for the benefit of the younger generation who were just beginning the study of Atmasiddhi was a monumental event. The discourses lasted for nine months covering 125 hours. Due to numerous requests, this book was prepared as a capsule version of those lectures to coincide with the worldwide celebration of the 125th year of the birth of the epic poem scheduled for November of 2021.

The book is divided into 12 chapters. After the introductory chapter, the next two chapters describe attributes of a religious bigot – a Matārthi – who is incapable of leaving behind his opinions to learn something new for the benefit of his soul and attributes of -a true seeker – an Ātmārthi seeking self-realization. The fourth chapter is devoted to naming the six fundamentals: Soul exists, Soul is eternal; Soul is the doer of Karma; Soul is the receiver of the fruits of karma; there is liberation, and there is a path to liberation. The six fundamentals are presented in the questions and answers format and occupy the next six chapters, followed by a chapter where the disciple, having been enlightened expresses his gratitude to the guru and the all-important conclusion is the last chapter. Here the author recaps the pitfalls for the seekers and enumerates seven cardinal virtues of the seeker. At the end of every stanza, there is cute little a QR code that takes the readers to Gurudev’s Rajgita lecture of that particular stanza. Neat!

Since the book is aimed at the English-speaking world, Gurudev has presented each stanza as a separate chapter, painstakingly providing the meaning of every word of the original Gujarati stanzas even if the word appears again and again. Following the meanings of the word is a very helpful pronunciation guide and of course, the meaning of every stanza in two or three pages totalling just over 500 pages. A challenging task considering his declaration that for his thesis on Atmasiddhi, at 3,000 pages, he stopped, he was not finished!

Be that as it may, the book is certainly a strong primer for studying Jain Dharma for which sadly there is so little available in English. SRMD is planning to issue versions of this book in major world languages and that will soon place it on a “must-read” list worldwide.

The book has received numerous accolades from politicians, religious leaders, and scholars and is high on the best sellers list. It is printed on FSC paper that ensures responsible forest management and is incredibly light. The royalties from the book are earmarked for supporting rural education.

Book Review – Dilip. V Shah.

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