Guruji (as he is lovingly called by his devotees) was born on June 15, 1926 in Shikopur, a small foothill village in Haryana, India. The village was later named Sushilgarh in Guruji’s honor. As a seven-year-old he left home to live with Shri Chotelalji Maharaj, who later became his religious Guru.
When Guruji was still a young boy, Shri Roop Chandji Maharaj appeared to him in spirit and told him to become a Jain monk (Maharaj was a great yogi and enlightened master in the family of monks to which Guruji belonged. He left his body a century ago. Shri Roop Chandji Maharaj is Guruji’s spiritual guru) In this life, Guruji was not taught yogic systems from any master. His knowledge was realized through direct experience and his powers were awakened through the grace of past lives. When he was 15 years old, he became a Jain muni (monk) in the Swetambar Sthanakvasi sect.
During his academic career in India, he passed through a number of examinations such as Shastri, Acharya, Sahitya-Ratna, etc., and mastered the classical studies of Indian religious and yogic philosophies.
Guruji was a master of meditation and the science of sound. His teaching system is called Arhum Yoga. It is an ancient system for the mastery of the inner self through watchfulness and direct perception. Arhum Yoga encompasses all aspects of philosophy and yogic practice in the Arihant spiritual tradition.
Although Guruji was ordained as a monk in the Sthanakvasi Jain tradition, he regarded himself to be non-sectarian. In 1979 he founded a social order, International Arhat Jain Sangh for the non-sectarian world-wide propagation of Lord Mahavir’s message of Ahimsa and Anekatavada. On 21st April, 1989 Guruji was anointed the Acharya of this Sangh.
Guruji was born into a Brahmin household. As a Jain monk, he travelled on foot thousands of miles across the length and breadth of India. He represented the Sthanakvasi Jain tradition in the making of Saman Suttam, a compilation of Jain principles that was acceptable to all sects of Jainism. He discovered and mastered the secrets of sounds behind Namokar Mantra, an auspicious rendering that is central to Jains and wrote a book on the subject, Song of the Soul.
For hundreds of years and as long as historical records are available, Jain monks did not use any mechanical means for travel. However, on 17th June, 1975 Guruji travelled outside India by aircraft. He told that he was prodded in meditation to do so by the 12 C Acharya Dadaguru Manidhari Jinchandra Suriji Maharaj. Dadaguru asked him to travel to faraway lands to spread Bhagwan Mahavir’s message of ahimsa and anekantavada. This act allowed other Jain monks and nuns to begin using mechanical means of travel, including outside India. The decision caused some controversy in the Jain community. Guruji has travelled and taught extensively, spreading the message of non-violence and self-awareness. He has founded many ashrams and centers in the East and West.
It wasn’t long before Guruji’s divine mission unfolded and he began to gain recognition as a fountain of wisdom, truth and understanding who actively promoted peace and harmony throughout India and his role as peacemaker to conflicting religious group was well recognized. Guruji was a strong willed, passionate and articulate person who never gave up a cause for anything. He worked unceasingly to establish a sense of universal brotherhood amongst the conflicting religious factions of India. He successfully motivated the Sikh leader Master Tara Singh to participate in an open and peaceful dialogue with the government. When H.H. Pope John Paul’s visit to India was strongly opposed, it was none other than Guruji who admirably reminded his fellow countrymen that India has a long standing tradition of welcoming any visitor regardless of his denomination of belief, with open arms. This warmth was realized and given appropriately making Pope’s visit to India a glorious success. In 1986 the Akali Leader Sant Longowal and the Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi attempted to solve the distressing problem plaguing Punjab — an accomplishment largely attributed to Guruji who convinced terrorist groups of Punjab to honor their compromise with the government. He similarly persuaded Muslim leaders to sit in negotiation with Hindu leaders until a consensus was reached in the Ram Janambhoomi-Babri Masjid issue in 1990 to 1991.
Guruji’s vision was always focused upon a United Earth and in 1957 he convened a World Religions Conference with more than 1200 representatives from 27 countries and 500,000 people in attendance. Guruji’s work in India was not limited to creating religious harmony; he was also acclaimed for his pioneering work in the fields of animal and environmental protection. He initiated the Cow Protection Movement and successfully organized a massive Rally in 1966.
From 1954 to 1994, Guruji had organized and presided over a significant number of World Religions Conferences, which were attended by highly esteemed individuals, including various Presidents and Prime Ministers of India. Pandit Jawahar Lal Nehru, Dr. Rajendra Prasad, Dr. Radhakrishnan, Dr. Zakir Hussain, Fakkruddin Ali Ahmed, Zail Singh and Indira Gandhi were amongst those who participated and Declarations advocating world peace, universal brotherhood and above all non-violence were frequently adopted at these conferences. Guruji also organized several International Jain Conferences which too adopted resolutions of non-violence, peaceful co-existence and reverence to all life forms.
In 1982 Guruji inspired the leaders of eight nations to submit a memorandum demanding peace through non-violence to the Secretary General of the United Nations. He explained that peace through non-violence could not be compromised or exploited and would ensure the sanctity of human life as well as extending protection to the animal kingdom, the environment and all of our Mother Earth. Guruji and his devotees also served as the fourth largest support group for the Peace Rally held in New York in 1982 — an event that was attended by nearly one million individuals from around the world.