Hard to Believe – Even After You Experience it!

May, 2024 by Dilip V. Shah ( Philadelphia )
On May 1st, 2024, a historic event unfolded in Mumbai at the NSCI stadium in the presence of 8,000 spectators, including 250 Sadhus and Sadhwis and tens of thousands more watching live worldwide on YouTube and other platforms. Pujya Ganivarya Dr. Ajitchandrasagaji Muniji performed Sahasravdhan (1000 Avdhans). This remarkable feat was attempted by Munishri in the presence of his Guru, Acharya Shri Pujya Nayachandrasagarji.  After what Acharya Shri Munisunderji (Author of ADHYATMA KALPADRUM and SANTIKARAM STOTRA) was able to demonstrate some 650 years ago. The vidya of SHATAVDHAN has been demonstrated by numerous Rishis, Munis and scholars, but the entire Jain history has not recorded any other instances of Sahstravdhan – deeply assimilating 1,000 experiences to be recalled with great concentration, whether seen, heard, felt, or observed once, in sequential or random order as desired.

The event commenced at 9 am with a series of questions that could be asked in languages such as Hindi, Gujarati, Sanskrit, or Prakrit, excluding foreign languages. Everyone in the audience was provided a notebook containing a structured series of categories of questions that may be posed across assorted subjects such as history, mathematics, and religion. These questions were presented through visual and audio representations and posed by audience members selected randomly.  Each series of 10 or 25 questions covered diverse topics, including names of Jain terminology, trees, festivals, mountains, rivers, pilgrimage places, scriptures, and saints, proverbs, foreign language words, etc.  provided by the audience. The visual memory (avdhan of sight) of Muniji was tested by presenting him with collages of 25 pictures selected by the audience. Each collage featured diverse elements such as flags of different countries, renowned personalities from science, politics, philanthropy, or religion, world monuments, and everyday objects. Mathematical puzzles were presented through a grid of 625 blocks of numbers (25×25), where the audience circled 25 random numbers for Muniji to sum up in a few minutes mentally.  Despite various activities, sounds, and distractions, Muniji maintained a single posture, sitting upright without any back rest throughout the event, absorbing and assimilating information amidst the noise and interruptions during the 9-hour event.

A couple of hours into the event, leading neurosurgeon Padmashree Dr. Sudhir Shah of Ahmedabad spoke of the human brain’s capacity to store vast amounts of information, such as up to 90 million books with a page count of 1000 each. However, working memory, or short-term memory, can only retain five to seven pieces of information for a duration of twenty to thirty seconds, demonstrating how underutilized our brains are. Munishri, he expressed, through Sahasravdhan showed how highly developed his prefrontal cortex, hippocampus, and amygdala are by using his working memory for six to eight hours. He acknowledged that the world’s medical professionals and scientists are in awe of this capacity and are at a loss as to how to explain this phenomenon. What’s fascinating, though, is that this is a soul-derived power that is attained via intense Sadhana and respect for Goddess Saraswati rather than a mental phenomenon, as employed by a Mentalists. Munishri had practiced remaining silent for eight years, only letting his guard down when he needed his Guru to provide spiritual guidance. He abstained from all knowledge of the world and human contact, concentrating solely on Sadhana.

There were a series of Avdhans called Sanyukt (collective) Avdhan, were 15 Avdhan were performed at one time. As the audience grappled with a multitude of tasks going on, the Munishri noted each event and successfully recalled all 15 items displaying multiple skills.

A noteworthy mathematical item was a 15-by-15 grid to be filled by Munishri.  A gentleman was asked to share a figure that could be divided by 15 and be at least 1695 but not more than 2000. 1800 was the number that was provided. Munishri was asked to begin at row 6 and provided the audience the calculated numbers for that row. Remember, he was doing all of this mental math and is not taking any notes. After being asked to respond to questions for randomly selected rows, he proceeds chronologically. The audience had trouble with writing down the figures because of how quickly he was delivering them. He revisits a row after he was unable to provide the final number at one point. He solves a few more rows and goes back to the row that had the missing number. By this time, he has already made the necessary mental adjustments and speaks the numbers out loud. It’s critical to recognize the subtlety of this: as he was figuring out and distributing the other rows’ numbers, He was finding the missing link in this row as well as calculating and assigning the numbers of the other rows. The miracle of Avdhan lies in the Soul’s ability to cultivate the virtue of simultaneously solving several problems at various levels. He recites the row with the missing number after mentally changing the numbers. The audience verified each row, and every time it totaled to 1800, the elation grew louder. The total from all directions was 1800 when the grid was eventually filled.

For the last Avdhan, at 5:30 p.m.; Munishri asked a gentleman what time he was born he answered 7:30 and extended his wristwatch so that Munishri, who was sitting in front of him, could see it. Munishri fixed his intense gaze on the dial attempting to move the watch to 7:30 through the power of thoughts expressed through the eyes. Munishri had been staring at the dial for five minutes. His eyes began to water. Everybody’s gaze was focused on the dial on the screen, anticipating the hour and minute hands to advance to 7:30. Munishri looked tired as he wiped his eyes. It appeared that he requested a brief pause of a few minutes. The man brought his hand down the following instant, he noticed it was 7:30 p.m. on his watch. Amazing! Loud chants of Jainam Jayanti Shasanam erupted from the audience’s uncontrollable elation. The 1000 adhvan test was successfully finished. This extraordinary event will be permanently etched in the memories of those who witnessed history repeating itself 650 years later.

The performance had ended, but not quite. The key point is when Munishri stated that this is a soul’s power and not a miracle that may be obtained by Goddess Saraswati’s Sadhana and by being alert. “Everyone can do it if I can.” The things that stuck with me were his humility, his surrender to his Guru, Dev, and Dharma and his poised demeanor amid the loud applause and celebration of the public and even during the appearance of the Chief Minister Eknath Shinde of Maharashtra.

The event was presented by Shri Sarswati Sadhna Research Foundation under the guidance of Acharya Shri Naychandrasagarji. The occasion was also graced by Acharya Nardev Sagarji, Acharya Shri Raj Shekharji, Acharya Shri Phoolchandra Suri Maharaj Saheb, Nay Padma Sagarji Maharaj Saheb and Pujy Namramuniji. SSRF has trained 50,000 students to embark on the journey of improving their memory skill by sharpening their ability to concentrate their minds through a 25-minute sessions spanning 36 days. The objective of this Sadhna being to increase the absorption / concentration, retention and recall of knowledge conveyed to students, possibly the biggest missing link in today’s education system where hardly any attention is paid to strengthening the internal process of knowledge absorption. Chief Minister Shinde inaugurated a course to extend this offering digitally to more than 500,000 students over the next five years.  The first batch will begin on Guru Purnima day July 21. The Chief Minister also expressed hope that it can be offered to all the school students in Mumbai initially and later statewide.

In the end, Dr. Jitendra B. Shah sought permission from all the Sadhu/Sadhvis and the audience to honor the Munishri. Upon receiving a thunderous positive response, Dr. Jitubhai Shah presented Muni Shri SAHASTRAVDHANI PUJYA SHRI AJITCHANDRAJI title.

The author gratefully acknowledges contribution of notes prepared  by Ruchika Chitrabhanuji who was present in the auditorium for the Sahatravdhan.

Recipe of the Month
by Nidhi Nahata

Lentil Butternut Squash

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