The Government of Bombay enacted a Harijan Mandir Entry Act in 1947 to ameliorate the conditions of Harijans, the scheduled caste people. As per the law, the Jains were also included in the word ‘Hindu’.
In the guise of this law the Harijan Sewa Sangh of Sangli laid a plot on 4 August, 1948 to forcibly enter the Jain temple by collecting together some sweepers and cobblers, etc.
Achharya Shri’s conscience resolved to take strict measures against that action because if it was tolerated silently then the entity of Jain temples would be jeopardized (as tyrants would slowly begin to embezzle Jain temples in the name of Harijans Mandir Entry law).
History is the witness. Historic Jain temples of Faltan were given the name of Jabreshwar, Jain temples of Kolhapur by ensconcing Vishnu Deva and the Chamundi Jain Hill of Mysore were converted into Hindu temples.
To overcome this crisis, Achharya Shri resolved before Lord Jinendra Dev that he would not take any cereals till the problem of Jain temples was solved.
This news created waves of anxiety among the Jain community. Pandit Sumerchand Diwaker along with Sarseth Bhagchand Soni and Seth Raj Kumar Ji from Indore reached Faltan and requested Achharya Shri not to take such a tough vow. Shri Talakchand Shah said, “Maharaj! The process of law and politics moves very slowly.
Although it is a time consuming task, the whole community shall try its best and make full united efforts in this regard. You please take cereals. But Achharya Shri remained unmoved as if he had pledged himself with a firm assertion. He said with self confidence, “There will be no extinction of the religion at this juncture.
The Jain religion is an independent religion and the Jain temples are not Hindu temples. This corruption will not last for long. He reiterated “If this crisis on the religion is not averted, I shall not take any cereals till the end of this life, let it be the end of the body.”
A letter in this connection was written by Pandit Diwakar Ji to Dr. Rajendra Prasad and a delegation met him on his arrival at Jabalpur on 29 October, 1948.
Dr. Rajendra Prasad told the delegation, “you please convey my respects to Achharya Shri and request him to take cereals.” When the matter was discussed with Morar Ji Bhai Desai, the intention of the government was not found conducive.
When the Congress came to power then again it was hoped that the crisis on the Guru will be averted with the help of Dr. Rajendra Babu.
Government of Madhya Pradesh also enacted a law on the lines similar to the Bombay Act but through right approach and on request of the Jain delegation the prudent provincial cabinet exonerated Jain temples from the provisions of that Act.
After promulgation of the Republican Constitution in 1950, Pandit Diwakar Ji discussed this matter with the Congress President Shri Purushottam Das Tandon. He agreed with this contention that the temple was not a club or a sports field where any one could come and go. It was a centre of faith and worship where only the community with feelings of attachment had a right to enter.
Distinguished judges also expressed the same views that members of a community could not have the right to enter the place of worship of other communities. Shri Motilal Seetalwad, the Attorney General of India was consulted in this regard and he said, “This issue is connected with the Fundamental Rights and it can therefore be presented directly before the Supreme Court.”
After this an awful incident took place in Aklooj on November 28, 1950. The Collector of Sholapur district got the locks of Digambar Jain temple broken in the night and made the sweepers and shoe-makers (cobblers) enter it. A furore was created among the whole Jain community due to this.
Eminent merchants and barristers like Sirseth Bhagchand Soni, barrister Das Baboo, barrister Palkiwala, Ramanlal Kothari solicitor and Talak Chand Shah drafted a case and filed it before Honourable High Court against the Harijans entry into the Jain temple of Aklooj.
The Chief Justice Shri M C Chaola anrl īuctir’f» f SaianHra Gadkar heard the case on July 24,1951. We must say, it was a glorious “Punya Pmbhava ” (virtuous effect) of the penance of Achharya Shri that though initially, the case was not going in favour of Jains but took a different turn in the final phase of arguments.
The Chief Justice himself asked the Advocate General about who had empowered the Collector of Sholapur to get the entry of Harijans into the Jain temple by breaking the lock at 8 P.M. in the night? The Collector had only the right to sue the people stopping and checking the Harijans entry into the temple and not an oppressive act of entry into the temple by breaking the lock.
Finally, Honourable Chagla read out the decision, “The objective of the Bombay law was to give a right to Harijans to enter Hindu temples like the upper class Hindus. There is a fundamental difference between Jains and Hindus.
Therefore, we dissent the contortion of the Advocate General that the objective of the law was to remove the difference between Jains and Hindus.
Secondly, if any Hindu can prove his right to worship in the Jain temple before the enactment of this law, then the same right could be available for Harijans. Thirdly, the action of the Collector was not just according to the law.”
Experts of law were wonder struck that expected defeat turned into total victory of the religion.
This success is attributable to the venerable Charitra Chakarvarti Rishiraj who out of affection towards “Jinshasan ” had abandoned cereals for the past three years.
It was the fruit of his “Pravachan Bhakti” and of his inexhaustible devotion towards “Punch Parmeshthi” that it saved the boat of religion from drowning. Achharya Shri gave his consent for taking grain-made-food on the auspicious day of ‘Raksha Bandhan’ on August 16, 1951, after a lapse of 1105 days.
A large “Chouka ” (cooking area) was arranged in a pavilion where thousands of Shravaks had the holy sight of the Aahar of Achharya Shri.
During those historic moments the rain gods showered a few drops of water as an expression of their happiness.
This was an extremelv thrilline scene.