It is known from the history of the development and growth of the Jain culture that twenty four ‘ Thirthankaras’ of Jain religion made the soil of the Northern India holy by their ‘Panchkalyanakas’, but after having had the Divya Deshana/Dhwani (Divine Discourse) the great authors/creator of the doctrinal scriptures of the path of sagacity made the Southern India as the ‘Shruti-Tirth’ (Pilgrimage of Scriptures) by taking birth there.
Achharya Shanti Sager ji took birth at Yelgood village, about four miles away from Bhojgram of Belgaum district of the same Shruti-Tirth in Southern India, in the night of Wednesday of Asacih Krishna Sasthi Vikram Samvat 1921, i.e., in the year 1872.
He belonged to the fourth caste group of Jains of ‘Kshatriya ’ descendent. Shri Bhimgoda Pateel and Shrimati Satyavati Devi had the fortune of becoming his father and mother, respectively. He was given the name of Saatgowda at the time of his birth.
He had two elder brothers namely Adigowda and Devgowda, one younger brother Kumbhgowda and a younger sister Krishna Bai. His family was religious and prosperous. He was a virtuous great man, an extraordinary store of attributes, an aggregate of compassion, profundity, valour and talents, bodily strong and healthy, powerful exceptional man with destruction-cum-subsidence of karmas and was adorned with the fragrance of the possession of good moral character/conduct.
Saatgowda acquired only general ability in Marathi, Hindi and Kannada languages but because of his super-human religious attitude and developmental style of work along with suitable atmosphere, the requirement of education was fulfilled at home.
He was married at the age of nine years to a six year old girl following the then prevalent custom. That girl died after about six to seven months of marriage in her parental house.
His many abilities regarding physical and skills in arts are well known. Some of them are as follows: He used to knock down four to six persons together in exercise/wrestling as he was the master of immeasurable strength.
He also used to pull the leather bucket used in irrigation that could only be pulled by strong and sturdy bulls. To move effortlessly with sacks of grains pressing them in his both the arm-sides; tak¬ing incapable/weak persons at the shrines located at the pinnacle of Shikharji Mountain by carrying them on his back and bringing them back safely, etc., are othpr examples.
But he never exhib¬ited his strength to cause pains/sufferings to others or for the sole purpose of showing his strength. Concentrating at the target, he shot down a coconut with the rifle in one attempt in his maternal house in Ekda village.
He was also expert in evaluating horses. His best hobby was to feed cows and bulls. Having had dispassionate and detachment tendencies/feel- ings by birth, he did not participate in the marriage ceremony of his younger brother and sister, He had unbounded devotion to¬wards Munis due to which he used his shoulders in carrying them across the confluence of Ved-Ganga and Doodh-Ganga.
Despite his lack of interest towards worldly affairs, he was engaged in agriculture and trade in grains in compliance with the desire of his father as per family tradition.
On attaining the age of eighteen years when his parents started the discussion of his second marriage, he specifically made it very clear not to be smeared in snares of this illusory world or else he affirmed to advance to the Muni consecration. Hearing this, his parents permitted him to observe vows without any ob¬struction.
Merely at the age of 17 to 18 years, his thoughts were sufficiently oriented towards”Virakti” (Non-attachment to worldly affairs) but because of the affection of parents he practised religious vows during early years living at home. He took some vows in the proximity of Adiguru Sidhh Sagar ji and at the age of eighteen years gave up the use of mattress for sleeping and shoes for walking.
During his pilgrimage to Shikaiji, at the age of 38 years, he renounced ghee and oil and started taking meals and water only once in a day as a mark of respect to Nirvcin Bhumi, the land of final emancipation.
After four years of the demise ofhis father, i.e. attheageof41 years, he left the house and adopted consecration of the Kshullak (Junior Saint) from Devappa Swami, popularly known as Devendrá Kirtiji, on ‘Jyestha Shukla Triyodashi’, Vikram Samvat 1972 and was known as Kshullak Shanti Sagar in place of Saatgowda. He accepted Elak- consecration in ‘Siddha Kshetra ’ Gimar and soon engaged himself for getting ready for Digambar Muni – consecration.
He as¬sumed Digambar posture by abandoning the clothes forever on the eve of Diksha Kalyanak on Falgun Shukla Gyaras, Wednesday, in Vikram Samvat 1976, i.e. in the year of 1999, from Muni Devendrá Kirti ji who arrived at Yamal during the great festival of Panch- kalyanak. Now, he became Muni Shanti Sagar.
He formed ‘Shraman Sangh ’ in Samdouli. Hence, he was bestowed with the position/rank of “Achharya’ by the ‘Chaturvidh (four-fold) Sangh ’ on Ashivn Shukla Gyaras, Wednesday, Vikram Sawant 1981, i.e. in the year of 1924.
In his life time while performing Chaturmas at different places during his pilgrimage to several sacred places, he inspired people to renounce consuming wine, meat, etc. and taught them the art of leading fearless and terror-free life through his reli¬gious expositions on those themes.
It was only through his preach¬ing that many social evils like beast’s sacrifice were discontin¬ued in Katni, Dhariawad, etc. It was the effect of his preaching that special projects like women education, and safety and secu¬rity of sacred scriptures written on palm leaves in Mood Bidri in Karnataka, were initiated. The unique work of interpretation/analysis/commentary and ‘Kasaya Pahud’, etc.
could be completed only due to his earnest efforts. Apart from this, he took profound interest in publication and amelioration of other scripture works. At the same time, he strived hard for reassuring people about religion and its fruits by observing/performing various ‘ tapas’ (penances) and putting excellent efforts.
Achharya Shri carried out his ‘Chaturmas’ at Gajpantha in Maharashtra in Vikram Samvat 1994, i.e. in the year of 1937. During great festival of ‘Panch Kalyanak ’ convened here, the whole community present there felt themselves blessed and fortunate enough by adorning Achharya Shri with the honourable title of ‘ Charitra Chakarvarti’.
His many disciples embraced iDigambari consecration’ and assumed suitable vows having impressed by his completely passionless conduct and ‘Samyak Tatavabodh’ (right approach to the knowledge of the real nature of things).
Achharya Shri Veersagar ji, Achharya Kunthu Sagar ji, Achharya-Kalpa Chandra Sagarji, Achharya Sudharma Sagar ji, Achharya Paay Sagar ji, Achharya Nami Sagarji, Muni Shri Samant Bhadraji, Muni Shri Vardhman Sagaiji, etc. are some of the major distinguished names among them.
Apart from them many other deceased Muniraj, Elakas, Kshullakas and Brihmacharies are among his disciple- community. As per information available, about seven hundred persons felt honoured after having become his disciple.
After deciding to adopt ‘Sallekhana’ in Gajpantha in 1951, he reached Kunthalgiri where he assumed Yam Sallekhana. Voluntarily giving up his Achharya-rank, he entrusted its liability to his capable disciple Muni Shri Veer Sagaiji by writing thus, “I, being fully satisfied, bestow on my first disciple Nirgrantha Muni (Passionless saint) Veer Sagar the status of Achharya”.
He had always been attempting to remain alert and cautious in “Aatma-Sadhana” (strive for the Self). Renouncing meals gradually, step by step, he finally gave it up altogether except water on 14* August, and on 4* September, taking water for the last time, renounced it as well forever.
He delivered his immortal divine message for 22 minutes for public welfare on 26* day of his ‘ Yam Sallekhana ’ by displaying the strength of self.
Finally, by abandoning complete attachment with the body, this Mortifier-king courted great departure (death) on September 18, 1955 at 6.50 A.M., the astrologically auspicious moment, i.e.‘Amrit Siddhiyog’, accordingly Sunday, the sacred day of ”Bhadrapad Shukla He carried out an illustrious work of making it available- for-all and giving a new direction to the continued trend of Digambar Jain Saints in the 20* Century by living it appropriately in practice in the present era according to the scriptures.
Great philosopher and the then President of India, Dr.S.Radha Krishnan expressed his emotions, “Achharya Shanti Sagar ji is the symbol of the soul of India and such persons are intangible form of the soul of our country”.
This ascetic, who took tireless efforts for the “Aatma- Sadhana ” and for the amelioration of the society, shall forever remain unforgettable.
Dr (Ku.) Aradhna Jain, Swatantra