Danvir, Jain-Kul-Bhushan and one of the most respected and illustrious personages of the Jain society, Seth Maneck Chand Hira- chand, Justice of Peace, was born to his religious minded parents Shri Hirachand and Smt. Bijlibai af Surat. His grand-father Shri Gumanji had migrated to Surat from Bhindar, a small erstwhile State near Udaipur, in 1840 to trade in opium in a small way. After his death, Shri Hirachand had failure in the business and alongwith his sons Moti Chand, Pana Chand, Maneck Chand and Naval Chand shifted to Bombay to try their luck there.
Maneck Chand, alongwith his brothers, started business in a modest way and learnt the profession of pearl borers and stringers. Fortune favoured their honest efforts. In 1868 they started jewellery business. The firm Maneckchand Panachand Jewellers was set up in 1870 which became famous all over the country and in Europe as big exporters of pearls and jewellery.
Although a man with comparatively very little education, Seth Maneck Chand’s outlook on life was very wide. He was the pioneer in establishing himself and donating liberally for establishment of Jain Boarding Houses in various parts of the country for development of religious education and religious way of living among the students. He provided many scholarships to students.
He actively cooperated in the establishment of Syadwad Mahavidyalaya at Varanasi, inaugurated it and was its President. He built Dharamshalas in Hirabagh at Bombay and at Surat, made donations himself and raised funds for construction of Jain temples and repair of old ones at various places and for establishment of religious and educational institutions. He helped and financially supported Jain scholars. He was a reformist and initiated several movements for religious and social! reforms. He was a firm believer in female education. He was very meticulous about engaging honest workers in the institutions.
He was mainly responsible for the educational and religious pursuits of Brahamchari Shital Prasad, Pt. Gopal Das Baraiya and his daughter Mahila-Ratna Maganben. Influenced by Brahamchari Shital Prasad, in his later life he had left the business and devoted himself absolutely to the service of Jain religion and society.
Assiduous Seth Maneck Chand established and developed Bombay Prantic Maha Sabha, Maneck Chand Parikshalaya, Maneck ChandJain Granthamala, Jain Granthamala and “Jain Mitra” weekly. He encouraged and financially’ assisted publication of Jain literature by purchasing 200 to 300 copies of good new publications. He used to sell these books with much pleasure to further a good cause.
He was a very hard and devoted worker, had simple habits and treated all with much affection.
He got compiled a big Digamber Jain Directory in 1914. As President of All India Tirthakshetra Committee he did the arduous task of protecting and repairing the old Tirthak- shetras and temples in the country with great interest. During his last days he was on a big scheme to save the cattle from being butchered and also wished to establish a Boarding House with Jain Chaityalaya in London.
The total donations made by Seth Maneck Chand amounted to about Rs. 8 to 10 lakhs. Even on his death bed he had created Jubilee Bagh Trust of Rs. 2.5 lakhs for charitable purposes.