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|Sant Shiromani Acharya Shri 108
Acharya Vidyasagar, a prominent Digambara monk
10 October 1946
Sadalga, Belgaum district, Karnataka
|Disciple(s)||Pramansagar, Sudhasagar, Kshamasagar, Guptisagar|
|Works||Mukamati (silent soil)|
|Initiation||30 June 1968
by Acharya Gyansagar
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Acharya Shri Vidyasagarji Maharaj (born 10 October 1946) is one of the best known modern Digambara Jain Acharya (philosopher monk). He is known both for his scholarship and tapasya (austerity). He is known for his long hours in meditation.
His childhood name was ‘Vidyadhar’. He was the second of four sons, eldest son being Mahavira Ashtage. As a child, he was fond of eating fresh butter which was used to make ghee (clarified butter). He wasn’t a demanding child and accepted what was given to him. Vidyadhar used to visit temples and teach his younger siblings the principles of religion. He called both her younger sisters Akka (elder sister). He was attentive and submissive towards studies. In spare time, he also used to paint.
He was initiated as a Digambara monk at the age of 22 by Acharya Gyansagar, who belonged to the lineage of Acharya Shantisagar, at Ajmer in 1968. Except the elder brother all his family members joined the sangha. His father Mallappa, mother Shrimati, and two sisters took diksha and joined the sangh of Acharya Dharmasagar. Of the three brothers, Anantanath and Shantinath followed him and were initiated by Acharya Vidyasagar as Muni Yogasagar and Muni Samaysagar respectively. The elder brother married and continued the blood line.
He was elevated to the Acharya status in 1972. The Acharya does not eat salt, sugar, fruits, milk, in addition to what is traditionally prohibited (like onions). He goes out for meal at about 10 AM from Śrāvakas (lay votaries). He takes food once in a day in the palms of his hand, one morsel at a time.
Acharya Vidyasagar Chaturmas (four month stay) for 2016 was in Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh, where he was accompanied by 38 munis. He gave his Pravachana in Madhya Pradesh Legislative Assembly on special invitation from Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan on 28 July 2016.
Acharya Vidyasagara is a scholar of Sanskrit and Prakrit and knows several languages such as Hindi and Kannada. He has written in languages like Prakrit, Sanskrit, Hindi. His works include Niranjana Shataka, Bhavana Shataka, Parishah Jaya Shataka, Suniti Shataka and Shramana Shataka. He also authored nearly 700 Haiku poems which are unpublished.[relevant? ] He authored the Hindi epic poem Mukamati. This has been also included in the syllabus of MA Hindi in various institutions.[which?] This epic poem has also been translated into English by Lal Chandra Jain and was presented to President of India. Several researchers have studied his works for masters and doctoral degrees.
He belongs to the tradition established by Acharya Shantisagar. Acharya Shantisagar initiated Acharya Virasagar, who was then succeeded by Acharya Shivsagar, Acharya Gyansagarand finally Acharya Vidyasagar.
Some of his disciples are well known scholars of their own right. As of 2001[update], about 21% of all the Digambar monks were under Acharya Vidyasagara. One of his best known disciples, Muni Kshamasagar ji, obtained samadhi in 2015 Muni Sudhasagar and Upadhyaya Guptisagar are also his disciples.
Acharya Vidyasagar has been a source of inspiration to the people for starting institutions for the welfare of living beings at different places. Since the number of monks (munis) and nuns (āryikas) initiated by him and are directed by him exceeds two hundred (117 Digambar Muni, 172 Aryikas), they stay in more than 60 locations in India during chaturmas, ranging from Gujarat to Jharkhand, and Haryana to Karnataka. This ensures that only a few monks or nuns are staying in a place.
As a traditional Digambara Jain monk, he never stays in a single place for more than a few days, except for the four months of the rainy season (chaturmas). He never declares which place he will be in next, although people attempt to estimate his next move. Since his initiation in 1968 he has had 7 chaturmas in Rajasthan (1968–74), one in UP (1974), 7 in MP (1976–1982), one in Bihar (1983), 9 in MP again (1984–1992), two in Maharashtra (1993–94), one in MP (1995), one in Gujarat (1996), 11 in MP again (1997–2007), one in Maharashtra again (2008), 8 in MP again (2009–2016).
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