Yugpurush- The Story of Shrimad Rajchandra and the Transformation of Mohandas to Mahatma has been edited by Pratichi Sadavrati.
“Such was the man who captivated my heart in religious matters as no other man has till now.”
-Mahatma Gandhi, ‘Modern Review’ 1930
This is what Mahatma Gandhi said about Shrimad Rajchandra, the man who transformed Mohandas into Mahatma. If I ask you to name one person who has influenced you the most, who will come to your mind? One person. Just one person.
Difficult, right? Not because there is no one who has influenced us. It is because there have been too many people who have contributed to our growth. Innumerable people inspire us in our lives, make us, break us, and in the process, shape us into our present selves. Family, friends, teachers, mentors and sometimes strangers; they all have a hand in moulding our personalities. While some people enter the limelight and become renowned, others silently support them and stand like a rock behind them through their entire journey.
Ask any child who the Father of the Nation is, or whose picture they see on the Indian currency note, they will say without blinking their eye, “Mahatma Gandhi!”. He was and still is the symbol of peace and non-violence all over the globe. His approach of Satyagraha and Ahimsa to fight against and drive out the British from India inspired freedom movements in many colonies. Honesty, truthfulness, humbleness, peace, and non-violence became his most widely known characteristics. Nevertheless, how Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi became Mahatma Gandhi is still a mystery to many. What transformed him into the symbol of peace and non-violence he is now known to be?
Fortunately, I got the opportunity to watch, ‘Yugpurush- Mahatma na Mahatma‘, a play that answered a lot of my queries about Mahatma Gandhi. This play, which was directed and organized by the members of Shrimad Rajchandra Mission, Dharampur, portrays the life of the man behind Gandhi and how his teachings transformed Mohandas into Mahatma. But apart from introducing the Jain poet, philosopher, scholar, and reformer, the play also imparted lessons on life, death, rebirth, soul, spirituality, knowledge and materialism.
Nine hundred and fifty shows of the play were organized in English, Hindi, Gujarati, Tamil, Bengali and Kannada in the span of two hundred seventy-five days. Also, it was the first Indian event to be premiered at Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles, where the Oscar award ceremony takes place. The donations received and the revenues generated from the sale of tickets are being used to expand the capacity of a multi-speciality hospital in Dharampur for the tribal people.
The play takes instances from about hundred letters exchanged between Shrimad Rajchandra and Mahatma Gandhi. They are mentioned in Gandhi’s autobiography and have been published in several magazines by Gandhi himself. The play depicts the extremely knowledgeable and sharp Shrimad Rajchandra, who was popularly called Kavi Shri. At a young age of seven, he recollected all his previous births. His memory was outstandingly sharp. He had the ability to complete a hundred tasks, such as making sentences from letters, solving complex mathematical problems, playing chess and cards and combining couplets with zero error. He was invited to work with Dr Peterson through this demonstration, which was called Shatavdhan. It earned him laurels in India as well as in England. However, Kavi Shri politely declined the offer. He saw it as an obstacle in the progression of the soul towards liberation. He also gave credit to this achievement on the power of the soul and not to himself. His principle was simple: Focus on the soul, as that is the only thing that is eternal. These bodies are like vessels to hold our souls and they will change their forms in every birth.
He believed that practising religion should not be restricted to just temples, mosques and churches. According to him, the dharma of a religious person should reflect in his smallest activities too. He never imposed Jainism on Mahatma Gandhi, in spite of himself being Jain. When Mahatma Gandhi went to South Africa, he became confused as to whether he should keep following Hinduism or not. Due to the complexities of the caste system in Hindu religion and his inclination towards Christianity and Islam. In this time, Shrimad Rajchandra sent some of his own scriptures and books on Hindu religion. They reinstated Mahatma Gandhi’s faith in Hinduism.
Such instances, among many others, reshaped the thinking process of Gandhi. From a young graduate in law from England, who was filled with egoism and money-mindedness, Gandhi shifted to the path of liberation by focusing on the soul and gaining guidance from his Kavi Shri. He trod this path not alone but brought the citizens of the entire nation to join him too. This play was a tribute to the man who inspired Mahatma Gandhi and made the weapons of truth and non-violence that Gandhi wielded.
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