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Acharya Anand Rishi Ji

Jain Acharya Shri Anand Rishi Ji Maharaj was the second Jain Acharya Samrat of Jain Sathanakvasi Shwetamber Shraman Sangh. The Government of India issued a postage stamp on 9 August, 2002 in his honor.

He was conferred the title Rastra Sant. He inspired not only Jain communities, but other castes as well. He founded many educational institutes.

He was born as Nemichand in Chichondi village of Pathardi tahsil of Ahmednagar district on 27 July, 1900. It was the day of Shravan Shukla Pratipat (ekam). His father was Devichandji Gugale and mother was Hulsabai. He also had elder brother Uttamchandji. He was pious from his childhood, and started taking religious lessons at an early age under the guidance of Ratna Rishi Ji Maharaj who was also his mentor.

At the tender age of 13, Nemichand decided to spend the rest of his life as a Jain sant. His diksha (consecration) took place on 7 December, 1913 (Margashirsha Shukla Navami) at Miri in Ahmednagar district. He was then given the name Anand Rishi Ji Maharaj. He started learning Sanskrit and Prakrit Stotras under the guidance of Pandit Rajdhari Tripathi. He gave his first pravachan to the public in 1920 at Ahmednagar.

Together with Ratna Rishi Ji Maharaj, Anand Rishi Ji had started promoting Jainism. According to Jainism, a sadhu or sadhvi cannot stay at one place (excluding medical condition or old age), and they walk from one place to another, called as vihar. In chaturmas the saints stay in one place as per the resident's request. Chaturmas means four months of spiritual enhancement for uplifiting spirit of dharma. He was called as Guru Dev by his followers.

After mentor Ratna Rishi Ji Maharaj's santhara death in Alipur in 1927, Anand Rishi Ji was devastated. However, he never forgot his mentors words "Never be sad, and always work towards well-being of mankind". His first chaturmas without his mentor was in Hinganghat in 1927. In 1931, he used to have religious discussions with Jain dharma divakar Chuathmalji Maharaj, who realized Anand Rishi Ji's capability to become Acharya, and conveyed his wish it to his followers.

Anand Rishi Ji started many programs to benefit for Shravaks. While in Ghodnadi for chaturmas, he thought to establish a religious center, called as Shri. Tilok Ratna Sthanakvasi Jain Dharmik Pariksha Board. It was established in Ahmednagar on 25 November, 1936.

In 1952, at Sadri Sadhu Sammelan in Rajasthan, Anand Rishi Ji was declared as the Prime Minister of Jain Shraman Sangha. In 1953, many renowned Jain sadhus came together for a common chaturmas in Jodhpur, Rajasthan. On 13 May, 1964 (Phalguna Shukla Ekadasi), Anand Rishi Ji became second Acharya of Shraman Sangha. The ceremony took place in Ajmer, Rajasthan.

After his chaturmas in 1974 in Mumbai, Anand Rishi Ji arrived in Pune. A huge welcome ceremony took place at Shaniwar Wada. On 13 February, 1975 (Maagha shukla dvitiya), he was awarded the title Rashtra Sant by Maharashtra's chief minister Vasantrao Naik. This was also the year of his 75th birthday. The same year Anand Foundation was established. 1987 was the diamond jubilee year of his consecration as a sadhu. It was celebrated with nine consecrations, and in the presence of Pujya Shankaracharya and Chief Minister Shankarrao Chavan.

One more divine thing about the revered Acharya is that he had a PADAM symbol in his foot middle. He would exhibit that only to those devotees who forbid one of his habit or vowed some PRAN for lifetime.