Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Munisree Yasawai Sagarji Maharaj Passes Away

KOLKATA: An 88-year-old Jain monk breathed his last on Monday afternoon, after embracing the voluntary fast to death called Santhara, sanctioned by Jain scriptures. Munisree Yasawai Sagarji Maharaj of the Digambar community took neither food nor water for 51 days.

In a rare honour to Yasawai Sagarji, the Kolkata Municipal Corporation reserved the wooden pyre of Kashi Mitra burning ghat from 2am to 10am on Tuesday for his cremation. In fact, Jain leaders had applied to KMC the day the monk started his fast to reserve the pyre for a month. The KMC agreed. There is no precedence for this in the KMC's history.

On Tuesday, mayor Sovan Chatterjee personally asked chief municipal health officer J C Roy to pass an instruction to the sub-register of Kashi Mitra crematorium to arrange for everything. According to tradition, the monk was cremated in a sitting posture on the wooden pyre.

Yasawai Sagarji passed away at 3.25pm on Monday. He had decided to breathe his last through meditation and by fasting unto death two years ago, soon after becoming munishree', but his guru, Bardhaman Sagarji Maharaj, allowed it on January 17, said Dinesh Bajaj Gangwal), a senior member of the Parashnath Digambar Jain Belgachia temple trust. The trust immediately applied to KMC to reserve the pyre.

However, keeping the wooden pyre reserved led to an untoward incident about three weeks ago when a group of people from a north Kolkata locality created a furore after being refused to use it.

The KMC, which had reserved the wooden pyre at Kashi Mitra burning ghat for Munisree Yasawai Sagarji Maharaj, had to issue a fresh order after a family demanded to be allowed to use it.

The civic authorities then told the Parashnath temple trust that in honour of the fasting monk, the wooden pyre would be reserved for four hours. "We asked the temple trust to inform us about the demise of the monk immediately so that we could ask the sub-register of Kashi Mitra crematorium to keep the wooden pyre reserved as a token of respect for the Jain saint," said MMiC health Atin Ghosh.

A resident of Belgaum in Karnataka, Yasawai Sagarji Maharaj was attracted to Jainism at the age of 60 years. A father of four, he devoted himself to a saint's life 10 years ago, when he left family for good. Thereafter he attained three important feats of a Jain monk Brahmachari, Chhullak and Munisree.

His brother, Devegouda Jinjouda Patil, was present when Munisree Yasawai Sagarji Maharaj breathed his last. "He was always a devout person in search for the ultimate truth' all his life," said Patil. According to sources in the temple, the monk's son and all three daughters also camped at the Belgachia temple to witness the rare' event.

Dinesh Bajaj thanked KMC and Kolkata Police for cooperating with them for the last rites. The funeral procession of the monk was attended by 10,000 devotees and senior monks, Bajaj said.

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