Srimad Rajchandraji's Concept Of Self-knowledge

 “Sever the ignorant doubt

In your heart with the

Sword of self-knowledge

Observe your discipline. Arise”

                                                             -Bhagavad Gita 4:42

Srimad Rajchandraji presents a major historical event in the spritual horizon of India. His spiritual insights coincide with those of giant like Maharshi Ramana, Gurdieff and J.Krishnamurti. At the same time, he represents a glorious tradition of both Gautam Buddha and Mahavir Swami and shares his philosophy discovery with numerous mystical traditions of the world. Hence , one cannot confine him within the rigid space of the jaina philosophy only, but must see him as a secular and comopolitian seer. Today, existentialist philosophers like Kierkegaard and Heideggar affrim the supremacy of being in comparision to epistemology. In fact,  Heidegger argues that own self rather than with the theory of objectivity knowledge. Likewie, Kierkegaard also puts stress on importance of objectivity of truth in comparision to objective facts of science. In short, both spritual as well as secular thinkers confirm the need of self-knowledge before one tries to discover objective truths of the universe.


The basic assumption of all these seers is that all knowledge being himself. Therefore, the search for knowledge must start from within a man’s own self. Modern psychology has also agreed to this view and analytical psychologists like Jung emphasize the need to discover inner self and to come to terms with one’s own soul. To that extent, one may say correctly that Srimad Rajchandraji’s concept of self-knowledge contains valid, logical, psychological and philosophical foundations and at the same time transcend them to reach the highest spiritual peak possible.


Raichandbhai Ravjibhai Mehta, his worldly name before he became spiritual guide as Srimad Rajchandraji, was born in A.D. 1867 at a small village Vavania Bandar in Saurashtra region. Gandiji, whose spiritual mentor he became, used to call him as Raichandbhai or Kavi. At the age of seven, he realized intensely the recollection of his past births when his neighbor died and he witnessed his last funeral rite from a top of a babul tree. After this experience, which the Jains call Jati Smarna Jnana, things where never the same for Raichandji and he began to develop detachment toward the worldly matters. The urge for self-realization and liberation [Moksha] grew stronger and stronger with the passage of time. However, in conformity to his familial duties, he got married and started the life of a householder.  But even during this phase of his life, he never lost the sight of his mission and therefore, pursued his spiritual journey uninterruptedly. Moreover, he found him himself extraordinary powers of memory, concentration and hence came to know as Satavadhani.  Without tasting, he could point out whether a food dish was having salt or not and with closed eyes by simply touching could tell the title of a book. But he felt that these powers were really hindrances in achieving the goal of self-realization and therefore he gave up practicing them forever.

What he gave superlative importance to was the discovery of the discovery of the self -knowledge.  As Gandhiji has rightly remarked, ‘‘ ...his wide knowledge of the scriptures, his spotless character , and his burning passion for self-realization ‘‘ … only for which he lived.’’  [P.4, Chandrika].   Hence, all through his career even as a businessman, Srimadji, was consistently expanding the frontiers of his spiritual knowledge.  Even in his busy worldly life, he remained completely focused on his inner self.  Finally, he relinquished the family life and entered into the Vanprashtha Ashram at the age of thirty-two.  He had only one more year to complete his earthly life before entering into the final blessedness.

It was Gandhiji who learnt the spiritual lessons from Srimadji and came to realize the immense importance of self-knowledge in every walk of life. In fact, Srimadji’s concept of religion itself was invariably interlinked with his conception of self-knowledge. He observed correctly: ‘‘by religion, we are able to know the duty of man, by it we are able to know are religion with other living beings. But all this requires the capacity to know one’s self.  If we do not know ourselves, we cannot know other rightly.  By religion one can know himself. Such a religion can be selected from wherever it is found.’’   [P.10.Chandrika]. Such, then,  was his carved path to salvation. Hence, he avoided all differences of cast, creed, colour, religion. For, him, there existed nothing but the soul and its journey and its destination – which was Moksha or liberation   from the cycle of birth and death.

Incidentally, Srimadji’s cotemporary Ramana Maharishi also insisted that all spiritual quests should start with simple questions , -  ‘‘Who am I ?’’ Hence, Maharishi Ramana taught: ‘‘The world is so unhappy because it is ignorant of the true  self. Man’s real nature is happiness.  Happiness is in born in the true self. The true self is imperishable, therefore, when a man finds it, he finds a happiness which does not come to end” [P-10, Chandrika]. Likewise, J.Krishnamurti stressed on the importance of self-knowledge and said that “self-knowledge is the beginning of wisdom,  and therefore, the beginning of transformation or regeneration [P.43, Krishnamurti]. He also said that man and the world are not different, because “you are the world”. In this way, one can see certain close affinities among the greatest seers of the world who firmly believed in the practice of the self-knowledge.


Now, it is time to dwell on Srimadji’s proposition about the self and how best one can come to know of its true nature. He did this  in his best work Atma Siddhi, which is a 142 verses long philosophical poem on the nature of the soul. The book has been divided into ten parts of unequal size, but its first part deals with “the necessity of self-knowledge.” However, its central part-Part VI- gives a commentary on six proposition which form the most crucial philosophy of the Srimadji with regard to the soul and its nature e.g., these six propositions, which from the core of Atma Siddhi are as following:

               [1] The soul exists.

               [2] The soul is eternal.

               [3] The soul is the doer of Karma

               [4] The soul enjoys the fruits of karma.

               [5] There is liberation.

               [6] There are means to liberation.

There is no surprise to find that these six propositions seem just like the four Noble [Arya] truths of Buddha. In fact, both of them can be safely and comfortably interchanged with one another. Buddha preached that the unhappiness is caused be Desire. Desire is the root cause of all Karma. When man realizes the truth of desire, he stops desiring things. That is the beginning of the liberation. And for attaining such liberation or Nirvana, there are definite means-which are divided into the Astanga Marga . But the most important means for Buddha is the scrutiny of one’s own self, the awareness of oneself. Similarly, Mahavir Swami, whom Srimadji literally followed, also preached the importance of “Swadhyaya” or self learning. By constantly keeping awake, a Muni can find his way to Kevalya and that he can easily shed his Karma. Mahavira defined as to who is a true Muni: “Asutta Muni, Sutta Amuni “, one who does not sleep, but keeps his consciousness awake is Muni. On the other hand, the worldly people are more often than not asleep even while they may seem to be fully awake. This is exactly what Gurdieff also maintained. He said that mostly people are asleep and that they do not know what they are doing, because their life is dull, insensitive and mechanical. In fact, Gurdieff went to the extent of identifying man with machine. Hence, one finds that Srimadji’s concept of the soul is not inconsistent with what most other enlightened souls of the world have conceived it to be.

In that way, the first eight stanzas of Atma-Siddhi deal with the need for self-realization. At the same time, they show the discrimination which is essential to distinguish between the false practitioner and the true seeker.

                      “Without knowledge of the self’s identity,

                        One is condemned to ceaseless suffering…..”

[Verse I, Atma Siddhi]

              In the same vein, Srimadji further says:

            “Trapped in the Kalyug of decei,t, deception,

              The path of self-lost in confusion,

              To help the seeker who searches for salvation,

              I disclose the secret of self-realization

[Verse II, ibid]

In like manner, in the third stanza, he comments that mostly people are mired in rituals which are meaningless. Moreover, their knowledge is lacking in right action and vice-versa. They have neither right drive to explore their inner self nor right understanding of their own action. In fact, the relationship between their knowledge and action is lop-sided. Hence, they indulge in either rigid rituals or in their dull knowledge. In the next stanza, Srimadji illumines the nature of a false seeker, who claims:

            “Bondage and liberation are illusions”,

              Man announces in the worlds that are empty,

              But his behavior itself is a delusion,

              And his barren knowledge, a mere parody.”

[Verse V, ibid]

            After this stanza comes the most important one that has a direct bearing upon Srimadji’s concept of self-knowledge:

            “Liberation of the self is made totally possible,

              When renunciation comes with knowledge of self,

              But with mere renunciation it is impossible,

              To do more than understand the self.” 

[Verse VI, ibid]

            This shows that the renunciation alone is not enough, but that it must be matched with the understanding of the self. Just giving up something does not mean that one has achieved the true liberation. But it comes only as a result of self-knowledge, self-conquest and finally self-realization. Therefore, in the seventh stanza, Srimadji puts stress on the value of renunciation which must be both mental and physical. With mere physical sacrifices, man has the illusion of having achieved realization, but that is a great obstacle. On the other hand, life’s real goal lies in self-remembering and self –knowledge. Those who are too much involved in their physical renunciations often forget the need for self-discovery. Thus, they miss the most vital point of their spiritual journey and go astray from the true path.

            Finally, in the eighth stanza, Srimadji concludes his understanding of the self-knowledge thus:

            “Wherever and whatever is seen as fit,

  Is met with immediate comprehensions,

  Each thought, is then implemented,

  Such is the state of realization.”

[Verse VIII, ibid]

This stanza sums up the quality of a true seeker of truth who becomes fit for attaining self-realization. Fundamentally, such a seeker is a man of Vivek, discrimination. He knows what is necessary and what is unnecessary, what one ought to accept and what one must reject. His life is reposed in a tranquility of mind, serenity of spirit and the wholeness of heart. At the same time, he discards and throws away what is trivial and useless for his Sadhna. In other words, Srimadji suggests that to know the soul is to become a seer of truth. But for this to happen, right thinking is very necessary. By right thinking only the soul awakens and gives way to its self-knowledge. What is concealed in the innermost mind comes to the daylight and everything is illumined like lightening and the dilution is destroyed permanently. In short, there is a face to face encounter with one’s own self!!! This is the only ultimate goal of all religion, all Sadhna and every individual destiny!

            “`Doubtless every enlightened one,

   Arrives at this point of illumination`

   Saying which, into silence sank the holy one,

   Enveloped in effortless, self-absorbed meditation. ”

[Versa 118]

Article Posted By : MadhusudanlView All Articles

Srimad Rajchandraji

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