Dr. Bhavarlal H. Jain
[12th December 1937 - 25th February 2016]

website: http://www.bhavarlaljain.in/

The Gandhi Research Foundation (GRF) was established by Dr. Bhavarlal H. Jain. He was deeply influenced by Gandhiji whose core principles of Ahimsa (nonviolence), Aparigraha (non-acquisitiveness) and Anekantvada (non-absolutism/many-sidedness) he embodied in his daily life. He stressed the crucial relevance of these Gandhian values, especially in the present age burdened as it is by violence, political dictatorship, materialism and immorality, all the while, lacking in true spirituality.

At the GRF, following his example, we aim to inspire the minds and influence the lives of individuals by articulating as simply and forcefully as possible seminal aspects of Gandhian philosophy. We also engage in empowering the lives of people living in rural India.

As Founder of the Gandhi Research Foundation and Founder Chairman of Jain Irrigation System Limited, Bade Bhau (as he was affectionately called) was the initiator of comprehensive research on and development of the human face in cutting-edge technology in the sector of water management and future-farming. As an exemplary social entrepreneur, being inspired by the values of nonviolence and truth, he conducted his business in trusteeship for the welfare of all. He was also a philanthropist who established several schools, an eye hospital, a sports association and a charity home, all in the provincial town of Jalgaon; on its outskirts, he constructed an irrigation dam for public use. Due to his immense contribution, he was the recipient of the third highest civilian honour in India, the Padma Shri Award.

Founder’s Message (extracted from the inaugural brochure "Exploring Gandhiji", published in August 2012).
Padmashri Dr. Bhavarlal Jain, familiarly known as "Bade Bhau", is a farmer-friendly industrialist. He was born on 12th December 1937 at Wakod, five kilometres away from the world-famous Ajanta caves in the Jalgaon district of Maharashtra. His father, Shri Hiralal Jain, was a middle-class farmer and his mother, Shrimati Gaurabai, was an astute housewife. Inheriting the best of his ancestral culture and wisdom, he followed his mother’s providential advice and was entrusted with the family’s total savings of Rs.7,000/-, which enabled him to start a business that is worth a billion dollars today! Recently, in consultation with his children, he has created a trust out of his property, to be used for charitable and beneficial works, such as the Gandhi Research Foundation. Three famous personalities influenced his life, namely, Mahatma Gandhi, Jawaharlal Nehru and J. R. D. Tata. The synergetic influence of these eminent role models is exemplified in the "Gandhi Teerth". - Editor.

It is believed, according to the religio-philosophical traditions of India, that whenever there is an imbalance in society, some form of energy comes into existence to rectify and restore the balance. We may call that energy God or give it whatever name we may consider appropriate.

If we look back in history, particularly to the beginning of 20th century, we discern that Eastern cultural, ethical and moral values were being threatened by the Western way of life. At that crucial stage, when Western hegemony held sway over the globe, a person called Gandhi took upon himself the providential responsibility to guide the world, inspired by the virtues of Eastern values.

It was Gandhi’s cultural self-assurance (reinforced by the fact that as a Diwan’s son his self-respect had remained unscarred by colonial obsequiousness, which was otherwise quite pervasive among the late 19th century Indian elite), coupled with intellectual curiosity, a spirit of adventure and, above all, great will-power and a strong sense of defiance in the face of injustice, which enabled him to ’stand his ground’ (and in fact strengthen his own cultural identity) during his three years of legal studies in London from 1888 until 1891. These traits also enabled him to quickly seize the offer of a job as legal advisor for a Muslim business firm in Durban, South Africa, where he landed in 1893. During this stay in South Africa (originally intended to last for just one year, but which Gandhi felt compelled to extend to 21 years to fight against imperial injustice), he was provided with the tough apprenticeship for his subsequent Indian mission (a goal which at an early stage had become his primary concern) that made him into a true satyagrahi. Indeed, as he struggled relentlessly for 21 years against apartheid, injustice, the exploitation and discrimination of the Indian community in South Africa, Gandhiji developed an ingenious technique to fight against the evils of exploitation and injustice with Truth, Ahimsa and Satyagraha. Gandhiji has, thereby, given to humanity the message that injustice can be fought with love and can transform the doer of injustice through persuasion by influencing the latter’s heart.

It is not surprising that I have been deeply influenced by Gandhiji for, being born into a Jain family I became acquainted at an early age with the virtues of Ahimsa, Brahmacharya, Aparigraha (non-acquisitiveness) and Anekant (oneness of Ishwar). For decades, I have also been pursuing an inner search to attain a greater degree of spirituality and selfless-love in word and deed to dissolve the often glaring gap between thought and action, and on a more prosaic level, I have paid meticulous attention to the effects of diet on my physical and mental make-up. Realizing that Gandhiji, albeit at a level of greater intensity, was involved in a similar kind of experimentation on his inner journey of moksha, I became increasingly inspired by his persona, and accepted him as my role model.

Consequently, over the years, I have nursed a deep desire to create something substantial so that Gandhiji’s lifework and his vision may be preserved for posterity. And it was this dream that guided me in my business activities, and Gandhiji’s spirit provided me with the necessary courage and conviction to tackle problems in my stride. Then six years ago, when visiting Mani Bhavan in Mumbai, in a flash of inspiration, I realized how my cherished project could be transformed into reality. To familiarize myself with Gandhiji’s concrete legacy, I visited his major heritage sites (Sabarmati, Wardha, Delhi, etc.), and with a view to preserving his physical inheritance (in the form of objects, writings by him and about him, photos, films, etc.), which was often kept in a sadly neglected condition, I decided to ’rescue’ this invaluable heritage for the benefit of today’s youth and for future generations.

All said and done, some sincere people, especially Gandhians, may implicitly question the motivation of a businessman for constructing a monument to Gandhiji. Though this may signify a legitimate doubt about my intentions, I would be inclined to respond frankly as follows: rather than be concerned with the man who has initiated the construction of this complex, skeptics should try to appreciate the social and cultural significance of the Gandhi Teerth itself and endeavor to contribute to the realization of its altruistic goals.

Indeed, Gandhiji himself was not concerned with a person’s status or profession, but rather he had an intuitive grasp for (and could energize) the talents and potential of a whole range of individuals, pre-eminent among whom were towering figures such as Jawaharlal Nehru and Sardar Patel, whose divergent personalities he was successfully able to integrate into the Indian freedom movement. Likewise, receiving inspiration from Gandhiji’s example, I have been fortunate enough to find a Chairman for Gandhi Teerth, namely Justice Dharmadhikari, who graciously complied with my sincere request to offer his guidance to this worthwhile project.

Moreover, through this project I would like to dispel some purist notions about ’Gandhiji and business’. Indeed, Gandhiji, as a shrewd Bania, had an astute awareness about the importance of money and, as a political leader par excellence, was capable of managing the financial organization of his numerous campaigns with great skill, urging wealthy and poor supporters alike to participate generously, according to their respective means, in his fund-raising drives; he himself even resorted to auctioning his gifts, received from world-wide admirers, as well as his spectacles and chappals to obtain the necessary funds. At one juncture, on learning that Rabindranath Tagore needed money for Shantiniketan, he was successfully able to raise almost instantaneously a sum of sixty thousand rupees, thereby sparing Tagore this embarrassment.

Yet this concern with money did not blemish his saintly reputation: In 1944, alongside his famous talks with Jinnah, he also conversed with Sadhvi Ujjwala for 19 days, discussing several philosophical issues. During these extended meetings, Gandhiji asked her once whether she would accept food cooked by him. Quite amazed that he should harbor such a doubt, she exclaimed that since he was a vegetarian and did not exhibit any greed for money, she could certainly accept whatever he offered. Birlaji, who was present on this occasion, raised a separate issue, namely whether Gandhiji judged a wealthy person or his riches to be bad. Without hesitation, Gandhiji replied that money was Lakshmi (the Goddess of riches) and therefore could not be considered evil, and that if a rich man held his wealth in trusteeship for society, acquiring wealth was tantamount to doing a social service. Inspired by this dictum, the Gandhi Teerth has been constructed.

In the contemporary world ridden with violence, political dictatorship, materialism, immorality and a dearth of true spirituality, the relevance of Gandhiji and his message will increasingly acquire more significance. Strengthened by this conviction, I decided to dedicate this monument to this extraordinary human being. Located in an idyllic and environmentally congenial oasis, I sincerely hope that the Gandhi Teerth will attract scholars of the highest caliber as well as young enquiring minds to come and visit its library, museum and exhibition in order to devote intensive hours of research and reflection with the aim of bringing about a change, not only in their lives, but also contributing towards ameliorating global conditions. I earnestly request all readers to come and participate in this noble endeavor, inspired by Gandhiji’s vision for humanity.