Rajgir has been a land of great historical and spiritual importance to India since centuries. It is here that the undercurrents of Jainism, Buddhism, and Vedic philosophy met. Mahavir observed the most, fourteen chaturmas (four months of monsoon) in this geography. Sadly, when Acharya Shri Chandanaji first set foot in Bihar, she came face to face with abject poverty, illiteracy, and malnutrition.
She particularly observed that the completely avoidable blindness from cataract was rampant. Adult blindness had an adverse effect on the lives of the poor, especially if the breadwinner was taken ill. Thus, Veerayatan moved to action and the first free ‘eye camp’, helmed by a skilled team of doctors, was carried out in 1974. Four years later, 1,200 operations were carried out at the eye camp. While the patients were then housed in tents until they fully recovered, there was a significant need for a permanent structure that could withstand the weather.
Acharya Shriji facilitated the construction of a fully equipped hospital called Netra Jyoti Seva Mandiram (NJSM)*, a 52,600 sq ft facility with 175 beds, and outstanding patient and medical care as well as surgical treatments. Apart from eye care, NJSM is also known for its excellence in dental care, public health education, and community outreach activities.
Since its inception in 1984, NJSM has positively impacted lakhs of lives thanks to the efforts of Dr Sadhvi Shri Chetanaji, a dedicated and highly accomplished team of doctors, compassionate and generous donors, volunteers and, importantly, competent and caring staff.
Rajgir is also home to the Brahmi Kala Mandiram (BKM), an art gallery conceptualized and set up by Acharya Shriji. She has designed each artifact on display. This Temple of Art’s main highlights are intricately detailed panels in many colors, reflections, and raw material. It is fascinating to see mundane everyday material such as drying plants, rocks, and natural gum interwoven with fabric, broken jewelry and discarded pottery to create delicate miniatures that look perfectly machine-made.
Art at BKM reflects history, religion, and culture. The many panels depict the lives of Tirthankars and enlightened souls while beautifully conveying their teachings in a simple and attractive manner. Established in 1982, BKM has had 50 lakh visitors, and counting. On average, the gallery is flooded with hundreds of visitors from across the globe who come to see this art house. New artifacts are frequently added to perpetually delight repeat visitors.
Further, Rajgir’s Atithi Gruh (Guest House) is quite a serene site. It is located in the foothills of mount Vaibhargiri and provides comfortable boarding and lodging facilities for a growing number of yaatris (pilgrims) in Bihar. This 50-acre property comprises well-manicured landscapes, fountains, a museum and spiritual center (prayer hall) and Seva Mandir along with the office complex and Atithi Nivas, which can accommodate up to 300 guests at a time.
The work of Gurudev Shri Amarmuniji was the inspiration behind Veerayatan. He spent many years in sadhana in Rajgir. Saptaparni, a memorial dedicated to him, can be found here too. It is truly a place of prayer, peace, and solace. The socio-economic situation in the geography melted his heart. In an effort to reinvigorate the spiritual climate of the state and inspire the region to its former glory, he inspired Acharya Shriji to dedicate her time and limitless energy to positively impact humanity in this region.
*Netra Jyoti Seva Mandiram: Landmarks: 1973–2014
Veerayatan provides most of its services at NJSM free or at a nominal rate.