With the blessings of Pujya Acharya Shri Chandanaji, Sadhvi Shri Shilapiji first came to Nairobi in 1997 from London to establish the Shri Chandana Vidyapeeth Jain School (SCVP) after having successfully established one in London. Since then, she has been coming practically every year and has motivated not only the teachers who teach at SCVP but also the students and the public at large towards the right way of living. She has painstakingly set out the syllabus to be taught and reviewed it annually to fine-tune it. To date about a thousand children and adults have passed through SCVP Nairobi, hence Sadhvi Shri Shilapiji has had a profound impact on the future of Jain Dharma.
Pujya Sadhviji has been instrumental in bringing dynamism to Jainism by making Tirthankara Mahavir’s teachings alive again and making the dharma more practical to the modern world we live in, thereby appealing to both, the youth and the adults.
This year, Pujya Sadhvi Shri Shilapiji’s visit was short, merely 6 days from 28 February to the 6 of March but immensely successful.
We had the early morning sessions on Patanjali Yoga Sutra. For a layman, it is very difficult to decipher the meaning of these sutras and understand them in depth. However, Sadhviji’s simple explanations made it very easy to grasp and understand. The gist was the need to transform our thoughts and feelings from negative to positive. Also, taking a step back before reacting to any situation, person or object, adopting a constant practise of meditation and realigning oneself spiritually at various intervals during the day were some beautiful, simple, practical and adaptable messages.
Chapter 9 of Tattvartha Sutra which is on Samvara and Nirjara was discussed during the mid-morning sessions from 10.30am to 12 noon. This chapter highlights how to live in the present in a most peaceful and blissful way. Sadhviji opened up new doors for a purer experience of the ultimate.
We had 3 evening discourses. The first one was on the challenges of the mind. It outlined the need for mastering the mind and not being a slave to it. The second was on the power of prayers. She stressed that prayers are our personal communication with the higher self and needs no language. It must flow from within. One should be careful what one asks for as there is immense power in prayers and always have an aptitude for gratitude. The third discourse was on Harmony, the experience of oneness with all. She emphasized the need to put concerted effort to constantly live in awareness. All the discourses were delightfully presented with lots of anecdotes and live examples.
Pujya Sadhviji spent Saturday morning with the excited and eagerly awaiting children of SCVP. She advised the children to share, express gratitude and underscored the importance of thinking and not following blindly. The children were absolutely captivated by her and did not want to part from her. Pujya Sadhviji was also happy with the progress that SCVP has made over the past 21 years and the impact Jain education is having on the children as gauged from their presentations and the depth of questions that they asked.
The shibir at the weekend was on the text, ‘Ishavasya Upanishad’, which uplifted all the participants to the level of the soul underlining the practice of non-doer ship, belief in destiny and yet the effort remaining in your hands. They were intense thought lines necessary to take one a notch higher.
On Saturday night Pujya Sadhviji presented the amazing humanitarian work Veerayatan is doing, to a packed audience. We were all moved to tears seeing the extent of suffering in this world and the urgency of humanitarian efforts. She also extended an invitation for the 50 years celebration of Veerayatan in 2020 to highlight the tremendous progress done by Veerayatan in all fields, social and religious. The donors of Veerayatan were recognized with a beautiful framed certificate of appreciation for the various ways in which they have contributed to the phenomenal work being done.
One is just amazed at Sadhviji’s energy and the passion to teach and at the same time motivating people to do good work. Her radiant personality and lucid messages from Tirthankar Mahavir’s teachings draws people from different walks of life. She speaks from the very radiance of her being with such depth, insight, perception and compassion that one can hardly remain untouched.
Despite her busy schedule, Pujya Sadhviji spent 6 special days with us and for that we are eternally grateful. Pujya Sadhviji Shri Shilapiji’s departure is a definite anti-climax and we hope she will be with us soon. Her mesmerising words are still ringing in our ears….