Kumar, Guru Sushil

   Jain teacher
   Guru Sushil Kumar was a teacher of Jain tradition and of interreligious understanding. He broke with Jain convention by traveling abroad in pur-suit of his mission, and he founded the Interna-tional Jain Mission (see JAINISM).
   Sushil Kumar was born on June 15, 1926, into a Hindu Brahmin family in the small village of Sikhopur in Hariyana, India. The village was later renamed Sushalgarh in his honor. When he was a very young boy, a deceased Jain YOGI and enlight-ened master, Sri Roop Chandji Maharaj, appeared to him in a vision and told the young Sushil to become a monk. At age seven, he left his family and village to live with a Jain monk, Sri Chotelal Maharaj, who became his guru. In 1941, at age 15, Sushil took initiation (DIKSHA) and became a monk in the STHANAKVASI sect of Jainism.
   Sushil pursued an academic career in classical Indian and yogic philosophies, while experiencing directly the topics he was studying. His abilities to teach and share his experiences attracted disciples, who recognized him as a source of wisdom, truth, and understanding. He actively promoted peace and harmony throughout India and worked to establish a sense of universal brotherhood among the country’s conflicting religious traditions.
   In 1975 he began a controversial international tour, which broke with the Jain tradition’s require-ment that monks travel only by foot. He broke the ancient restraint against traveling by plane in order to share the Lord MAHAVIRA’s message of nonvio-lence, peace, and oneness of all living beings.
   His teaching of the Arhum Yoga system involves mastery of the inner self through watchfulness and direct perception. Arhum yoga includes the eight limbs of PATANJALI’s yoga system, sound vibration, healing, awakening of the KUNDALINI, energy, holistic health, and the teachings of Jain-ism. The main text he used was the Matrika Yidya of the Namokar Mantra, a foremost mantra in the Jain tradition.
   Sushil presided over a number of world reli-gion conferences and was director and president of many organizations devoted to intercultural and interreligious cooperation, world peace, uni-versal brotherhood, animal and environmental protection, and nonviolence. He was a founding member of the VISHWA HINDU PARISHAD.
   Sushil motivated the Sikh leader Tara Singh to participate in dialogue with the Indian govern-ment to solve the animosities that were threaten-ing the state of Punjab.
   He also founded many spiritual organizations, including the World Fellowship of Religions in 1950, Vishwa Ahimsa Sangh in 1957, International Jain Mission in 1978, Arhat Sangh in 1979, and the World Jain Congress in 1981, and World Center of Nonviolence. He died on April 22, 1994.
   Sushil’s main ashram is Siddhachalam, in Blairstown, New Jersey, established in 1983, the first Jain pilgrimage site (tirtha) established out-side India. Siddhachalam is a residential commu-nity for monks, nuns, and laymen and laywomen, as well as a retreat center. It serves as headquarters for the International Jain Mission, the World Fel-lowship of Religions, and the World Jain Con-gress. The ashram is also a wildlife sanctuary.

Encyclopedia of Hinduism. . 2007.

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