Great Souls>Nihalchandbhai Sogani
Childhood, education, marriage
Nihalchandra Sogani was born in Vikram Samvat (VS) 1969 (Vaishakh Sud 11), i.e. 27 April 1912 to mother Kishanbai and father Namichandraji. His attractive body and calm face would please everyone naturally. Nihalchandra was wise and clever and completed his education in a very short time. He was bright, enthusiastic, hardworking, fearless and had an inquiring mind. He would not rest until any task he took on had been completed. From childhood, Nihalchandra had a peculiar nature. As soon as any work was finished, he used to sit alone and think. His sharp eyes remained still in meditation, showing his curious nature. This astonished elder people in the house.
He started worked in a shop in Ajmer. Impressed with Soganiji's management-skill, his ability to respectfully interact with people and handling responsibility, the shop-owner offered him the ownership. In 1934, at the age of 22 he married. 5 boys and 3 girls were born of from his marriage. Though the earnings from the shop were not sufficient, Soganiji never worried.
Burning Questions, Restlessness and Solitude
The curiosity to know about the Soul v/s World, Life v/s Death etc. increased day by day. This wouldn't give him peace either in the shop or at home. He used to think about the complex truth of life. What is the truth? Who am I? Where is the indivisible peace? Where do I find answers to these burning questions?
On the one hand, there was increasing responsibility of the family's needs and on the other side there was the constant struggle to answer the questions burning inside him. The conflict was increasing day-by-day. In the silence of the night, he would wander on to the terrace at the top of his house. In the dark unhappy sky he would search for some lighted soul star. He would wish to tie wings and fly away from this uneasy life to where continuous peace exists. Every worldly act now felt like poison to him. In the crowded world, he felt alone and isolated. He built a cabin on the terrace so he could have solitude.
Search for the answers
Meeting saints & ascetic people, worshiping in Jain temples, reading Jain scriptures, etc. became his rituals. He studied and compared various religions in his search for the answer.
His interest in reading increased so much that in the shop whenever he could find time off, he used to get engrossed in reading the scriptures.
Once to be away from family ties, he left home for nearly two months and engaged a learned scholar and stayed in a dharmshala (hostel for pilgrims). He stayed awake at nights and devotedly read many Jain books and scriptures. But he was still restless as the answer was still evading him.
In 1946, Namichandji Patni presented a monthly magazine 'AtmaDharma', a publication from Songadh with lectures of Pujya Shri Kanji Swami to Soganiji. At that time Soganiji was sitting in a temple. On the cover page of the magazine, there was a phrase "Shat avashyk nahi, lakin ek hee aavshyk hai" (the 6 essentials are not the real essentials but there is only one essential). He was now unburdened. He had found answer to innumerable questions. He also found his Guru. He placed the 'AtmaDharma' in front of him and chanted :
"Udaak-chandan-tandul-pushpakai charu-sudeep-sudhupa-faal-ardhaykai; Dhaval mangal ganarvakulai jingrahai jinnath mahanYaja"
Published from Pujya Gurudev's lectures, 'AtmaDharma's' every word exuded divine knowledge. As he turned its pages, he got immersed in the message.
Gnaan ana Raag Juda Chhe
Later in the same year, 1946, he went to Songadh to hear Kanji Swami's lectures in person. In the lecture Pujya Gurudev said 'Gnaan ana Raag Juda Chhe' (knowledge and externally focused states are separate). Despite Soganiji having no knowledge of Gujarati language, he had no difficulty understanding Pujya Gurudev's Gujarati.
For Soganiji, Pujya Gurudev's religious assembly turned out to be a laboratory where he immediately started experimenting. He took the words 'Gnaan ane Raag Juda Chhe' and explored the
meaning behind those words. He stayed up all night and before dawn broke, he had experienced atindriya anand (bliss without the senses) i.e. himself. He had experienced that 'Gnaan ane Raag Juda Chhe'. He became addicted to this atindriya anand. He wanted to spend all his time in Songadh but his responsibilities did not allow that, so he returned to Ajmer.
Move to Kolkata, Solitude & Reading Scriptures
In 1950, Soganiji had to go to Calcutta for an extended period on business. In 1958, his family joined him in Calcutta, where he lived for the rest of his life. In 1953 he started the activity of scripture reading with others. In 1956, a Mumuksh Club was founded with Soganiji as it's leader.
Soganiji loved solitude and seeked out opportunities to be alone to experience the self. Those who recognised him valued his quotes and any correspondence with him. This has been published in the book, Dravya Dashti Prakashak. There are many instances of how detached Soganiji was from the world in the book and also in the video biography.
Friendship with LalchandbhaiNihalchandbhai also had contact with Lalchandbhai Amarchand Modi over a period of 3 years which turned into a strong friendship. Later Nihalchandbhai's quotes were collated by Lalchandbhai, Amarchandbhai and Shashibhai Sheth. When Gurudev heard that Lalchandbhai was leading the effort, Gurudev gave the green light for publication of DravyaDashti Prakash.
Final Visit to Songadh
After his final visit to Songadh, and after accompanying his wife to Ajmer where she was to stay for a while, Soganiji went back to Calcutta on 6 June 1964. The very next day, on 7th June 1964 (Vaishakh Vad 12), Shri Soganiji left this body.
Gurudev's Quotes about NihalbhaiWhen Pujya Gurudev Shree Kanji Swami heard the news, he immediately said: "This Soul-Seeker has made a success of his human life. He has gone to heaven and soon will attain Nirvana". In his lectures Pujya Gurudev would often praise Shri Soganiji's religious achievements, his unique effort and style.
Pujya Gurudev also said that Nihalchand Soganiji would attain Moksh before him: "Shri Sogani has gone to Vaimanik dev, from there, attaining human life he will attain Nirvana before me. And when I, in Tirthankar life (4th life) at the time of Monkhood pay homage to Siddhs then he would also get my obeisance".
"Great are such Masters...Great are such Students"