The volume ‘Jain Philosophy’
by Virchand Gandhi was
published ten years after his
death. A thinker and a
philosopher, an orator par
excellence, Virchand Gandhi
was the first exponent of Jain
Philosophy in the western world.
The volume of Jain Philosophy
reflects his unbounded love for
and faith in Indian culture and
his ire against the nefarious
practice of proselytisation in
India. His exposition of the
tenets and principles of Jainism
is in-depth and in a style which is
so lucid. He was well-versed not
only in Jain philosophy but in
philosophy of other religions too.
Yoga, Psychology, Science of
food and nutrition are other
areas in which he delved and
spoke about them with authority.
He has succeeded eminently in
projecting a vivid picture of real
India, with its rich cultural and
spiritual heritage, the ethical
lives of the people of India, its
industrial progress and the
Indian womanhood. He,
therefore, comes across as a
true representative of India in all
His great moment of being ushered into the global limelight
was the historic first ever Parliament of World’s Religions at
Chicago (U.S.A.) in 1893. He was deputed by reverend Jaina
Monk Acharya Atmanandji to attend on his behalf as a pioneer
flag-bearer of Jaina religion outside the borders of India.
Virchandbhai lived up to the confidence of the Jaina monk.
At the age of 29, he articulated most persuasively and cogently
the fundamental theories and principles of Jaina religion, its
philosophical perceptions and its ethical dimensions. And this he
did in the context of Jaina phitosophy’s integrated perception of
Ahimsa, Aparigraha and Anekant in perception (Darshan),
knowledge (Gyan) and conduct (Charitra).
Beginning with his scintillating and soul-stirring speech in
the Parliament and his subsequent interventions during the 17
Gays session, he was invited to deliver a series of speech on
Jainism in Chicago, Boston, New York, Washington and other
cities during his three years sojourn in U.S.A. On the return journey
he was invited to deliver many speeches in London in U.K.
It was his speech at the Parliament of World’s Religions that
opened the gates of the western world unaware about the history,
legacy, principles and philosophy of Jainism as one of the oldest
religions of the world.
Chicago Daily Sun wrote on April 3 1894 :
"Mr. Virchand R. Gandhi who represented Jaina religion at
the Parliament of Religions has been listened to by larger and
more enthusiastic audience then any other oriental religion during
and since the parliament". Reverend A White of Chicago
considered him as one of the best equipped of the many scholarly
men who represented the various religions of India at the
Parliament. In an interview with St. Joseph Gazette on May 8,
1894 Rev. Pastor Addison Parker of laporte (Indiana), observed
that Gandhi impressed him as one of the brainiest and most stirring
of the representatives of the Far East.
Hon’ble Mame Marium Marie Snell succinctly summed up :
"Virchand Raghavji Gandhi has brought home to the Western
audience and the largely Christian world that there exist other
oriental religions like Jainism which surpass in philosophical depth,
rational and logical approach, ethical intensity and stress on
integrating perceptions, thought and conduct in the day to day
It has been the great fortune of the Jaina community that
within 10 years of his passing away, Mr. Bhagu Karbhari, editor
of 'The Jaina’ and the 'Patriot' of Bombay collected all the speeches
and writings of Virchandbhai on the Jaina philosophy in U.S.A.
and U.K. and published it with his preface in 1911.
Now 108 years after his demise and 116 years after his
impact creating speech at the Parliament of world’s religions World
Jain Confederation (W.J.C.) is bringing on this fresh edition. We
in the W.J.C. felt that the content cf Virchand Gandhi’s speeches
would be as relevant in the 21* century as they were in the 19"
century. Time has changed. Jaina religion has become
increasingly globalized with the settling down of indian
professionals and business persons first in South Africa and later
in large number in U.S.A., Canada and U.K. Jaina temples and
Sthanaks have came up in USA, Canada, UK, Japan, Singapore,
Malaysia, Hong Kong, Thailand and a number of other countries.
Jainas abroad are not only following the traditions of Jaina
religion but are also actively functioning as Jaina philosophy’s
envoys at interfaith meetings and conferences, environment
protection meetings and programs and conventions on non-
violence and world peace.
Virchand Gandhi’s speeches lucidly elaborate with
convincing logic,on the theoretical concepts of Jainism in respect
of the existence of universe, the Jaina Karma philosophy and
eternal nature of the soul in comparison to other religion. He has
also analyzed the scientific, rational and logical base of Jaina
philosophy. Above all, he has explained with the help of interesting
stories and anecdotes the ethical dimensions of the Jaina
philosophy and how they have formed the roots of India’s
compassionate philosophy of tolerance and peaceful coexistence.
What is also of great interest is that Virchand Gandhi boldly
endeavored to correct misconceptions and prejudices about
Indian Culture as well as Hindu customs and traditions. He
impressed western audience as a wise, broad minded, liberal
hearted , spiritual person as well as a scholarly and well educated
emissary of India’s age old heritage of non violence, compassion
equanimity, fraternity and tolerance. .
The collected speeches and writings vividly bring him as a
global citizen with universal perspective, an outstanding
-Karmaveer’ as well as "Dharmaveer’ and above all he come as
a charming personality with an brilliant and lustrous face, well
chiseled physical bearing and eloquent voice.
When the parliament of worlds religions was reconvened
after a gap of 100 years at Chicago (USA) in 1993, had the
privilege of being invited to address the Parliament, spoke on
an universal reliance of Jaina religion in contemporary times. Jaina
delegates comprised 25 representatives including prominent
saints from all sects leading Jaina scholars and prominent
community leaders. On this occasion, the everlasting contribution
of Virchand Gandhi was highlighted and his statue was unveiled
at the Jaina temple in Chicago.
It is most welcome that WJC is endeavouring to created
awareness not only among Jainas but Indians in general about
the historic role played by V. R. Gandhi for putting Jaina religion
on the world stage and correcting and prejudices and
misconceptions about Indian culture and philosophy in the western
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