Addedby Pinak Deb
Indeed! He was above common mortals. Himself a family man though, his own self never gained a superior role in his entire life; simply because he had ever had a cause something nobler than his own to work for. And it was to do something for the uplift of the community, and the society in general, of which he was himself an honorable member as a fellow citizen. And, thus, the service to it became the lodester, the guiding force, of his life.
But, how to shape it and what direction to give it vexed and deluded this young adventurist trader from Bikaner, firmly set in cotton Textiles business at Barabazar, Calcutta. But it was not so far long.
The way was laid. The path was cleared. A stunning remark at a gathering of business men, at once, cut to the quick Shri bachhawat’s sensitive and very responsive spirit, shaping his vision and giving it a direction. The result: The coming
Into being shree swetamber sthanakvasi Jain sabha, Calcutta in 1928. It was a great moment in the life of the great activist.
It was something like an undefined dream comes true.
By then shree Bachhawat had around him a large number of well-wishers and enthusiastic bunch of people ready to work for the welfare and uplift of the society.
The sabha, a social institution, gave a common platform for his people to work from various programmes of great social importance were taken up and well executed, but shree Bachhawat always felt something amiss in their entire activities.
His benevolent soul always craved for something more creative and solid to be taken up and done for the greater good of the society.
It was education, he realized, could best serve the society in particular and the nation in general.
The upsurge of the national movement and the nationalist sentiments were galore in the city, then. Phusraj jee, always a part of his love for the nation. Resultantly he set up shree Jain Vidyalaya in 1934 in a rented room with the merge resources of shree s. s. Jain sabha. The Nobel act bore fruits. The Vidyalaya went on developing and ever since its shift to its present premises, (18/D Sukeas Lane, off Brabourne Rd, Calcutta – 1) its rise has been phenomenal. Today it is one of the most prestigious institutions of the state teaching students from classes I to XII. And behind this phenomenal growth of the Vidyalaya. The spirit and the dictum of Shree Bachhawat is felt at each stage.
“No Student, Head master Saheb”
One day he was heard firmly saying “ Should leave the school , simply because he has no money to pay his tuitions fees , or is unable to buy his books or school uniforms “ . The Vidyalaya has stuck well to what the founder wished for.
Siksha (Education), Seva (Service) and sadhana (Dedication) have been guiding principles of Shree S .S Jain Sabha and the Vidyalaya founded by the untiring efforts of Shree Phusraj jee. That is why; the Vidyalaya is never guided by any mercenary motive and has its tuitions fees much lower than those of other institutions of similar standard or ever of much inferior ones. True to the spirit of studentship and keeps open its gates to students of all castes, creed and social status.
Always a crusader fir human welfare Sri Bachhawat even before coming to Calcutta called a strike in Bikaner against various social injustices and wanton killings of animal’s .The Strike continued until the offenders came and apologized in person and vowed to eschew the evil practices.
Besides, education, Shree Phusraj was instrumental in forging out various social activities of the sabha. Today some of them are:
a) Annual Free Eye – Operation camp.
b) Camp for the disabled to provide them with relief materials including vehicles to move on.
c) Supply of Artificial Jaipur Limbs to the disabled.
d) The supply of 60 (Sixty) Sewing Machines to helpless and destitute women under self Employment Programme
e) The supply of full ration twice a month to 100 (one hundred) needy destitute families.
f) The supply of text book sets free to the students of rural Bengal from class V to Degree Level annually. The object is
To set up Book Banks the districts of West Bengal under the Sabha’s pursuit of “Books For All”.
g) A 180 bed Shree Jain Hospital and Research Centre, at Howrah with latest Expertise and Equipments, expected to be
Completed by early 1997.
The Second unit of Shree Jain Vidyalaya, Howrah (Girls and Boys) is a tribute to Shri Bachhawat’s love for education and Social service.
Turbaned , be spectacled and mustached , his five feet six inch tall figure , buttoned to the neck in his long Jodhpuri and immaculate white Dhoti with ever shining shoes on, exuded a reddish glow and deep veneration . In manners, ever polite and refined, his hand with a walking stick in the right, never failed to rise in greeting even a dimly acquainted one. His presence was felt. His impressions were profound.
In the last few years of his life he developed some speech trouble. He could not speak well, yet he showed his enormous love for the sabha and Vidyalaya he set up. They were the Cynosure of his life. Sri Phusraj jee was honored by Shree S.S Jain and the Society in general and was presented a bulging purse. He thanked for the gesture and returned the purse to the Sabha to be spent on the welfare of the poor and the destitute.
The death of the man was characteristic of the life he lived. Through ‘Santhara ‘a typical death wished for by every devout Jain, by refusing to take anything. Shree Bachhawat, a nonagenarian, ambraced death but before the fall of the final curtain on his life, he instructed the members of his family, through gesture to donate his eyes for the good of a blind one. The family well-kept his last wishes. A Surgeon was called in to take away the cornea, the dead Bachhawat’s last physical gift to a very obliged world.
A person of his breed of heart and head surely lives in the heart and students of the Vidyalaya amply demonstrated their love and respect for the nonagenarian founder when his body was placed on a flower bedecked platform in the middle of the Vidyalaya compound for people to pay their last homage to the departed soul. Virtually, there was a shower of flowers from every corner of the five floors of the Vidyalaya by the students who as a community today are alleged to be apostates, the forsakes of old values and haters of those in authority. Every eye was tearful and every hand had some flower, wreath or bouquet to place upon the body of the one who had done so much for them. Spontaneity of feeling marked the entire operation, a rarity in the age of histrionic culture and counter felt gestures.
Now, after several years of his death in 1984, the void exists. We stand be knighted , but the tradition , set by the great soul is the beacon light , which is constantly flashing as if echoing : “ So long as the millions live in hunger and ignorance , I hold everyman a traitor who having been educated at their expense , pays not the least heed to them”.