Sukhlal Sanghvi (1880 – 1978) also known as Pandit Sukhlalji was a Jain Scholar and Philosopher. He belonged to the Sthanakvasi sect of Jainism. Pandit Sukhlal lost his eyesight at the age of sixteen on account of small-pox. However, he overcame this handicap and became profoundly versed in Jain logic and rose to become a professor at Banaras Hindu University. Paul Dundas calls him as one of the most incisive modern interpreters of Jain philosophy. Paul Dundas notes that Sanghavi represents what now seems to be a virtually lost scholarly and intellectual world. He was a mentor for famous Jain scholar Padmanabh Jaini. During his lifetime he won many awards like Sahitya Akademi Award and won recognition from the Government of India by getting Padma Bhushan award. Sukhlalji was also known as Prajnacaksu because he was so vastly learned despite being visually challenged.
Sukhlalji was born in the village of Limbdi, Saurashtra, Gujarat in 1880 (fifth day of the bright day of the month of Margshersh in V.S. 1937). Panditji was a Gujarati from Visa Shrimali Vanik community (merchant community). Sanghvi Talshi and his first wife Maniben were his parents. His mother expired when he was four years. He passed his childhood in Limbdi under the care of his distant relative Shri Mulji Kaka of Sayla in absence of his mother. At the age of sixteen he lost his eyesight due to an attack of small-pox. This made him more introspective and he devoted his life to learning.
He attended discourses of Jain monks, and studied scriptures with the help of a reader. In 1904, he joined Shri Yashovijaya Jain Sanskrit Pathshala at Benaras. Within three years he committed to memory the whole of Siddha-Hema-vyakarana. Besides grammar, he studied Tarkasamraha, Muktavali, and Vyaptichakra with various commentaries. He also became well-conversant with epics like Raghuvamsha, Maghakavya , and Naishadhacharitam , besides Alamkarashastra and Kosha. For further studies he went to Mithila in 1911, and then to Kashi where he devoted himself to a study of philosophy and literature. Later, he went to Agra where he edited important Jain works like Panchapratikramana, the first four Karma granthas of Devendrasuri. and Yogadarsana and Yogavimshika of Haribhadra Suri. After passing Nyayacarya examination he continued to teach at Jain pathshalas where his students included furure scholar-monks like Muni Jinavijaya, Muni Lalitvijaya and Muni Punyavijaya.
In 1922 he joined Puratattva Mandir of Gujarat Vidyapith as professor of Indian philosophy. Here he edited Sanamatitarka of Siddhasena Divakara in five volumes containing valuable indices and appendices. He was assisted by Pandit Bechardasji in this task. From 1933 to 1944 he was a professor of Jain Philosophy at Benaras Hindu University. He devoted most of his time to writing and editing a number of valuable works in Sanskrit, Hindi, and Gujarati. He edited Tattvarthasutra and Nyayavatara in Gujarati with texts and translations. He edited Pramana-mimamsa by Hemacandra, with detailed introduction and notes. He not only corrected the original readings with the help of the photocopies of the original manuscripts but also gave other comparative readings. He critically edited Jayarashi's Tatavapaplava - a systematic work of Charvakas which brought him wide recognition. He threw new light on the history of Buddhist philosophy by editing Archata’s commentary on Dharmakirti's Hetubindu. After retirement from Bananas Hindu University in 1944, he came back to Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan where he worked with Jain monk Acarya Jinavijayaji. In 1957, Sukhlalji was invited by the M.S. University of Baroda to deliver five lectures on Indian philosophy, which were published in Gujarati (1951), Hindi (1971) and English (1977). His scholarly lectures or Atma-Paramatma and Sadhana delivered at Gujarat Vidyasabha were also published in Hindi and Gujarati under the title of Adhyatma vicharana The University of Bombay also invited him for lectures on Acharya Haribhadra, which were published both in Gujarati (1961) and in Hindi (1966).
Young Sukhlalji was inspired by the writings of Pandit Nathuram Premi, who was to become a close family friend. Sukhlalji was non-sectarian in his attitude and shared a good rapport with many Digambara scholars like Premiji and observed their mutual respect:
"He (Premiji) was considered to be a Pandit - a scholar of Jain tradition. To me it was a surprise! How could his writings be so impartial and audacious? I had come in contact with many Jain friends and scholars, but until then, excepting a few, I had not come across any scholar who was as non-sectarian or fearless as Premiji. So I had developed the perception that it was impossible to find a Jain scholar who was non-sectarian as well as fearless. Premiji's writings gradually made me realize that I had the wrong notion. This was the foremost reason for me to be attracted towards him.
We had an excellent understanding of traditions of one another but we had no sectarian complicities."
Sukhlalji also mentored three scholars of Jainism – Dr Mahendrakumar Nyayacarya, Prof Dr Padmanabh Jaini and Dr Dalsukh Malvania. Out of these, the second and third were his direct students. Sukhlalji always insisted on learning of Pali Canon for understanding Jainism and encouraged young Padmanabh Jaini to visit Sri Lanka to study Buddhism. Author B.K. Matilal notes that Sukhlalji advocated "a non-partisan historical comparative study of any Sanskrit philosophical text and noted in his preface to Advanced Studies in Indian Logic and Metaphysics (1961):
"I became firmly convinced that the study of any philosophical system inevitabely demands certain prerequisites and these prerequisites include a fairly accurate understanding of the historical inter-relationships between the various philosophical systems of India."
He was known for his vast learning, sound scholarship, remarkable memory and for being a very ethical and conscientious person. Pandit Sukhlalji worked with a vast array of scholars and was good friends with all of them, despite not always agreeing with them. Some of the luminaries he worked with include: Muni Jinavijaya, Muni Punyavijaya, Acarya Premi Suri, Pandit Nathuram Premi, Pandit Jugalkishore Mukhtar, Dr Hiralal Jain, Dr A N Upadhye, Dr. Mahendrakumar Nyayacarya, Prof. Dr. Padmanabh Jaini, Dr. Dalsukh Malvania and Dr. Nagin J. Shah.
Awards and Doctorates
He was awarded Vijaj Dharm Soori Jain Sahitya Gold Medal in 1947.
He was honored by the degree of D.Litt by the Gujarat University in 1957, the Sardar Patel University in 1967 and the Saurashtra University in 1973.
His admirers had formed Pandit Shri Sukhlalji Samman Samiti in his honor and he was honored in 1957 at Bombay under the Presidentship of Dr. Radhakrishnan. He was given a bag of seventy thousand rupees on this occasion. Panditji formed Gnanodaya Trust with this amount and decided to use this amount for the expansion and creation of Indian religion and philosophy.
The Sahitya Akademi, India's National Academy of Letters, awarded him the Sahitya Akademi Award and prize of five thousand rupees for his Darshan ane Chintan, a compilation of philosophical essays in 1958. The Government of Bombay also gave him prize for this work.
The Government of India granted him pension in 1961 by giving him Certificate of honor for Sanskrit.
The Government of India honored him by awarding Padma Bhushan in 1974.
He was awarded the title of Vidya Varidhi by Nav Nalanda Vihar of Bihar in 1975.
President of India, Dr. Radhakrishnan, himself a reputed philosopher and scholar paid glowing tributes to Sukhlalji by saying that his life was that of an ascetic performing Jnanayajna (Worship of Knowledge).
Sukhlalji was a prolific writer. He edited and translated many texts from Sanskrit to Gujarati and Hindi. A partial list of his works is enumerated below:
Translation of Umasvati’s Tattvarthasutra in Gujarati and Hindi.
Sanghvi, Sukhlal (1974) (in English trans. by K. K. Dixit). Commentary on Tattvārthasūtra of Vācaka Umāsvāti. Ahmedabad: L. D. Institute of Indology.
Translation and editing of Sanmatitarka of Siddhasena Divākara.
Translation and editing of kṛta Vedavādadvātriṃśikā of Siddhasena Divākara.
DIVĀKARA, S., & SANGHVI, S. (1945). Siddhasena Divākara kṛta Vedavādadvātriṃśikā. Mumbai, Bhāratīya Vidyā Bhavana.
Translation and editing of Nyāyāvatāra sūtra of Siddhasena Divākara (On Jain Logic, Sanskrit text and Gujarati explanation)
Siddhasena Divākara, and Sukhalāla Sanghvī. 1995. Nyāyāvatāra sūtra. Śrī Śvetāmbara Mūrtipūjaka Boarding granthamālā, 7. Ahmedabad: Śāradābena Cīmanabhāī Educational Research Series.
Pacifism and Jainism. Publisher: Jain Cultural Research Society, Banaras Hindu University, 1950.
Samaj Dharma ane Sanskruti Publisher: Gurjar Granthratna Karyalaya – Ahmedabad
Anekant Chintan Publisher: Gurjar Granthratna Karyalaya – Ahmedabad
Karmaranth of Devendrasuri (4 Parts–Karmvipak Karmstav Bandhswamitva and Shadshitik) – Translation in Hindi from Sanskrit. Publisher: Parshvanath Vidhyashram - Varanasi
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