Pujya Chhaganbapa Karamshi Parekh
Maharishi Chhagan Bapa
(Late Chhaganlal Karamshi Parekh)
(27.06.1894 – 14.12.1968)
Pujya Chhaganbapa can best be remembered as ‘Maharishi’ apart from being one of the Legend born in Raghuvanshi Lohana Community.
After the first sincere and dedicated attempt by Late Kanjibapa to bring all the Raghuvanshi Lohanas together on a single platform between 1909 – 1918, there was a lull, passiveness in the community about a unified identity.
In 1949, Pujya Chhaganbapa propagated the theory and ideals of Late Kanjibapa Hindocha and set the ball rolling to create and bring into existence a unified identity and a respectable platform for the community of Raghuvanshi Lohanas.
It was a very sincere attempt by an ordinary looking person having a very strong will, intelligence; having love, mercy and affection for Down-trodden. The name Chhagan bapa evokes a picture of respectable and a vibrant ‘Karma yogi –gentlemen’ remembered by everyone because of his acts, deeds and ideals.
At a tender age of 19 years, he left his native place Rajkot to make a career and settled in Jharia, Jharkhand (the then Bihar) working in Colliery. With his dedicated labour, acumen, the said colliery , for which he was working, established as leading enterprise in the field. The British Government officials were also satisfied with his dedication, honesty and good behavior. He had a fruitful and successful career of 37 years.
Pujya Chhaganbapa was a firm believer in Hindu religion, tradition, philosophy and principles. Therefore, on 27.06. 1949, after attaining 55 years of age, according to principle of “Vanprasthasam”, he took a bold step of retiring from active business ; stopped money spinning activities and decided to dedicate rest of his life for Social causes in general and Raghuvanshi Lohana Community in particular. He took this decision after obtaining the concurrence of his wife ‘ Maniben’ and both the sons Ratilalbhai & Mulchandbhai.
With the blessings of Thakker bapa, he started from Himachal Pradesh. Pujya Chhaganbapa was leading in the forefront the Relief works in the flood affected areas of Assam and Earth quake in Kutch during his life time. His heart was full of brotherhood, sympathy and humanity. There were no enemies- only friends. Actually his approach was like ‘Vishwa- Mitra’ – friend of whole world.
His activities was in conformity with the principle of Lord Budhha ‘ Bahu-jan hitai and Bahu-jan Sukhai’ i.e. in the Interest of Public in general and for the benefit & satisfaction of Public in general.
Once, he noticed that Gujarati pilgrims going to Haridwar had great trouble in finding a place to stay, it was his untiring efforts which brought into existence on 3rd March, 1952 “ Gujarati Samaj- Haridwar” (earlier Haridwar Gujarati Dharmshala) which is known to every Gujarati who has visited Haridwar. This facility was inaugurated by the then the Governor of Uttar Pradesh and towering personality of Literary world Late Kanaiyalal Maneklal Munshi.
As everyone, he was having great regards for women- their self reliance and pride in the society when the society was more conservative and orthodox in approach to the issues relating to girl child and poor women particularly widows. It is this thought which drove him to some thing for women and thus born the idea of “ Lijjat” papad which is a well renowned and world famous ‘Mahila Grih Udyog’ organization providing shelter to needy women and teach her the lessons of self-reliance and pride.
His social contribution to his Karmabhumi Kolkata is of no mean achievement. Formation of ‘Laxminarayan Trust Hospital’ and subsequently ‘ Laxminarayan Mandir’ is the result of seed planted by him. For people of Kolkata , he was a ‘Saint’.
It was he and only he- who propagated the idea of reviving a Platform for entire Raghuvanshi Lohana Community and with the overall cooperation from whole of India, and the present form ‘ Shree Lohana Mahaparishad’ came into existence.
Once, Late Pujya Dongre Maharaj said
“ Whenever Lord Krishna has Compassion, a personality like Pujya Chhaganbapa, is sent to earth for well being of human beings. I feel ‘daivi’ qualities in him and feel like saluting him.
Late Gordhandas Ananji Thakker- the then Hon’ble Justice of Bombay High court uttered-
“ Following the principles of Vedic Traditions, who depicted an exemplary tradition of ‘Vanprasthashram’; inspiring the youth in the Society; showing the path of sincerity & Sacrifice, the illustrious Chhaganbapa will prove to be torch-bearer to entire society and the Nation.”
Apart from this Late Narendrabhai Nathwani- Hon’ble Justice(Retd) and M.P. also held Pujya Chhaganbapa in very high esteem. Late Uchharangrai Dhebar, Past President of AICC s aid “ Mahatma Gandhi gave us ‘Charkho’ – Spinning wheel while Pujya Chhaganbapa showed the way for Self-reliance and self dependency through ‘Papad’.
On 09.10.1999- World Post Day, this illustrious son of Raghuvanshi Lohana Community was commemorated with a National Honour i.e. Govt. of India issued ‘ Postal Stamp & First day cover’ in his name and thus his name became immortal in the History of our Country.
His Excellency Late Dr P.C. Alexander, the then Honorable Governor of Maharastra, while releasing the Commemorative Stamp at Raj Bhavan of Maharastra on ‘Chhaganbapa’ uttered:
“CHHAGANBAPA, the simple man without any political, financial power, known for his goodness, humanity and sacrifice for upliftment of the people was the great personality of India. This Stamp on Pujya Chhaganbapa will remain the source of inspiration for generations ahead. After reading about Chhaganbapa I heartily appreciate that he was the great achiever of humanity. I congratulate Postal Dept. to make him immortal through the Postage Stamp.”
Thakkarbapa was his source of inspiration. Chhaganbapa’s dedication, superb intelligence and practical approach towards solving social problems made him dear not only to his community but all the people who came in contact with him. Shri Mahila Griha Udyog Lijjat Papad was one of the many beneficiaries who have immensely benefited by his guidance.This Stamp is one such tiny paper that reaches every nook and corner of the country and spreads the message of the Chhaganbapa’s dedication of humanity unto grassroot.
Shri Pravinchandra Gandhi, the Chairman of Pujya Chhaganbapa Birth Centenary Celebration Committee; Shri Suresh Dalal, well known Gujarati Writer and Poet; Shri D.S.Bhalachandra, Chief Post Master General of Maharashtra & Goa; Shri Vijay Kumar Khanna, Post Master General of Mumbai; Shri Dhirubhai Mehta, the President of Philatelic Society of India; Smt Damayantiben Pitti, Hon. Secretary of Philatelic Society of India; Smt Jyoti Naik, the President of Lijjat Papad and Smt Kamal Dhandore, Vice – President were present for the institution.
Pujya Chhaganbapa’s ‘Birth Centenary(1894-1994) Celebration Committee’ was consisting of Galaxy of reputed and well know Citizens of Society such as-
Amritlal Yagnik, Amritlal Popat, Maganlal Savani, Babubhai Meghji , Manubhai Pancholi, C.D. Thakker Ravjibhai Ganatra, Chandrasinh Mirani(Ex- President LMP) , Chatrabhuj Narsee(who established Narsee Monji, Mumbai, Harendra Dave ,Harilal B.Dresswalla (Ex-President, LMP) Jayntilal Chandarana and many other stars.
After the above function Shri Sureshbhai Dalal said “I regret that I never met Pujya Chhaganbapa in my life. He recognized that the economic freedom is the Highest Freedom for ladies and I can say that he was the Raja Ram Mohan Roy of Gujarat,”
Looking to his unforgettable services to the community of Raghuvanshi Lohana, Shree Lohana Mahaparishad felt proud to bestow upon him an ‘International Award’ (established in 2010) named as “Maharshi Award” as the ‘First awardee’ to his successors at Madhyastha Mahasamiti meeting held at Kolkata on 17/18 December, 2011
We –the Raghuvanshi Lohanas- should feel proud of such a illustrious son of our community and attempt to follow the path shown by him.