Tarun Sagar, a Jain monk who was known to speak his mind, including on issues beyond his religious duties, died in Delhi on Saturday. He was down with suspected jaundice for the last few weeks.
Born in Guhanchi village in Damoh district of Madhya Pradesh, the 51-year-old was known for his “kadve pravachan’’ (bitter discourse), delivered in a unique style in which he often cracked jokes, narrated anecdotes and used words avoided by other monks.
The Digambar monk was credited with persuading the RSS to replace leather belts in its uniform with canvas belts after he attended a Vijaya Dashmi event of the organisation at its headquarters in Nagpur in 2009. He had suggested it would help stop animal slaughter.
At an event in his village in June 2010, while responding to the state government’s gesture of declaring him a state guest, he had said he would feel honoured only if slaughterhouses were denied permission and the sale of liquor stopped. Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan, who shared the dais with him, skipped the demand about slaughterhouses but announced that no new liquor shop would be allowed to come up in MP, a promise he has kept till date.
From an address inside the Haryana Assembly in 2016 to a discourse on the premises of the MP Assembly in 2010 to making an appearance in a TV studio later, the spiritual leader was seen in places not frequented by monks. MP, Gujarat, Maharashtra and Karnataka had declared him state guest at some point.
His disciple Pankaj Pradhan said the monk stopped taking food and water after he was shifted to the Jain temple in Radhapuri. Digambar monks are not supposed to undergo treatment in hospitals and must give up their life by gradually refusing food and water once it becomes clear that recovery is not possible — a practice called Sallekhana. He breathed his last around 3.18 am.