Dr. Indra Chandra Shastri was a philosopher, an exceptional author, and an authority on poetics, philosophy, religion, culture, Indology, linguistics, grammar, epistemology etc. His pioneering contributions are evident in the field of Pali, Prakrit, Philosophy (eastern and western), History of India, European Language etc. He was an indefatigable and prolific thinker who combined abstract thought with a rare imagination. A pursuer of individual spiritualism and inspired by Jain Anekanta, he was a man of courage and dedication and remained a fervent champion of rationalism.
Born on 27 May, 1912, at Dabwali Mandi, now in Sirsa district of Haryana, Dr. Indra Chandra Shastri came to Bikaner for education where he studied Sanskrit and Prakrit. Later he received a Masters' degree in Sanskrit from Agra University and was bestowed the 'Shastracharya' in Vedanta from the Banaras Hindu University.
He did his 'Shastri' from Punjab University and 'Nyayatirtha' from Calcutta. He obtained a Ph.D. under the tutelage of Pandit Bat Krishna Mishra. The doctoral dessertation in 'Epistemology of Jain Agamas' was highly commended.
Influenced by Mahatma Gandhi, Shastriji actively participated in the freedom movement. In 1942 campaigned against Bat Diksha, a practice of forcible adoption of poor children by Jain ascetics in Rajasthan, prevalent those days. This resulted in the tabling of a bill in the assembly of Bikaner.
He also organised relief camps during partition. He was involved in organisational activities, he was Secretary Akhil Bharatiya Sanskrit Sahitya Sammelan in 1954-58. In 1957 he organised the Delhi session of All India Oriental Conference.
He was Chief Speaker at World Religious Conference in Ujjain, Rajgir and Delhi. In 1959 he was appointed the first Head of the Department of Sanskrit in the Institute of Post Graduate Studies in the University of Delhi. In 1961, due to loss of eyesight caused by glaucoma, he resigned from the post. Subsequently appointed Professor emeritus under a University Grants Commission scheme, he pursued research on 'Religion and Modem Man' in 1967-69. He remained associated with various departments as a guest speaker.
His writings are marked with high scholasticism. He wrote about 70 books and more than 600 research papers where he distilled the wisdom of ancient classical texts and applied it to modern times. His 'Pali Bhasa Aur Sahitya' has a series of three forewords followed by the Hindi translation of Wilhelm Geiger's introduction to his German classic entitled 'Pali literatur und sprache'.
Dr. Shastri made dispassionate analysis of thought currents which had prevailed over the centuries. He considered reason and logic as essential tools to dismantle the dead yet inherited thought structure of the past. He had the restless zeal of an explorer and reformer, evident in his works 'Religious Shops' and 'Ghosts of Culture'. His other important works are Sanskrit Kavya Shastra Ka Itihas, Mahabharat Ke Sukti Ratna, Alok Aur Unmad, Hamari Prampara, Jainism and Democracy, Dharma Aur Rashtra Nirman, Bharatiya Arya Bhasaen etc.
As a recognition of his pioneering efforts and creative talent, he was awarded the 'Sahitya Seva Samman', by the Hindi Academy. He was also conferred the 'Sahitya Ratna Alankaran' by the Vice Chancellor of Delhi University. The President of India awarded him a 'Certificate of Honour' on 15 August 1986.
In his 'Epistemology of Jain Agamas', a comparative study, according to Dr. Satkari Mookerjee, "the maturity of judgement and sober appraisal of the lived and orthodox positions and their points of agreements and diversion by the author will ensure him the reputation of being one of the pioneer exponents of Jainology in English. It shows a healthy outlook and freedom from domestic bias".
He went on with his voluminous outpourings even after losing his eyesight and dictated his thoughts and ideas to create masterpieces.
Such a profile of courage and dedication Breathed his last on 3 November 1986. Dr. Indra Chandra Shastri advocated a spiritual journey for the individual from the personal to the universal and the humane. His life journey was a pilgrimage for truth which we all remember and cherish.
The Department of Posts honoured him by releasing a commemorative postage stamp in his memory.
Issued Date : 27. 05.2004
Denomination : 500 Paise