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Saturday, 24 September 2011

44) Lord Mahavir : The 24th and last Tirthankar of Jainism Honouring prominent Religious Teachers 599 – 527 BCE

Lord Mahavir : The 24th and last Tirthankar of Jainism
Honouring prominent Religious Teachers
599 – 527 BCE

The Indian sage Vardhaman (also known as “Mahavir” or “ Very Brave” or “Great Hero” ) was the 24th and last Tirthankar (  Literal meaning : “Ford maker” and is a term given by Jains to a human being who achieves “moksha” – liberation from the cycle of human birth/rebirth,  through asceticism and who has been elevated to the status of a role model and “Acharya” – teacher, for those seeking spiritual guidance. )  who was responsible for laying down the central tenets of Jainism. 

He is also referred to variously as “Arugan” or “Arugandevan” in Tamil, and as “Vir” or “Virprabhu”, “Atvira”, “Gnatputra” in various other texts and “Nigantha Nataputta” in Pali texts.  His other names are Sanmatinayak, Mahativeer, and Shramana.

He was born to King Siddhartha and Queen Trishala in Kundalagram (District Vaishali, Bihar, India) about 27 miles from Patna (the capital of modern day Bihar, India) under the rising moon of Chaitra (which roughly corresponds to 12th April of the Gregorian calendar). Prosperity is said to have come to his father’s kingdom, during the period just before his birth. His mother is said to have several dreams before his birth, foretelling the coming of a great soul. Upon his birth, he was named “Vardhaman”.

Spiritual inclinations, period as an ascetic and work as a Tirthankar of Jainism:

From his childhood, Vardhaman was endowed with a virtuous nature and given to meditation and contemplation. He began to pattern his life and thoughts on the core beliefs of Jainism and showed little inclination towards the affairs of the World.

He   renounced his kingdom and his family at the age of 30, and spent the next 12 years in meditation as an ascetic, even forsaking his worldly possessions, including his clothes. During this period, he led an extremely austere life contemplating on various aspects including treating other life forms viz. plants and animals with equal respect as human beings. His control over all his senses during penance was exemplary. He suffered a lot of physical pain and torture from various persons /natural sources. Among them was the bite of a very poisonous snake Chandakaushik, but he remained calm and peaceful and never developed hatred towards anyone or anything.

The courage with which he endured all hardships during his spiritual journey earned him the title “Mahavir” and he achieved “Arihant” status (Arihant is one who destroys his inner enemies like anger, greed, passion and ego).  Some Jain texts, however, mention another interesting version on how he got the name “Mahavir”. It is said that, while Vardhaman was playing with his friends as a boy, an angel joined them in the guise of a little boy and while playing with the, suddenly turned into a monster. Vardhaman however overcame the monster, which is when the Angel appeared in its true form and called him “Mahavir” meaning “Very Brave”.

At the age of 42, he attained omniscience or “Kevaljnan” and became a Jina, the 24th Tirthankara of the present era. Thereafter, he travelled barefoot and without clothes across the length and breath of India, including in several kingdoms of his time, like Magadh and Mithila and several Kings became his disciples when he preached his philosophy of the eternal truth of spiritual freedom to them.

His austere way of life, simplicity and powerful discourses on the Jain philosophy, convinced several persons from all walks of life, irrespective of caste or social status, to become his followers. One estimate mentions that about 4.00 crore persons became his followers during his lifetime itself. 

Jain texts have mentioned Mahavir’s 26 previous births prior to his birth as a Tirthankara, through which the soul’s journey and evolution through several reincarnations in the transmigratory cycle, ultimately achieving its last birth or liberation from the Karmic cycle of birth and rebirth,  (also known as “achieving Moksha” ) is depicted. Those who have attained Moksha are called “siddhas” (ultimately realized souls) while those attached to the world through their Karma are called “samsarin” (having Worldly pursuits).

Mahavir’s  Philosophy :

His philosophy focused on 8 cardinal principles of Jain philosophy:

3 of these Principles are metaphysical (“samyak-darshana” or right faith, “samyak-gyana” or right knowledge and “Samyak-charitra” or right conduct). These Principles are called the “triple gems of Jainism”.
 5 of these Principles are  ethical  ( “Ahimsa” or non-violence and causing no harm to any living being, “Satya” or Truthfulness, “Asetya” or non-stealing, “Brahmacharya” or chastity, “Aparigraha” or non-attachment to people, places and material things). A person using these five Principles in thought, speech and action is said to have taken the “Mahavrat” (Great vows) for attaining enlightenment  
and ultimate liberation (prescribed for Jain monastics), while the ‘Anuvrat” (limited vows) are prescribed for the laymen and laywomen .

The primary aim of these Principles is to uplift the quality of human life, so that the person practicing these Principles will be free from the bondage of the Karmic cycle, in the evolutionary process of the soul and attain Moksha (free from the cycle of Birth and rebirth). Every soul has to follow the path, as explained by the “jinas” (Jina: One who conquers his inner enemies – and the followers of jinas are known as Jains) and reiterated by the Tirthankaras to attain complete liberation or Nirvana.

Mahavir preached that all men and women can renounce the world in search of moksha or ultimate bliss/happiness.

He categorized his followers into four groups, (collectively termed as the “Chaturvidh Jain Sangh”):
“Sadhu” (monk) “Sadhvi” (nun), “Shravak” (layman) and “Shravika” (laywoman) like all the Tirthankars, before him.

The monks have to strictly follow the 8-fold path, while the laypersons can observe them to the best of their capabilities.

Every person who takes the vows has to realize that these vows cannot be properly practiced without the acceptance of a philosophy of non-absolutism.
Therefore, “Anekantavada” (multiple points of view) is an integral part of Jain philosophy which inculcates a tolerance to other viewpoints , no matter how conflicting these should be to the Jain philosophy and ideals.
Also, he emphasized the doctrine of “Syavada” which provides, that, a devotee should  explore the real nature of the issue at hand and to consider the problem in seven different conditional and relative viewpoints or propositions , which lats the practitioner maintain his non-violent and detached approach to the issue at hand, after rationalizing the different perspectives.

Two methods for shedding the past karmas have been prescribed – one, “Passive Method” (where past karmas are allowed to ripen in due course of time and experiencing the results of good or bad Karma with equanimity, and two, “Active Method” where a practitioner observes internal and external austerities, which accelerates the journey towards moksha.

Mahavir followed the main teachings established by his predecessor Tirthankars, but he reorganized the Jain Philosophy to correspond with his times. To this extent, he was a reformer.

It is said that Mahatma Gandhi, also, drew heavily on the concepts of “Anekantavada” and “Syavada”, from his interactions with Jain monks while practicing “Satyagrah” (non-violent form of protests) against British excesses and his efforts towards achieving India’s Freedom.


Mahavir attained Nirvana at the age of 72 at Pavapuri, Nalanda (Bihar, India) on the last day of the Jain Calendar on Deepawali. (21 of the 24 Tirthankars are said to have attained Moksha in the “Kayotsarga” (standing meditation posture) while 3 Tirthankars, including Mahavira attained Nirvana in the “padmasana” (lotus – crossed legs sitting position) posture.

Celebrating the birth of Mahavir and remembering the day of his attaining Nirvana:

Mahavir Jayanti:  in which the birth of Mahavir, the last Tirthankar is celebrated on the thirteenth day of the fortnight of the waxing moon in the month of Chaitra (corresponding to end-March /early April.

Diwali : on new moon day of Kartik, (late October/early November) is remembered as the day when Mahavira attained Nirvana or deliverance from the bondage of all karmas.

Oral Tradition and written texts on Mahavir’s teachings and life:

Mahavir’s teachings were passed down by “oral traditions” (Agam Sutras) initially by his disciples and several generations later, recorded for posterity in the “Tadpatris” (written down on palm leaves bundled together as books). The Swetambar Jains treat these written documents as authentic teachings of Mahavir, while, the Digambar Jains use them as reference guides.

Various Jain Texts describe the life of Mahavir.  “Kalpasutra” by Acharya Bhadrabahu is one of them. A Sanskrit biography “Vardhamanacharitra” by Asaga is also there among various other references.

A few years after Mahavir’s Nirvana, the Jain Sangh developed several points of dispute on the interpretation of his original doctrines, and religious practices that developed over a period of time, nevertheless, the basic tenets of his teachings are accepted by all Jains.

Commemoration of 2600th year of Mahavir’s birth:
In April 2002, the Reserve Bank of India released a five rupee coin for general circulation celebrating the 2600th year of Mahavir’s birth in 2001.

The obverse of the coin has the Lion Capital in the centre together with the words “Satyameva Jayate “ (Truth always Prevails) which together form the emblem/Coat of Arms of India. The numeral “5” denoting the denomination of the coin is below the emblem. On the left periphery are the words “Bharat” and “Rupiye” in Hindi and on the right periphery are the words “India” and “Rupees” in English.

On the reverse of the coin the Jain Philosophy is depicted.

 The “Swastik” is the holiest symbol of the Jains. It is normally represented along with three dots and a crest on top of the dots, with a single dot on top of the crest.
 The crest represents the “Sidha Shila” above which the “infinite Sidhas” (realized souls) which have achieved freedom from the cycle of reincarnation reside, while the dots below the Sidha Shila represent the souls which are nearing the “Siddha” status.

The hand with the wheel on the palm symbolizes the 5 Jain vows, with the word “Ahimsa” mentioned in the middle of the palm in Devanagri on the coin . A wheel on the palm represents the “Dharma-chakra” (The path of Righteousness) all of which , if followed will halt the cycle of birth and rebirth and the person will achieve “Moksha”. 

The palm symbol and the Siddha Shila are encompassed by an 8-sided polygon symbolizing the structure of the Universe as envisaged by Jain Philosophy, on the coin. Jains believe that the supreme abode is above the Sidha shila, below which is the “Dev Lok” (Heaven) where all “devas” (powerful souls with positive karmic effects reside in sixteen different levels depending on their levels of positive karmic energies. 
In the middle section of the diagram (the narrow section which is like the waist in the diagram) , all other living beings reside and below the waist are the seven levels of “Narak” (Hell) where the degree of suffering and light changes at various levels, with the intensity of suffering being the highest in the seventh hell  which has no light.
The entities  residing in Heaven take rebirth once their  positive karmic effects  is exhausted and similarly, the ones residing in Hell take rebirth when their negative karmic effects are exhausted.

This process continues, till, by following the path of Dharma, the souls cross the Sidha Shila.

The words “Parasparopagraho Jivanam “ meaning “All life is bound together by mutual support and interdependence” are mentioned below the Central design.
The words “Bhagwan Mahavir, 2600 Janm Kalyanak “ are mentioned in both Hindi and English.

This coin was minted at Noida mint. Notice the “dot”mint mark below the year of issue 2001.

Further Note on Jainism/Jain Religion:

Jainism is one of the oldest religions in the World. Jain theology mentions that, Jainism has existed since eternity without a beginning or and end. ( While it is true that the Jain philosophy was carried down from generation to generation through oral traditions initially , it is speculated by historians that the foundations of the present form of Jainism  started sometime between 9th and 6th century BCE) .

Jain Philosophy preaches a path of non-violence towards all living beings and focuses on a follower’s conscious effort to uplift his/her soul towards divine consciousness and ultimate liberation. A soul which has absolute control over its own inner enemies and achieves the state of Supreme Being is called a “jina” (a victor or Conqueror). The ultimate level of attainment for such realized souls is termed “siddha” and the path which the Jain philosophy lays down for achieving such status is called “shramana dharma”(self-reliance) or the path of the “Niganthas” (those without attachments or aversions).

Jains do not believe that a “God” is responsible for the creation of the Universe. They believe that the Universe changes due to interactions between matter and energy in the course of time and is governed by the laws of nature which are self regulated. They also believe one must respect all forms of life including micro-organisms and humans must co-exist without causing any harm to other life forms.

Jains follow the teachings of 24 “Tirthankars” or “Ford-builders” where the process of becoming a pure soul is likened to crossing a fast-flowing river which has already been crossed by the Tirthankara who is now there to help other souls to achieve their ultimate liberation.

Although Tirthankars are not Gods,  and are human beings who are considered to be very close to achieving enlightenment, their statues in Jain temples are prayed to, by Jain spiritual seekers aspiring to achieve enlightenment. The idols of the 24 Tirthankars are the same, because they represent the quality and virtues of the Tirthankars and not the physical body. At the bottom of each idol is a unique symbol which is placed to differentiate the Tirthankars.

Lord Mahavir’s idol is recognized by the symbol of the Lion below it.

In addition to worshipping the icons of jinas, arihants, Tirthankars, Jains worship the icons of “Yakshas” (heavenly souls of male denomination) and “Yakshinis” (heavenly souls of female denomination) who look after the well being of Tirthankars.

There is a belief, that, the 25th  Tirthankara will be born at the beginning of the third era of the next half- cycle of time, in approx. 81,500 years.

“Namokar  or Navkar Mantra” is the fundamental prayer which can be recited at any time of the day by a Jain , in which the devotee bows in respect to the liberated souls in human form ( arihants), fully liberated souls free from rebirth (siddhas), spiritual teachers (Acharyas)  and all monks and nuns.

Jains practice strict vegetarianism, because they believe in peaceful co-existence with other life forms and even do not eat root vegetables (onions, potatoes, carrots, radishes, etc.), because it amounts to destroying a plant before the end of its life cycle.

Thursday, 22 September 2011

43) Saint Alphonsa ; the first Catholic woman saint of India Honouring Prominent Saints of India (19.08.1910 to 28.07.1946)

Saint Alphonsa ; the first Catholic woman saint of India
Honouring Prominent Saints of India
(19.08.1910 to 28.07.1946)

 Alphonsa Muttathupadathu or “Alphonsamma” was born as “Annakkutty” (meaning “Little Ann” which is a popular christening name in Kerala) in Arpookara village (Kudamaloor) in Kottayam District (present day -Kerala, India), in the Archdiocese of Changanassery on 19th August 1910. At the time of her birth, Kudamaloor was a part of the Travancore State.

She was baptized in St. Mary’s Church in Kudamaloor on 27th August 1910. She lost her mother at a very early age and was raised by her maternal Aunt Annamma Muricken and educated by her Great uncle Father Joseph Muttathupadathu.
She had her early schooling in Arpookara and received her First Communion on 27th November 1917. She studied in Muttuchira in 1918 and later, on in Changanacherry.

Her Grandmother told her stories about St.Theresa of Avila and St. Little Flower of Lisieux.  From her childhood, she was attracted to embracing penitential practices and wanted to pattern her life on the virtues of the Saints about whom she had heard so much from her Grandmother and Grand uncle.

She wanted to dedicate her entire life to Jesus Christ.  With this inspiration as her driving force, she joined the Franciscan Clarist Congregation and associated herself with the Poor Clares Convent at Bharananganam, where she took on the name Alphonsa (or Sister Alphonsa of the Immaculate Conception) after the Saint of the day St. Alponsus Ligouri, when she received her Postulant’s veil in August 1928. She received her religious habit on 19th May 1930.  She became a novitiate in August 1931 and on 12th August 1936, she took her permanent vows. She spent the next 20 years of her life at the Convent. She, also, taught in an Elementary School for a year in Vakakkad.

Poor Health:

She was dogged with poor health and several illnesses throughout her short life of 35 years. When she was 3 years old, she suffered from eczema for some time.  In 1923, at the age of 13, she fell into a pit of burning chaff, which burnt her feet disabling her permanently. Even during her teaching assignment, she was sick quite often, and endured sickness several times, which left her very weak and debilitated. 

In December 1936, she is said to have been cured through the intervention of Blessed Kuriakose Elias Chavara, but again she suffered a bout of double pneumonia and later from amnesia. 

She was known as a person who loved and invited loving suffering. She believed that she must endure all experiences which test her will and offered them to God. Despite her sufferings and ill-health, she was said to have been cheerful and with a positive disposition throughout her life.

 Beatification, Canonization and Sainthood:

She passed away on 28.07.1946 at the age of 35 about a month before her 36th birthday. Her tomb is situated in Bharananganam in the Diocese of Palai, in St. Mary’s Church .It is said that after her funeral, when school children went to her tomb to put flowers and lighting candles on her grave, they found their favours received. Soon many persons started reporting miracles at her intercession.

The 1000 year old St. Mary’s Church is one of the famous pilgrimage centres in Kerala. The mortal remains of the Saint are preserved in the Mortuary chapel next to the Church.

Because of its association with St.Alphonsa, Bharananganam is also known as “Lisieux of India” after the birth-place of St. Theresa of Lisieux in France.  St Alphonsa is also called the “Passion Flower of Bharanangalam”.

Alphonsa belonged to the Syro-Malabar church, of the Thomas Christian tradition, which is known for its inter-religious, multi-cultural and socio-political interactions.

A miracle attributed to her intercession was reported   to the Vatican  through due process, by Bishop Sebastian Valopilly (then a priest) who claimed that, in 1985 ,a Muslim boy with clubbed feet was cured when, the Priest gave him Alphonsa’s picture and asked him to pray to her.

The Diocesan process of her Beatification was inaugurated on 02.12.1953 and on 09.07.1985 the miracle of healing the Muslim boy’s clubbed feet, which was attributed to her intercession was formally approved by Pope John Paul II and she was declared a Servant of God and was called “Venerable Sister Alphonsa”. She was beatified along with Kuriakose Elias Chavara at Kottayam when the Pope visited Kottayam on 8th February 1986. Several other miracles have been reported through her intercession by praying to her or at her tomb which has been converted into a chapel.

The miracle attributed to her canonization was the healing of the club foot of an infant by her intercession and she was declared a Saint by Pope Benedict on 12th October 2008 and given the title of Blessed Alphonsa. 

She was the first Catholic nun to be made a saint from India and the second one from India, after Saint Gonsalo Garcia born in Vasai near Bombay (present day Mumbai) to an Indian mother and a Portuguese father in 1556, was declared a Saint in the 19th century, by the Catholic Church. 

She is also, the first canonized Saint of the Syro-Malabar Catholic Church of the Saint Thomas Christian Community. 

Her patronage is against illnesses, against the death of parents and sick persons. Her Feast is celebrated from 19th to 28th July every year.

As a symbol of recognition of the first Indian woman Saint, a delegation of 12 dignitaries was sent by the Government of India to participate in her Canonization ceremony in Rome apart from her family members.

Literature on St. Alphonsa:

Several books and publications were written on her life and miracles. Some of them are “Saint Alphonsa”, “ Alphonsamma: Agnisnanathinte Vishudha Sakshyam” , “ The spirituality of Blessed Alphonsa”, “A Grain of wheat”,  “The Wisdom of the saints”  among others.


In November 2008, the Posts & Telegraphs Department brought out a five rupee commemorative postal stamp commemorating the first woman saint of India.

The Centenary year celebrations were formally inaugurated on 23rd August 2009 by the Finance Minister and the Reserve Bank of India brought out  Commemorative coins of Rs.100/- and circulation coins of Rs. 5/- (nickel-brass) on the occasion.

The obverse of this nickel brass coin has the Lion Capital in the centre together with the words “Satyameva Jayate” (Truth always Prevails) which together form the emblem/Coat of Arms of India. The numeral “5” denoting the denomination of the coin is below the emblem. On the left periphery are the words “Bharat” and “Rupiye” in Hindi and on the right periphery are the words “India” and “Rupees” in English.

On the reverse of the coin is a portrait/image of Saint Alphonsa with her name spelt out both in Hindi and English. An image of a rose is placed below her portrait. The years “1910 – 2009” are mentioned below the rose, indicating the centenary of her birth. This coin was minted at Kolkata mint. Notice that there is no mint mark below the centenary years.

Posted on 18.03.2018:

We visited Kottayam in the Indian State of Kerala in February 2018. We came across the following images of the first two Indian Catholic saints in the Christ King Cathedral:
The Foundation Stone of Christ King Cathedral in Kottayam

A painting of Saint Gonsalo Garcia,who was born in 1556 and declared a Saint in the 19th Century by the Catholic Church

An image of St. Alphonsa, who was declared a Saint on 12.10.2008

Links to other articles on coins issued on Prominent saints and temples of India: 

1) 25 Years of Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Shrine Board

Tuesday, 20 September 2011

42) Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel Honouring a prominent freedom Fighter, statesman and social activist , also known as the “Iron Man of India” (31.10. 1875 – 15 .12.1950)

Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel
Honouring  a prominent freedom Fighter, statesman  and social activist ,  also known as the “Iron Man of India”
(31.10. 1875 – 15 .12.1950)

Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel was born on 31.10.1875 in Nadiad (Gujarat, India) in the family of a poor farmer. Despite economic hardships, he studied in N.K.High School, Petlad, and passed High School in 1896, but he could not continue higher studies, because of lack of financial resources.
Later, he cleared the District Leader’s Examination in 1899 after studying privately at home after borrowing law books from his friends.
Thereafter, he started a legal practice in Godhra, where he had a flourishing practice. The family came upon better times and he got married and even arranged for his brother to become a barrister in England. He lost his wife in 1909 and grief-stricken, he, too, left for England where he studied to become a barrister. He returned to India in 1913, where he set up a legal practice in Ahmedabad.

Social Activist and participation in the Indian Nationalist/Freedom movement:
In 1915, he had met Mahatma Gandhi at Ahmedabad, at the height of the Indian Nationalist Movement and was very impressed with his ideals, philosophy and method of Satyagrah but initially he was not politically inclined, although he abhorred working for the British Government, which he resisted, even though he had attractive offers from the British administration.

Sardar Patel gave a speech in Borsad in September 1917 encouraging Indians nation-wide to sign Mahatma Gandhi’s petition demanding “Swaraj” (independence or self rule) from the British. This was one of his first forays in National politics.

While practicing at Ahmedabad, he became familiar with problems being faced by Indians under British rule and he rendered selfless social service to anyone who came for his help. Based on his popularity as a social activist, he was elected to the Municipal Corporation of Ahmedabad in 1917 and was appointed the Sanitation Commissioner of Ahmedabad.

In 1918, there was a drought in the Kheda Division of Gujarat. The British Government refused to lower the high rate of taxation for the drought affected farmers, even on humanitarian grounds as a special case .

He was by now, taking an active part in the Indian Freedom movement and one of his first actions was to organize the farmers into a lobby and raise a protest against the confiscation of Farmer’s lands by the State due to non-payment of high taxes. The peaceful “No tax Campaign” started by him, forced the British Government to suspend revenue collection and to roll back the high rates of taxation on farmers.  This success instantly projected him as a leader of National repute.

Then, in 1928, Bardoli Taluka (Gujarat) suffered from flood and famine. The British Government, oblivious to the plight of farmers demanded a heavy rate of taxation which was again protested vociferously by the farmers , who led by Vallabhbhai Patel  refused to pay any taxes at all on the lines of the Kheda agitation.  Once again the British Government had to concede major concessions to the farmers.

Both these incidents are remembered as the Kheda Satyagrah and the Bardoli Revolt. These successes against unreasonable British Taxation, earned him the title of “Sardar” (or “Leader of men” or “leader of a community”).

He participated in Gandhiji’s non-cooperation movement in his capacity as President of the Gujarat Congress and organized symbolic boycott of British goods by burning them in several bonfires. He started wearing Khadi (swadeshi – indigenously made) clothes. He was elected the President of Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation thrice viz., in 1922, 1924 and 1927. During his tenures, the electrical power supply in the city improved, educational reforms took place, Drainage and sanitation systems were extended to the whole city.

He was a powerful orator and his speeches were considered inflammatory by the British India Government, leading to his imprisonment on several occasions.

In 1930, he was imprisoned for participating in Gandhiji’s “Salt Satyagrah” (Dandi march) against unreasonable British Salt-tax laws. He was freed in 1931 when Gandhiji and Lord Irwin, the then Viceroy of India signed a treaty known as the Gandhi-Irwin pact. In the same year he was elected as the President of the Indian National Congress at Karachi. He was instrumental in getting a resolution passed in the Karachi session, where the Congress party committed itself to the defending of fundamental rights and human rights and dream of a secular nation.
 Upon the failure of the Round Table Conference in London, he was taken into custody in 1932 with Gandhiji and lodged in Yerwada Central Jail, Pune. This association with Gandhiji, made the two of them good friends who admired each other’s commitment to India’s Freedom struggle. He was released in 1934.
He took part in the Quit India Movement led by Mahatma Gandhi in 1942 and was imprisoned in Ahmednagar.
In 1942, when the Quit India Movement was launched by the Indian National Congress after a lot of internal opposition to the Movement, he was among the leaders of the Congress who were taken into custody. He was released in 1945.
When, in 1946, 13 of the 16 Indian states, proposed Sardar Patel’s name for the post of Indian National Congress President, and it was a foregone conclusion that the Congress President will eventually become the Prime Minister of India, at Mahatma Gandhi’s instance, Patel left the candidacy to in favour of Nehru.

Other major Achievements at the National level:

He was India’s first Deputy Prime Minister, Home Minister and Information and Broadcasting Minister in Nehru’s 14 member Cabinet which started functioning from 15th August 1947.

He played a key role in the political integration of India and with  his steely resolve, he managed to overcome the initial reluctance of the smaller kingdoms/princely states in India and got over 550 of them to join the Indian Union, including  the Nizam of Hyderabad and the Nawab of Junagarh  among others. Because he achieved all this without an armed conflict with any of the states and solely by hard negotiations, he was also given the title “Iron Man of India”.

 Death and legacy:

He considered Mahatma Gandhi as his ideal and teacher, and the assassination of Gandhiji left him deeply disturbed. He passed away on 15th December 1950 after a cardiac arrest.
 He was conferred with the Bharat Ratna in 1991, the highest National Award in India.
 He was one of the greatest social leaders of his time. His strength of character, organizing capabilities, oratory and entire efforts were given towards achieving India’s freedom under Gandhiji’s leadership and later on towards seeing a consolidated India.
 At least 17 educational institutions and Universities, across major cities in India are named after him.  There is a Sardar Vallabhbhai  Patel Sports Stadium, an International Airport and a Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel Memorial in Ahmedabad. He has also been portrayed in several films by prominent cine artists/actors. Several books have been written in his life, works, ideals and achievements.

 The Reserve Bank of India, to commemorate the life of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, has brought out a two rupee coin in 1996 for general circulation.

The obverse of the coin has the Lion Capital in the centre together with the words “Satyameva Jayate” (Truth always Prevails) which together form the emblem/Coat of Arms of India. The numeral “2” denoting the denomination of the coin is below the emblem. On the left periphery are the words “Bharat” and “Rupiye” in Hindi and on the right periphery are the words “India” and “Rupees” in English.

On the reverse of the coin is a portrait/image of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel with his name spelt out both in Hindi and English. The year 1996 is mentioned below his portrait which is the year of minting of this coin. This coin was minted at Hyderabad mint. Notice the “five-pointed star” mint mark below the year of issue.

The Posts and Telegraphs Department, India have also honoured him by releasing a five rupee postage envelope with his portrait on the stamp.