Bappabhattisuri was versatile in interpretation of scriptures and a model of celibacy. He was born in 743 A.D. in village Duva in Banaskantha. As a child he was known as Surpal. Once when Acharya Siddhasensuri had a stay in Modhera, he happened to have a dream of a young lion leaping over a place of worship. Next morning when he went to the Jain temple and saw a bright-looking and dignified young boy, he was reminded of the previous night’s dream; soon he called Surpal’s father named Bappa and mother named Bhatti. Due to their regard for their son’s brilliance and determination, the parents handed him over to the religious master on his request. As a token of their fond memory, the boy was named Bappabhatti. After his initiation, the boy acquired intensive knowledge of books of reasoning and logic as also of 72 arts.
King Ama of Kanuaja acquired instruction from Bappabhattisuri and as a reward the king wanted to hand over half of his kingdom to him, but Bappabhattisuri acquainted the king with the concept of non-possessive vow of a Jain monk. The king was also extremely impressed by the poetic composition of Bappabhattisuri. However, from time to time the king subjected Bappabhattisuri to some sort of test to confirm his scholarship and celibacy.
Keeping in view the youthfulness of young Suri ji, the king sent to him a young courtesan in a male’s dress with a view to test his celibacy. She went to the sleeping Suriji and began to attend to him. But as soon as Bappabhattisuri felt the soft touch of a feminine hand, he was soon awakened and was very much shocked. Immediately Suriji realized the intention of the king to tempt and to make him deviate by providing the company of a beautiful young woman in the darkness of the night. He requested the courtesan to go back. She bowed to the Suriji as he had conquered the cupid. The king Ama, as he came to know about the dignified behavior of his spiritual teacher (Guru) during the strange ordeal, became overjoyed.
Once at the invitation of Dharmaraja a scriptural debate was organized between Bappabhatti representing king Ama and Vardhana Kunjar, the learned scholar representing Dharmaraja. In this battle of scholarship Bappabhattisuri came out victorious and as such he was honored with the title of Vadikunjar Kesari but Suriji turned this victory in a battle of arts and an occasion of harmony and dialogue. Over the years, there existed severe enmity between king Ama and Dharmaraja. Suriji explained both of them the significance of forgiveness and brought about a reconciliation.
Bappabhattisuri had greatly influenced Vakpati, an ascetic from Mathura. Under the impact of Suriji’s preaching’s, the king accepted initiation in the last years of his life.
Bappibhattisuri had composed 52 books of which Chaturvinshati and Saraswati Stotra are available even now. He was also a patron of artists and he arranged for the payment of one lakh ‘taka’ to an artist for his painting. He also inspired the people at large for the construction of numerous Jain temples.
Shri Bappabhattisuri is a great Acharya of the Jain religion. He was as much competent in theological debating as he was in composing spiritual literature. His strong character, extensive knowledge and deep-seated religious faith had greatly impressed the rulers.