Jainism and some answers

Minority status

Now there are 6 communities classified as minorities under National Commission on Minorities Act, 1993. Jains were added in the central list in 2013 end before which 5 communities were there.

It differs state to state.

Punjab – Sikh majority

J&K, Lakshdweep – Muslim majority

Mizoram, Nagaland – Christian majority

Why?

Because it is a distinct religion which is numerically very small. So, by the very basic definition of minority religion, it is one. It was so recognised in most of the states.

Benefits?

Can maintain there own religious institutions. Will have more autonomy and safeguards in maintaining educational institutions, trusts, temples etc.

People can benefit from scholarships, education and self – employment loans. The benefits of MSDP (Multi Sectoral Development Program) will not be there because there are no concentration areas.

Jain being a relatively prosperous community does it need such benefits?

There is no doubt that it should be classified as a minority religion. The autonomy and safeguards are required for minority religions world over. Our Constitution also gives that. It does so to deal with every possible situation which may arise in future. Human history is replete with instances where such safeguards were found necessary. Jains also have impoverished people who will be benefitted with welfare schemes. It is pertinent that such schemes should have income related criteria to ensure that only people is need get benefits.

Why Jainism declined from its birthplace?

I wouldn’t say that Jainism declined absolutely. It came as a corrective measure against the undesirable practices which came in Vedic religion. The aim was not to establish a grand religion or to spread world wide. In that respect, we see that the influence of the thoughts of Buddha and Mahavira have left indelible mark on different religions. From killing animals as a part of religious ceremonies to adopting vegetarianism, inclusion of principles like Satya, Ahimsa, Aparigrah, Brahmcharya, Asteya etc have been included in almost all communities. Even if we say that they are not original thoughts of Jainism, Jainism must have reinforced them.

Why buddhism flourished while jainism declined?

Jainism was very stringent. It leaves very little room for variations. It was not at all possible for Kings to follow such principles. Also, it makes it less attractive for potential followers. Further, it can be said that strict reliance on vegetarian food was feasible in the Ganga plains. It is extremely difficult to follow that in the coastal areas like Odisha or in high mountains like Ladakh.

Reason for prosperity?

Protestant values – frugality, spirit of enterprise – Habit of saving, emphasis on personal conduct, virtuous life and education

Historical factors like business communities adopting the religion

Santhara – do you support it?

Yes ! In the form that I understand it. In Jains we have 2 kind of people – Moksha Margi who follow Mahavrata and Grahastha who follow Anuvrata. People who are walking the path of Nirvana for 30-40 years when they feel that the time of leaving this body behind is coming, they prepare themselves for a controlled stable departure through a long and elaborate process called Santhara. Ideally it is of 12 years. They start taking less food, increase the frequency of fasting and concentrate more on meditation. There should not be any pain or suppression of urges. There should not be suppression of hunger, there should be no hunger. The idea is not to have urges. (Jain monks Pluck their hairs by hands in a very stoic way)

Similarly, when someone having high spiritual attainments face a life threatening disease and there is no way out in Ayurvedic medicines or naturopathy, then with the permission of their Acharya they may choose to take Santhara. But it is given only by the head Acharya of the Sangha and it is a rare thing and allowed only to monks/saints.

The movie Ship of Theasus (Director – Anand Gandhi) shows one such story. But the monk there was in pain and he himself realised that he is not able to maintain his calm and composure during Santhara. So he chose to rather have a treatment than having ill thoughts.

Can a Jain do his/her job as an Officer or say a Police Officer properly with Jain values?

Definitely! In fact I believe that my values will guide me to work more efficiently and more effectively. Jainism emphasises on doing one’s duty properly and on

Detachment (one should not have Moh) which enables one to take tough decisions.

empathy – work for reducing others’ pain

Humility and Aparigrah – will help in saving oneself from all the lures which trap people commonly in these services.

Relevance of Jain principles in today’s society ?

Inner peace – contentment – a feeling of humility and gratitude – Will make people’s life better in today’s chaotic world

Non-violence, tolerance – will bring peace in the world

Crime, violence, corruption will reduce if everyone follows moral principles which are so well detailed in Jain philosphy.

Would love to hear

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