Shravanabelagola, February 2, 2006: The ‘Shravanak Sammelan’ organised at Shravanbelagola on the occasion of the Mahamasthakabhisheka of Lord Bahubali provided a platform to the Digambar Jain Samaj to raise a unified voice against the delay in granting of Minority status to the Jain community. The members of the Digambar Jain community in the country led by Acharya 108 Vardhamana Sagar muni Maharaj today made an impassioned plea to the Union Government to accord Digambar Jains the status of religious minorities.
Inaugurating the Sammelan, MMC06 Honorary President Mr. Naresh Kumar Sethi said the lack of unity within the Digambar Jain community was the biggest hurdle in securing minority status. He urged the members of the community to resolve to build a school whenever a temple is built. Marriages have become so extravagant that many parents of the girl child were reeling under severe debts and this has to change. Mr. Sethi said he was ashamed at the increasing number of female feticide within the Digambar Jain community. On the other hand, Jain girls and women were adopting lifestyles that go totally against any maternal instinct, rooted a these are in lifestyles of tight jeans and topless apparels.
The speech by Brahmachari Sri Ravindra Jain from Jaipur gave a new momentum to the minority discussion. He called upon the unity of the Digambar and the Swethambar Samaj for posing a unified voice in connection with the Minority status.
Reception President Mr. Nirmal Kumar Sethi who presided urged all the participants of the Sammelan to respect the traditions and diversities of the South and steer clear of sullying them, even inadvertently. He elaborated in detail the contribution of the Digambar Jains from south India in the preservation of Jain religion and Jain way of life, he began his description starting from the contribution of Acharya Sri Shanthisagarji Maharaj in reviving the Digambar Jains monkhood. Further he appreciated the contribution of the Bhattrakha tradition in reviving the Jain kshetras and particularly appreciated His Holiness Swasti Sri Charukeerthi BHattarakha Swamiji. Further speaking about the minority status of the Jains he opined that, lack of unity is the main cause for the delay in according the status and hence called for the Eakikaran of the Jain samaj. He also felt the need to fill the lacunae of structural deficiency in the samaj. Elaborating further he also quoted the discussion he had with Aryika Indumati Mathaji about involving more youths in the religion and motivating them to follow the Jain way of life, for which as suggested by Aryikaji he put forth the proposal of establishing the ‘Jain Veer’ award for the followers of Jain principles.
He requested the Digambar Jain Munis to guide the Samaj about the confusion prevailing amongst the Digambar Jains in connection with the rituals and pooja of Yaksha and Yakshis. For this he quoted his discussion with Sri D.Veerendra Heggde of Dharmasthala as questioned by Heggdeji, in connection with the difference of opinion in between some of the Digambar Munis of the North and South about the rituals and other ideological following. Further elaborating on this he said he was dumb founded and was still unable to find a clear solution. For this he urged the entire muni sangh present to put an end to such unnecessary confusions and there by leading towards the unity of the Digambar Jains from North and South.
Addressing the two-day ‘Shravaka Sammelan’ or the general assembly, Acharya 108 Vardhamana Sagar Munimaharaj said it was difficult today to find persons from the Digambar Jain community either in the civil service or any other wing of the administration and attributed this to the climate of reservation in the country. “Meritorious Jain students are finding it impossible to secure positions in the civil service and this is because of the failure of the Government to secure Digambar Jains the status of religious minorities. This should be done without brooking further delay and the entire community must make a concerted effort at securing this legitimate status,” he said.
Expressing his sadness at the rapid degeneration of the Jain way of life among the current generation, the Acharya Sri said effective action must to taken to stem the rot among the current generation, with many moving away from the very basic cannons of the religion and indulging in acts and deeds one cannot even conceive. “It is a matter of shame that we have to publicly discuss these things on such an occasion where in reality these issues must be thrashed out inside the confines of a family home,” he regretted.
On the tendency of many devotees in North India to uproot idols from the heritage sites and install them in new temples, the Acharya said this was against the very spirit of the religion. Through such acts, one was showing great irreverence to the learned saints of the past who presided over the consecrations. “One must learn from South India how to restore heritage sites even while preserving its antiquity. Shravanabelagola’s Swasthishri Charukeerthi Bhattaraka Swamiji and Dharmasthala’s Veerendra Heggade are great role models in this. And nobody should force changes in age old rituals in different temples,” he added.
The Acharya urged the members of the community to unite and wash away any sense of shame they harboured about the Digambar Jain way of life. He cited South India and the Jains here as an example and pointed out that nothing can be achieved if one went against the laws of the land.
In a direct warning to the detractors within the community and the monks who have chosen different paths away from the mainstream, the Acharya said while they were welcome back to the fold if they changed their ways, all efforts by them to sneak into the mainstream would be rendered futile.
South India Jain Sabha President Mr. Kallappanna Awade pointed out that Digambar Jains were losing political representation with not even one Digambar Jain being a member of today’s parliament whereas there were as many as 36 members in the Nehru administration.
Working President A.R.Nirmal Kumar who welcomed stressed the need for providing financial assistance to all students to pursue all levels of education.
Shravanabelagola pontiff Swasthishri Charukeerthi Bhattaraka Swamji graced. Mr. Mahaveer Prasad Jain, Chief Whip of Rajasthan Government, Hastinapur’s Brahmachari Ravindraji and Mr. Nirmal Kumar Setna also spoke. MMC06 A giant palanquin constructed out the Kalasha collections at a cost of Rs.6.25 lakh was unveiled on the occasion. – Jain Heritage Centres News Service (JHCNS)