Shravanabelagola, January 7, 2006: As all eyes stay fixed on the hectic preparations underway in the pilgrim town of Shravanabelagola for the Mahamasthakabhisheka celebrations of Bhagawan Shri Bahubali Swami, it is only appropriate that attention is paid to the many social welfare programmes, also a part of the celebrations, undertaken by the Digambara Jain under the stewardship of His Holiness Swasthishri Charukeerthi Bhattaraka Swamiji.
The mutt’s social welfare initiatives was given a kick start in the year 1981 when the Sahastrabdi or the millennium celebrations marking the 1000 years of installation of the 58.8 ft monolith of Bhagawan Bahubali was held. The Janamangala Kalasha, a highlight of the celebrations, which was flagged off by the then Prime Minister Mrs. Indira Gandhi from New Delhi reached Shravanabelagola after itinerating all the States. This gave birth to Gommateshwara Janakalyana Trust, the service arm of the Mutt and its first act was memorable. One thousand people who were visually impaired got back their eyesight and that nostalgic moment still lingers in the minds of
many – the joy that abound on their faces when they witnessed Bhagawan Bahubali’s millennium celebrations, a sight they had never dreamt of savouring.
The Gommateshwara Janakalyana Trust has not lagged behind even during the current celebrations, the first Mahamasthakabhisheka of this millennium. His Holiness Swamiji has gone out of his way to ensure that the celebrations are not just rituals, pomp, show and pageantry.
Several social welfare programmes have been taken up for the benefit of the people of Hassan and other surrounding districts. Janakalyana Programmes have primarily focused on providing basic facilities for the poor and the needy. Medical camps, cleanliness of villages, imparting awareness and education on protection of environment, and creation of new jobs for the rural people is some of the important programmes that have been carried out and some are still in progress.
According to H N Rajendrakumar, President of the Janakalyana Sub Committee, health sector through several medical camps was given utmost importance this time round, keeping in mind the inaccessibility of modern medical facilities to the poor and the middle class.
Artificial limb camp have been organized and Jaipur calipers distributed to more than 50 people from different parts of Karnataka in the co-ordination with C.B Bhandary Charitable trust, Bangalore. Seminars were organized in different schools to create awareness about dental care and free toothbrush and paste distributed. The much acclaimed eye testing and eye operation camp was held during May last year, and more than 1200 people underwent testing and more than 600 people eyes were operated upon. Dental Check up camp was organized in June and more than 50 dental sets were distributed. Free medical check up, Ayurvedic Medical and a second Dental care camp followed.
In order to provide permanent free medical aid, Pushpadantha Dental Clinic was established at Shravanabelagola, providing free dental care facilities. Free Ayurvedic Hospital was established along with an eye hospital and a clinical laboratory with X-ray departments providing free medical service to the people. “Smile” a treatment for split lips people was held in coordination with C.B Charitable trust in which more than 50 members from various parts of the State returned smiling radiantly. Gommateshwara Mobile Hospital, on its part is doing dedicated service to the local community throughout the year thanks to the dedicated work of Dr. Bramharaj, who is serving since the inception of the mobile hospital.
“Janakalyana Programme is also concerned with protection of environment and as a part of this endeavour, medicinal plants and other plantation trees were distributed to the farmers. As a part of the ‘Total Sanitation Campaign’, the Trust distributed bags of cement and other construction materials to 700 homes in Shravanabelagola to create sanitation facilities,” says Rajendrakumar.
A separate self-employment scheme was launched for the women during the run up to the current celebrations, training them preparing handicrafts from the waste materials generated in day-to-day life. Sewing machines were distributed for the poor women to make them self sufficient in daily life. This apart, the Trust runs the “Jaina Shravaka Vriddhashrma”, a home for the aged apart from a ‘Goshala’.
The Janakalyana Trust’s activities are not confined just to Shravanabelagola or Karnataka. A team of doctors and Gommateshwara Mobile Hospital helped flood victims in Belgaum and Bagalkote, providing medical aid to more than 2500 people. An amount of 5,00,000 was distributed for meeting the housing needs of those rendered homeless by the floods apart from making arrangements to meet the fodder and veterinary needs of the cattle. While Janakalyana Trust spends 78 percent of its resources toward meeting the relief and service requirements of the poor and needy in Karnataka, the remaining amount goes toward relief and service activities in other states from
its Akshaya Satkhara Nidhi.
Among the future plans of the Trust is introduction of a 24/7-ambulance service for handling emergencies and encouraging mechanised agriculture among the farmers through distribution of modern agricultural implements. The community service in health sector, self-employment and protection of environment will also include education sector. – Jain Heritage Centres News Service (JHCNS)