A world between asceticism and desire
AJAZ UL HAQUE
In eastern classical religions Jainism is believed to be one of the oldest. There are around four million Jains in India which roughly form three percent of the total population. The number is so less as if Jains are almost nowhere seen. Like dinosaurs of a Jurassic era, Jains may one day face a problem of extinction. If figures only make you secure, then procreation should have been the first goal and proliferation the first target. So long as they continue to exist as humans, their religious identity will not bother them. A sect from them is abnormally ascetic. Such a sect is not confined to Jains alone, but can be found in all other bigger religions of the world. Theirs is the principle of abnegation. They sweep the path they step on to avoid crushing even the tiniest creature. To them life of an invisible worm is as important as the life of a human being. They filter the air they breathe, sieving the water they drink. They (to express their devotion to God) go homeless, foodless. One sect of monks called Digambara go naked because they regard clothing as a possession.
They even fast unto death and the vow they call `Santharaí. They wither like a waterless leaf, collapse like a pillarless edifice, join us and earn the blessings of Lord. That is how religion assumes a form masochism whereby salvation lies in a self-inflicted torture.
But here lies the brighter side. The members of the same community are some of the wealthiest merchants in India. They provide employment to hundreds. They sustain thousands thereby serving society at large. They run institutions. They are entrepreneurs first, Jains then. They are professionals first, Jains next.
Now the comparison can be easily made. Without taking it in the meaning of glorifying lust for money and pelf, the point is clear enough. What will Jain community take pride in? Will they be happy having a host of cave-dwellers who feed on nothing, take nothing, give nothing and perhaps mean nothing or these challenge-accepting people who earn for themselves first and then for others too. The piety of a Jain Muni will count nowhere unless itís matched against the contributions made on the ground.
A writer like Bapsi Sidwa is enough to make Parsis hold their head high than a million fire-worshippers who will burn themselves up in the pursuit of an imaginary liberation. Jews in Western Europe, Chinese in Southeast Asia are not known because of their being the believers of a particular creed, but because of the level of involvement they have in the social affairs.
Religion whatever, monks alone canít run the world. We need performers.
Lastupdate on : Sat, 29 Sep 2012 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Sat, 29 Sep 2012 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Sun, 30 Sep 2012 00:00:00 IST
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