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Friday, September 11, 2015

Jainism: where are the Moderate Jains?

Where are the moderate Jains? |  MikeGhouseforIndia.blogspot.com 

One of the philosophies that I have embraced from Jainism is the idea of Anekanatavada. "Anekantavda  is one of the most important and fundamental doctrines of Jainism. It refers to the principles of pluralism and multiplicity of viewpoints, the notion that truth and reality is perceived differently from diverse points of view, and that no single point of view is the complete truth." Wikipedia.

I would change the phrase from complete truth to exclusive truth to make full sense of Pluralism, as it is complete truth to the believer of each faith tradition; the problem is with exclusive truth and not complete truth.

We define Pluralism as simply an attitude of respecting the otherness of others and accepting the God given uniqueness of each one of us. If we do that, conflicts fade and solutions emerge.

I wrote a piece on Pariyushan, a Jain festival of fasting and reflection. As usual, I shared it on some 20 Yahoo groups, my three face book accounts and mail out to my list besides sharing on my blog and the blog of Pluralism.


The idea of sharing the essence of different "Festivals of the World" is part of the educational series I began writing in 1993. When we live in the same communities as neighbors, we might as well learn about each other. The best way to build cohesive societies is for its members to participate in festivities as well as commemorations of each other, or, at least understand each other's' joys and sorrows. Please note the simplicity in writing is designed for people of other faiths to learn and to know, so we can function cohesively.

A cohesive society is where no one has to feel apprehension for fearful of the other. In a civilized world every one minds his own business, no one has a right to 'tell' the other, what he or she can eat, drink, wear or believes.

I am getting a barrage of email attacks for writing about the beautiful practice of Jains, and I will still stand by it, the problem is not with Jains, it is with the radical among Jains.

Several editorials in Indian papers have been sent to me to shame me for writing about it.   One of the clips was from BBC news, "But the government said that the question of faith was at the heart of its decision. Jains are a minority group in India and officials say that the ban shows respect for the community. Jains believe that animals and plants, as well as human beings, contain living souls. Each of these souls is considered of equal value and should be treated with respect and compassion."

I know the story too well, when the radicals among Muslims pushed to impose their belief on others, the dumb assess blamed all Muslims, I had to fight for that and now I will do the same; i.e.,  stand by with the Moderate majority of Jains.

I have written to Hindus, Muslims and others not to hold bias against all others because of what a few radicals say and do.

The Radical Jains are pushing to ban the sale of beef in India. Now, they have pushed the government, and the short-sighted leaders in government have yielded to ban the sale of any kind of meat in India for a few days a year.

I personally know so many Jains, and one of them occasionally takes the stand with reason and rationality in discussions.  I hope he begins the movement and others take it upon.

The radicals among Jains are essentially telling to hell with "Anekantavada" to their own philosophy, just as the radicals among Hindus and Muslims do.  If the moderate Jains do not speak up and control these radicals, India would become another Afghanistan or Pakistan and no one will live in peace.

Forcing people to eat, drink, wear or believe against their will, will not go dormant, people will hold it for a while and then every one suffers.

It is time for Moderates across the spectrum of people of India, and particularly Jains in this instance to speak out and say. It is none of your business to tell anyone what they eat, drink, wear or believe. Mind your own business.
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Of the many responses, two are worth noting:

Let me be clear, the majority of Jains are moderates, however there are always a few who claim to follow the principles of Jainism, but I don't see it. this formula applies to people of all religion. I have posed the same question "Where are Moderate ______" Buddhist, Christians, Hindus, Jains, Jews, Muslim, Sikhs... "  We have to get the moderates to speak up with passion, if not the a wrong image of the religion will be painted. I know too well about it.

I can understand a few Jains in India to be intolerant, but did not expect that from an American Jain, who has lived in America, understood what freedom of religion means, and yet he writes, "Live and let live others, Indian governments should put a ban for 6 months on slaughter house."

Amazing, so you want to ban food for others because you believe it differently? What happens to Anekantvaad?

The other response makes a lot of sense and I appreciate the clarification.
Hello Mike,

Someone forwarded me your following email, which I thought is an interesting and deserve a response. Your belief of Jainism is NOT correct. I will try to briefly express my views about your following email.

First, I read your article on Paryushan, dated 9/10/2015 at http://theghousediary.blogspot.com/2015/09/festivals-of-world-happy-paryushan-jain.html the article needs certain corrections, which are as follows.


1)  The Paryushan is celebrated by Jains all over the world.  Basically, there are 2 main sects in Jainism. Shwetamber (Derawasi, Sthankavasi and Terapanthi) and Digambers. Each one has sub-sects. Shwetambers observe Paryushan for 8 days and some of those fast for 8 days (NOT 7), which is called ‘Aathai Taap’. Digambers observe Das-laxan for 10 days which begins after 8 days of Paryushan. They may fast for 10 days, but customarily they don’t fast as predominantly as Shwetambers do. Both sects celebrate Paryushan on 9th and Das Laxan on the 11th day, by breaking fasting and asking for forgiveness (Michhami Dukkadam)

2)  It is true that Jainism is not an offshoot of Hinduism, Buddhism or any other religion, as Jainism has been practiced from infinite. ( In short, there is NO beginning date/period of Jainism). Most importantly, Jainism is NOT contemporary of Buddhism, though people mistakenly believe it is. There are several differences between Jainism and Buddhism, Principally, Buddhism’s belief of practicing Ahimsa, the core foundation of Jainism, is different than what we Jains believe. Lord Mahavir achieved Kevalgyan (being omniscient) and showed Jains true meaning of Ahimsa, whereas Lord Buddha was not omniscient and their followers did not practice Ahimsa, as Jains do (in theory). 


Now with regard to your following thoughts about “Jainism: where are the Moderate Jains?”…. my thoughts are as below.


Ahimsa is a core foundation of Jainism. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jainism. By practicing this core principle of Ahimsa, Jains are following their religion values. In fact, saving lives is considered the best donation one can make. It’s called ‘Abhaydan’ in Jain scriptures. Lord Mahavir’s first word after achieving ‘Kevalgyan’ (was “Ma-Hano” (meaning don’t kill) and then he explained us about the 563 types of ‘Jiv’ (meaning lives). For Jains, “ALL LIVES MATTERS”. So by saving lives, we are not imposing or causing trouble to others in any way nor should the Jains be labeled as ‘Radical Jains’.

In consistent with Jain’s core principle ‘Ahimsa’, we Jains had requested Indian Government to allow us to practice our religion values during Paryushan, which was readily accepted by the government. There was NO force or illegal tactics been applied in convincing Indian Government about letting Jains practice its core values during its most auspicious festivals. India is a secular country and it respects all religious values and traditions.
Jai Jinendra and Jai Hind.
Gautam Daftary

# # # 
Mike Ghouse, Consultant
(214) 325-1916 text/talk

Dr. Mike Ghouse is a social scientist, thinker, writer and a speaker on  Pluralism, Interfaith, Islam, politics, foreign policy and building cohesive societies. Mike offers pluralistic solutions on issues of the day. More about him in 63 links at www.MikeGhouse.net and his writings are at TheGhousediary.com   

Happy Paryushan - a Jain Festival. Michami Dukkadam friends

Paryushan - Festivals of the World | TheGhouseDiary.com
http://theghousediary.blogspot.com/2015/09/festivals-of-world-happy-paryushan-jain.html

"Festivals of the World" is an educational series by Mike Ghouse since 1993. When we live in the same communities as neighbors, we might as well learn about each other. The best way to build cohesive societies is for its members to participate in festivities as well as commemorations of each other, or, at least understand each other's' joys and sorrows. Please note the simplicity in writing is designed for people of other faiths to learn and to know, so we can function cohesively. 

Paryushan - a Jain festival of forgiveness

For the Jains, followers of Jainism, a world religion, this is the month of reflection.  Some observe fasting for 9 days and some for 7 days. It is a time to review the past twelve months and acknowledge the good, bad and the ugly aspects of life, and begin it again with a clean the slate.


At the end of the 9 days, they celebrate on the 10th day and call is Dus Laxan,  every Jain greets the other with “Jai Jinendra” followed by a  powerful phrase “Michami Dukadam,” - let you and I clean our slates and start the new year afresh - Happy Paryushan
!

Note to my Jewish friends; the swastika symbol symbolizes four directions and four seasons of life, life is constant movement.  This symbol has been in use for over 2500 years by Jains, whereas Hitler stole it and used it denote his evil empire.

Pariyushan is an annual festival that Jains celebrate all around the Globe, it is either seven or nine days celebration depending on the sect; Swetambra or Digambra, they observe fasting for seven days or 9 days and conclude it on Dus laxan, 10 blessings on the tenth day.  Throughout the time they observe complete fasting and abstain from ill-will, ill-thoughts and ill-actions, just as Muslims do for a month in Ramadan and Hindus do during Navaratri. It is a beautiful way of refreshing our souls on an annual basis.

There is a beauty and joy in forgiving and be forgiven. It brings Moksha, Mukti, Nirvana, Nijaat, salvation and true freedom to every soul. Indeed, the idea of forgiveness is central to every religion; that was Jesus's focus, the dearest person to God is one who forgives, says Mohammad the prophet and Sri Krishna reiterates that throughout in Bhagvad Gita. If all the psychologists in the world were asked, what will bring the most freedom to the mankind, they may be tempted to say "Michami Dukadam".

The Jains have been practicing this tradition for thousands of years and I join them in the Jain tradition of humility and forgiveness I say Michami Dukadam. I am pleased to share the perfect message from Dr. Vastupal Parikh.

In the Jain tradition of humility and forgiveness; SAVVE JIVA KHAMANTU MEMETTI ME SAVVE BHUYESU,VERAM MAJAHAM NA KENAI"

"I forgive (without any reservation) all living beings (who may have caused me any pain and suffering either in this or previous lives), and I beg for the forgiveness from all living beings (no matter how small or big) to whom I may have, knowingly or unknowingly, caused pain and suffering (in thoughts, speech or action, in this or previous lives, or if I have asked, or encouraged someone else, to carry out such activities). (Let all creatures know that) I have friendship with everybody and have no revenge (animosity or enmity) toward anybody."

Michami Dukadam: Indeed, that phrase resonates with me. I had talked about the meaning of Michami Dukadam in several congregations.

In July 2013 when I had a heart attack, after recover I wrote this.
http://theghousediary.blogspot.com/2013/11/michami-dukadam-starting-life-over-with.html


Here is an article about Ramadan - which has a similar essence.http://newsweek.washingtonpost.com/onfaith/guestvoices/2009/08/ramadans_spiritual_discipline.html


***** Jainism is a full fledged religion like Hinduism and Buddhism and none is an offshoot of the other as it is often mis-understood. Jainism is contemporary of Buddhism. Both the faiths are life centered where one's deeds (Karma) determine his or her spiritual, physical and mental well being. Although Mahavir is referred to as God in common parlance, in the system, he is the 24th Tirthankara (the enlightened one - an equivalent of a messenger or a prophet in the Abrahimic traditions) who wrapped up the entire philosophy of the 23 earlier Tirthankaras.   In Dallas, oops, it is in Fort Worth, we had an exhibition of the artifacts from that period at Kimball Art Museum several years ago, it was a fascinating experience.

Mahatma Gandhi's non-violence approach emanates from Jainism and the idea of validity of multiple paths of the foundation for pluralism ( www.foundationforPluralism.com) has its origin in the idea of Anekant Vaad from Jainism. We have a Jain Temple in Richardson, a suburb of Dallas, and if you want to enjoy the best vegetarian food, go to the temple on Sunday Mornings! I will have to figure out one in Washington D.C.,

Mike is a speaker, thinker, writer, pluralist, TV-Radio commentator and a human rights activist committed to building cohesive societies and offers pluralistic solutions on issues of the day. His info in 63 links at MikeGhouse.net and writings at TheGhouseDiary.com 

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Was Aurangzeb the Mogul King, a tyrant?

Bhagvad Gita’s wisdom “Finding the truth is one’s own responsibility” turned my life around, when the awakening came, it was strengthened by what my Mother had said,” You alone are responsible for your actions (peace of mind), and for that, she said you’ve to question everything that is dished out to you. She dared, I am your mother and want the best for you, but when it is about the society you should find the truth on your own, including rejecting what I would say. She then concluded, truth sets you free from anger and ill-will. So her litmus test for truth is removal of hate, anger and prejudices in you.
So, I am set out to find more about Aurangzeb, I read three different articles and the links are provided below. What I had read in the past was derogatory about Aurangzeb and I had concluded that he was a bigot, which I regret, as I am seeing a different picture of him now.  I want to understand the whole truth about Aurangzeb and remove my ill-will towards him if it were unjust.  I do not want to allow falsity make home in my heart. 

The first time, I have heard positive things about Aurangzeb were from Professor Shakil Samdani of Aligarh Muslim University.  He and I spoke at Asim Siddqui Memorial college in Badaun, and during our drive from Aligarh to Badaun, we had good conversation and was taken back to hear positive things about Aurangzeb, that he did not harass Hindus as was given to understand. 


Unless we question everything, we will be blinded by our hate and politics. Aurangzeb is perceived as a tyrant, even though to be fair to him, many Hindu's cite his land grants to the Temples, Gurdwaras, the multi-faith Members in his governance, earning a living by writing and selling copies of Quran, and not using the public funds for his own.  However, he was surrounded by his Chamchas who did not dare tell him when he was wrong. 

In June this year, I wrote a piece on pulling down the confederate flag as it represented a sad part of our (American) history, and a few days later it was pulled down. Now, the name of the street in New Delhi meets a similar fate, Aurangzeb Road is changed to Abdul Kalam Road. Wrongfully or rightfully Aurangzeb represented a symbol of cruelty to fellow Indians who are Hindus.

We the Indians have collectively bonded with hate for the tyrants from the past, we had many rulers who were tyrants, but somehow, a few kings are remembered with intense dislike, two of them were Aurangzeb and Ghazni. They have been symbols of friction between Hindus and Muslims and have been invoked in communal riots. Of course, you will find at least two Kings in every religion who were tyrants towards their subjects whether they were Hindus or Buddhists.

A few Muslims and Hindus may disagree with me, and that I welcome it as a part of learning to respect the otherness of others in a democratic set up. I believe Muslims are sick and tired of being blamed for the acts of Aurangzeb; they are blamed as if they committed the crimes!  Even if I were a grandson of Aurangzeb, should I be harassed for his acts? Should your parents be persecuted for your acts? Aurangzeb was for himself, like all other Kings be it Hindu, Sikh, Christian, Buddhist or other kings and he does not represent a Muslim in a democracy.

I hope this is a catalytic event to rename the road from Aurangzeb to Abdul Kalam does well for the Hindu and Muslim psyche. I pray that those few Hindus who carried the burden find Mukti from it, and Muslims have nothing to lose from it.  

However, not the moderate majority of Hindus, but the extreme right wing among them needs to question if what has been told to them makes sense. Is there a joy in destroying things that bear Muslim names for them? Does Hinduism teach this? What is next? Is the RSS hell bent on messing up with our history, do they represent the values of Hinduism? Is Hinduism Hijacked? I know the feeling, the moderate Muslims are still fighting the tiny puny group of extremists among us, now the Hindus have that fight on their hands. Do they believe in live and let live or live with hatred for Muslims. Hinduism does not teach anything they are practicing. 


It would be bad for India, if the extremists among Hindus want a pound of flesh, and want to turn our history upside down.   My friend Dr. Zafar Iqbal pointed out in a conversation that Aurangzeb would not give in to the British, so the British resorted to divide and rule and figured out a way to place a wedge between Hindus and Muslims by writing falsities about Aurangzeb. 

I know the pattern well. In my Radio show on the issue of Ayodhya way back in 2003, I quoted a letter of India’s Governor General from the India Gazette in 1853 – he wrote to the bloody King in England that the Muslims and Hindus have built a Ram Chabootra and have started getting along again, if these groups joined, that spells the end of British Raj! (http://mikeghouse.net/Aboutus/Dallas-Observer-on-MikeGhouse.htm )

  
However, together as Indian Muslims, Hindus, Sikhs, Christians, Jains, Buddhist and others, we need to preserve our heritage and faithfully guard our history. We must remove the hate for each other and live like equals - that is the right dharma. 

Let this change of name bring relief to our Hindu friends and remove apprehension for Muslims, that they can live freely without being blamed for Aurangzeb and no more griping and no more flipping the world upside down. Let’s get it over and move forward. 

Articles worth reading:


2. Was Aurangzeb really a bigot and tormentor of Hindus? A fair assessment by Hindu Scholars : http://caravandaily.com/portal/so-was-aurangzeb-really-a-bigot-and-tormentor-of-hindus-2/

3. Why we should oppose Aurangzebing of Aurangzeb
http://thewire.in/2015/08/30/why-we-should-oppose-the-aurangzebing-of-aurangzeb-9549/

4. Delhi was inspired by history and not bigotry




Mike Ghouse is a motivational speaker committed to building cohesive societies and offers pluralistic solutions on issues of the day. His information is in 63 links a www.MikeGhouse.netand his exclusive writings are at TheGhousediary.com