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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

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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   

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