Chitralekha Gujarati issue dated 1 December 2014.
Watch “Editor’s Audio Note” on YouTube -
On A Path To Self-Realization
On the morning of 1st December 2014, Surat, the diamond city of Gujarat will witness a history when as many as 45 Jain diksha-aspirants will receive initiation and renounce worldly pleasures, in presence of Jains from all over the country. It will be a record of sorts, as never before so many salvation seekers have been initiated en masse. Historical records suggest that Acharya Hemvimalsuriswarji had given dikshas to 500 disciples at Idar in Gujarat in the Vikram Samwat 1548 (about 522 years ago). Since then no initiation on such a large-scale has ever taken place. The cover story (by Faysal Bakili & Mahesh Shah) in the latest issue of Chitralekha captures the mood and enthusiasm of Jain devotees on the eve of an event that will go down in the history of Jainism as unique and unparalleled.
In the recent past, in 1973, at Khambhat, with the blessings of Acharya Vijayramchandrasuriswariji, 24 devotees had accepted the path of renunciation. Four years later, the same Acharyasri had blessed 26 devotees with initiation in Amalner in Maharastra. Thereafter, the record of 38 people having been initiated by Acharyasri Gunaratnasuriswarji remains an unbeaten record to date. Finally, this record is going to be surpassed by the mega ceremony of initiation of 45 disciples on 1 December’14.
The story cites the case of one Bharat Mehta who had volunteered to escort an old lady to a Jain temple every day for four months, as she had no one to help her. Essentially, this was a pure act of help,not inspired by any religious zeal or passions. Battling with his own self-doubts and cynicism, Bharatbhai was not particularly very religious. This however began to dissipate one day when he happened to hear the religious discourse of a Jain monk. Later, he had detailed deliberations with the monk, who patiently put to rest all his queries and doubts.
This led to the change of heart. Today, Bharatbhai is one of the Diksharthis who will be initiated on the first day of December. Hold your breath as the story is not over yet. Bharatbhai’s two teen-aged sons too are following their father on the difficult path of renunciation and sacrifice. Each of the 45 devotees in the age group
of 12 to 59 will be taking a holy vow on that day to embark on a new life, leaving behind the ephemeral world of pleasures of senses.
Initiation denotes voluntary acceptance of renunciation of the world of sensory pleasures and embarking on a path leading to a spiritual life, marked by restraint, tough penance and observance of vows and ultimate salvation. Come to think of it, on 1st December, not one or two, but 45 people will be accepting initiation or diksha into monkhood.
522 years ago, the senior monk who had facilitated the initiation of 500 disciples originally hailed from Vankadia-vadgam of Rajasthan. It is an uncanny coincidence that Acharya Yogtilaksuriswarji Maharaj who has been an inspiring force behind the event of December too is from the same place.
It is therefore no surprise that for this sacred ceremony in Surat, elaborate arrangements on a massive scale are underway. Each Jain family has some or other guests scheduled to visit from outside. All hotels in Surat have been booked for the event. For the Diksha-aspirants and other guests, some local builders have allotted 400 flats to the organizers at no cost. Surat is all set for this spiritual event spanning from 24 November to 1 December.
Those living in Surat take pride in the fact that the Diamond City is hosting the mega-spiritual ceremony that could otherwise have gone to Ahmedabad, but for the insistence of a few families especially the Lalan family that has a special reason to rejoice, as two daughters from the family are going to make the family proud by accepting initiation.
One of the daughters admits that her resolve to renounce the world was further strengthened after listening to the religious discourses of Jain monks.
Among the two brief related inputs, one carries the interview of the chief spiritual architect of the event Acharya yogitilaksuriswarji. The other boxed story reveals unique information related to the audio-visual programme Bhav-Prapanch, directed by renowned theater personality Manoj Shah, slated for presentation on the occasion.
Say No to Such Ads?
With the population of Parsis plummeting from 1,41,000 in 1941 to 68,000, it is becoming alarmingly clear that the figure is dwindling rapidly the world over. Known for their humour and liveliness, Parsis had originally come from Iran and over the years seamlessly merged with the local inhabitants here. It is now a matter of concern that these robust people are on the verge of ‘extinction’, so to speak.
As part of their strategies to halt the rapid fall in their numbers, the Parsis Panchayat has commissioned a series of JIO ads that aim to create awareness among Parsis about the looming crisis and the need to take steps to reverse the process. While there is however no way to ascertain how these ads are going to impact the Parsi population, what is certain is the fact that the ads have spawned raging controversies regarding the ‘in-the-face’ contents of the ads. Tagged with bold lines like ‘Be responsible, Say No To Condoms Tonight..’, the ads have apparently outraged a section of the community. According to some, the advertisements appear to have been designed to rudely prod the Parsis into procreation. As opposed to this conservative view, there are some who strongly believe that the very purpose of ads is to offend people and jolt them into acting.
Ketan Mistry presents the predicament of the community against the backdrop of the debate generated by the controversial ads.
No Exit From Pakistan
Daniel Merkey argues that when it comes to Pakistan, India cannot expect to defeat it militarily and has no option but to learn to deal with this ground reality. The member of Council for Foreign Relations is an expert on India, Pakistan and South Asia. In his latest book, No Exit From Pakistan: America’s Tortured Relationship with Islamabad, the former American diplomat enunciates why the internal strife in Pakistan is fast emerging as a tangible threat to America’s security and global peace at large.
Hiren Mehta feels that the frequent border skirmishes caused by the habitual ceasefire violations by Pakistan give credence to Daniel Merkey’s statement.
Besides the above, the issue carries humour column, Palak, Cardiogram, Priyadarshini, a sequel of the novelette published earlier, Health Helpline, Jalsaghar and Mukhwas
A senior theater artist was overheard articulating after Chhelbhai’s demise:
‘Ok, so our buddy Chhel has gone to heavens. It is therefore in fitness of things that he designs and creates the sets in heavens before we make entry up there..!! ‘