Global Jain Unity
Mr. C. N. Sanghavi, the founder of the Jain Social Groups' International Federation, recently delivered a radical call for unity and active co-operation at the 7th Biennial Conference of the federation, held in Jaipur. Sanghavi, speaking at the inaugural session of the conference on 30th December 1999, spoke of the fragmentation of the international Jain community referring to the increasing tendency as 'suicide for Jains'. The conference reacted positively to this call, and resolved to become a catalyst for the organisation of a global organisation of Jains, under the leadership of Dr. L. M. Singhvi. Below are excerpts from Sanghavi's speech.
"We are now on the threshold of the new Millennium. What will Jainism look like as we wade through the 21st Century? I have heard Boys and Girls born and brought up in U.S.A., when asked about Mahavir raise a counter question "Who is Mahavir?" Are we going to land in this situation in India also by the end of 21st Century?
What is the position of Jainism today? We are about 10 million of Deravasis, Sthanakvasis, Digambars of Terapnathi in the world. But there are very few Jains. We are fragmented beyond recognition. It is said that there are 4 sects of Jains. Broadly speaking it may so but otherwise there are hundreds of sub-sects-Dashashrimali, Oswal, Khartarguchh, Gondal Sampraday and what not. Each sect has their own Sadhus and own Sadhvis, own beliefs, own rituals and own projects. This is further spreading like an epidemic. These parochial and divisive tendencies are never ending. Parochial loyalties, fundamentalism and fanaticism will be suicidal for us Jains if we remain silent spectators to these tendencies. It is said that the inaction of good people is worse than the action of bad people.
The forces of divisiveness are at work. If there is nothing to divide, our crooked mind will invent something, which can possibly feed our divisiveness.
I have an action plan for the future. We should set up a global federation of Jains, under the guidance and able leadership of Dr. L. M. Singhvi.
Firstly the future of Jainism, like the future of any country depends upon young people. young generation is not dogmatic and is ready to adapt to new ideas. If proper motivation and guidelines are given to them they will follow the same. Secondly, unlike other religions, Jainism gives equal status to women. They have to be involved at all levels. It is aptly said that for India women, the sky is not the limit. There is no doubt that information revolution will totally transform the environment for women if opportunity is given to them.
One of the main objects of the organisation should be to promote fellowship and fraternity among Jains, to strive for their progress and prosperity, to foster unity of all Jains and generally to propagate the fundamental principles of Jainism.
In doing so, we have to take care that we do not enter into sectarian controversies. We have a great role to play not only in spreading the message of Lord Mahavir but also in propagating social, cultural and religious values. In this respect we have to be slow but steady, cautious but enlightened, liberal and progressive but at the same time idealistic and positive.
We Jains do not believe in any superstitious and out attempt should be to free the society from superstitious beliefs. We should be averse to purposeless rituals, particularly when it is accompanied by extravagance, showmanship and exhibitionism or when it is performed without understanding, because this does not fit is with our philosophy of cultivating a broad mind, broad vision and broad outlook.
I have therefore a very long- term plan. Confucius wrote that "if you plan for a year, plant a seed. If for 10 years, plant a tree. If for 100 years, educate the people. It is not only literacy that I am talking about, but it is knowledge and wisdom that is necessary. It is said.
'Where is the Life we have lost in living?
Where is the wisdom we have lost in knowledge?
Where is the knowledge we have lost in information?"