ROLLER- COASTER HISTORY OF JAINISM
We must learn from history and try to preserve our identity. We must respect tradition and local culture for the sheer social harmony. If we are doing a service in a part of the world, we must involve local people and harmonise our activities suited to their customs, language and tradition. When we take over a Jain temple, let us preserve it as it is! Let us not change it to our liking.
We feel hurt hurt by the turbulations Jainism had to go through right from Bhagwan Adinath times. We learn, after 10th Tirthankar, it was completely lost and such a discontinuity occurred again and again till Lord Shantinath arrived the scene. Luckily thereafter, I learn it was preserved continuously. We know with due pain the division that visited our great religion and the scars left behind.
We have been arguing as to why we should not be indulging in comparing here and there the Jaina thoughts seen in Hindu and Buddhist scriptures. Jainism has been looted (I hope this word is acceptable) since Lord Munisvrata Nath times. Lord Rama and Lord Krishna would have never liked themselves to raise their status above Tithankar within 63 shalakha purushas. Lord Buddha began as the devotee of Lord Parshvanath and chartered a different course to distinguish Himself from His contemporary Lord Mahavira; the ego hardly gives you the chance.
Jain philosophy, symbols (How many of us know that trishul represents ratnatraya = the three jewels) rituals, festivals (Just to name two; Shivratri and Diwali – whose festivals are they today?), contributions in science, jyotisha and medicien and many such ideas have been taken away without due acknowledgements. For instance, the Siddha medicine in Tamil is of Jaina origin. The Arhata food has been renamed as Saiva-food in Tamil Nadu! Till 50 years ago it was called Arata food in Ceylon! Come medieval times. Jains faced the worst-ever sufferings. The foreign invaders were directed specifically against Jains, Jain monuments and temples. Whole of north India was subjected to this unfortunate ill treatment. A century or two reduced the majorities Jains to a mino.
Down south, so-called Bhakti movement uprooted Jainism. We have no trace of native Jains or ancient Jain monuments in Kerala. We all know the ground realities in Tamil Nadu once the leader in South for the glory of Jainism. Andhra, we have nothing in terms of ancient continuum. We lost the heritage of TirukkuRal as a Jaina book. Many were compulsorily converted to Saivism but for good have carried the lofty ideals of vegetarianism, non-violence, nayavada and compassion with them. Nayanar and NeeRu Poosi Nainar are sects of such history. Many of the Muslims in Tiruchi and Tanjavur region were vegetarians at least up to seventies till the gulf opened the employment channels. If we were in sufficient numbers or the link between north and south was not snapped due to political division, worst ...
In another front too, Jainism was attacked and diminished its stature. Its unholy alliance with Brahminism in medieval times and adaptation of varnasrama; puja and other rituals in the style of Vedic Hindus. Institution of Mutt etsc must have been warranted at that time. These heritages must be renovated with modern ideas and direction as well.
Within the religion, the will and strength to sustain the lofty ideals were also tested again and again. Many of our Munis could not give the catholic touch to the religion and it was denied to common masses. It is easily said than done, though.The ordeals of German scholars in 19th century to get our agamas was a case of over-protection. We missed another golden chance. We can’t blame the modern Indians and the world if they think Jainism was insignificant because of communication gap.
Even in free India, the national emblem signifying Jaina tradition is attributed to Ashoka’s Buddhism. Vote-bank politics naturally ignores the due status of this great religion. It is treated as a sect of Hinduism. One can hardly see an article by Mahatma Gandhi ever referring to the contribution of Lord Mahavira; he talks of Ahimsa and Syadvada or Anekantavada as the contributions of Hinduism; so much for adherence of Truth!
Vyavahaar" and Nischaya : From the heritage and culture the accent is on "Margaprabhaavana". There are two aspects to the issue, practical "vyavahaar" and real "nischaya". Vyavahaar is light-throwing and Nischaya is fruit-bearing. To put is in the simplest words, all the houses have steps and there cannot be a house without steps to it, hope you are in agreement. And one has to walk on the steps if one has to reach one's house (one's goal), but unless one leaves the steps one cannot enter the house, the very purpose of one's effort to walk on the steps. So, vyavahaar - practical point / path is only to understand the truth nischaya or it may be called the tool but it is not the truth itself / the product itself and for its manufacture tool is used. Vyavahaar is there and is necessary but without nischaya there is no vyavaahar. Vyavahaar is merely to help understand and nothing beyond. All the ever-existing six substances of which the world is made up of, are always ready and present and they assume the name of 'nimitta' when the 'upaadhana' assumes the stature of fulfilling its goal.
That apart, in the light of the above mentioned,'margaprabhaavana' in reality is one's own functioning in one's natural way 'swabhaav' -'upaadhana' from the real point of view and all that are available or comes to its rescue / assistance is 'nimitta' from the practical point of view. Vyavaahar practical point of view is given the name of instrumental cause and Nischaya is given the name substantial cause or real cause. Because the cause and effect could be only in one substance a Jaina point of view and cause can be in one substance and effect be in another substance - a non-Jaina view. When one practices Jina Dharma in the true sense of the tenets that one is the model of 'Margaprobhaavana'. And any one needs /seeks help to clarify doubts, one who knows, has the duty to explain and the saying goes as 'kettarkku urraikkum KeveliI' a synonym in English is 'ask thou shall be given and knock thou shall be heard'.
No less is the example of Bhagwan who had attained liberation. For he did not speak to attain 'Nirvaan' / does not speak after attaining 'Keval gyan' but continues to disclose the path 'maragaprabhaavana' by his sheer, silent conduct. Actually, Thrirthankar Bhagwan does not speak after securing 'Kevalgynan' and 'Dhivyha dhoni' is only 'Nirjara'/ shedding of the 'Thirthankara Naama Karma'in its natural / normal course of departure from the venerable SOUL - TIRTHANKAR.
Conclusion : 'Margaprabhaavana'from the practical point of view 'vyavahaar' is to help / provide those who seek /ask and not to go to door to door to volunteer the information and from the real point of view it is the conduct of one in one's natural functioning 'swabhaav'.
Article Courtesy : Mr. C. Devakumar (Jain-List group on Yahoo.)
Mail to : Ahimsa Foundation