Jai Jinendra, everyone. Our discussion around Jain principles often revolves around fundamental principles like Ahimsa and Ratnatraya, and rightly so. But how do the Ratnatraya guide us in the modern world with all its practicalities? While we often talk about animals in the context of Jainism, philosophically examining our views and actions regarding animals as an extension of these basic principles would be an interesting conversation.
I was met with mixed emotion this past summer when I came across a sculpture of Bahubali, Jain saint and son of Bhagvan Rishabhanatha, the first Tirthankara, at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. I was proud to see Jain art displayed so simply yet majestically among other Asian artwork.
Despite the fact that most people have heard of a plant-based diet, many of them have never tried this diet and lifestyle because of several widespread misconceptions.
Preface: I have made an analytical study of the 10th century text of UPAMITI-BHAVA-PRAPANCA-KATHA, in this thesis. My aim was to study and evaluate the uparalleled allegorical text of Upamiti-Bhava-Prapanca-Katha written by Siddharsi. The subject matter of the text inspired me to take up this research study. It is marvellous indeed that the author has interwoven an entire tale with philosophy and expounded the concept of manifold existence, which cannot be confined to a particular philosophy or religion.
Palitana is an important city of pilgrimage holding the significance of salvation for the Jain community that is situated 50 km South-west of the Bhavnagar city in the state of Gujarat. Since ancient times, it is been said that the number of people who achieved liberation is equal to the number of stones (millions and millions in number) on the Shatrunjaya hills on whose foot is the Palitana city. Such is the divinity of these hills. Therefore, for the Jains, the temples on the Shatrunjaya hills are considered the most sacred tirth (place of pilgrimage). It is believed that once in a lifetime, every Jain should go to Palitana to obtain the liberating karma (deed) of ‘Bhavya’ status, which makes one capable of attaining salvation.
“Peace is at the centre of spiritual life and Ahimsa is the means to this peace.” “Ahimsa is standing up against any forms of violence, of thought, speech and actions, be it against human beings, animal world, environment, the earth, planets, trees, and rivers and so on....”
The first World’s Parliament of Religions held in Chicago in 1893, was almost a tailpiece, an afterthought of the great Columbian Exhibition of 1892 and has been acclaimed as equal to if not greater than Ashok’s Council of Pataliputra, Constantine’s at Nicaea or Akbar’s meetings at Fatehpur Sikri. Today, the 1893 Parliament is recognized as the birthplace of the worldwide interfaith movement. It lasted for seventeen days in September of 1893 and brought together some four hundred men and women representing forty-one denominations and religious traditions.
The entry hall of the new Jain Center of Metropolitan Chicago contains a bronze image and plaque honouring Virchand Raghavji Gandhi. The Indian Postal Department honoured him by issuing a postal stamp with his image. A drama based on his life, Gandhi Before Gandhi, completed 200 shows throughout the world. So, who was Virchand Raghavji Gandhi and why he is so special and honoured?
Virchand R Gandhi was a great scholar of Jainism as well as an outstanding exponent of the various systems of Indian Philosophy and Indian culture. He was the only the Jain representing Jainism at the first parliament of world religion held in Chicago in 1893. Due to his success and popularity at the conference, he stayed a further two years in the USA and delivered many hundreds of lectures on Jainism, Yoga, Indian systems of philosophy, Indian culture, occultism, and spiritualism at various institutions.
Certain personalities leave indelible footprints on the sands of time their legacy is not affected by the constantly revolving wheel of time. At the World Religions Conference held in Chicago, U. S. A., almost a century ago, America, and the west, for the first time, heard the determined, spirited, resonant voice of ancient India, and the message of Indian philosophy and culture. Two Indian delegates participating at this conference awakened the western world to the spiritual heritage of India.
The second half of the Nineteenth Century was the golden era for Madhumoti Tirth – Mahuva, where pious “Aura and Urja” were showered by Jivitswami Tirthankar Mahavir-Swami. The history of Mahuva, situated on the West coast of Saurashtra, Gujarat goes back more than two thousand years.
Sunday morning of October 29, 2023, Gujarati Samaj Hall in Queens, New York, was filled with over five hundred smiling Jains dressed in their festive Desi outfits. The weather was unseasonably nice. A procession with drums, singing, and dancing devotees had just landed on the side doors of the hall as the eighty-year-old Lady of the Hour entered. The crowd erupted with slogans of “Jainam Jayati Shasanam” and “Tapaswi Amar Raho”.