Vihar – Our Responsibility

Jain monks are like constantly flowing revivers. They do not settle down anywhere. They keep spreading religious preaching during their ascetic way of life. They keep walking and accepting the Parishah (suffering) while living a life of moderation and practicing lifelong Samayik (attaining equanimity) devoid of any violent activity. Jain monks are called Munis after much deliberation. Munis are those who lead the ascetic life in silence. Silence: not only of speech but also towards the worldly pleasures of all the senses. Silence towards pleasures cannot be attained in the presence of any passionate desire. Such Munis can teach us. They do not settle anywhere except every four months of monsoon. During such a stay, they preach religion to the union of people. For rest of the time, their journey goes on. Jain Guru Bhagwants travel all over India on foot. Most of the time, they walk in the early morning and walk on the national highway or along the sidewalks. For the last few years, we have seen Jain monks and nuns die in accidents while walking on the road. The number of cases of vehicles colliding with the Jain monks on the highway and their deaths is increasing. When such an incident happens, it is discussed for a while, and complaints are made, Vihar groups become very active. But as time passes, things are forgotten until the news of such accidents comes back. Although the Jain community in India is not very large in numbers, one cannot deny the contribution of Jains. They have been appointed to several important positions and have made significant progress in the country’s economy with major industries. But we have lagged behind finding a key solution to such a daunting issue. And this issue is getting more severe day by day.

Death during Vihar is a kind of disgrace for us and our Sangh (union). The safety of our Jain monks is entirely the responsibility of our Sangh of Shravak-Shravika. If the Jain community can solve the problems of economic prosperity, then why can’t we set up a system during Vihar for our monks? The system that can stop the accidents that happen every year and the trauma of untimely death can be avoided. Following are some suggestions for such a system:

  1. To set up Vihar teams of men and women in every corner of the country for the Sadhu In cities, we have that system, but in every part of the country, wherever there is a Vihar, there must be a Vihar team.
  2. The Vihar team should have adequate lights, a map system and appropriate training.
  3. Vihar should be avoided till the first ray of light comes, even for the saint Bhagwant.
  4. Through technology, an alert should be sent to drivers to be careful as there are pedestrians ahead.
  5. A siren-like sound should be heard at the junction where the tour takes place so that the drivers’ awareness is automatically drawn. And warning boards should be placed everywhere on the highway.

These suggestions are basic, but the purpose is that we should now wake up and take concrete steps in this direction. Instead of relying on any government or official, if the Jain community suggests a solution and gets it done accordingly, we will be able to make the regime even brighter in the coming years. Readers of Jain Avenue are specially invited to give their views on this subject, which we will put in the forthcoming issue and take concrete steps in this direction.

Dr.Sejal Shah ( Ph.D)