Saturday, April 26, 2008

Lord Parshwanath as Vishnu, Padmavati as Durga!

Recently I visited Udaygiri-Khandgiri caves near Bhuvaneshwar in Orissa. While other devotee Jains were putting their heads on the feet of Lord Adinath and others at the Jain temple on the hill, I took a chance to visit a so called Hindu temple in the mid of the hill.

This Hindu temple is nothing but two Jain caves with beautiful ancient Jain idols. Jain pilgrims rarely visit these caves and miss many things that they must know.

photo: Parshwanath converted to Vishnu

Photo: A Panda in front of Jain idols

When I visited the cave, a hindu Pandya in saffron and yellow cloths was standing in front of an idol of a Godess at the right side wall of the cave. I entered the cave and

saluted him. Then I saluted the Godess and asked, 'who is she?' 'She is Maa Parvati' he replied.

Then I went to the front wall and found that there were a row of 24 black idols of Jain Teerthankars followed by 24 Goddesses, which are called as Shasan Devis by Jains. However, to know wahat the Pandya says, I asked him, 'Which Godd and Godesses these are?'

'In upper row, they are 24 avatars of Lord Vishnu, and the Goddesses here are avatars of Maa Parvati' he said.

'Can I take some photographs?' I asked the pandya. He allowed me to do it.

I found that the idol of Lord Parshwanath was converted to Lord Vishnu by wearing him cloths. The same thing was done with the idol of Padmavati to convert her in Durgadevi.

I took some photographs on my digital camera.

When I was leaving the cave, the Pandya told me that there is another cave at left and suggested me to go there. So I went there and saw a young and dirty pandya with a saffron dhoti and a thread on his chest had seated in front of the beautifully carved Jain idols on the front wall. I took a photograph of the front wall along with him. Then I requested him to move from there to take photographs of just the wall. He went out. There were more Jain idols on the left and right side wall of the cave.I took a lot of photographs in that cave also.

Later I discussed the issue with the manager of the Jain dharmshala. He was surprised that how could I got entrance there as the Pandyas do not allow Jains to come there. I said immediately 'because I didn't go there as a Jain'.

He told, 'The Pandyas are making thousands of Rupees per day from Hindu pilgrims'

I think this is one more case of converting Jain idols to Hindu one.

Now Conversion law violation is a criminal offence in Gujarat

GANDHINAGAR: From now on, anyone wishing to convert will have to tell the government why they were doing it and for how long they had been following the religion which they were renouncing, failing which, they will be declared offenders and prosecuted under criminal laws.

Forced conversion could land those responsible a three-year jail term. This clause is contained in the rules of the anti-conversion law which came into effect on April 1.

The new law is called Gujarat Freedom of Religion Act, 2003, and took five years to be implemented because of the failure of the state government to come up with rules on the kind of information to be provided when applying for permission to convert to any religion.
The Bill confirms that Jainism and Buddhism are not sub-sects of Hinduism. The rules have been published in the Gujarat government gazette.

The rules make it obligatory for a priest seeking to convert someone from one religion to another to take prior permission of the district magistrate in order to avoid police action.

The priest, in fact, will have to sign a detailed form providing personal information on the person whom she/he wishes to convert, whether the one sought to be converted is a minor, a member of Scheduled Caste or Tribe, her/his marital status, occupation and monthly income.

Anyone willing to convert will have to apply to the district magistrate a month before the rituals and give details on the place of conversion, time and reason.

After getting converted, the person will have to obligatorily provide information within 10 days on the rites to the district magistrate, reason for conversion, the name of the priest who has carried out the ritual and full details of the persons who took part in the ceremony.

The district magistrate will have to send a quarterly report to the government listing the number of applications for prior permission, comparative statistics of the earlier quarter, reasons for granting or not granting permission, number of conversions, and number of actions against offenders.

From TOI

Monday, April 21, 2008

BJP's caste gamble in Karnataka irks Jains

The distribution of tickets by the Bharatiya Janata Party for the forthcoming elections to the Karnataka assembly has caused heart burn among the minority groups who had been supporting the party in North Karnataka districts.

It was north Karnataka, which gave BJP the biggest strength in the 2004 elections. The party had won 33 seats from the Mumbai-Karnataka districts with Belgaum contributing 12, Bagalkot 7, Haveri 4, Dharwad and Uttara Kannada three each and, Bijapur and Gadag two legislators each.

In the Hyderabad-Karnataka region Gulbarga and Bidar districts had sent four legislators each from the BJP while Raichur and Koppal had contributed two each, taking the number of BJP legislators from North Karnataka to 45.

But going by the pattern of BJP''s ticket distribution so far in these districts, Veerashaivas/Lingayats have bagged the lion's share. The party has announced candidates for over 70 constituencies in North Karnataka.

Barring the constituencies reserved for Scheduled Castes/ Scheduled Tribes, others have candidates belonging to the Veerashaiva/Lingayat community. The party has so far given tickets to three Brahmins, two Marathas and one candidate belonging to Uppar community.

While Shrikant Kulkarni (Jamkhandi), Vishweshwar Hegde Kageri (Sirsi) and Shashibhushan Hegde (Kumta) are Brahmins, Suresh Latur (Arabhavi in Belgaum district) belongs to Uppar community.

Vijayendra Jadhav (Haliyal) and Prahlad Remani (Khanapur) are of the Maratha community. The party had no alternative in Sirsi and Kumta as all the parties are forced to give tickets to Havyak Brahmins who dominate the constituency.

Veerashiava/Lingayat candidates dominate the party's list in Belgaum, Bagalkot, Bijapur, Dharwad, Gadag and Haveri districts. Kurubas and Jains constitute a good chunk of the voters in Belgaum district and the party has not given representation to these communities in the lists announced so far.
Only K K Mendegar of the Kuruba community has been nominated for the Babaleshwar in Bijapur district. Similarly, other minority communities which have traditionally supported the BJP feel let down by the party.

"While Congress is making an all-out effort to ensure a judicious representation to all, the BJP has failed on the social engineering front, going by the present list of candidates. It has sent a wrong message," said a party leader.

Devotees pray to Jain lord


Ranchi, April 18: People across the capital practised the moral virtues of non-violence and truth while propagating the teachings of Lord Mahavir, the last of the 24 Tirthankaras.

Mahavir Jayanti, marking the birth anniversary of the leader, was celebrated across the state capital today.

Jain temples were busy hosting cultural programmes to mark the holy occasion. At Digambar Jain Temple in the Upper Bazaar area, 1,008 pots (kalash) were dedicated in the memory of the leaders.

Speaking on the occasion,C.M. Gangwal, the president of the Pradesh Jain Sabha, said: “Over 2,000 years ago, Mahavir, the personification of God for the Jains, left us but his teachings remain relevant even in the contemporary society.”

Later during the day, a shobha yatra was organised by the members of the community, where over a thousand devotees participated. The two-hour procession, which passed through all major lanes of the capital, had a deity of the lord with beautiful jhakis accompanying it. The jhakis depicted the teachings of the lord.

Mahavir Prasad Sogani, the secretary of the state Jain Sabha, said: “The celebrations will continue till tomorrow evening.Children will also participate in bhajans and a dance drama, enacting the virtuous preaching of the saint. Mayor Rama Khalkho will be the chief guest.”
The celebrations at the Swetambar Jain Temple in Doranda were simple.

“We started the day after praying to lord Mahavir. This year, we have resolved free our community from all evils, especially dowry and illiteracy,” said L.K. Jain, a devotee.

Rally, Demand for Holiday Mark Mahavir Jayanti

Patna: April 18, 2008
Mahavir Jayanti Celebrated Image 1Image 2Image 3Image 4 Photo by Shashi Uttam The Jain community in Patna on Friday took out a rally to mark the birth of Lord Mahavir while also pressing for their demand of declaring the Mahavir Jayanti a state holiday since Mahavir was born in the state of Bihar.

The rally was taken out from the Jain Temple in Mithapur and after covering R-Block, Bir Chand Patel Marg, Income Tax roundabout, Dak Bungalow Crossing, Exhibition Road, Bakerganj, Kadam Kuan, arrived at the Congress Maidan where it turned into a public meeting.

Pradeep Jain, a senior office-bearer of the Jain Sangh in Patna, expressed his disappointment with the state government for not declaring Mahavir Jayanti a state holiday.

"Jains have only one day in a year to celebrate their faith and that too was taken away by the state government. This is highly troubling since Bihar is the birth place of Lord Mahavir," Pradeep Jain said adding the government was clearly ignoring the religious sentiments of the Jains in Bihar.

Featuring elephants, horses, and local bands, the rally included thousands of devotees chanting religious hymns with women outnumbering men in large number.

Following the rally, the Jains visited the school for blinds and fed the students.

community in Delhi demands minority status

By Madhusree ChatterjeeNew Delhi, April 20 (IANS) The Jain community in the capital is raising the pitch for minority status on par with the Buddhists, Christians, Sikhs, Muslims and Parsis, listed as notified minority groups under the Delhi Minorities Commission Act, 1999. Members of the community say they want minority status primarily because they want to incorporate Jainism, the religion of the community, as a subject in Jain schools. The capital and its adjoining areas have eight Jain schools.

They are not being able teach Jainism to their children because most of the Jain schools in Delhi are partially funded by the government, which doesn’t allow the teaching of any particular religion at schools unless it is a minority community.

“The government is ignoring the community. We want minority status as enshrined (under Article 25) in the Indian Constitution, which empowers the government to accord minority status to six marginal ethno-religious groups, so that we can teach Jainism to our children in schools run by us. We don’t want reservations in jobs or in education,” Chakresh Jain, head of the Delhi Jain Samaj, told IANS.

Members of the Jain Samaj had assembled at Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit’s home Saturday to celebrate Mahavir Jayanti, the birth anniversary of Lord Mahavira, the last of the Jain spiritualists. Mahavira was born 2,604 years ago in Vaishali (now in Bihar).
Chakresh Jain said children of the community here were losing touch with their traditional culture because they were not being taught Jainism in schools.

The community, comprising mostly businessmen, trace their lineage to Lord Adinath, a seer-king who preached non-violence, tolerance, vegetarianism and the importance of karma and literacy during the Vedic Age (2nd-6th century B.C.).

The members of the Jain community in the capital are traditionally jewellers by profession with the highest literacy rate.

Till the middle of the last century, the community lived in the old walled city of the capital. According to official estimates, there are 480,000 Jains in Delhi.

The Jain community is known for its social work and service in the sphere of education.
Underscoring the need for minority status, Chakresh Jain said Jains were included in the list of minorities in seven states across the country - Maharashtra, Karnataka, Gujarat, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and West Bengal (which enacted a law to bring the community under the minority fold three weeks ago). According to 2001 Census, the Jain community forms .45 percent of the population.

“Delhi is one of the few states where the Jain community has nor been granted minority status,” he said.

According to Jaipur-based Jain scholar Hukam Chand Bharill, “Jainism as a religion is older than Buddhists, Sikhism and Islam”.

Bharill has authored 66 books on Jain spirituality and way of life.

“Sikhism, the dominant religion of Punjab, is barely 500-years-old whereas you will find mention of the Jain community in the Vedas. The ancient Indian scriptures acknowledge Rishab Dev, hailed as the first Jain guru,” the scholar told IANS, arguing in favour of minority status for the community in Delhi.

“One must not forget that Lord Mahavira’s grandfather, the ruler of Vaishali, propounded the concept of a republic (Loktantra),” Bharill said.

Bharill runs 400 Jain elementary night schools across the country (known as Vitrag Vigyan Pathshala), which churn out nearly 500 Jain scholars every year.

“We want to teach our children compassion, good behaviour, health and hygiene in school, according to Jain tradition. But we cannot do so because the government provides aid to most of our education institutions in the country. Minority status would solve the problem. But we will never teach our children to look down upon other religions,” he said.

The Jain community, who don’t like to be clubbed with Hindus, have their own temples, texts, religious mores, food habits and deities. Like Buddhism, the group is divided into two sects - the Shwetambar and Digambar folds.

“We do not believe in Jagatguru Shankaracharya, we have our own spiritual identity,” Chakresh Jain said.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

CM assures people of erecting new statue of Bhagvan Mahavir at Mollem

NT News Service
Ponda, March 31 The police have failed to achieve any breakthrough in the case of disfiguring of the Lord Mahavir statue, reported on March 27 at Nandrem, Mollem. This has triggered tension among the members of the Jain community who were forced to meet the Chief Minister, Mr Digambar Kamat.

Mr Kamat has assured a delegation of Jain community that the statue of Bhagvan Mahavir erected along the Karnataka-Goa highway in Mollem would be replaced with a new one.
Mr Kamat made this assurance during his visit to Mollem to see for himself the reported damage caused to the statue by unknown miscreants. He instructed the police to pursue the case seriously and book the culprits as early as possible. The Forest Minister, Mr Filip Neri Rodrigues, accompanied Mr Kamat.

Mr Omkar Singh, chief conservator of forests, senior officials of forests and police departments were present on the occasion.

The Chief Minister during the course of discussions with the delegation who handed over the memorandums to him and Mr Rodrigues said that the existing statue of Bhagvan Mahavir would be shifted to the state museum.

The statue, according to information, was installed at the entrance of the  National Park of Mollem Wild Life Sanctuary.

It may be noted that in the past too, a case of desecration of idols was reported here in areas under the Collem police station.

  The Chief Minister, Mr Digambar Kamat, Forest Minister, Mr Filipe Neri Rodrigues alongwith the police and forest officials taking a stock of the damaged Lord Mahavir at the Mollem Wildlife Sanctuary on Monday.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Ancient Abbakkadevi Basadi resurrected

By Team Mangalorean
Photographs: Rajesh Shetty
ULLAL, March 21, 2008: The 16th century old Chowta Rani Ullal Abbakkadevi Basadi a hallowed place of worship has been renovated and is ready to be handed over the Ullal people according to the chairman of the Apex Bank of Karnataka and a prominent Jain leader M.N. Rajendra Kumar here today.
Addressing a press conference here today Mr.Kumar stated that the 500 year old Basadi was a revered praying shrine for the Jains of Dakshina Kannada. This shrine is stated to have received the queen of Ullal Abbakka Rani during her life time in 16th century.
Mr.Kumar said as a sign of completion of the renovation the ritualistic programmes including "panchakalyan mahotsav", will be held for five days starting from March 23. Mr. Kumar outlining the works taken up by the Trust of the shrine said that the shrine had artistically beautiful depiction of Parshwanath and Aadinatha carved in black granite which had however been mutilated during the last five hundred years. But the Trust had taken pains to replace the idols with the same beauty and same material. The shrine now wears the historical splendour Mr.Kumar added.
Mr.Kumar acknowledging the phenomenal interest shown by the Dharmadhikari of Dharmasthala Dr. Veerendra Heggade said that the Dharmotthana Trust of the Dharmasthala temple had taken personal interest in renovating the shrine. However the minor shrine outside the main Shrine belonging to the Kshetrapala has been renovated with the help from the people he added. Charukirthi Panditacharyavarya swamiji of the Moodbdiri Jain Math will perform the Panchakalyana ritual on that day he informed.

Global Vectra to focus on Religious Tourism

Mudbidri: 'Bimba Shuddhi' Rituals Begin at Thousand Pillar Basadi

Daijiworld Media Network - Moodbidri (GA)
Pics: Dayanand Kukkaje

Moodbidri, Apr 12: 'Bimba Shuddhi' and 'Dhama Samprokshana' of the Thousand Pillar Basadi at Jain Kashi here began on Friday April 11. The rituals will be held till Sunday April 13. This marks the end of the renovation of the 15th century Basadi.
"Thorana Muhurtha" for "Bimba Shuddhi"(cleansing of the statue) of Chadraprabha Swami and "Dhama Samprokshana"( cleansing of the premises) of Thribhuvana Thilaka Chudamani( Thousand Pillars) Basadi were held in the presence of Cahrukeerthi Bhattaraka Swami of Moodbidri Jain Math and Dhavalakeerthi Bhattaraka Swami of Arihanthagiri.
The Basadi was renovated jointly by Shree Jain Math, Dharmothana Trust of Shree Dharmasthala and ITACT together with the help of philanthropists and others.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

JAINA Announces ‘Ellis Island’ Honor to Dr. Dhiraj Shah

India-West Staff Reporter

Dr. Dhiraj H. Shah, a retired radiologist near Buffalo, NY, has been selected as a recipient of the 2008 Ellis Island Medal of Honor, according to a Mar. 24 press release from Jaina, the Federation of Jain Associations in North America.

Shah, who became one of the first Indian Americans to win conscientious objector status in 1970 when he refused to fight during the Vietnam War, has long worked for peace.

Asked by a reporter if he would use this opportunity to make a statement about the state of world peace, Shah said, "Absolutely."

"There is no question that I will speak out for peace," the 64-year-old Shah told India-West April 1 from his home in Grand Island, NY. "All my life, I have tried to help the disadvantaged and underprivileged."

He will receive the Ellis Island Medal of Honor at a ceremony May 10 on Ellis Island in New York City. The Ellis Island Medals of Honor are given out each year by the National Ethnic Coalition of Organizations Foundation, Inc., at the location in which millions of immigrants historically first set foot on United States soil.

According to a statement on the NECO Web site, the awards are "designed to pay homage to the immigrant experience, as well as for individual achievement. The honorees are remarkable Americans who exemplify outstanding qualities in both their personal and professional lives, while continuing to preserve the richness of their particular heritage."

This year's recipients have not been publicly named (and a NECO representative could not be reached by press time), but Dilip V. Shah, president of Jaina, contacted India-West with the news and a copy of the letter from NECO to Dhiraj Shah.

It is not known how many individuals will receive this year's Medal of Honor.

Shah was awarded the Jain Ratna award in 2001 by Prime Minister A. B. Vajpayee, and has also been quite active in Indian American, Jain and medical groups here and in India.

He earned medical degrees at Gujarat University and at State University of New York before becoming a Fellow of the International College of Physicians and Surgeons in New York City.

A past president of Jaina and the current chairman of Jaina's World Community Service program, Shah is on the boards of the Rotary Club of Niagara Falls and the India Association of Buffalo, and is a trustee with the Hindu Cultural Society of Western New York.

He has been a director of Jaina for 20 years and has a long and impressive list of humanitarian activities to his name that includes helping Tsunami, drought, flood and earthquake victims; donating hundreds of thousands of dollars of medical equipment to clinics in India; building a school in Andamans/Nicobar Island for Tsunami-affected youth, and many, many other projects. In January 2008 he traveled to Kucch, Gujarat, to participate in a medical camp, where he treated hundreds of indigent patients.

"Human beings are blessed by the Lord with the power of empathy, so that we can feel the pain of other human beings," he told India-West. "I just try to help others."
:by indiawest

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