Sunday, February 28, 2010

No conspiracy in deaths of Jain sadhus, sadhvis, says CID

Ujwala Nayudu, IE

The recent deaths of Jain sadhus, sadhvis in road accidents in Gujarat and Rajasthan were “pure accidents and nothing more”, concludes the CID (crime).

The state government had handed over the investigation to CID (crime) in these road accidents following representations by an agitated Jain community three months ago. The report will be submitted to the state government shortly.

The state government had handed over the investigation to a four-member committee headed by V V Rabari, ADGP CID Crime, after representations by the Jain community leaders. Rabari said the investigations of the three accidents at Unjha (Mehsana), Barmer (Rajasthan) and Limbdi (Surendranagar) respectively show no hands of Anoop Mandal or any other group as was being alleged.

He added, “In all the three cases, the truck and jeep drivers were arrested immediately by the respective zone police. Those incidents were pure accidents and there is no substance in the allegation of any conspiracy behind their alleged ‘attacks’ or ‘murders’.”

He added that most of their investigation is over and only minor cross-verification is going on.

The CID stated that driver Vishnoi arrested in connection with Unjha accident was interrogated thoroughly but he had no connections with any group. However, they told The Sunday Express that he would be put under the narco analysis test this May.

The spate of accidents began from November 9 last year at Unjha-Mehsana Highway where four sadhvis died and five others were reportedly injured by a speeding truck.

The Mehsana police had arrested truck driver Manojkumar Vishnoi, a resident of Madiya Village (Bikaner) near Ankleshwar.

On November 12, in another accident, two sadhus were knocked down and one was seriously injured when they were travelling to Jaisalmer from Barmer. The truck driver was arrested on November 13 by Baitu Police and later bailed out.

On February 4, five sadhvis were going to Limbdi on Rajkot-Limbdi Highway when a speeding truck knocked down two of them and injured two others. The truck driver, Anis Pathan, was arrested on the same day by the local police.

Inspector J M Chaudhary, CID Crime (Mehsana), said, “The report does not show any association of the accidents with the Anoop Mandal. Moreover, from whatever he has told the police till now, there is no involvement of Anoop Mandal in the accidents. The drivers’ background, connections, family details were checked and they don’t’ have any relation with any religious group. We are, therefore, making one last attempt through a narco test in May to see if the allegations regarding Jain sadhus, sahdvis are true at all.”



Sunday, February 21, 2010

Vice President Inaugurates a Conference on ‘Islam & Oriental Religions’

The Vice President of India, Shri M. Hamid Ansari has said that the inter-faith dialogue has emerged as a prominent civil society initiative between nations and groups in the post-Cold War world, amidst the “Clash of Civilisations” debate and the raging ethnic and religious conflicts in various parts of the globe. Delivering inaugural address at a conference titled “An International Dialogue between Islam and Oriental Religions” here today he has said that the “The Alliance of Civilizations” initiative under United Nations auspices connects people and organizations devoted to promoting dialogue among political, religious, media and civil society leaders, particularly between Muslim and Western societies. Other such dialogue frameworks include the Cordoba Initiative on improving Muslim-West relations, the Madrid Dialogue Conference that was a Saudi-Spanish effort, the Assisi interfaith work of the late Pope John Paul II and the Common Word initiative of Muslim scholars.

The Vice President emphasised on the need to go beyond tolerance; the imperative for religious concord in a framework of equality is evident and compelling. This would be achieved only through a sustained, candid and uninterrupted dialogue without a syndrome of superiority or inferiority and with the objective of locating common values conducive to the maintenance of ethical standards essential for social harmony and furtherance of common objectives. The process of locating these values would bring forth other commonalities. Experience over time of shared public space and national common resources in everyday interaction, and mechanisms that blur boundaries through management of differences, would assist the process.

Jain Temple Selling Its Treasure!

Adinath Jain Shwetambar temple in Chikpet will auction its artefacts to fund its expansion plans!

Bangalore Mirror Bureau
Posted On Sunday, February 21, 2010 at 09:26:33 AM

A Jain temple in Bangalore has decided to auction some of its artefacts to fund its renovation and expansion plans.
This is what the management of the century-old Shri Adinath Jain Shwetambar temple in Chikpet will do on March 10. The auction, titled ‘Mystery of Chikpet’, will be conducted by city-based auction house Bid & Hammer at ITC Windsor. A preview of the collection will be held at the Bid & Hammer Preview Hall in Jayanagar 5th Block from Feb 27 to March 5.


FAVOURITE TEMPLE

The temple, one of the favourites of the Jain community in the city, has a fascinating history as its original Spartan-style construction was subsequently improved upon by artisans from different parts of the country.

The temple is being expanded to accommodate its growing number of devotees. It is in this backdrop that it was decided to dismantle the temple and auction the artefacts to construct a new temple.

This is perhaps the first time in the country that the auction of temple architecture is taking place.

139 ITEMS

The collection includes 139 architectural and related objects, Pahari School paintings of Lord Mahaveera, the divine guardians of Chikpet, colonial dwarapals, silver doors, vintage Art Nouveau Majolica Ceramic tiles, architectural pillars and other masterpieces.

The auction also encompasses related items such as original antiquarian prints, traditional paintings and works of art to complement the star architectural lots.

One of the chief attractions are a set of six stained teakwood colonial pillars with four apasaras carved at the top. The divine guardians or Chikpet apasaras are a creative amalgamation of eastern and western styles with distinct references to Roman, Victorian and Christian influences. These pillars are expected to fetch Rs 35 lakh to Rs 42 lakh.

LARGE-SCALE EXPANSION

Maher Dadha, chairman and managing director, Bid & Hammer, said the expansion plans did not allow the temple to retain these artefacts. “Most of the items were added when renovations began about 80 years ago. However, the current expansion plans are on a larger scale, so these items will fall short in terms of size.”

The proceeds of the auction will be used for rebuilding the temple. The bidding price will begin at Rs 7,500 and can go up to Rs 42 lakh.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Jain Temple Fined

MUMBAI: An internal inspection by the Mumbai Heritage Conservation Committee (MHCC) has found the city’s oldest Jain temple, Kot Shantinathji Derasar, to have lost its historical importance and character because of careless repair work carried out by the caretakers.

The temple, which is being rebuilt entirely in white Makrana marble, stands in the middle of the congested Bora Bazaar area near Fort and is a listed Grade II-B heritage structure.

The MHCC has slapped a penalty of Rs 10 lakh on the trust for carrying out the work that has “led to loss of temple architecture, unique to the fabulously rich history of Mumbai”.

“We had given them permission for repair and reconstruction as per the Jain religious code. But when an inspection was carried out, it was found that a gross violation of norms had taken place. Since the trust did not do its work faithfully and dutifully, the committee sought it fit to penalise them,” said committee chairman Dinesh Afzulpurkar.

In their original plan, the trust had suggested replacing the colourful facade and wooden interiors with white marble, besides constructing a shikhar or tower. Though all that was fine, the heavy penalty was levied on two counts: for failing to maintain the historic character of the ghar-derasar in the quest of redeveloping the temple even more grander than the existing structure; the caretakers, over the years, failed to maintain the front decorative wall, which now stands in a state of utter decay.

The ghar-derasar style gained prominence at a time when the country was constantly facing threats from marauding intruders of the 17th and 18th centuries. The grand ghar-derasars were camouflaged inside structures that looked like ordinary homes. “Many of these derasars were built in Kalpa Sutra-style murals and intricate wooden structures, More then the architectural damage, we have penalised them to set an example on others,” said a member.

A set of new rules recently approved by the state government say that upkeep of a structure weighs heavily on the owner and the ones who fail to conserve heritage structures would face heavy penalties. Chief trustee Premchand Jain said that all the trust wanted to do was repair the facade in a way similar to temples in Palitana and Pawapuri.

“We have no idea where we went wrong with our work. The trust is in no financial position to pay this penalty and will apply to municipal commissioner for either a pardon or a cut in the amount,” he said. The Jain religious code declares that derasars or temples when brought down be redeveloped grander than the earlier structure. “But in that process, they have destroyed what was the sole surviving example of the ghar-derasar style of architecture in Mumbai,” said a committee member.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Book on Veerendra Heggade Released

Beltangady, Feb 3: Director of Kuvempu Bhasha Bharati Authority, Pradhan Gurudutt released ‘Vachana Veerendra’, a book based on dharmadhikari of Dharmastala Veerendra Heggade at Dharmastala here on Tuesday February 2.

Speaking on the occasion, Gurudutt lauded the achievements and services of Veerendra Heggade as a dharmadhikari of Dharmastala and to the society as a whole. Heggade is a true role model to people, he added.

Heggade commended the efforts of the author and said that the message of the author will be delivered to a large number of people as books have a wide reach. He added that serving people is his duty as a dharmadhikari.

Janapada Sahitya Parishat secretary T Thimmegowda presided. Chandraiah Naidu, author of the book and Vani Chandraiah Naidu were present.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Court restrains committee from damaging Yanaimalai

Mohamed Imranullah S.

The Madras High Court Bench here on Thursday restrained a high-level committee, constituted by the State government on December 30 to consider the possibility of creating a sculpture park by carving the Yanaimalai near here, from causing any damage to the hillock.

Passing interim orders on a public interest litigation petition challenging the constitution of the committee headed by Commissioner of Archaeology Department, Justices Prabha Sridevan and B. Rajendran said that it should not even take rock samples from the hillock without obtaining permission from the court.

The judges also ordered notices to the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests, Archaeological Survey of India, State government represented by the Tourism Secretary, Madurai Collector, Yanaimalai Othakadai panchayat president and a few other officials returnable in four weeks.

Ms. Justice Sridevan said that the court prima facie did not find any reason for altering the Yanaimalai, which derived the name from its resemblance to an elephant in squatting posture. “We think that the particular rock formation itself is unique. It is a record of history of evolution,” she said.

A. Mahaboob Batcha, managing trustee of the Society for Community Organisation (SOCO) Trust, a voluntary organisation here, filed the PIL petition. He sought a direction to the Union government to acquire the hillock and ensure its proper protection without disturbing its original character.

According to him, the hillock was a solid block of gneiss approximately 3 km long and 90 metres tall. Stating that it resembled the Ayers Rock of Australia, he claimed that the hillock had been declared as a protected monument under the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains Act, 1958.

It has sites of archaeological importance such as a Jain cavern with Bas Relief of Mahavira, Parsuvanath and others. Ancient Tamil Brahmi scripts on the hillock describe it as ‘Ivakunram,’ meaning elephant hill. The Narasinga Perumal temple on the hill also contains ancient Tamil Vattalethu inscriptions.

The petitioner alleged that the plan to crack the hillock would only benefit the “granite lobby.” Already several hills in the district had been razed to exploit granite.

His counsel T. Lajapathi Roy said those living near Yanaimalai considered the entire hillock to be divine and hence it should not be disturbed.

The Special Government Pleader contended that the government had not taken any final decision on creation of the sculpture park. The committee was formed only to consider the feasibility of the project.

The petitioners’ apprehensions were based on surmises and conjectures.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Balipeetham | Telugu Drama Based on Jain Epics

Review: The complexity of emotions in Balipeetham was evoked in all the myriad facets.

By: Sumansaspati

Srinivas Denchanala has been a provocative presence in the staid world of contemporary Telugu theatre for at least two decades now, with his bold themes, ingenuous and novel theatrical approaches and more than anything, sheer stamina and staying power against great odds. Every couple of years Janapadam, his repertory company (the only modern repertory company in Andhra Pradesh) comes up with a production which provides enough fodder for hot discussion. Moogavaani Pillanagrovi, Donga Sataiah, Aadi Shakthi, Jaamba Puraanam, Vooregimpu and Nijam: His productions have been an eclectic combination of translations of contemporary classics (Habib Tanvir, Girish Karnad, Badal Sircar), adaptations of acclaimed works of fiction in Telugu (Raachakonda Viswanadha Sastry, Dr. Kesava Reddy) and improvisations or original treatments of centuries old subaltern mythologies.

With Balipeetham, a Telugu production of Girish Karnad's BALI (2002), Denchanala has achieved a newer benchmark for himself in stagecraft as well as powerfully managing a complex theme.

Balipeetham is an unnervingly elusive play even by Karnad's standards. It plunges head on into the centuries old tussle about violence — “the central topic of debate in the history of Indian civilization” as Karnad puts it — as it manifests in the religious practice of appeasing the godhead with sacrificial offerings and those traditions and religions which vehemently condemn it on ethical and moral grounds. He weaves and unravels his plot in a pseudo-historical setting and hot concoction of royal power, social approval, sexual impotence and irrepressible physical cravings, class and cast discriminations, and on the top of it the triangular defining prototype of Indian familial psyche : mother, son and daughter-in-law.

For the basic plot, Karnad drew upon medieval Sanskrit and Kannada Jain epics. The Mother is a strong, insinuating priestess figure who believes in settling all issues of misfortune through animal sacrifices to her beloved Goddess. Her son the King is however married to a Queen, who is a Jain, and would not have — for all righteous reasons — anything to do with the violent religion and practices of her mother-in-law. The Mother has a set of grouses: her son has converted to Jainism giving up the age old family tradition (and for the sake of his happiness, she had relented and moved out of the palace), and the Queen has — after perhaps a faked pregnancy and miscarriage — failed to delivere a male child for the kingdom and its populace.

The king is torn between the two women, and them and his kingly burdens. Despite his affectionate nature, the Queen doesn't feel fulfilled by him. She is mysteriously drawn into a physical relationship with a lowly Mahout (elephant keeper) charmed by his song.

A fierce moral tussle enters into this much-muddled scenario, when the Mother proposes the son should at least offer a sacrifice a cock made of dough. For the Queen this substitute for actual creature sacrifice is still a perpetuation of violent intent and in no way excusable. This sets off a chain of tiny turns of plot, turbulent and loaded with ambivalences. Karnad offers two equally violent endings for the play, leaving it to theatre directors to choose what they like. In one, unable to stand what she perceives as vicious hypocrisy and lack of nerve on the part of the King, the Queen lunges to stab him but stops. In another, she stabs the king, or ‘alternatively', as Karnad puts it, and “repelled by her own violence”, runs herself onto the sword. Denchanala follows the second more gory option.

It's puzzling, this terrifying drama of internal and external violence, with no clear resolutions. Denchanala's interpretation fully thrives on these irresolvables and the host of contradictory forces and standpoints which idealistic ethical ideologies have to contend with, often sullying themselves. Or not? To his credit, he succeeds in holding the audience spellbound till the end. There is now something of an all round sensual fullness to his theatre.

Among the four leading actors, Ramesh Balijepalli in the female role of the Queen mother fits the bill like a tee. The other actors and the chorus too fare quite well. The translation of the text is outstanding. Sets and lighting by Satyabarata Routh, choreography by Gunakar Goswamy, live music on Hawaiian guitar by Jaywant Naidu, and costumes by Kavita Reddy have lent a pleasant and authentic feel to the play.

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