Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Jain Monks Learning from Muslim Teacher!

AHMEDABAD: This unique student-teacher relationship can itself be the subject of a doctoral thesis! A Muslim assistant commissioner of commercial tax,Intaj Malek,is PhD guide to two Jain monks Chintan Muni and Niranjan Muni helping them understand Jainism in a new perspective.

Unlike other doctoral guides who keep their students on their toes,Malek follows his on-the-move students around the country,meeting them at upashrayas to follow up on the progress.He also carries reference books and laptops for his students.

Chintan Muni,52,is writing his thesis on Austerities in  Jainism and other religions a comparative study.Niranjan Muni,45,on the other hand,is studying Bhavna Shata Treatise on 12 reflections of Jainism by Shatavdhani Ratnachandraji Maharaj.

The student-guide relationship happened by accident.The Jain munis of Sthanakvasi Jain Ajramar Sampraday were finding it difficult to register themselves as PhD students with Gujarat University and finding a guide.The two munis have not cleared the standard XII exam,but have bachelors and masters degrees from Jain Vishva Bharati University in Ladnun,Rajasthan.

Malek helped them register as students.Once they came in touch,Malek was requested to become their guide since he was eligible,having done in-depth study in Jainism as well as other religions.He also holds a doctorate in Upanishads and Islamic mysticism.

Since 2008,this unique student-teacher trio has not only made progress on the academic front but had a deep influence on the personal front as well.Malek,for instance,has become a vegetarian out of respect for his students.Whenever he goes to meet them to upashrayas,he follows strict Jain rules of not drinking water after sunset.

The students too are in awe of their teacher.We may belong to different religions,but we have similar values.We have never had a difference of opinion on religious issues.Our teacher is an excellent human being who has taught us a lesson in dedication, says Chintan Muni.Despite being on the move as munis are meant to be,their preparedness is humbling.They generally study under a streetlight.While Chintan Muni will complete his thesis soon,Niranjan Muni will complete it by the end of this year, says Malek.


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