Monday, January 30, 2012

With Muslim as Guide, Jain Monk Awarded Doctoral Degree

Bharat Yagnik, TOI

AHMEDABAD: Jain monk Chintan Muni, 53, will now be called Dr Chintan Muni. The monk was awarded a doctoral degree by Gujarat University on Saturday, thanks to a unique relationship he had with his Muslim guide Intaj Malek. His thesis was on 'Bhavna Shata - Treatise on 12 reflections of Jainism by Shatavdhani Ratnachandraji Maharaj'.

TOI had earlier reported on this unique relationship where a Muslim helped two Jain monks delve deeper into their own religion.

"Chintan Muni was among my first PhD students," Malek, who is assistant commissioner of commercial tax, told TOI. "But we never had a student-teacher relationship. I tried to help the two monks to the best of my ability."

Malek would even follow his on-the-move students around the country, meeting them at upashrayas. He would carry reference books and laptops for his students during these trips, which would also help in monitoring their progress.

Until they met Malek, 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 bachelor's and master's 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'.

It was not easy for the monks as they have to be on the move constantly, but Malek found that they were always prepared. If needed, they would even study under streetlights.

"Our guide dedicated himself to ensure that I get the degree," Chintan Muni said. "It is a quality rare to find in today's world. I am inspired to study further now. " Niranjan Muni is also expected to complete his thesis soon.

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