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Ahimsa Times - April 2001 Issue

Vol. No.09

April, 2001

Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee has said "ahimsa has never been as much of a necessity as it is today," and that people should imbibe ahimsa like that of a brave like Lord Mahaveera and not a "coward's ahimsa." Vajpeyee was speaking at the inauguration of the year-long Bhagwan Mahaveera 266th Janm Kalyanak Mahotsav, at the Indira Gandhi Stadium on Friday. He also lit the inaugural lamp.

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Organized by Union Ministry of culture and tourism, the function was attended by Union home minister L K Advani, communications minister Ram Vilas Paswan, tourism and culture minister Ananth Kumar, minister of state for mines Sundarlal Patwa, minister of state for textiles Dhanajay Kumar, former high commissioner to Britain L. M. Singhvi, president of the Bhagwan Mahaveera 2600th Janm Kalyanak Mahotsav Mahasamiti Dipchand S Gardi, working president of the Samiti and Chairman of the Times Group Mrs. Indu Jain, besides Jaina Munis, Acharyas and Sadhvis. Many cultural, educational and charitable activities based on the theme of ahimsa - Lived and Let Live - will be organized during the year-long Mahotsav.

Mrs. Indu Jain called upon followers of Jainism to inculcate the values and teachings of Lord Mahaveera. "The Mahotsav is the culmination of the Prime Minister's promise to celebrate the 2600th birth anniversary of Bhagwan Mahaveera as a national event," said Ananth Kumar. "He has also promised Rs 100 crore to undertake development and educational programmes." "With the whole world joining in the arms race, ahimsa has never been as important as it is today. If the rest of the world gives up its arms, we sill do the same. But this ahimsa is not that of a coward. It takes courage to be non-violent," the PM said.

"What has fascinated me most is the theory of Anekantavad - that truth is one but its manifestations are many. It teaches us to accept and respect differences. We acre committed to secularism, the state does not have a religion of its own and each one is free to follow the religion of their choice. But differences should be cultivated within maryada. "the Prime Minister added. Vajpayee said: "We don't want arms race and are willing to de-nuclearise ourselves if others are also willing to do it."

He also released a stamp commemorating the Mahotsav. Union communications minister Ram Vilas Paswsan said: "This special stamp will carry the essential tenets of Jainism - non-violence, tolerance, forgiveness - to all corners of the world. Yeh Bhagwan Mahaveera ka Sanchar Sandesh Hai (this is Bhagwan Mahaveera's message to the world)."Earlier, schoolchildren and the Gandharva Mahavidyalaya choir sang bhajans and the highlight of the inaugural function was a performance by well-known music director Ravindra Jain and his troupe, which included several well-known artistes from Mumbai. Due to the inability of "Acharya Vidyanand Maharaj Ji to participate in the function, senior members of the Mahotsav Samiti went to seek his forgiveness. The Acharya told them to carry his message to all the Jainas present at the inauguration to peacefully complete the function. This message was read out by the Prime Minister.

In a special message on Bhagwan Mahaveer 2600th Janm Kalyanak Mahotsav, Acharya Shri Vidyanandji Maharaj stressed that abiding by values made life more beautiful and fulfilling.

He described the practice of ahimsa as the greatest value of all. However, ahimsa is not easy to practice and has to be cultivated with patience. Patience, in fact, is a virtue that must permeate all spheres of life.

"Practice and successful practice of ahimsa can be possible only through penance. India has an ancient tradition of patience, ahimsa and penance. On this great occasion, I convey my affection, kindness and blessings to all," Acharya Shri Vidyanandji Maharaj said.

The 2600th Janma Kalyanak of Tirthankara Mahaveera was inaugurated in the Capital amidst much fanfare by the Prime minister Vajpayee on Friday. The function also marked the beginning of year-long celebrations in India and abroad. A stamp of Lord Mahaveera was also released on the occasion.

In Lucknow, the Jain community took out grand processions prabhat ferries and performed prayers in various temples all over the city.

Fruits were distributed in orphanages and hospitals and religious discourses organised to spread awareness on the relevance of the teachings of Lord Mahaveer in contemporary times.

In Mumbai, chief minister Vilas Rao Deshmukh announced that the flyover at Sion Circle would be named 'Bhagwan Mahaveera Flyover.'

Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee and Home Minister L.K. Advani had to face embarrassing moments when prominent Jain Acharya Vidyanand ji Maharaj was reportedly denied entry to a grand function organized in the capital on Friday morning to Mark the beginning of 2600th Janma Kalyanak Mahaotsav. The Prime Minister and the Home Minister landed up apologizing to the crowd of thousands of devotees for the 'lapses' on part of the organizers.

The function was organized by the Ministry of Tourism at the Indra Gandhi stadium to mark the beginning of the year long festivities to commemorate the Janma Kalyanak of Lord Mhavira.

Though people present at the function said that the venerated Jain Muni was prevented from entering the stadium by the SPG, senior police officials denied this. Instead, they said that the organizers had failed to make proper seating arrangement for the Muni on the stage. The muni on seeing that there was no seat for him on the stage on the dias which was occupied by Jain Sadhus, simply walked away. This made some devotees angry, some officials said.

The Digamber Jain Acharya was scheduled to address the gathering. A number of devotees sitting in front of the stage got agitated when they realized that the Acharya had gone back and started demanding that he should be brought back.

Former British High Commissioner L.M. Singhvi on seeing the turn of events hastened out of the stadium to bring back the Acharya Vidyanandji. But he returned only with the Acharya's message. The message urging the Jain devotees to celebrate the 'Mahotsav' peacefully was read out by the Prime Minister.

The Prime Minister in his address said that the concept of Ahimsa propagated by Mahavira is more relevant today then ever before. Others present at the function included Union Minister Sunder Lal Patwa, Ram Vilas Paswan and Dhananjaya Kumar, President of Mahotsav Mahasamiti Dipchand Gardi and working President of the Committee, Mrs. Indu Jain.

Prime Minister Vajpayee on Sunday said the root cause of corruption was greed and called upon people to observe sanyam (control of desire) as professed by Lord Mahaveer.

Speaking at the 2600th birth anniversary celebrations of Lord Mahaveer - organised by the Jain community at Shanmukhanda Hall - Vajpayee said the teachings of Mahaveer had greater relevance today and the only way to remove corruption from our lives was to follow the Jaina principle of aparigraha, which involves negation of material desires and baser instincts.

"People with empty stomachs do not indulge in corruption. Only those whose stomachs are already full, indulge in such practices, thus abusing their bodies," Vajpayee said.

He said in the light of the threat of nuclear weapons, it is imperative that the message of ahimsa (non-violence) professed by Lord Mahaveer be spread through the entire world.

Non-violence and forgiveness should not be taken as signs of weakness or cowardice, but that of courage, he said. "If, however, we remain passive and continue to forgive those who subject us atrocities, then forgiveness becomes meaningless.

Vajpayee was accomplished by Governor P. C. Alexander, chief minister Vilas Rao Desmukh, minister for petroleum and natural gas Ram Naik, Union minister of state for power Jaywantiben Mehta and vice-chancellor of Mumbai university Bhalchandra Mungekar.

Vajpayee released Vardhman, a book on Jainism published by Bennett, Coleman and Company limited.

A Times Group presentation, the book deals with the powerful insights which Lord Mahavir and the 24 Tirthankaras have left behind for the lasting benefit of mankind.

Vajpayee presented Jaina Ratna awards to 26 people from the world-wide Jain community.

The awardees include former Indian high commissioner to UK, L M Singhvi, Times Group chairman Indu Jain, former Nepalese consul-general to Poland Hulaschand Golcha, noted music composer Ravindra Jain and chairperson of the US-based Jaina Trust Dhiraj Shah.

The constitution of the World Jain Confederation was also inaugurated by Vajpayee.

Addressing the gathering, Alexander said the Jain community was looked upon with respect as it stood for moral regeneration.

He made light of the fact that though the organisers had included his name in the invitation card, they had forgotten to invite him.

Deshmukh assured that the state government would extend all necessary support to the community to spread the teachings of Lord Mahaveer.

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Jain Heritage occupies a prominent place in the realm of history and culture. It has many firsts to its credit on several counts, in particular history and archaeology. The torso of a 4th century B.C. relic of the Tirthankara, which was excavated from Lohanipur in Patna (Bihar), for instance, is the first of all the images in stone found in India. The 132-A.D. Saraswati from the Kanakli mound at Mathura, Uttar Pradesh, happens to be another good example of the earliest Saraswati image. Gommatesh Bahubali image at Shravanbelgola is, indeed, the loftiest and the most beauteous of all the images existing throughout the length and breadth of our vast and varied motherland. Archaeological finds on Jainism from Khajuraho, Abu and some other places are unique.

Padmashri Virendra Prabhakar, an ace Press Photo Journalist, hails from an endowed family with rich cultural legacy. For long he has cherished the dream to organising an exhibition of photographs connected with the Jain archaeological heritage and Tirthankara Mahavira for the benefit of also the connoisseurs of art not only in India but abroad as well. It is a happy augury to have his dream come true.

Shri Prabhakar, initially, took it as an easy exercise, which could be completed with the help of cursary enquiries from the concerned Jains. But it turned out to be an onrous mission for which Shri Prabhakar had to undergo severe hardship in materialising this yeoman project. It once again proves his belief that nothing becomes perfect before hand. With regular addition systematically we move towards success and fullness, even pioneering.

Shri Virendra Praghakar is especially happier at the fact that the display of this Exhibition coincides with the chequered year of Trithankara Mahavira's 2600th Birth Anniversary, The incredible coincidence, he trusts, will satiate the masses' religious and cultural thrust. If your young ones are to have a rare opportunity to enjoy deep insight when faced with their hoary past, which is the prime necessity at the present juncture, the older persons will be able to refresh their memory through living glimpses of ancient temples, images, inscriptions, manuscripts, scriptures, etc.

To make the efforts more felt and authentic, Shri Prabhakar visited a large number of museums as also temples for getting these for getting these rare exhibits photographed and the pictures will be put with factual captions.

Efforts have also been made to cover all the aspects of Jain archaeology. The Meguti Temple at Ellora in Maharashtra, which is the earliest Jain temple, on the one end and the mist famous temple of Shri Mahavirji in Rajasthan on the other end form part of this Exhibition.

The echoing images, particularly those representing Tirthankara Mahavira, find their fair share among the exhibits. A big number of the manuscripts and the paintings in them, too have been covered--big size mostly in colour. The art pieces taken away to the museums from India also find representation here.

Shri Prabhakar is happy that almost all the States of India are represented in this Photo Exhibition as fairly as his camera caught with beauty abound. The Photo Exhibition will be inaugurated on 23rd April, 2001 to remain open till 1st May. The Exhibition will begin first at the Art Gallery of the All India Fine Arts and Crafts Society, Rafi Marg, New Delhi, and thereafter in other parts of Delhi as also in India's other prominent cities.

Diksha ceremony to initiate five young persons, three male and two female, to Jaina order, who have decided to lead a life of detachment and renunciation, will be taking place on the 30th April, 2001 at Jodhpur, under the spiritual guidance and patronage of 1008 Shri Champa Lal Ji Maharaj, Pandit Ratna Shri Prakash Chandra Ji Maharaj and other saints. Those to be initiated are:

Sri Jigyesh, aged 25 years, son of Sri Manikant Dam Ji Sanghvi of Bombay.
Sri Vikas, aged 24 years, son of Sri Mahendra Kumar Ji Kataria of Ravti, Ratlam (M.P.)
Sri Yogesh, aged 23 years, son of Sri Surendra Kumar Ji Nahar of Ravti, Ratlam (M.P.)
Km. Vaishali, aged 25 years, daughter of Sri Rajendra Kumar Ji of Surendra Nagar (Gujarat)
Km. Usha, aged 21 years, daughter of Sri Dungar Mal Ji Chhajed, of Samdari, Dist. Jodhpur (Rajasthan)

The Tihar Jail in the capital city of India is known for its overpopulation of criminals and undertrials. It has the dubious distinction of being one of the largest prisons in the world, and many more things. But something very unusual has been started in this Jail: That is Preksha Dhyan Shivir. Peace is sought after by the learned as well as those who are not so knowledgeable. The saints live in peace and they want to bring as many people as possible under the protective umbrella of honest and peaceful living.

The renowned Jain Dharmacharya and philosopher of modern times, Acharya Shri Mahapragya's great contribution to the humanity are Preksha Dhyan and JivanVigyan. There are many systems of concentrating one's mind. Obviously, the aim of all these systems is ensuring peace, relief from negative thoughts and emotions and a successful life. But Acharya Shri Mahapragya's Preksha Dhyan is aimed at changing the inner personality of the individual. It changes not only one's thoughts, but also the thinking process. Its ultimate purpose is to turn all negative feelings to positive ones.

In the inspiring presence of Prof. Muni Shri Mahendra Kumar a six-day Preksha Dhyan Shivir was organised in the month of January in the Tihar Jail, which was attended by about 3000 prisoners. They practiced kayotsarg, deep breathing, concentrating on the light centre with white colour, Anupreksha, yogasana etc. for four hours daily.

In the state of Kayotsarg the prisoners practiced the Anupreksha of the following four vows:

1. I will live a pure life, 2. I will not take alcohol or other intoxicants, 3. I will not commit crime, and 4. I will not keep the company of bad people.

Prof. Muni Shri Mahendra Kumar said that the system of punishing the criminals had not succeeded in controlling the crimes. The denizeus of the crime world could be led to a normal life only through the change of heart.

Muni Shri held discussions with the Additional Director General of the Tihar Jail on holding regular Preksha Dhyan Shivir in the Jail.

Jail official Smt. Sunita Saberwal felt that the officer administering the Jail too needed training in Preksha Dhyan as they worked under great stress.

One question that very often cropped up was why the system of Preksha Dhyan when Vipashyana, Rajyog etc. were already being practiced. Muni Shri pointed out that Preksha Dhyan was based on scientific experimentations. It changed the flows of the glandular systems for the better and established the desired balance in the autonomic system of our body.

Also, the observation of Chaitanya Kendras (Centers of Perception), Leshya Dhyan (Concentration on Colours), and Kayotsarg (body without motion and tension) were not parts of the activities of other systems.

We invite Jain volunteers from different geographical area to join the team of Ahimsa Times Correspondents. The interested readers may send their profile and a photograph to The Editor at E-Mail: .

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