The following article on Jainism appeared in the Times newspaper. My comments below were published. 

https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/three-generations-of-one-family-give-up-riches-in-extreme-ritual-vjbbd2flc

The great teachers of Jainism were Kings who gave up everything and became Monks. Same is true of Lord Buddha.  He was a prince and his parents tried their best to shield him from the tough realities of life. However one day he was taken for a tour of his city and he saw poor people and people being taken to crematoriums. This is when he got to know of death. He decided to give up his princely life convinced that the world is gripped by all kinds of calamities. He wanted to get out of the cycles of birth and achieve Nirvana. Looking at our Monarchy today we can see that no amount that no amount of wealth and fame can shield you from vagaries of life. Lord Buddha and the last great teacher in Jainism Lord Mahaveera were contemporaries 2600 years ago. They preached the same doctrine of Ahimsa but never met. Some of the most beautiful temples in India are Jain temples built high up in the mountains

For Jain laity supporting and respecting the Monks and Nuns is of paramount importance. While not able to do the same penances as the Monks the laity can also aim to get out of cycles of birth and death by doing good deeds. The highest good deed is not harming any living being, not even an insect. They are strict vegetarians and increasingly Vegans. I think it is George Bernard Shaw who said that he would like to be born a Jain in his next birth. Regarding abandoning the 5 year old girl, Indians have a very strong family system and she will be well looked after and visit the parents regularly.  

Nitin Mehta

19 March 2024.

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