Shri Manishji and other learned Jain friends,
As a Jain, I am seriously concerned that Jainism has been clubbed along with Hinduism as merely a sect. Similarly, as an Indian I am also concerned at the false propaganda bordering on hatred which is propagated to small impressionable kids. History has been twisted to show the atrocities committed by the Islamic invaders on Hindus. A part of it may be true, but,the contribution of Moguls/ Christians/ Parsis etc. to the Indian culture has been wilfully suppressed.
However the issue that currently concerns us is the continuous attempt to establish that Jainism is part of Hinduism. I surfed the website whose link Manishji was kind enough to forward to us and indeed found that Jainism is clubbed with Hinduism. A few questions come to my mind -
1) If Jainism is indeed a part of Hinduism, then why is Jain Navkar Mantra not a part of the list of Hindu Prayer ?
2) Why is Mahavir Swami & other Jain Thirthankars not accepted as gods ?
3) Why is Parvyushan and Mahavir Jayanti not shown as festivals ?
4) Why are Jain sacred books not given equal status as Gita ? When you accept various version of Ramayana, then why not accept Jain version of Ramayana also ?
5) Why is contribution of Jain saints from Gautam Swami to Hemchandra Acharya ignored ? - In facts they do not form a part of list of saints where Sant Tukaram etc are included.
6) Why subvert the actual History in the text books - that Chandragupta Maurya was a Jain. The Major Kings of that time were Jains or gave patronage to Jainism. But I never learned this from my History text books as a kid. The likes of Murli Manohar Joshi have been tampering with history since
Why insist that Jains are Hindus and then ignore everything that Jainism has stood for ? Who is to be blamed ? The more I think, the more I come to conclusion that we ourselves are responsible for this sorry state of affairs. It is the actions of the Jains that often give rise to this misunderstanding. Many Jain observe (Hindu) fasts on various days and go to temples. They do Havan's, consult astrologers, marry in Hindu style, pray to kuldevi and start any new enterprise with Ganesh Puja. I see many idols of devi/ devta's in Jain temple. So it is not surprising that Hindus consider Jainism as a sect of Hinduism. In fact, this acts of Jain elders leads to misunderstanding in minds of Jain children as well. Jains celebrate the festivals like Holi and Diwali as a part of Indian culture. This is also mis-understood by Jains as well as Hindus. So much so that foreigners like Mr. William Knox consider Jainism as a sub-part of Hinduism.
So what action can we take ?
1) I think there are many famous Jains who are public figures, but many do not know them as Jains. They carry credibility as far as general population is concerned. These people should try to educate, Jains and non-Jains alike. They can also act as a pressure group to govt to change the history textbooks to show Jainism in true light.
2) I remember that at the time of census for 1991, there was an advertisement campaign calling all Punjabi's to declare Punjabi rather than Hindi as their mother tongue. Maybe we can do the same thing.
3) Efforts should be intensified for declaring minority status to Jainism.
4) We Jains should concentrate on building more schools run by Jain trusts rather than mindlessly go on constructing temples.
5) UN should be petitioned to declare Mahavir Jayanti as world Vegetarian and non-violence day. This will bring an international focus on principles of Jainism.
These are a few of the action points that come to mind as a basic starting points. After all rather than fighting Hinduism, one of our aim is preservation of Jain Shashan for posterity.
These are a few thoughts that came to my mind at the first instance and I thought that I might share it with this distinguished group.