Glory of Jainism: Foreword

Published: 21.07.2012

Foreword

These are a few gems discovered from the ocean of the Jain literature - the brief life-sketches of those who blazed a trail and invested Jinshasan with a unique glory. The volume comprises 108 sketches and through them one can get a glimpse of the glorious past buried long ago. An attempt is made to resuscitate the past and make one re-live the past and realise the uniqueness of Jinshasan.

The history of Jinshasan has been chronicled systematically and the great historical figures sketched here are part and parcel of the Jain ethos and culture. In them one finds a rare blend of religion and spirituality, courage and impeccable character, and piety and devotion and these co-existing with worldly affairs. These are, therefore, not life-sketches or chronicles of a few lives or sequence of events or documented history but a realistic reflection of devoted, selfless, pious lives led by Sadhus, Sadhvis, Shravaks and Shravikas and others who set an example by their courage, selflessness, nobility and philanthropy.

The carefully selected 108 sketches constitute but a small part of the vast panorama of Jinshasan. It is possible that one may not find the life stories of many other outstanding figures, whose number is legion, in this little volume for which we crave forbearance of our readers. It is but an humble attempt to glean, from the vast ocean, a few gems and proffer them to you. The task to compile a bigger volume, comprising all those who brought glory to Jinshasan, is gargantuan and the project can be taken up later.

India and Jain religion had been subject to numerous invasions in the past. Foreign mercenaries and invaders tried to destroy our civilization and values which we all hold dear to our heart. Jinalayas and temples of learning were the convenient targets of the marauders and yet Jinshasan has been able to preserve its entire history intact. In this history is found the contribution of Jinshasan to fields as diverse as spiritual, intellectual, literary and cultural. In it one finds heights of spirituality achieved through penance, renunciation and restraint, saga of sacrifices made for the defence of the nation or the religion. How noble are these figures, how inspiring are their lives!

The people who forget their past are condemned to a blighted future. Present flows from the past and the present generation must know its past and grasp its significance. This volume is an attempt to acquaint the people with the glorious past and the heroic figures who shaped it.

The project has been blessed by Acharya Shri Chandrodaysurishvarji Maharaj. I am thankful to the trustees of Shri 108 Jain Tirthdarshan Bhavan Trust and one of the trustees Shri Anilbhai Gandhi has evinced keen interest in the project and for which I am thankful to him.

The illustrations in the volume are an evidence of the supreme art of Shri Ashok Shaha (Padmaputra) and Smt. Prarthana Ashokbhai Shaha. A fact needs to be mentioned here that the sketches of the lives of the great figures are in conformity with the pictures available. Every cult of Jain religion has its own figures of sterling qualities and delineation of their lives needs to be undertaken. Into the lives chronicled here are woven a few popular stories which reflect an element of miracle or trials faced by women to prove their spotless character. Kalavati, Sushila, Prabhavati, Pushpchula, Narmadasundari, Malaysundari and Chelana are there to emphasise the importance of spotless character and piety and are to be seen in that light only. One needs to remember that these are ancient stories recording ancient socio-cultural setup and gender-roles. I hope this will help a modern reader to trace self-assertion in a sati's willingness to subject herself to a test to prove her spotless character. After all it was a patriarchal Society!

I am thankful to Shri Shailesh Desai of Hi-scan Ltd. for the excellent printing of the volume.

I am grateful to Shri Dalsukhbhai Malvaniya, Dr. Naginbhai Shah, Dr, Ranjana Harish, Prof. T.J. Punani, Dr. Mahesh Choksi and others for the translation very competently done.

The beautiful and attractive illustrations in the volume are on display in Shri Samavasaran temple in the great centre of pilgrimage, Shatrunjaya. Devotees visiting Shatrunjayacan have a glimpse of these lovely portraits.

The volume is my sentimental creation and the purpose behind highlighting the importance of Jainshasan is to derive inspiration from those who serve as a beacon to us. I shall find fulfilment of my life if this small volume transmits the message and the true meaning of Jainism and Jain philosophy to people in the twenty-first century, succeeds in shaping the future generations and in acquainting the non-Jain community with a few facets of Jain religion which has been a source of abiding inspiration to mankind at large.

- Kumarpal Desai

Sources
Title: Glory Of Jainism
Artist:

Ashok Saha and Prathana Saha

Publisher:

Shri Anilbhai Gandhi (Trustee),
Shri-108-Jain-Tirth-Darshan-Bhavan-Trust,
Shri-Samavasaran-Mahamandir,
Palitana - 364270 (India)

Edition: 1998

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Some texts contain  footnotes  and  glossary  entries. To distinguish between them, the links have different colors.
  1. Acharya
  2. Jain Philosophy
  3. Jainism
  4. Jinshasan
  5. Kumarpal Desai
  6. Sadhus
  7. Sadhvis
  8. Samavasaran
  9. Samavasaran Temple
  10. Shatrunjaya
  11. Shravaks
  12. Shravikas
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