Jain Diaspora - A German View

Posted: 18.06.2008
Updated on: 03.01.2011

Even though Jainism has a long history and the antiquity of Jainism was proved by Prof. Hermann Jacobi and a lot of research in Jainism was made by Weber, Alsdorf, Glasenapp, Bruhn, Bollée and others, they were of academic interest only. Only one author, Dr Charlotte Kruse was deeply impressed by the universal principles of Jainism and embraced Jainism whole-heartedly. She went to India and lived there until she left her mortal body. Number of Jains emigrated to Germany in comparison to those to US, UK and Canada is very small. Main reason for this is the language. Without German Language, living in Germany is difficult. The common language English has made emigration to even farthest countries like Australia and New Zealand easier than to Germany. Furthermore, Germany is not a country of Immigration in the sense of the English speaking countries.

Between the years 1970 to 1990, Germans like Kurt Titze, Hermann Kuhn and Markus Moessner were attracted to Jainism. All these persons spent considerable time in studying Jainism and accepted the same as part of their life. Markus Moessner brought out a magazine JAIN-PFAD in German language in 1987. To help his activities, Jain Association International (Germany) e.V . was founded in the year 1988. The purpose of this association was primarily to spread the universal principles of Jainism through the German medium. Unfortunately, Markus Moessner withdrew from the Jain Association International abruptly afterwards for personal reasons. Due to lack of dedicated work on Jainism in the German language, the publication of JAIN-PFAD magazine was stopped. However, Kurt Titze brought out a small book “Keine Gewalt gegen Mensch, Tier , Pflanzen. Worte Mahaviras”, which was well received by the German Public. Part of this book was included in the curriculum of schools in the state of Nordrhein-Westfalen. Later on, Kurt Titze brought out another book in English “JAINISM, The religion of Non-Violence” a beautiful book, published by Motilal Banarasidas, Delhi and this book was well received by the public as well as the book reviewers. Unfortunately Kurt Titze left his mortal body in his Australian home at the age of 78, but with Namokar mantra on his lips.

Hermann Kuhn, who came in contact with many Jain Acharyas in India, was devoted to Acharya Muni Aryanandi and translated part of Tatwartha Sutra and published two books “Karma, The Mechanism, create your own fate” and “Key to the Center of Universe” both in German and English, based on Tatwarth Sutra.. These books have been also well received by those interested in Jainism. On behalf of the Jain Association of Germany, I have given lectures on Jainism at the Universities of Kiel and Frankfurt/Main as well as at meetings arranged by Vegetarian Society of Germany. Recently Prof, Zydenbos, who spent more than 15 years in India and now teaching in the University of Munich published a book “JAINISM, Today and its future “. He has also published articles on Jainism including articles in “JAIN Spirit” a well known Jain magazine .He has taken Anuvrata and a Sadhaka. There are other Germans like Petra Schiller, Robin Stege, Cornel Wawrinsky, Friedrich Wolff who have been following Jainism under the Limitations of German environment. All these people have visited many Jain Tirthakshetras in India.

Thomas Dix, a very good photographer, co-authored a book “JAINISM and the Temples of Mount Abu and Rankapur “ with Lothar Cleront, in German as well as English.

Dr Narendra Kumar Jain, who lives in Berlin, runs a Yoga School and Namokar Mantra is chanted there as part of the meditation. Mahavira Jayanti is celebrated in his School every year.

Traudel Pandya, a disciple of Gurudev Chitrabhanu also runs a Yoga school in Berlin, the capital city of Germany and Jain Meditation has been introduced there.

Carla and Christian Geerdes are followers of Acharya Tulasi and Acharya Mahaprajna and they are spreading the message of Jainism through their website www.herenow4u.de.

Jain Association International (Germany) e.V. has its own home page www.jain-germany.de . Several enquiries come through Email and phone calls for Information on Jainism.

As to Jains, emigrated from India or other parts of the world like Kenya and UK, I have already mentioned that there are very few Jains settled down in Germany. There are about 12 business families in Idar-Oberstein, a city known for precious stones. I have approached them to support our association. However the response has been very poor. In spite of living in Germany for a long time, they hardly speak the German language.

Then, there are a few young IT professionals or students , who have only temporary visas. These have no interest, except asking about the whereabouts of a Jain Temple in Germany. There are few doctors and academicians, mostly married to Germans and even though, their family names are Jain, they are not practicing Jains.

Recent big event in Germany was the bestowal function of Prakrit Jnanabharati International awards to two eminent German Scholars Prof. Dr. Willem Bollée and Prof. Dr. Klaus Bruhn on 25th May 2008. Both have authored several books and articles on Jainism and Prakrit books. Several Indologists including Prof. Dr. Bansidhar Bhatt, Dr. Peter Fluegel, Prof. Dr Brueckner etc. attended the function.

Author

Source/Info

Ajit K. Benadi, President Jain Association International(Germany) e. V. Email: jaingermany(at)yahoo.de, Web: www.jain-germany.de, Phone +49 4193 968360

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