Family as the Foundation of a Nation

Posted: 05.01.2009
Updated on: 02.07.2015

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Happy and Harmonious Family, Acharya Mahapragya, Jain Vishva Bharati, pp 240, Rs 250.00

Book Review by Manju Gupta

 

In today’s world with families breaking up faster than getting together, this book is a pertinent publication as it discusses the various aspects of living happily and harmoniously in the family. Written by an acharya, who is the supreme head of the Jain Swetambar Terapanth sect and who is well versed in the Jain Agamas besides being a reputed scholar of Indian and Western philosophy, this book analyses the joint family system where each individual constitutes a closely related group of people living together peacefully so long as one of them does not start thinking of a selfish motive, leading the family to fall apart. “Strengthening of selfish consciousness separates even the most loving brothers, whose mutual affection was once compared to that of Ram and Lakshman,” says the author.

Man is a social being who lives in a society whose smallest unit is a family. If an individual lives peacefully with a few people, he can adjust with a larger group as well, but if the atmosphere within a small group itself is quarrelsome, life becomes hell not only for him, but for the whole gamily as well. For a quiet and calm life, it is necessary for an individual to co-exist within a family in a peaceful manner.

When the families of nations live together, it is described as nations living together in peaceful co-existence. Peace is the most important and integral part of life in a family, be it of individuals or of nations. This, though desired by all, is not achieved by many. Why? What are the reasons?

Man is gifted with three miraculous powers - the mind, body and speech through which he interacts with the inner world. “The cause of all our problems lies within our inner worlds,” says the author. The reason for inner agitation is an unbalanced consciousness. Since all our senses are directed by consciousness, the latter has to be properly balanced. If the mind, body and speech remain disturbed, the discerning power fails to awaken and develop the knowledge that leads to truth.

Acharya says that there are two forms of consciousness - individual and collective. Individual consciousness is further divided into spiritual consciousness and selfish consciousness. Society is formed on the basis of attachment. Spiritual and individual consciousness, as described by Acharya Kundakunda, means, “I am alone. I’m free from passion and endowed with faith and knowledge.” In being self-engrossed, the soul achieves the state of elimination of inflowing karmas. An individual has a sense of belonging to his friends, family and wealth. Thus individual spiritual consciousness begins where selfish feelings and attachment end.

Individual consciousness and collective consciousness are two contradictory terms. One is a life of belonging and the other is a life were the roots of attachment have been cut and where neither you belong to anyone not does anyone belong to you. The social life is not fulfilled by spiritual or individual consciousness and neither is life fit for fulfilling social obligations. A person with selfish consciousness is aware only of himself. All his desires are concentrated upon himself. Such a selfish attitude gives rise to many problems within a family.

Hence, to live in a community, it is essential to develop the spirit of collective consciousness by making the mind more community-directed or empathetic than selfish. In order to inculcate appropriate values associated with collective consciousness, we have to impede on selfish consciousness, which is possible only through spiritual consciousness.

The author then explains how peaceful co-existence is maintained in a family, how harmony is achieved, how meditation is practiced, what family life is, what the management techniques are and what the mantra is for maintaining peace in the family for developing a spiritual home. Anupreksha (contemplation) is also discussed which helps to overcome negative behaviour while living within a family.

Most of the points which have been elucidated in the book are known to us but what many of us practice or not are open to question. Possibly by reading this book, we may start practicing what we know but do not practice.

(Jain Vishva Bharati, Ladnun, Rajasthan)

 

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