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Thus Spoke Mahapragya - Vol.1: 16. Dynamics of Life in a Group

Published: 09.04.2011
Updated: 17.10.2013

Dynamics of life in a group

Individual and Society - both have their importance. A person's individuality should be safe and is the fundamental principle of independence. A society, nation or a group plays a very vital role to maintain a person’s individuality. The second aspect is community. The community plays a very important role since it is here that the individuality of a person is recognized. If there is only an individual and there is no society or a community then his individuality has very little importance. Pandit Nehru had also said “As long as Congress party is there, I have an identity”. Mantri Muni Magan Lal ji had also said that sinceTerapanth is a religious order, people address him with respect as Maganji and hence he had some worth. If it didn't exist he would cease to have any value. Skill, capability, dexterity depends upon an individual but it can be expressed amidst a society. A person living in the caves of Himalayas doesn't get an opportunity to express his individuality. Hence an individual and a society are inseparable. We have to expand our horizon of thinking and look at how we can develop our society. The relationship between an individual and society is beautifully depicted in Dashavaikalik sutra. It says “When you respect and honour an individual it means that the entire society is respected. When you disrespect one individual it implies that you are disrespecting the entire society”. Such is the deep integration between an individual and a society.

In a society, authority plays a very important role. Respect and trust for authority characterizes a society. Where there is no respect for the authority that society is a mere hollow structure and is meaningless. In other words to say, where there is respect for leadership and its authority that society or community would always be invaluable.

Success, development and progress - the basic underlying principle beneath is the leadership. In the villages, towns or cities where there is no will to accept leadership, it will never develop. For development it is mandatory to have leadership, a vision, mission and a goal.

There was a joint family, which was fighting a battle every day against poverty. The head of the family decided that they would cut the wood from the forest and sell it in their village. This proposal of earning livelihood appealed to the entire family members. Everybody picked up their axe and headed towards the forest. On reaching there they selected a tree and decided to chop it. When they were about to cut the wood, a voice said “Please stop. Don't cut me.” The family members were surprised and said that they are cutting the wood to earn there livelihood. Every man has a right to live and earn his livelihood. Hence they had chosen to cut the tree. The family members requested the voice to come forward. The soul of the tree was impressed to see the unity amongst the family members. He came forward and said “I am happy to see the unity amongst you all. You do not have to worry about anything. Your livelihood will be taken care of. The family members asked that how that would be possible. The soul gave them a vessel and said, “Take this vessel and go. Whenever you want to eat just close the lid of the vessel and make a wish of whatever you desire to eat. Whenever you open the lid you will find whatever you had wished for.” Everybody trusted the invisible soul and they took the vessel and headed towards their home. They tested and found out that whatever food they wished was fulfilled by the magical vessel. The family members had found an invaluable source to earn there livelihood. Livelihood is not only a problem for a family man but is also of equal concern for a sadhu. One cannot remain hungry for a long time. The family members, who were once struggling to meet both ends, were now feasting. The family members were happy and it brought about a tremendous change in their lives. This change was evidently visible to everybody.

The neighbour’s were surprised to see that the family which was struggling to meet their ends and would always look on them for help is now not even looking at them. They were surprised to see this tremendous change as the family members were not earning also. One of the neighbours finally decided to find out the secret of their happiness. He asked the family head that as a neighbour he had always helped them in their needs. Today the family members are very happy and he wanted to know the reason behind it.

The head of the family was a simple man and he narrated the entire story to the neighbour. The neighbour became greedy and he decided to take his family to the same tree. He however did not reveal the secret of the vessel to them. Initially the family members resisted to go the forest. However, on persuasion they finally went to the jungle and stood beneath the same tree. The head of the family ordered them to cut the tree. They started quarrelling amongst each other that why they should cut the tree first. Instead of cutting the tree they started quarrelling among themselves so much that they reached a stage were they were ready to kill each other.

The invisible soul of the tree appeared and asked them what they were doing there? The head of the family said that they wanted to cut down the tree. The invisible soul said “I am the soul of the tree and I reside here. Please go away from here else you all will be killed.” The head of the family said “This is unfair. To my neighbour you gave him a magical vessel and you are threatening to kill me.”  The soul replied that those family members had unity among them and they respected their leader and his authority. They were hardworking and not greedy. They had come with the sole intention of earning their livelihood by selling the wood and not with any malicious intention of seeking the vessel. The soul threatened the family head to go away from there else he would kill them all. The neighbour family had no other choice rather than to save their lives and run away from there.

Where there is a leadership, direction and willingness to accept it, everything is possible there. One must search within and think what could be the reason for this success? What is the reason behind the success of Terapanth? We have one leadership and this has attributed to our success. There is a value for direction, directives and consent. This reminds us of the vow of Acharya Bhikshu. During the Jinshasan (Jain Order) consent was of prime importance. Lord Mahavir had laid a very strong foundation for it. How can water be held? When there is a dam to hold it. Else the water can take the form of floods and destroy villages, towns and cities.

Leadership and consent are of prime importance. It plays a very vital role in the development and progress of a society.

The second important role in the development of society is Sapekshata (relativity). We should evaluate saapekshata. Saapekshata and Society are complementary to each other. Without one the other is incomplete. From the religious viewpoint, the sadhus and sadhvis complement each other. The sadhvi complement the sadhu by providing them the basic religious necessities like moonhpatti (cloth the Jain sadhus use to cover their mouth) and patra (vessel for collecting alms). The sadhus complement the sadhvi by pro-actively doing things, which makes the sadhvis life easier. The sadhus are doing lot of work in the area of Jeevan Vigyan (Life Science), Ahimsa Training (Non-violence training) and Intellectual development discussion. During journey when people ask about whom, we belong to; we say we are the followers of Acharya Tulsi. The moment people come to know that we are Acharya Tulsi's followers, the doors open for us and people extend their wholehearted support to us.

A society consists of myriad people doing different work. It is by this virtue of complementing one another that the benefits of the work that has been done by sadhus are reaped by sadhavi's and similarly the benefits of the work done by sadhavi's are reaped by sadhus. The benefit that one derives out of this is not just limited to the sadhus or sadhavi's. As a result of this, the entire society is benefited. If someone takes a holistic view and evaluates whether one can live without anybody's support or can he just confine to things which only concerns to him? A self-centred approach will certainly weaken the foundation of the society.

Acharya Kalugani before his death had given something or the other to almost all the sadhu and sadhvi. According to him, everybody had contributed in one form or the other. A contribution as small as getting a handful of sand was also considered to be an important contribution. Acharya Kalugani wanted to acknowledge even the smallest of the contribution. When everybody contributes, something concrete can be achieved. Each contribution could vary depending upon the individual’s capacity. Some can contribute in some form and some can contribute in another form. It's the collective effort that makes up a society and this feeling of complementing one another makes the society complete.

The third important role in the development of a society is to give up the being self-centred and selfish, and work towards a philanthropic approach. The society, which has a philanthropic view, can develop and flourish. People think from their viewpoint and desire for things, which gives satisfaction to them at the cost of others. This is not a philanthropic approach. If somebody has a desire for something then he should be given an opportunity first. This is unselfishness. One desires that he should get a good sadhu in his team even though the others could be devoid. This is selfishness. First preference should be given to the one who needs it the most. In a society, there should be no scope for any self-centeredness or selfishness. One should have a philanthropic approach towards society. One should let go the self-centeredness or selfishness.

The fourth important role in the development of society is the open-mindedness. In a society or a community there are people who belong to various religions, caste or creed. In our own religious order we have people from Rajasthan, Haryana, Gujarat, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Karnataka and lot of other states. We not only have Oswal’s, but we even have people belonging to different religions like Sindhi, Agarwal, and Jaat. The people from different regions and religions have different food habits. People from Punjab, Haryana have their staple food as bajra and people from south India and Bengal have their staple food as rice. For people from south India, Idli and Dosa (made of rice) is the preferred food. Muni Dulharaj ji was also very fond of them who was from south India.

When people from different region and religion come under the umbrella of Jainism, then there remains no region or sect. Everybody is like brothers and sisters. One of the shortcomings of the Jain Community is to embrace everybody as their brothers and sisters. We have been confined within the walls of the religion. We have to come out of this shell and embrace people from outside religion also.

Dr. Ambedkar had accepted Buddhism and had sparked the Dalit Buddhist Movement. Very few people know the fact that Dr. Ambedkar had first approached Muni Kanmal ji. He had expressed his desire to him that he wanted to accept Jainism and how the Jain community could help him in this transformation. At that point of time the situation was rather little different. Acharya Tulsi was in Thali. We were not wide spread in all areas at that time. Also we had difference of opinions among ourselves. Dr. Ambedkar couldn't get any satisfactory answer from us and hence he finally embraced Buddhism. Till today, we lack in accepting others. The Hindu Varna (class) system comprises the Brahmins (teachers, scholars and priests), the Kshatriyas (kings and warriors), the Vaishyas (traders), and Shudras (agriculturists, service providers, and some artisan groups). In the earlier times, the Kshatriyas had embraced Jainism. Even the Brahmins, Kshatriyas and Shudras had also embraced Jainism. Today the situation is different. The thoughts are now confined within the four walls. This narrow thinking has done a lot of damage to Jainism. Dr. Ram Manohar Lohia had asked me to write an article on “Why vaishyas only should embrace Jainism?” What is that is preventing others to embrace Jainism. It was a long discussion on this topic and as a result, I had written an article on this.

Acharya Tulsi had worked tremendously in this area to take Jainism beyond the four walls of the community hall. He used to say often “We should remove “I” from the word Jain and thus it becomes Jan Dharma (Jan means 'common' - religion of the common man)”. Today the need of the hour is broad mindedness. Without this broadmindedness we will not be able to take Jainism forward. Hence it is important to think on how we can focus on developing this broadmindedness towards the betterment of the society. It is important that we break the barriers of selfishness and self-centeredness. In this context, it is very important to make a note on what Chanakya said. “Where there is a question of family you can sacrifice an individual. When it is the question of a village, then you can leave behind a family. When the question is of a nation, you can leave behind a village.” Only those sadhu and sadhvi can move forward who can give up their self-centredness and work for the development of the society. One who is broadminded and has given up self-centredness is the true catalyst for the change.

On a 21st January


Mahapragya ne Kaha - Vol.1 Translated by:
Rakesh Kumar Jain Online Edition: 2011

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Page glossary
Some texts contain  footnotes  and  glossary  entries. To distinguish between them, the links have different colors.
  1. Acharya
  2. Acharya Bhikshu
  3. Acharya Kalugani
  4. Acharya Tulsi
  5. Ahimsa
  6. Bhikshu
  7. Brahmins
  8. Buddhism
  9. Chanakya
  10. Dashavaikalik
  11. Dharma
  12. Gujarat
  13. Haryana
  14. Jainism
  15. Jeevan Vigyan
  16. Jinshasan
  17. Kalugani
  18. Karnataka
  19. Kshatriyas
  20. Life Science
  21. Madhya Pradesh
  22. Maharashtra
  23. Mahavir
  24. Mantri
  25. Mantri Muni Magan Lal
  26. Muni
  27. Muni Dulharaj
  28. Muni Kanmal
  29. Muni Magan Lal
  30. Non-violence
  31. Oswal
  32. Pandit
  33. Pradesh
  34. Punjab
  35. Rajasthan
  36. Ram
  37. Sadhu
  38. Sadhus
  39. Sadhvi
  40. Sadhvis
  41. Science
  42. Shudras
  43. Soul
  44. Sutra
  45. Terapanth
  46. Tulsi
  47. Vaishyas
  48. Varna
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