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Places of faith… do we care for virtues?

Posted By Himanshu K. Gandhi, Saturday, November 9, 2013

Places of faith… do we care for virtues?

Make an honest reflection on sources of funds that support our places of faith to ascertain that they are consistent with virtues of our faith.

By: Himanshu K. Gandhi

Ignoring a festering problem or wishing it away... does not always make it go away. More likely then not, like a seething open wound, it will occupy our attention, even when we choose to turn our eyes away from it.

Many great societal challenges of our current times are such... Leaving us with only one choice... but, to boldly confront it and call attention to resources when and where possible to help address it.

 

Places of faith… be it a temple, or a monastery, or a mosque, or a church, or a gurudwara, or an agiary, or any institution whose raison d'être is faith, are all supposedly built to espouse virtues and further core tenets embodied in their own faiths…

… But, do they really?

Take for instance, one central and core tenet of each and every faith… that of Truth. The source of funds for donations to build or maintain the place of worship or faith based institution… donated under the guise of pursuit of one’s faith… is never questioned.

In fact, it is widely believed and accepted norm that disproportionably large amount of those funds are earned through some form of deceit… unaccounted or black money, or evasion of taxes, or income from a business that has gained from deceit in their operations or aided by corrupt practices of others...

… In effect, prima facie foundation of these places of faith is hollow in virtues… and the critical blood sustaining the operations is primarily corrupted.

For a follower of Jainism questions become starker on multiple counts… in addition to all kinds of deceit, are the sources of funds engaged in, or benefit from, operations or services that involve killing of animals, or sensuous titillations?

 

Unless deliberate care and conscientious efforts are undertaken to support and strengthen the virtues espoused in ones faith, the whole edifice is just a façade of brick and wood that will crumble and decay.

While we generally take great care that the food that is served, in these places of faith, is saattvik or halal or kosher… should we not even bother to care that sources of funds, that run the place, survive the same test?

When deceit is fouled out and deceitful players are stripped off of their Gold medals even in sports… then, on what basis can deceit survive as an acceptable norm in places of faith?

 

While it may not be possible to eradicate deceit from sources of funds… can we at least make an honest and sincere effort?

Can we at the very least ask the donor to self certify that all sources of his/her income have not gained from deceit, or supporting deceit, or trades that are in stark antithesis to one’s faith? In essence, putting at least a pittance of hurdle and announcing our intent that we care for such.

If not, then let’s not call our places of worship, or faith based institutions, as places that aid in reaching out to God or Jina or Allah or Jesus or Him… and belonging to a Trust…

… but… just clubs for social gatherings full of pomp and fluff…. and a colossal waste of a great opportunity to make a positive impact for the well being of mankind.

 

As many humble followers of our faith have observed, virtues have been progressively cornered away to make more room for deceit, which gets bigger every passing day.

Biggest turn-off with faith for the upcoming generations, is not the practice of rituals or gripe with comprehension through the lens of science, or relevance of spirituality in their career progression… but explicit duplicity witnessed in forbearers and "followers” of faith… where greed and glory are key appendages that work hard to further deceit. ‘Don’t ask, don’t tell’ and "All hands on the deck are red” perceptions precipitate the distrust.

There is no stopping of donation, from any and all sources of income, to the impoverished and deprived, or to any social cause, or any organization… just don’t let self or anyone do it under the guise of faith, unless the monies are deceit free.

Don’t let self or anyone steal piety out of our places of faith!

Just as when a flight attendant serves a burger to an avowed vegetarian, by removing a beef patty tightly crunched in between the vegetables of sandwiched buns, it does not make that a veg-burger… akin to that, income through streams of ones occupation that’s smeared by deceit or sacrilegious trade, is corrupted and does not qualify as worthy of supporting any activity in the name of Jainism.

 

What good are tomes of knowledge stacked away in places of faith and trillions of bytes uploaded on to e.Libraries there of... when there is very little thought, let alone deliberate effort, to put into consistent practice the most basic of virtues... Truth… within its purview?

Don’t call out for monies for Bhoomi-poojan or Dhwaja-rohan on a place of faith… and not care if those donations merit the purpose and are deceit free.

… Or, monies donated for Swamivatsalya that bothers to make sure that the food served is free of egg, fish, meat or liquor… but not care if the source of funds is from an operation that handles or dispenses such.

… Or, build Dharamshalas, for Tirth-yatris, which are guarded to check untoward incidents within its premises… but not care if funds donated for the same were garnered from illicit salacious trades.

And, if there are not enough monies received due to the restriction of self-certification by the donor, then it is just fine to proportionately trim down the operations, or curtail the expansion plans, or lighten up on commencing a Bhavya-Jirnodhar, or tone down on build up of a grandiose new place of faith…

… If not, then let fish and beef be served as a "choice” at venues gathered in the name of Jainism.

 

It matters less if a Trust or body of management, of a place of Jain faith, sets a threshold for donor’s self-certification to donations over INR 50,000 or USD 1,000 or GBP 500…

… or, if they decide that self-certification would just mean a published comment on the donation receipt to that effect, or just an email, or even a mere verbal attestation of such to the Treasurer…

… But please, don’t look away and, thereby, connive with deceit!!

The biggest perpetrators of deceit rely on those that support them, either by furthering deceit, or by not resisting them. When we decide to "play safe” or "sit on the fence”, we have furthered the cause of perpetrators, and are as culpable as those that actively support them. In effect, the grim truth is, not resisting deceit is to support it.

 

Voice of reason is our only fuel, and our runway is very long... but winds of support will blow harder as every new voice joins ours, to save what we have, and salvage what we can... for generations to come behind us.

About the author: Himanshu is based in Boston, MA and is an avid follower of Jainism. He administers a Facebook group ‘SSS… Solution Starts with Self’, where his effort is to support thoughts that enrich the base ethos of simple, straightforward and honest conduct, to break the pace of greed and vice, everywhere we see. To join the group or any comments email him at h.gandhi@samved.com.


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Tags:  care  deceit  faith  follower  Jainism  killing  piety  purview  reflection  resist  sacrilegious  sensuous  steal  truth  virtues  voice of reason 

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