Places of faith… do we care for
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
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.
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
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?
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
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.
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
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.
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
… 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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.