Jai Jinendra from the eJain Digest Editorial Team
"True compassion is more than flinging a coin to a beggar; it comes to see that an edifice which produces beggars needs restructuring.”--Martin Luther King, Jr.
We could have started this letter with a quote from some of our Jain Masters, but we choose not to. Martin Luther King was considerably influenced by Gandhiji. Gandhiji learned the power of truth, strength of human-spirit and nonviolence from Shrimad Rajchandraji. So, we Jains have every reason to be proud of our heritage and our indirect influence.However, that is not the real point. King understood the power of Ahimsa from Gandhiji. But equally important was how Gandhiji’s message helped King to see the greater and deeper relevance of the Sermon on the Mount and how Christian Love could become the instrument for reforming the social order. We, Jains know that Ahimsa Dharma is universal and can be applied by anybody regardless of their tradition or religious belief. However, the most pertinent point in terms of our interfaith interaction is for us Jains to become catalysts in making people realize the true value of non-violence within their own belief system as nicely summarized in the following Jain tradition quote:
May my heart bleed at the sight of the wretched, the cruel and irreligious. And may tears of compassion flow from my eyes.
May I always be there to show the path to the pathless wanderers of life. Yet if they should not hearken to me, may I bide in patience
May the spirit of goodwill enter all our hearts May we all sing the chorus, the immortal song of human concord.
- Maitri Bhavanu by Gurudev Chitrabhanuji
This issue of eJain Digest is dedicated to the understanding and recognizing of how Jains are influencing the world at large by the Jain Way of Life. It is by interfaith activities, charitable activities, or dedicated activities undertaken by our youth for the improvement of our global society.
In the last issue of eJain Digest we had recognized the Jain Community of North America (mostly first generation migrants from India) for having established an excellent platform to propagate the Jain Heritage. To propel this tradition forward our community is grooming highly talented and dedicated young adults. Pathshala, run by the Jain center of Southern California is an excellent example of this effort. Additionally we solicited inputs from Jain youth about the special efforts they are undertaking to improve the society at large. We have still not received feedback from a large number of young Jains whose contributions are socially productive and are certainly noteworthy but have not yet been brought to our notice. However, based on a few sample responses that we received, it would be safe to presume that the Jain Heritage in North America is in safe hands. Our young Jains may or may not follow the classical traditions of different Jain sects, but there is enough evidence to show that our baton holders have understood the core message of Jainism. We feel confident that they will have a profound impact on the society. Along similar lines, we want to bring up a different topic. As the young Jains in North America embark on their life journeys, they will find life partners who might be Jains or non-Jains. They will have children, who might be brought up with Jainism as either their primary or secondary faith, or they might be brought up with dual faiths. In any event, coexistence in an interfaith environment will be the norm. We bring to you a short write-up from one such person, who, though brought up with Christian faith, found herself deeply influenced by her secondary faith - Jainism. We are confident you will be heartened by her story, and we would like to encourage others in similar situation to share their stories as well.
We would also like to give you a preview of our next issue. While we have not finalized the title of this theme, the next issue will be dedicated to Jain Acharyas and Sadhus. We are especially interested in the community member’s experiences with an Acharya or Guru. We also invite inputs in Hindi and Gujarati. If anyone can interview an Acharya, we will be glad to publish the same. You will hear more about our specific requirements in emails to follow or on the eJain Digest bulletin board on JAINA web site (www.jaina.org). It is recommended that you register on this website to receive all emails from eJain Digest, and to be able to provide your inputs and feedback.
We are very grateful to individuals who took the time to send in their valuable comments, articles, stories and other responses. We are very enthused by your positive comments and encouragement, and we are equally grateful to all responses received and would like to acknowledge the contribution of individuals who have brought to our notice relevant issues. One key request and concern has been to send a hard copy of Jain Digest. The JAINA president has already discussed the various reasons for proceeding with the web-version of the Digest. Though a scientific polling has not been done, based on the initial feedback, the number of people who are keen on receiving the hard copy of this publication is not very large. However, we agree they still constitute an important constituency that needs to be supported. In the interim, until a final decision is reached, we propose that each Jain center take it upon itself the responsibility of printing a few copies of the eJain Digest for their library or distribution on first-come-first basis. We would like to urge the Jain Center presidents or their representatives to help us in this effort. We hope this will resolve the main concern.
As mentioned earlier, eJain Digest is your vehicle to communicate, so please please do send us your comments (at firstname.lastname@example.org).
With Warm Regards
eJain Digest Editorial Team