Friday 23 February 2007

Articles on Jainism as an

Independent and Separate

Religion of ancient India

Jainism is one of the oldest religion in the world. Jainism representing shramanic (ascetic) tradition and Hinduism representing Vedic tradition have co-existed peacefully side by side since ages. Each has a separate identity, but at the same time has influenced each other on account of common culture. Unfortunately some misguided souls (either unknowingly or knowingly) are out to project that Jainism is an offshoot of Hinduism.

Following are the articles to debunk these falsehoods and misrepresentation of Jainism:-


A lot of debate has been generated on the issue of whether “Jainism is a part of Hinduism” or whether “Minority Status should be given to Jains under Indian Constitution or not?” Many people, Jains and non-jains alike, are harboring misconceptions that Jains are part of Hinduism. The debate generated various statements such as:- …………………..read more by clicking on the link.


At the outset let me clarify that there is no intention to belittle or discredit any religion or philosophy. Neither any religion nor any groups are targeted in this article. Further we have no quarrel with our dear Hindu brothers with whom Jains share a special relationship. However, certain myths are being propagated by various people questioning the very independent existence of Jainism by claiming it as an offshoot of Hinduism. This is undermining the very existence of Jainism. These people are:- …………………..read more by clicking on the link.


Having debunked the myth that Jainism is part of Hinduism, (See previous articles) now we shall take up the issue of minority status for Jainism as the next issue. Once again certain fringe elements have propagated some myths regarding this issue. Myth # 1 – Jain Community is rich and powerful facing no threat…………………..read more by clicking on the link.


It is really surprising to see the unwarranted opposition for minority status to Jainism, especially by some educated Jains. Apparently this is due to ignorance as to what benefits are likely to accrue to Jain community, if it is provided a minority status. Rather than applauding the efforts of people like Shri Bal Patil for moving Supreme Court, our own people are involved in leg pulling. The issue of minority status for Jains needs to be understood in proper perspective. At the outset, we need to understand that we don't want minority status for Jains simply for reservations or government grants…………………..read more by clicking on the link.


Though the controversial Freedom of Religion (amendment) Bill recently passed by Gujarat Assembly the government has clubbed Jains as a denomination of Hinduism, several ancient manuscripts and texts present at the Indology institute here describe the two as different religious entities. …………………..read more by clicking on the link.


ALL INDIA JAIN MINORITY FORUM
By Balpatil

The amended Freedom of Religion Bill passed by the Gujarat Assembly classifying Jains and Buddhists as Hindu is an unwarranted assault on their distinct religious identity recognised by the Constitution itselfIt would be best to quote what Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru assured to a Jain delegation on the so-called ambiguity of Explanation II of Article 25 of the Constitution of India. …………………..read more by clicking on the link.



The press and media reports on the recent Supreme Court Judgment of the Three-Judge Bench of the Chief Justice, R.C. Lahoti, Justice D.M. Dharmadhikari and Justice P.K. Balasubramanyam are misleading. The reports were headlined stating that SC.declares Sikhs, Jains part of broader Hindu religion. Such reports appeared in leading English dailies like the Hindustan Times, The Tribune, The Times of India, and the local language newspapers. . …………………..read more by clicking on the link.

Anish Shah

Wednesday 14 February 2007

Myths concerning Minority

status for Jainism clarified

Having debunked the myth that Jainism is part of Hinduism, (See previous articles) now we shall take up the issue of minority status for Jainism as the next issue. Once again certain fringe elements have propagated some myths regarding this issue.

Myth # 1 – Jain Community is rich and powerful facing no threat. Hence there is no need to obtain minority status, which will not accrue any benefits.

The Truth – Readers are suggested to go through this link which shows the benefits that are likely to accrue by obtaining the minority status for Jains.




Myth # 2 – Minority status for Jainism is unpatriotic and will undermine the unity of India and Hindus.

The Truth – Minority Status is a constitutional right conferred by the Indian Constitution. Hence there is nothing illegal or unpatriotic about claiming the minority status for Jains. Jains (or for that matter any minorities) are as patriotic about India as anybody. Jain scriptures mention faithfulness to the King (Nation in modern context) as one of the essential virtue. Jains have contributed to India and its culture more in proportion to their numerical strength. The Right-wing fundamentalists have a perverted view of Patriotism i.e. adherence to their ideology only. Anyone not falling within their ideological parameters is branded as unpatriotic. This is similar to the Hitler’s version of patriotism by equating it to Nazism. We need to guard against such false propagandas.

Myth # 3 – Advocating Minority status and claiming that Jains are different from Hindus is motivated by hatred towards Hinduism.

The Truth – This is a deliberate attempt by some fundamantalists to link the issue of seperate identity of Jains with anti-Hinduism. This issue has also been linked to Patriotism, division of society, discipline etc. This is a blatant attempt to emotionally blackmail the Jain community, with a sinister agenda.
Hence it is necessary to clarify the stand of Jains unequivocally -
  • Jains are not against Hindus nor Hinduism.
  • Jains are not against Hindu Gods or Hindu Texts.

In fact Jains have a great respect for their Hindu friends. While interacting with our Hindu friends, we have never felt that we are talking to someone different. In fact all of my dear Hindu friends to whom I have explained this issue, respected and understood my position. They have come to appreciate Jainism and its philosophy in much better way. Rather than creating division it has resulted in proper bonding and mutual respect.
Myth # 4 – Indian Constitution does not define the word “minority”.

The Truth – This is a ploy to divert the issue. Following are the facts of Indian Constitution and its references to Minorities:-
  • One of the underlying principles of the Constitution were laid down by Jawaharlal Nehru in his Objectives Resolution : “The minorities, backward and tribal areas, depressed and other backward classes, shall be provided adequate safeguards” ;
  • According to Gandhiji, the claim of a country to civilization depends on the treatment it extends to the minorities
  • The Chairman of the Minorities Committee for Indian Constitution was Harendra Coomar Mookerjee.
  • Minority Rights flow from Articles 14,15,19(1)(2) 21, & 26 (a).
  • Article 29 of the Indian Constitution ` any Section of Indian Citizens having a distinctive language, script or culture of its own shall have the right to conserve the same'
  • Article 30 Clause 1 - that all minorities, whether religious or linguistic shall have the right to establish and administer Educational Institutions of their choice.
  • Article 350 A: Facilities for instruction in mother-tongue at primary stage and Article 350 B: Provision for a Special officer for linguistic minorities.

Secondly, Supreme Court has laid down, what defines minority in following cases:-
  • S.R. Das C.J., suggesting the techniques of arithmetic tabulation, held that the minority means a "community, which is numerically less than 50 percent" of the total population.
  • This statistical criterion prevail with the Kerela High Court also which, in A.M.Patroni v. Kesavan , defined minority to mean the same thing as it meant to the Supreme Court.
  • D. A. V. College v. State Of Punjab , it was observed that, a linguistic minority for the purpose of art. 30(1) is one which must at least have a separate spoken language.
On the basis it can be seen that courts in various judgment have clearly defined the word minority.

Thirdly, the Government as well as the Parliament have recognised the rights of Minorities thru the following:-
  • Establishing National Commission for Minorities through National Commission for Minorities Act 1992
  • Establishing National Minorities Development and Finance Corporation (NMDFC).
  • Establishing special programme known as 'Prime Minister's 15 Points Programme for Minorities' since 1993.

Thus it can be seen that Indian Constitution has ample references w.r.t. minorities. The fact that Indian constitution does not define that specific word does not mean that the word does not exists. Indian constitution also does not define the word - "Justice" , "equality" although it is mentioned many times. Does that mean that Justice and equality is not part of India???
As far as the issues of Minorities and difference from Hinduism are concerned, both are related and in the spirit of Article 29 i.e. "any Section of Indian Citizens having a distinctive language, script or culture of its own shall have the right to conserve the same
"

Myth # 5 – Jains are not united. Let Jains unite first and then talk of minority status.

The Truth – This is an old argument used to deny the rights of others. Unity or disunity - diversity of views is a fact of life - we will deal with it our way. No one can try to steal our identity on the plea that - "first you unite, then we will give you your rights.” This same ploy was used by British. They denied Independence for India on the plea of disunity between Hindus and Muslim. But that did not deter Gandhiji to give a clarion call of "Do or Die" asking the British categorically to "leave India to Gods and its fate."

To those who are playing unity card, please answer these questions first:-
1) How will one achieve unity within Jains when there is no clarity as to who is a Jain and who is not ?
2) How will one achieve unity when one is unable to define a distinct identity for Jainism ?
3) How will one achieve unity when you claim Jainism is a sect/ offshoot of Hinduism ? If so, Swetambers and Digambers might as well be sects of Hinduism. Then where is the question of unity between sects ?
By the same logic, to achieve unity between Swetambers and Digambers, you will say first let Swetambers achieve between themselves - Sthanakvasis and Derawasis should unite first. Same with Terapanth and Bisapanth for Digambers. Then there would be a problem of unity of sampradays in the sub-sects. Then there would be problem of unity between various Gurus. This is an endless problem and at the end of the day, we would be achieving nothing.
Hinduism prides itself in diversity - 33 crores deva's, dozens of sects, hundreds of sub-sects, thousands of Gurus - and still it can call itself a dharma and a way of life. Same goes for Christainity - Catholic, Protestant, Orthodox, Syrian, born-again, Jesuits etc etc - and still it can call itself a religion. Same goes for Islam.
Then why not Jainism ? Why is its right to exists as a religion snatched in Gujarat? That too by an unconstitutional silly law?
We will grapple the problem of unity, but the need of the hour is to save Jainism. If Jainism itself does not exist what problem of unity we will resolve?
Yes, it would have been great that if all were to speak up in one voice - for Jainism as a separate religion as well as for minority status. But if some sections of Jains are not with us, this cannot be an argument to snatch our rights. Are we to accept division of our beloved motherland because of some people want a separate homeland (Kashmiris and Notheast)? Can some say that you don't deserve to be a nation because you are a disunited lot? Maybe then tomorrow UN will kick us out of membership because of a few separatists. Can we take this lying down?
Then how do we accept this with our dear Jainism? It is indeed shameful that some are mere silent spectators. But this cannot discredit someone who is fighting for our rights.


Jai Jinendra
Anish Shah

Tuesday 13 February 2007

Myths concerning Jainism and Hinduism clarified
At the outset let me clarify that there is no intention to belittle or discredit any religion or philosophy. Neither any religion nor any groups are targeted in this article. Further we have no quarrel with our dear Hindu brothers with whom Jains share a special relationship. However, certain myths are being propagated by various people questioning the very independent existence of Jainism by claiming it as an offshoot of Hinduism. This is undermining the very existence of Jainism. These people are:-

  1. Misinformed Jains themselves who are not aware of the glorious history of Jains and hence are easily misguided by false propaganda.
  2. Certain Jains although knowing the truth, willfully remain silent on account of political ambitions or business connections or are out to project a “broad-minded” public image of themselves. Some of them are simply cowards afraid to come out with the truth.
  3. Misinformed non-Jains like Hindus, Christians, and Westerners who do not have adequate knowledge of Jainism.
  4. Hardcore right-wingers (also includes some Jains) who are out to homogenize the entire Indian society and see rise of Jainism as a separate religion having a minority status as a threat to their ideology.

Following strategy needs to be employed in dealing with these people:-
  1. Majority of the people come in category 1 and 3. They are open-minded and once the truth is explained to them, they have a great respect for Jainism. Hence these people need to be educated.
  2. The People specified in category 2 sway wherever the political wind is blowing. They hold dual views and articulate the same as per the circumstances and exigency.
  3. The fourth category consists of hard core people who are blinded by ideology. It makes them condone and praise the assassins of the Mahatma while blinds them to the dangers faced by the nation. Hence they need to be continuously countered and refuted at all forums and occasions.

Such people, depending on their motivations, have given rise to various myths and falsehoods, which are analyzed and countered below:-

Myth # 1 – Jainism was founded by Mahavira Swami.

The Truth : Jainism is an ancient religion that pre-dates lord Mahavira. Herman Kuhn an Indologist and translator of Tattvarthasutra says – “There exists evidence of twenty four enlightened teachers who taught identical knowledge at much earlier times.” According to Britannica Encyclopedia, Lord Parshvanatha, 23rd Jaina Tirthankara was a Historical figure who flourished in 8th Century BCE. (Ref : http://www.britannica.com/ebc/article-9374627 )
From the Buddhist and Jain records, it is clear that Jainism is older than Buddhism and was firmly established at the time of the origin of Buddhism. In the Samannaphala Sutta of the Dighanikaya, there is a reference to the four vows (Chaturyama Dharma) of Parshvanatha. Lord Neminath (22nd Tirthankar) and Lord Rushabh Nath (1st Tirthankar) are mentioned in various Vedas and Hindu Puranas. This proves that Mahavir Swami was a reformer and reviver of already existing Shraman traditions.

Myth # 2 – Jainism is a reactionary sect founded as a revolt against the Vedas and Brahminism.

The Truth : Jainism was (and is) against violence (e.g. vedic sacrifices) and casteism. There was no question of it being reactionary or revolt as vedic and shraman cultures had co-existed since ages. In fact Jain history suggests that Jainism was already an established religion when the vedic practices came into being. Furthermore, other ekantvadi i.e. one-sided philosophies are easily accommodated under Jaina multi-faceted philosophy of “Anekantavada.”

Myth # 3 – Jains are basically Hindus who have adopted a Jain way of Worship.

The Truth – The Worship is just a small part of Jaina philosophy. It is much more than way of worship, namely :-
  • it has its own Gods worthy of worship - Tirthankars,
  • separate set of rituals different from Hindus for e.g. Jains don’t believe in ritual of shraddh for ancestors,
  • it has a totally different shastras and agamas.
The philosophy of worship i.e. bhakti is also different. Bhakti in Hinduism believes in surrender to some higher entity, while bhakti in Jainism is merely instrumental in self-realisation. Emphasis is more on securing samyaktva i.e. rationality rather than ritualistic worship.

Myth # 4 – Jainism can be accommodated under the umbrella of Hinduism because Hinduism is a general religion and Jainism is a specific religion. Sanatan Dharma is a way of life and synonymous with Indian culture.

The Truth – There is no such thing as a general or specific religion. The word "Hindu" belongs to the category of words like "Muslim", "Christian", "Buddhist" and "Jain" and not to the category of words like "American", "British", "Indian", "Chinese" or "Japanese". Surprisingly, when Hinduism is compared with Islam or Christianity, it becomes a religion; but when it is compared with Jainism, it becomes “A way of Life", "Culture" and "Synonymous with Indianess" etc. What is to be realised is that, Hinduism is a religion based on the Vedic tradition, while Jainism and Buddhism are separate religions based on Sramanic tradition. Both of these traditions have co-existed side by side, influencing each other, and thus creating a great ancient Indian culture. Just as Hindus believe that theirs is a Sanatan Dharma, Jains believe that Jainism predates Lord Mahavira to Lord Rishabhdeva, the founder of not only Jainism, but entire human civilization.

Myth # 6 – Because of same culture, heritage, history, customs and land Jainism and Hinduism cannot be distinct from each other.

The Truth - Cultural similarity, linguistic similarity etc. does not discount the uniqueness and distinctness of a religion! Religion is philosophy based. Not based on ethnicity or a shared culture. Sure Jains have lots in common with Hindus. Jews, Christians and Muslims have lots in common too. They have a common cultural heritage, common linguistic group, common mythology, common prophets and a historical acceptance of each other's holy books. These three are Kitabi religions. They believe that God sent down three books, i.e. the Old Testament (Jews), the New Testament (Christians) and the Qu'ran (Muslims). But the Jews do not claim that Christians are Muslims are all Jews! If one were to think that Hindu and Indian mean one and same, then it is quite possible to say that Roman Catholic and Italian mean one and the same and Protestant and English mean one and the same.

Myth # 7 – Jainism has a better chance of survival within Hinduism rather than outside.

The Truth : As long as Jainism was clubbed with Hinduism, it got a raw deal having no separate recognition amongst the scholars. Also despite of general doctrinal tolerance in the Hindu tradition, history shows instances of persecution against Jains such as in Tamil Nadu in the 7th century, AD when Hindu Shaiva poets and teachers popularized the notion of Jains (or Samanars in Tamil) as villains opposed to the Shaiva creed. Hindu Saints like Adi Shankaracharya and Swami Dyayanand Saraswati led vitriolic attacks against Jain philosophy. Many Jain temples were destroyed and Jains killed.
Today, a concern of modern Jains in post-independence India has been the preservation of ancient pilgrimage sites and holy shrines which in recent decades have come under pressure from certain fundamentalist groups - in the case of Girnarji, Hindu devotees of the deity Dattatreya. Bhagavan Neminatha's charana were established at Girnarji for many thousands of years. Now, Hindus have taken over the 5th and the 3rd hill, thus wiping out extremely important Jain heritage from Gujarat
If Jainism is indeed a part of Hinduism, then :-
  1. Why is Jain Navkar Mantra not a part of the list of Hindu Prayers ?
  2. Why is Mahavir Swami and other Jain Thirthankars not accepted as their Gods ?
  3. Why is Parvyushan and Mahavir Jayanti not celebrated as festivals by Hindus?
  4. Why are Jain sacred books not given equal status as Gita ? When you accept various version of Ramayana, then why not accept Jain version of Ramayana also?
  5. Why is contribution of Jain saints from Gautam Swami to Hemchandra Acharya ignored by Hindus and not accepted as their saints?
  6. Why subvert the actual History in the text books - that Chandragupta Maurya was a Jain. The Major Kings of that time were Jains or gave patronage to Jainism. But this is never mentiond in our History books. The likes of Murli Manohar Joshi have been tampering with history since Independence.
Jainism and its contribution to India is routinely ignored by all. The simple fact is that those Hindus who are claiming that Jains are part of Hinduism have no respect for Jainism and its ideals. Unless Jainism maintains its separate identity it is likely to be wiped out after a few generations. Hence there is a great danger and threat to this religion as long as it is considered as a part of Hinduism.


Myth # 8 – Many Jains believe in Kuldevi’s, visit Hindu Temples, pray to Ganesha and celebrate Hindu festivals like Holi and Diwali. This proves that Jainism is a sect of Hindusim.

The Truth – Concept of Kuldevis and praying to Gods like Ganesha who are not vitraag is not in conformity of Jain Philosophy. According to Jainism these deities have attachment and passions. Those Jains who worship them are doing it on their own accord and not according to instructions from Jain Scriptures or Jain Gurus. Now if a Hindu goes to Haji Ali Dargha for prayer or a Church, does it mean that Hinduism is a part of Islam or Christianity?
Jains celebrate Indian festivals along with Hindu neighbors on account of traditions and shared culture. Festivals like Diwali which is celebrated as Mahavira nirvana day have a different significance for Jains. Broad mindness of Jains should not be construed as a sign of weakness.

Myth # 9 – Jain Puranas mention stories of Rama and Krishna, who are Hindu Gods.

The Truth – Jain have their own version of Ramayana and Mahabharata based on Jain philosophy. According to Jain puranas, Rama and Lakshmana were the 8th Baldev (or Balbhadra) and Vasudev(or Narayana) and Balarama and Krishna were 9th Baldev and Vasudev. Rama and Krishna are not Avatar’s of Vishnu as per Jainism. Just as Hindus believe their version, Jains believe this version to be true.
This similarity of characters can be seen in other religions like Judaism, Christianity and Islam also. According to the Principal book the Jews, Tenakh God's name is Jahveh and the Name of prophet Moses i.e Hazrat Musa. The Principal books of Christianity are the Old & the New Testaments where God's name is Jehovah and the prophet is Jesus i.e Hazrat Eisa. The Principal book Islam is the Qur'an where the God's name is Allah and the Prophet is Mohammed i.e Hazrat Mohammed. Islam considers both Hazrat Musa and Hazrat Eisa as prophets of God but considers Hazrat Mohammed to be the final prophet and the Qur'an to be the final word of God. Many of the characters occurring in their holy books are the same. So, why don't we consider these religions to be one?

Myth # 10 – The principles of truth, non-violence, moksha are the same for both Hindus and Jains.

The Truth – Other philosophies including Hinduism, believe their truth to be absolute. As per Anekantvad in Jainism the truth is relative and multisided. Non-violence in Jainism is ultimate – it encompasses even the minutest life forms. On the other hand in Hinduism, it is restricted to vegetarianism (that too under some castes) and cow protection. Concept of God is also different. Unlike Hinduism, Jainism does not believe God to be Creator, Operator and Destructor of Universe. Thus it can be seen that same terms connote different meanings in Hinduism and Jainism.

Myth # 11 – Marriage alliances between Hindus and Jains are common indicating that there is no difference between the two.

The Truth – In India, the caste and socio-economic factors play an important role in marriages. People prefer marrying their sons and daughters within same endogamous groups. It is quite possible that a particular endogamous group, which is dependent on the area and socio-economic class, may have the people from both the religions. Hence marriage between Hindus and Jains is quite possible.

Myth # 12 – It makes no difference whether one is called a Hindu or a Jain.

The Truth – It does make a lot of difference. If so are Hindus willing to be called Jains ? I dont think so. They do not accept Mahavir as their God not our Agamas even equal to Gita or Vedas. It is their prerogative.
It does matter to me as to what I am called or known as. Because it will also define our posterity. Just as Hindus proudly want to be called Hindus, We must take pride in our Jain identity.

Jai Jinendra

Anish Shah

Sunday 11 February 2007

Why we want a Minority Status?

It is really surprising to see the unwarranted opposition for minority status to Jainism, especially by some educated Jains. Apparently this is due to ignorance as to what benefits are likely to accrue to Jain community, if it is provided a minority status. Rather than applauding the efforts of people like Shri Bal Patil for moving Supreme Court, our own people are involved in leg pulling. The issue of minority status for Jains needs to be understood in proper perspective.
At the outset, we need to understand that we don't want minority status for Jains simply for reservations or government grants. The issue and the stakes here are much bigger than that. Jains constitute hardly 1-2 % of the Indian population, but still exercise a strong influence on Indian business, economy and politics. But a minority status for Jains would accrue the following benefits :-
1) Jain religion would be recognised as a separate religion and not an off shoot of Hinduism.
There are so many fundamental differences in religious doctrines of Hindus and Jains that they cannot be considered as same. However there are many Jains who are still suffering from delusion that we are Hindus who followed the path of Bhagwan Mahaveer. While doing Pratikraman, we ask for forgiveness for 25 types of wrong belief (Mithyatva), out of which one of them is - to consider some other path as path of Jainism and to consider Jainism as some other path. Hence to consider Jin marg as part of Hinduism is one type of Mithyatva. Unfortunately, people forget everything as soon as they come out of temples and Sthanak's.
This wrong belief has contributed partly to decline of Jainism through ages. Many Jains are not aware as to what is the real Jin marg! Further, Jainism has been given a raw deal by Right-winger propagandists by insisting that Jainism is part of Hinduism. On the other hand, these right-wingers ignore the contribution of Jains and Jainism in all their literature. The Antiquity and the legacy of Jainism and the Jain kings has been purged from History text books. They don't consider Lord Mahavir as one of their Gods and ignore Jain scriptures and yet insist that Jainism is part Hinduism!
Providing minority status to Jains will ensure that there is an all round awareness that Jainism and Hinduism are different. A Jain will have a distinct identity and he will identify himself as Jain and not as a Hindu or Hindu-Jain.
2) Minority Status would protect our constitutional right to run our own educational institutions. It would ensure autonomy in funding, admissions and management. Often deserving Jain students who score more than 70% cannot get admissions in educational institutions run by Jain trusts because it of other reservations. Majority of Hindus have ensured that they are benefited by reservations. Even upper caste Kshatriyas, Bania Hindus are categorised under OBC's. Muslims, Parsis, Christians, and even Hindus ensure that their children get religious education in schools. Except Jains who depend on Pathshala's. Because most Jains are interested in building temples and Derasars instead of schools and colleges.
3) It will prevent Government from taking control over our religious institutions and temples as slowly we are losing control over religious places. It is necessary to prevent what is happening at Girnarji. Bhagavan Neminatha's charana were established at Girnarji for many thousands of years. Now, Hindus have taken over the 5th and the 3rd hill, thus wiping out extremely important Jain heritage from Gujarat
4) Not all Jains are rich – Jainism creates an image of a rich business man. But not all Jains are rich. Many are poor farmers or traders living in poverty. Some benefit will accrues to them on account of minority status.

5) It is a right enshrined in the constitution – It is likely if you do not exercise your rights, slowly they will go away. Hence it is imperative that we exercise this right to prevent putting us at a disadvantageous position.

All Jains need to understand that the issue at stake is of survival and growth of Jainism. The Minority Status is but a small step in this right direction. If we cannot do anything about this, let us at least encourage others who are doing their bit for Jainism.

Regards
Anish Shah

Monday 5 February 2007


Press Note on the Indian Supreme Court Judgement on Jain Minority Issue on a Petition by Bal Patil Submitted by Bal Patil on Sat, 2005-09-10 12:03.

PRESS NOTE

REGARDING SUPREME COURT DECISION IN THE JAIN MINORITY MATTER

The press and media reports on the recent Supreme Court Judgment of the Three-Judge Bench of the Chief Justice, R.C. Lahoti, Justice D.M. Dharmadhikari and Justice P.K. Balasubramanyam are misleading. The reports were headlined stating that SC.declares Sikhs, Jains part of broader Hindu religion. Such reports appeared in leading English dailies like the Hindustan Times, The Tribune, The Times of India, and the local language newspapers.

2. Actually the observation that the Sikhs and Jains are part of the wider Hindu community occurs on P.15 of the Judgment. It is pertinent to note that from page 10 to page 22 the Judgment contains observations that are not part of the decision as the Court notes:

Before parting with this case, the Court cannot resist from making certain observations which are considered necessary in order to remind the National and state commissions for Minorities the scope and nature of their functions under the provision of the Act and the role they have to play in constitutional perspective.

3. The other observations which are not part of the Judgment and hence not Judicially relevant are:
i) The Hinduism can be called a general religion and common faith, whereas Jainism is a special religion formed on the basis of quintessence of Hindu religion.

ii)However, Gandhi, Nehru and Patel destroyed the cabinet Mission Plan (proposed by Maulana Abul Kalam Azad) and accepted partition instead. Azad did his utmost to prevent the partition of India but he failed to persuade Nehru and Gandhi not to accept partition.

4. These observations although made extra-Judicially have grave implications because the general public takes any declaration made by the Supreme Court as the law of the land. And as can be seen from the press reports and news Channels giving the wrong impression that the Supreme Court rejected the Jain demand for backward community status how damaging such extra-Judicial remarks can be.

5. It is in this perspective that the Judgment of the Supreme Court in the matter of Bal Patil & Anr. Vs. Union of India has given the wrong message to the country against the Jain Community, the National leaders of the country whom we call Founding Fathers and the statutory functionaries Viz the National and State Commissions for Minorities who are said to be the cause of fissiparous tendencies.

6. As a matter of fact these extra-Judicial observations are quite irrelevant and uncalled for in view of the central issue of the matter, namely, a prayer to take a decision on the recommendation made by the National Commission for Minorities that Jains be declared a minority religious community on par with the other notified communities, Muslims, Christions, Sikhs, Buddhists and Zoroastrians (Parsis).On this issue the present Supreme Court decision has said that:

i) Before the Central Government takes a decision on the claims of Jains as a minority under section 2 (c) of the Act, the identification has to be done on a state basis. This power is to be exercised on the consideration of social cultural and religions conditions of the Jain community in each state,

ii) The state has to be regarded as a unit for determining religions minority for the purpose of Article 30 of the Constitution.

7. The facts of this petition are as follows:

Dakshin Bharat Jain Subha, a century old Jain organization in western India made a petition through its Convener of Jain Minority states Committee, Bal Patil in the Bombay High Court in 1997 that the Jain community as recommended by the National Commission for Minorities, The Division Bench of the Bombay High Court directed the Central Government to take on expeditious decision.

8. As the Government failed to take decision, a second petition was filed in the Bombay High Court which was disposed on the ground that the matter will be decided after the 11 Judge Bench in TMA Pai Foundation matter takes decision.

9. Thus Bal Patil made a Special Leave Petition to the Supreme Court which was admitted after being taken of the purview of the 11-Jndge Bench. In 2004 a Division Bench of the Supreme Court ordered the Central Government to take a final decision in the matter within four months, and in case of its failure to take a decision permitted the petitioner to be heard on merit.
Page-2

10. The Government of India made an erroneous and irrelevant Affidavit in response to the above order that the minority Status is to be determined by the States concerned. Later on a 3-Judge Bench was constituted the latest SC. Decision is the outcome of this Bench.

11. In the aforementioned context the following facts regarding the Jain minority religions right need to be noted.

i) The Jain demand for minority status is almost a century old, when in British India the Viceroy and Governor General of India, Lord Minto took a decision in principle of giving representation to important minorities in the Central Legislature, Seth Manek Chand Hirachand from Mumbai, an eminent Jain leader from Mumbai and the then Acting President of the Bharatvarshiya Digamber Jain Subha made an appeal in 1909 to the Governor General for the inclusion of the Jain community for representation in the Council. Seth Manek Chand’s petition was transferred to the Government of Bombay and the Secretary to the Government of Bombay stated in his reply dated 15th oct.1909 as under.

I am directed to inform you that a number of seats have been reserved for representation of minorities by nomination and that in allotting them the claim of the important Jain Community will receive full consideration.

ii) In a Memorandum by the Representative of the Jain Community to the Constituent Assembly in March/April 1947 a strong appeal was made for the inclusion of the Jain community as a minority religious community.

iii) In his speech on 3rd Sept.1949, Jawahar Lal Nehru said: No doubt India has a vast majority of Hindus, but they cold not forget in fact there are also minorities Mustions, Christians, Parsis and Jains. If India were understood as Hindu Rashtra it meant that the minorities were not cent per cent citizens of the country:

iv) Jainism is mentioned as a religion along with Buddhism and Sikhism in explanation II of the Article 25 of the India Constitution relating to Fundamental Right to religions freedom. On this issue Jawahar Lal Nehru, the than prime Minister, in his letter dated 31.01.1950 assured a Jain Deputation that they need not have any misgivings on this clear constitutional position.

v) Our National Anthem ˜Jana Gana Manaâ” by Tagore clearly enunciates Jains in its second stanza: Hindu Bauddha, Sikh Jain parsik, Musalman, Christans as a distinct religion denomination

vi) The Government of India Census counts Jains in India as a major religious community right from the first census in British India in 1873.

vii) And the clinching statistical census evidence that the Jains are in minority not only in every state of India but also in every district.

12. As view of the foregoing the Supreme Court Judgment extra-Judicial observations on the religious status of the Jain community as part of the Hindu religious are absolutely without any basis. Also the remarks against the National leaders like Nehru, Patel and the very Father of the Nation as responsible for the partition of India are obnoxious.

13. As a matter of fact the entire tenor of the SC observations on the National and State Minority Commissions as leading to fissiparous tendencies and hence calling for their closure are highly objectionable as they question the basic tenets of the India secular constitution and hence need to be expunged.

14. In view of the forgoing observations of the Supreme Court the Jain community and the petitioner in the impugned Judgment are concerned to make a Review Petition in the matter.

-BAL PATIL,
Jain Member, Maharashtra State Minorities Commission, Govt. of Maharashtra,

Chairman, Jain Minority Status Committee, Dakshin Bharat Jain Sabha

Co-Author: JAINISM (Macmillan Co 1974). with Colette Caillat, (Member Institut de France, Paris,) & A.N. Upadhye, (ex-President, All-India Oriental Conference,)

Author: SUPREME COURT'S VOLTE FACE ON CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT (Published by Govt. of Maharashtra, 1980)

Sunday 4 February 2007


Jainism and Hinduism separate religions say ancient manuscripts

Avinash Nair (PTI)

Ahmedabad, October 5, 2006

Though the controversial Freedom of Religion (amendment) Bill recently passed by Gujarat Assembly the government has clubbed Jains as a denomination of Hinduism, several ancient manuscripts and texts present at the Indology institute here describe the two as different religious entities.

"There is absolutely no doubt that both Hinduism and Jainism are different religions and at our institute we have several ancient manuscripts and scriptures,about 1,000-year-old, and can easily prove this," said Jitendra Shah,the director of the city-based L D Institute of Indology.

An ancient text, `sad-darshana-samucchaya' written about 1,200 years ago on Indian philosophies by a renowned scholar Hari Bhadra Suri clearly states this difference, Shah said. Similarly, another text `syad-vada-manjari' written by Malli Sen Suri about 800 years ago, is a religious commentary and dwells in detail on these two religions, he said.

While explaining the difference between the two religions as mentioned in these ancient texts, Shah, a Jain scholar himself said "Hinduism and Jainism are poles apart when it comes to individual Gods, rituals, religious practices and the way of living practised by followers of these religions." Talking about the differences in Gods, Shah said,"Three main Gods -- Brahma, Vishnu and Mahesh -- form the base of Hinduism while among Jains there are 24 Trithankaras." "In Jainism, there is no concept of re-incarnation of Gods, while in Hinduism, Gods are re-born in different forms to counter the evil on Earth," Shah said.

PRESS NOTE ON THE GUJARAT FREEDOM OF RELIGION BILL

PRESS NOTE ON THE GUJARAT FREEDOM OF RELIGION BILL
CLASSIFYING JAINS AND BUDDHISTS AS HINDUS
---------------------------------------------

ALL INDIA JAIN MINORITY FORUM

BAL PATIL
SECRETARY-GENERAL,
Ex-MEMBER, MAHARASHTRA STATE
MINORITIES COMMISSION

CHAKRESH JAIN
PRESIDENT, JAIN SAMAJ,DELHI

The amended Freedom of Religion Bill passed by the Gujarat Assembly classifying Jains and Buddhists as Hindu is an unwarranted assault on their distinct religious identity recognised by the Constitution itselfIt would be best to quote what Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru assured to a Jain delegation on the so-called ambiguity of Explanation II of Article 25 of the Constitution of India.

On 25th January, 1950, a Jain delegation was led to the Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru and other central leaders to draw their attention to the anomalous position of the Jains under sub-clause (b) of Clause 2 of Article 25 and a petition was submitted. Jawaharlal Nehru clearly assured the delegation that the Jains are not Hindus and on 31-1-1950, his Principal Private Secretary, Mr.A.V. Pai wrote the following letter (a copy of the letter is enclosed) in reply to the petition:

"This Article merely makes a definition. This definition by enforcing a specific consitutional arrangement circumscribes that rule. Likewise you will note that this mentions not only Jains but also Buddhists and Sikhs. It is clear that Buddhists are not Hindus and therefore there need be no apprehension that the Jains are designated as Hindus. There is no doubt that the Jains are a different religious community and this accepted position is in no way affected by the Constitution."

In his Allahabad speech on 3rd September,1949, Jawaharlal Nehru said:

No doubt India had a vast majority of Hindus, but they could not forget the fact that there are also minorities Moslems, Christians, Parsis and Jains. If India was understood as a “Hindu Rashtra “ it meant that the minorities were not cent per cent citizens of te country.” (The Statesman, 5-9-1949)

It may be recalled that the Deputy Prime Minister of India, Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel in his letter of 25th August,1946 addressed to Sir Bhagchand Soni, President, All India Digamber Jain Mahashbha assured the Jain Community not to be worried about their religious rights and promised that “in free India there would be no restrictions upon the religious liberty of any Community and there need be no apprehensions in this regards.”

The National Minorities Commission arrived at their recommendation that the Jain community be declared as a minority religious community. It was in consideration of the following: 1)the relevant constitutional provisions, 20 various judicial pronouncements, 3) the fundamental differences in philosophy and beliefs (theism vs.atheism principally) vis-a-vis Hinduism, and 4) the substantial number of Jain population in the country, resolved to recommend to the Government of India that the Jains deserve to be recognised as a distinct religious minority, and that, therefore the Government of India may consider including them in the listing of "Minorities" in their Notification dated 23-10-1993. This recommendation was issued on 3-10-1994.

So far Jains have been declared as a minority in Maharashtra, (which has the largest population of Jains in India) Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Uttara Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, and Uttaranchala. Dakshin Bharat Jain Sabha and the All India Jain Minority Forum are pursuing the issue of national minority status for Jains in the Supreme Court of India

Lokmanya Tilak said: "In ancient times innumerable animals were butchered in sacrifice. But the credit for the disappearance of this terrible massacre from the Brahmanical religion goes to the share of Jainism." (Bombay Samachar, 10-12-1904)


Thus it would be appropriate instead of saying that the Jains assimilated the so-called Hindu culture or customs, because there was nothing was known as Hindu in Vedic times, the Hindus of the modern India have adopted the Jain culture . It is significant to note that the Jains do not believe in the most characteristic Hindu-Vedic-Brahmanic ritual Shraddha

It is important to note in the foregoing context that in the pre-independence period a decision in the erstwhile Madras High Court:

The acting Chief Justice Kumar Swami Shastri held in Getappa vs. Eramma & Others (AIR 1927);

“Were matters res integra, I would be inclined to hold that modern research has shown that the Jains are not Hindu dissenters but that Jainism has an origin and history long anterior to the Smritis and Commentaries which are recognized authorities on Hindu law and usage. The Jain religion refers to a number of previous Tirthankaras and there can be little doubt that Jainism asa distinct religion was flourishing several centuries before Christ. In fact, Jainism rejects the authority of the Vedas which form the bed rock of Hinduism and denies the efficacy of the various ceremonies which Hindus consider essential. So far as Jain Law is concerned it has its own Law books of which Bhadrabahu Samhita is an important one. Vardhamana Neeti and Aradhana Neeti by the great Jain teacher Hemchandra deal also with Jain Law.”

Mr. Justice Rangnekar of the Bombay High Court observed in the Hirachand Gangji vs. Rowji Sejpal (AIR 1939, Bombay 377) :

“It is true that the Jains reject the scriptural character of the Vedas and repudiate the Brahmanical doctrines relating to obsequial ceremonies, the performance of Sraddhas and offering of oblations for the salvation of the soul of the deceased. Amongst them there is no belief that a son by birth or adoption confers spiritual benefit Hindus in their conduct towards the dead, omitting all obsequies after the corpse is burnt or buried. Now it is true, as later historical researches have shown that Jainism prevailed in this country long before Brahmanism came into existence or converted into Hinduism. It is also true that owing to their long association with the Hindus, who formed the majority in the country, the Jains have adopted many of the customs and even ceremonies strictly observed by the Hindus and pertaining to Brahmanical religion.”

It is pertinent to note that Hinduism under Article 25 and in the Hindu Code bills later passed in 1954/55 when Dr.Ambedkar was the law minister are two different things although having a generic connection on the definition of Hindu in the Personal Laws well explained by Prof..Mahmood a former chairman of the National Commission for Minorities in (Religious Identity, Beliefs and Practices under the Indian Legal System,) article in Religion and Law Review June 1999

As Prof. Mahmood, a former Chairman of the National Commission for Minorities has unequivocally noted “Hinduism is not the state religion of India. The Constitution of India does not confer on Hinduism the status of even privileged or favoured religion. It does, however, refer to Hinduism in different contexts.”6 The Bombay Public Trust Act 1950 says that in its provisions “Hindu” includes Jain, Buddhist and Sikh. In the Orissa Hindu Religious Endowments Act, 1969 “Hindu religion” includes Jain, Buddhist and Sikh religions. Under the Madras Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowment Act 1959 the expression “Hindu” does not include Jains, unless the Act is specifically extended to the Jains.

As is clear, these laws speak only of whether their provisions - primarily meant for Hindus - would apply to the Buddhists, Jains and Sikhs (on which point they are not uniform). “They do not furnish and answer to the question who is a Hindu by religion. Most certainly they do not, and indeed cannot, mean to say that Buddhists, Jains or Sikhs are Hindu” (emphasis added.).

The Personal law Acts, The Hindu Marriage Act 1955, the Hindu Succession Act 1956, the Hindu Adoption and Maintenance Act 1956 and the Hindu Minority and Guardianship Act 1956, all apply to Hindus, Buddhists, Jains and Sikhs - as is declared by their opening provisions. All the four Acts clarify that :

“The expression ‘Hindu’ in any portion of this Act shall be construed as if it included a person who, though not a Hindu by religion, is nevertheless a person to whom this Act applies by virtue of the provisions contained in this section.”

Clearly, this is a rule of interpretation which cannot, by any dint of imagination be treated as a definition of the word “Hindu” in general. Nor can it ever be stretched to claim that in law Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism and Sikhism are one and the same religion. It is necessary to differentiate between “Hindu by religion” and “Hindu for the purpose of application of laws” - the latter expression referring to those non-Hindus who share with Hindus certain laws. This is true of the so-called “definition” of the expression ‘Hindu’ in Article 25 of the Constitution as well as of the same in the Hindu-law Acts of 1955-56 and the legislation relating to Hindu religious endowments.

Thus, the provision of Explanation II in Article 25 has no religious connotation. Instead of saying the same thing four times of four different religious communities - Hindus, Buddhists, Jains and Sikhs - Article 25 (2)(b) says it once, for the Hindus, and then adds that the same provision be read in the Constitution for three other communities as well - the Buddhists, the Jains and the Sikhs. Makers of the Constitution did not intend to merge the Buddhists, Jains and Sikhs into the Hindu religion; nor were they indeed competent to do so. Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism and Sikhism remain, under the Constitution and the law of India, four different faiths; and their followers four different religious communities.”

In the latest Supreme Court Appeal (Civil) 9595 of 2003: Petitioner: Committee of Management Kanya Junior High School Bal Vidya Mandir, Etah, U.P. Respondent: Sachiv, U.P. Basic Shiksha Parishad Allahabad, U.P. & Others, Date of Judgment: 21/08/2006

The Division Bench of S. B. SINHA & DALVEER BHANDARI and the Judgment delivered by Justice Dalveer Bhandai states:

"The Founding Fathers of the Constitution had unequivocally recognized the Jains as a minority community as is evident from the proceedings of the Constituent Assembly. While keeping in view that the Jains are a minority community, a representative of the Jain community was taken in the Minority Advisory Committee of the Constituent Assembly."

“Jain religion indisputably is not a part of Hindu religion. The question as to whether the Jains are part of the Hindu religion is not open to debate. Jains have a right to establish and administer their own institution. Jains have a right to establish and administer their own institution. But, only because an institution is managed by a person belonging to a particular religion, the same would not ipso facto make the institution run and administered by a minority community. A minority is determinable by reference to the demography of a State. Whether an institution is established and administered by a minority community or not may have to be determined by the appropriate authority in terms of the provisions of the statute governing the field. Furthermore, minority institutions are not immune from the operations of the measures necessary to regulate their functions. To what extent such regulations would operate, however, again is a matter which would be governed by the statute.”

Besides, the Jains, Buddhists and the Sikhs have been counted as religious denominations right from the first Census in India in 1873 under the Indian Census Act.

In view of the foregoing evidence the proposed Bill of Freedom of Religion as passed by the Gujarat Assembly is clearly a violation of the constitutional religious identity of the Jains and Buddhists. Gujarat Government MUST WITHDRAW this draconian Freedom of Religion Bill immediately and unconditionally.

http://jainsamaj.org___________________________

Sincerely,

Bal Patil

Ex-Member,

Maharashtra State Minorities Commission, Govt. of Maharashtra,
Co-Author: JAINISM (with Colette Caillat, Membre Institut de France, Paris) & A.N. Upadhye (Ex-President, All-India Oriental Conference,)
Author: Supreme Court's volte face On Constitutional Amendment, (Published by Govt. of Maharashtra),
Ex-President, National Society for Prevention of Heart Disease & Rehabilitation,
Website: http://jaina.in