Neelam's journey

We met Neelam Lalwani for the first time during Paryushana, the Jain festival of forgiveness. To her, forgiveness does not begin and end with the festival, but is something that needs to be practiced everyday. She exuded a sense of kindness that stayed with us, and we arranged to meet her once again to understand her idea of Jainism.

“Instead of introducing myself as a Jain, I try to let my conduct reflect Jain principles; otherwise it may become a conflict between religious identity rather than about the conduct of life.”

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Over the course of her life, Neelam’s ideas about Jainism transformed. Having grown up in an orthodox family, all the Jain rituals and customs were ingrained in her, but the reasons behind them were not always made clear. Later in life, after tragedy struck, these very same Jain principles, especially the ideas of karma and acceptance provided a source of comfort.

Karma might be the reason we met”
The Jain worldview holds that all beings undergo reincarnations till they are liberated from the cycle of birth and death. This process is guided by one’s actions, embodied in karma. The nature of karma is thought to be a form of very subtle particles which get attached to the soul and entangle it with this world.

Neelam is very interested in understanding how karma influences her life. She says that it is the one thing she believes in very strongly. She feels that because we are all connected, things will even out in this life or the next.

She tried to explain her idea of karma by telling us that because we came to her home, spoke to her and shared food with her, we must either be related by karma from a previous life or we are creating karma that will bind us through subsequent lives.

The idea of inspecting action and consequence seems reflected in various ways in Neelam’s worldview.

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Neelam explained how she reasoned out the inner meanings behind the Jain practices. “Often, these practices were started for reasons which are not relevant anymore but they continue to exist because people become superstitious,” said Neelam. “In fact, I myself end up following rituals and religion which I have habitually known. I try to slowly reduce symbolic rituals, but it is not easy to move past old habits.”

Indeed, she seems keen to interpret Jain ideals in a practical way. She confirmed that following religion thoughtfully has helped her flourish and find happiness.

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“If everyone followed Jainism instead of just calling themselves Jain, many of the problems of the world will be solved. We do things mostly by imitation, but I think we need to get over our divides and labels. We’re all the children of one mother.”

Indeed, many of her ideas and conclusions are not isolated, but have been distilled through her own experience of life.

Family matters
Neelam, who is now forty six, was married at the age of twenty two. However, at the age of thirty five she tragically lost her husband to a heart attack. She already had two young sons and was initially not planning to marry again. She had a change of mind, and slightly over a year later, she later married Shankar Lalwani, and has happily been with him for a decade.

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Neelam also has one daughter from Shankar’s first marriage. Neelam’s daughter is only nine years younger than she is. Despite this being unusual, Neelam said that the relationship between her and her daughter has always been very loving. The feeling of mutual acceptance was present from the beginning.

Neelam is also blessed with two grandchildren from her daughter who call her ‘supernani’, or ‘supergranny’. Neelam told us she feels lucky to have been a part of so many loving families.

Practice, not preaching
Neelam’s idea of family is indicative of the current journey she is on, reflecting on her experiences, and how Jainism has shaped her.

Neelam practices restraint in life in many ways. For example, she cooks only what is required, and shares food if there is extra. They don’t waste food or eat food that is left for days. She tries to teach water conservation to her children and her staff. “We didn’t use firecrackers for Divali. You know, it’s interesting, when people use science as a reason to not use firecrackers because it causes noise and air pollution, everyone listens. When we use Jainism as a reason, because countless minute organisms are being killed, people don’t understand.”

While she did say that no one belongs to each other in the end, referring even to her own children, she also said that “If you are able to give love to someone, no matter who they are, they become yours.” She smiled and added, “Now that you have come here and I have given you love, you also belong to me, isn’t it?”

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She further explained that to her, being a true Jain means looking inside yourself for answers. She doesn’t go to mandir, or temple, everyday. “Worship—to me—does not mean going to mandir and asking Bhagavan, or God, for the answers.  Mahavira was a man who took the time to introspect his own life. Chanting Mahavira’s name won’t make me like Mahavira; I have to take the qualities of Mahavira and apply them in my life. We have to find the answers ourselves; we have to ask ourselves who we are and where we’re going.”

Applying Jainism
She had similar ideas about her business. Praying for things will not make them happen. She had to make them happen.

Neelam runs an event planning company in Bangalore that handles weddings, family events and corporate functions. She built the company from scratch with the support of her husband.

“I’ve learned so much by observing how my husband interacts with people. His ability to see the good in people and look past people’s tendency to be selfish has helped me look at the bigger picture in life.” Her husband has also helped her practice forgiveness.

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Neelam doesn’t treat her clients just as paying customers, but as souls she is helping. She involves herself in her work in a way she feels may be most useful. For example, she often offers words of advice for the young couples she meets through her wedding events.

“The most important thing to remember is not to expect anything from anyone. If you need something, you must communicate it, otherwise feelings will be hurt and resentment will build. Being open with your partner—or any other person in your life—is the way to ensure respect and happiness. Accept each other,” she explains.

While Neelam is open to contemporary ideas about dating, she does hesitate about cultures mixing. In the journey of her life, she has faced enough obstacles without having to add the idea of a mixed-marriage, so her belief is that with everything else that could go wrong, having the same background does help.

One day, Neelam hopes to become less materialistic and lead a more meditative life, but when asked about the possibility of taking diksha, or becoming a nun, she acknowledged that it wasn’t for her. Becoming an ascetic isn’t something she is ready to take on, but she does want to get more involved in contributing to the community. Her hope is to open an old-age home. She feels that in our society, it is usually the elderly that are the most neglected.

The most important thing
Neelam has changed her way of thinking over the years. She believes that karma works on all people, following any religion, and it’s not just Jains who have the ability to reach moksha. “Karma is a balance sheet that continues until you hit a ‘zero/zero’ balance.”

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Karma is also a reason not be ‘fake’ according to Neelam. “Your actions are always going to be attached to you. Don’t think anything that you’re doing is for society or anyone else, because at the end of the day your karma is only yours. Remember that nothing on this planet belongs to us. Everything is temporary.”


Text: Sweta Daga and Dhruva Ghosh
Photographs: Sweta Daga




A gradual transition

Sanket Jain hails from Devendranagar in Madhya Pradesh. Twenty five years old, he holds a Bachelor of Arts degree covering the subjects of politics, history, Hindi and English. But unlike many young men of his age, Sanket does not pursue a usual profession.

In his own pursuit, Sanket is known by the name Pandit Vivek Shastri. He is a lay priest within the digambara order of Jains.

Within the Jain tradition, the distinction between laity and ascetics is made through the participation in a diksha or initiation ceremony. However, since Jain asceticism is particularly restrictive, over time lay priests who bridge the gap between household life and asceticism have come into existence.

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Such lay priests undergo rigorous studies in discourse, and learn many languages. They are also often responsible for teaching laypeople and for conducting rituals and worship. Some of them become ascetics later in life.

Vivek ji told us that he was interested in pursuing the Jain religion in a rigorous way ever since the May of 2005, when he was deeply influenced by the digambara ascetic, Acharya Visuddhasagar ji. Visuddhasgar ji’s conduct and discourses caused an inner awakening, according to Vivek ji.

Sanket, who was given the epithet of ‘Vivek’ or ‘wisdom’ by Acharya Visuddhasagar ji  feels that his life had been given the right direction towards liberation. He was particularly struck by lack of desire, jealousy, greed, fear and other such qualities in this man who would later become his mentor.

We were intrigued and we asked why he chose the path of becoming a lay priest, instead of the more advanced station of becoming an ascetic.

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Vivek ji responded that he wanted to travel more freely and teach people about the Jain tradition. Digambara ascetics, he added, have a very austere life with many restrictions. Moreover, in contemporary society, it is difficult for naked monks to wander or teach unabated. Pandit Vivek Shastri, however, harbours the hope that one day he may take diksha and become a monk.

We learnt that since Jain asceticism is so austere, adherents are often absorbed into the order over a long period of time, often spanning years. The life and conduct of such aspirants are made progressively austere and simple.

The state of clothing is especially a prominent indicator of the spiritual station of a digambara monk. Even Jain laypeople and householders set aside saffron or white robes for religious occasions, including the festival of Paryushana.

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Digambara Jain monks often go through several stages of renunciation. As a first step, the adherent gets to wear a white kurta-pyjama, which is a traditional Indian outfit of a long shirt and drawstring trousers. The colour white signifies the ideal of the lack of any quality, and helps create a peaceful state of mind, according to Vivek ji.

The next state is to wear a dhoti-dupatta, which are two long lengths of clothes, one draped below the waist and one on the upper body. Mahatma Gandhi is known to have adopted such attire for a stretch of his life.

In the next stage, one wears a khandavastra-koupin, which constitutes a small length of cloth for the upper body and a loincloth. By this time, the practitioner would be eating a single meal a day out of a bowl. All food eaten by Jain monks not only follow strict rules of vegetarianism, but it also has to be given voluntarily by a layperson. Jain monks do not beg, but are known to accept food from appropriate sources. The act of giving food to the hungry is known as ahara dana considered deeply sacred. Jain laity considers themselves fortunate if they are able to feed a Jain monk.

In the next stage, the bowl and the khandavastra are forsaken, and the practitioner would be wearing a loincloth and would be eating a single meal a day out of his own two palms.

In the final stage, the practitioner would get rid of the koupin or loincloth as well, and emerge unfettered as a digambara monk, or muni.

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Since the monastic tradition of the digambaras is rugal to the point of forsaking even clothing, we wanted to know what the perspective was on temples, and especially more so because Jainism is a non-theistic religion. Pandit Vivek Shastri explained that in the Jain tradition, one does not go to a temple because some god resides there. One goes there for the purity of the atmosphere, which helps steady one’s own mind. He added, however, that chants and worship can indeed invoke the idol into a powerful artefact of the spirit.

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We wanted to know why such a keen emphasis was placed on such extremely frugal meals and on rejecting clothes as a part of the practice. Like many others we have spoken to, Vivek ji led with “Jainism is not a philosophy. It is a way of life.” He also emphasized that Jain ethics stem from scientific or rational reasons.

All things we consume, including food and clothes, may fuel desire, which is to be avoided to attain liberation, explained Vivek ji. Digambara means “sky-clad.” These skies can be eclipsed by desire, which is like clouds.

When we shed desire, it is like rain. After that, the skies are once more immaculate.


Text: Dhruva Ghosh
Photographs: Sweta Daga




An eclectic electrician

In September 2014, we were meeting people, scouting locations, and visiting various temples to get a sense of the Paryushana festival as is celebrated in the city. We managed to get our story, and in the process, we met a number of people who make for intriguing anecdotes.

During one such expedition, we met a most interesting electrician.

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At the svetambara Jain temple to the fifteenth tirthankara, Dharmanatha, at Jayanagar in Bangalore, adherents of the Jain religion were deeply immersed in the annual festival of Paryushana, which is centred around the Jain ideals, and is seen as an annual gathering for contemplation and forgiveness.

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During one of the rituals, most of the participants were inside two halls, gathered inside to contemplate, first through a small number of rituals, and then through silence.

In this interim, I was documenting the location, taking pictures and notes. After a while, I was sitting on the stairs of one of the auxiliary buildings inside the temple complex. There was a gentle tap on my shoulder. As I looked back and up, I saw this gentleman standing there who said “Why don’t you move your camera-bag, someone may trip on it.” I was glad for the heads-up.

As I moved my camera-bag, we began speaking to each other. I quickly discovered that he is not a Jain, and, my initial assessment was the he didn’t seem particularly religious. He is forty years old, and he said that though he is a Marathi, he is based in Mandya, near Bangalore. He explained that he is the electrician for the temple complex, and that he has been in Bangalore for eighteen years.

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After each of us got an approximate sense of what the other was doing in that temple complex in the odd afternoon of a weekday, we exchanged names. Rajiv, I learnt, in these eighteen years, has seen a number of different trades.

He started earning a living as a worker in a cycle shop, and eventually became a projectionist at a movie theatre. Then, he was an auto-driver for a while and also, later started doing some electrical wiring work. Ever the entrepreneur, he eventually shifted to doing electrical wiring full-time and also started taking larger contracts involving end-to-end electrical work and decorative lighting.

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The entire wiring of the temple complex we were in was done by him. In addition to this, he still sometimes drives cars and cabs and also brokers real estate to supplement his income.

On being asked if he thinks of the colours and the aesthetic aspects himself, Rajiv responded that “I do the entire design of colours and arrangement and also the technical structure myself. I have not studied it or learnt from anyone.” With a combination of gestures and a unique, abbreviated Hindi, he added “My work stands on the basis of observation and thought.”

I asked him about his family. “My parents are alive, and I have a wife and four kids,” Rajiv said. “What about siblings?” I asked, with a natural curiosity, but with no particular agenda. “I had a brother and a sister-in-law,” Rajiv added “but they passed away in an accident some years ago.”

“Actually,” he went on, “out of my four kids, two are his children, and two are mine. But I have raised them all the same.”

I asked him what his kids do, and he explained “Both the boys — mine and my brother’s — are in the 10th standard. The girls are older; they are married.”

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Our conversation turned to religion, and the sense I got was that Rajiv isn’t a particularly religious man and doesn’t know much about Jainism, either. He observed, however, that in his opinion, the Jain community is not as religious as many others, but the Jains who do follow religion often tend to be generous with donations and charity.

He locuted back to work and said “What really matters is the work you do, and it must be done well. We are in this world to perform some task. That task may reside in a shop, in a house, in a temple, or on the peak of a mountain. But all work is work, and merits respect.”

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“In a sense,” he added, “a wealthy person running a big leather industry and a poor cobbler on the pavement are doing similar work. They are both artisans.”

On the subject of art, Rajiv insisted that I should see the decorative lights in the temple complex, all of which he has set up. He gave me a somewhat guided tour of the place. Besides the main temple, there was also smaller temples and other buildings, including prayer halls and places of residence for monks and nuns.

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At the time, it was late afternoon, so most of the lights were still not switched on. However, inside the temples, the idols were inside chambers which were closed on three sides. Here, the lights were not a spotlight or anything that resembled a fixed arrangement of illumination.

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Each idol chamber was lined with colour-changing lamps, hidden from view. But their light washed the idol and the space around in successive tides of blue, red, yellow, violet and other colours, sometimes in combination.

I asked him that whether working in a temple has impacted his life in any way. Rajiv said that the purpose of a temple is to have a place where one can be in peace and quiet, and where one can contemplate. To him, this is more instrumental than rituals or worshipping any deity.

“There may be many different gods,” Rajiv concluded “but all temples are the same.”

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It was well after sunset by the time we left, and I made sure to witness Rajiv’s handiwork come alive after dark. It was not quite a sombre affair, but nor was it excessively grand.

Lamplighters, like places of contemplation, are found in many places of this world.


Text: Dhruva Ghosh
Photographs: Dhruva Ghosh and Sweta Daga




Serendipity

Early in April, we were talking to various people to find different voices on Jainism. We found our mark through a number of coincidences and approximations, and everything fell into place when we set out to meet a nun and a monk from the sthanakvasi sect in Bangalore.

They are siblings; out of four brothers and one sister in a Jain family from Delhi, the two of them became Jain ascetics. Their three brothers went on to have families.

A change of heart
Sadhvi Darshanprabha took diksha at the age of twenty one in the year 1976. She is now fifty nine. She did her BA from DU, and continued to study after becoming an ascetic; education is encouraged in Jainism. She did her MA and PhD in Rajasthan. Darshanphabha ji said that she never was religious, and never attended a religious gathering. She said that after avoiding clergy for most of her young life, she did go to a gathering once for no particular reason. Her experience there convinced her to become an ascetic. Her family resisted a lot, she says, but they knew that the goal was worthy, so they eventually yielded.

When we asked her about her experiences of performing sadhana, or pursuit, she explained that  religious contemplation leads to detachment. She elaborated that one feels like one has neither enemies nor friends; that we are, in a sense, alone. It also awakens spiritual abilities, she added, and that one thus enabled with any extranormal abilities needs to be careful lest one accidentally triggers events through a spoken word alone.

We asked her what change she has observed amongst the adherents who attend the ashram, which is the place where ascetics take refuge. “Young people come to attend discourses, they discuss and debate, and it is a joy to see that,” Darshanprabha ji enthusiastically responded, praising the youth. Earlier there were very few young people interested in religion, she said, and added “Most people coming to the ashrams today are young people. They have a lot of interest in understanding the spirit and learning the truth. They are interested in the Jain philosophy, and they pay close attention. The youth are awake, but the older generation holds them back fearing a loss of control or authority. This gives rise to a conflict of egos, which ultimately serves no one.”

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We asked her about the importance of the Jain idea in our contemporary times which seem to be plagued with violence all over the world. She led with the example of our country. She explained that India has changed through non-violence, much of which proliferated in the political sphere through Mahatma Gandhi.

“Violence solves nothing in the long term. Only non-violent means can reach long-term solutions. Even a child will resist if you use force, over time they will become stubborn; if you ask the child lovingly, they will listen to you. Any real change can only be brought slowly, through non-violent means.”

India, she said, has retained its legacy through thousands of years because of the saints and ascetics who have always lived here. They can enable and propagate peace and ethical life; today the many kinds of available media extend this reach. People can hear such discourse easily today, Darshanprabha ji explained. They may not react at first, but it works slowly. One can’t say which exact blow of non-violence turns out to be effective.

“Every non-violent strike has its worth. The hundredth one may break through, but one can’t ignore the ninety-nine blows that preceded it.”

When we asked her how an ascetic may affect a lay person, she illustrated the relationship by comparing an ascetic to a shopkeeper. If someone comes seeking the wares, the shopkeeper will pull out his yard of cloth, but not everyone will buy it. Likewise, many people come to ascetics, and amongst them, some actually think about what they discuss here and let it change their lives. Others come and go, but they are back to their own routine; one can’t help them.

Work over worship
Naresh Muni, Darshanprabha ji‘s brother, took diksha in 1982. Since then, he has been trained in Sanskrit, Prakrit, shastras, and agamas, amongst other subjects. His view was that sadhana changes one’s inner nature and increases joy.

On ahinsa and the conduct of ahinsa, Naresh ji explained that ahinsa is there to help even the smallest being. Jainism, he says, makes a distinction between plants and animals and different kind of animals; not all beings can sense pain equally. The higher the being the more sensitive it is to violence, he added.

“All life can sense intentions in a manner of speaking,” Naresh ji continued, “and for example if you water a plant with a joyful heart, it will blossom, but if you abuse it and water it but begrudgingly, it will wither.”

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We asked Naresh ji about figures important to Jainism in a historical sense. He mentions that Samprati and Kumarpal were important kings who did much to proliferate the Jain cause. Jainism has historically relied on the administrative figures for the religion to spread. Most administrators have a spiritual mentor, he added. Spirituality precedes politics; a good guru can give a proper direction to a state.

On being asked, Naresh ji briefly explained sallekhana as something that takes root in giving up attachment of the body. When the body is deemed no longer fit for service, it may be best to discard it. Jainism emphasizes that all beings have souls, and the soul transmigrates upon death. The loss of one body is no great loss to an ascetic.

On the subject of divinity, Naresh ji explains that every soul is divine, but not every soul is equally manifest. Jainism enables that manifestation for every soul; it does not depend on the mercies of a single creator god.

We wanted to know why there are temples within the Jain tradition despite the lack of a creator god. Naresh ji did not mince words. “Vedic traditions have influenced the Jain religion over time,” he said. “Temples are an example. Temples were initially made just as a mark of preserving the religion, but over time it began to get distorted and gather ritual practices, which has changed the Jain religion from its original form to how we follow it today. There is nothing wrong with meditating in front of a stone idol, though. A stone idol doesn’t react to any prayer nor to any profanity.” It is a Jain ideal to be completely detached from the world.

We asked what would a reasonable way be to bridge day-to-day life with divinity. Naresh ji summarized that “The only thing is that if you have to follow religion, serve people, help people. God is not affected by your activities, but people are.” He further emphasized that the Jain philosophy of anekantavada, or the multiplicity of perspectives, can help work through contradictions. “Anekantavada is the most important tool. Multiple perspective can resolve all conflicting views to get to the truth. Jainism doesn’t say that what is mine is true; it says what is true is mine.”

Mukhavastrika
We were curious about the attire and artefacts of the nuns. We spotted some nuns making what we thought was cloth that many Jain ascetics use for covering the mouth, called the mukhavastrika.

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We were given a small summary on the subject. According to the nuns, the mukhvastrika has symbolic value, but it has a practical utility too.

It has eight fine layers and is designed to ensure that even the hot breath gets filtered and cooled down so that it doesn’t kill the small organisms in the air. It also ensures that spit isn’t spread when one speaks. It is changed every fifteen or twenty days, for hygiene.

The mukhvastrika, however, is not made of cloth in the conventional sense. It is made of rice. The rice is boiled, flattened, dried, and made into a material like paper or cloth. It is folded and pressed for a number of times, and finally a thread is attached, the sheet is folded in, and pressed again. It is then dried and it becomes crisp on its own, after which it is usable. Drinking-grade water is used and care is taken throughout the process to avoid killing any organisms. Materials other than rice can also be used.

The terapanthis and sthanakvasis use the mukhvastrika as a matter of routine, we were told.

A young trainee
Suman Baweja, in her mid twenties, is from Rajasthan. She has been with Darshanprabha ji as a lay trainee for five years, and she informed us that her diksha was scheduled for later in the year.

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Back home, she has parents, a brother, and a sister. We asked her about her experiences. We were all pressed for time, so she summarized quickly. “I grew up religious, and liked going to religious gatherings. When I expressed my interest, my parents resisted and advised against it. However, when they sensed my conviction, they allowed me to pursue what I wanted.”

We asked her if she misses her family or the comforts of a day-to-day life. “I missed my parents,” she said “and went back and forth in my mind about my decision. But I worked through my doubts, I am convinced and happy with my chosen path.”


Text and photographs: Dhruva Ghosh
Additional commentary: Sweta Daga




A meeting with our mentor

Professor Madhusudan Amilal Dhaky is a most eloquent, well-spoken man radiating kindness and wisdom from a small apartment in Ahmedabad, Gujarat.

Eighty seven years old, fluent in five languages, revered by academics and ascetics alike, he has headed and conducted several research efforts throughout his life. He was trained in geology and chemistry, and brings his scientific acumen to several other subjects.

Dhaky ji was the Director of Research at the Centre for Art and Archaeology at the American institute of Indian Studies in Gurgaon for twenty years starting from 1976, and continued as Director Emeritus, Research for nine more years till 2005. He has won numerous awards, distinctions, and medals of the highest order from several bodies. The long list is topped by the Padma Bhushan awarded to him by the Indian government in 2010.

Considered the global leading expert in Indian temple architecture, he is well-versed in subjects spanning art, architecture, theology, linguistics, and history. In particular, he has written on a lot of Jain art, architecture, and scriptures, and he has established the historicity of and elucidated the meanings of several Jain artefacts. He is perhaps one of the finest mentors for our quest.

The first time we meet him in person, in October 2013, we sit riveted for over four hours as he draws us into an insightful and deeply engaging conversation. His voice, slightly feeble from age, holds us in awe. A profound man, he peppers his otherwise discursive speech with unexpected humour. His eyes sparkle every time we break into smiles and laughter. A connoisseur of delight, he is aware of his tastes. “I am a rasik,” he quips happily, with a wide smile.

Since our first meeting, we speak to Dhaky ji several times, both in person, and over phone. A practising Jain, he lives a restrained life. During one of our visits, between our conversations and his frugal routine, he gets ready for work. He continues his practise as a scholar out of his office; every person we spoke to through the course of our travels lavished him with praise, and it is easy to understand why this is.

He was keen to know about us and our lives, pitching in with small bits about the histories of our languages and our lineages. When we asked about his birthplace, he responds “Porbandar. Mahatma Gandhi’s house and our house were about two hundred and fifty or three hundred feet apart along the line of sight. The houses are visible from each other.”

Dhaky ji bears no illusions about the nature of religion or about the approach to any subject, in general. “There is a psychogenetic reality, and there is a historical reality,” he emphasized. This is the Jain ideal of samyak darshan in practice; samyak darshan is the quality of having the right approach to testing information.

He explains languages and dialects, exuding a sense of contentment at the great plurality of our country. At a point, he adds “Humari Hindi Banarasi hai.” (“My Hindi is the dialect spoken in Benares.”)

Speaking to us about performing arts and music, he hums a number of tunes to elucidate the fine nuances of Carnatic and Hindustani classical music. He is trained in both schools, and he learnt the disciplines at different times in his life, for seven years each. He touches upon other kinds of music, including baul geeti and the music of Rahul Dev Burman. The conversation extends into dance, mudras which are symbolic gestures and kala which is performance art in general.

We go back and forth on many subjects within the scope of Jainism; Dhaky ji explains and elaborates on these with great precision. To explain the nature of divinity, Dhaky ji draws anecdotes and examples from several religious traditions and concludes that “if you recognize the shape, you can see the shape anywhere.”

Enthused to know about our project, he gave us some condensed advice based on his years of deep experiences spanning several geographies, both physical and abstract: “Go out into the world; do good. You will do great things, but you have to be brave. Don’t worry.”


Text: Dhruva Ghosh
Photographs: Gayatri Ganju