Hyderabad : Manali Rathod, a 24 years old girl from a rich business family in Coimbatore, walked 1500 kilometers in the process on various occations, now comes to Hyderabad to take a Sainthood and become a Sadhvi(man is called Sadhu or Muni and the woman is called Sadhvi, Shramani).
She is hardly 24years old and unmarried to renounce the worldly possessions, life and attachments to become Jain Muni. She is a B.Com Graduate, studied in English Medium and also did Diploma in Interior, Architecture and Designing. She knows several languages–Hindi, Rajasthani, Sanskrit, Gujarathi, English and Tamil. She has everything in life, supporting family, father Motilalji Rathode, mother Urmila Rathode, Brothers Kuldip and Sisters Jyotsna and Vhrudhi. She is the eledest of the family. She has 28 close family members. But, she is renouncing all these to become a Jain Sadhvi.
She could have gone ahead and become a successful Interior Designer, earn decent living, but, she has other plans. She stunned her parents with her decision. It may sprang surprise to outside world. It is my natural choice, Manali Rathode says.
Hailing from a well-to-do and very rich family, her parents are in Dyes, Chemicals and Textiles business in Coimbatore. Her forefathers migrated there about 150years back from Rajasthan. She had everything in life, but, she chose to be a Sadhvi for the rest of her life.
It is not Manali, many from affluent families and that too at very young age are getting into Sainthood, says, Mothilal Rathod, Manali’s father. I know of a youngster working in USA who has been drawing a salary of Rs 1.5crore, chucked everything and became saint, he said. It was surprising to hear from her decision to become Jain Muni, but, now that we are adjusted, we are happy, he says.
Manali Rathode is travelling to Hyderabad and will be in city on 25th September, because her Guru Poojya Gurumayya Gyan Lathaji is stationed in Hyderabad for Chaturmas(is a holy period of four months July to October). She will get her diksha(official declaration as a sadhvi or nun) from Jain Sadhvi and scholar Poojya Gurumayya Gyan Lathaji.
According to Swaroop Chand Kothari who is coordinating this grand affair under aegis of Sri Vardhaman Sthanakvasi Jain Shravak Sangh Greater Hyderabad said it will be a never before function for which the Jain community in the city is making lavish arrangements. For which many different community people are also expected, he said.
The process of becoming a Jain Monk or Sadhvi is a grand affair. There is a tradition to be followed by many members of the community. It lasts for five days and is called Diksha Mahotsav. It will be held in city from October 3rd to 7th at Govt Junior Collge, Opp lane to Kachiguda Railway Station. To witness Diksha(initiation process) or adopting the life of a saint, there will be a huge gathering of 15000 people, of which 5ooo to 6000 are expected to come from outside Andhra Pradesh, 5000 to 6000 from city and another 5000 people from other religions. The event of this grand affair is never seen in the recent past in this part of the country.
The grand celebration, spread over five days and organised by Jains in the city, will consist of Sanyam Anumodan Divas, Kesar Ranjan Diwas, Mangal Mehndi Aalokhan, Dan Divas and Diksha Mahotsav.
Disclosing this in a press note issued in city today Swaroop Chand Kothari Coordinator of the function and member of the Jain community, said that the diksha will be preceded by Samyam Anumodan Divas where Manali Rathode will be made Dulhan(bride), then there will be a Mehndi Session.
Before finally renouncing all possessions and worldly life, the future monk or nun is treated like a king. Part of the diksha ceremony is a public procession through the streets. The girl who is becoming the Sadhvi—Manali Rathode will be dressed up in magnificent clothes and rich jewellery, like a princely bride. Sometimes she rides on the back of an elephant, the paramount royal animal.
A procession will be taken out on October 6th. This would be the occasion when Manali Rathode will throw all her material belongings from a lorry. Manli Rathode’ hair will be removed manually by her after which she will be given the diksha by Poojya Gurumayya Gyan Lathaji along with her eight disciples.
The manual hair removal(‘pulling out the hair’), the practice which is called Kaya Klesh (keśa-loca), is a must of Jain monk or Sadhvi to who take the lifelong vow of nunhood. It is a key part of the initiation. It is as very painful act. Unlike in Tirupati, hair is not razed off in one smooth sweep; it is plucked out, strand by strand. It is excruciatingly painful but is willfully undergone as a form of penance. Sometimes ash made of dry cow dung is dusted on the head. They the hair is calmly plucked out each strand of their hair for the almost several hours to achieve a completely bare scalp.
In the Jain tradition, a person who becomes a monk is obligated to take five major vows which include absolute non-violence, absolute truthfulness, absolute non-stealing, absolute celibacy and absolute non-attachment.
How easy or difficult to leave behind her life of a teenager and materialism? “Not at all. Developing and imbibing culture is quite easy and it has naturally come to me. I am happy to become a Sadhvi says Manali Rathod. Infact I am very enquisite and eagerly looking forward to the day. I am being trained for long time about all the aspects of the sainthood be it knowledge, doing Biksha, walking and spiritual awakening etc. And I am willingly become one, she says.
Parents are happy although they miss her. When she first broached the subject with them in 2010, they were speechless and shocked. And they took some time to digest the fact that I was hell bent on becoming, she said. Now I have their full support. It is hard and painful. But, I am so much deeper into spiritualism, it becomes that much more easy now, she says.
After the deeksha, Manali will be detached from her family forever. She will never be able to go to her house to meet them for the rest of his life. But, we can always visit her says her father Motial Rathod. We are happy, he says. Diksha is certainly an emotional moment not only for the parents of the young girl, but also for over 15,000 people, who will gathered to witness her initiation into sainthood here in city.
Jain Muni(sadhu) follow and preach non violence. They do not take their bath or brush their teeth and their clothes are only space. They sleep only once on the ground for some time with one posture after mid night. They pull out their hairs and do not fear the pain and keep themselves busy in meditation. They always maintain normalcy, calm and forgiveness They keep with them – a pichhi(a bundle of naturally fallen peacock feathers to brush away the dust while sitting), a kamandala(a wooden vessel to clean themselves after going for excretion), shastras(religious books) and spectacles. They do not keep money or any valuable things. They do not use beds, sleeping bags, or bedsheets and rugs. They sleep on wooden planks or wooden cot, just with a mat on it. In sleep also they do not change their side, with the idea that some germ moving there might get killed.
It is estimated that there are about 10,000 Sadhvis(Lady Saints) and 4000(monks) in India. It is normal for old and poor to renounce and become a saint, but, it is quite unusal for a girl of 24 years age from a rich family to leave all materialist life and become a Sadhvi. Andhra Pradesh boasts of about 2 lakh Jain population. Jains comprise of just 0.5 per cent India’s population and is one of the smallest religion in the country after Hindus(80%),Muslim(13%),Christians(2.3%), Sikhs(1.9%), Budhists(0.8%) and comes last the Jainism(0.4%). It is the six largest Religion in India.
Jainism is present all over India. There are about 5,200,000 Jains in the 1.028 billion population of India. Jains are to be found in 34 out of 35 states and union territories with Lakshdweep being the only union territory without Jains. The States with largest Jain populations are Maharashtra (1.32% Jains), Rajasthan (1.15%) Madhya Pradesh (0.91%), Gujarat (1.03%) and Karnataka (0.74%).There is not a single State where Jains are 2% or more. There are only 3 districts with Jain population exceeding 4% (Mumbai 4.76%, Kolhapur 4.18%, Belgaum 4.02%). The cities Delhi, Bombay, Ahmedabad, Indore, Udaipur, Jaipur, Baroda, Pune have a significant population of Jains, but none with 10% Jains. There are about 110 different Jain communities in India and overseas.
The Jains have the highest literacy rate, 94.1% compared with the national average of 65.38%. They have the highest female literacy rate, 90.6% compared with the national average of 54.16%. Jains also have the highest per capita income in India.