The otherwise sleepy town of Shravanabelagola is gearing up to celebrate Mahamastakabhisheka 2018, Mahamastakabhisheka 2018. It’s a 2300 year old tradition performed every 12 years. Naturally, the Charukirti Bhattaraka Swamiji of Shrvanabelagola Jain Mutt, is a very busy person as he has to oversee the preparations down to the last pin.
The Swamiji, took time out to explain the tradition and its significance to M. Raghuram.
The Charukirti Bhattaraka Swamiji felt the teachings of Jainism and the life of Bahubali had a message to give to the modern world especially in maintaining peace, harmony and promotion of disarmament.
The Swamiji is an eternal student of history and philosophy and has widely studied philosophy both Indian and European. He reads and likes Hegel, Kant, Bishop Barclay, Jiddu Krishnamurthy, Vivekananda, Gandhi and Srimad Raichanda.
Ahimsa, Peace, disarmament, sacrifice, simple living and high thinking are tenets of life which have been followed by many modern thinkers. Jainism has also basically taught these virtues in its scriptures. As a modern thinker and philosopher yourself how relevant do you think the ancient thoughts are in the modern society?
Times are changing indeed, this age of scientific development and technological advances has made life comfortable and also complex. In the melee we should not lose sight of the values of life, like being gentle to others, practice ahimsa of physical, mental and of spoken words. Control of mind and body and our senses is the most important value of all times and I feel these values are relevant even today.
Bhagawan Bahubali’s life was a message in itself to the people who seek truth and peace. Are modern scholars of Jainism equipped to disseminate his teachings and the message of his life effectively?
Let us not forget Bahubali was the first proponent of ahimsa and disarmament. There are any number of examples and chances we in the modern world get to practice ahimsa and disarmament, all the 24 Thirthankaras of Jainism have followed the path of ahimsa of action, thought, speech and practice of day to day life. Ahimsa brings peace and disarmament brings co-existence.
In a world which is driven by business, politics and a new economic order, how can the values of the past can be synergised to improve the quality of life?
We have seen in the past that global level historical events like wars have life altering characteristics - wars of any kind be it economic, military and all other types of aggressions that trigger violence. The world has experienced two world wars. Humankind cannot afford another war of global scale so the teachings of ahimsa, disarmament could not have better chance than now. In fact it is not just human kind which needs peace, but more so the animals, earth, water, air and all other creatures of creation.
What is the spread of Jain philosophy in the modern world. What is the extent, population and the plans for the Jain leaders for the young generation to keep practicing Jainism?
Jainism is the oldest religion that has taught great values for a peaceful society. Today wherever the Jain people are, they practice the values of life given to them by their elders and teachers, the basic tenets being happiness from non-violence, peace from renunciation, progress from friendship and accomplishment from meditation. These four tenets will help us to shed ego and deceit.
Apart from the growth of Jain philosophy in India, where all the philosophy has spread and practiced in the world?
Jainism has spread in spirit to many parts of the world, but since our Munis the great sages do not use any vehicles of modern age they travel always on foot, the actual spread has been contained within the geographical jurisdiction of India. But our people who have travelled far and wide, however, have spread the aroma of Jainism in Europe, United States Canada and Australia.