Amidst chanting of Jain mantra ‘Namo Arihantanam’, more than 1000 tribals on Sunday pledged to quit liquor and non-vegetarian food.
Inspired by a Jain muni, residents of Bagoda village, about 20 kms from Indore, shun their drinking habit. No stink of liquor any more.
All houses were painted and decorated to give the village a festive look. Bagoda, situated in the scenic Choral area, had been virtually cut off from the mainstream all this while.
Jain Muni Chinmay Sagar, who remains cut off from the world doing penance in the Choral forests, used to come down to the village for a brief ‘darshan’. These brief interactions with the muni metamorphosed the village inhabitated by poor tribals.
When the Jain seer on Sunday came from the jungle, he was welcomed by Indore District Collector Vivek Aggarwal and hundreds of others at a specially prepared gate. Thereafter, villagers welcomed him by washing his feet at about 100 places in the village. Then followed the pledge ceremony.
This was sort of a miracle for the village. All villagers, except one family, are Bhil tribals who used to drink country liquor from morning to night. Male members usually flunk work to indulge in drinking and gambling. This drinking habit was leading to quarrels in most families.
The tribals’ tryst with the Jain muni materialised through Jagdish Dohre, a contractual teacher posted at village panchayat Benka, about four kms from Bagoda. He is the only person among the tribals holding an M Com degree. While going to the school, he had to pass through the thick jungles of Choral. In mid-November, he saw the Jain seer doing sadhna on a hilltop in a thick jungle.
He went to meet him but he didn’t open his eyes even after two hours. He came down from the hilltop and sat where some Jain sadhvis were waiting for him. When the seer came down, the teacher met the seer and sought his blessings.
The seer told Jagdish that he would meet him in future if he quit liquor and non-vegetarian food. Jagdish told Hindustan Times that the seer impressed him so much that he quit liquor to get his blessings. He talked to other villagers and they also agreed to follow the seer who counseled them about evils of alcohol. It culminated in the tribals taking the pledge in front of the seer.
This is the prelude to the story of development of the village. The total population of the village is about 1200 and only 25 persons have passed 10th class while 14 have passed out 12th. Somebody brought these changes to the notice of the Collector Vivek Aggarwal, who directed the SDM S S Rathore to start development work to improve the condition of the village.
Within a week, the roads were repaired, three hand pumps, which were non-functional, were repaired by the PHE department and every house where power supply had been disconnected for non-payment of bills were restored connection after the Jain Samaj agreed to pay the bills.
With the tribals mending their ways, officials are hopeful that the money saved would be used by tribals for education of their children. Tribals from neighbouring villages, who are also expected to follow suit, were present during the pledge. Vivek Agarwal, S S Rathore, Indore Jain Samaj president Manikchand Bakliwal and Narendra Kumar Beediwale were among those present on the occasion.