Gujarat Class 12 topper Varshil Shah is now Jain monk Suvirya Maharaj
A tonsured head, white dhoti, a deep farewell bow and 17-year-old Varshil Shah was now Suvirya Ratna Vijayji Maharaj, a Jain monk.
The teenager from Ahmedabad, who scored 99.9 percentile in the Class 12 exam a few days ago only to denounce it all, on Thursday joined his guru in his spiritual quest at an early morning ceremony in Surat.
Two weeks ago when the commerce student aced the school-leaving exam, there were no celebrations. His Diksha ceremony, or the initiation ceremony, too, was a quiet and private affair.
At about 4.30am, Vashidaan – a procession in which members of the Jain community dispose of jewellery and cash, symbolising shunning of material world – was held on the banks of the Tapi river.
It was followed by tonsuring of his head, reciting of prayers. And then came perhaps the most poignant of the rituals, as the young man sought the permission of his family to renounce the world.
His mother Amiben Shah and Jigarbhai, an income-tax officer, are happy with their son’s decision. Varshil was raised in a house that doesn’t have a television or a refrigerator. Electricity is used only when it is absolutely necessary as the Shahs believes many aquatic animals are killed during power generation, which is against the Jain vow of ahmisa, or non-violence
On the eve of the ceremony, Varshil dressed like a groom, wearing a gaudy sherwani paired with a turban, the last time he would wear coloured clothes.
On Thursday, donning a white dhoti and wrap, he joined his guru Kalyan Ratna Vijay. From now on, he will only dress in a white dhoti worn by the members of the Svetambara, or “white clad”, sect of Jainism. He will walk bare foot and make all his journeys on foot as well.
As monks are not supposed to cook, he will eat what he will receive in alms.
Varshil is history as Suvirya Ratna Vijayji Maharaj begins his spiritual journey.