Jain community debates couple’s decision to leave 3-yr-old daughter, Rs 100-cr property for monkhood

The Jain couple are scheduled to take deeksha, or the first step towards monkhood on September 23.

india Updated: Sep 19, 2017 22:11 IST
Mustafa Hussain and Punya Priya Mitra
Mustafa Hussain and Punya Priya Mitra
Hindustan Times, Neemuch/Bhopal
Jain couple,Monkhood,Madhya Pradesh
Sumit Rathore and his wife Anamika will take deeksha under Sudhamargi Jain Acharya Ramlal Maharaj at Surat in Gujarat on September 23.(HT Photo)

A young Jain couple’s decision to relinquish the material world, including their three-year-old daughter, to become monks has triggered a debate as their families and the community argued the move amounts to cruelty towards the child.

Sumit Rathore, who is 35, and wife Anamika, a year younger, are scheduled to take deeksha or the first step towards monkhood under Sudhamargi Jain Acharya Ramlal Maharaj in Gujarat’s Surat town on September 23.

Other than daughter Ibhya, they will be renouncing property worth around Rs 100 crore in their Madhya Pradesh hometown of Neemuch, about 400km from Bhopal.

The Jain community, with an estimated population of less than 5 million in India, is no stranger to such renunciations. A large section of Jains is known to observe rigid customs laid down thousands of years ago.

But many in the community are stupefied by the Rathore couple’s decision.

Sumit’s cousin Sandeep Rathore spoke against the decision and the influential munis, or monks, who inspired the couple to take deeksha.

“From this day I take an oath that I won’t bow before any Maharaj (those who allow such deekshas to take place) because I love my daughter, parents and wife. The work of a sadhu is to educate not to give deeksha,” he said in a Facebook post.

The post was shared extensively and hundreds or people commented on it.

Sandeep said on Tuesday that he is proud to be a “Jaini and the feeling of renunciation is a great one”, but it should be done “after fulfilling ones earthly obligations”.

Neemuch-based eye surgeon RK Bhandari, who is close to the family, has also offered similar views.

“This is not the right time for taking deeksha. The first task is to raise the child properly and discharge all their other duties,” he said.

As the debate raged, RTI activist Kapil Shukla wrote to the National Human Rights Commission and the administration seeking a ban on deeksha.

“The family is not speaking because it is a matter related to religious beliefs and they don’t want to run foul of religious leaders. Also, they are not considering what is best for the child who will definitely suffer … Jain community should come forward and stop this deeksha.”

Only time will tell how much his appeal will work as top Jain spiritual leaders and elders had last October warned against any interference with their religious practice.

The warning was issued when social and child rights activists called for action against the parents of a 13-year-old Secunderabad girl, who died after ritual fasting called tapasya for 68 days.

Activists had alleged that she was forced to do tapasya in accordance with the family spiritual guru’s advice that the ritual will help their business grow.

The death triggered a larger debate in society on religious rituals that allow or push people to die such as sati, santhara and tapasya.

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First Published: Sep 19, 2017 18:35 IST