Auckland, New Zealand (CHAKRA) – With the visit of Jain leader, Munishri Jinchandraji to Auckland, the Jain community is one step closer to building a place of worship of their own there. As the community, with the help of Jinchandraji are making progress towards their goal, they are looking forward to a new place where they can feel a sense of community and togetherness.
Wearing simple a clean white cloth, symbolizing purity, wrapped around his body, Jinchandraji has been leading a life apart from all material things since the early age of just eight. He has been leading such a virtuous life for the last 57 years. When listening to his discourses or having a personal conversation with him one will immediately notice that he is a believer in clarity of thought and expression, has a sincere concern for today’s youth and is a purely charitable individual with thoughts of compassion for his fellow beings.
When asked for his views on the youth of current society, Jinchandraji answered, “Young minds are vulnerable to temptations in life and easily fall a prey to such evil habits as smoking cigarettes, drinking alcohol and consuming narcotic drugs. Children born in Western countries are even more exposed to these dangers than their counterparts in India. It is therefore our duty to guide today’s youth to good things in life. Perhaps there is a need to reinstate the faith of Jainism.”
The Jain leader believes that the Hindu philosophy of “Ahimsa” meaning non-violence or the concept of Satya (truth) should be at the core of each individual’s principles and way of life. Furthermore, honesty, sincerity and helping others in a form of social service are what should be on every person’s mind he states.
He believes the proposed Jain temple is a good starting point for the Jain community in New Zealand and said that considering the Jain community is only 200 families strong in New Zealand they are off to a very good start towards engaging themselves and the youth into the rich culture Jainism has to offer.
Dimple Shah, Jain Sangh president in New Zealand said that they are looking for a plot to accommodate a temple that can be a place of worship as well as facilitate a meeting place such as a community center for Jains or non-Jains. In addition, they have planned to build a learning center for the youth especially and adults.
Jinchandraji said, “We hope to construct a community hall which will be useful for religious, social and community events of our Sangh and perhaps all other groups subject to our norms. “
He further stated, “The construction project will also incorporate classrooms for learning,”
Overall, the community center should function as a place to bring together Jains and non-Jains.
“Jainism can be practiced by anyone who believes in our simple, easy-to-follow principles. We believe in universal brotherhood and achieving high levels of education,” Jinchandraji said.
Jains participate in all religious and cultural observances but follow a strict vegetarian diet keeping away from any root-vegetables as well. Not all Jains follow the non-consumption of root-vegetables. Some festivals in which Jains are seen to participate in New Zealand are, Ram Navami, Diwali, Baisakhi, and Saraswathi Pooja. They are also known to take part in other cultural and ethnic festivals because their philosophies encourage multiculturalism.
“Jainism is an ancient religion of India, also now found in other countries around the world. Its philosophy and practice rely mainly on self-effort in progressing the soul on the spiritual ladder to divine consciousness,” Jinchandraji said.
The Jain community is a small but strong community in New Zealand, with over 10 million followers in India. In addition it is growing in North America, the Far East, Western Europe, Australia and New Zealand.
Jains account for the highest literacy rate out of any religious group in India because of their focus on education as an importance. In India, Jains are found in Tamil Nadu and Karnataka and are known respectively as “Tamil Jains” and “Tulu Jains”.