The munis and acharyas are highly admired in the Jaina samgha.Their austere and scholarly life style had fascinated even kings that secured their patronage which in Karnataka ensured to an extent the continuity and propagation of their faith. Of equal importance is the support from the business community that enabled the construction of Basadis and images with continuous grants.
Since the monks want nothing for themselves they are inspirational in the observance of the four gifts relating to learning, food, medicine and shelter that the rich devotees give unstintingly. These relate to the basic needs of the less fortunate. The monks and nuns-the sramanas move freely and are received with honour. They are a great binding force.
A monk disciplines his mind by practicing twenty two endurances and five mahavrata with certain forms of carefulness (samithi).
In the recent Mahamastakabhisheka at Shravanabelagola, 36 jains including householders were initiated as monks and some within the ranks were elevated to the next higher level in the hierarchy. At a ceremony 2 women housewives were initiated as brahmacharinis while 11 brahmacharinis were elevated as arikas.8 illak monks(wearing loin cloth ) were initiated as kshullaks,and 6 kshullaks as munis.A kshullika was initiated as arika by the senior nun Arika Sri Vijayamathi Mataji who breathed her last when the Mahamastakabhisheka cloised.8 brahmacharis were elevated as ilaks.Deeksha is administered with the change of name, removing the hair in tufts, with sandal wood paste anointed on the head of the initiates amidst chanting of hymns. A lady had her 4’hair removed physically. They are now given a peacock feather fan, gourd water jug and the scripture books by the householders. The largest number of initiation was done by Viraj Maharaj.
The women who were given deeksha were qualified ayurvedic practioners, post graduates and B.Ed’s. This augurs well for the propagation of the faith as they are the educated young. It was a proud moment for the family and there was no unhappiness from any quarter. Parents are invited and it’s the free will from all quarters that marks the Deeksha.This is an elaborate event where in the scriptures it is mentioned that the Gods look to this event as a great and grand happening. Jains believe it is great being born as a human and becoming a muni is the ultimate. Everybody cannot take deeksha.They take permission from the audience and seek pardon for the sins committed. Also they are given one more last chance in case they have a change of mind.
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