How can Jains be a minority community?

Jain community in India getting the minority status is a classic case of eating the cake and having it too. Jainism is a slightly different manifestation of Hinduism. In other words, it’s a sect of Hinduism like Shaivites and Lingayats. Though Indian philosophy calls it atheistic (like Buddhism), all the followers of Jainism and its primary sects (Digambar and Shwetambar) follow the religious tenets of Hinduism and worship the Hindu deities apart from theirs.

The followers of Jainism are Hindus when it’s required and they’re Jains if the need be! This is sheer religious opportunism. Even Buddhism, despite being a tributary of Hinduism, has distinct features that differentiate it from Hinduism. But in the case of Jainism, there’s not even a distinctly ostensible difference that can separate it from the parental faith (Hinduism). So how can it be different from Hinduism?

The Jains, who are screaming to get minority status, must know that original Jainism that came into being 2600 years ago, advised its followers to put the mortal remains of a person in the flowing water of a river unlike the way Hindus dispose the dead-bodies by burning them. Don’t the ‘minority’ followers of Jainism burn the dead bodies like ‘majority’ Hindus? People don’t know about their own religion and call themselves its votaries and custodians.

Here, a sinister motive must also be taken into account. Jainis are pathologically envious of Muslims getting the minority status. They want the same for themselves. With their financial strength and arm-twisting policies, they’ve compelled the government to give them minority status. Mind you, nearly 5 million of Jain followers in India can make or mar any government, thanks to their power of pelf. Lastly, do we require any faith and its legions of sects, doctrines and silly manifestations? This reminds me of Firaq Gorakhpuri’s apposite couplet, ‘Mazhab waalon ko ye hasrat, kab duniya se kufr mitega/Main toh bas itna soch raha hoon, kab insaan insaan banega’ (When’ll earth be rid of atheism and sacrilege, yearn the religious men/When’ll man become man, this is my concern).

This article appeared in The Milli Gazette print issue of 1-15 April 2014 on page no. 2

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