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Bangalore Jains seek protection for Digambar Munis

    They are concerned over increasing bullying and ‘attacks’ on the renunciates from people who can’t see the spirituality behind the nudity.

    Bangalore (Karnataka), October 25, 2012: A Digambara Muni’s only clothing is the atmosphere itself, such is the degree of renunciation among the Jain monks. And yet, while the man on the street rarely ridicules excess, this form of renunciation is being met with laughter and bullying in and around Bangalore. And in one of life’s little ironies, the strictest followers of ‘Ahimsa’ or non-violence are ending up being victims of violence and force, compelling devotees to seek police protection.

    Several recent incidents have upset the Jain community. Consider this: A Jain Muni was walking near Hebbal flyover, surrounded by around five to six devotees. As is the tradition, a flag-bearing devotee was walking in front of the Muni when a few people came out of nowhere, snatched the flag and tried to forcibly cover the Muni with it.
    “We were totally shocked,” Manjunath, a member of the Chaturmaasa committee, told Bangalore Mirror. “Since we do not follow the tradition of having bodyguards, we are forced to take police protection.”
    This is not an isolated incident. When a Jain Muni was passing Mantri Mall in Malleswaram, a passerby came running towards him and tried to cover him with a piece of cloth. And recently, media houses were flooded with calls, informing them about a ‘nude man’ walking near Queen’s Road. Some people even alerted cops. However, inquiries revealed that it was a Jain Muni and not a nudist as people had assumed.
    “While such incidents do not hurt the Munis, it is embarrassing for the devotees escorting them,” Manjunath said. Devotees coordinating the walks actually live in fear of attack.
    “We did not expect such incidents in Bangalore. We believed there would be a greater level of tolerance in Bangalore,” he added.
    The problem is aggravated when the Munis have to walk long distances. “Many Munis walk from Bangalore to Shravanabelgola. As density of traffic on Tumkur Road is high, we decided to take Magadi Road. We had to ask all local police stations in writing for protection,” said Jayaraja Ariga, another member of the committee.
    Committee members also recall the experience of Munis going from Bangalore to Tamil Nadu. “There have been numerous instances especially around Salem where people refuse to allow Munis to walk on the road. Many of them stop us and ask us to return. In one such instance, we made a chain of devotees, each of whom covered the Muni as he passed. We had to do this for hundreds of kilometres,” explained Shashi Kumar, convenor of the Jain community in Bangalore.
    Although there have been suggestions, Kumar said he was against the idea of personal bodyguards. Jain followers feel it’s better to educate people from other communities.
    “We plan to launch a campaign, asking people to live and let live. We will tell them why a Digambara Muni is naked. Clothes are an important indicator of a person’s spiritual achievement. A spiritually enlightened person loses consciousness of his body and is almost like a child. The nudity factor never bothers him. He is complete in himself,” explained Manjunath.
    When Bangalore Mirror contacted T Suneel Kumar, Additional Commissoiner of Police (Law and order), about the problem, he said, “If we get applications from the concerned devotees on giving protection, we will take a call on it.” – News Courtesy: Bangalore Mirror
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