Peace Through Dialog 2007 - Mansi Vira : My First Fifteen Years

Author:  Image of Mansi ViraMansi Vira
Published: 21.02.2008
Updated: 23.03.2017

JAINA Convention 2007
Federation of Jain Associations In North America

My First Fifteen Years

Mansi Vira
Age 15
Edison, New Jersey.
bluedancer17[at]hotmail.com

From the deep, warm realms of the womb a child crawled out. She was yet another progeny to whom which her parents could transmit their Indian heritage, culture, and family values to. This child already had several identities, a couple including American, Indian, but most importantly, Jain. She was raised with her mother's affectionate nurturing, the first and single person to instill the significances and morals the Jain religion underlined. From birth itself, this child had matured and prospered in school and faith with the Jain religion abide her, unrelentingly governing and protecting her. Ordinary people would call it this child's luck to be born under the sanction of a Jain family who believed in nothing but the well being and truth. However, I call the so called "luck", my own karma. Yes, it is my own accumulation of positive karma to be blessed with the characteristics that compile my identity as a human, Jain, yet specifically a soul with equivalent energy as each and every soul in Moksha.

I regard Jain Darshan as my instinctive nature. In my opinion, it is the only religion and philosophy that I have come across to be so explicitly true. What I admire most about it is that it and its concepts are not forced upon you—you practice however much you want, and not more. Other religions/ philosophies promote themselves by having positions such as missionaries to force upon the particular religion or convert people's beliefs into that religion without their consent or desire. The astonishing fact is that currently, people are increasingly learning the ideals of Jain faith, such as vegetarianism, without any impressments or obligations. This reality reveals one fundamental, yet crucial aspect of the Jain philosophy: Bhavana. Without the inner motivation, no practice, understanding, or essentially anything at all is credited to the "effort" put forth. I have incorporated a set routine of setting aside 20 minutes in the morning and at night devoted strictly to reciting sutras, stutis, and meditating. It is my desire, and no one tells me to do it. I know that without my desire, my bhav, anything I do will not amount to a tangible result. However, when I do religious practices with a sincere bhav, I receive a special spirit; a spirit to learn, incorporate, practice, and to excel. But from where does this spirit come from? Indeed, from none other than the eternity and everlastingness of our own soul.

See, this is what I like about my Jain philosophy—we don't pray to our Gods asking for something to be done or changed. We simply ask for the spirit, the energy to withstand and surpass what ever predicament we are in. For example, if someone has cancer and is admitted into the hospital, one doesn't pray to God to get rid of the cancer. Instead, one prays for the strength, the energy to bear the agonies and fight the cancer. I admire this very aspect of Jainism, because it challenges me to unveil my own spirit, and essentially my own soul. I think there's no other religion out there as unique and self-providing as the Jain religion. I mean, in other religions it's the same as mandatory to go to a church and perform various rituals to achieve the ultimate goal. For us, it's more than sufficient to contemplate on and uncover our soul. Upon accomplishing this difficult, but not impossible task, we have already won half the struggle of attaining liberation without having to go to Derasars (temples) and performing numerous rituals. Of course, engaging in the rituals and going to Derasars will aid to embrace our soul, yet they are not necessary to attain enlightenment, unlike other religions.

What I have concluded about the Jain religion is that you and solely you define it. There's a straightforward dividing line between indicting the correct procedures to attain liberation, and the incorrect ones. There are no rules in this religion, because you make the rules according to your capability. Yes, we often say that we cannot eat meat, but in reality, our religion is of importance for understanding of why we shouldn't eat meat. If we don't understand why, and don't believe in the reason, then there's no use following such an idea. Belief and trust are necessary ideals of Jain Darshan, because without one or the other, you are no where but trapped in the midst of the cycle of birth and death, and karma will always be bonded with you. Our primary mission, along with uncovering our soul, should be to eradicate as much karma we can—one method is circling back to the practice of Bhavanas. As I mentioned earlier, the Jain religion is based upon each individual. No one can really help another, because you have your own karma, just like everyone else has their own karma.

I have found my self progressing to live by the rudiments Jainism has outlined for me. It has taught me to be honest, compassionate, open minded, and independent. Without a doubt, this religion is so exceptional, so exclusive: It never criticizes other religions, and neither does it tell us to hate them. Instead it encourages us to be aware of the religions surrounding our own, and absorbing the positive qualities of each one. Thus, I have learned to broaden my views regarding any matter, because one picture can tell several stories at once.

So simple is the foundation of the Jain religion, yet so complex to follow. What I think makes it so challenging is that everything's based on you. Your thoughts, words, actions and karmas all morph together to illustrate your own individual life. It is the control or looseness that you possess to determine your destiny, and each and every little thing you do is recorded and programmed into the intricate system of the karma theory. Just imagine how much we, humans are capable of... and yet we seem so frail and unsuccessful. But there's that challenge again: to discover the ever radiating capacity and energy of our soul. Impossible as it seems, but everything and anything, as this religion describes it, is possible.

I personally like this challenge I have been given. Honestly, without the insight I have gained from Jain Darshan, I'd say my life would be mediocre and boring as the girl next to me in my English class. But the fact that I belong to an identity, a Jain, and have my own custom-made beliefs and values, I consider myself lucky to be born into a family with such morals. Actually no, I take that back. I consider it my fortunate karma to be born as a Jain, and to be given the chance to uplift my soul from Manushya to Moksha as quickly as possible.

Sources
JAINA
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Some texts contain  footnotes  and  glossary  entries. To distinguish between them, the links have different colors.
  1. Bhavana
  2. Bhavanas
  3. Darshan
  4. Federation of Jain Associations in North America
  5. JAINA
  6. JAINA Convention
  7. JAINA Convention 2007
  8. Jain Philosophy
  9. Jaina
  10. Jainism
  11. Karma
  12. Karmas
  13. Mansi Vira
  14. Manushya
  15. Moksha
  16. Soul
  17. Vegetarianism
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