Peace Through Dialog 2007 - Views & Opinions Of Young Jains

Posted: 22.02.2008
Updated on: 23.03.2017

JAINA Convention 2007
Federation of Jain Associations In North America





Views & Opinions Of Young Jains - A Compilation

One of the goals of this year's JAINA Souvenir was to represent as many voices as possible. This year, as part of our call for articles, we specifically asked children 15 and younger to share their opinions and views on religion and peace.

With the help of the JAINA Education Committee, we sent four questions to Pastshala teachers around the world. The questions were:

  1. What does Jainism mean to you?
  2. What is 'peace'?
  3. What do you say when someone asks you, 'what is Jainism?'
  4. What is your favorite Jain festival?

We were very pleased to receive an extremely enthusiastic response from the community and from our children. It was remarkable to learn how eager our children were to participate and what they had to say about Jainism. The quality of the responses far exceeded our expectations for which we would like to thank the parents and teachers for so wonderfully cultivating religion into the lives of these young children.

1. What does Jainism mean to you?

  • It means peace and happiness through all your life. (Adarsh Shah, 6, London)
  • Jainism means to me a way of life, a way to express my feelings spiritually, a way to understand the concept of life. (Niyant Shah, 10, London)
  • Jainism means non-violence to me. It tells me not to lie and steal. It makes my soul make good choices. (Sohum Daftary, 10, Dallas, TX)
  • Jainism, to me, means it is the only religion that allows you to go on the path to attain Liberation [Moksh], the only religion that gives the true meaning of Ahimsa [non-violence]. It also gives you an understanding of the soul's journey through the cycle of birth and death. Moksh is when you attain ultimate knowledge and are out of the cycle of birth and death forever. You can do this by stopping to eat meat, do not commit violent act, have no attachments, and not be greedy. These are just a few of the many things that the Jain religion teaches us. (Shree Shah, 11, Dallas, TX)
  • Jainism is very important in my life. I think of Jainism as a religion that strongly believes in nonviolence. It is the reason that I, and many other Jains don't believe in eating meat. It has also taught me to value the principle of Truth. Without Jainism, I would be following a path that I do not want to take. (Alisha Vora, 12, Farmington Hills, Ml)
  • Jainism to me means leading a simple & good life following the teachings of the Jinas (omniscients) or Tirthankars who preach the 5 principles -Ahimsa (non violence), Satya (truth), Asteya (non-stealing), Brahmacharya (celibacy), and Aparigraha (non-possessiveness) in order to attain Moksh (liberation). (Ayesha Samji, 13, London)
  • It's a religion, and when we follow it we become "better" people i.e. it advises us to be kind. It's also a way of going to Moksha. (Prashil Shah, 14, London)
  • I have always found that Jainism is more of a philosophy than a religion. It is a concept that guides our lives, not just spiritually, but physically and mentally as well. It is sometimes grueling to be a Jain in American society, where most people eat meat, wear leather, and squander their money on trivial electronics. Jainism is the fence between that world and ours, and keeps us from descending into that world of materialism and carnivory. While its rules may seem strict and frustrating, I believe that Jainism makes us better, more compassionate people, and makes us more contentious of the effects of our actions on the world around us. I find that Jainism empowers its followers more than any other religion; because it argues that each soul governs its own destiny. Many Americans and believers of other religions may convince themselves that they have free will, yet they pray to their gods to bring them luck, or riches, or fame, and the prevent disease, death, and age. Jainism says that no outside force, no god, can bring these things to us or keep them away. We are responsible for our own actions, and must accept the consequences of the choices we make. (Monika Kothari, 15, Canton, Ml)
  • Jainism is not only a religion; Jainism is both a philosophy and a way of living. Jainism allows me to practice what I believe in. Throughout the years, looking at the lives of all of my friends, I realize how different these religions are, yet how similar too. I have experienced life itself differently than any of my friends through my religion. Similarities in religion have brought the world together, and differences have torn them apart, but this is not always the case. My community, school and friends have come together and shared our knowledge to those around us. This is how I live life as a Jain, and what it means to me. (Khushi Desai, 14, West Bloomfield, Ml)
  • There is something that Jainism has taught and is needed right now in this world. This is to live in peace. Peace is a silence. It is a silence of death. Ultimately this means peace is when you are a free soul in moksha. It is when you are free of all attachments and are out of the cycle of life and death. Then there is another type peace - World peace. This is a type of peace with no war and is physical and relates to the earth while the other is spiritual. This peace is where there is harmony between every living being. Another type of peace is when you are in meditation. This is when you are not aware of your surroundings and are only focused on what you are chanting. Peace interpreted in many ways but true peace lies in Siddhashila. (Rishi Zaveri, 12, Farmington Hills, Ml)

 2. What is 'peace'?

  • Peace is to respect others and not harm them or their possessions. It means respecting what their beliefs are, even if you disagree with them. In order to obtain peace within a society, every living being must be treated as an equal. This is because every living thing has a right to live life to its fullest. Stripping someone of that right accumulates negative karma to the soul. All living beings must be free, including animals, humans, and all the other forms of life. All viewpoints should be viewed without any opinion beforehand. But instead in this world people constantly fight over religious beliefs and power, obscured to the fact all their spiritual leaders preached the same fundamental principle; they just have different ways of achieving salvation. (Vishal Modi, 12, Rochester Hills, Michigan)
  • Most people think that peace is when someone is nice to another or another example would be when war ends and we sign peace treaties. This thought is Mithyadarshan (wrong perception). True peace means complete happiness. Peace can only be achieved when a soul gets liberated or moksh. With moksh the soul isn't attached to anything therefore doesn't have to worry about material things. If the soul is TOTTALY detached from ALL karmas, material objects other souls, etc. then it has achieved peace. (Nand Dalai, 13, Dallas, TX)
  • Peace is happiness when there is nothing in the world that can make you unhappy. When someone has obtained Moksha, the person has peace because there is no bad happening. (Jaykishan Gudka, 13, London)
  • Peace has lot of definitions. Peace means everybody in the world gets along with each other and is happy. True Peace is almost impossible to reach. Peace could mean that there is no war going on. Peace could mean mental peace. Everybody in the world wants peace more than anything else. In order to attain peace, we have to think alike and not be selfish. We have to get rid of violence. We have to get rid of terrorists who are trying to hurt other people. We have to get rid of racism. We have to like each other. Like I said before reaching peace is almost impossible. (Arpit Shah, 14, Livonia, Ml)
  • I think that one of many words to describe peace is non-violence. I think that peace can only be achieved when everyone agrees on the same solution to solve a problem and there is no fighting involved. Also, when I think of peace, I think of calmness. Peace is when you can get along with the people around you without getting into arguments. (Komal Ravani, 15, Troy, Ml)  
  • The dictionary defines peace as the "The state of not being in war." I disagree with that statement. I look at peace as a Utopia, or perfect world. I believe that peace is the state of Moksha, which is essentially a Utopia. When a being is on earth there is opportunity for them to have peace because there is always some kind of war going on whether it is internal of external. However, when in the state of Moksha and out of the cycle of life and death, one is always granted the opportunity to have peace. There is no other way to explain one of the most controversial words ever created. (Anshul Mehta, 15, Ann Arbor, Ml)
  • What is peace? Peace to me requires the absence of several traits in today's average human being.
    The first is pride. How many simple fights have been started because a person thinks their child, idea, house or status is better than someone else's? Now imagine these fights ballooning onto an international scale, with one prideful person becoming thousands of prideful men, and a black eye or scratch becoming thousands killed. Pride puts a blind side on reason for many people.
    The second is greed. Again, how many brawls began over a bit of gum, a bit of money, a bit of a country? Most of us do not realize that we get by just fine with what we have. Society and our purported common sense tell us that there is always more, and that more should be our ultimate goal. If we could strip away the layers of brainwashing to find what we really need, chances are we would discover that we already have.
    The last, most important, is ego. The reason our world is so materialistic is not only that we want things, but we have the audacity to believe that we deserve them. People saying that their actions are in the right because they are "acting for the good of the people" or "just doing their duty" need to deflate their heads. Who said they spoke for all mankind? Who told them to get involved in wars with people completely unconnected to themselves? Who gave them this supposed right? Their egos. As long as man continues to listen to that master of flattery, he will fall every single time. But there is one piece that needs to be introduced, because eradicating the items above is just the first step. To truly achieve peace, we must relearn the art of communication. How many of the aforementioned situations could have been prevented if words had been used instead of might? Words can be used to heal; fighting can only hurt. Peace does not mean the absence of conflict, because conflict is necessary to change. Rather, peace is defined by how we work to solve that conflict.
    Anyone can get upset; unfortunately, only some have the courage to patch the crack by talking out a solution. Quite possibly, pride, greed and ego are the things that prevent people from talking about their problems. These conditions of peace therefore go hand in hand: we must address the root cause of the absence of peace by being content with ourselves, and then learning to be content with others. (Hetali Lodaya, 15, Northville, Ml)
  • The word peace in the society of humans has many positive connotations. I can almost guarantee that if you ask a group of people what peace is and what it means to them, you will get multiple answers that vary from each other. To me, peace is the glue that holds everyone together. It is what helps people from hating each other because of their different ideas. But with peace there also has to be compromise. Peace is a two-way street to me. Which means that everyone has to do his or her own part in order to continue living peacefully? Peace to me means many things. I know that if I don't act in a peaceful manner, than people will not think much of me. Peace is like the golden rule; do things to others what you would want to have done to you. With peace, you can live safely and happily in your community. This example shows what peace means to me. You can agree with me or not, because everyone can have their own ideas and thoughts on what peace actually means.   (Ankur Shah, 16, Troy, Ml)

3. What do you say when someone asks you 'What is Jainism?'

  • Jain religion is living a peaceful and non violent life. (Sahil Sancheti, 10, Sunnyvale, CA)
  • When someone asks me, I tell them that it is a religion in which you try not to harm anything and attain liberation. Also there are five great vows. I also tell them that I can't eat meat. This is what I tell people when they ask me what Jainism is. (Rujuta Patil, 11, Westland, Ml)
  • The Jain religion is very complicated to understand but you follow 5 simple principles; non-violence, celibacy, non-stealing, truth, and non-possession. We also follow the rule of overcoming AGED: Anger, greed, ego and deceit. If we do have this in our lives we are on the way to moksha. (Ashiv Malde, 13, London)
  • When people ask me what Jainism is, I normally say "My religion." If they ask me to elaborate, I would say: The religion I follow, which is completely based on nonviolence. If they ask me to elaborate on that: Not harming any creature in any way, shape, or form. If they asked me to explain that: If you think about a violent act, it's the same as doing it. If they asked me to elaborate: Google it. (Kinari Shah, 13, Plymouth, Ml)
  • When someone asks me what Jainism is, I tell them that Jainism is vegetarianism first, then I tell them that we believe in non-violence and the caring for of all living beings. I also tell them that we also believe in helping anyone who is in need. I also tell people that we don't ask for help from the tirthankars and that we believe that we can only help ourselves. (Vishal Mehta, 13, Ann Arbor, Ml)
  • One of the first things I've realized was that to explain Jainism to people, I needed to connect it to something they already know about, such as Buddhism and Hinduism. This means that it would be inefficient to explain the entire basics of Jain theory, throwing in a few Sanskrit words occasionally, and expect the person one was talking with to have ay idea of what one just said. When I was younger, I used to explain it as a cross between other Indian religions such as Buddhism and Hinduism, which, aside from being wildly inaccurate, often left people with the impression that Jainism was just an offshoot of Hinduism with thousands of gods.
    By my age, most of my friends have at least heard of Jainism, and the job of explaining it has become much easier. However, it's hard to define what the most important principles of Jainism are, so I usually say that Jainism is a non-violent Indian religion in which reincarnation is involved, and that there is no single omniscient God. Not all of that is completely true, but it is the easiest way to get Americans to understand the very basic principles of Jainism. Of course, when one meets people who don't know that there is no language called "Indian", explaining a complicated religion such as Jainism becomes harder than ever. (Shan Kothari, 13, Canton, Ml)
  • Jainism is an ancient and indigenous religion of India. The term Jain originates from the word jina which means "The Victor" or "The Liberator." It designates a person who is a vanquisher of the inner enemies - räga (attachment - deceit and greed) & dvesha (aversion - anger and ego), thus freeing himself/herself from the bondage of karma. The five great vows of Jainism are as follows, non-violence (Ahimsa), non-possessiveness (Aparigraha), celibacy (Brahmacharya), non-stealing (Asatya), and truth (Satya).
    Jainism is not simply a religion, but a science. It does not consist of just ceremonies and rituals but a collection of techniques to know the self. Several of the traditions and rituals which abide in this faith can be understood to possess a deep yogic significance.
    Jainism is a way of life based on ahimsa, otherwise known as non-violence. It embraces the ancient techniques and philosophies handed down by the jinas, Arihantas, or Tirthankaras. There are twenty-four main prophets in the faith, as this lineage can be traced back to prehistoric times. The two most recent prophets are Lord Parswanath and Lord Mahavir, respectively. Thus, the people who worship these prophets and who follow the religious tenets proclaimed by the Jina are called the Jainas and their religion is Jainism. (Disha Bora, 13, Troy, Ml)
  • We have been taught the fundamentals of Jainism throughout the years from our Jain Study Class. But that is not all of what Jainism means to me. The fundamentals teach me a big part of my life. Things like vegetarianism are things that without my religion- I most probably would not practice. And I am so into animal rights, Jainism has helped me understand that. It has also taught me to be kind, never steal, and so much more. It's my religion, and my basics of life. (Kajal Ravani, 15, Troy, Ml)

4. What is your favorite Jain festival?

  • If it weren't for time, I'd celebrate Diwali, my favorite Jain festival, every week! This exciting festival isn't complete without a friend with you, a big show for four hours, the food, and, of course, Bhagvan Mahavir's liberation anniversary. In addition, we go to the Jain temple in the morning and worship Bhagvan Mahavir. We do Nirvan Puja through which we learn about his teachings. All Jains get together and wish each other. Also, we light the lamp in honor to Mahavir. It's way better than watching television! We can all say that the Jain religion is much more than a religion! (Akhil Jain, 11, Dallas, TX)
  • My favorite Jain festival is Paryushan. In Paryushan you stay close to your soul. You ask for forgiveness for the bad things you've done. You can replace bad karma's with good karma's. Paryushan is eight days long in the Shvetamber tradition. It is ten days long in the Digambar tradition. I like this festival because then I feel good I got rid of pap.(Heet Sheth, 11, Mississauga, Ontario)
  • I really like all the Jain festivals. They are always fun and exciting. Well most of them. I try and go to each and every one of them. I participate sometimes in saying the prayers and stuff. I really like Diwali. Diwali is the festivals of lights! It also symbolizes the victory of good over evil. This celebration focuses on lit lamps. I really have fun because we get to light up candles and incense. I also get to do fireworks. We go to our families houses and eat dinner. We always have fun. We play a lot of games. We talk a lot too. Almost every family member is there. It's really fun to get to see everyone. We play all sorts of games. I also like Holi. Holi is the festival of colors. On Holi, I get colored power and throw it on everyone. It's really fun and tiring when you're done. You get to run around everywhere trying to get color on someone and then they try to get you back. Those are my favorite kinds of festivals.(Rikita Jain, 13, West Bloomfield, Ml)
  • My favorite festival is Diwali because it gives an inspiration to one because Mahavir attained liberation. It marks the new year when mistakes can be improved on. It is a chance to ask for forgiveness for any pain you have caused. It is the festival of light, and it maintains the light of one's soul. (Tej Shah, 13, London)
  • Diwali is my favorite Jain festival because it is a time when all the family comes together and celebrates for the cause where Mahavir Swami got Moksha. Not only that but the food is good and it feels nice to see all your family members after a while. And the part where we blow up firecrackers is nice too. But most importantly, Diwali is to me the most important also because all the lights and noise remind me that the  1st tirthankar got Moksha. (Aniket Patil, 14, Westland, Ml)
  • I enjoy all festivals of all faiths in general because they're all different in their own ways and I like listening to the stories behind each festival. I always look forward to Navratri because I get to dress up in colourful Indian suits and play Garba with all my friends. (Rina Shah, 14, London)
  • Paryushana is my favorite Jain festival because it teaches self control. It also teaches to minimize food indulgence and to focus more on God and religion. It also encourages people not to eat foods that harm many souls like garlic, onions or potatoes. It is also a peaceful time where people go to derasar almost everyday and practice their religion. At this time, the whole Jain community supports each other and encourages each other to fast and concentrate on religion. When I did atthai, which is doing 8 upvas in a row, my brother was doing it at the same time and we would support each other through the process. We would go to derasar every day, do pooja, and other people would encourage us as well, making us feel that we could do this type of fasting. Also at this time, there were many lecturers that came to the derasar from different places that came to teach us more about Jainism. Another part of paryushana is doing Pratikaman, which is repenting one's sins. We do certain procedures to ask for forgiveness for all the sins we have committed and forgive others for pain they may have inflicted upon us. It is a way to cleanse yourself of you sins for that year, and after Pratikaman is done, one usually feels peaceful and feels that they have a clean slate. (Rajvi Vora, 16, Marlton, NJ)

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