PROLOGUE

It has been a matter of intense delight for me to put together this book. 

Some of the hundreds of letters written to Gurudev  Chitrabhanu by followers of Ahimsa and Anekantaved of Non- Indian origin over the last two decades constitute the basic inspiration and substance of the book.

The purpose of the book is to appreciate and understand the refreshing as well as abiding impact of Jainism on the thought processes, behaviour pattern and meaningful changes brought about voluntarily and enthusiastically in their life style as well as values of life. 

Principles of Jainism have been understood and assimilated by them in their most basic and broad humanitarian parameters, and sincere efforts initiated to practise them in day-to-day life. 

Their ‘experience’ of this teaching underscores the universality of the deeply compassionate Jain philosophy.  As a religion, its doors are open to anyone irrespective of place, region or country of birth, or colour, caste or creed.  In a scientific and rational manner Jain philosophy seeks to enhance knowledge (gyan), perception (darshan), and conduct (charitra), in the right ( samyak) direction, and to wean the humanity away from the evil and the devil, violence and hatred, cruelty and intolerance.  The practice of the principles of Jainism makes the mind and the body tension-free, tranquil and full of equanimity and spiritual vitality. 

A few months back when I was with Gurudev Chitrabhanu at his residence in Bombay, we happened to discuss about his prolific correspondence with young and old American and European seekers.  When I requested him to share some of the inspiring paragraphs from his students’ letters, he read the paragraphs to me and I felt they contained pearl drops of wisdom and knowledge which deserved to be shared widely to promote love and compassion all over the world. 

Gurudev instantly welcomed my proposal to digest them in a book form in order to bring out how well, how clearly and correctly, how enthusiastically, spiritually and emotionally had so many foreigners  embraced Jainism not merely as a religion but as a way of life in terms of their vegetarian habits, meditation discipline, study of Jain scriptures and vital grasp of the need to attain self-control and self restraint which alone could be instrumental in victory over one’s inner self and release of tremendous soul energy for the good of oneself as well as for the good and happiness of others. 

That is how I came to write this book from those inspiring gist of the letters dating back a sixtees and continuing since to the present times.  I read them once, read them again and again.  It was like reading Jain scriptures.  Everytime I ‘experienced’ a delightful directness, an awareness full of soul-power, a feeling of greatefulness at having been able to come so close to the deeply humanitarian and compassionate philosophy of Jainism, and a desire to become a better Jain. 

American and European students have also taken an integrated view of the value of tenets of Jainism in terms of spreading peace, love, truth and feeling of brotherhood in this world which is otherwise so full of agony, hatred, mistrust suspicion, separatism, conflicts, terrorism and violence. 

The letters are so genuine, so Since and so naturally written that they not only catch your imagination but hold you enthralled with delight, admiration and elation.  I  have not met all of the writers, but I feel as though I Know them so well.

All these and many more have opened their hearts to the philosophy of respect for life, have accepted the logic,  reasoning and rationality of anekantavad, have gained insight into the implications and justifications for aparigraha (non-attachment and non-possessiveness) and have committed to non-violence, truth and the reality of equality of souls. 

One needs to see and admire their enthusiasm; one needs to observe and emulate their sincerity; one needs to be as inquisitive about unravelling the truth about life and universe.  The candle of their faith is burning bright, their universe.  The candle of their faith is burning bright, their commitment is exemplary, their involvement is infectious. 

I have been a born Jain; but after reading these letters and grasping the spirit and the inspiration behind them, I feel like ‘a Jain reborn.’  I do hope Indian Jains residing in India and abroad would feel the same way, and draw the inspiration from our new friends for renewed commitment to the principles of Jainism in thought, expression and action. 

I have taken Gurudev’s blessings to write this book.  I do not lay any claim to originality in it.  The originality stems from the minds and hearts of Americans and Europeans who have made a very deep impression on my heart and soul. 

A million thanks to them to allow me to wander about in their heart-land and to unfathom their spiritual urge and upsurge.  May they all move steadily towards greater and greater enlightenment, expanding vistas of awareness and comprehension, non-possessiveness in thought and deed, and relativity in thinking.  May they ever-deepen their spiritual awareness, feeling of oneness with life in all forms and understanding the ‘inner-self.’

The Wave of BlissSo Hun | Ahimsa | Looking up to the Teacher | The Practice of Religion | Through the Eyes of the Camera | A Pioneer Shows the Way