Recently, we read about Mokshesh Sheth, a 24-year-old businessman and CA who gave up his successful life to become a Jain monk. He renounced everything worldly and embraced the path of monkhood.
Mokshesh, who passed CA in his first attempt, will be now known as ‘Karunapremvijay Jee’ told the media that he was really happy to leave behind his luxurious life.
In another incident, a 12-year-old Bhavya Shah from Surat embraced monkhood. He also became a Jain monk. He was also accustomed to luxury, being the son of Surat’s effluent Diamond merchant, Dipesh Shah.
As per reports, Bhavya took his last ride in his favourite car, a Ferrari and sported a sherwani and sunglasses during the public procession organised for him. He told the media that life was full of sins and he was happy his parents had taught him that. A few years ago, his elder sister had renounced the world as well.
A 17-year old Varshil Shah had adopted monkhood last year from Ahmedabad. He was an extremely bright student who scored very well in his board exams, right after which he took ‘diksha’.
Why do you think people embrace monkhood?
It is not only in Jainism but also in various other religions that people give up all their worldly desires to find ‘God’.
An interesting thread on Quora started when a user asked about why people become monks or nuns. To which, a man who had turned a monk answered, ” I decided to become a monk after listening to Osho’s advice to the question,’I want to become a Monk but am afraid of the storm which will ensue around me.'”
Another user says, “To become a monk is not very different from becoming a chef or a scientist. Each of these requires letting go of ancillary distractions to focus on their chief vocation, to practise their craft so to speak. Only in the case of a monk, the vocation is that of penetrating the mysteries of existence without the distractions of life, an all-encompassing endeavour that demands an utter consecration.”
Someone thinks the reason why a person becomes a monk is to find the purpose of their existence.
But why really there arises a need for one to leave all their near and dear ones and go live with complete strangers who are all seeking something? Do you need to become a monk to seek God? Who really are monks? Are monks necessarily those who take on a new name, a new identity, new robes or can everyone be a monk in their own lives, as everyone is always seeking something?
Is monkhood a realisation that there is more to life than money, lust and fame? Or is monkhood and a plethora of rituals where you completely give up on everything worldly?
While we try to define monkhood and find out the reasons behind why are people adopting, it, an excerpt from a book called ‘Ikigai’ by Hector Garcia and Francesc Miralles comes handy.
The book says, ‘Siddhartha Gautama (Buddha) was born a prince of Kapilavastu, Nepal and grew up in a place, surrounded by riches. At sixteen, he married and had a child. Not satisfied by his family’s wealth, at twenty-nine he …ran away from the place to live as an ascetic. But it wasn’t ascetism that he was looking for; it didn’t offer the happiness and well-being he sought…He realized a wise person should not ignore life’s pleasures. A wise person can live with these pleasures but should always remain conscious of how easy it is to be enslaved by them.
Zeno Of Citium began his studies with Cynics. The Cynics also led ascetic lives, leaving behind all earthly pleasures…Seeing that Cynicism did not give him a sense of well-being, Zeno abandoned its teachings to found the school of Stoicism, which centers on the idea that there is nothing wrong with enjoying life’s pleasures as long as they do not take control of your life as you enjoy them.’
This could be one way of finding out your own ‘God’, your own ‘truth’, your own ‘purpose’. Is that why most of us really give up worldly pleasures? Can it be an escape for some of them, because of hurt, pain and various challenges? Can it be a corner of comfort for some of them who have not found a ‘home’?
Can a child, who is not old enough to drive, be old enough to take such a major decision?
I remember an incident from my own life. Every year, during Mahashivratri, a fair of Bhavnath is organised in Junagadh, Gujarat. All ascetics from across the country gather in huge numbers at the Bhavnath temple and in its surrounding areas. While walking through the streets where these ‘sadhus’ practically live for a few days, I came across a really young boy and ending up wondering, did he know what he was doing?
Maybe he does. Maybe some really know what they are doing when embracing monkhood. This is his picture:
It all boils down to one thing – monks and nuns look for a place to belong. They also look beyond what everyone is chasing. And to find a purpose of their existence on this planet, they become monks. Most of them. And how we define ‘monks’ and ‘nuns’, is up to us.