In Hindu mythology, the unwavering star in the north sky is named Dhruva in timeless testimony to the severe penance by a child in search of the mythological god Vishnu
Acharya Sushil Gurve Namah
Upvas by Children in Jain Households
A Townhall Meeting
Sunday, October 23 at 11:00 a.m. in Library
A recent news report from Hyderabad, India, has drawn attention to the practice of some children engaging in extended fasting as part of upvas or vrat.
The Hindi word upvas is comprised of two parts: up (meaning nearby) and vas (meaning reside), or to reside within. Upvas is performed with a view to focus on the within, the self, as distinguished from focusing on things outside of oneself, as for instance, food. Vrat literally means vow, and engaging in austerities such as upvas / vrat involves extraordinary resolve.
Austerity (“tapa”) suited to one’s body is viewed by Jains as a means to spiritual progress. Focusing within enables one to personally experience the distinction between one’s soul and the body it occupies. Accordingly, Jains routinely engage in extended fasting. However, austerity is one of the three legs on which the conduct of a Jain rests; the others being ahimsa and self-discipline (“samyamah”).
The event raises other questions as well: are children sufficiently capable of judging their readiness and ability to engage in fasting? What do our scriptures say about fasting by lay children? What is the practice within our community? Is there sufficient guidance to ensure that we do not unwittingly become victims of over-zealousness?
Let’s discuss these and other related questions in a townhall meeting at the ashram on Sunday, October 23 at 11:00 a.m.
We also invite all among us with knowledge of the subject to please come forward and be a part of the distinguished panel that kicks off this conversation. The panel will be graced by the auspicious presence of H.H. Amrender Muniji M.S. and chaired by Shri Jaipat Singhji Jain.
Those seeking to be on the panel are encouraged to promptly contact Shri Kulbhushanji Jain (firstname.lastname@example.org), time being short.
Thank you and welcome to the conversation!
PS. Library is the first building after one enters the ashram. Volunteer help with parking etc. is welcome!