Shifting Perspective ~ A monk’s life

by on August 21, 2012

Right now, we are in the midst of Chaturmas – the four months when our monks and nuns stop their nomadic movements and stay in one place. This gives the lay persons an opportunity as well as an environment to attend discourses regularly and participate in fasting more rigorously than the rest of the year.


In Madurantakam town, 50 kms from Chennai, one of our senior Gurus, Ram Muni, is holding the Chaturmas. Accompanying him are other monks who are his disciples, one of whom is Himanshu Muni. This name was given to him by his Guru when he was initiated as a monk, two years ago – an unforgettable experience for all of us. Before that, we knew him as Dr. Harakchandji Dhariwal. He was married to my husband’s cousin, Chandra Didi. I use the past tense because as a monk, one renounces not just material wealth and comforts, but relationships as well.


After leading a life as a successful householder and a dedicated doctor, he decided to renounce the world. His parents too had done the same and were his role models.


Jaina monk just before Diksha

Shifting Life Perspective ~ Jaina monk on a procession (Varghoda) just before Diksha

In 2011, when the news of his Chaturmas happening in Tamilnadu reached us, all of us were delighted for it would give us an opportunity to interact with him.


Yet however much I may have been aware that his life is completely changed now, I was still unprepared for it. Unprepared for the toughness he has undertaken upon himself! The robe he was wearing looked so worn out and pale because most of the Jain monks use washing soda rather than detergents to wash their clothes. He looked so different from the doctor of earlier times – almost like another person, another life.


And then, he saw me and smiled – that same unchanging smile – warm and cheerful, yet so different! I was pained to see a bandage on his left leg; he had been hit by a vehicle during his travel by foot to Chennai. I prostrated before him and then asked, “Maharasaab! Are you really taking care of yourself? I cannot bear to see you like this?” He laughed gaily and said, “Don’t worry about me. I am absolutely fine. Life is so much simpler now.”


He looked at my puzzled expression and offered a unique explanation, one that shifted my own perspective. Earlier when an accident occurred, one got busy with the paper work, police complaints, insurance work, and so on and so forth. He said that now when the accident happened, he recognized it as act of karmic balance – a returning action from someone he may have knowingly or unknowingly hurt in some previous birth. He said that there was no need to expand the karmic chain by indulging in actions and reactions! Instead, one can reduce it by forgiveness and equanimity.


Words cannot express the impact of his words on me. This was a new and enlightening view on life. As he added, this is neither escapism nor cowardice, but a deep understanding of life. It’s all about perspective and we must choose our own point of view wisely!


On the eve of Samvatsari, the Jaina festival of forgiveness and peace, my friends, I wish you all Michami Dukkadam!

Read more about Himanushu Muni in a soulful post by Vimal and Shanta Chordia. Click to view more reviews & deep musings on life. We would love to hear your comments and thoughts in the form below.


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