Without any acquaintance, without delivering any results, the people of Karachi gave so much respect to unknown people was only due to their gentlemanliness, devoutness, and a reflection of their devotion
[Editor’s Note: This is Part 16 (Welcome to Karachi) of a series of articles based on a pre-partition book named “મારી સિંધ યાત્રા” (“منهنجي سنڌ جو سفر”) in Gujarati authored by Jain sadhu Shri Vidyavijayji, narrating his experiences of travel and stay in Karachi for about 2 and half a years between 1937 and 1939. It would be advisable to click on the Introductory Article and read it to better understand the series. – Nasir Aijaz, Editor Sindh Courier]
Vimal Shah, Mumbai
Welcome to Karachi
It was Thursday the 10th of June, we departed at 6 am from Gujarat Nagar and arrived in Sadar. One place in Sadar was heartily decorated by the Jain brothers living in Sadar. Slowly people started gathering there. Even non-Jains of the city started coming. Parsi, Sindhi, and many covered with Khadi from head to toe were easily identified as ‘Congressmen’. Sikh Military Band was also playing tunes along with the Jain Youth Band. We departed from Sadar towards the city at sharp 7 am. Why so much respect for Sadhus like us? It was long before we could begin serving in this region. No one knew what will happen tomorrow and what we will do. Even if they know, still respect must be expressed after service, but why so much respect before any service? And this respect was not only from the Jain Sangh. It was from the leaders of all the communities of Karachi.
Jain sadhus need to win over twenty-two types of Parishaha to protect their abstinence
So, it was more burden for us. Every moment I was demanding an answer from my soul – Do we deserve so much respect or not? Without any acquaintance, without delivering any results, the people of Karachi giving so much respect to unknown people was only due to their gentlemanliness, devoutness, and a reflection of their devotion, what else can you say? On the other hand, it was the biggest Parishaha (suffering) for us. Jain sadhus need to win over twenty-two types of Parishaha to protect their abstinence. This is also one Parishaha among them. Winning over the Parishaha of getting too much respect is more difficult as compared to others like mosquito bites, hunger, thirst, improper facilities, and the like. This was the only thought running through my mind every moment. It does not take time for a person to become arrogant in the event of receiving a grand welcome and respect. You cannot resist getting delighted. And getting arrogant or delighted becomes an obstruction in abstinence. Anything that obstructs abstinence is nothing but a Parishaha.
Gentlemanliness of Journalists
We were not only flooded with such welcome and respect but even the journalists had painted us like angels by writing editorials in the local newspapers. The newspapers of present times are a bugle of awakening, cautioning, and introducer of the world. You get to know the feelings of the author or speaker from his writings or speech. The words would reflect the feelings.
The honor given to us by the people of Karachi was more of theirs rather than ours
They reflect more on the competence or incompetence of the author rather than their subject. Irrespective of how’s the opposite person, the author expresses his competence by honoring or humiliating the person. Whether to welcome the guest or not? How to welcome? It all depends on the host. Therefore, the way the guest is welcomed reflects more on the host rather than on the guest. The honor given to us by the people of Karachi was more of theirs rather than ours. Likewise, all those journalists who welcomed – honored us was their welcome and honor and not ours. It reflected their gentlemanliness.
I find it appropriate to reproduce two of the many editorials by journalists who displayed their gentlemanliness by welcoming us.
Editorial No. 1
The Great Jain Aacharya Shri Vijay Dharmasurishwarji Maharaj had a strong will of visiting Sindh for the propagation of non-violence. But the soil of Sindh was deprived of the Darshan of this Great Soul due to his demise. Who does not know Vijay Dharmasurishwarji today? A learned Doctor from Indore had stated about him in public discourse – ‘There might be only a few learned people in Hind who do not know Aachharya Vijay Dharmasurishwarji, but the Aacharya is popular in every village and mohalla of Germany. I heard the name of Aacharya for the first time in Germany.’
The learned disciples of such a world-renowned Aacharya – Muni Shri Vidya Vijayji, Muni Shri Jayant Vijayji and three more Munis have arrived in Karachi, the capital of Sindh by walking 500 miles from Shivganj (Marwad) without worrying about hunger and thirst, passing through the dire jungles and barren deserts of Marwad and Sindh, enduring the freezing cold of Marwad and scorching heat of Sindh. We heartily welcome these great saints at the doors of Karachi.
Muni Shri Vidya VIjayji is a staunch believer in interfaith harmony apart from being a passionate scholar, orator, author, and a great reformer. He has authored about thirty-five books in Hindi and Gujarati language which are received very well amongst the readers.
Their objective of visiting Sindh is to propagate ‘Jiyo aur Jeene do’ – the message of non-violence of Bhagwan Mahavir
Muni Shri Jayant Vijayji is a historian and a great scholar. He has authored a book named ‘Abu’ giving minute details of the ‘Abu Hills’. This book has been of great help to the research scholars of Ancient Art & Architecture of India and History, and the tourists and pilgrims. He has also authored many such books.
These great saints completely renunciate wealth and observe chastity. Their objective of visiting Sindh is to propagate ‘Jiyo aur Jeene do’ – the message of non-violence of Bhagwan Mahavir.
May they succeed in fulfilling their wish of eliminating the roots of the tradition of non-vegetarianism in Sindh for the past several years. We welcome these holy souls to the doors of Karachi with our wish that not only Jains but all the compassionate people and organizations from all the communities extend their cooperation in their endeavor.
(Published in ‘Hitechchhu’ – dated 10/06/1937)
Editorial No. 2
It is a very disturbing question in the minds of humans today – Where will the ever-growing sorrows stop? The sorrows of people are becoming so unbearable that the worried people get dragged towards undesirable acts for getting rid of the sorrows. We learn from the newspapers, particularly the dailies that sorrows drag many people towards suicide. Such incidents are growing day by day.
In today’s times, the question of growing incidents of suicides demands an immediate resolution for the existence and sustenance of mankind
This is not a normal matter for mankind. For the existence and sustenance, it is essential to resolve the questions that pose a challenge to the mankind from time to time. In today’s times, the question of growing incidents of suicides demands an immediate resolution for the existence and sustenance of mankind. The sorrow of people that leads to people dying in Mumbai with fire from the stoves, suicide for not having the resources for marrying daughters, the sacrifice of youth in the ‘Sursagar’ (lake) of Vadodara because of failure in exams, widows ending their lives due to insufficient resources for their living, unemployed dying for lack of support to fight the pain of hunger. All such incidents reflect the sad state of human society. What is the use of these announcements if they do not demand a resolution on how to liberate mankind from such a sad state? Such incidents are reported in the newspapers for presenting the prevailing situation and as an implied warning to find solutions to them. In other words, the question of how to liberate mankind from ever-growing sorrows is a serious question among many facing today’s world.
Only philosophers can address such grave questions. The common understanding about philosophers is that they are ascetics living in the Himalayas disconnected from the world. In general terms, the behavior of philosophers is like that, but their meaning is not limited to that. A philosopher is one who understands the truth, discretion, and duties. Mahatma Gandhi does not live in the Himalayas, but still, he is a philosopher. Thus, philosophers, while living among people think for the uplift of the people.
One such great philosopher, Muni Shri Vidyavijayji has arrived at the borders of Karachi. He has arrived for extinguishing the fire of sorrows faced by the people of Sindh with an understanding of philosophical concepts. Philosophers travel for spreading peace and providing solutions to the misery of the people. The common term for philosophy is religion. Religion is not a sect. Religion means the knowledge of the truth, discretion, and duties. You will find it is the essence of every religion if you examine the roots of different religions.
When Mahatma Gandhi arrives in Karachi, though the arrangements of his activities are made by the Congress, his sermons are universal. Likewise, the arrangements of the activities of Muni Shri Vidyavijayji would be made by Shri Jain Sangh but he has come for the propagation of sermons beneficial to the entire society. Muniji can give sermons on all the areas like non-violence, compassion, discretion, and noble thinking, preached by Mahatma Gandhi. He is also a staunch propagator of National Pride. We are delighted to welcome such a philosopher at the doors of Karachi. We hope the people of Karachi and Sindh would be eager to grasp his sermons.
(Published in ‘Sindh Sevak’ – dated 08/06/1937)
What else do the words of the journalists above reflect other than their gentlemanliness? Additionally, the optimism they have expressed towards the servants of Religion, Community, and Nations like us as a journalist reflects their passion for national service. (Continues)
About the contributor of the series of Articles based on the book
Vimal Shah is a follower of Jainism by birth and is based in Mumbai, India. He is a Computer Engineer and holds a Diploma in Jainology from Mumbai University. He has an immense interest in reading, writing, studying, and teaching Jain Philosophical subjects. He conducts classroom as well as online sessions on Jain Philosophical courses. He continues to study various subjects and remains a student of Jain Philosophy. He has significantly contributed to the Translation Project of the ‘Compendium of Jainism’ from English to Gujarati – an initiative of the JAINA India Foundation. He is also associated with a Project for the translation of Jain Aagams (Scriptures) from Gujarati to English. He has a special interest in the history and preservation of the Jain Heritage in Pakistan. He was part of a Delegation of the Jain Heritage Foundation, New Delhi that visited various Jain Heritage Sites in Pakistan in May-2023.