Nowadays with work-from-home being the way of life, weekend as such does not hold any meaning. Yes, it probably means lesser Zoom calls and certainly no markets to track. And that means, we can use this time to sometimes look at other aspects of life. Like the market, we all look for escapism from the harsh reality surrounding us and look around for stories which will inspire us. So, here is one such…..
This is the story of Prakash Shah. He is a chemical engineering graduate and post graduate from IIT Bombay. Till a few months ago, he worked as VP, Reliance Industries and was instrumental in the commissioning of Reliance's Jamnagar Petcoke gasification project.
He resigned from Reliance last year; not to join another company but to retire from what we call ‘life’. He and his wife, took diksha and became Jain monks last month. From being a major decision maker, he now begs for alms and eats whatever he receives, as is the rule of the sect and leads a life of quietude. His son too, an IIT graduate, at the age of 24, became a monk and that was seven years ago.
For a person who would always move around in a car, he will now have to walk huge distances on foot and his branded clothes are replaced with white robes. It takes a lot of courage to give up the life of comfort and get onto this oath of truth. It is a slap on the shallowness of the materialistic life we lead, an unending race towards futility.
In 2017, a billionaire, known as the ‘Plastic King’, Bhanwarlal Doshi renounced the material world and became a monk. In early 2021, Harsh Singhi, aged 25 years, after completing his CA became a monk. And in 2018, in Mumbai, 16 men and women, aged between 14 and 45, took the Jain vow of renunciation. This includes another IITian, an investment banker with Goldman Sachs, a biochemistry postgraduate and many more such professionals.
Many such professionals, very successful and career-driven Jains are becoming monks, devoting themselves to spiritual life and this is a sect, which as per 2011 census has the highest literacy rate in India. There are some 17,000 such Jain ascetics and the numbers are increasing every year.
So, what makes people like Prakash Shah and so many others leave their financially secure life with creature comforts and settle for a life full of hardships? Well, looking at the current circumstances, the one we all are going through, the pandemic has taught us that the life we live is not really the ‘real’ life. We might today have all the creature comforts but are we happy? And it is this search for enduring happiness alone which propels so many to this path of spiritualism.
Most of us, neither have the courage nor the drive to embrace such forms of spiritualism but as we get into the weekend mode, maybe we can find time to think about where we are headed. Like the markets, which are so cut off from the ground realities of today, maybe we too need to think how ‘connected’ we are to the ‘real’ person within?
As rightly said by Abhijit Naskar in ‘Monk meets world,’ “Curiosity, humility and compassion, these are the fundamental pillars of monkhood, if you have these in your life, then you are a monk, regardless of your financial status and relationship status.”