Last month, I visited Jain temples, or teerths, in Karnataka along with a family. They have two adorable children who are also quite bright. I won’t get into how spiritual the kids are.
On the second day of our tour, we stopped in Arathepur village, which is close to the Bengaluru-Mysuru route. Because it is a less well-known teerth, very few people visit, and the natural beauty of the area remains untouched. While travelling through the forest, you can still smell the fresh air. It has a woodland vibe to it, with only trees, insects, and birds around.
On top of one of the hills lies a monolithic statue of Bahubali Bhagwan. It cannot be worshipped due to the fragmented nose, yet the architecture of the idol is exquisite. A single statue stands alone on the summit of the hill, unsupported.
We were walking back along the trail towards the main road after visiting this idol. That’s when the younger girl, Swasti, said something that made us think.
“Will we find Muniraj meditating in this forest?” she wondered.
“Perhaps,” her father suggested.
Swasti inquired again, “Can we offer Aahar to him?”
“Why not, I suppose! We must first prepare it”, Her father was patiently responding while walking.
“However, he will not eat anything prepared for him.”
When I heard this, I turned around and looked at her. Is she really only four years old? How amazing!
(For those wondering, Muniraj doesn’t take food prepared specially for him. Jain disciples(Shravak) prepare food for themselves and wait for muniraj before having it themselves.)
“Yes. What do you want to make for lunch?”
So she might be recalling the story of Muniraj possessing Aksheen Riddhi, who ate kheer and it was enough to feed the entire village and even the soldiers of Chakravarti. What a great memory!
“Where will we find milk and rice in this forest?” her father inquired.
“I’m not sure, but I want to make kheer and then wait for Muniraj.”
She was quite excited about this aahar daan.
“What if he doesn’t come for Aahar today?”
“Then we should go find Muniraj and do his darshan.”
This girl is really determined today. She isn’t leaving until she finds a Muniraj.
So, the conversation proceeded in the same way till we reached the main road.
On the fourth day of our journey, we arrived in Shravanbelagola. We came across a Muniraj performing darshan in a temple at that time.
Swasti’s gaze was fixed on him the entire time we were there.
When we got outside, I questioned her, “Swasti! What will you ask Muniraj if he speaks to you?”
“Aap bhagwan bnne vale naa!” (Now you’ll be God!?) The innocence in her response moved me.
We eventually ran into the same Muniraj Ji again.
“Mummy, I want to take Diksha from Muniraj,” Swasti remarked suddenly to her mother.
“What?” said her mother, astonished by the startling revelation.
“Yes, mummy, I want to be like Muniraj,” Swasti stated emphatically.
I’m not sure how her mother persuaded her that she couldn’t take Diksha at this time, but the kid was determined.
Throughout the trip, we had other chats with her that were similar in nature. Her intelligence and knowledge never ceased to astonish me. I wished my future children could be like her.
Her elder brother “Sahaj” is no less. His stories of trip are equally amazing which I might share soon.
Parents can instill Jainism ideals in their children at a young age. Children understand everything. They are not as naïve as we believe. It is important to respond to your children’s “silly” questions in order to foster their curiosity. Who they will become as adults are determined by their parents’ teachings!
Thank you for reading!
By the way, here is an old video of Swasti when she was 2 years old.
Believe me she is just 2 years old. First his bro, Sahaj amazed us and now she. Her mom cooks everything including chocolates, biscuits, noodles from scratch in home. I am gonna take some serious parenting lessons from her parents for my kids in future. #jainism #kids pic.twitter.com/Osb7ctEdFi
— Divya Jain (@_smiley_divya) February 3, 2021