An island of abundance in an ocean of poverty!

By Jayantibhai Shah

It is quite common for women to take vows in India. Invariably there are some goals behind this taking of vows.

Currently, this vow taking is catching our attention abroad more so among the diaspora. Recently, in The South Asian Times an article on this activity called Anuvrat was written by Bakul Matalia who happens to be more than a friend. Accordingly, people are requested to take small vows. The vows are intended to help the vow takers to secure self-development, establishing fraternity among different sections of our society or creating environmental improvement that will leave a better world for coming generations. We are actively propagating this vow taking activity in our groups of friends and people of similar interests.

However, it is necessary to understand that vows cannot be imposed on someone. This brings me to share my own experience. I asked myself what Vrat or vow shall I take? This required self-introspection. I found out that I tend to hoard things. When I go to a store, if I see a nice piece of clothing, I will buy it. As a result, my home became a warehouse of useless things which I am not going to use in multiple lifetimes! So now, when in a store I am attracted by any item; first, I ask myself, do I really need it? Still if I cannot resist buying that beautiful shirt, I make myself ready to get rid of at least one or two shirts that I already have.

At home when I open my closets, I get appalled by the number of items, many of which I have not cared to take out of their wrappers! This realization has led me to donate many of my clothes to the organizations that serve their needy clients. Looking into our food cabinets we donate many such items and even money to our hungry neighbors. Going a step further, many of us have enough wealth to feed our future generations. Most of our children and grandchildren are much more capable than we are. In some cases, we are a laughingstock for them! Can we secure self-development, a generosity to part with our wealth? Indeed, we are living on an island of abundance in an ocean of poverty!

I am glad that I read an article in The South Asian Times which motivated me to introspect and led me to take Anuvrat for self-development at my advanced age. My Anuvrat is not to get carried away with impulse buying and if need be, to buy an item than another Anuvrat of mine is to have a similar item at home donated or discarded.

Jayantibhai Shah is a lifelong teacher, first in India and then in NYC high schools. Since his retirement in 1996, he has dedicated his life to community service, more specifically for senior citizens. Currently, he is president of Long Island Bhartiya Pariwar. Shanti Fund which promotes peace and nonviolence based on Mahatma Gandhi and other peace leaders, honored him for his services in 2020.

What is Aparigraha in Jainism?

Five vows are prescribed for Jains. One of them is Aparigraha.
Aparigraha is the concept of non-possessiveness or non-greediness. The term usually means to limit possessions to what is necessary or of basic importance for life sustenance, which changes with the life cycle, though sadhus (priestly class) would not have any possessions.

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