Cans full of compassion

By Aditya Vora

It was Sunday, not any ordinary Sunday but Sunday June 20, 2021. It was Father’s Day. Usually, I call my father first thing in the morning but that Sunday my father texted me at 9 AM and informed me that we will talk later. Around noon time I called him to wish a Happy Father’s Day. He told me that he was leaving for a funeral home in the morning to attend the memorial service of a prominent Jain leader Kanu Bhai Lakhani. A few hours later while playing chess long distance (he on Long Island, NY, and I in Florida) the topic of Kanu Bhai came up. I am used to listening to interesting tidbits and stories from my father. That day he mentioned Kanu Bhai and flashbacks of his memories.

While growing up my mother took me to Jain Pathshala (school) where we learned the basics of Jain principles and codes of conduct in daily life to observe Ahimsa (nonviolence). She would see a little insect at home and gently scoop it up and take it outside to release it while making sure no harm or worse death occurs. As a child growing up, I was impressed and this had left a permanent impact on me. Compassion also was explained not just towards your immediate family members but all living beings. My memory is fuzzy but my mother brought a round can, a kind of piggy bank with a photo showing many cows and animals. It was a compassion piggy bank. One is motivated to drop left over change in the can. I remember we had several cans and once filled up, you need to call to turn over to one of the three volunteers: with a leadership role of Kanu Lakhani (516) 681 2937, Bachubhai Mehta (516) 935 1347, Praful Doshi (718) 899 1475. I may have been in Middle School and my ANUVRAT was to get change – my own and parents – to drop in the compassion can. The joy was to see it get filled up. I don’t remember how many filled cans my mother must have returned but I still have one in my room, completely filled and gracing my bookcase. Every time I come to Kings Park; I see many items from my childhood but this one is one of a kind.

Now, as a psychiatrist I immensely value the many virtues imbibed by Jain teachers, friends, and family. For me nonviolence (“first, do no harm” Hippocratic Oath) was imbibed before becoming a doctor and compassion is a must to understand patients and their pains before writing a prescription to alleviate the misery and sufferings. Had I been on Long Island, I would have attended Kanubhai’s memorial service, not just because his two sons are physicians but for one who indirectly instilled valuable virtues in me and to me, he is a father of the compassion piggy bank. It is self-enriching to prepare this on the auspicious day of Samvatsari.

Aditya Vora is a practicing psychiatrist and lives in Boynton Beach, Florida.

Acharya Tulsi Ji

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