By Naresh Jain
Like many people of my generation from India, I have a sweet tooth. Indian sweets, cookies, cakes, and anything sugary & sweet had been a part of my every meal, at least two times a day if not three. Sometime in 2011, my family physician advised me to reduce sweets to manage sugar level. I made a promise to myself to cut down on sweets but could not keep it. I repeated it as part of New Year Resolution on December 31, 2012 and broke it within a few weeks. In fall of 2013, I went to the Samvatsari (last day of the yearly Jain festival – Paryushan – of retrospection and forgiveness usually occurs in August- September each year) observation at a Jain center where Jain nuns were also present. I looked towards the nuns and made a personal commitment to eat sweets not more than once in a day until the next Samvatsari. On normal days it was fine, but at parties, functions, pujas, and weddings, I needed to control the temptation. Conventions and visits to India, a heaven for sweets, were challenging. I think the presence of nuns had instilled the will power in me and I kept the commitment for one year. I continued repeating it annually and have been successful till today. My physician and family are incredibly happy with me and relatives and friends have adjusted to my saying ‘no’. This is Anuvrat, a small vow that has helped me to abstain from something undesirable thus reducing harm to myself. Unlike a New Year’s resolution that rarely gets adhered to, Anuvrat is a serious commitment to practice self-help.
Naresh Jain is emeritus trustee of the Parliament of the World’s Religions, co-founder of International Jain Sangh and EduCare Foundation in New Jersey, director in the Federation of Jain Associations in North America, and advisor to the board of the Monmouth Center of World Religions and Ethical Thought.
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What is the key value of Jainism?
Jainism is a religion of self-help. There are no gods or spiritual beings that will help human beings. The three guiding principles of Jainism, the ‘three jewels’, are right belief, right knowledge, and right conduct. The supreme principle of Jain living is nonviolence (ahimsa).