By Bakul Matalia
Acharya Tulsi, a Jain Monk of Terapanth sect, initiated Anuvrat (small vows taken voluntarily) movement in 1949. Post-independence era of India was marked by bedlam in society, replete with widespread violence, mistrust between neighbors, communal riots between Hindus and Muslims, deep rooted corruptions in government officials. Acharya Tulsi realized that India gained political independence, however people are still slaves of abuse, unethical practices, and low morale. He was deeply concerned about blatant abuse of religion and cruelest form of violence committed in the name of religion in the wake of partition of India. Acharya Ji knew the propensities of common people that they may break laws but will abide by vows taken voluntarily. Sanctity of vows taken voluntarily will be ingrained in their mind and will stick to them firmly. My great uncle, a spiritually uplifted soul, had several meetings and discussions with Tulsi Ji. I recall during my teenage years; my uncle will relay the message and ask us to take small vows!
After reading a biographical book on Acharya Mahapragya, an ardent disciple of Acharya Tulsi, I was influenced to partake Anuvrat movement and to undertake some small vows to uplift my spiritual progress and abide by ethical values. One can undertake several small vows, prescribed by erudite Acharya Tulsi and Acharya Mahapragya. I have taken very modest vows:
Not to consume intoxicating substances: Though I do not consume intoxicating or habit-forming substances, occasional social consumption, may be 2-3 times a year, a single glass of wine I used to enjoy. I took a vow not to consume alcohol all together.
To have early dinner most days: This vow may not have environmental effects but certainly has numerous health benefits.
Use of minimum water, papers, disposable plastics and follow firmly to recycle paper, glass, metals, plastics etc.: Preservation of the environment takes collective effort from all human beings. I took vow to use minimum water during brushing, showering and in daily activities. Minimum to none use of paper towels. Use of minimum to non-disposable plastic utensils. More use of reusable utensils. Follow strictly recycling of recyclables.
First two vows are for personal spirituality, while last vow has environmental, health and spiritual benefits. Little collective efforts go a long way to personal and societal wellbeing.
Bakul Matalia is a UN Representative of ANUVIBHA
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