Following the fatal road accidents involving two monks near Bharuch, leaders of the Jain community have started imparting training to monks to prevent such accidents. While many leaders are debating about the issue and discussing corrective measures, some of them have initiated action in their own ways.
Incidents of Jain monks dying in road accidents have surfaced frequently in recent times. According to community leaders, monks have to follow certain religious tenets. They travel from one place to another just after dawn and before sunset. As they have to walk barefoot, most monks prefer to walk early in the morning – increasing the chance of road mishaps.
Referring to an initiative to train monks, Shermalji Maloo, trustee of Khatargachchh Trust, said, “Our Acharya Abhaydevsurishwarji Maharaj Saheb has already taken a decision to train sadhu-bhagwant (Jain monks). We are telling them that they should walk on the side opposite to the driving direction, which will drastically reduce chances of accidents. We are also telling them to walk in a single line on the roadside. There is heavy traffic on the highways nowadays.” Urging action against errant drivers, the trustee said, “It is not only the monks who need training, but also the drivers on the highways.”
Niraj Kumarpalbhai, a community leader in Ahmedabad, has other suggestions. “Sadhu bhagwants may confine their long travels. They should also prefer to move on internal routes rather than taking the highways,” he said, adding, “At the same time, the state government should increase highway patrolling, especially at the time when sages are travelling. It should not be a big issue for the government as it already has highway police patrolling units. They just need to direct them to increase their vigil during early hours and before sunset. Such a system should be implemented.”
Palitana-based senior leader of the community, Acharya Muktiprabhsurishwarji Maharaj Saheb, said, “All the Jain saints are disciplined enough to walk on the road in the right manner. Looking at incidents that have occurred in the last couple of years, it doesn’t seem like accidents; rather it seems that somebody is doing it intentionally. There is one Anoop Mandal in Rajasthan. Its members are beating Jain monks, so its involvement cannot be denied in such incidents.”