Welcome and Ahimsa Award Citation
By Dr Mehool Sanghrajka
Thursday 22nd January 2015
All photos from the event can be seen and ordered from here: http://www.oshwal.tv/hrhvisit/
Your Royal Highness, it is with the greatest pleasure that, on behalf of the Institute of Jainology, the Oshwal Association, and the here assembled leaders of the Jain Community, I warmly welcome you to our magnificent Jain Derasar and these beautifully refurbished Assembly Halls.
We are delighted, Sir, that you have found time in your busy schedule to visit our Derasar and this is indeed a special day for the Jain community.
The Derasar that you have just seen is a representation of our faith and a magnet for those who practice it. The images that are inside are neither of gods or great kings, but of people who, through the practice of asceticism and penance, have conquered their inner beings to achieve moksha, or liberation. This ideal is what all Jains work toward through the practice of the three main pillars of our faith; firstly Ahimsa or non-violence in our words, thoughts and deeds towards our fellow man, animals and insects, and the environment; Secondly, Anekantvada or the belief that reality is multi-sided and our view is partial; therefore we should be tolerant to the view-points of others, even if we do not believe in them, or see them as valid; and finally Aparigraha or limiting our possessions and therefore our impact on this planet.
We believe that our faith has universal appeal and recent events continue to demonstrate to us that if everyone followed these values then the world would be a more compassionate and tolerant place.
There are 30 Jain community organisations in the UK, and we are all united under the ‘One Jain’ banner; with the Institute of Jainology representing Jains in government and inter-faith matters. Indeed, we are proud to have had so many faith leaders visit our Derasar.
Sir, this year the Institute of Jainology is celebrating its 25th anniversary, and over those 25 years we have been grateful for the support of the Royal family on several occasions; most recently when you, Sir, came to launch the Jainpedia project at the Victoria and Albert Museum in 2010 and to see the Jain manuscript collection there.
Over the past 13 years, in October on the birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi, the Institute has celebrated Ahimsa Day to commemorate the main Jain tenet of non-violence. We present an annual Ahimsa Award to those who show compassion and tolerance in their lives and actions.
This year, the IOJ has created a 25th Anniversary Ahimsa Award as part of its celebrations, and we are delighted, Sir, that you are able to be with us today to accept it.
For so many years you have emphasized the critical importance of taking better care of interconnected and increasingly fragile world. You have been a resolute champion of the natural environment and have been unwavering in your appeal for action for a sustainable future, while yourself advancing a range of practical initiatives to further this goal.
The Ahimsa Award also recognizes the contribution you have made to encourage interfaith dialogue, a greater mutual understanding amongst adherents of the world’s faiths and acceptance of religious diversity.
Your words and actions have resonated with us and we wish to acknowledge and encourage them.
On this occasion of your visit to our Jain Derasar, can I ask the Institute’s Chairman, Mr Nemu Chandaria, to present you, Sir, with the Institute of Jainology’s 25th Anniversary Ahimsa Award.