Tag Archives: Jainism

Dharma in Manchester

We were welcomed at the Jain Samaj Manchester by Suresh Mehta, the Chair of Trustees at the temple. They are just building a large new annexe which has cost £1M. The centre was opened 18 years ago by Gerald Kaufman MP

Suresh showed us a picture of the huge temple complex at Palitana.  Jains have 24 tirthinkaras in each time cycle, who have each reached nirvana. The first reached nirvana there 

We moved into the temple room and rang the bell, as saw the statues of the three tirthinkaras that they have there: Mahavir , the 24th tirthanka 599 BC – 527 BC, Parshvanat  the 23rd, born 877BC and Shantinath the 16th Tirthinkara.

Suresh spoke to us about the temple, the life of Mahavir and Jainism. He pointed out that he was talking about Mahavir’s version of Jainism as that is written down. Both Mahavir and Buddha came from Bihar and lived at more or less the same time, teaching very similar things.  They walked everywhere, and many Jain priests and devotees will do the same today.  140 people took tiksha in 2016. They give up everything and live without possessions in the Ashram. 

He explained that Jainism is built on three pillars:

  • Ahimsa – non violence but taken to the extreme meaning not even thinking bad thoughts and including being able to forgive.
  • Aparigrah – trying to live at a level of comfort, but not of excess. This leads to Jains being very generous.
  • Anekantvad – there is no absolute truth, everyone is (potentially) right 

Jainism follows a lunar calendar but add an extra month every fourth year.   We are in the fifth of six segments of the current time cycle. During this period things will get worse. Suresh talked to us about how Jain beliefs and practices influenced the Hindu Mohatma Gandhi.  Mahavir gave 5 rules for lay people to live by: ahimsa, truthfulness, not stealing, none aquisitionness, control over sexual desires.  

Suresh talked a little bit about the Jain Community- they try to help the local community, and are open and pluralistic in their outlook. They started holding meetings in a hired school hall.  Now they have 125 families. During the recent Paryushan celebrations ( a period of personal reflection), four people fasted for 8 days, no food and drinking only water during daylight. Suresh came from Kenya, where he lived next to the temple until he was 12. 

On a Sunday evening, before a shared dinner, Gujarati hymns are sung. In July he flag on top of the shrine is changed in a special ceremony.  Diwali is celebrated , as well as a Christmas party!  The temple is like one you would have in a house, so this doesn’t need a priest to wash the idols each day and carry out other duties.  On Tuesdays and Thursdays the temple is open and people can come and pray in a personal way.

We then moved on to the Sri Guru Gobind Singh Gurdwara where we were met by Sukhbir Singh.

Having removed our shoes, covered our heads and washed our hands we went into the Diwan Hall. Sukhbir demonstrated how he would enter the prayer hall. 

He gave us a quick overview of the history of Guru Nani Dev Ji and the founding of Sikhism, leading on to key beliefs and practices, including the five virtues, the Gurus and the Harminder Sahib. He talked about what happens at the gurdwara, both religious and cultural/community practices.

He explained that there are three pillars of Sikhism: 

  • Nama Jappo, praying to God.
  • Vand Chako, share everything you have
  • Kirat Karo, get what you can honestly through hard work.

A family who had just had a baby arrived straight from the hospital and we were able to listen as the granthi read a prayer from the Guru Granth Sahib. The first letter of the reading gave the family the start of the name, and they chose the name Ishtar. The granthi then prayed, for the baby and the family, including the blessing “bole so nihal”, “sat sari Amal” and we were blessed as the father offered us chocolates to show their thanks.

We finished off in the Langar Hall where we were served some delicious vegetarian pilau.

Dharma Day

Our latest cohort of Year 3 Undergraduates spent a day in Manchester as part of their Sikhism and Jainism Module.

File 23-11-2016, 17 12 30

At the Jain Samaj Manchester, our host Suresh explained about the beliefs, history and practices of the faith, and allowed us to explore their fantastic temple, handmade in Indian Marble.

File 23-11-2016, 17 12 30

We then journeyed across the City to the Guru Harkrishan Sahib Gurdwara. As it was Guru Nanak’s Birthday it was a very busy Temple.  We were treated to a fantastic langar, before entering the diwan hall where the female granthi was singing beautifully.

Our host CJ talked us through the basics of Sikhism, but really the best part was being able to experience the community worshipping at first hand. CJ accompanied us on the accordian and help us to joyfully recite the name of Waheguru!  Happ Birthday Guru Nanak Ji!

 

Looking to the East (Manchester!)

Undergraduate Third year students are currently learning about two Dharmic religions: Jainism and Sikhism.  As part of this we visited two temples in Manchester, the Jain Samaj and the Sikh Gurdwara.

17.11.15 © www.philtragen.com JOB REFERENCE - Religious Knowledge Field Trip - Jainism Temple, Longsight PO P165688

The first visit of the day was to the Jain temple.  Housed in converted building the main room is a sports hall, which is used for a variety of activities. Next to this is the actual Temple itself – sculpted from white Indian granite it features statues of Mahavira and two of the other tirthinkaras.  It really was a beautiful sight.

Suresh spoke to us about the history, beliefs and ethics of the Jains, and how the community in Manchester practise their faith in the 21st Century.

In the afternoon we went to the Gurdwara to hear about the Sikh faith.  After washing our hands and covering our heads we went into the Diwan Hall.  Here, Reeti talked about the background to the religion and then we heard a portion of the Guru Granth Sahib Ji read. We also got to see the Guru’s bedroom.

Finally, the highlight was to go into the Langar Hall and sample some of the wonderful food that they had prepared for us.

17.11.15 © www.philtragen.com JOB REFERENCE - Religious Knowledge Field Trip - Gurdwara, Manchester PO P165688

Thanks to Phil Tragen for the photos!

Two Temples in One Day

Part of our Year 3 undergraduate course is a module looking at two of the less popular Dharmic religions, Sikhism and Jainism.  as part of this we spent a day with the two communities in Manchester.

Our first visit was to the Jain Samaj Temple.  Here we were able to see the community hall with its most impressive shrine.  Dominating the shrine was a beautiful rupa of Mahavira and the first and 23rd tirthinkaras, Rsabha and Parsanatha.

Our  guide, Suresh Mehta spoke at great length, explaining Jain beliefs and practices, including ahimsa, the three paths and the four destinations.

We then continued across Manchester to meet our old friends at the Guru Harkrishan Sahib Gurdwara.

Our guide, Gurvinder Singh, expained the central beliefs of Sikhism and read from the Guru Granth Sahib – a wonderful experience.  We then had a little tour of the gurdwara, seeing the Guru’s bedroom, before finishing by eating some lovely langar in the langar hall.