The Prime Minister, Dr. Manmohan Singh launched the Jain Manuscripts Catalogue of the collection in British Library, London.
The Prime Minister, Dr. Manmohan Singh launched the Jain Manuscripts Catalogue of the collection in British Library, London, on Saturday, May 27, 2006. Describing the lasting influence of Jainism on Indian civilization Dr. Singh said that Jainism enduring legacy of non-violence has shaped our approach to life and nature. Its principled stand against a hierarchical caste system
inspires us to fight for equality of all even today.
Commending the Institute of Jainology initiative in cataloguing the manuscripts Dr. Singh said that such initiatives will inspire others to undertake similar efforts for re-creation of our history. Union Minister for Tourism and Culture,
Smt. Ambika Soni presided over the function, British High Commissioner in India, Sir Michel Arthur was also among those present.
Following is the text of the Prime Minister's address on the occasion:
I am delighted to be present on this historic occasion of launching of the Jain Manuscripts Catalogue. This ancient land of India has been home to some of the greatest religious movements and religions known to mankind, among which Jainism occupies an important place of pride. It is an important constituent of our composite culture and civilizational heritage.
The noble principles of life and spiritualism expounded in the philosophy and practice of Jainism have influenced successive generations of people worldwide. Its enduring legacy of non-violence has shaped our approach to life and nature. Its principled stand against a hierarchical caste system inspires us to fight for equality of all even today. The rational basis of Jainism has contributed to the growth of scientific temper and the fight against superstition and blind belief. Rejecting the rigidities of doctrine, Jainism presented a new openness and in a new freshness in our approach to matters considered spiritual . This approach has helped in grappling with social, religious and even economic problems facing mankind. Jainism is part and parcel of the rich tradition of rational intellectual discourse that has flourished in this ancient land of India.
Indeed, Mahatma Gandhi wrote that Jainism represents the highest flight of
logic. It has taken nothing for granted and has endeavored
to prove metaphysical truth by challenging the intellect. The tradition not to take anything for granted and examine all postulates on the basis of reason and intellect needs to be followed in our own time.
As today marks the 42nd anniversary of the passing of Jawaharlal Nehru, it is appropriate for us to recall his observation in The Discovery of India that it was Jainism that helped us better appreciate the rights of all living beings. He saw in Jainism the
endeavor to lead the good life, the higher life. It is this approach to life that in recent years has influenced humankinds thinking about the
environment and about our planet. This respect for life has to be constantly reiterated and inculcated in our minds. That is the only way humankind can make progress. In fact, in our quest for material prosperity we sometimes forget the spiritual heritage of our civilization. A balance between the material and the spiritual can help restore sanity when we are caught in the rough and tumble of life. An appreciation of the beauty of life and nature is needed to ensure
Over the millennia of our nations history, the Jain way of life has left its mark not only on our intellectual heritage, but also upon our tangible cultural heritage. The impact of the Jain tradition upon our literature, our visual arts and our
architecture and our way of life is truly enormous, and it remains very visible
even today. We only need to look at the heritage of the Dilwara Temples at Mount Abu, or the magnificent multi-faith art of the Ajanta caves, to realize just how deeply our civilization has benefited from this precious facet of our history.
However there is a further contribution of the Jain tradition that has scarcely been explored in the past decades of rediscovery of our past. Here I refer to the creation of history from ancient documents. While we have done reasonably well in utilizing a portion of the vast treasure of available historical material unearthed in India, it is fair to say that in such an ancient land as ours, we can never be satisfied with the variety and quantity of material that we have used. Manuscripts and documentary material, as a result of their very fragile nature, have not been utilized as much as other historical material. It is in this context that your effort to replenished to the corpus of available source material for the recreation of our history is so valuable. I commend you warmly for this initiative. I am sure your initiative will throw new light on our understanding of the historical context of this great faith.
We must also appreciate another aspect that invests today's event with such value. Let us acknowledge that despite our pride as a people in our ancient civilization, our domestic efforts to preserve its legacy have been far from adequate. Consequently, we have lost, perhaps irretrievably, part of our heritage. The historian A L Basham wrote about the "Wonder That Was India". How much of that wonder have we preserved? How much of it do we appreciate and value? In this context, your efforts as a group of concerned and
socially- aware individuals, to contribute so much time and effort to this Catalogue has great exemplary value in our society today. I thank you for this.
I therefore believe that the Jain Manuscript Catalogue will be a repository of insights that can help us pursue a more fulfilling life. The values associated with Jainism are the common heritage of humankind. The whole world derives inspiration from these values. If we do not preserve those insights and make
them available to future generations we will be failing in our duty to our posterity. By preparing this Catalogue, and by doing so not only in India but also in the United Kingdom, the Institute of Jainology has served the cause of all humanity, in the highest traditions of Jainism.
I sincerely hope the good work of the Institute of Jainology will continue and the present Manuscript will inspire others to undertake similar noble efforts. I commend you for this labour of love, and I wish you every success in your future endeavors.