Saturday, May 27th, 2006
New Delhi – Prime Minister Manmohan Singh Saturday said that Jainism not only helped India to fight superstition and blind belief but also allowed scientific temper to grow.
Launching the Jain Manuscripts Catalogue of the British Library, London, prepared by the Institute of Jainology, Manmohan Singh said Jainism, which ‘rejected the rigidities of doctrines’, presented a ‘new openness’ and ‘a new freshness’ to India’s approach to spiritual matters.
‘The rational basis of Jainism has contributed to the growth of scientific temper and the fight against superstition and blind belief,’ Manmohan Singh said at a function held at Vigyan Bhavan here.
‘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,’ the prime minister said.
Lauding the religion, he said: ‘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.’
‘In our quest for material prosperity we sometimes forget the spiritual heritage of our civilisation,’ Manmohan Singh lamented.
‘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 sustainable development,’ he remarked.
Manmohan Singh pointed out that manuscripts and documentary material had not been utilised as much as other historical material. ‘It is in this context that your effort to replenish the corpus of available source material for the recreation of our history is so valuable… I am sure your initiative will throw new light on our understanding of the historical context of this great faith,’ he said.
‘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,’ the prime minister said.
Culture Minister Ambika Soni and British High Commissioner in India, Sir Michel Arthur, were among those present at the function.