Recently, a friend of mine at Facebook, having Jain as his surname, was promoting non-Jain Gods. I ignored him for a while, but then directly asked him by sending an email that why he was doing this. His reply was funny:
‘I am vegan, so I am true Jain and you are not. Because you eat dairy products. You have no right to ask me about what I am doing’. Before I could reply, he deleted me from his friends list and blocked me. This was just an escapism, not Jainism!
Well, coming to the point, let me say that most of the Jains have forgotten the basics of Jainism. They think just being a vegetarian is enough for being a Jain. Some ‘advanced’ Jains think that worshipping idols and performing rituals and fasts are the essential things for being a Jain.
But Jainism is not vegetarianism. Jainism is not a performing art. Jainism is not eating habits.
Donkeys and monkeys are vegetarians. Not only that, they are vegans as they do not use milk products. They do not eat potatoes, onions and garlic. They live a peaceful life. Can we say that they are Jains?
Unfortunately, Jain monks never tell the true meaning of Jainism to the lay people. It happens because most of them do not know it, and others like to hide it. They never tell that taking vows is a later step. The first step is to abandon wrong beliefs and knowing what is right. But people are following vegetarianism without knowing the right faith and without throwing away the wrong beliefs. Just like going to college without taking primary education.
Jainism is based on equality (Samatabhaav), and not on Ahimsa and vegetarianism. Ahimsa is the fruit of equality. Vegetarianism is the fruit of Ahimsa. But Jains have forgotten equality, the root of Jainism.
If you are a vegetarian, or even a vegan, or even you are a Jain monk, but if you are on the wrong path, you are not a Jain. If you eat before sunset, but you discriminate people in the name of religion, language, sect, caste and gender, you can not be a Jain. And finally, if you are fully dependent on agents for getting knowledge, if you do not use your own intellect, you are not a Jain.
So do not believe me, just start to think. Start to know the right path. For this you have to keep yourself away from agents of the religion. You do not need them. Once you realize this, you will lead on the right path and right faith.