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Dr. Sulekh C. Jain


Should My Conscience Bother me: You Decide.

 Houston, Texas, Jan 09, 2015
Dr. Sulekh C. Jain

The title of this article may appear catchy but this is how a friend of mine from North Carolina started his conversation when he called me last week. He mentioned that he has come to know (directly or indirectly) of at least 3 families of Indian origins in North America who changed their religious following when struck with tragedies such as accident, stroke, heart attack, major surgery disability, falls, brain hemorrhage, terminal illness, burning and destruction of their house, tornado, burglary, death of a spouse and several other such mishaps. In those times of real need and helplessness, hardly anyone from Indian community came to help, assist, support, and console them when they really needed it most. He did say that such stories /incidents are not rare. Similar stories exist nearly all over USA.

On the other hand in the time of such needs, many non-Indian families and organizations immediately sprang into action. They opened their hearts and homes right away. They took them  to their homes, set us hotlines,  teams of volunteers were always there asking  for their welfare, taking/driving  them to doctors and grocery stores , visiting them in hospitals, bringing food , helping in feeding, bringing medications and signing them  up for all  available/eligible assistance. These affected Indian families found that most of their Indian friends were good enough as chai friends only with big lectures on spirituality and talks of other worldliness. 

With the timely love, care and support that they got, they realized-what good is clinging to their own community. They should belong to a community of caring and sharing people that provides help, shelter and a sense of belonging. They willingly and appreciatively on their own opted to change and adopt the new tradition that offered them what they needed and got. One interesting common thread in all these stories was that prior to, during and after all these helps, there was no proselytizing or brain washing to change their religions. There was not even a subtle hint to that effect.

 I mentioned to my friend, that here in Houston the community has set up several organizations like Daya, Cancer Network etc. but still I personally know several families who are in similar situations of dire needs and they too are frustrated for lack of community support. My friend emphasized that many Indo American communities in USA significantly lack organized initiatives and whatever is there is not adequate.

Last week, I was watching on Television a 2 hour show on PBS “From Jesus of Nazareth to Jesus Christ and Evolution of Christianity”. The show narrated historical events how followers of Jesus for nearly 350 years faced horrible torture and persecution but they absolutely and unconditionally followed the motto of SEWA (service to needy and comradery), never compromised and walked away from this basic principle and thus won the hearts and minds of many people.

In all Indian religions and particularly in Jainism the principle of Ahimsa (non-harming and non-hurting) is supreme. Ahimsa has 2 facets; I will not harm or hurt others and at the same time I will proactively work to reduce the suffering of others. Only then we can follow the full meaning and essence of ahimsa. This second aspect is Sewa/service. In my opinion, Christians practice this second aspect of Ahimsa to the fullest extent and are a role model for all of us.

Here I want to categorically say that purpose of my writing this article is not at all talking about the willing or non-willing kind of conversion. What I am talking about here is the dire need for Sewa within the Indian community.

My appeal to my community leaders, brothers and sisters is that now we have successfully created the entire necessary infrastructure within the Indian community.  Let us now equally dedicate ourselves to the second aspect that is of Sewa too. Sewa all the time does not require dhan (money). More than money (which we Indians have plenty) it requires Man and tan (mental and physical) commitment. In the case of the affected families that my friend mentioned, none of those families needed money. What they needed most was man and tan

One of my friends from Washington, D. C wrote me “any religion that does not serve its People/Community is bound to fail, disintegrate and disappear.  It’s a matter of time and 21st Century is going to be the ruthless one”.

  • If you want others to be happy, practice compassion.
  • If you want to be happy, practice compassion.
  • There is no need for temples; no need for complicated philosophy.
  • Our own heart is our temple; the philosophy is kindness.

  H.H. Dalai Lama




Dr. Sulekh C. Jain