Micchami Dukkaḍam

On the occasion of Samvatsari Pratikraman as I delve further into the history of Jainism I would like to share a story. But before I share that story I would like to give some background of “Micchkami Dukkhadam”.

Michchāmi Dukkaḍaṃ appears in the Airyapathiki Sutra, verses 3.124 and 3.130 of the Yoga sastra and it’s literal English Translation is:-
I want to make pratikramana (return from violation) for injury on the path of my movement, in coming and in going, in treading on living things, in treading over seeds, in treading over green plants, in treading on dew, on beetles, on mould, on moist earth, and on cobwebs; whatever living organisms with one or two or three or four or five senses have been injured by me or knocked over or crushed or squashed or touched or mangled or hurt or affrighted or removed from one place to another or deprived of life – may all that evil have been done in vain – Yogaśāstra 3.130 (3)

When I read this interpretation of the meaning behind Micchkami Dukkhadam I understand the beauty and depth of the forgiveness I seek. Now coming to the story, a chapter from my life which I have regretted and repented for decades. It goes back to Adoni, to the days of my youth.

There is a Jain Temple in Adoni where my father was the Mukadam (literally President). In that capacity he was devoted to the Temple, to the extent that the temple work and his daily life were synonymous, literally one. He passed away in 1983 after having done his duty to the temple for almost 40 years from its inception (Pratishta). My elder brother took over the mantle of the work after my father’s demise.
On the 50th Anniversary from the inception of the Temple, the celebrations were scheduled for a whole week. My father’s death anniversary was in the middle of the week, on the day of Akshaya Tritiya. Much against the wishes of the elders in my family, with youthful enthusiasm, I gave a press release in the newspaper about the festivities surrounding the Anniversary.

Today I realize probably this was Karma and it was predestined to happen but a grave mistake was made in print, by the newspaper. Instead of mentioning the right designation of my father as Mukadam, it was mentioned that he had built the temple.
Hell broke loose in the closely knit Jain Community. There was literally a revolt on how this arrogant and false statement could have been made by our family in print. No amount of damage control helped. I gave a formal apology in the newspaper, printed flyers apologizing for my mistake, went to every corner of the community begging for forgiveness. However the die had been cast and no amount of pleas from my side caused any change. The community was divided, they wanted my brother, who by then had donned the mantle of Mukadam to resign.

Decades later this tension still remains, to the extent that some sections of the community don’t attend the festivities at the temple. If I could turn back time, this would be the one thing I would go back into the past and change for sure.

As an older person, who has now become more familiar with the tenets of Jainism I realize that as per Karma theory this was meant to be. One of the main principles of Jainism is Aparigraha which means detachment from all worldly things. And I realise that I should let go of the pain associated with this incident. However I will keep sending this message to the universe of Micchkami Dukkhadam with a sliver of hope that one day soon, in the course of my lifetime the Jain community at Adoni will be one again.

Opinions in this piece belong to the author: Ramesh Kumar Shah
Ramesh Kumar Shah is the founder of the RK Group, founder of RK Trust (rktrust.in) and co-founder of Harvard Business School Angels of India. Apart from being a businessman, he is keenly involved in making as much of a difference in people’s lives as he can, most recently through the Let’s Mask India initiative, that provides a free mask to all the residents of Bangalore.

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