With sticks in their hands, woman Jain monks in Surat train thrice a week for self defencehttps://indianexpress.com/article/cities/ahmedabad/with-sticks-in-their-hands-woman-jain-monks-in-surat-train-thrice-a-week-for-self-defence-5454766/

With sticks in their hands, woman Jain monks in Surat train thrice a week for self defence

The training sessions that began Monday have been initiated after increasing incidents of sexual harassment against the female monks.

With sticks in their hands, woman Jain monks in Surat train thrice a week for self defence
A training session in progress in Surat on Monday. (Express photo)

“Dande ko majbuti se pakdo, ek feet chhod kar pehle daayein hath, aur phir baayein hath. Aapka right leg aagey rahega aur left peechhey rahega. Ab dande ko hava mein ghumaakar maarne ki koshish karo, seedhe aagey ki taraf. Is prakriya ko dus baar repeat karo (Hold the stick tightly, your hands a feet apart from each other. Your right foot should be in front, the left behind. Now, wave the stick in the air in a circle and try to hit in the front. Repeat this ten times).”

Chanchala Tokravat, president of Rashtriya Sevika Samiti’s physical training, instructs a group of 40 Jain Sadhvis at the Kailashnagar Jain Upashray (monk’s residences) in Surat.

The Rashtriya Sevika Samiti is the RSS’s women wing, and Tokravat has been teaching self defence to Jain Sadhvis.

The training sessions that began Monday have been initiated after increasing incidents of sexual harassment against the female monks. The last reported case was from Gopipura area in Surat where a sadhvi was allegedly “touched” by a 22-year old son of the priest of a Jain temple while she was sleeping with fellow monks at a Jain Upashray.

“Through this (training) female monks will be well trained in self defence so that they could protect themselves in any uncertain situation,” a Jain sadhvi who has been a monk for 50 years told The Indian Express.

When asked that if such training was contrary to the Jain teachings of non-violence, a 25-year-old monk, on condition of anonymity, said, “Our religion teaches us not to harm any living thing, and we are careful about this. But apart from this, our religion also teaches us to protect ourselves in danger. Through this training, we can protect ourselves, with our hands and also with the sticks that we carry. This will be helpful to us, and in my opinion every sadhvi should take such training so that she could become physically strong and defend against an opponent in any unavoidable circumstances.”

“It is the beginning, but one day those who are getting training will become strong enough to protect ourselves. While the cities are safe, the situation is quite different when we walk on highways from one town to another, it is difficult with limited means around you, and anything can happen. I really admire this initiative,” added the monk, who was one among the 40 trainees.

Ashit Gandhi, president of Surat’s Jeevan Kalyan Trust, a Jain outfit, had approached Tokravat to impart training to Jain sadhvis. “After the incident of Gopipura, I spoke to our head priest and took permission from our Jain head priest for getting woman monks trained in self defence. Finally, I spoke to the sadhvis who agreed to receive the training,” Gandhi said.

Tokravat holds the training sessions with three of her female assistants for three days a week, with each session being two hours long. The training will last for three months. “We will teach them how to defend with stick and without sticks with only arms and legs. We just want to make them mentally and physically strong. I was thrilled on the first day seeing the enthusiasm of woman monks. It is great honour for me to impart training to the,” added Tokravat, who is also a Jain.

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“Since my childhood, I have been associated with Rashtra Sevika Samiti, and received self-defence training. In the last few years, I have been imparting self defence training to women,” said Tokravat, who is married to a chartered accountant.