WHILE FAMILY members and relatives of a Jain couple from Neemuch, in westernmost end of Madhya Pradesh, bordering Rajasthan’s Chittorgarh and Kota districts, were certain that the two would become monks, they did not believe the decision would come so soon. Relatives said families of both Sumit Rathore, 35, and Anamika Rathore, 34, tried for long to dissuade them, reasoning that their daughter Ibhya, two months shy of three, is too young. But the couple, who had ostensibly made up their mind soon after Ibhya’s birth and were following sheelvrat (celibacy) for the last two years, were not be deterred.
They are set to renounce the material world and become monks on September 23 in Surat, Gujarat. Ibhya, relatives said, will be raised by Anamika’s father Ashok Chandalia, a former district BJP president, and his family.
Their wealth estimated at nearly Rs 100 crore — Sumit runs a factory, the family owns a large house, land, and a big commercial property that is rented out for weddings — and their daughter barely an infant, the decision has become a talking point for people in Neemuch, even as almost everyone in the town praised them.
Calling it an act of “supreme sacrifice”, Mahendra Choradia, a local resident, said, “There are no words to praise their decision to leave a luxurious life and adopt an austere life. But what about their young daughter? No one else can replace one’s parents.”
Family acquaintance Rajesh Manav said those criticising the Rathores for leaving their daughter behind were ignorant of either religion or sacrifice, or both. “She was born from the union of two punyatma (holy souls) and will eventually take deeksha herself,” he said. “People should worry about children abandoned by parents, or those without parents — not Ibhya, who will be raised by her maternal grandparents among children of her age.’’