A book referring to the practice of Digambar Jains and Naga sadhus moving unclothed as an example of “obscenity in religion” is being withdrawn from colleges and libraries in Indore after a protest by a Jain organisation, which described the reference as “objectionable and wrong” and “an insult to Indian traditions”.
The Jain community has given Indore-based Alankar Publishers three days to recall and destroy copies of ‘Swayam Ko Samajna’ (Understanding the Self) — a book written by one Dr M P Kothari and used by fourth semester BEd students — or face consequences.
Shri Digambar Jain Samaj national vice-president Hasmukh Jain told The Indian Express that the publisher has been told to destroy books that are with him and those that he can recall within two or three days. He said the publisher has already apologised and has been told to recall copies. Publisher Rajiv Agrawal told The Indian Express that only 500-odd copies of the book had been sold or distributed. He said the writer had used incorrect words and did not mean to insult the religion. “We don’t even read what is printed,” he said.
Agrawal shared the telephone number of the person who he said was the author, but the person who answered, identifying himself as Milind Kothari, claimed he did not write the book. “I haven’t even gone to the publisher in the last two years. I am a Jain myself,” he said, alleging that Agrawal’s father asked people to write books, and then publish them under somebody else’s name.
Agrawal, however, insisted that M P Kothari and Milind Kothari are the same person. “I gave him money. Maybe he is scared,” he said.
In his apology, Agrawal had said, “I personally think this is not factually correct. Any sadhu in any condition is worthy of worship for us. I and my team apologise from the heart. I assure you that the mistake will be corrected in the next edition and whatever stock we have, will be scrapped.”
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