Her nickname is ‘Kakiba’ and it means ‘oldest person in the congregation’.  With 104 years behind her, the name is well suited to Surajben Doshi.

Among the most remarkable of souls we’ve yet encountered throughout the four years of filming the ‘Our Story’ series, Surajben, of the Jain Temple of Farmington Hills, credits her longevity on a strict adherence to Jain traditions, which include eating twice a day (a strict sugar-free vegetarian diet) and a non-violent outlook approach to life.  Having worked alongside the great Mahatma Gandhi, Surajben has been practicing the tenets of her faith nearly since birth in 1904; by her heartiness and positive attitude, we expect her to celebrate many more birthdays.

Jainism, a small but influential religion an ancient tradition of scholarship and have the highest degree of literacy in India.  Likewise, the temple in Farmington Hills, built in 1998, offers among its amenitites study classes held on site. .  As demonstrated by Bhavna Mehta, one of twenty-four instructors, the children are eager and obedient as they learn the intricacies of the Jain ideology.  With over two hundred students now enrolled, the classes continue to attract both adults and children.

Pioneer member of the Jain Society of Detroit Girish Shah offers further insight into the beliefs of Jainism.  Samyakdarshangyancharitrani Mokshmargasya" is the fundamental principal of Jainism. It means: "True Perception, True/Right Knowledge and True/Right Conduct" is the path to attain Moksha. Moksha is attained by getting liberated from all Karma. Those who have attained Moksha are called Sidhdhatma (Omniscient Soul) and those who are attached to the world & other souls through Karma are called Sansari (living beings). Every soul has to follow the path of Moksh as described.

It’s impossible to understand Jainism without involving nature, because the religion focuses on the fundamental relationships and symbiosis between forms of life in a way that Western societies frequently call ‘ecology’.  Life is viewed as a gift of togetherness, accommodation, and assistance in a universe teeming with interdependent constituents.  Jainism can also be viewed as ‘the perfect democracy’, as followers accept the equality of opportunities to achieve perfect freedom and spiritual perfection.  Each form of life, even the lowliest, has the potential to reach the highest state of consciousness, because every soul has immense power, which can be released like nuclear energy.

Another old friend we ran into during the course of the Jain ceremony was Arvin Shah of Jaya Travel and Tours in Southfield.  A leader in the travel industry since 1976 Mr. Shah and his wife, Jayshree Shah offer full service tour packages with branch offices in Chicago, New York, Washington, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Houston along with Chennai and Mumbai.





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