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Millionaire renounces his Rs 600 crore empire to become a Jain monk

Bhanwarlal Doshi, a New Delhi-based plastics tycoon, has renounced his wealth to become a monk. The 58-year-old businessman was initiated into a monastic order of Jains at a three-day ceremony attended by 1.5 lakh people in Ahmedabad.

Doshi is said to have started out selling paraffin from a street cart but later set up his own company, DR International. His wealth is put between Rs 350 crore and Rs 600 crore.

Doshi, who has been referred to as Delhi’s “Plastic King”, will now be known as Bhavyaratna Vijay Maharajsaheb. Doshi was given diksha by Jain Acharya Shri Gunratna Surishwarji Maharaj. He is the 108th disciple of Surishwarji Maharaj.

The diksha venue in Ahmedabad was built on the theme of Samyav Jahaj (Ship of Restraint).

A highlight of the ceremony was a 7km procession of painted elephants, camels, horses, musicians, sword dancers and 1,000 monks.

Among those who greeted Joshi was industrialist Gautam Adani. Doshi has decided to give much of his fortune to Jain charities.

Forgoing phones, ornaments or colourful clothes — which have been exchanged for simple white robes — he will rise every day at 4am for several hours of meditation and yoga. He will have to walk barefoot at all times to avoid the possibility of squashing insects.

Before he goes to bed each night, he will undertake a ritual known as alochana, or self-criticism, in which adherents consider their day’s activities and the times they may have hurt something or killed an insect, while repenting of their daily sins.

“Taking diksha is not easy,” said Surishwarji Maharaj, a Jain guru from the order that Doshi has joined. “A Jain monk’s life is like that of a conch shell that cannot be painted any other colour.”

Doshi had long considered living as a Jain monk but his family had not wanted him to. However, his son Rohit, 33, said he was now proud of his father’s decision.

“He would have taken diksha three years ago but the family had stopped him then. It is always tough when the head of the family wants to seek diksha,” Rohit said. “It took three years for him to convince us. We are proud of him.
The honour and respect that he got when he announced his decision is something that can only be seen to be believed.”

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