Scenes from a Digambara diksha (initiation) at a New Delhi suburb in February 1992. On the first day, the candidate to monkhood, a successful 60-year-old founder-owner of a construction enterprise, was led in a procession through the streets of his fashionable neighbourhood. For this occasion he was dressed like a king.
The following day it was a white elephant on which, now clad in simple white, he was taken to the diksha-ground where about six thousand men and women waited to witness the ceremony that has become a favourite motive in Jaina art and that has changed little since Mahavira’s time, or respectively since the unknown year in which the scene shown on the opposite page was painted.
After plucking the hair, at which he was assisted by his mentor, Muni Amit Sagar, the initiation rite was performed using ancient texts. At the end he walked away naked. Never again would he sit on an elephant, or in a motor car, for that matter.