A group of Jaina lay people from Lalitpur in Uttar Pradesh has raised a sufficient sum of money to conduct a so-called eye-camp. We were invited to join a team of two doctors, one male one female, and their helpers on their way to the camp.
After a drive of about twenty-five kilometres in a north-easterly direction we reached a walled-in temple near a hamlet by the name of Sironji.
Out in the open, between the temple wall and a newly raised building destined to be a museum, a row of large Jina statues, all badly damaged, has been set up (below). Inside the new building we noticed scores of smaller images and temple fragments waiting to be catalogued and exhibited.
It was the last day of the camp. Before it began, ten days ago, the news was spread to the tribes-people in the area to have all those suffering from fading sight brought to the temple for examination on such and such a day. The ones who could be operating on would need to stay in the camp. Everything would be free of charge, regular meals and after-care medicines included.
In a simple, almost bare room, under the light of a torch, stitches were pulled and reassuring advice given by the doctors whereas their helpers renewed bandages and distributed medicines. Everything went smoothly; no paperwork was involved.
With everyone having been treated, a last free meal was consumed in the open outside the temple wall. Then, by the last rays of the sun, the bare-footed patients with their white bandages round their heads, the oldest guided by the hands of small children, dispersed in all direction along narrow tracks.
Visibly pleased and relieved with the work done, the two physicians and we others sat down to a meal in the temple courtyard. It was, we two guests thought to ourselves, unbureaucratic charity at its best.
Sironji near Lalitpur: A row of Jina images-de- capitated but still conveying the Jaina ideal of serenity The statues are reminiscent of the art of Deogarh (see p. 100) Lovers of Jaina art should not miss visiting the temple and the new museum at Sironji (UP).
Compound of the Sironji Jaina Temple, showing snapshots made on the last day of an eye-camp organised and paid for by the Lalitpur Jaina community.