November 2015 Nisha Kapashi’s diksha ceremony caused quite a brouhaha in the international media. And no wonder. Nisha was a New York-bred high achiever who left it all to become a nun. For many elite Indian youth, this came as a shocker, as was apparent from the many online forum discussions carrying this news. Nisha, 30, born and brought up in Walkeshwar, a posh part of South Mumbai, is a degree holder from the Fashion Institute of Technology, New York, who led a dream life after securing a merchandising and sales job in the major fashion brand, J Crew. However, in her own words, she had reached a point in her life where everything seemed pointless to her and nothing gave her peace – neither her high-end material possessions (read highly coveted Prada and Fendi bags), nor her elite Manhattan lifestyle, and high achiever job. It was at that time that she began attending Jain philosophy lectures and felt inspired by spirituality. She quit her job in 2010 and, within a year, flew to Mumbai to meet Jain guru, Prasha Mita Shirji, 65. For subsequent years, Nisha went into self-introspection aided by her guru’s discourses and embraced nunhood at the start of 2015 in a grand ceremony in Jharkhand. The oath of non-violence, honesty, chastity, and non-attachment marked Nisha’s new birth as Sadhavi Samveg Pragnya Shriji. She shaved her head and donned white as a mark of her renunciation. Sadhavi Samveg, as per the Jain tradition, leads a nomadic life and walks with other nuns to seek food, carrying a stick, a water holder, and ogho, a brush, to wipe away any living creature so as not to step on them. “I wish people could experience what I am feeling. I wish they could experience the peace I feel within. Yes, I’ve given up my family. But now, the whole world is my family,” she said joyfully.
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