By Crystal Chung @crystalkchung
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Captured on camera by photographer, Serge Bouvet in February 2017, the images show the various types of Jain monks and an insight to their day-to-day practice of social alienation as they walk and hike several miles per day.
Serge said: “The Jains monks are people who walk in single file, walking may allow them to free themselves from social alienation.
“The Jains monks practiced wandering and the wanderings of these Jain monks fascinated me - they only walk with their pilgrim stick all day.”
Serge, originally from France, was exploring the winding alleyways of Udaipur when he stumbled upon a group of Jain Monks walking along in single file and he decided to join them for their barefoot morning walk.
Serge, 46, said: “The speed of their walk impressed me.
“They were in single file and moving in complete silence. Their white tunic attracted me, and visually, I found their displacement very photogenic. So I followed them.
“Every morning the monks go to several temples. They stay there for very little time - three or four minutes.”
All the Jains monks live in small groups whose composition and movements are decided by the monks of higher rank.
An ordinary monk is known as muni or sādhu while a nun is an āryikā. Groups of itinerant monks are called gaccha.
The Jains monks made five great vows of; non-violence, sincerity, honesty, chastity and non-attachment to the things of the world.
The French photographer was able to speak to a few of the monks, and one in particular was happy to tell his story of how he became a monk.
Monk, Ajit Ratna, made the decision one day to give up his life as a chemical engineer to become a Jain monk.
Bouvet said: “Ajit decided one day to very suddenly give up the mundane life. When he announced his decision to his wife, she also decided to become a nun.
“Their son also became a monk too. Ajit told me that the ties that binded them as a family no longer exist. They no longer behaved as family members but as monks, each seeking their own path.”
The Jain religion is believed to be one of the most ancient religions in the world and is often associated with Hinduism or seen as a branch of Hinduism.
However, Jainism is very much a religion in its own right and its followers have to keep a strict code of conduct.
Serge said: “I can understand the feelings of the Jain monks who decided to give up their professions for freedom.
“They feel free by ceasing to think about their profession, their age, their boredom.
“When one walks 30 kilometres per day, everything, absolutely everything, appears derisory and unimportant. All that remains is to look and walk.”
To take a look at more of Serge’s incredible photography, visit his website; http://www.sergebouvet.com/