Indian businessman, wife follow kids’ footsteps, donate USD 23.94 million wealth to embrace monkhood

In a role reversal, an Indian couple followed in the footsteps of their children to renounce materialistic wealth by donating nearly INR 200 crore (USD 23.94 million) to become monks. Bhavesh Bhandari and his significant other hail from western Indian’s Gujarat, the home state of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

The Bhandaris took out a lavish procession for the donation ceremony. Photo: Screengrab from X
The couple took out a lavish procession for the donation ceremony. Photo: Screengrab from X

The couple now plan to embark on a journey of salvation, local media reports said. The donation was made during a ceremony in February. They will start their journey as monks later this month, following a ceremony, NDTV reported.

The Bhandari couple was inspired by their daughter, 19 and son, 16, who embraced monkhood in 2022. Bhavesh made his wealth through his construction business. The same was distributed in February, as the couple, along with 35 others, took out a procession and travelled four kilometres, donating their wealth, including their mobile phones.

Jain monkhood: A test of limits

While monkhood is a prevalent practice among the Jain community in India, the same required extreme dedication and tests one’s patience and perseverance. Once the Bhandaris take the oath on April 22, they will have to cut down ties with family and give up on anything materialistic. The newly ordained monks will also need to walk barefoot across India and live only on alms.

“They will be allowed to own only two white garments, a bowl for alms and a “rajoharan”, a white broom Jain monks use to brush insects away from an area before they sit — a mark of the path of non-violence they follow,” NDTV reported.

A costly affair

In 2015, Bhanwarlal Raghunath Doshi, an Indian businessman, gave up his INR 600 crore (USD 71.84 million) business to become a monk. However, his initiation ceremony was a laving one. As per a Times of India report from June 5, 2015, Doshi used up INR 100 crore to book the venue of the event, a one million square feet space. The event was attended by 1,000 monks and 150,000 guests.

INR 8 crore (USD 958,021) was spent on various arrangements and INR 25 crore (USD 2,993,810) was donated to various Jain institutions.

In 2023, a multi-millionaire diamond merchant and his wife in Gujarat also followed in the footsteps of their son, five years after their the 12-year-old adopted monkhood. The to be monks, however, reached the venue in a Jaguar, the price of which starts from INR 72 lakhs (USD 86,221). The son rode a Ferrari for his diksha ceremony!

While this practice might be lauded by many, it also does not auger well for all, especially the family members. In 2017, a couple’s monkhood in Gujarat drew intervention from the Gujarat State Commission for Protection of Child Rights (GSCPCR) after Sumit Rathore, 35, and his wife Anamika, 34, left their three-year-old daughter with her grandparents.

The organisation had sought a report from law enforcement about the steps taken by the parents to secure their daughter’s future, who would have no relation with the couple once they become monks.