A 99.9 percentile in Class 12 is a ticket to top-flight colleges and a lucrative career. For 17-year-old Varshil Shah, who comes from a middle-class family, it is a dream come true.
But Varshil has chosen a different path. He is ready to renounce the world to be a Jain monk.
The teenager from Ahmedabad in Gujarat will take diksha – a religious ceremony that marks the initiation of Jain monks and nuns — on June 8, his uncle, Nayanbhai Suthari, said on Tuesday. The ceremony will be held in Gandhinagar.
Varshil was among the toppers when the Gujarat Secondary and Higher Secondary Education Board announced the result on May 27.
There were no raucous celebrations. Varshil, whose family follows Jainism, shuns limelight and keeps to himself. In fact, it was his uncle who spoke to HT.
“The result is as per expectations, but to attain and maintain peace, I think renouncing the world is the only way,” his uncle quoted Shah as saying.
His mother Amiben Shah and father Jigarbhai, an income-tax official, are happy with the path chosen by their son.
The couple raised their two children – Varshil and his older sister Jainini – in complete simplicity. The family closely follows the Jain principle of Jivdaya, or compassion for all living beings.
The use of electricity is restricted in the Shah household. The family believes many aquatic animals are killed in the process of power generation, which is also against the Jain vow of ahmisa, or non-violence.
The Shahs don’t keep a television or a refrigerator at home. Electricity is used only when it is necessary, during the night especially when the children are studying.
His scores didn’t surprise Varshil but unlike other toppers of the school-leaving exam, his mantra for success is different.
A peaceful mind ranks way above hard work for Shah. Before the school year began in 2016, he met a group of Jain monks who helped him concentrate and score high.
But he was set on the spiritual path three years ago.
“He came in contact with Surat-based Munni Shri Kalyan Ratna Vijayji three years ago. He was only waiting to complete his school (before taking Diksha),” Suthari said on Tuesday.