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Jain Studies at Claremont Lincoln University - 2nd Quarter Report

Tuesday, July 24, 2012   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Manju AN
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Welcome to the summer! We hope this find you very well. We are pleased to send this
second quarter report to our friends and supporters.
As many of you know, the Jain Studies program was inaugurated on September 6, 2011,
at Claremont Lincoln University in Claremont, California (a suburb of Los Angeles) in a
public welcoming ceremony. Many prominent Jain leaders were present, as well as
several JAINA past presidents, Pramodaben Chitrabhanu, and a number of Jains from the
Jain Center of Southern California. Our first ten months of collaboration with the Jain
community has been a great success, both in the U.S. and in India.

Seven Graduate Students Traveled to India to Attend the ISJS Program
This summer we sent our first cohort of seven students from Claremont to take part in the
ISJS summer education program in India. Please note that in the past years, six other
Claremont graduate students had attended ISJS programs in India. Prior to their
departure, this year’s students, along with seven other students and friends of Claremont
Lincoln, visited the Jain Center of Southern California to participate in puja, aarti, a tour
of the temple images, and a delicious Jain meal. Our students gave overwhelmingly
positive feedback on this unique experience.

Digital Recordings of Jain Lecture Material
Additionally, a group of students has begun to digitally record existing Jain lectures in
order to create an online resource for Jains and Jain scholars around the world. These
students received several hours of training in basic Sanskrit pronunciation for this project.
Over 100 books were generously donated to the university library to increase our Jain

We are working with Dilip Shah to create a series of brief online lectures on Jainism.
These videos will be free and open-access to anyone who visits the Jain Studies website;
they will also be publicized through our Jain Studies Facebook page.

First International Jain Conference on Bioethics in 2012.
The first International Jain Conference on Bioethics will be held at Claremont on August
24-25. With the generous gift from Gurudev Chitrabhanu Ji and Pramoda on behalf of the
Jain Meditation International Center, as well as three other Jain donors, this conference is
shaping up to be an exceptional international event, bringing contemporary scholarship
together with ancient wisdom.

To date, we have 22 speakers confirmed for this event. In addition to numerous papers
regarding Jain views of birth, life, death, and rebirth, we also have several high-level
participants from across other traditions. Our four lauded keynote speakers—Crawford
Cromwell, D.K. Bobra, Brian Cummings, and James Hughes—will anchor the event.

World-renowned bioethicist Rabbi Eliot Dorff will share a distinctly Jewish perspective
on life. Faisel Qazi, an Islamic neurologist, will engage the complexities of death from a
Muslim perspective. We have speakers from Hindu, Buddhist, and Christian traditions, as
well as those writing from the framework of philosophical ethics and animal welfare.
Paper topics cover a vast scope, including infanticide, reincarnation, religious and
national law, Sallekhana, sexual selection, and ethical dilemmas faced by practitioners in
their day-to-day professional practice.

We have developed a close working relationship with the Conference committee of Dr.
Nitin Shah, Dr. Manoj Jain, Dr. Manish Mehta, and Raj Dhami, and our work together is
nurturing genuine friendship. One of our Ph.D. students, Matthew Fisher, has been
serving as the Conference Coordinator, which is an invaluable experience for him
academically and professionally. As a winner of this year’s ISJS Essay contest at
Claremont Lincoln, Matthew also went to India this summer, making the conference
much more personal and tangible for him. These opportunities for friendship and learning
foster a fresh kind of collaborative leadership which Matt exemplifies and which
Claremont Lincoln aims at for all of its students.

This conference has also been a wonderful opportunity for our campus catering staff to
learn and grow. The chefs did not know much about Jainism, nor about the unique
reverence for life embodied in Jain vegetarianism. Although they regularly provide plantbased
dining options for our community, learning from our Jain partners about the levels
of compassion in a Jain diet was an adventure in culinary creativity. Dr. Nitin Shah
himself came to campus on June 12, bringing a dish prepared by his sister. Kinna Gandhi
also joined the day’s events and prepared a dish for the chefs to try as well. The head
chef, in turn, had researched and created a dish for them as well. It was an unexpected
moment of fellowship centered on the efforts to eat compassionately. The Jain Way of
Life is vividly expressed in the menu planning for this conference, and the catering staff,
as well as our own administrators, is learning a great deal.

Graduate Level Courses in Jainism
The next year of Jain Studies promises to be even more exciting. Already Dr. Nitin Shah
presented a lecture titled "Asian Religions in America -­‐ Jain Dharma" to graduate students on June 12 as part of a summer intensive class on Religions in America. A graduate course will be offered this fall, titled, "Applied Jainism: Bioethics Among the Dharma Traditions.” Brianne Donaldson, our Dharma coordinator at Claremont, will teach this course and will offer an "Open Ashram” time of quiet Jain meditation thirty minutes prior to this class each week. Please see the attached flyer for details on this class. Jain community members are welcome to attend. For Jain students at other universities, Claremont Lincoln has agreements with many universities in southern California to transfer credits. In the spring, we will offer another graduate course titled "Jain Dharma: Nonviolence in Theory and Practice.”  

Ahimsa Day & World Parliament of Religions Symposium at Claremont 
On October 2, we will host an Ahimsa Day celebration that will be planned by the students who studied in India this summer. Sulekh Jain will be present for that day and will stay on to participate as the Jain representative in the World Parliament of Religions symposium hosted by Claremont Lincoln University.

Memorializing Virchand Raghavi Ji Gandhi; the First Jain Scholar to Visit the U.S.
We are also in the planning stages for a conference on the life of V.R. Gandhi, which
coincides with our petition to the government of India to fund a chair in Jain Studies in
his honor at Claremont Lincoln.

Launch of the Jain Partition Project – Studying the Role of Jains During the
Partition of India and Pakistan in 1947
Claremont Lincoln University is launching a major research project into the experience of
Jains during the 1947 Partition of India and Pakistan. We are attempting to raise $25,000
for the first phase of the project. To date, we have a commitment of $20,000 from Jain
individuals in India and the U.S. and are waiting to hear back from the American
Academy of Religion on an additional grant. We have secured funding from Vidya Sagar
Institute of Management in Bhopal, for all travel, room and board expenses for our
researchers while in India. Four researchers at two Indian universities have also joined
our collaborative research team.

2013 International Jain Conference on Women’s Perspectives in Dharma Traditions
In consultation with Professor Christopher Chapple at Loyola Marymount University, our
Jain Studies academic advisor, we have crafted a proposal for The 2nd International Jain
Conference at Claremont on Women’s Perspectives in the Dharma Traditions. This
conference seeks to provide a forum for participants to engage the evolving identity of Dharmic women who live at the intersection of gender roles, professional aspirations,
historical femininity, textual representation, cosmological archetypes, dynamic
sexualities, cross-cultural nationalities and religious commitments. We believe that this
will be the first formal event in which scholars and practitioners doing advanced work in
this field can come together to creatively engage the complexities of women’s diverse
experience within and contributions to the evolving shape of a globalizing Dharma.
Though we intend to target a number of diverse individuals to contribute to this
conference, we are very excited to have a high percentage of women speakers
participating in this event.

Visiting Scholar from India for Three-Year Program
To expand our international collaboration and enhance the Jain studies program at
Claremont Lincoln has supported the application of a young Jain professor in India in his
pursuit of a three-year fellowship issued by the Government of India. This fellowship will
allow this professor to be a visiting scholar, with access to our library and computer labs,
doing research on Jain environment and ecology issues
Please know that the Claremont Lincoln community values this partnership with the Jain
community tremendously. Each step we take together strengthens the foundation of a
sustainable and robust academic program enriched with the lived practice and knowledge
of the Jain community in North America and India. Passing that integrated experience
onto our students, and building friendships among former strangers, is the goal of this
work, as we together attempt to actively consider and care for the well-being of all life.
We look forward to the next quarter of a thriving Jain Studies program.

Brianne Donaldson
Coordinator, Dharma Traditions
Ph.D. Candidate, Process Studies
Claremont Lincoln University
Claremont, California

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