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YJA Convention 2012 Experience - Saejal Chatter

Wednesday, July 25, 2012   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Manju AN
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As I stepped onto the escalator to baggage claim, still partially groggy from my three-hour inflight nap, I was unaware of the lasting impact YJA 2012 would have on me. From the second I stepped into the lobby of the hotel, till long after I came back home, I was smiling.

From sessions led by both my roommate and non-profit organizations, such as Meatless Monday, I have bettered my understanding of how to apply the Jain philosophy to myself, and also how to use this information to make a helping impact in the world. I was saddened to learn about the depth of cruelty in meat production. Although I have always been vegetarian, I am now more aware and have been further prompted to spread this information outside the Jain community.

I now successfully know the "elevator speech,” a two-minute piece highlighting the core principles and values of Jainism: Ahimsa, Anekantavada, and Aparigraha. I am really glad that I will be more equipped to explain Jainism to others; it is much easier. In a session focused on maintaining Jain values in college, I realized that even though I would not be able to visit the mandir as often, or have many other Jains on campus to interact with, I could still practice Jainism on a daily basis. The panel of college students spoke about having an enlightened mindfulness of Maan (thought), Vachan (Speech), and Kaya (Action). I now also feel well prepared for college life and maintaining my Jain identity.

My favorite session was on Meditation. It was the first time I had an extensive formal meditation session, and I particularly enjoyed delving into its philosophy and benefits. Although the session was only an hour long, the calm I felt lasted long after the meditating ended. I hope to practice this skill for the rest of my life. I believe that I am now leading a stronger Jain Way of Life.

Our keynote speaker Vivek Maru is one of the most influential people for young Jains today. He spends a lot of time working in various African countries promoting social activism. His speech primarily covered his justice program in Sierra Leone. As Keval Gala said, "It's not every day you get to hear someone end an inspirational speech with the epic line ‘I'm sorry, but I must leave to catch my flight to Uganda.’”

While enjoying the Jain version of different ethnic foods, packing into an elevator, or dancing to Bollywood, American, or traditional Indian music, I was constantly meeting new people. I was excited to meet so many other Jains my age. It was amazing how I learned so much through interacting with other people as I did from sessions. Before going to YJA I had not met many of the other Jain’s from New England itself! We are all making an effort to stay in touch, and successfully connect all young Jains in the Boston area. It was a unique experience to be part of the national Jain community. Soleil Shah articulately encompassed the whole experience: "YJA was, by far, one of the most exciting, fun, enlightening, and spectacular events that I have ever attended.” Thank you to everyone who organized this amazing event. I can’t imagine the hard work that went into it, but I know that everyone I talked to had the time of his or her lives. I can’t wait till YJA 2014!

-Saejal Chatter

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