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Inauguration of Jain Studies at CLU

Thursday, September 22, 2011   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Pooja Jain
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September 6, 2011 was a gorgeous day for all the Jains of the world and especially for the Jains of North America. It was a nice, sunny day in Southern California. Local Jain community members and Jains from all over America had arrived in their festive costumes with great expectations on the occasion of "Pratistha Mahotsav of a Jain Gnan Mandir” at Claremont, California (a suburb of Los Angeles) . They were welcomed with a Jain, vegan breakfast as they were waiting for the ceremonies to begin. The ceremony was in honor of the inauguration of Jain studies program at a newly minted Claremont Lincoln University (CLU).

CLU is a new University formed by Claremont School of Theology (CST). Established in 1885, CST is an institution of The United Methodist Church, situated in Southern California among the prestigious Claremont Colleges.CST is a respected institution for studies of Christianity, andJudaism and Islam have been added under the auspices of Claremont Lincoln.. The school received a $50 million donation from the Lincoln family of Arizona to start a program for world religions and in May 2011, CLU was born. The first religion CLU chose to partner with is the Jain dharma.

CLU is a one-of-a-kind academic institution that welcomes partners from all religious and ethical traditions and they have begun their journey by partnering with the International School of Jain Studies (ISJS) in India. Over the last seven years, six Claremont students have gone to India to study the Jain dharma at ISJS. At the initiative of one of these six students, who is now pursuing her doctoral studies at Claremont, Jain studies has become an integral part of the CLU by establishment of "ISJS at Claremont Lincoln University”. This alliance is further strengthened by a separate letter of understanding between JAINA and CLU in which JAINA has pledged its full support to the establishment of a Jain studies program.

The understanding between ISJS and CLU is very ambitious and has 20 action items in it but for now the following three will be put on fast track:

1. Offer the first course on Jain dharma in the Fall of 2012,

2. Holding an annual international seminar on Jain dharma at Claremont campus where Jain scholars and academics from all over the world will be invited to present research papers, and

3. Establish distance education programs for Jain studies. This initiative is expected to be "Open Source,” meaning it will be available to anyone, anywhere and at any time.

The festivities of September 6 at Claremont were dignified and were a harbinger of great things to come in the near future. The stage was decorated with two large framed Jain art paintings, scores of Jain books donated by Jains of North America and a tall brass lamp. In attendance were President Dr. Jerry Campbell, Provost Dr. Philip Clayton, Mr. and Mrs. David Lincoln, many faculty members and invited guests of Claremont School of Theology, ISJS Director Dr. Shugan Jain, a large delegation of members of the Jain Center of Southern California headed by Rajen Dhami, three Past Presidents of JAINA Dr. Sulekh Jain, Kirit Daftary and Dilip Shah. The auspicious event began with Manglacharn by Pramodaben Chitrabhanu. Dr. Christopher Chapple made the opening remarks; Dr. Sulekh Jain spoke of ISJS and JAINA at Claremont Lincoln University before the lamp lighting ceremony with the image of Goddess Sarswati in the background.

Rabbi Mel Gottlieb gave the Jain community a warm welcome and Rajen Dhami (Trustee of JCSC and Vice President of JAINA) noted the importance of the new initiative and presented mementos from JCSC to Mr. David Lincoln who thanked and welcomed the Jains. ISJS alumna Amanda Pumhery spoke about the Jain symbol of the raised hand and Tim Helton talked about the art of giving.

Dr. Shugan Jain spoke next about the philosophy of ISJS and hopes for the alliance between ISJS and CLU. He presented specially created scarves for the event to President Jerry Campbell, Provost Philip Clayton, Chair of Board Mr. David Lincoln, CFO Lynn O’Leary-Archer and Brianne Donaldson Chair of Jain Exploratory Committee at Claremont Lincoln. The traditional ceremony of yoking symbolizes joining together and pairing of ISJS and Claremont of Lincoln was thus formalized.

Dr. John Cobb spoke of plurality, practice and possibilities as we go forward. Dilip Shah spoke of the future plans and marveled at the commitment of Claremont Lincoln to initiate distance learning studies of Jainism. President Dr Campbell gave a heart-warming speech and appreciation for this new beginning.

The concluding remarks were by Brianne Donaldson, special assistant to the Provost and Chair of Jain Exploratory Committee at Claremont Lincoln. Her perspective on the Goddess Sarswati image that was on the screen during the ceremony was indeed a moving experience for all present.

The Jain ceremony was followed by the convocation ceremony of CST that included Pramodaben Chitrabhanu singing Maitri Bhavnu Pavitra Jharnu.

Afterwards, all the guests and Claremont faculty were served a vegetarian lunch on the lawn where vegan menu was also provided.

For more information:

Claremont School of Theology:

Claremont Lincoln University:

International School of Jain Studies:

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