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Guest Author – Sulekh Jain, Ph.D. on Promoting Jain Studies in the Universities across the United States

Jain Religion has made an immense contribution to Indian thought. Jains have enriched the spiritual, religious, philosophical, ethical, literary, cultural, iconographic and architectural aspects of Ancient, Medieval and Pre-Modern India. Jain Philosophy has a lot to offer as a solution to the world problems of hunger, poverty, violence and environmental degradation

Jain is a very small minority religion. Even in India, we are just about 0.5% population of India but in the world just a small dot. No wonder, most of the people don’t know about us and those who know to call us just a footnote tradition!

The best way to transform Jain from a footnote religion to a highly admired and rediscovered world religion is to share its rich philosophy to the rest of the world via establishing gnan mandirs to teach Jain Principles at colleges and universities in North America and to link it with society’s contemporary issues such as sustainability, wellness, and community service.

Teaching and research in Jain Faith, which is essential for its survival, have not received as much attention as its Hinduism and Buddhism counterparts in the West. In fact, until recently, there was not a single university in the US offering a regular course on Jain Studies.

Fifteen years ago, we realized this vacuum along with the need to train many scholars in Jain Religion as well as to establish permanent centers for Jain Studies (gnan mandirs/ centers of learning) in colleges and universities in North America; particularly in the USA.

Fortunately, several visionary leaders and donors in India and the Jain diaspora in North America came forward and started working to have a permanent presence of  Jain Religion (for teaching and research) at several universities.  We have now established several positions (Endowed Chaired Professorships, Professorships, Lectureships and Post Doc fellowships) at several universities. Please see the table below. More are under active consideration right now.

 

Jain Gnan Mandirs

No. Year Est. Location Title Primary Sponsors Professor/Fellow
1 2004 India & USA International School for Jain Studies USA/India donors Attended by 700+ participants so far
2 2010 Florida International University
Miami , FL
Bhagwan Mahavir Professorship in Jain Studies Jain Educational Research Foundation (JERF) Dr. Steven Vose, Bhagwan Mahavir Assistant Professor of Jain Studies
3 2012-2014 Claremont Lincoln University
Claremont, CA
Postdoctoral Fellow Jain Community of LA Prof. Philip Clayton & Dr.  Brianne Donaldson
4 2015 University of California
Irvine, CA
Shri Bhagwan Parshvanath Presidential Chair in Jain Studies Drs. Meera and Jasvant Modi
Raksha & Harshad Shah
Raju & Neeta Shah
Position not yet filled
5 2015 Emory University
Atlanta, GA
Jain Studies in the Dept. of South Asian Religion Madhu & Dr. Jagdish Sheth Dr. Ellen Gough, Asst. Professor
6 2016-2018 Loyola Marymount University
Los Angeles, CA
50% Jain 50% Sikh Professorship Jain Center of So California
(JCSC)
Professor Nirinjan Khalsa
7 2016 University of North Texas
Denton, TX
Bhagwan Adinath Profes-sorship in Jain Studies JERF and Other Donors Dr. George James
8 2016 Rice University
Houston, TX
Bhagwan Mahavir & Chao Foundation Post-Doctoral Fellowship Chao Family Foundation and Jain Donors Dr. Brianne Donaldson
9 2016 Claremont School of Theology
Claremont, CA
Graduate Course  in  Jain Studies Sarla & Dilip Shah Professor Shushma Parekh
10 2017 University of California
Davis, CA
Mohini Jain Presidential Chair in Jain Studies Mrs. Mohini Jain Position not yet filled
11 2017 University of California
Riverside, CA
Shrimad Rajchandra End-owed Chair in Jain Studies Wadher Family Foundation, Drs. Meera & Jasvant Modi, Madhu and Vijay Chheda Professor Dr. Ana Bajzelj
12 2017 Loyola Marymount University
Los Angeles, CA
Bhagwan Mallinath Professorship in Jain Studies Raksha & Harshad Shah
Drs. Meera & Jasvant Modi
M&V Chheda and N&R Shah
Position not yet filled
13 2018 University of California
Santa Barbara, CA
Bhagwan Vimalnath Lectureship in Jain Studies Rita and Dr. Narendra Parson
Drs. Meera & Jasvant Modi
Position not yet filled
14 2018 California State University
Fullerton, CA
Bhagwan Shantinath Program in Jain Studies Wadher Family Foundation
Rita and Dr. Narendra Parson
Drs. Meera and Jasvant Modi
Position not yet filled
15 2018 California State University
Northridge, CA
Bhagwan Ajitnath Endowed Professorship in Jain Studies Drs. Meera & Jasvant Modi Position not yet filled
16 2019 San Diego State University
San Diego, CA
Bhagwan Sumatinath and Guru Nanak Post-Doctoral Fellowship in Jain and Sikh Studies Jain and Sikh Communities in San Diego and JCSC Position not yet filled

Sulekh Jain, Ph.D. is a retired senior executive from GE’s Aircraft Engine division. After multiple visits to Vegas in the past, Sulekh, along with wife, recently moved to Las Vegas permanently.  Sulekh is the Past Secretary and President of the Federation of Jain Associations in North America (JAINA). Sulekh is instrumental in establishing a Jain studies program in 16 universities across the United States.  Dr. Jain also authored a book “An Ahimsa Crisis: You Decide, which can be accessed as an eBook free of charge at www.isjs.in   For further information, please contact Sulekh via email: scjain@earthlink.net

Sulekh Jain, Ph.D. is a former President of JAINA and a founding member of International School for Jain Studies program which has sponsored over 700+ participants from the USA for Jain Studies in India. scjain@earthlink.net






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