Jain Radiance On The Western Horizon [11/14] Developments in the Last Decades

Posted: 16.05.2008
Updated on: 02.07.2015

Jain Radiance On The Western Horizon

[11] Developments in the Last Decades

This last ten years has also seen the fuller emergence into self-consciousness of the worldwide Jain Diaspora, that is people of Jain descent domiciled overseas.. The jet; de-regulation of air traffic and modern telecommunication have done for us in the world what the old colonial railways and telegraphs did for our great grand-grandfathers inside India. On one side the jet has made it easy for us to go to India and receive the ministrations and benefits of being with monks and nuns. Some significant and successful efforts have been made to bringing those ministrations to us in the west. Of these we shall say something below. But the quintessential' characteristics of the monks and nuns who do not use mechanical transport and indeed of being possession less to the point of having not even a cloth, cannot be abandoned or lost: of their very nature these have significance for the totality of planet. Their strict retention calls not only for us to discover ways of retaining them in modern conditions but demands we should think out who the "laity" and "the house-holds" are and strength who they are and what they can do. It is they who are the mainstream and back-. bone of Jainism in the west. A houses holder is a person in his or her own right, not just a deficient monk or nun.

These last decades have seen new developments of the continuation and perfecting of earlier efforts. Many educated westerners using the library and book-seller services so readily available to them have been able to become aware of some of the cultural achievement of the Jams in every age in its many-faceted genius and prolific ability. "Coffee table" picture books in color photography dealing with Jain sculpture, for instance at Belgola, Mount Abu, Khujaraho and flora, are available and are being followed up by well-produced and striking videos and films.[35]

The Jain teachings on cosmology and its related mythology has a long and fascinating history full of the well known Jam proclivity for mathematics and immense microscopic detail, is ably summed up by Collette Caillat and Ravi Kumar.6 For an introduction to the understanding of Jain statues, murtis (idols) and decorative art, most of the large University libraries are able to provide Jyotindra Jain and Eberhard Fisher's Jaina Iconography.[37]

The anthropological and sociological and community study of the Jains has in recent years been c a r r i e d f o r w a r d b y ex c e l l e n t joint works with participants including both Indian and foreign scholars.38 It is interesting to note that increasing cognizance is being given to the Jain diasphora.9 In the U.S.A. as part of the Harvard Pluralism Project supervised by Professor Diane Eck, contact was made with first Sulekh Jain of the Jaina Society of North America and a number of papers on the Jain side of the research have been prepared by Holly Seeley including such topics as family issues, centers, organizations and temples, authority and transmission. We can look forward to many healthy contributions from North America in this side of our study as well as in the older now "classified” fields.

Much could be said about the importance for us all of Jain science, especially Health and Life Sciences, but at this juncture we browse and just refer the reader to K. V. Mardia: The Scientific Foundations of Jainism, Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass 1990.

(Please note: This report was done in the 90s - an update is announced. [Editors])

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