Why Push Hard For ISSJS Now!

Posted: 09.04.2010
Updated on: 02.07.2015



ISSJS

 


Our effort to spread the word about our treasured Jainism to the non-Jain world has been remarkably successful. But to slacken now…to stop now… would be a terrible mistake!  All of us must help. You and I and all our friends!  We can achieve the unbelievable!

 

My dear friends in Jain community, Jai Jinendra!

As we are aware, the Jain Diaspora and its dynamics are changing with the world becoming truly a global village. We face so many pressures! Pluralism, ecology, terrorism, democracy, nationalism, human rights, rapid transmission of diseases and knowledge are just some. They are enormous challenges. Yet it is possible to view them as great opportunities.

And we share a great responsibility. We are all aware of the enormous force for good that our Jainism has been in our own lives.  It can be an enormous force for good world-wide! We must do everything we can to make the blessings of Jainism better known and appreciated and to see its great truths and principles applied to the problems of society around us.

We must expound and share its doctrines of non violence, interdependence, relativity of truth, multiple view points and ethics. What a boon this would be to our modern world!

What a fine start we have made with our International School for Jain Studies. It is blossoming so impressively! With it we are making such a great contribution to our own Jain society, and what is so important, to the larger society around us.

For too long Jainism has been a neglected subject in international academic institutions. ISSJS is greatly helping to rectify this.         Since 2005 more than 130 students and scholars from nearly 20 universities of ten countries have participated in ISSJS programs, being educated in Jain philosophy, history, social achievements, art, and more. These participants have helped spread awareness and knowledge of Jainism in the universities of USA, Canada, Russia, Europe, Thailand and more. How wonderful!
Many of these students have returned to their home universities inspired to teach and write about Jainism as a direct result of their experiences with ISSJS. Some of the students chose a specific area of interest in Jainism as the subject of their master’s degrees and PhD dissertations.

ISSJS has now built an excellent network of university professors and graduate students in many parts of the world! What a strong and lasting foundation we have been building!

ISSJS is an academic and intellectual program. It is not cultural tourism! It is so much more! It is designed to educate teachers and researchers. The way ISSJS has been constructed and carried out has true scholastic excellence as its objective. And this is what it is achieving.

Additionally, because ISSJS is non-sectarian, it is introducing students to a variety of viewpoints within Jainism. It provides students with an honest, all-encompassing education in our faith.

ISSJS significantly benefits not only the universities outside India but Indian universities and Jain Institutions as well. ISSJS is based on high academic traditions and principles in transferring and sharing knowledge. It does not preach. It gains supporters by getting them to see its underlying truths and great merits.

The main goal of this program is to introduce students with Western and other viewpoints to the great riches of Jain philosophy, tradition, and culture. Hopefully when these scholars look in depth at the complex issues of life, society, divinity and environment through the viewpoint of Jainism, they will be able to compare and see for themselves the logic and strength and innate goodness of our faith. They will be able to make it part of their own scholarship and teaching. Inevitably Jainism will take its rightful place among the greatest religious and philosophical traditions of the modern world.

During ISSJS, students experience Jain and Indian hospitality; see some beautiful sights, meet scores of saints/ascetics, scholars, Jain professionals, leaders and businessmen. They also have a chance to interact, exchange and discuss issues, items and knowledge of mutual interests with many within and outside the class rooms. In the class rooms, they are exposed to some broad aspects of Jain philosophy, history, culture and the society. By their coming to ISSJS in India, they have a chance to get an insider’s view of Jainism which could not be replicated in America or anywhere else in the world. What they learn, how they learn and where they learn make the India experience unforgettable to most and also to all those they come in contact with.

Let me share with you the vision of one new applicant “Brianne Graham     Donaldson” for ISSJS 2010 program.  Brianne is 31 years old and is a PhD student in the Department of Philosophy of Religion and Theology at   Claremont Graduate University Claremont, California, USA

“I want to hear everyone talking about Jainism. I want religion and philosophy departments teaching it. I want ecologists and agricultural technicians exploring its sustainability models. I want animal ethicists
investigating it. I want metaphysicians engaging its textual and cosmological claims. I want economics departments examining its charitable giving and solvency. I want diplomats, nonviolent practitioners and just war theorists scrutinizing it as a viable political way of life”. “In short, I want it on the lips of every discipline, colliding with existing wisdom, challenging epistemological strongholds, and generally throwing a wrench into any sentiment that would dismiss as impractical the possibilities of humans living in a fundamentally different manner in our current and future worlds.”

I also share with you the words of another would -be ISSJS 2010 attendee. He is “Volkmar Ensslin”, a PhD Researcher & Lecturer at College of Religious Studies, Mahidol University in Thailand. Volkmar is already a graduate of Oxford Brookes University in the U.K and he was inspired by Professor Richard Gombrich (a pre-eminent scholar in Buddhist studies at Oxford University) to pursue his study in Jainism. Prof. Gombrich emphasized to Volkmar the importance of studying Jainism if one wants to understand Buddha's teachings fully.

How uplifting it is for us to get such feedback. We get it often. It convinces us all the more of the importance, in fact of the necessity, of our ISSJS program within the academic community.

By the end of July 2010, more than 180 students and scholars from many universities of the world including Brianne Donaldson will have benefited from our ISSJS programs. This is a historic accomplishment.

Now listen to this. Our goal during the next five years is to educate several hundred more scholars! They in turn will become teachers and researchers who will educate thousands more. Talk about a huge multiplier effect! One more important point. ISSJS is diligently striving to shape the future of Jain academic education not only in the universities outside India but also in India as well!

My Jain brothers and sisters, I am pleased to tell you that during its short span of five years, ISJS has built a very impressive network and infrastructure. Now ISJS is a familiar name in many universities of the world. It has established itself and started collaborations with universities in Thailand and Canada as well as more than half a dozen universities in India. More such collaborations are waiting to be confirmed. The number of applicants and participants in ISSJS programs is significantly growing every year. Some of its alumni are now considered respectable scholars in Jain philosophy and are frequently being invited by various Jain Centers in North America to speak at major Jain functions. To serve the needs of these and other scholars, ISJS and Parshwanath Vidyapeeth managements have together opened a year-round Ecumenical Center for study and research at Varanasi in India at the campus of Parshwanath Vidyapeeth Research Institute. This again is a first. In the universities of the world (especially in USA and Canada) nearly one thousand students are attending regular approved courses in Jainism. Until very recently this was not the case.

ISJS is based on mutual collaborations and actively works with and utilizes resources of nearly two dozen Jain organizations and universities in India. The Jain community of intellectuals, scholars and professors in India consider it an honor to teach at ISSJS programs not only in India but also abroad.

All of these developments are of historic proportions! They are so encouraging for all of us. They show promise of even greater achievements and accomplishments in the future.

Brothers and sisters, none of this would have been possible and ISJS would not be in its strong position today without the vision and hard work of Prof. Cromwell Crawford (Prof. Emeritus, University of Hawaii, Honolulu, USA), Dr. Shugan Chand Jain (New Delhi, India) and their teams, plus a small band of committed supporters in North America, India, U.K and Thailand. Unfortunately the awareness, recognition and acceptance within the Jain community of this historic program are not what they should be. We need more Cromwell and Shugan Jains who tirelessly give their very best to this mission!

This journey just began and there is a long way to go but GO WE MUST! Yes, we Must! We need you and need you now! With your involvement and with your tan, man and dhan! I know that you will help. By helping spiritually, emotionally, and financially, you will be helping to preserve our Jain beliefs and traditions for our children and grandchildren in India as well as here in this new country of ours (USA), of course. But you will be blessing all around us with the wonders and blessings that Jainism has brought into our own lives!

Now India is getting worldwide recognition due to its achievements in many areas. As a result, the world is now discovering India in ways in which even Pt. Jawaharlal Lal Nehru did not quite envision. Those of us who came to USA in 1960s did so at a time, when India was considered a third world nation which left us with humiliating feelings about our roots. But now, we are holding up our heads high because to be an Indian is a mark of distinction. All of you back home have contributed to this revolution   bringing India from a 3rd world nation to a first world nation. What we Indians have done for India, let us resolve to do the same thing for Jain studies in the universities of the world. We can and will do it together.

Dhanyavaad,
Dr. Sulekh Chand Jain

 

 

 


P.S, We just got news that the Department of Philosophy Head at Ramkamhaeng University in Thailand is thinking of  proposing to start a separate course on Jain Philosophy in near future at his university.

Share this page on: