Applied Jainism: A Need For 21st Century

Posted: 18.04.2010
Updated on: 02.07.2015

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Note:

This is not a typical abstract article to talk and preach about the philosophy and the glory of Jainism, which we all know to a great extent. This article is based on our thinking and also dialogues with some concerned eminent persons. Purpose of this paper is to create an awareness and to make an appeal for applied and Practical Jainism rather than describing the traditional Jainism that consists of philosophy, the guiding principles, doctrines, temples, places of worship, rituals and the Jain community etc. This paper makes a case that time is ripe for the Jain community to think, deliberate and then develop practical and do-able action plans and road maps for implementing and propagating APPLIED JAINISM in every aspect of human life.

Preamble:

Before, a case for applied Jainism is made; we briefly describe the glory of Jainism.

Jainism, an ancient religion originating from India- with Hinduism and Buddhism, is an integral part of Indian cultural and religious civilization. The Jain tradition, which enthroned the philosophy of Ecological Harmony and Non-Violence as its lodestar, flourished for century’s side-by-side with other schools of thought in ancient India. It formed a vital part of the mainstream of ancient Indian life, contributing greatly to its philosophical, artistic and political heritage. During certain periods of Indian history, many ruling elites as well as a large section of the population were follower of Jain religion.

Although a few million Jains that live in modern India, constitute a tiny fraction of its population, the message and motifs of the Jain perspective, its unconditional reverence for life in all forms, its commitment to the progress of human civilization and to the preservation of the natural environment, continues to have profound and pervasive influence on Indian life and outlook. Jainism, with its distinctive views on matters such as non-violence and intellectual relativity, has relevance to the life and thought of not only of this century but also for many centuries to come.

Jainism is a complete system with all necessary branches such as ontology, metaphysics, philosophy, epistemology, ethics, rituals etc. It has its own scriptures, temples (architecturally, some of the most beautiful temples in India are the Jain temples) and deities, places of worship and pilgrimage, and its own festivals and fairs. The organized religious group (Sangh) consists of ascetics and householders of both genders.

Dr. Michael A. Giannelli, a Clinical Psychologist in North America in an article titled” Why I Admire Jains” published in July- September, 1999 issue of Jain Spirit Magazine wrote; “I admire Jains because they seek to embody the best of seeming opposite: they are steeped in rich and ancient tradition, yet thoroughly modern in their outlook: they hold high regard for ancient wisdom, but have healthy appetite for scientific discovery and rational debate: they are vigorous and consistent proponents of their values, yet they exercise humility and tolerance for persons of different persuasions: they are not preoccupied with materialism but they are successful at securing the practical financial means for quality of living, and most generous in sharing these resources with others: and while they are solemn critics of injustice and exploitation, nevertheless on a personal level they maintain the congenial attitude that life is a divine gift to be enjoyed by all.”

In a College Text Book titled “Asian Philosophies”, the author, Prof. John Koller of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in USA states “Jainism has had a major influence on all of Indian thought. Its philosophical explanations of how karma shapes the lives of living beings, its stress on virtuous conduct, its emphasis on human experience and reasons have helped shape the Indian philosophical tradition”.

Over the millennia, thousands of thinkers and scholars; Jains and non Jains, have sung the glory and paid rich tributes and respects to our Jain tradition and have reminded us that Jainism has much to offer to the entire world.

Where Are We Today?

Now, we will share here with you just a sampling of the observations, comments and feedback that we collected. As mentioned earlier, this is just a sampling and not the whole story. This is presented here not to blame or shame any one but only to take a critical look at our selves in our own mirror.

Jainism is least known and most misunderstood. This is a fact. We frequently meet many people of all ages: Jains and Non Jains, Indians and non-Indians. We go to many meetings, conferences and seminars on a very regular basis. What we hear and find is that Jainism is the least known and most misunderstood religion today. Fortunately, during the last 50-100 years or so, nearly 250,000 Jains have settled outside India in many parts of the world. These Jain ambassadors have created some awareness about Jain religion but much remains to be done. Many Jain youths often tell us “uncle Jainism is a very impractical and difficult religion to follow”. These youths also complain that while we have so much to offer to the world, but for centuries, we Jains have imprisoned Ahimsa and the Jain philosophy within the Jain temples and the Jain community. As a result, we are not part of the mainstream. A few years ago, at the globally televised memorial services to Mother Theresa in India, there were speakers from practically every religions of the World but not from Jainism.

Ahimsa (Non–Violence): An Activism Or Just A Slogan?

Ahimsa is the Center pole or the Lodestar of Jainism. In fact, we believe Ahimsa is the aatmaa (soul) of Jainism. Ahimsa Parmo Dharma” (Non-violence is the supreme religion). “There is nothing so small and subtle as the atom or any element as vast as space. Similarly, there is no quality of soul more subtle than Non-violence and no virtue of spirit greater than reverence for life”

Ahimsa is a principle that Jains teach and practice not only towards human beings but also towards all nature. The Ahimsa is defined as “Mentally, Verbally, Physically, Directly, Indirectly, Knowingly, Unknowingly, Intentionally, and Unconditionally, Not by self, not through others (engage or ask Others) and not to condone or provide support to others in any shape or form to Injure, Harm, Abuse, Oppress, Enslave, Insult, Discriminate, Torment, Persecute, Torture or Kill, Any creature or living being (Humans and non humans) however so small is Ahimsa.

The teachings of Ahimsa refer not only to wars and visible physical acts of violence but also to the violence in the hearts and minds of human beings, their lack of concern and compassion for their fellow human beings and for the natural world. Ancient Jain texts explain that violence is not defined by actual harm, for this may be unintentional. It is the intention to harm, the absence of compassion that makes action violent. Without violent thought there could be no violent actions. When violence enters our thoughts, we should remember: “You are that which you intend to hurt, injure, insult, torment, persecute, torture, enslave or kill.” Prof. Gary Francione, distinguished Professor of Law and Ethics at Rutgers University defines Ahimsa as” Staying in Equanimity (Samyak Bhaav) is Ahimsa and any step away from equanimity is Himsa or walking towards Himsa

People all over the world today admire (and many follow) Ahimsa. Some equate the unconditional ahimsa of the Jains to the true or real democracy of existence of all living forms in this universe.

In the twentieth century, the most vibrant and illustrious example of Jain influence was that of Mahatma Gandhi, acclaimed as the Father of the FREE Indian Nation. Gandhi’s Spiritual mentor and friend, Shrimad Räjchandra, was a Jain. The two great men corresponded (until Räjchandra’s death) on issues of faith and ethics. The central Jain teaching of ahimsa was the guiding principle of Gandhi’s civil disobedience in the cause of freedom and social equality. His ecological philosophy found apt expression in his observation that the greatest work of humanity could not match the smallest wonder of nature.

Jains inspired Mahatma Gandhi who in turn inspired millions to the philosophy of non-violence. It was a semi Jain (Gandhi Ji) who made Ahimsa of the Jains a household and respectable word. Gandhi Ji turned Ahimsa into a practical and applied tool for daily living in all facets of life and profession. He took the Ahimsa of Jains from textbooks and from the Sadhus, and gave it to the most common men and women. This Practical Ahimsa made Gandhi Ji a role model for millions of people around the world.

In the last 2500 years since Bhagawan Mahavira, we Jains have produced many exemplary and inspiring saints, but not produced a single Gandhi or Vinoba Bhave directly. In fact, even today we have no Jain who can inspire and be a role model like Gandhi. No Jain has won a Nobel Peace prize so far. Gandhi Ji’s Practical Ahimsa inspired at least seven Peace Nobel laureates.

Lack Of Activism Tradition

Jains should be passionate about Ahimsa. They should be activists and instrument of change. Bhagawan Mahavir was. We hardly find any Jain activists for any major societal causes. All the activists (that we know of) happen to be non-Jains.

At an International seminar in 1998, at Harvard University on “Jainism and Ecology”, several Western scholars pointed out that Jains talk of ecology and protection of environment but there is no Jain activist such as Sunder Lal Bahuguna or Arundhati Ray etc. in India. There is also no example (except of Jain Sadhus) of active and visible practice of environmental protection within the majority of Jain community.

Nearly all Jains preach and practice vegetarianism but credit for spreading not only the vegetarianism, but also of Veganism and Animal Rights does not go to Jains but goes generally to Non Jains; mostly from the western world. There is hardly any Jain inspired or established PETA (People for Ethical treatment of Animals), PCRM (Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicines) or AVS (anti Vivisection Societies) organizations. Few years ago, we participated in a march for animal rights in Washington D.C. Out of the 30,000 plus persons taking part in the march, there were hardly any Jains (only about 5-7 at the most).

The unconditional respect for all forms of life implies that Jains should be in the forefront in the practice of ahimsa in all its shapes and forms; both micro and macro level. The scope and landscape of ahimsa is very vast. Jains should be the role models for others. Unfortunately, during the last 100 plus, movements such as Human Rights, Animal Rights, Child Labor, Sweat Shops, Women’s Rights and abuse, Ethical and Environmentally Friendly Investing, laws against animal torture and hunting, use of animals in sports and entertainment Worker Safety, Occupational and Health Safety at work place, Civil Disabilities Act, Capital Punishment, Environmental protection, ecology, wars, nukes, clothing and furnishings such as leather, fur, killing of Whales, abolition of slavery, human trafficking, race relations, equal and fair treatment and employment opportunities, bioethics, medical ethics, business ethics and legal ethics (all based on and related to the practice of Ahimsa) etc have all been started by Non Jains. Generally, Jains have been the beneficiaries but not the torchbearers for such movements and protests.

 

We are Building Temples for Poojas but not for knowledge (Gnan)

Jain community is effluent, dynamic and educated. The recent census of Government of India mentioned that Jains have the highest literacy rate (97%). Because of its affluence, Jains have always been building temples. Some of the most beautiful and magnificent temples in India are the Jain temples. The number of Jain temples in India in poor conditions abounds every day but still world over; newer and bigger temples are being built quite frequently. Temples do serve very important needs of Pooja, worship, community gatherings and observance of rituals and festivals. Yet many of these places of worship generally do not offer (on a regular basis) the teachings and training in Jain doctrines and in the practice of practical and applied Jainism, Ahimsa and Anekantavada (NON-ONE-SIDEDNESS) that one can use in his/her daily life and profession.

 

Indifference Towards Jain Gyan (Gnan) Mandirs (Temples Of Knowledge) And Jain Academic Education

By Jain Academic Education, we do not mean Jain Pathshala or Jains teaching the Jains the basics of Jainism. Here Jain Academic Education means multi-disciplinary Research, higher -level education, teaching and research leading to M.A, Ph D degrees, training of faculty to teach at any of the top universities any where in the world (like Harvard), arranging and conducting International Seminars and conferences, facility for fieldwork, translation, Research and Commentary on agamas, representing Jainology at world Conferences, discussions, debates, comparative studies in various worlds Religious Traditions, a Center of knowledge and excellence in Jainology showcasing Jainism as a World religion in the committee of other religions, center for Philosophical and Applied Jainism and for new thoughts and Solutions in light of the changes in Science, technology and societal needs, also a Center in Jain languages (Prakrit etc).

In spite of the fact that the Jain community is affluent, broad minded, dynamic and aggressive, the Jain academic education has received little attention by the Jain Sangh the world over. There are many reasons for this state of affairs. The Jain community is mostly a business community and their main avocation/profession (beyond following a Jain way of life) is mostly business and the related interests.

In the past, Jains have produced quite a large number of highly gifted Jain scholars, Sadhus, Sadhavis, and Aacharyas who created and interpreted literature and Jain Agamas. It is also true that Jains have some very old Grantha Bhandaras and in the past contributed significantly to the development of several Indian languages and literature such as Kannada language as an example

But the real truth is that for quite some time, Jains have shown great indifference to the building of Gyan Mandirs (temples of knowledge) such as colleges, universities, academic research Institutes libraries and museums. At present, there is hardly any world-class center of excellence (created by the Jain community) for Jaina studies and research. The number of high caliber Jain Scholars can be counted on fingertips. Most of them are now in their seventies and eighties and their number is fast dwindling. During the 20 plus years, hardly any new scholar of repute has come to be produced or noticed.

No religion survives for long purely by BUILDING temples. If we look at it, there is no temple that we know of left that dates from the time of Bhagawan Mahavira. But his teachings and philosophy (gyan), which was further supplemented by many learned Aacharyas, have kept Jainism alive so far.

The current status of Jain Academic studies is not good. It is in a sorry state of affairs. We are fast approaching when there will be hardly any high caliber Jain scholars living or available. Today, hardly any new Jain scholars are in the pipeline. Similarly, nearly most of the Jain Academic Institutions are in serious financial trouble and as a result the morale and productivity are very low. Most of the Institutions (except a few) need cardiac pulmonary resuscitation (CPR) in terms of funding, management, direction, vision and programs. This is an urgent need. We must act now

For Jainism to survive and also to be counted as one of the great religions of the world it must be made known to the world academic community and intellectuals. We are living in a very fast changing world of science, medicine, technology and life style. World has become more integrated and is like a small global village. Other philosophies and beliefs are very aggressive and speed of communication and rate of progress have changed the landscape. Jainism has lot to offer to the world. Therefore, in addition to its philosophy, Jainism also must offer training and teachings in Applied Jainism to help us lead our daily active lives in the practice of professions such as Business, Medicine, Law, Engineering, etc. We must take Jainism and its philosophies to the world outside that of Jains.

 

Most Urgent

We should

    1. Administer CPR to most of the Jain institutes of Jainology (truly save them from extinction) immediately and develop short range and long rage plans to make them World Centers of Excellence.
    2. Create environment for various institutes to collaborate (rather than compete to do the same thing) to share resources and acquire excellence and proficiencies in various fields of Jainology (Example; philosophy, canonical research, history, art, architecture, languages etc.)
    3. Create skills in the use of English and computer usage in research, teaching and publications
    4. Create facilities for Teaching and research in Applied Jainism. This should be done via establishing joint professorships in Jainism and Business, Jainism and Medicine, Jainism and Law, Jainism and Engineering, Sciences and Technology, Jainism and Environment, Jainism in Daily living, Jainism and Global Issues

These professorship/chairs should be joint Appointments between a Center and Centers of Excellence in Jainology and Professional schools (example; School of Management, School of Law, School of Science and Technology and School of Medicine etc). By doing so, we will bring Jainism to deal with daily issues of living and profession/avocation and will build upon Jain philosophy and Jainism’s contributions to these disciplines.

 

The Academic Study Of Jainism In North America

Current Situation:

South Asian studies is making rapid advances in American universities, due to (1) the new pluralistic outlook in the country, (2) the large and growing influx of immigrants from the subcontinent who give faces to Hinduism, Buddhism, Sikhism, and Islam, (3) an increasing number of faculty of Indian origin, (4) the emergence of religion as a major political player on the world stage, and (5) the felt need to think globally. Though Jainism is the oldest of Indian traditions, and presents a rich field of scholarship, it has a comparatively miniscule status in academia in North America. Approximately 1000 colleges offer courses in all disciplines (religion, philosophy, art, history, music, language) of South Asian religions. These courses are offered on the undergraduate and graduate levels, and are taught by highly trained professors, with chairs in prestigious centers of learning. By contrast, in the estimate of Jain scholar, Professor John Cort, OF DENNISON UNIVERSITY IN OHIO, there are only some 17 academicians, in as many colleges that are engaged in Jaina studies; and there are no indications to suggest that the present status will change for the better. Certainly the reverse is possible: in a world of rapid change you either move forward or you move backward.

This situation is ironic, because while Jain studies goes begging, the Jain community in North America prospers like no other community in the fields of business, medicine, engineering, etc. To close this disparity, it is essential that the college-educated children of Jain families have access to the intellectual sources of their culture. It should also be a mark of pride for American Jains to have their culture studied and disseminated by the brightest in the land. More than pride, conditions in the world call for the type of culture that Jainism has to offer America and the world; a culture that has been shaped by thousands of years in the study and practice of humanitarian values that flow from the Jain ideal of ahimsa.

Why Is This So?

While there are thousands of colleges and universities, there are only a handful of qualified and trained academicians and scholars to teach Jainism at these colleges in North America. Since there are not enough teachers, there are no regular course offerings and consequently no students to study Jainism. Therefore, we must make a modest start in the training of teachers in Jainology.

The Plan:

Since 2005, under ISSJS (International Summer School for Jain Academic Studies) a group of University Professors and students have now started going to India each summer for one to two month intensive crash course in Jainism. This program is fully integrated within the American university system, in which students can earn credits (up to nine credits) towards degrees; and it is integrated with academic institutions in India, aimed at helping students understand Jainism within its indigenous environments.

This is a fast track, two-tiered program, open to students and professors in American universities. Its purpose is to impart basic grounding/skills in the Jain religion within a cultural context where it is experienced as a lived reality. Through seminars, lectures, and library resources, students and professors will be provided with the basic intellectual tools for an understanding of the many facets of Jainism, including its history, politics, philosophy, and ethics. Through fieldwork, they will be exposed to the culture of Jainism through the media of visual and performing arts, temple worship, rituals, festivals, family ceremonies, and visits to Jain homes.

This program is being conducted each summer, for a period of two months (June, July). Initially we started with faculty and students from Universities in America only but soon this program was made open to all full-time graduate students (enrolled in any university in the world.) and to all full-time professors employed in any university, regardless of religion, race, or citizenship. The most important qualification for the professor is to be intellectually, personally, and professionally committed to the promotion of Jain studies in his or her university, through recruiting students, and seeing to it that Jainism is made a part of the department’s curriculum. By the same token, our partner Jain institutions in India also stand to benefit by the interchange. They will have “an Anekantavada experience” as they are introduced to new ways of thinking about Jainism, and will sense the need to adapt Jain principles to the modern world. Contacts will also be made between individuals and institutions for future collaboration.

To date, nearly 122 students and Scholars from 20 universities and 9 countries have attended ISSJS. On return, these scholars have started offering regular courses in their universities, writing papers, textbooks and presenting research papers on Jainism at various international seminars. ISSJS has entered into partnership and collaborations with several prestigious universities in India and aboard. In a nutshell, ISSJS has already started changing the landscape of Jain academic education world over.

 

Applied Jainism:

Beyond, philosophy, Pooja, worship and rituals, we must also teach and learn how to practice the teachings, doctrines and Jain way of life in our daily active life, business and profession such as Business, Medicine, Law and Engineering etc. This is Applied Jainism. This is walking the talk. This is what Gandhi Ji (by his own practice and example) showed and offered to the world.

Today, law, business, medicines, organ transplant, cloning, environment, ecology, DNA, stem cell, gnomes, abortion of fetus, spread of new diseases, food production, transport, space initiatives, local and global conflicts have created new environment and needs and Jainism must research, debate and offer new, practical and timely solutions to this ever changing environment.

Several years ago, we were having a meeting with the Dean of the School of religious Studies at the University of Texas in Austin, Texas in USA. The purpose of this meeting was to explore ways and means to develop and introduce courses in Jainism at the University level. The Dean of Religious Studies had also invited the Deans of Law and Business schools. During the discussions, most of the Deans mentioned that Jainism has so much to offer and that its studies should just not be limited to the School of religions but should also be offered (with proper customization and adaptation) in the Schools of Business, Law and Medicines as well. This was a very flattering comment for us. As usual, we did not follow up on their advice.

Recently a six hour long TV program titled “ Story of India by Dr. Michael Woods of BBC” shown by Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) in USA mentioned that concept of unconditional Ahimsa towards all life forms was the most profound contribution of Jains to the world. An eminent American professor recently commented to us that the Hippocratic Oath that the Medical doctors take at the time of their Graduation is based on Ahimsa and even though it originated in Greece long time ago, but it must have come from Jains. What a great revelation. Similarly, the Jain concept of Paraspropgrahojivanam (all life forms are bound together and dependent on each other for their support) gave rise to the whole ecological movement. We are sure; there are hundreds of similar practical, cultural and philosophical examples and stories where Jainism has shaped many traditions and practices in the conduct of Business, Justice, medicine and other disciplines. Unfortunately, what to speak of the rest of world, even most of the Jain community is not very familiar with the greatness of their own religion.

An eminent American professor recently commented to us that the Hippocratic Oath that the Medical doctors take at the time of their Graduation is based on Ahimsa and even though it originated in Greece long time ago, but it must have come from Jains. What a great revelation. Similarly, the Jain concept of Paraspropgrahojivanam (all life forms are dependent on each other for their support) gave rise to the whole ecological movement. We are sure; there are hundreds of similar practical, cultural and philosophical examples and stories where Jainism has shaped many traditions and practices in the conduct of Business, Justice, Medicine and other disciplines. Unfortunately, what to speak of the rest of world, even most of the Jain community is not very familiar with this greatness of their religion.

Again, in the words of some scholars and thinkers, time has come to take Jainism out of the Jain temples and share it with rest of the world not in the form of evangelization/proselytizing but in the form of meaningful contribution to the society.

 We have been talking to many people and reading my news items where morality, role of religions and business ethics are finding great emphasis in several of the Business Schools (MBA courses) in USA. Harvard School of Business and several others have introduced full-fledged courses on Business ethics in their MBA programs. Can we name any Jain business school offering such studies? What is happening in business is also happening in Law, Medicines, and other professions where courses on ethics and morality are being introduced. We are not aware if any Jain Professional School in India makes such course offerings based on Jain ethics and morality. Why is this so?

Leaders of Business not only have to make profits for their corporation but they also have societal responsibilities to satisfy their needs. A business leader must (when making decisions) be aware of the impact on society, environment, ecology, pollution, human relations, employees, fellow workers, openness, honesty in transactions, good job creations and many other issues and concerns of the society. A business leader is part of the society in which he/she lives and his/her role is to make that society better. Similarly, a doctor, a lawyer and an engineer, a certified public accountant (charter accountant), and a financial securities broker must weigh his/her decisions using the yardstick of ethics and responsibility to the society. We can go on and on. Many books are being written along these lines

Gandhi Ji said “Wealth without work, Pleasure without conscience, Knowledge without character, Business without Ethics, Science without Humanity, Religion without Sacrifice and Politics without Principles are deadly Sins."

Today, we have to find and impart practical applications of Jain Principles in Business, Engineering, Law, and Medicine. If we don’t do that, religion remains theoretical and abstract. What we are suggesting are the following;

 

    1. Jain Professional Schools such as Business, Law and Medical Schools and Jain Academic Institutions should explore how by working and collaborating together, these Institutes can supplement and complement each other. For example, if, Institute X of Jainology has the expertise in producing Jain scholars and thinkers and a School Y of Business produces leaders of Business, then, we should encourage establishment of Joint Professorships (to be shared by X and Y Institutes) whose primary role will be to create knowledge, do research and teach courses in Business Schools with emphasis on Jain ethics and moral code of conduct.

    2. Such a professor will be well versed in philosophy of Jainism (not necessarily an expert in Jain languages, history, art, architecture etc.) and in addition, he /she will also look at Jain principles, folklore, Agamic stories of businessmen, providers of justice and health services, role of cartels and guilds, case histories, life biographies of famous businessmen (of present and past) and how these people were motivated and served the nation. Such a professor will also be conversant with comparative religions and their role in Business and other professions. In addition to the knowledge in Jainism, he/she will have good understanding of various professions. For examples in Business he/she will have as a minimum an MBA or an MA in Economics, Finance, and Marketing etc. So here, this person, starting with Business background, will acquire enough knowledge of Jainism to develop knowledge and course material to teach at a Jain Business School (in this example Y) and at other non Jain Business Schools throughout the world. Such a person will develop enough material (books, papers, seminars etc) along these lines.

A few years ago, I was at a seminar at BHU (Banaras Hindu University) where the Director of IIM (Indian Institute of Management) Lucknow, in his business talk, was frequently quoting from Bhagwat Gitä about ethics in Business. I heard recently that special seminars are now regularly offered to top business leaders in USA on Gita and business. We need to develop such scholars who can quote from Jain Agamas while giving a talk on business related subjects.

If we can develop such capabilities and expertise, we can envision when such kinds of persons will be called upon to give seminars to Business Executives and also to go and teach (as guest Professors) at other Business Schools in India and overseas.

This approach will become a role model in bringing out Jainism to the mainstream. If this succeeds, then, we can think of establishing similar joint professorship in Medicine, Law, Sciences and Engineering, thus imparting Jain morality and ethics to those courses and disciplines.

Jain Sadhus and Sadhavis with their life style of austerity, vow of five Mahavaratas and scholarly knowledge of Jain agamas provide a great service to the community in terms of imparting knowledge and keeping the Jain community and traditions alive. Jain Sadhus, because of the limitations of their code of conduct, cannot be expected to be experts (and many a times practitioners) in Business, Law, Medicines and Technologies. The duties and responsibilities of developing courses and teaching applied Jainism in professional colleges, Universities and also to the householders cannot be expected from the Sadhus. Also, Jain Sadhus cannot reasonably be expected to work as regular academic faculty at a University in India or in any part of the world. For this, we will have to create facilities and environment to train and produce such scholars of eminence out of the lay followers of Jainism.

Applied Jainism is a very important serious topic and thus needs serious discussions within the community. Commenting on this thinking, Prof. Cromwell Crawford of University of Hawaii, Honolulu, recently wrote to me, “Your point is well made regarding Applied Jainism. This is the only way to modernize Jain thought and make it relevant to the western context. My students find traditional Jainism "boring" until I begin to relate its principles to the fields of medicine, environment, epistemology, etc.”

 

What Does This All Mean To Us?

Jainism has the right message for the present time. Prof. John Koller of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute states, “Perhaps the greatest contributions to Indian life were made by Jain exemplars of moral virtue and careful reasoning. Their migration from the Ganges Valley to the southern tip and over the western borders of the subcontinent allowed them to spread the best of Indian culture to these parts of India through their exemplary lives. Jain adherents to the rule of non-injuring has been a major factor in the importance that this moral principle has assumed in Buddhist and Hindu life over the centuries. Mahatma Gandhi, the Hindu saint whose adherence to non-injuring in his successful efforts to throw off the yokes of British colonial rule, bringing the principle of nonviolence to the admiring attention of the whole world, gratefully acknowledged the great impression made on him by the virtuous Jains he knew as a youth”

This is our hour and this is our call. Let us do it.

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