Claremont Lincoln University Awards Inaugural Ahimsa Award To Gurudev Chitrabhanuji & Pramodaben

Posted: 12.10.2013
Updated on: 30.07.2015

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Claremont Lincoln University


CLU ►Ahimsa Award To Gurudev Chitrabhanuji & Pramodaben

Washington D.C. October 1, 2013

The U.S. entered partial government shut down on October 1 but many of the essential functions continued. One important event - awarding of the Claremont Lincoln University’s inaugural AHIMSA Award to Gurudev Shri Chitrabhanuji and Pramodaben was one such event unaffected by the madness griping the nation.

The event scheduled to took place at the US Capitol had to be moved to the offices of AJC (American Jewish Committee) who was a cosponsor of 3rd JAINA - AJC community Partnership Program holding a day long conference on that day. Current President of JAINA Prem Jain, three regional Vice Presidents –and four Past Presidents of JAINA were joined by many community members from Jain centers of New York, Cherry Hill, Washington DC, Richmond Virginia, Houston and Los Angeles made up a 100-member delegation to celebrate Ahimsa Award to Chitrabhanujis.   Dr. Jeffery Kuan, the President of Claremont School of Theology, represented Claremont Lincoln University accompanied by Laura Burgis and philanthropist Mr. David Lincoln and his daughter Katherine Lincoln. Acharya Shri Lokesh Muni changed his schedule and came to Washington to attend this important event. 

Earlier, everyone gathered at the Lafayette Square in front of the white House for group photos and taking advantage of beautiful weather, walked four blocks to the offices of AJV where associate Director of AJC Nissan Reuben welcomed everyone. Pramodaben started the ceremony with beautiful rendering of Navkar Mantra Dr. Nitin Shah, senior Jain advisor to CLU gave history of Jain education and CLU’s interreligious program before introducing CST President Dr. Kuan who spoke of unique 130 year old collaboration between Abrahamic religions - Christianity, Islam and Judaism with Dharmik Traditions of Jainism, Sikhism and Hinduism at Claremont. Dr. Kuan emphasized need for reaching out to various religious traditions and develop understandings of various religious traditions as a critical need of the US that is fast approaching a day when no single group will be in majority - Caucasians, Hispanics, Blacks, Asians and a hundred other nationalities all living as minorities in harmony and learning from each other.  He presented a plaque of recognition on behalf of Claremont school of Theology, Bayan and AJR {Islamic and Jewish partners of CST)

Past President of JAINA Dilip Shah and chairperson of the Ahimsa Award Committee then introduced Mr. David Lincoln - who donated $50 Million Dollars to establish an inter-religious university called Claremont Lincoln University (CLU) for studies of world religions. In presenting the award to Gurudev Shri Chitrabahnuji and Pramodaben, Mr. Lincoln spoke about the rationale behind the award being given: In honor of the birthday of Mahatma Gandhi, the United Nations General Assembly in 2007 unanimously established October 2 as an international Day of Non-violence. To honor this important celebration, Claremont Lincoln University has instituted an annual Ahimsa Award to be given to the person who their selection committee feels most embodies the principal of Ahimsa. Because of Chitrabhanu’s lifelong self practice, synergistic, outstanding and collaboration in furthering Ahimsa, which is a cornerstone of Jain beliefs, the CLU committee decided to bestow the first Ahimsa Award to Gurudev Chitrabhanu and Pramodaben as a couple.

In accepting the award, Gurudev Shri Chitrabhanuji thanked everyone present and proclaimed that the award is for AHIMSA itself. He was merely a messenger of AHIMSA. In simple words, Ahimsa (Non-Violence) is a commitment to unconditionally love and honor all living beings - a wow to not hurt any living being by thoughts, speech or action. It is recognition that all lives are created equal and every life should be treated the same, as we ourselves would like to be treated. Practice of meditation and true vegetarian (Vegan) life style are a must for daily practice of Ahimsa. Pramodaben echoed Gurudev’s sentiment by adding that Ahimsa is not a merely a concept but a conviction of the consciousness. Today more then ever before, life must be characterized by a sense of universal responsibility, not only nation-to-nation and human-to-human, but also human to other forms of life. Thanked Claremont Lincoln University for instituting Ahimsa Award.

Earlier in the day, twelve members of the group went with AJC’s Julie Fishman to visit the capitol and spoke with legislative assistants for four representatives, and met with New York Congresswoman Grace Meng. The group was in time to celebrate the Congresswoman’s birthday. Meng mentioned that she has visited the oldest Jain temple in Queens, NY, several times and she immediately connected with those present from NY in the delegation. The JAINA representatives also met with senior staff members of Congressmen Steve Chabot (OH), Steve Israel from (NY), Henry Vaxman (CA)  and Congresswoman Judy Chu, who represents the Claremont city of California, where CLU and the Claremont School of Theology are located.

JAINA President Prem Jain started the presentation to Congressional representatives with the history of JAINA and activities of the Ahimsa Center at CalPoly in Pomona, California. Dr. Salgia and Dr. Shah discussed the activities of the ISSJS (International Summer School of Jain Studies), which has trained students and teachers from the US in India on the Jain way of life for the last eight years. Claremont School of Theology President Dr. Jeffrey Kuan and Dr. Shah presented the work done at CLU, the first interreligious university program established in the US.  The JAINA delegation appealed to all members of Congress for collaborative efforts to help the underserved population in their respective areas. Dr. Shah specifically offered to organize free community health fairs for the constituents of Congress member Judy Chu and Henry Waxman.

Acharya Dr. Lokesh Muni (a Jain monk) - founder of Ahimsa Vishwa Bharti praised coming together of people of India, US and Israel - three democratic countries and cosmopolitan societies - to celebrate AHIMSA and honoring of Chitrabhanuji and Pramodaben. The program ended with JAINA President, Prem Jain awarding recognition awards for their generosity to Mr. Udai Jain and Bharat Desai and thanking Rajeev Pandya for Pandya family’s generous donation in support of the Ahimsa Award. Tasty vegetarian dinner was served and everyone went home with sweet memories of the day in Washington D.C.

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Dilip V. Shah