Jain Academic Education



By Dr. Sulekh Jain


By Jain Academic Education, we do not mean Jain Pathshala or Jains teaching the Jains in basics of Jainism

Here Jain Academic Education means - Multidisplinary Research, High level education, teaching and research leading to M.A, PH D, 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, a Facility for fieldwork, translation of agams, Representing Jainalogy at world Conferences, discussions, debates, Comparative studies in various world religious Traditions, A Center of knowledge and excellence, in Jainalogy. Showcasing Jainism as a World religion in the committee of other religions. A center for new thoughts and Solutions in light of the changes in Science, technology and societal needs. Also a Center in Jain languages (Prakrit etc)

What is The Status of Jain Academic Education : Considering the Jain community is very 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 (beyond following a Jain way of life) is mostly business and related interests. In the past, Jains have produced quite a large number of highly gifted Jain scholars, sadhus, sadhavais, and Acharyas who created and interpreted literature and Jain Agams.

In India : In India, The Jain Academic Institutions or facilities are of 2 types
At University Level. In India, most of the Universities are created or controlled either by the Central Govt or the State Govts. Recently there have been a few new, independent so called Deemed universities. The University Grants Commission controls all of these. A few of these Universities (mostly State Universities have Dept. of Jainalogy but their academic excellence, contribution to Jainalogy (because of the red tape, limited funding and bureaucracy) has been limited, At a few places, Jainalogy Departments started \\ith a big bang but \'ery soon became part of the inefficient! mediocre culture.

In 1975, at the time of Bhagwan Mahavir Sawamis 2500th Nirvan Celebrations, Indira Gandhi, the then Prime Minister of India announced to establish upto 35 chairs in Jainalogy pro\'ided 50% of the funding for these chairs is provided by the Jain Community. Even after 28 years, due to lack of funding by the Jain Community, hardly (may be one or two) chair been established at any University. The fact of the matter is that Govt of India has nearly withdrawn this offer. Recently there has been some interest by the Jain community at local or state level in a couple of states but it will take a long time (if at all) to get good and well recognized Chairs in Jainism. The Sad Story is that even if the chairs are established, there is hardly any qualified and trained faculty (in Jainalogy) available in India to occupy these chairs.

About 20 plus years ago, Jain Vishwa Bharati (a Deemed University) was established at Ladnun, in Rajasthan. This is trying to set a new trend in JAINA studies but so far (because of lack of community wide support and its location) has not yet produced high caliber Jain Scholars who can be accepted/appointed faculty members at well-known universities in India and abroad.

In India, there is no other University on Jainalogy. Sikhism has several.

There are Jain Chairs in a few universities : but again their contribution to excellence has been very limited. At Mumbai University there are 250 students this year studying Jainism This effort has been sponsored and funded by Jain Academy of U.K. Their concentration is on teaching but no research and again no training of academicians.

Outside India : Outside India, (in Europe,.USA, Canada), there is no Chair and also no regular and formal teaching in Jainology except the part-time teaching at the school of Oriental and African Studies, London. Some meagre attempt have been made By a few academicians, scholars and Institutions like the World Council of Jain Academies ( Jain academy & JAFNA ), Institute Of Jainalogy, International Mahavir Mission, Lala Rooplal Jain Trust etc. to create some awareness in Jainism by way of offering/arranging seminars lecture series, offering scholarships etc.

Other Indian Religions (Hinduism, Sikhism and Buddhism) have had very good inroads and active programs and Chairs in their religions at several universities in the Western World

Who and where are The Scholars in Jainalgy : The number of high calibre Jain Scholars can be counted on fingertips. Most of them are Now in their seventies and eighties and their number is dwindling. During the 20 plus Years, hardly any new scholar of repute has come to be noticed.

Independent Jain Academic Institutions : The number of Jain Academic Institutions can be counted on fingertips of one hand.
Some of these are (There are a few more)
Jain Vishwa Bharati, Ladnun (This has been described earlier)
L. D. Institute of Indology Ahmedabad
B. L. Institute of lndology, Delhi

Parshwanath Vidyapeeth Research Institute, (PV) Varanasi

Out of the last three, only PV has the facility and a past record/history to do research and award Ph.D degree (from B.H.U). Both, L.D and B.L Institutes Gonduct many seminars, projects and classes in Jain Languages but generally do not do academic research or produce scholars.

Where Are We Now : The current status of Jain Academic studies is not good. It is in a sorry state of affairs Jain community in general has remained indifferent to this particular needs. We are fast approaching when there will be hardly Jain scholars living or available Hardly any new Jain Scholars are in the pipeline. Nearly all the Jain Academic Institutions are in serious financial trouble and as result the morale and productivity are very low. Most of the Institutions (except Jain Vishwa Bharati Ladnun) need CPR in terms of funding, management, direction, vision and programs. This is an urgent need. We must act now

What is The Benefit : This question is very frequently asked - 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 academic community and intellectuals . This is a very fast changing world in science, medicine, technology and life style, World has become more integrated and a small village. Other philosophies and beliefs are very aggressive . Speed of communication and rate of change has changed the landscape . Jainism has a lot to offer to the world. We must take Jainism and its philosophies to the world outside Jainism. Today, law, business, medicines, organ transplant, cloning, environment, ecology, food production, transport, space initiatives, local and global conflicts have new environment and needs and Jainism must research, debate and offer new and timely solutions.

What are We Proposing Here : It is very expensive (at least 3-6 million USD) to create a Chair in Jainalogy at a good and reputed University in USA. Even if we create one, it may take 10 years to fill that Chair position (by a faculty) because there is hardly any qualified scholar available in sight. Moreover, the cost benefit ratio of such chair is very minimal at this stage

Before we talk of creating a Jain Chair at a University in the West, we recommend the following

A) By working with Jainalogy / Indology Scholars in the West, we should.offer scholarships and other facilities and encouragements to 10-20 students to take-up Jainism as a subject of study or research (upto M.A and may be upto Ph.D level)
B) Persuade some Indology faculty to teach Jainism (as a part of Indology or Southeast Asian Religious Studies) at college level as an elective subject of interest
C) Arrange regular annual seminars and lecture series at several universities
D) Encourage fieldwork and publications
E) Administer CPR to PV Research Institute (save it from Extinction) immediately and develop short range and long rage plans to make it a World .center of Excellence in Jainalogy .

In the following Pages you will learn more about PV and what we need to do.

Please read on.

Parshwanath Vidyapeeth Research Institute
Critical Issues:
1. Need for Good Academic Facility

  • High Level Scholars are getting extinct

  • No good academic place for training/producing high calibre scholars

2. Is facility enough ?

  • Adequate Physical facilities (Land, Buildings and infrastructure-)

  • Maintenance and upkeep ,will need some funds for regular upkeep, modification and improvements.

3. Is Library facility there?

  • Excellent Library on campus

  • BHU library close by

  • May need some funds to improve and maintain it

4. Are Faculty Members up to mark?

  • Not really

  • Current Staff does not meet good or high academic standards.



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