Article: Studying Jainism

Contributed by Nalini Balbir

International conferences and symposia

The development of Jain studies as a distinct area of research has become more visible with the organisation of several panels or international conferences beginning in the 1980s. Held with the participation of Western and Indian scholars alike, these gatherings have also become a part of Japanese academic life of late.

Major conferences and symposia include the following examples outside India.

Principal international conferences on Jain studies

Title

Location

Date

Proceedings

Other

International Symposium on Jaina Canonical and Narrative Literature

Strasbourg, France

1981

published in 1983, as volume 11 of the Indologica Taurinensia journal

International Jain Workshop

SOAS Centre of Jaina Studies, London UK

Founded in 1998 and held in March every year

published by Routledge

a major event for international Jain scholars, each workshop focuses on a specific issue, such as law, art, narrative literature

Jain Conference

Toronto, Canada

1995

published in 1999

International Jain Conference on Buddhist and Jain Studies in honour of Padmanabh S. Jaini

Lund University, Lund, Sweden

1998

published as P. S. Jaini Felicitation Volume

Jain panels within the World Sanskrit Conferences

Helsinki
Edinburgh
Kyoto
Delhi

2003
2006
2009
2012

Jain panels within the Oriental Conference

Marburg, Germany

2010

Jain papers presented at the meetings of the American Academy of Religion and Jaina Studies Consultation

2009 and then annually

International Jain conference on ‘The Jaina and the British’

Tübingen, Germany

2010

Luithle-Hardenberg, editor, Co-operation and Competition, Conflict and Contribution: The Jaina Community, British Rule and Occidental Scholarship from 18th to Early 20th Century, 2013

Academic conferences take place regularly in India, involving representatives from all around the world. However, the proceedings of such symposia are often not published and thus keeping track of them and their details is a greater task.

Reports on the main conferences are published in the annual Centre of Jaina Studies Newsletter. Available online, the newsletter is published by the Centre of Jaina Studies in the London School of Oriental and African Studies.

These gatherings show that scholars of Jainism have become keen on finding occasions to reinforce their links and feel that they form a growing community of researchers willing to explore all avenues of the Jain past and present. The local Jain communities, formed mainly by the diaspora and their organisations, are part of these events. They participate intellectually as well as providing financial and material support. This interaction is an important asset and a key to the development of Jain studies in the future.

Lecture series and awards

Another way of creating events to stimulate the growing interest in Jain studies is to establish regular lectures and awards. There are several such lecture series and awards around the world, such as the following examples.

The Roop Lal Jain annual lecture series at the University of Toronto in Canada began in 1990 with the support of the Jain community in Canada and continues up to today. A different scholar is invited to deliver the lecture each year. The first nine lectures have been published in book form in the volume entitled Jain Doctrine and Practice: Academic Perspectives, edited by Joseph T. O'Connell. But the collected publication is not systematic and takes place long after the lectures, so that scholars often publish the text of their lecture on their own.

The Dr. Chander Mohan Lal Jain Memorial Lectures at the University of Western Ontario, in London, Ontario in Canada take a similar pattern. The first lecture was given in 1995.

The Bhagwan Mahavir Professorship in Jain Studies at Florida International University, Miami, in the USA, was established in 2010. It also has provisions for inviting a scholar to give an annual lecture on the occasion of the Mahāvīr Jayantī festival.

Prizes are regularly awarded to undergraduate and postgraduate students at the Centre of Jaina Studies at SOAS in London.

The Prakrit Jnanbharati International Award is meant for seasoned scholars and is offered by the Bahubali Prakrit Vidyapeeth in Shravana Belgola, Karnataka, India. It is administered jointly by Shri Svastishri Charukirti Bhattarak Mahaswami and Dr Hampana Nagarajaiah, emeritus professor of Bangalore University.

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