Article: Studying Jainism

Contributed by Nalini Balbir

Jain studies in Western universities

This detail from a manuscript of the Bhaktāmara-stotra shows two examples of the auspicious symbol śrī. Although it is a Sanskrit word, it is also used in modern Indian languages.

Two śrī symbols
Image by British Library © CC0 1.0 (Creative Commons Public Domain)

Outside India, there are two specialised centres for studying Jainism, both in Europe.

The Centre of Jaina Studies was established in 2004 at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) in the University of London. Directed by Peter Flügel, the centre runs an annual conference for the growing international discipline of Jain studies. The centre’s website provides details of its activities, including information on its curriculum, publications, online resources and events. Its work is supported by the Sanskrit and Prakrit courses taught at SOAS.

The Center for Jaina Studies (CfJS.FU) at Freie Universität Berlin in Germany focuses on the art, history and culture of the Jains, as well as religious studies. Building on the pioneering work of German Indologists such as Hermann Jacobi, Ludwig Alsdorf and Walther Schubring, the center opened in May 2011. It works closely with the nearby Museum of Asian Art, which has an impressive collection of Jain art.

But these are not the only places where Jainism is studied nowadays. In most European universities, the study of Jainism has been traditionally subordinated to the study of classical languages used by the Jains – namely Sanskrit and Prakrit – and to the field of Indology in general. Early scholars of Jainism, such as Jacobi, Ernst Leumann, Schubring and Alsdorf, were primarily philologists. Although there is no department of Jain studies as such in these academic contexts, there have been and presently are professors who specialise in the field. They promote its study by acquiring significant collections of books and training younger scholars.

The scholarly study of Jainism tends to take somewhat different approaches among scholars based in North America. In Japan, Jain studies has also witnessed a rise in interest among academics in recent decades.

Europe

Noted scholars who were or are leading figures in Jain studies are listed here. When dates are not given, the academic is an active scholar.

Major scholars of Jain studies in Europe

Country

University and department

Other information

Scholars

United Kingdom

University of Edinburgh, Department of Sanskrit

history of Jainism and its sectarian debates

Paul Dundas

Germany

University of Hamburg

  • Jain philology, textual and metrical studies
  • large library of printed books
  • Walther Schubring (1881–1969)
  • Ludwig Alsdorf (1904–1978)

Germany

Free University of Berlin

  • Klaus Bruhn (1928; retired 1991)
  • Candrabhāl Tripāṭhī (1929–1996)
  • Bansidhar Bhatt

Germany

University of Munich

  • Jain philology
  • Jainism in Karnataka
  • Adelheid Mette
  • Robert J. Zydenbos

Germany

University of Tübingen

Jain philosophy

Klaus Butzenberger

Germany

University of Göttingen

Study of Middle Indian languages and Jain texts

Thomas Oberlies

The development of new trends in Jain studies accounts for the presence of Jain studies in other centres as well.

Other scholars of Jain studies in Europe

Country

University and department

Other information

Scholar

Germany

University of Bonn

history of Jain art and architecture

Julia A. B. Hegewald

Germany

University of Tübingen

anthropology of Jainism

Andrea Luithle-Hardenberg

France

University of Paris-3 Sorbonne-nouvelle

  • Jain philology
  • Jain literature
  • history of Jain sects

France

University of Lyon-3

Jain literature in Prakrit and Sanskrit

Christine Chojnacki

Belgium

University of Ghent

  • Jain philology
  • Jain philosophy and cosmology
  • Jain traditions in Apabhraṃśa
  • Jozef Deleu
  • Frank van den Bossche
  • Eva de Clercq

Norway

University of Oslo

history of religion

Torkel Brekke

Sweden

University of Lund

Jain philosophy

Olle Qvarnström

Poland

University of Warsaw

Jain logic and philosophy

Piotr Balcerowicz

North America

In North America, the study of Jainism is not as closely connected to language departments as in Europe. Jainism is also taught and studied in the context of departments of religious studies.

Major scholars of Jain studies in North America

Country

University and department

Other information

Scholar

USA

Yale University

Jain literature and art

Phyllis Granoff

USA

University of California, Berkeley

Jain philology and religion

  • Padmanabh S. Jaini
  • Kristi L. Wiley

USA

Denison University

ethnography of Jainism

John E. Cort

USA

Northeastern University

women and contemporary religious practice

M. Whitney Kelting

USA

Florida International University

Jain religion and literature, and applied Jain ethics

  • Bhagwan Mahavir Professor of Jain Studies, Nathan Katz (since 2010)
  • Steven M. Vose, assistant professor and director of Jain Studies Program
  • Samani Unnata Pragya, visiting instructor

USA

Center for Jain Studies, Claremont Lincoln University

Legalities and ethics of sallekhana

Whitny Braun

USA

University of La Verne, California

Jain wisdom and ethics

Brianne Donaldson

USA

Loyola Marymount University

Yoga, Jainism and Buddhism

Navin and Pratima Doshi Professor of Indic and Comparative Theology, Christopher Key Chapple

Canada

University of Toronto

Jain philosophy

Christoph Emmerich

USA

independent scholar

Jain art

Robert Del Bonta

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