Jain Ethics, Environment and Social Science

Head

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Background

There have been considerable amount of work on Jain philosophy, religion and languages. In comparison, social scientific studies of the Jain community and its various aspects, namely demography, social organization, economic and occupational structure, migration in India and abroad, political participation, Jain ethics and the way of life, inter-ethnic relations with Hindus, Muslims and other communities, etc have been few and far between. With rare exceptions, not a single Jain academic institution in India is devoted to carry out research on these themes from the perspectives of social science disciplines such as anthropology/sociology, demography, history, political science, psychology, ethics, environmental science, etc. Undoubtedly, the Jains are the least researched community in India. Clearly there is an urgent need for identifying the knowledge gaps in the social scientific studies of the Jain community as well as religion. The Jain community and its leadership, both sacred and secular, need to be sensitized to the importance of the Jain social studies. Before it is too late, a well thought out strategy by Jain research institutions, associations, business houses and NGOs to plan and execute social science research projects on the Jain community is the need of the hour.The lack of specialists and funds appear to be the major stumbling blocks in this regard. But then, for a relatively prosperous community like the Jains it should not be difficult to overcome such hurdles. In this regard, the Jains can certainly learn a lesson or two from the Jews who constitute one of the most researched communities in the world.

Mission :

To establish a premiumacademic center for promoting research and studies on Jain ethical principles and their assumed and potential impact on environmental, and social issues in India and abroad.

Organisation

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Objectives :

The following are the major objectives of the chair on Ethics, Environment and Social Sciences.

      1. To revisit the ancient and medieval Jain texts on ethical code of conduct and their relevance for modern times.
      2. To study and analyze the Jain ethical principles in relation to the present-day environmental issues.
      3. To analyze the impact of Jain doctrines of ahimsa, aparigraha and anekant on the evolution of Jain communities in India and abroad.
      4. To study from various social sciences perspectives a whole range of demographic, educational, economic, socio-cultural, political and allied issues faced by the Jain community in India.
      5. Promote publication of hitherto unpublished texts on Jain ethics.

About the Chair

Jainism is often considered an “other worldly” religion which puts great emphasis on asceticism and salvation. This is however only one side of the coin -- the other being the fact that Jainism equally emphasizes the “in worldly” things, the individual wellbeing and human welfare in society. The Jain religious values and ethics, especially ahimsa, aparigraha and the philosophical doctrines of karma, anekantvaad and syadvaad are all gheared to a better social as well as individual life.It is often said, particularly by non-Jain scholars that it is very difficult to practice Jain way of life. Most Jains however believe that Jainism, with its four-fold organization of followers, provides a very positive, meaningful and practical approach for Jains to live a peaceful, happy, prosperous and socially sensitive and involved community life.

It is also maintained that Jain philosophy lays more emphasis on personal conduct and practices and less on social and political aspects. This is perhaps for two reasons. First, the former is important from the point of view of liberation whereas the latter is not so significant. Second, the social and political behavior is ultimately rooted in personal conduct and therefore by specifying rules for personal behavior the social and political aspects are essentially taken care of. Another fact is that the social and political systems are society dependent and vary from one society to another. Therefore Jain Acharyas insisted only on personal code and left the social and political codes open to be decided by shravakas depending on the circumstances, for instance such codes could be different in India and USA. Ethics are also society based and are seen to vary say in East and West.

The question is what is the relationship between Jain code of conduct and (i) quality of life (ii) social system (iii) political system (iv) ethical system (v) family life (vi) social structure and conduct, etc, leaving aside the goal of liberation

I think these questions need to be addressed in the research plan for the Center. We must know what is the role of prescribed Jain practices and codes in the above context and to what extent they are helpful in creating a healthy family, healthy society and a healthy world. What is the present status and what is required to be done to see that the prescribed codes achieve what they are supposed to do. Field studies and carefully planned experiments can generate information to assess the effectiveness of Jain ideas in social, national and global context and validate the philosophy propounded by Arihants.

Visiting Faculty

Experts from India and abroad would be requested to visit JVBI as Visiting Professors/Fellows for periods ranging from four to 24 weeks to give a series of talks on topics where research can be undertaken by students and other scholars. The necessary budgetary provisions for their travel, stay and fellowship would be made by JVBI.

Activities :

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MOU :

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Work Plan

        1. Research activities in the Unit would continue on a regular basis throughout the year subject to the availability of funds and other resources at JVBI, Ladnun.
        2. Award of Visiting Professorship/ Fellowship would be based on the submission of a 500-words research proposal/ synopsis which is to be approved by the research committee of the Unit/ Center.
        3. During the last week of the tenure of fellowship, scholars would be required to give a seminar on the topic of his/her work.
        4. Scholars would be required to submit the final draft of his/ her work within 2 months from the date of completion of the fellowship.
        5. Appropriate arrangement would be made by the Center to get these papers/ monographs published.

Projects to be considered :

The following themes/topics will be considered for comprehensive academic studies and research :

            1. Ethical principles of Jainism
            2. Jain Ethics in comparative perspectives
            3. Ahimsa and the Evolution of the Jain community in India
            4. Jain Ethics and the Environmental issues
            5. Jain ways of life in India and abroad
            6. Jain population and demography, migration and diaspora
            7. Jain education – sacred and secular
            8. Jains in Indian economy – regional variations
            9. Jain business ethic, Jain enterprises and entrepreneurship
            10. Jain social work and philanthropy
            11. Historical Studies – national. regional, city
            12. Indian politics and Jain participation
            13. Jainism, sects and monastic/social organization
            14. Jain law and the status of Jain women
            15. Modernisation, consumerism and life style changes
            16. Health surveys of Jain population
            17. Jain psychology and Jain personality
            18. Jain pilgrimage, tourism, entertainment, sports and leisure-time activities
            19. Jains in Society: Inter-ethnic relations in India.

Guidelines and Performa for Research :

Link to publications :

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