What is Jain Studies?
Originating in India around 2,600 years ago, Jainism is a religious tradition in which adherents seek to attain eternal enlightenment by liberating their souls from a cycle of birth, death, and rebirth. Their success in doing so rests on defeating karma, a cosmic substance that adheres to the soul as a result of one’s actions. Avoiding new karma and shedding karma accumulated over the course of many lifetimes are essential aspects of a Jain’s very being. Their approach centers on the practice of ahimsa, a strict form of non-violence that involves doing no harm to other humans, animals, and nature.
Jains follow the teachings of the Jinas, a lineage of teachers who have attained spiritual “victory” over death and rebirth. Practicing non-violence, charity, and other means of purification such as fasting is thought to improve a Jain’s current life while creating a path to ultimate enlightenment.
Bhagwan Suparshvanatha Endowed Professorship in Jain Studies
Dr. Steven Vose joined the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences faculty last summer as the inaugural Bhagwan Suparshvanatha Endowed Professor in Jain Studies. Funded by a group of generous donors from the Jain community, this endowed professorship is part of a nationwide effort to raise the profile of Jainism in the higher education curriculum.
In establishing the professorship, the donors noted their aim was not to proselytize but rather to introduce students to the history, culture, philosophy, and art of the Jain religion. The professorship creates and offers courses that examine key tenets of Jainism, such as non-violence and non-attachment/non-possessiveness. The courses also explore the practical significance of principles such as enduring peace, social harmony, and ecological sustainability.
You can learn more about Dr. Steven Vose on is faculty profile page.
Upcoming Courses including Jain content:
Fall 2023: World Religions, online (course number for fall will be RLST 2660 - E01)
Spring 2024: From Buddha to #BlackLivesMatter: The Past and Future of Nonviolence, in-person (course numbers are: RLST/HIST/ETST/PHIL/INST 3003 - 001 [& HIST 5003 - 001])
Adapted from James Dunn, "Gaining New Insight from an Ancient Tradition".