July 2011

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Welcome Message Dear YM Reader,

SAVE THE DATE! • Paryushan Aug 26th-Sept 1st • Das Lakshan Sept 2nd-11th

Jai Jinendra! We hope you enjoy reading this issue of Young Minds. This year's Director of Publications, Ami Maru, has been hard at work to keep you,our readers connected, informed, and entertained with articles from across North America. We want to say thank you to everyone who has helped make YJA what it is today. The entire board has worked hard to plan and organize events all over North America. We couldn't be successful without your attendance or help in planning. The future continues to look bright. We hope you continue to stay involved and provide us feedback, so that we can continue to be a forum for young Jains to learn of their great religion, address social issues, and develop as future Jain community leaders.

Inside this Issue: Procrastinator’s Meeting Postponed

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Jainism- Social Justtice 3-4

The road to YJA Convention 2012 begins now! YJA will be selecting the next Host City within the next month. Where will it be??? Your guess is as good as ours! In order to assist in the needs of convention planning, we are looking for potential Convention Committe Members to help plan the next YJA. We encourage anyone interested in helping to contact us at info@yja.org. If you would like to contribute to future editions, please email us youngminds@yja.org. Also, if you would like to get more involved with YJA activities, contact us at info@yja.org. We are always looking for more youth support and input. And of course, you can always contact the co-chairs directly at chairs@yja.org! If we have knowingly or unknowingly done wrong to you either through thoughts, actions or speech, we ask for your forgiveness. Michhami Dukkadam!

Leader Spotlight

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Veganism Transition

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Run Over Confidence

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Jain Milan

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Sweet Tooth

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Leaders in Jainism

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Be The Change

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The Jain Obama

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What do you Decide?

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Jaina 2011 Memories

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Donate to YJA

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Sincerely,

PUBLICATION COMPLIED BY AMI MARU

Your 2010-2011 YJA Co-Chairs Mitesh Shah and Vaishali Shah


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The Procrastinator’s Meeting Has Been Postponed

By Roshn i Sanghvi

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A few days ago I came across a random quote that said “There is no such day as, “One of these days I will do it” and There is no such time as, “When I am free I will do it.” I stood with it for a while and though to myself the endless number of times I have committed myself something but have never found the “right” day or the “right” time to do it. Even little things like going to the derasar once a week, fasting once a month or even sitting in the posture of meditation for five minutes every day have no time to fit into my busy schedule. I tell myself every day that I will start from tomorrow and repeat the same thing tomorrow. Not to mention every commitment I make to myself and do not stand up to, I fall in my own eyes. But, I am generally always very good at doing my work before deadlines. At work and at school, I am known to be always punctual and responsible. Why then can I not stand up to commitments I make to myself? Maybe because I do not take my personal and spiritual health seriously. Like most people

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we know, I am waiting to be slapped by life, even to begin. Procrastination seeps into us when we have to do things we try to escape the most. Things that we do not think are necessary for us right now. The article following this quote really inspired me and I decided that form the very next day I would start by meditating 5 minutes in the morning as soon as I got up. This was a very small commitment and I was sure I could stand up to it.

another chance. That night I could not sleep much. I had only had about 4-5 hours of sleep by the time I had to get up. I knew I had to get up and try meditation but five minute extra sleep seemed more important. However, I managed to wake myself up. Since then, I have kept up my commitment and meditate every day for about 20 minutes. It has been around three weeks and I have not stopped even a single day no matter what the circumstance.

Often when we make a commitment, life always tests us and if we pass the test, no one can stop us again ever. The next day, my alarm failed to ring (No kidding, this has never ever happen to me before!) I got up very late and had to run to work because I had an important meeting that morning. Obviously I forgot all about the commitment I made to myself the previous evening. I got back home late in the evening exhausted and the book I read the quote form was lying in my bed. It suddenly reminded me about my commitment to meditate. I felt embarrassed and low in self-esteem. It was a psychological slap to me that I could not even stand up to five minutes I had promised myself. But I gave myself

Mahatma Gandhi was known for having leaded a disciplined life since he was a young child. He would always carry with him a small hand clock and no matter what the circumstance, he would sit for prayers 7am7.30am in the morning and 7pm to 7.30pm in the evening. Till his last day on earth, he did this consistently every single day. If he can take 60 min out form his life very day, so can you. You practically cannot be as busy as he was through his lifetime. There will be hurdles and life will try to stop you. But do not stop, Let the script of your life be titled,” Here is a man, whom, even God never tried to stop."...Be unstoppable. Keep going...Keep on going..


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On Jainism and Social Justice By Duncan SmithRohrberg Maru

“There are three primary threats to global peace and security: militarism, materialism, and religious intolerance”

As Jains around the world meditated and reflected on the final day of Paryusan last year, the events of that day nine years ago give us further pause of Jainism’s meaning and message. Our prayers and thoughts are with the families of those souls whose lives were taken on that terrible morning. We all mourn those who perished and, in our mourning, must reflect upon how such awful deaths can be prevented. One could argue that acts of terrible violence on the scale such as the attacks of September 11th, 2001 renders the nonviolence philosophy of Jainism at best impotent and at worst irrelevant to modern international relations. What does Jainism’s principle of ahimsa (nonviolence) really have to say visà-vis atrocity, aggression, and violence? Genocide in Sudan. Nuclear threats in North Korea. Extremism in Iran. Militant xenophobism on the rise in Europe. Continued civil conflict in many parts of India. Persistent unjust military action by the United States in several corners of the globe. For those of us who care about social justice, we cannot sit idly by. The politics and economics of power lead in one direction: violence, disease, and suffering, most often towards the poor and most vulnerable members of our soci-

ety. We must fight against atrocity and aggression, and we must win. Neutrality is not an option; though we directly may cause no violence, by allowing—and in fact indirectly benefiting via the global economy—we are all culpable. It is well beyond my scope here to discuss whether Jains should support military action in Iraq or Afghanistan or Kashmir or Sudan. That is far too deep and difficult a question for the present moment. A broader caveat I should make now is that my understanding of Jainism is limited to the last ten years of my life. A slightly more approachable question is the role of ahimsa in the battle against militarism. And while it is true that Jainism is perhaps the world’s only major religion on behalf of which no wars have ever been fought, that fact does not bear too heavily on the power struggles of the present day. Here the most important figure in my mind is Shrimad Rajchandraji. The Jain philosopher and disciple of Mahavir, born two years prior to Gandhiji, was one of the single most important philosophical influences on the Mahatma’s life. They were close friends through the end of Shrimad Rajchandraji’s life, and exchanged a series of letters that would bear heavily on Gandhiji’s later political actions. The British Raj was a devastatingly powerful and violent empire and yet it fell ultimately to the hands of a largely nonviolent struggle. Gandhiji’s brilliance was that he engaged and intertwined spiritual and political matters, arguing for Indian internal self-reliance, simplicity,

and detachment while fighting politically for dignity, selfgovernance, and freedom. There are three primary threats to global peace and security: militarism, materialism, and religious intolerance. I have spoken above about the Jain response to militarism: ahimsa (non-violence). To materialism, Jainism says: aparigraha (nonpossessiveness). To religious intolerance, we say anekantvad (non-absolutism). In my reading (again with the caveat that I have only begun my own learning process), these three Jain responses—ahimsa, aparigraha, and anekantvad—to the earth’s most pressing problems—are not merely natural arguments that flow from Jain’s philosophy but rather they form the very core of Jainism itself. Jainism seems to me to be at once a spiritual and political philosophy, and that is the fundamental reason why Jainism remains relevant to modern societies. Now, materialism. So engrained is materialism in our society that it has become cliché to even lament the materialism. The reality TV shows. The soul-less, aesthetic-less odes-to-concrete strip malls. The disregard for environmental justice. The 220 million tons of garbage each year that the EPA estimates our country generates. On a personal level, vegetarianism and attempts to limit personal environmental impact and waste, driven by Jain philosophy, are important. But doing our own parts does little to prevent the strip malls. To fight materialism at a broader level, we need to succeed in inculcating

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On Jainism and Social Justice Continued our institutions and businesses with Jain principles. This is intensely practical as well as spiritual, as Gandhiji states about Rajchandraji in Experiments in Truth, “People normally believe that truthtelling and successful business never go together. Shri Rajchandbhai on the other hand firmly believed and advised that truth and honesty were not only useful but essential to all good business. Morality is not packed within a prayer book, it is to be practiced and lived in all stations of life. Religion and morality sustain both good life and good business.” This notion will appeal to young Jains who are driven by their parents and society to succeed. The question is, can we succeed at business and work in a way that furthers our spiritual development and that drives social justice? The answer to me is yes, but it does require work. Big business these days after all make huge profits on environmental degradation, violence towards impoverished workers, cigarette smoking, guns, alcohol, and fast food. The way to win this fight is not through withdrawing from the marketplace, but rather by entering the marketplace giving consumers better products. Religious intolerance is a mainstream, dangerous force throughout the globe. The use of the proposed Islamic cultural center a few blocks from Ground Zero by right-wing politicians to inflame Americans’ suffering from the twin tower attacks was but the most recent example in American political life. In India, violent groups under the guise of the Hindu religion continue to threaten the very fabric of Indian secular democracy. From Al-Qaeda to the present Iranian government, militants defile the name of Islam for

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their own gains. There are countless other examples throughout the globe. Jainism’s view of anekantvad stands strongly against such absolutist thinking, and argues that the heart of all religions is the stewardship of the soul. Taking this spiritual view, the trends towards militarism, materialism, and religious intolerance are symptomatic of an underlying disease process: our global society’s losing touch with our souls. This is where the depth of Jainism can help us all. Indeed, if ahimsa, aparigraha, and anekantvad are the central motifs of Jainism’s spiritual and political philosophies, then the supremacy of the soul is the religion’s essence. In Gandhiji’s words, with concepts heavily influenced by Shrimad Rajchandji: “Religion is the spiritual quality of the soul. It is embedded in human nature in visible or invisible form. By religion we are able to know the duty of man, by it we are able to know our relations (or kinship) with other living beings. But all this requires the capacity to know one’s self. If we do not know ourselves we cannot know others rightly. By religion one can know himself.” Today, we can communicate across the globe literally at the speed of photons, but the neurons in our brains are so inundated with extraneous (mis)information that we easily are led astray. Increases in the incidence of attention deficit and hyperactivity disorder, violent video game addictions among children, and motor vehicle accidents caused by texting are three public health symptoms of this phenomenon. The deeper meaning of these symptoms is that, despite the remarkable, wonderful democratization of knowledge, we and our children are at

greater risk than ever of not knowing our own souls. There are no simple solutions here, other than study, meditation, reflection, persistence, and faith. Faith in ourselves and in others, that belief in the veracity of our souls, is something that I have seen to be engrained among my new family members who had the fortune of growing up Jain. This faith provides resilience against the distractions of the modern world. Interestingly, the single most important principle that my father a passed on to me was this very point, summarized in one of his more memorable teachings: “I am that I am that I am that I am, and so it is”. Today I was reminded of this when we repeated “So hum” during Pratikraman. I feel that Jainism should permeate our work and personal lives and not only be present when we decline meat or take samayik or go to temple. If we are to make Jainism relevant to the world, if we as Jains are going to fight for social justice and against disease and ignorance and violence and environmental degradation, we need to incorporate Jainism into the institutions that we are a part of. This in my mind is also how we will make Jainism relevant to our children. There are only ten million Jains around the world, but the story of Shrimad Rajchandji and the birth of a free India is testament enough to the insight and impact that Jainism can have on the broader world. And so, on this last day of Paryushan 2010, coinciding with nine-year anniversary of the deadliest attack on American soil, we mourned those who were lost, and in their memory, we reflect upon how we can work towards a more peaceful world. I firmly believe that Jainism has much to offer to achieve this vision.


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Nipun Mehta By Bonita Parikh

“Be the change you want to see in the world”, a quote I have heard time and time over again, yet never really pondered upon before writing this article. What does it really mean to be the change? Who is really affected by this change? And why does it even matter? All of this makes me reminisce of my experience at YJA 2008, where I attended a remarkable session with a speaker by the name of Nipun Metha. Nipun Metha graduated from UC Berkeley, and started to work at a software company short after. However at the age of 25, he realized that he was “dissatisfied with the dot com lifestyle”, and he wanted to commit his life to being a full time volunteer. Therefore, he founded his own company by the name of Charity Focus. Charity Focus is a company solely based on voluntary efforts in order to benefit others. In today’s high paced society, giving back to society is fre-

quently overlooked and discounted. However, seeing a person literally change his life style completely to benefit others is a remarkable effort and, a “change” that should not be discounted. Furthermore, one of his concepts that I found interesting was the companies’ concept of the gift economy. The gift economy simply stated is “goods and services without strings attached, it is a shift from consumption to contribution, transaction to trust, scarcity to abundance, and isolation to community”. One easy way in which one could advocate this concept is by using smile cards: This simple card is such an easy way to make someone’s day. There are very few people that speak once, and affect me; but I can honestly say everyone in that session was touched by everything he had to offer and left impacted. I personally believe that anyone can be the change they wish to see in the world, it’s just a matter of personal determination and perseverance that will take anyone miles.

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Veganism: A Transition of Diet and Thought By Apurvi Mehta

“The ultimate push in my decision to become vegan was when my father announced that he was turning vegan in early June.”

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Cow’s milk. Butter. My mom’s homemade curry and yogurt. Cheese. Leather. I rejected these foods and products in early June in order to change to a vegan lifestyle. I had heard about veganism in print media for several years now, thinking it was a fad for hippies. I personally didn’t know any Indians, let alone Jains, who were vegan. But during the planning year for YJA 2010 Convention in New Jersey, I became good friends with one of the YJA board co-chairs, who has been vegan for 7 years now. We talked about his experience being vegan and how his family initially reacted and then adapted to his new lifestyle. My curiosity about veganism grew. I then also made a spur-of-themoment decision to only eat vegan meals during the convention. Surprisingly, the food was excellent. I didn’t miss the paneer subji since tofu was a great substitute, and soy

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cheese on my pizza was just as good as regular shredded cheese. After the convention, however, I decided to remain vegetarian. Over the past few months, several factors aided me in my decision to become vegan. My severe acne had been a concern since puberty, and my dermatologist recommended that I stop eating dairy products in order for the acne to clear up. My boyfriend Kunal has been vegan since YJA 2010 convention, and when we started dating, I asked him why he became vegan. Kunal said, “I became vegan after seeking guidance from a lot of young vegans at YJA last year on how veganism is a healthy diet. I also love animals, and I wanted to stop contributing to their exploitation and eventual slaughter.” Kunal and I shared vegan meals on our dates, and I then started drinking soy milk in my daily Starbucks coffee. I started feeling guilty for using leather accessories when I learned that cows were killed and the raw cow skin would be processed into leather shoes and handbags. My transition to veganism had begun. The ultimate push in my

decision to become vegan was when my father announced that he was turning vegan in early June. A JAINA executive board member had sent him a video of cows being mistreated while being milked, and he decided right then to become vegan. After announcing his decision, I then said, “I’ll support you, Dad. I’ll become vegan too.” With 2 vegan family members in the house now, my mom was unable to argue against our decision, and she quickly adapted to cooking vegan Indian meals for our family by using oil instead of butter or yogurt in our daal and subjis. Gary Francione’s talk at JAINA 2011 Convention in Houston, TX reinforced my decision to become vegan by adding the animal rights element. Gary’s description of how maternal cows are milked and separated from their baby calves (who are sent to slaughterhouses) was horrific, and his statement on how sentient beings, including humans and all animals, are able to sense emotions such as happiness and fear resonated with me. After Gary’s speech, I turned to my boyfriend and said “I’m really glad I became vegan.” That statement rings true today.


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Veganism: A Transition of Diet and Thought Continued Being vegan is not difficult at all. Soy substitutes for all dairy products are readily available in supermarkets. Eating at a restaurant is relatively easy too, since I just scan the menu for any vegan items, and ask the chefs to make a salad or simple vegan dish if only meat or vegetarian entrees are available. However, I have found it a bit harder to find vegan accessories and shoes, since the majority of

high-end accessories are made with leather. After a few Google searches, I have discovered a few companies that sell vegan accessories, such as Big Buddha, MooShoes, and MATT & NAT, and have purchased their products for everyday use. Being vegan as a young Jain allows me to follow ahimsa, one of our main religious tenets. By not con-

suming dairy products or using leather goods, I am consciously not helping the dairy industry and knowingly not harming animals. As a YJA member, I hope that over a July 4th weekend in the future, the meals at a YJA convention are 100% vegan, with the intent that other Jain youth practice ahimsa and become more socially conscious about all living beings in our environment.

Run Over With Confidence

“If you get run over, at least you get run over with confidence.”

it’s pretty similar to Hinduism, just a different religion.” I know that when I was much younger, I would work to be inconspicuous, to be very not obvious about the fact that I was eating different foods and never speak up when the teacher found a spider in class and yelled for someone to kill it.

My friends are crazy – crazy enough to cross the street when they probably shouldn’t and come up with witty oneliners to validate their escapades. But while this statement might not be the best justification for jaywalking in the city of Philadelphia, I think it points to another, more important idea relevant to leading our lives following Jain principles each day – confidence. We’re all guilty of halfway explaining our beliefs or practices to a stranger: “Oh,

The confidence to say something came from learning. Once I began attending patshala classes and truly understood the ideas and the reasoning behind those actions, it was much easier to stand up for my beliefs. Since then I’ve had many interesting, insightful conversations about religion that allowed me to exercise the principle of anekantavada, or multiplicity of views. I’ve attended Shabbat dinners, Roman Catholic masses, and been able to soak in those ex-

By Hetali Lodaya

periences while comparing and contrasting them with my own. Granted, there is a difference between confidence and pride. The key to all of these interactions is our mindset. Different religions can’t be seen as superior or inferior to one another – they are just that, different. It’s a mental challenge, and I think an important exercise, to see the connections that every religion shares while maintaining an understanding of our own beliefs. That’s a confidence in and of itself – knowing that you speak intelligently about your views while maintaining an openness to what’s out there.

“We’re all guilty of halfway explaining our beliefs or practices to a stranger”

But remember, kids, jaywalking is a bad idea in any religion.

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5th Annual Matrimonial/Networking Convention

2011

JAIN MILAN Friday, October 7th, 2011—5PM to Midnight Saturday, October 8th, 2011—9 AM to Midnight Sunday, October 9th, 2011—9 AM to 3 PM

Venue: Jain Center of Northern California (JCNC) 722 S. Main Street Milpitas, CA 95035

Registration Deadline - 9/24/11

www.jainmilan.org

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What Is It?

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Jain Milan is an opportunity for Jain youth (age 21 and older) throughout North America and around the world to meet in person, to make friends, to engage in networking, to develop business contacts and to possibly find a life partner. Jain Milan is organized to encourage our Jain youth to meet other Jains for the purpose of matrimony and to facilitate a face -to-face meeting. Jain Milan believes in Jain family values and will work hard to preserve these values. With events like Jain Milan, we hope to achieve our goal to preserve Jain traditions and values in our next generation and strengthen our community.


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Sweet Tooth

By Pavak Shah

Cheese 1 cup Classic style graham cracker crumbs (honey-free) ¼ cup Powdered sugar ½ tsp Vanilla extract 6 tbsp Chopped strawberries

Vegan Strawberry Cheesecake Truffles (Adapted from: Annies-Eats.net) Makes 1-2 dozen depending on the size

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Shell: 1 lb. semisweet chocolate chips Mix together (by hand!) all of the ingredients for the filling after letting the Tofutti soften at room temperature for 1020 minutes. You want the strawberry pieces to remain intact. Chill the mixture until it’s easy to work with and start to scoop out and roll about ½ inch diameter balls onto wax or parchment paper. Place the paper onto a cookie sheet and place in your freezer to harden.

Pour the chocolate chips into a microwave-safe bowl and microwave for 30 seconds. Mix up the chips microwave again for 30 seconds. Repeat this procedure until the chips are fully melted and when mixed, turn into creamy, molten chocolate. Remove the filling balls from the freezer and, with a fork, dip each ball into the chocolate, let the excess pour off and place back onto the cookie sheet. Finish coating the rest of the balls and place in the refrigerator to solidify the shell and to store.

Filling: 8 oz. Tofutti’s Better Than Cream Pavak’s Blue Corn-Crusted Veggie Burgers (Adapted from: pavakshah.com)

mati rice!) ½ cup Red kidney beans (dry) ½ cup Green lentils (dry) 3 cups Bread crumbs

Makes about 1 dozen burgers Ingredients: 1 Medium zuccini squash 1 Medium yellow summer squash 3-4 Sweet peppers (the more colors the better!) 1 cup Shredded red cabbage 2-4 tbsp Your favorite hot sauce 4 tbsp Low-sodium soy sauce Salt and pepper to taste 1 tsp Chipotle chili powder ½ -1 tbsp of Crushed red chili flakes (adjust to your desired spice level) ½ cup Brown rice (I love brown bas-

Crust: 1 cup Blue cornmeal 1 tsp Red chili flakes ½ tsp Dried oregano ½ tsp Dried basil leaves Add the rice, beans and lentils plus about 4-6 cups of water into a pressure cooker. Bring to a whistle and then reduce heat to medium and allow the grain and legumes to cook for 20-30 minutes until everything is soft and slightly overcooked. While the pressure cooker is going, chop all of the other vegetables and mix with hot sauce, spices and soy sauce. Let the mixture sit until the pressure cooker is done.

Drain the contents of the pressure cooker (taking care to remove as much excess water as possible!) and mix it into the vegetables. Blend this in a food processor in batches for about 5-6 pulses each batch. The point isn’t to homogenize the mixture but to help break things down a little and release the starches from the rice. After all of the mix has been processed, mix in about 3 cups of bread crumbs. I like to make my own by toasting a nice whole grain sourdough bread and blending it to a coarser grind than the crumbs you can buy at grocery stores. Mix thoroughly and form the mixture into patties by pressing the mixture with your hands. Take some of the blue cornmeal mixture and press it into the patty surface and set each patty onto a piece of parchment paper. Bake the patties at 425F on the middle rack for 15 minutes on each side, allow it to cool completely

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Leaders in Jain Philosophy By Khushbu Vora

One of the most well-known parts of Jainism is its leadership in spiritual and enlightened philosophy. Please read on to explore the teachings of Shrimad Rajchandra as told through the interactions of one of his best friends, Mahatma Gandhi. Excerpts from http:// www.jainbelief.com/shrimad/ gandhi.htm: Gandhi writes in his Autobiography - "The Story of My Experiments with Truth" about his acquaintance with Shrimad: He was not above twenty-five then, but my first meeting with him convinced me that he was a man of great character and learning. He was also a Shatavadhani (one having the faculty of remembering or attending to a hundred things simultaneously), and Dr. Metha recommended me to see some of his memory feats. I exhausted my vocabulary of all the European tongues I knew, and asked the poet to repeat the words. He did so in the precise order in which I had given them. I envied his gift without, however, coming under its spell. The thing that did cast its spell over me I came to know afterwards. This was his wide knowledge of the

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scriptures, his spotless character, and his burning passion for self-realization. I saw later that this last was the only thing for which he lived. Shrimadji was an embodiment of non-attachment and renunciation. He has written only that which he has experienced. He has never allowed his poetic imagination to get ahead of truth and experience. There is therefore no artificiality in his writings. They come from the heart and appeal to the very heart of the reader. He used to keep diary and a pen with him in all his daily routine and he immediately wrote down important thoughts that occurred to him. I never remember any occasion when Shri Raichandbhai got lost or infatuated in any worldly matter.

from within and not sporadic or externally imposed. People normally believe that truth-telling and successful business never go together. Shri Raichandbhai on the other hand firmly believed and advised that truth and honesty were not only useful but essential to all good business. Morality is not packed within a prayer book, it is to be practiced and lived in all stations of life. Religion and morality sustain both good life and good business. Though Raichandbhai never played tricks with others, he used to find them out quite easily when they were played by others. And he used to snub the persons using the tricks and force them to leave them.

His language was so effective and measured that he was never found to be searching for words. Language was his maidservant. He was described by some as an incarnation of the Goddess of Learning, Saraswati. He never changed a word while writing a letter. He expressed his thoughts and meditations in fine and appropriate language.

While we are worldly souls, Shrimadji was quite other worldly or liberated from the worldly life. While we may have to take many further births, for Raichandbhai his present life may be the last. While we perhaps are running away from liberation, Raichandbhai was heading towards liberation with a tremendous speed. This speaks volume of Raichandbhai's self -effort.

This description befits only a self-controlled person. By renunciation the external forms one cannot be selfcontrolled. The real selfcontrol is not an imposition, it is an inspiration and an internal illumination. Complete non-attachment and renunciation is the gift of the soul. It should be spontaneous and

While many Christian Missionary friends considered their religious duty to convert me to Christianity on the ground of its wonderful vows of charity, chastity, faith and hope, I made up my mind that I should first find out whether the religion of my birth namely Hinduism, gave me the message that I needed.


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Leaders in Jain Philosophy Continued And I asked a few fundamental questions on Hinduism to Shri Raichandbhai by post and his replies were so logical, so appealing and convincing that I regained my faith in Hinduism and I was saved from conversion of religion. From that moment onwards, my respect and admiration for Raichandbhai increased with leaps and bounds and I considered him to be my religious guide till he lived. THE NATURE OF RELIGION AS DESCRIBED BY SHRIMADJI Religion does not mean religious differences and set beliefs. Religion does not mean cramming or reading of all religious texts or believing all what is said in them as gospel truth. Religion is the spiritual quality of the soul. It is embedded in human nature in visible or invisible form. By religion we are able to know the duty of man, by it we are able to know our relations (or kinship) with other living beings. But all this requires the capacity to know one's self. If we do not know ourselves we cannot know others rightly. By religion one can know himself. Such a religion can be selected from wherever it is found. All students of comparative religion will testify to what is said about religion here. No religious scripture advises people to tell a lie or to practice falsehood. Nor does any religion

advise violence. Raichandbhai hated the spread of irreligion in the name of religion and he condemned lies, hypocrisy and such other vices which were getting a free hand in his time. He considered the whole world as his relative and his sympathy extended to all living beings of all ages. Shrimadji says in one of his poems i.e. Apurva Avasara, "The stage of experience which the All-seeing Mahavir saw in spiritual knowledge, He could not himself describe in full.” I meditated on that very stage of spiritual experience but I found that I was also incompetent to describe it. I have a desire to describe it in full but for the present it has remained only as my cherished desire. In the expression of the same perennial truth that Reality is only one without a second, many religious and philosophical brains have offered their perspectives and unfortunately their verbal differences have been the cause of much doubt, disbelief and despair for the laymen. He had studied many religious books. He studied Vedanta, Bhagavata and Gita. He read the Jain scriptures as many as he could obtain. He read Koran and Zand Avesta intranslations. But he used to tell me that he had a soft corner for Jain philosophy and religion,

for he strongly believed that soul-saving knowledge had reached its highest possible watermark in Jain philosophy and religion. Nonetheless, Shri Raichandbhai was never disrespectful to any other religion. In his talks with me, he never said that I should follow a particular religion for my salvation. He always advised me to purify my thoughts and behavior. His simple advice is `live easily and in such a way that you can attain the Lord.' Shri Raichandbhai never bothered with religious differences. They used to choke him. Further information on Shrimad Rajchandra: • Reportedly gained “Jati -smaranjnan” (knowledge of previous lives) at age 7 after he witnessed the cremation of a deceased acquaintance • Fulfilled family obligations while remaining detached from worldly pleasures. • Wrote Atma Siddhi, a Gujarati poem on the attainment of a soul • Attained Shuddha Samyakdarshan (right self-perception) at age 23 • Suffered a serious illness on the threshold of complete renunciation. Died at age 33.

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Be The Change "Make others happy, and you'll be happy."

By Finale Doshi – Velez

Christianity, Buddhism, humanism: virtually every faith and philosophy argues that leadership and service are the path to happiness. Jainism is no exception: the Tattvartha Sutra states "Parasparopagraho Jivanam," or, the function of souls is to help one another (5.21). The trouble is, leadership is hard and thankless. I'm a peer mediator at my university. Call it one-on-one leadership to help students through difficult or stressful situations. It's a very fulfilling job, but there are times when I really have to work to pay attention. I have to keep telling myself that no matter how silly the issue sounds, it's not trivial to them. I come away exhausted, frustrated that I couldn't help resolve the problem. That I couldn't even understand the problem. The students' overly polite tone seems a sure sign that I've let them down. At other times, though, leadership is easy. I believe if everyone understood basic statistics, the world would

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“Being the change means never running on empty” be a better place (think decisions ranging from personal finance to climate change), and I'll spread the word to anyone who'll listen--usually middle and high school students in afterschool programs. When I'm in the classroom, smiling, telling stories, it doesn't feel like work. It feels like I'm just being myself. The teaching "just happens:" the students raise their hands, they ask questions, they come back eager to learn more. What distinguishes these situations? "Awkward" leadership often results from pushing to make change instead being the change. The most effective leaders are those who lead, not by trying, not by doing, but by being. We can't forget that Mahavir Bhagwan found enlightenment--found himself--before he started teaching. Power, energy, happiness--all of these come from within, and we can't share with others what we don't have ourselves. Most leaders have experienced, at some point, the fear of being "found out." For me, it's usually after I've been "working" a meeting or "working" a crowd: I've

been saying the right words, smiling the right smiles, nodding the right nods, and everyone seems sold on my plan. Except for me. I'm left feeling empty, worried that our freshly made plans will fall apart and it'll all be my fault. Being the change means never running on empty. It means acknowledging that we cannot help others along the path of right faith, right knowledge, and right conduct without following it ourselves. It's tough, but as we tap into our true selves, we will naturally tend toward effective leadership. We will be able to love others with the same irresistible compassion that Mahavir Bhagwan expressed, a love so pure, so true, that the world will change, not around us, but with us. Returning to the quote at the start of the essay: perhaps it would be better to say: “Be happy, and you'll make others happy.” If this article has misrepresented information or caused misunderstanding, I ask for forgiveness. Michchha Mi Dukkadam.


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The Jain Obama By Abhishek Shah

After completing a 16 hour journey from New York to Mumbai, I was finally in the Mumbai airport. During this journey, all I was thinking was about my friend, Jigar. I hadn’t seen nor talked to him in the last four years. I had gotten so busy with my own life that I never managed to get in touch with him. I waited at the Mumbai airport for almost two hours to collect my luggage. (On the plus side, I saved an hour by avoiding the crowded restroom!) I hailed a cab and asked the driver to drive straight to my home address. I had been to many adventure parks, but this cab ride was quite different. At least on roller coasters there is a seatbelt to protect you in the twists and turns. Despite the fact that I was sitting in the back seat without a seatbelt, I wasn’t the least bit concerned about his driving skills. While in the cab, I picked up my phone and called Jigar right away. His mom picked up the phone. “Hello aunty, Adi here. How are you?” “Adi who?”

“Aunty, Adi- Jigar’s childhood friend” She still couldn’t recollect who I was. Finally, with little embarrassment, I revealed my pet name and said, “Aunty, Papu here”. The cab driver slowed down and looked at me from head to toe and laughed. “Ohh Papuda. I heard that you are coming here. But Jigar is at the dherasar [temple]. Please go there directly. I am going there as well,” his mom said. Next thing I knew, I heard the phone click before I could ask for any more information. So, I went to my place first, met my parents and other relatives and then went straight to the dherasar. I started looking for Jigar in a crowded area. There was a pravachan [lecture] going on when I entered the dherasar compound. I started looking for Jigar in different sections of the dherasar but couldn’t locate him. I looked into the audience attending the lecture. Confused as to his whereabouts, I began to walk away from the lecture and the compound. As I started moving out of the area, I heard a voice which sounded like his voice. I turned around and spotted him. I couldn’t believe my eyes. This is the same Jigar whom I had played cricket with in my younger days. This is the same

Jigar who I used to hang out with all the time. This is the same Jigar who had so many issues in life that he was branded as a ‘loser’ by many. This Jigar was actually not listening to the lecture but giving the lecture! This Jigar had become a sadhu (Jain monk). Thousands of worshippers were listening to him quietly with their hands folded in the Namaskar pose. As he finished his lecture, people walked toward him, took his blessings and talked with him about the different issues that they had in their life. Everyone was praising his skills and courage in regard to his sacrifice of the materialistic world and contributions as a sadhu. I too went with other fellow worshippers to seek his blessings. I was still in a state of shock and didn’t know what to say. So I just touched his feet and said, “You look like Mahatma Gandhi!” He smiled and gently said, “Nice to see you here. I thought you would never come back.” For the next seven days I attended all of his lectures, all of the activities that he did and sat next to him for every single issue that he addressed with the people who visited him. In the previous few years he had read hundreds of books about Jainism. He left the materialistic world to become a teacher of Jainism. He

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The Jain Obama Continued overcame all of his own issues to help other people. He had gained an immense amount of wisdom and knowledge. He was no longer the short tempered guy that I knew. He not only brought peace to his own life but also to other people who worshipped him like a god. During my time in Mumbai, I talked to our common friends who had changed a lot because of our friend-turned-sadhu. They started visiting the dherasar more often, released numerous animals and birds to prevent animal cruelty, and

more importantly their outlook toward life had changed. Similarly, there were now many people brought their life issues to him in order to receive appropriate directions about how to deal with them. The last time I saw him before my return to New York, I said, “I got a buy 1 get one free Blockbuster offer. I came to meet a friend and instead got a teacher free!” “You haven’t changed at all”, he said with a smile. “But in another respect, you have not only changed

yourself but also friends and society. I feel very proud today.” I took his blessings and returned to the US. President Obama had just won the 2008 presidential election and was on the front page of every newspaper. He was viewed as someone who would help bring about positive changes in society. However, I felt like I already knew Obama. I felt like I had already met him.

What Do You Decide? By Neil Shah

Growing up in the United States, especially around the time of adolescence we start making decisions for ourselves. What do we want to spend our time on, and who do we want to spend our time with? Between school or work, career goals, extracurriculars that you may be doing, and keeping a social life, for many, religion can fall to the back. A few years ago, I was overwhelmed with so much going on in my life and other things that I wanted to focus on that I almost neglected my religion. I temporarily stopped attending Pathsala class. I didn't attend society events as frequently and my peers were going

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through the same thing. I found myself using that as validation for my inadvertence. My Sangh, the Jain Society of Greater Detroit, as a whole was struggling with youth involvement. It was very rare to see high schoolers and college students at the temple and at events. With many younger kids engaged, they had no one to look up to, which potentially jeopardized the growth of our community. I frequently used this situation we were stuck in as my ground for convincing myself that what I was doing was okay. I looked at the work of one man, our Guruji, Mahendra Uncle J. Shah. He had devoted the past thirty years of his life teaching us important lessons through Jainism and leading our society from small numbers to having about five hundred families. He would make all kids feel comfortable and welcome whether they were first time or long time attendees to Pathsala. Going to Pathsala has

taught me so much about my religion that I cannot just learn by reading. Fifteen years ago our society was striving to build our temple so present and future generations in our area can have a place to practice Jainism. That temple is now that place where I have made my closest friends. After all the hard work and dedication leaders put into this, we may be letting it slip by not staying involved. This situation that our society is facing is something that many different Jain Centers all over the country are also having problems with. It is up to us as a generation to donate with our time and give the future the same resources that we were blessed with. Learning this, and speaking to Mahendra Uncle is where my motivation comes from. I realized that I am nothing without my beliefs and ethics. I endeavor to get involved and continue to keep my religion close regardless of where life takes me one day.


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Why YOU Should be a Leader By Vishal Mehta

Many kids in the community are often hesitant to get involved in their communities. Some feel that it’s a waste of time while others simply don’t want to know what’s going on around them. I am here to tell you that Jain youth taking leadership roles in the community is extremely important! I’ve held numerous leadership roles in my local community and I can tell you that it is an extremely fulfilling experience to help make a change for the better or to apply some sort of Jain principle to improve life in your community. In my experience, I have worked on political campaigns and have held numerous board positions within a youth service group in my community. I worked for now Michigan Governor Rick Snyder for about a year on his policy and communications teams and can make direct correlations between what I did in terms of policy and my Jain principles. For example, I discovered the importance of Aparigraha (multiplicity of viewpoints) while working on the campaign. Everyday, we would have all sorts of people come in with different ideas for what Governor Snyder could

do to change the state and better it and whether we believed them or not, we listened intently and didn’t discount any ideas before hearing them out. I also felt that my strong commitment towards Ahimsa (non-violence) helped when we pledged not to run any attack ads or smear campaigns against other candidates and to run a clean race. And it paid off when we won! This just proves that Jain principles will ultimately prevail and that’s why we need more Jain youth involvement in the community, to help change the world for the better. Although many of my leadership experiences came in the political world, I’ve had other leadership experience as a representative, treasurer, and president of a large youth volunteer service in my community. This experience was more enlightening to me in terms of directly applying Jain principles to my actions and decisions I made. It helped me see how my Jain principles were slowly affecting my entire community. My further service as a YJA board member has allowed me to take my Jain principles and apply them at an unprecedented level. It is extremely important for Jain youth to get involved in their communities if we ever hope to change the world and influence it with Jain principles and ideas in order to change it for the better!

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Please Make a Contribution to YJA Today to Pass Jain Principles & Practice onto the Next Generation of Youth! Jai Jinendra! The Executive Board for the Young Jains of America (YJA) plans to be very active in bringing Jain principles to all youth across the country. We would like to take this opportunity to briefly discuss our current projects and how they will make a difference to the YJA community. • • • • •

National Swadhyay hosted by a group of scholars to raise awareness about Jain Principles and ideals and address youth problems, difficulties, and concerns. Website Reconstruction to develop a professional website for Jain youth and create a forum to share Jain principles. Regional Retreats from the East to West Coasts to instill a sense of religious and cultural pride among Jain youth. National Service Day to allow youth to participate in charitable community activities and “Be the Change.” National Dinners in Jain communities to encourage youth to both develop new friendships among Jain youth and strengthen current relationships within local Jain youth groups.

With the support of donors like you, YJA has grown to be the largest Jain Youth Organization in the World. For the YJA Executive Board, this an honor to be a part of a group that motivates and inspires countless lives. Please consider supporting our efforts with a personal contribution to YJA today. A contribution of any amount will provide tremendous support to instill a sense of among youth about their Jain heritage. The ultimate goal of the YJA Executive Board is to prepare today's Jain youth to become tomorrow's Jain leaders. Not only do we appreciate your donations, but the fundraising team would like to hear from you! Please e-mail fundraising@yja.org with your comments, suggestions, or recommendations for improvement by YJA. If you have any questions regarding Young Minds, please e-mail youngminds@yja.org. Jai Jinendra and Michhami Dukkadam. Thank you for your wonderful contribution. Best Regards, Young Jains of America Executive Board

Email: info@yja.org

Phone: 757-YJA-ORG1

YOUNG JAINS OF AMERICA CONTRIBUTION FORM Full Name: __________________________________________________________________ Company Name (Optional): ____________________________________________________ Address: _______________________________ City: ____________ ST: ____ Zip: ________ Daytime Phone: (______)______________ Evening Phone: (______)_______________ Email Address: _______________________________________ Please make your check payable to Young Jains of America and mail it to: Young Jains of America c/o Vruddhi Choksy 36 North Broad Street Fairborn, OH 45324 YOUNG

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