June 2019

Page 1



Letter from the Co-Chairs


Sangh Spotlight


Recognizing Jainism


Akshaya Trithiya


An Unforgettable Experience


Anshumi Jhaveri

Rishi Zaveri

Tanvi Shah

An Interview with Gunjan Jain YJA in Kansas Pooja Paladia

Event Spotlights 2

14 20 11, 19

Letter from the Co Chairs Jai Jinendra,

So as you go about your day and interact with new people or even Many of you are about to embark your day-to-day coworkers, think on some big changes in your life about how a small change in your some are moving away for college/ behavior can lead to a big change graduate school/jobs while some in their day. are moving back closer to home. Calendars are filling up with grad- And for those of you finishing up at uation parties, vacations, and a your respective institutions, conspecial trip out to Ontario CA for gratulations on graduating! We July 4th weekend (wink wink). Even wish you all the best of luck with those settled into their lives, the your future endeavors and stay upcoming summer months bring updated with YJA for way to keep excitement and a change of pace. staying engaged and involved. Each change, whether big or small, Sincerely, brings new opportunities to make Charmi Vakharia and Monika Jain an impact and summer is a great YJA Co-Chairs, 2018-2019 time to capitalize on those instances. Juhi Nahata, our Southeast Regional Coordinator, made a powerful speech at her retreat this year, talking about the importance of interactions and how they impact others and ourselves. A simple smile when passing-by a stranger or messaging someone you are thinking of can brighten someone’s day; imagine what a short conversation can do?


Sangh Spotlight Jain Society of San Diego BY Kokila Doshi In the beginning, Jain families met informally and celebrate Mahavir Janma Kalyanak, Parushan, Tapasvi Bahuman, and other events. We were taking turns to meet at member families’ homes and had Monthly Swadhyay for adults and kids. In 1992, we formally organized our sangh under JSSD. The next milestone was the establishment of pathshala. Pathshala

students presented dance dramas like Trishaladevi’s dreams, Nem Rajul to the Jain and interfaith communities. One of the most important milestones was the Pratishtha of Adinath, Parshwanath and Mahavirswami in Shri Mandir-a Hindu-Jain Mandir in 1996. We celebrate Paryushan every year in the Sanidhya of Shramanjis-Shramanijis and other invited monks, nuns and Jain scholars. We participated in Shri Mandir’s annual fundraising event, Diwali mela. Our membership continues to grow. In this Hindu-Jain Mandir, we learned the lessons of Anekantvad. After the Great Recession of 2008-2009, we bought our own twoand half acre facility, an existing Church facility with Pathshala rooms, Auditorium, Dining Hall.


Five years ago, we did Chal Pratishtha of Adinath Bhagavan. Today, JSSD is a vibrant community of 200 plus members, celebrating and worshipping together, thriving with Pathshala, discourses and cultural and spiritual activities. Our next goal is to build a stand-alone Religious Complex. The complex has approximately 3700+ SF of space and will also house Jinalay, Aradhana Room and additional facilities to meet the spiritual needs of our community. It is a multi-stage project. We are excited to build this Tirth and provide a peaceful and meditative space for current and future generations.

We would like the young generation to participate in activities of local centers and JAINA and contribute to the cause of spreading Jain values and promoting Jain Way of Life.

What would you like to say to the next generation of Jains? We came to the United States with $8 in our pocket and a burning desire to preserve and pass on our heritage to the next generation. We want to give both the Roots and the Wings to the next generation. With the establishment of Jain Centers in the United States, we want to provide an identity and a spiritual, educational, and social platform to the young generation.


Recognizing Jainism BY

Anshumi Jhaveri

“It is important that Jainism is recognized as its own path, as that is what it is.�


Like any other child growing up, people asked me which religion I followed. Many times, I would say that I was Hindu, not Jain. To some extent, this is true: I am part Hindu, and we celebrate all Hindu festivals in my house. But, I didn’t usually bring up that I was Jain. There was a simple reason for it. The couple of times when I decided to say I was Jain, I was always asked what Jainism was. I would stumble on my words and mumble something about how Jainism was a sect of Hinduism, or that it branched off Hinduism, and whoever I was talking to would shake their head in approval - as if they suddenly understood what I was trying to tell them. On the inside, I felt a pang of guilt every time those words left my mouth and felt the weight of my half-truth sitting on my shoulders.

the same names but are celebrated for different reasons. Principles may apply to both religions, but the emphasis on certain principles may not have the same importance in the other. For example, due to how strongly Jains believe in Ahimsa, all Jains lead a vegetarian lifestyle. After learning these lessons, I never again said that Jainism was a sect of Hinduism; if someone asked what Jainism was, I would explain that it is different from Hinduism altogether.

This problem arises quite often during school history classes. In most classes, students discuss world religions and the importance and meaning of them. Jainism is always brought up right next to Hinduism - it is usually said that it is a sect of Hinduism or something similar to it. This is how our reliAs I got older and kept attendgion is explained to a majority of ing Gyanshala, we eventually disstudents, creating the notion that cussed the relationship between the two religions aren’t separate at Jainism and Hinduism. In well-exall. It is important that when beplained words by my Samaniji, I ing explained to others, Jainism is learned that Jainism is not an inrecognized as its own path, as that tersecting religion with Hinduism is what it is. More importantly, it is but rather a parallel one. For young important for young Jains to say sixth-grader me, gears started something if we recognize that incranking in my brain and things correct explanations are occuring. were getting clearer. I realized that The day we choose not to speak up our religions may have their simabout things that matter is the day ilarities, but the core beliefs and our identity begins to disappear. So principles are not similar enough stand up, and speak out about the for Jainism to be considered a sect things you believe in. of Hinduism. Festivals may have


Akshaya Trithiya BY


Rishi Zaveri

wan. He was the first “He never got upset; he never one in his era to take Diksha and because spoke back; he never felt bur- of that, no one knew dened; and he never gave up.” what or how to interact with him. After taking Diksha, Rishabhdev Imagine you have been travelling Bhagwan began his long journey of through the jungle for many days, meditation and traveling through and you have run out of food and the jungle by foot. Whenever he water. After some time, you come would reach a village, he would to a village. You knock on the door go to the entrance of a house and of the first house you see; when exclaim “Dharmalabh!”, which is someone answers, you ask them if a Sadhu’s method for asking for they have any food or water. Unalms. The villagers could not unfortunately, the owner cannot understand him or, if they realized derstand what you are saying. You he was asking for something, they try to sign that you want food but would not know what to give him. he does not understand. You try He was offered money, jewelry, the next house – this time the ownclothes, cattle, and even daughters er seems to understand, but infor him to marry. This went on for stead of food, they try to offer you 400 days. Yet, during this ordeal, clothes. At the next house, you are Bhagwan Rishabhdev never once offered an entire cow! No matter got upset; he never spoke back what you do, you do not get what when he was shunned from someyou want. After a few instances of one’s house, he never got exasperthis, what would be your mental ated when he was offered someand emotional status? Most of us thing other than food, he never felt would become frustrated; we’d feel burdened by his unexpectedly long like shouting at the villagers or just fast, and he never gave up. going into their homes and taking what we want. Bhagwan Rishabhdev understood that he was being forced to fast Now imagine if this went on for longer than expected because of 400 days. his past karma. He also knew that he could not blame the villagers for This was the case for our very first their ignorance. He kept his mind Tirthankar, Shri Rishabhdev Bhagand his thoughts in equanimity, in


“On our journey to achieving our goals, we are bound to hit roadblocks which may be out of our control.” Samata. He neither allowed the fire of hatred nor the shadow of self-pity to disturb the peace in his mind. His 400 day fast was finally broken when his great grandson, Shreyans Kumar, offered him a pot of sugarcane juice. That day is now celebrated as Akshay Trithiya, or Akkha Teej, which fell on May 7th this year. Jains celebrate this day by honoring Rishabhdev Bhagwan through puja or bhakti and by drinking sugarcane juice. It is also the day on which those who have observed Varshi Tap - a 400-day fast alternating between Upvas (full fast) and Beshnus (eating twice a day) in remembrance of Bhagwan Rishabhdev’s 400 day fast - end their fast. This day should be a reminder to us about the virtues of patience. We all are chasing after our dreams and goals, whether they are dayto-day or life-changing. On our journey to achieving these goals, we are bound to hit roadblocks which may be out of our control.


On those days when our frustration knows no bounds, we should recall this story of Rishabhdev Bhagwan. We should try to bathe our mind in the ocean of calmness that he held. True Patience is achieved when we learn to stay the course during even the most violent storm! If anything in this article has offended you or gone against the teachings of Bhagwan Mahavir, we sincerely ask for forgiveness. Micchami Dukkadam!

YJA Gives Back Medshare

MedShare is a 501c(3) humanitarian aid organization dedicated to improving the quality of life of people, communities and our planet by sourcing and directly delivering surplus medical supplies and equipment to communities in need around the world.

MedShare’s deliveries of vital medical supplies and equipment have decreased our nation’s carbon footprint and brought health, healing and the promise of better lives to 100 countries and countless patients.

“The Jain Center of West New York was also contacted. We were able to work with people outside of the YJA community and it was really nice to be able to come together with them and do good for the community.” -- Achal Shah Mid-Atlantic April 6, 2019


Life:An Unforgettable Experience BY


Tanvi Shah

“Realize that life is all about living each moment as if it was created just for you.”

Don’t we all look back at our childhood once in a while and wish we didn’t hurry to become so mature? Don’t we wish we didn’t hurry to get things done, but rather savor that blissful time? Likewise, whenever we order a dessert, it is a general practice to comfortably enjoy every spoon of the dish without anyone hurrying us to finish the bowl.

We each have different goals and ambitions for ourselves. To bring ourselves closer to those goals, we are anxious to juggle everything at once and get started with our next challenge. Often, without realizing, we go overboard in stressing over these goals, assuming that time is running out for us to catch the next I agree that smelling the roses isn’t bus to success. as simple as it sounds. There are always things to prioritize and work In other words, we are always to get done. But, it is equally necrushing and rushing to achieve essary to make time for yourself in more, to accomplish more, and the rush of life. Setting out time for to do more. Sometimes, we force yourself in this fast world is a matourselves to choose the hard way, ter of choice. ignoring the comfortable way to do the exact same thing. Nobody will give you the chance, unless you think that it is essential. We often make our lives twice as stressful as they should be. It is The next time that you are going to possible to smell the roses while college or work, I encourage you to you are focused on your desired enjoy that walk. Look at the bright destination. It is practical to enside of your travel. Look up into the joy the process, because life will sky and notice the beautiful shades always be a work in progress. At of blue. Realize that life is all about the end of the day, everything can living each moment as if it was crework out. ated just for you.


An Interview with Gunjan Jain


How did you start writing? I come from a business background and studied finance extensively. When I returned from the UK after completing my finance studies in 2006 to build a career in investment banking, I could slowly feel a futility towards the idea of crunching numbers all day. There was a pull in my heart towards something bigger, but I didn’t really know what. As I looked deeper into my life for inspiration, I started connecting my outer life with my inner self and saw how phenomenal stories existed in every woman around me but had no exposure to the world. Growing up, I always loved books and the possibilities a well-written book holds for every person who reads it. It was then that I decided to switch from being an investment banker to being a full-time author.

we’d be doing ourselves and others around us a terrible disservice by denying them the whole truth.

How did She Walks, She Leads come to be? What made you want to explore that subject? My mother has been my greatest role model in life. I saw her hold her own in a patriarchal set-up, and she consistently taught me that achievement and success have to be worked for relentlessly. When I was working as an investment banker, I kept on reading profiles of India’s most successful women who were making waves in national and international circuits in an

I surrendered to my faith and allowed the vision to take over me, as we do when we know that a universal conscience is guiding us to fulfill our destiny.

What is your philosophy towards your work? There is only one philosophy: I will speak my truth in the most eloquent, powerful and honest manner as only I can. Art without a voice is a shout into the void, and


attempt to find some inspiration for myself. But these interviews and profiles seemed very single dimensional. They detailed all the achievements of these women, but none of them spoke of the struggles these women faced while making it big in every walk of life. As luck would have it, I was at a similar cusp in life, and I sought out all of these women to complete my journey by chronicling their actual journey.

What was the process of writing She Walks, She Leads?

When I started writing She Walks, She Leads, I was convinced that this book was going to be a celebration of womanhood. I made a list of 200 women from different walks of life who inspired me to do better each day. They were women who were entrepreneurs, bankers, artists, writers, sportswomen, designers, and leaders. There was no This understanding of the profound bar on age or profession. I startimportance of telling the stories of ed narrowing my choices down by these twenty four path-breaking asking myself two questions – one, women so that future generations did someone’s work contribute to would find their mentors and hechange in a larger social context roes rolled into one led me to writ- and two, what can all of us learn ing She Walks, She Leads. from a woman that we can’t learn from anyone else in her field? Once I narrowed my list down, I started reaching out to these women, asking for meetings and reaching out to people they were closest to personally and professionally to capture lesser known facets of these women and their private versus public lives. Sometimes I hit the mark well; some days were a struggle in understanding the things I could do in a better manner. As they say, the universe rewards patience and hard work, and the people I spoke to were kind enough to let me into their lives and share intimate details as well as introduce me to


people who eventually helped me shape my book to its current place. Over time, I succeeded in getting my top twenty four on the list in my book, and this book became an authorized biography of these women. The process was incredibly daunting. I nearly questioned myself each day if I was truly on the right path or it was all based on a terribly wrong whim. The universe was kind enough to let me enjoy the fruits of my hard work once in every while to ensure I knew I was on the right path despite the struggles.

What challenges did you face in writing your book? The most daunting part was the beginning. I didn’t have a degree

in journalism or writing, and every step I took towards reaching out to people taught me a new thing. In time, I learnt to trust both in myself and the concept of She Walks, She Leads. I hit obstacles in how to divide these stories that offered such a deep insight into the human psyche, our society, and their reaction to women’s aspirations and eventually settled on the anthology format, since it enables readers to read the book cover to cover as well as dip into it from any point they’d like depending on what they want to read on a given day. Putting pen to paper is a challenge in itself and the rewards are worth every sleepless night, honestly. Apart from that, taking editorial decisions on what to retain and what to leave out from the stories I


was attempting to tell was incredibly exhausting.

Share one of your favorite moments from writing. The entire process of writing this book was a fantastic journey. One of the first people I met while writing this book were Swati Piramal and Nita Ambani and their warmth and generosity nearly bowled me over each time. They made ample space for me every time and repeatedly met me for interviews and allowed access to their private lives and pictures, regaling me with insightful and sometimes, incredible anecdotes about how those moments came to be. Every meeting brought me closer to them, like my own flesh and blood, and I am going to cherish those moments until eternity.

What is the message you want readers to take away? She Walks, She Leads is a book of stories about women who made it big on their own terms while acknowledging the support of their friends, family and peers. It is a story of the daily struggles of one half of the world trying to make it big with help and understanding from the other half. I want the readers to remember that they must focus on the smaller steps and little victories before they reach their greater goals. There is


a lot to be said about leaders who made it big by the power of sheer courage, an insatiable drive and determination – these women have set the bar high and provided a roadmap for all of us to experiment with and follow. I’d love it if readers feel inspired and appreciate the journey undertaken by the women in my book so that they can lead the lives they want to by the values they believe in.

What is your best piece of life advice? The greatest lessons I have learned about life have come from the women I have written about in my book. To phrase it in a nutshell love fiercely, breathe deeply, laugh loudly and most of all, fight like you are really angry. Be alive for as long as you can, because life slips away when we are busy doing other things.

What are you working on now? I am currently working on a follow up to She Walks, She Leads along with a book that deals with selfhelp in the modern world for women. Apart from that, I am working on some fictional ideas for books and a micro-fiction book.

Event Spotlight Veggielution

Veggielution’s mission is to connect people through food and farming. Volunteers recovered and shared harvested fruit with community organizations including Sacred Heart Community Service and First United Methodist Church. From digging in the soil, or selling produce at their farm stand, to cooking with neighbors, Veggielution had an opportunity for everyone to connect to each other and back to the land through food and farming.

“If I had to describe it in 2 words it would be teamwork and fun. Enjoyed the experience and also learnt a bit about organic farming. Looking forward for more such YJA volunteering events.” -- Ruppesh Nalwaya West March 16, 2019


YJA in Kansas BY


Pooja Poladia

attempt at something like this and because of all the help and support from YJA family and the temple, the event was successful and we had YJA representation at Holi for the first time! I am very grateful to be a part of this organization and I can’t wait to organize other events for our young jains in Kansas! Below are some of the pictures of our lovely volunteers! I would like to thank all of our volThis was my first year as LR for YJA unteers listed below and special in Kansas and I had no experience thanks to Mukesh Dharod for arbeforehand of what I was going to ranging the food items as well as plan or how to go about this job Rahul and Nipa Dedhia for providuntil I got this awesome opportuing other materials. nity to meet with other LRs at YJA midwest retreat! I not only learned Mukesh Dharod more about what it’s like to be a Vinod Poladia Jain in the US but I also saw how Param Vora YJA can make an impact on young Mahek Vora jains by providing them with supAarnee Dedhia port, friendship and knowledge at Hilonee Dedhia an early age. Nipa Dedhia Rahul Dedhia I sought to create that environment with our Jain Sangh and I was lucky and fortunate to have gotten help from the Sangh to plan such events and recently, we set up a food booth at Holi to collect donations for the temple as well as spread awareness about YJA. We managed to collect over $1000 in donations and that event brought together many of our young YJA members that volunteered their time and effort in making this a successful fundraiser. It was a first


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