March 2019

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Voyager The Magazine For Journey Seeker

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Find What This Female Traveler Says on This Interview With Us

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Young Minds

Young Minds is a quarterly publication of YJA that features articles, recipes, educational information, regional updates and more. It provides a platform for Jain youth across the country to share and learn from each others’ perspectives. Have a topic you want to explore, a recipe you want to share, or a question about Jainism in your dayto-day life you want to try to answer? We are always looking for new authors to contribute to Young Minds - email today to get started on a submission! 2

March 2019

Table of Contents

From YJA Letter from Editor Letter from Co-Chairs Education Corner YJA Pathshala Corner

04 05 08 20

General Webinar Spotlight Recipes Sangh Spotlight

06 14 18

Interviews Jack Bean: Interview Vandana Jain: Interview Travel Spotlight: Statue of Unity

34 36 26

Articles From the Pursuit of Happiness to the Pursuit of Meaning Appreciating the Ordinary





Dear readers, Jai Jinendra! What does ‘dream’ mean to you? A dream can be an aspiration or ambition. It can be imaginary or realized. Ultimately, a dream represents something we want, either for ourselves or for our community. We’re often told to ‘follow our dreams’, a phrase easier said than done, yet it’s still one of the most inspirational epithets of our day. In one sense, following your dream means doing what you want to do; the extent of which it consumes your life depends on you. In an interview with Jack Bean, a plant-based fast cuisine restaurant in the Netherlands, we learn about how a local product and nowaste philosophy worked to change people’s perceptions of veganism. In an interview with artist and textile designer Vandana Jain, we learn about


how an exhibition was created in two weeks to show strength and compassion in response to loss. Dreams can also be a journey, rather than solely a destination. In “From the Pursuit of Happiness to the Pursuit of Meaning”, Anvita Jain shares how she found a “profound connection to others and to [her] sense of self [she] had been searching for” through YJA. In “Appreciating the Ordinary”, Tanvi Shah shared an experience that led her to “turn what little you have into enough and more”. In this issue, you’ll read about the dreams of others. You might find similarities with your own, or you may not, but we hope that their stories will inspire and motivate you to follow your own dreams. With #yjalove, Rachna Shah Director of Publications


Dear readers, We all have a dream something we want to accomplish by a certain point in our life. That could be getting into our top college choice, landing a sweet job, accepting a spot in graduate school, finding your lifelong partner etc. Many of us are fortunate to have mentors and resources to help guide us as we make these decisions but ultimately it is our choice, our path that we follow. It is our pursuit of the dream that makes us successful. This month’s theme Live Your Dream discusses the drive and passion our contributors have found within themselves or with the help of their environment. It talks about the opportunities they have pursued and where that road has taken them. But it also goes to show that while it may seem the universe is against you following your dreams, you have to change

your perspective and stay determined. Because only you can make your dreams come true. Whether your dream is becoming a doctor, a lawyer, an artist, a Bollywood actor/ actress, or even simply a positive influence on someone else, that dream carries more motivation and perseverance in your life than you may give credit to. The main point you should take away is that to live your dream, you must continue to believe in it, even in the face of adversity. With #yjalove, Monika Jain and Charmi Vakharia


WEBINAR SPOTLIGHT Throughout the year, YJA hosts webinars on various topics discussing the intersection of Jainism and various topics. In 2018, YJA hosted a webinar on Jainism and Health Sciences, where we discussed how different issues in the health sciences field affect Jains working in the industry. YJA also hosted a webinar on Jainism and Finance: Ethical Investing, where we had several panelists working across the industry talk about how we can invest our money more ethically and in a socially responsible manner. Here are the main takeaways.


How can I invest in a socially responsible manner? As per speaker Riana Shah, there are various socially responsible funds from TIAA and Vanguard comprised of shares in companies that have socially responsible practices.

What are sin stocks? As speaker Pallav Vasa explained, sin stocks are stocks that deal with activities that are frowned upon (i.e. tobacco, alcohol), that make money by exploiting human weaknesses and addictions, or are harmful to the well-being of society.

By avoiding investing in such stocks, we can stay away from acquiring bad karma.

Is the drive to maximize profits as a business justified if that money is being used to do good things? Do the ends justify the means? As per Professor Atul Shah, the ends do not justify the means. From the Jain theory point of view, trying to make money by cutting corners and breaking the laws, we will pay the price through karma in our next lives.

What types of jobs should we take? Riana Shah explained her viewpoint that almost all jobs have some unethical components and virtues, but it is important for us to also focus on the good one can do with the rest of it. Communicating your interest to your boss in helping others and doing good is one way to maximize your time with the ethical portions of your profession. ...

Stay tuned for our next webinar on Jainism and Law, Politics, and Government in April. To rewatch the Jainism and Finance webinar, please visit!


Aadinath Bhagwan Education Corner Lord Rishabhdev, also known as Lord Aadinath, was the first Jain Tirthankar of the present time cycle. He lived before modern civilization had developed; as such, he has the name Aadinath, meaning “the original lord.� He was born in Vinitha City, now modern day Ayodhya, to King Nabhi and Queen Marudevi. Rishabhdev was said to have taught six main professions: swordsmanship for protection, writing skills, agriculture, knowledge, trade and commerce, and crafts. According to Jain belief, Rishabhdev is the one who had organized society through a social system, which consisted of the castes. For many years Rishabhdev continued to rule his people and open new frontiers of knowledge. After a long span of time (6.3 million Purva), he began to lose interest in mundane activities and continued towards detachment. Once, Rishabhdev was watching a performance when one of the dancers of Indra, Nilanjana, suddenly died, leaving him very


disturbed. Through this catastrophe, he realized the transitory nature of the world. He pondered and realized that every phenomenon in this universe undergoes changes. He developed complete detachment for everything that is impermanent and ephemeral and decided to devote his life to the search for lasting happiness. He also desired to reach the state of omniscience and follow the

path of a disciplined and spiritual life. His utmost belief was that indulgence in mundane activities would not provide happiness, rather just the illusion of happiness. True happiness is derived from freedom from mundane indulgences and worship within spiritual practices. Thus, Rishabhdev decided to renunciate himself from the material world and take Diksha. Following the example of Rishabhdev, many of his subordinate rulers, as well as common people, were inspired to embrace the ascetic way of life. Jain scriptures mention that 4,000 others also took Diksha with Rishabhdev. By pioneering the ascetic tradition, Rishabhdev established many of the practices we observe even today. For instance, he began the institution of almsgiving when he received sugarcane juice from King Shreyansh to break his 400-day fast.

After taking Diksha, he focused on his spirituality and meditated in the forest for several years. Through his discourses, he gained many disciples and spread Jainism. Rishabhdev was the first human of this era to attain enlightenment. Through his devout penance and austerity, Rishabhdev attained Kevalgyan (omniscience) under a Banyan Tree in Siddharth forest. This day is celebrated as Rishabhdev’s Kevalgnan Kalyanak, which fell on the auspicious day of March 2 this year. In his first discourse, Rishabhdev detailed the trilogy of right faith, knowledge, and conduct. By understanding the significance of life as a human being and the importance of a dutiful life, thousands of people embraced the ascetic way of life. Thousands more accepted the Shravak Dharma, the religious path for lay-people. As he founded the four-pronged religious order at the beginning of the

“His utmost belief was that indulgence in mundane activities would not provide happiness, rather just the illusion of happiness.”


present era, Bhagwan Rishabhdev became popularly known as Aadinath, in reference to being the first Tirthankar. For a long time, Bhagwan Rishabhdev continued to propagate the Jain dharma with the Panch Mahavrat, or five great vows, as its central theme. After he had shed almost all of his remaining karma, he proceeded to the Ashtapad mountain (Mount Kailash). A little before noon on the day now commonly known as Meru Teras, Rishabhdev and ten thousand other ascetics were observing a six-day fast without water. As he was sitting in meditation, he proceeded to attain Moksha and freedom from all sorrows. This year, we celebrated Aadinath Bhagwan’s Nirvana Kalyanak on February 2nd. As a beacon of grace and internal bliss, Aadinath Bhagwan has been the most impactful idol for the Jain faith. Besides just blessing us and this religion with a sea of knowledge, he inspires many of us through his story, his pure intentions, and his love. His detachment from worldly affairs and indulgences was prompted by the realization of the temporary nature of the world. If anything in this article has offended you or gone against the teachings of Bhagwan Mahavir, we sincerely ask for forgiveness. Micchami Dukkadam!


Chha Gaun Yatra: A Hidden Journey When most of us hear the name Shatrunjay, we remember a time when we were younger and visited India, and our family took us to climb a tall mountain. Maybe we remember waking up early in the morning and running up the 3,500 steps, taking a quick bath in the bath houses and waiting in a long line to do puja of Shri Aadinath Bhagwan. Some of us may remember doing pradakshina (circling) of a large tree. We might remember running back down as fast as we can so that we can quench our thirst with some lemonade or yogurt. For the majority of us, this is the yatra (pilgrimage) of Shatrunjay that we have done and remember - it is the most common. Maybe a few of us have done Nav Tunk Yatra in which we first start in the secondary campus and visit 8 other temples before the main temple of Rishabhdev Bhagwan. But how many know of a third yatra of Shatrunjay? March 19th or Fagan Sud Teras

is the day that thousands of pilgrims perform what is known as Chha (6) Gau Yatra. It is named after the length that is traveled - 6 gau is approximately 12 miles. This yatra is only done on this day due to its difficulty and remoteness. The journey takes pilgrims to many sites on the Shatrunjay Hills that are lesser known but extremely auspicious. The journey starts through a small window near the Ram Pol gate. The first temple one reaches is of the six sons of Devaki. As per the Ramayan, Devaki is the mother of Krishna, but before she gave birth to him, she had six other sons. All six took Diksha under Neminath Bhagwan and went to Moksha (liberation) near that spot. The next stop is Chandan Talav (Lake). It is said that a disciple of Gandhar Pundarikswami, one of Aadinath Bhagwan’s chief disciples, created this small pool so that other pilgrims could quench their thirst while climbing the mountain.


The banks of this lake are famous as the location where many Sadhus performed Kayotsarg and other extreme austerities to finally reach Moksha. Even today, pilgrims will stop at this spot and do Kausagg of 108 or 27 Logassa Stotras. Further ahead, pilgrims stop and do darshan at the temples of

Ajitnath Bhagwan and Shantinath Bhagwan. Both of these Tirthankars are said to have given a Deshna (sermon) in this area. The next hill that comes on the path is called Siddhashila, named for the innumerable souls that have reached the true Siddhashila in Moksh from this hill.

“Siddhashila, named for the innumerable souls that have reached the true Siddhashila in Moksh from this hill.�


The path begins to wrap around a second mountain peak. This peak is called the Bhandva Dungar. It is said that two of Shri Krishna’s sons, Shaambh and Pradyumna, came here after taking Diksha under Neminath Bhagwan. On the peak of this hill on Fagan Sud Teras, with 85 million other sadhus, the brothers attained Kevalgyan (ultimate knowledge) and Moksha (liberation). As the path begins to descend, it reaches a large banyan tree. This tree is called Siddha Vad (banyan), and similar to the Siddhashila hill, it was named for the volume of souls that have been liberated underneath it. Finally the path ends at the Juni Taleti (old base), the old starting point for the yatra to the Shatrunjay temples. Many of us might have assumed that the holiness of Shatrunjay was contained only within the walls of the temples on the peak. This 6 Gau yatra shows that not just this one hill, but the entire Shantrunjay Hills, are steeped in history and have been blessed by countless enlightened souls. These hills, valleys, lakes, and caves have been used for meditation and congregation by Jains for thousands of years. In recent years, we have begun to lose control of this area, and the hills are being desecrated and polluted by other groups. Our Sadhus and Sadhvis, as well as other pilgrims, are being harassed during their yatras. If we wish to protect the sanctity of these hills for our future generations, we should visit Shatrunjay often and help protect our temples and heritage. If anything in this article has offended you or gone against the teachings of Bhagwan Mahavir, we sincerely ask for forgiveness. Micchami Dukkadam!


Raw Southwest Quinoa Sushi Author: Fragrant Vanilla

SERVES 2-3 14



1 cup quinoa 1 1/2 Tbsp rice vinegar 1 tsp raw coconut nectar 1/4 tsp sea salt (or to taste) 1 medium zucchini, cut into matchsticks 1 medium yellow summer squash, cut into matchsticks 1 large bell pepper, cut julienne 2 medium avocado, cut into strips raw hot sauce (optional) 6 nori sheets

1. To sprout the quinoa, rinse well, then soak it in cool water for 6-8 hours, then drain and rinse again. 2. Place in a jar, with a breathable lid, and let sit for 1-2 days, rinsing and draining well twice a day to prevent mold. Your quinoa should be sprouted in 2 days. Once sprouted, place in a covered bowl in the fridge until ready to use. 3. Mix the rice wine vinegar, nectar, and sea salt into the quinoa until well blended. To assemble, lay out a sheet of nori, and spread about a 2 inch strip of quinoa near the top. 4. Place a line of a few zucchini strips, yellow summer squash strips, red bell pepper strips and avocado strips in the center. Place a little bit of hot sauce along the veggies if desired. 5. Roll up tightly from the top down. Moisten the edge at the bottom to get it to hold together. Repeat with the other 6 nori sheets. Slice each roll into 6 rounds, place on plates and enjoy!


Black Bean Arepa Sandwiches Author: Minimalist Baker




6 large arepas or corn tortillas 2 large plantains, peeled 1 tbsp oil (suggested: avocado oil) 1 15-ounce can black beans 1/2 tsp ground cumin, 1 pinch sea salt 2 ripe avocados 2-3 tbsp lime juice, 1/4 tsp sea salt, 2 tbsp chopped cilantro

1. Prepare arepas. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Peel your plantains and slice on a diagonal into 1/2inch pieces. Add to a parchmentlined baking sheet, toss with oil. 2. Arrange into an even layer and bake for 15-20 minutes. 3. In the meantime, add black beans to a small saucepan and heat over medium heat until bubbly and hot. Season with cumin and salt and stir to combine. Then turn heat off and set aside (cover to keep warm). 4. Lastly, prepare guacamole by mashing avocado in a small mixing bowl and adding lime, salt, and cilantro. Stir to combine, and taste and adjust flavor as needed. Add more salt for saltiness, or lime for acidity. 5. Slice your hot arepas in half (or cut a “pita pocket� and stuff). Add guacamole, beans, plantains, and any other desired toppings, such as Habanero Hot Sauce, cabbage, or cilantro! Store leftovers.



Jain Center of CT Formed in early 1980, the sangh currently has over 150 families. One of the major milestones was achieved in 2018 during Labor Day weekend when the sangh did 18 Abhishek Pratistha of their derasar within the Hindu Cultural Center (HCC) in Stratford, Connecticut.


JCC was built in the early 1980s by founding members who were new to this country, conceived following a question posed by a 4-year-old child: “Ama, all my friends are going to church, where is my church?�

Shikha Jain is a Pathshala Teacher at the Center teaching levels 1 and 2 for the past 5 years. We have Pathshala every 2nd and 4th Sunday of the month. We have mom and me to high school levels of classes and adult swadaya too. We have generally 60/65 people attending the Pathshala. It’s great way to learn Jainism and be part of the community.

Why is Pathshala important?

In my view, Pathshala serves as a place where our next generation can learn about Jainism in a community set up, where they can meet with other likeminded Jain kids. Pathshala nurtures the community and builds relationships and friendships. Pathshala is also a place where adults can practice, share and continue to stay in touch with principles of Jainism with fellow Jains.

This profound quest for one’s individual identity in this universe served the foundation of what would become the Jain Center. The Jain Center helps the community to look within to one’s own individuality and eternal nature. This is what the Center What’s your favorite lesson to seeks to teach themselves and their teach? children. I like to put emphasis on helping kids find easy ways to practice Jainism in What would you like to say to their daily lives. I like to also inculcate the next generation of Jains? a feeling of pride to be a Jain and the Have faith in the teaching of Arihants. importance of following Jain principles Sometimes you may not understand everyday. or agree but do not doubt, instead consider this as your limitation and What would you like to say to the try to expand your knowledge to get next generation of Jains? the true understanding. You are a Be proud to be a Jain. It is a rare human, and you ask, contemplate, opportunity and you have the advantage find answers, find the truth and as you in this lifetime. Make the most of it. understand and feel, you become that We are a privileged community that person. You evolve constantly and can is peaceful in thoughts, actions and find your eternal truth within self. speech. Live in harmony with the rest of the world!




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“All beings will reap the fruit of their actions.” -Mahavir Swami Uttaradhyayan Sutra According to Jainism, a person’s current situation is partially a result of karmas currently coming to fruition (“uday” or operative karmas). It is also partially a result of external circumstances like another person’s actions. It is also partially a result of unavoidable destiny or “niyati” created by karmas that could not have eliminated (nikachit, mentioned above). This theory is not meant to translate to or impart a feeling of helplessness; rather, karma theory provides a guide to improving one’s


future destiny. While one’s current karma cannot be changed, according to Jainism, self-effort or “purusharth” can be made to better oneself and change the karma one acquires. For example, if a person gains wealth and uses it for bribery or consumption of meat, that person is changing their future fate to a negative one (eg, a corrupt politician). However, if a person donates to worthy causes, this good karma creates a positive future destiny (think Bill Gates & the Gates foundation).

To what extent do you believe in Karma Theory? Does this affect your lifestyle? 21

Tanvi Shah

Appreciating the Ordinary 22

It was the first week of my exchange program in Lille, France and the induction activities planned for us by college were up and running. On one day scheduled outdoors, where we took part in a human pyramid contest, I happened to leave my handbag containing my phone and other important things on one of the many similar looking roads in Lille. Like anyone would react at that point of time, I could vividly feel my heart in my mouth and the warm heat on my cheeks with a constant tape going on in my head. Where’s the bag? Where could I have left it? How could I be so irresponsible? What if someone has taken it? Will I ever get it back? During all this time, not a single picturesque or beautiful part of the city came even close to achieving my glance.

No matter what anyone said or did, nothing helped improve my doleful mood. It was practically the only thing I could think of. I kept feeling like going back in time and erasing that moment where I mindlessly left my bag unattended. In fact, I kept visualizing the time when I had the bag in my possession, thinking it was such a great time. As silly as it may sound, I also wished I took time to express acknowledgement towards my bag, for always being there clung to my shoulders. In other words, I kept feeling I should never have taken the bag in my possession, for granted. With the help of this story, I mean to point out the way we inadvertently take normal and good times for granted and fail to appreciate them when we have them. Remember the

“We inadvertently take normal and good times for granted and fail to appreciate them when we have them.� 23

last time you had the worst cough and cold and it was close to impossible to achieve a simple thing as a breath of fresh air? Didn’t we then wish we acknowledged the ability to breathe freely and thank our nose for making life so comfortable? Sometimes in the rush of life, we miss acknowledging all the good things going for us that could have easily gone wrong. We fail to take a moment to count all the blessings that have just fallen in our plate, without which life could have been so much tougher. We fail to exude gratefulness towards all the people, things and opportunities that have made our life the best version of itself. We must realize that, a heart that acknowledges is so much happier and satisfied, and at the end of the day it is that very appreciation that keeps one humble, content, and securing the fulfillment of life. When we train ourselves to notice and appreciate the tiniest things in life that are actually not so little but in fact profound, we are opening our lives to happiness in a hundred different forms.


Doesn’t an awesome song playing out of the blue on the radio have the capability to boost your spirits and improve your mood? Doesn’t a sudden climatic switch to breezy and beautiful weather, when you are least expecting it, bring pleasure to your heart? Doesn’t a giggling baby laughing in your arms make you feel on top of the world? Acknowledge the feeling. Acknowledge how happy it’s making you inside. Hence, never hesitate in taking a moment to appreciate the existence of a loving family who always had and will have your back, a close friend who never fails to brighten your mood or simply the ability to afford a fan above your head. Appreciating every single tiny thing that makes your world go round unlocks the fullness of your life and turns what little you have into enough and more.


Travel Spotlight

Statue of Unity Viral Shah India’s Befitting Tribute to the Iron Man! Inaugurated on October 31, 2018 by Prime Minister Narendra Modi at Kevadia in the Narmada District of Gujarat, the Statue of Unity is the world’s tallest statue standing at a colossal 182 meters tall (twice the height of the Statue of Liberty). Envisioned by Modiji while he was the chief minister of Gujarat, the statue is a tribute to one of the most important sculptors of United Republic of India, Shri Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel. It seems only fair that the world’s tallest statue overlooks one of the world’s biggest dams. A visit to the Statue of Unity (SOU) was a fast re-realization of India’s growth story. SOU is an engineering marvel built


by the Larsen and Toubro Engineering Company (L&T) at a cost of Rs. 2989 crores ($421,000). It also has a viewing gallery at a height of 153 meters, a nearby valley of flowers, unique helicopter ride, boating, and lot of other attractive facilities and activities. Pro-Tip 1: Book tickets online on www. to save last minute hassle and long queues. Having visited New York’s Statue of Liberty, the Empire State Building, Boston’s Skywalk Observatory, Chicago’s Willis Tower and Dubai’s Burj Khalifa, I can proudly say that the Statue of Unity is among the top not only in terms of architecture but also in terms of

Statue of Unity, at night


crowd management, facilities, security, parking, food, and also cleanliness! 3000 workers inclusive of 300 engineers worked for around 3.5 years to bring the design to life with bronze sheets, 25,000 tons of steel, and 210,000 cubic meters of concrete. Close to 35,000-40,000 people visit the SOU on a regular weekend. Pro-Tip 2: The 10-15 minutes helicopter ride is totally worth the Rs. 3000 (43 USD) and gives a spectacular view of the Narmada River, Dam and the Statue. Local authorities have kept the SOU very modern and safe but at the same time retained the place’s local noncommercial flavour. It truly feels like home when you can have the “Kitli Ki Chai” and local food by the roadside even in the high security, ultra modern surroundings right outside the SOU. Local villagers have also been employed as guides to show visitors around. Pro-Tip 3: The ideal time to visit is late afternoon, so that you do not miss the unique lazer, light and sound show starting at 7.10 PM. Sardar Patel played a crucial and most critical role of uniting 562 princely states of


India during the hard times of early Independence post1947. Modern India is forever in gratitude to Sardar Patel’s vision, tactics and diplomacy. His role is unparalleled in world history irrespective of decade or civilization! The late evening lazer-light and sound show at the SOU is full of goose bumps as it showcases Sardar Patel’s journey from a kid to a barrister to innumerable jail stints with Gandhiji for India’s freedom and then his key role as India’s 1st Home minister and Deputy Prime Minister. Pro-Tip 4: Located around 200 kilometers from Ahmedabad, the road is super smooth and well constructed. With a lunch/ dinner break at Vadodara, the Statue of Unity can be the perfect day for a long outing with friends and family! The government has formed a special Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel Rashtriya Ekta Trust to manage and run the entire statue and its related facilities. Tourist Bhavans of each of India’s 29 States, an adventure park, resorts, tent cities for tourists, theme parks, and more are a few of the new upcoming things at SOU. It has all the makings of a truly international tourist attraction. The SOU rises out of a star-

shaped geometric base and is connected to the mainland by a bridge. It can withstand winds of 180 km/hr and earthquakes with a Richter magnitude of 6.5. The Statue of Unity is India’s pride and a must visit for anyone either living in any part of India and also for all those who are planning their next visit to India.

29 Statue of Unity, in the day


From the Pursuit of Happiness to the Pursuit of Meaning: The Beginning of My Journey in YJA 30

From the US Declaration of Independence to Hollywood movies and countless self-help articles, the phrase “pursuit of happiness” appears everywhere. Modern society is obsessed with the goal of obtaining happiness, and happiness is often touted as the ultimate trophy of success. Happiness in and of itself is not harmful, but this obsession with the “pursuit of happiness” is unhealthy. Social media and modern pop culture perpetuate superficial and unattainable standards for happiness that can ironically lead to dissatisfaction and

anxiety. Not only is being happy all the time an unrealistic goal, but it discounts how essential other emotions are to human experience and our survival. I have experienced first hand how easy it is to be susceptible to these subliminal messages when they constantly surround you. A year ago, my introduction into the YJA community started shifting my focus to something more fulfilling – the pursuit of meaning. My first YJA event was a National Dinner in College Station, TX in November 2017. Besides being surprised by the

“Happiness in and of itself is not harmful, but this obsession with the “pursuit of happiness” is unhealthy.”

number of Jains I found in such a small conservative college town, I was also pleasantly surprised by how welcoming everyone was and how comfortable I felt among them. This was the catalyst to a series of fortunate events that connected me with peers who share my values and deepened my spirituality. In her TED Talk “There’s more to life than being happy”, journalist Emily Esfahani


Smith explores four pillars of meaning: belonging, purpose, storytelling, and transcendence. My experiences within the YJA community have graced my life with all four pillars.

Belonging: Growing up in

the predominantly Caucasian city of Portland, OR, I knew very few Jains. My only exposure to Jain traditions and values was through my parents and my grandparents. In the absence of a closeknit community of Jain peers, I disconnected from my religion and failed to establish a deep sense of spirituality. I stumbled upon YJA in a desperate search for spirituality, and sessions and activities from Retreats and Convention expanded my knowledge about Jainism and gave me a chance to meet people who shared my values. Many foundational aspects of Jainism, such

as the principles of ahimsa, aparigraha, and anekantwad, resonated with me immediately, because they aligned with many of my personal beliefs. Finally, I found the profound connection to others and to my sense of self I had been searching for. One of my favorite moments of connection was a group hug near the end of South Retreat in March 2018 – in that moment, I felt like I truly belonged.

Purpose: Finding my

purpose in life has eluded me for as long as I can remember. However, through YJA events, exposure to how others have determined their own remarkable paths has given me increased clarity on how to forge my own. Seeing how other Jains are giving back to their communities in so many different ways has helped me focus on how I

“Finally, I found the profound connection to others and to my sense of self I had been searching for.”


can best utilize my strengths to give back. A session at the 2018 YJA National Convention that created a safe space to discuss mental health issues and how to destigmatize mental health dialogue in the Jain and broader South Asian community was especially inspirational in helping me find my sense of purpose.

Storytelling: The way you

frame your life story can significantly impact the meaning you derive from it. YJA fosters a strong sense of pride in being a Jain, and the members of this community exude such passion about various interests within and outside the sphere of Jainism. As a result, being surrounded by this community has positively reframed my inner narrative regarding my identity as a Jain and my spirituality. It has strengthened my sense of identity and made me more accepting of myself. This positive atmosphere has also reshaped my story around other aspects of my life that led me to YJA, such as my mental health struggles, and made me more grateful for the lessons that I have learned.

Transcendence: The final

pillar of meaning involves feeling connected to a higher reality beyond that of everyday life. In many ways, being in

a Jain bubble for an entire weekend during Convention, where for once Jains are a majority, feels just like that. As I formed new bonds and strengthened existing ones, I found a commonality: we are all working towards carrying on the legacy of Jainism into the future in our own ways and keeping this community’s positive spirit alive for generations to come. The happiness that comes from being a part of this higher cause is amazing. Driven by the pursuit of meaning, I find happiness a gratifying result of this pursuit. While I am still sometimes vulnerable to seeking more immediate sources of happiness, this new journey toward meaning keeps me focused on building more enduring sources of happiness and makes me more appreciative of everything I already have. YJA has become an integral aspect of this journey, and all my experiences last year have culminated in becoming a Local Representative for the South region this year. Thank you to YJA for bringing all this positivity to my life, and I hope to return the favor by giving back as much as I can.



Jack Bean Why can’t fast food be good food? Better for you and the planet? But still tasty, convenient and affordable? These questions set us on a journey to develop Jack Bean.

How and why did you open Jack Bean?

Pepijn Schmeink and I wanted to inspire people to eat more plants (and less animal protein). We developed a fast cuisine concept called Jack Bean, where we serve a 100% plant-based menu. We opened our first location in June 18 in Rotterdam, the Netherlands and plan to open at 2-3 new locations in 2019.

Has vegan cooking always interested you?

Pepijn is the culinary brain behind Jack Bean. He was trained in Michelin star restaurants and worked for several restaurant chains in the US. In the Netherlands he made his fame as a sustainable chef, working with local products and a no-waste philosophy. Pure plant-based cooking was a logical next step in his culinary journey.

How have people’s perspective toward veganism changed over time?

It is definitely changing, and more people are open for a plant-


based diet. But we have to be honest that there is still a long way to go in the transition to a plant-focused diet. Most people, especially men, have a strong (cultural) attachment to meat as a necessary part of their meal. We see it as one of our main challenges to change this perception.

How does your restaurant work with local farmers?

We started Jack Bean from a sustainability perspective. It does not make a lot of sense to us to ship & fly avocados and coconuts across the planet to make a tasty plant-based meal. Therefore, we looked at the local produce that is available in our direct surroundings and developed our menu accordingly.

What are some challenges your restaurant has faced?

One of the main challenges we see ahead of us is finding suitable locations for Jack Bean. Location is key for our growth strategy and the current real estate market is very competitive.

What is your restaurant most proud of? How do you personally define business success?

I’m most proud of the individual reviews of guests, especially the ones where non-vegans and nonvegetarians are so happy with the taste and quality of our food.

Curried Cauliflower Salad That’s eventually our biggest indicator for success, that we plant enough seeds for people to make changes in their personal diet.

What is your favorite item on your menu?

I love our Mexican Chili bowl! Full of flavor and really a dish where meat eaters won’t miss their animal protein!


Interview: Vandana Jain Vandana Jain is an artist and textile designer based in Brooklyn, NY. She received her Bachelor’s from NYU and went on to study Textile Design at FIT. Her work explores the intersections of pattern and symbol, and spirituality and consumerism. Jain’s work has been exhibited both nationally and internationally. In the last few years, she has had solo projects at Hallwalls Contemporary Arts Center, Buffalo, NY; Lakeeren Gallery in Mumbai, India; Station Independent Projects, Lower East Side, NY; and Smack Mellon and BRIC House in Brooklyn, NY.


Jain has received several awards for her work including the Emerging Artist’s Fellowship at Socrates Sculpture Park, the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council Workspace Residency, and the Joan Mitchell Painters and Sculptors Grant. Her work has been profiled in Artforum, The New York Times, Art Slant, Mumbai Boss, Kyoorius and Beautiful Decay. Her website is

Walk us through a home. This was in the wake of the day in your life.

housing crash of It was October 2010. 2008, when the ‘too big to fail’ banks had We had driven from been bailed out by our New York City to government. Minneapolis, MN to But our friend had produce an no one to bail her exhibit at my friend’s out, and instead of vacant house. Her assuming the debt and mom had passed taking on the away, and during a house, she decided long and to make it into a art debilitating illness, exhibition for her had accrued many community. liens on the house. The property went into We had met Mirelle in NYC, so now it was my foreclosure, and along with losing three friends and I in a van, driving to her mother, she was Minneapolis to help losing her family put together this show


of about 30 artists working with the themes of home, health and domesticity. I made a large figure out of a black, tarlike paint directly on the wall where an entertainment unit had left traces on the wallpaper. And in the backyard, I hung my Prayer Flags for Healthcare, made a year before to talk about the need for a system that worked for all Americans. Over the course of two weeks, we worked with Mirelle’s community in Minneapolis, putting together a show with all of our individual work, but also talking about loss - the loss of Mirelle’s mom, of the house, of all the houses all across the country. It was an exhibition where we came together to show our strength and our compassion.

When did you know that this was what you wanted to do with your life? How did you get started? When I was in high school and I took a black and white photo class and I was hooked from the first roll of film. I had never been a great drawer or painter, so the camera opened up an exciting route into creative


thinking and seeing. When i got to university, I decided to major in Art and Art History, and then after a couple of years working the usual low level art jobs (security guard, gallery girl etc.), I got a certificate in Textile Design at the Fashion Institute of Technology. This decision really allowed me to pursue art on a whole different level, since it led to higher rates and freelance opportunities that allowed me to have the time and space to make work.

How have you developed your career?

Mostly by creating and participating in communities of other like-minded artists. I have been involved with ABC No Rio, a punk rock creative community center on the Lower East Side for over 20 years, and it has been a place for me to

develop my work as well as find a receptive audience. I also have a wide-ranging collaborative practice with my friends (we work under the name Artcodex) where we approach political and social issues with humor and acerbic wit. Additionally, I make a point of doing studio visits with fellow artists, curating shows occasionally, and going to openings to support other artists work.

What was the biggest opposing force that you encountered on your creative journey?

It can be very difficult, especially as you get older, to continue to have faith in your work. Many of the opportunities and fellowships are geared towards emerging artists, so there is less external validation, and less spontaneous community. A lot of the work happens in isolation and takes a lot of discipline and self-motivation. Especially as my work is based in projects and ideas, it is easy to get distracted and lose momentum.

Walk us through one of your most recent pieces of artwork. For my solo show at Hallwalls, in Buffalo in March, I finished

Valorization, a diptych composed of one large felt applique and an embroidered dollar bill. The felt work charts the top 25 corporations in the US from 1955 to the present, according to data gathered by Fortune Magazine. Next to this was the dollar bill hand-embroidered with two lines, representing the rise in productivity and the stagnation of real wages during roughly the same period of time. I wanted to contrast and compare the two American economies - one of the stock market and capital, and the one that hits us in our pockets.

What does your work aim to say? Why do you create artwork?

When I started this body of work in 2003, radially arranging corporate logos and brands into what I called “mandalas�, I was specifically interested in juxtaposing consumer culture and identity with spirituality. In the 15 years since, I have used my work to question the privatization of public spaces, the invisible costs of globalization and outsourcing, and the various national alignments in international economic groups. Most recently, I have been thinking about the growing monopolization


of industries, the rise of inequality, and the consolidation of power into fewer and fewer hands.

people and using this time to grow in a new way.

What about the creative process excites you the most? So much of the process is mundane work - sketches and ideas that go nowhere, experiments that fail, writing and polishing text to express what is better said through the artwork, and applying for opportunities and getting your work out there. But then occasionally, all of this groundwork pays off, and you find yourself receiving a gift of an idea, something that comes out of nowhere, but fully formed and perfect in everyway; its electric, and extremely satisfying.

I’m working with a lot of castoff packaging from consumer goods. I have been collecting plastic that I find on the street and in my daily life. My favorite are those multi-armed plastic hangers, that used to hold some baby clothes or socks, and look like strange skeletons. I’ve been taking these objects and sewing them onto velvet, arranged by type and size as if they were a taxonomic collection of insects. Especially as we realize the high cost of single use petroleum products, these things will eventually go extinct, and we can forget them in some dusty museums.

How do you overcome creative blocks?

Creative blocks always seem insurmountable. All of a sudden you are lost in a forest, and all the trees look the same and you really don’t know why you came this way in the first place! The trick is to not get too worked up, and instead find your way back to the things that you love about what you do. For me, this usually looks like a lot of experimenting with new materials, digging out old works, collaborating with other


What project are you working on now?

Who or what are your biggest influences?

I take a lot of inspiration from traditional crafts and arts, and thinking about the resources and labor that go into making something. People all over the world have developed such refined and specific techniques of creating meaning and beauty, and these labor intensive techniques jar with the fast-paced world today. Is it possible to value the handmade, the local, and the

meaningful again, without it just becoming the newest consumer trend? How do we tackle the desire for the new and soon to be disposable that seems to be such a driving force for our culture?

What are your hobbies?

My hobbies are pretty basic reading books, listening to music, walking and hiking, and traveling to far away places.

Still from Fortune, animation, 3:34 min, 2012.


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