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Young Jains of America

April 2015

Young Minds April 2015

Est. 1991

http://yja.org/

Jai Jinendra! We hope everyone survived this winter and is looking ahead to a warm and sunny spring! As spring rolls around, so does another season -- YJA Retreat Season! Our Regional Coordinators and Local Representatives have been hard at work organizing and planning amazing retreats. This year, the theme of our retreats is "The Path to Jainism." One of the goals of Young Jains of America is to educate youth about Jainism and its applications in modern life. Our retreats this year are specifically planned with sessions, activities, and food focused on guiding young Jains through the path of Jainism this day in age. Many of you have already attended retreats; flip through the pages to find pictures and reflections from the Mid-Atlantic and South retreats. Along with information regarding the retreats, this edition of Young Minds is packed with articles, pictures, and information regarding upcoming events! As always, we hope you enjoy! Sincerely, Prerak Adhuria and Sneha Parikh 2014-2015 YJA Executive Board Co-Chairs

Mid-Atlantic & South Retreat Recap


Young Jains of America

April 2015

Inside this Issue: p. 4-5

Mid-Atlantic Retreat Recap

p. 6

Running to Jainism

p. 7

The Truth of Celebration

p. 7

Vegan Intentions

p. 8

2014-2015 Fundraising Item Revealed

From the Editor: Dear Reader,

p. 9-11

Jainism, Medicine, and Social Justice

p. 12-13 South Retreat Recap

p. 14-15

Break it Down and Cleanse the Soul

p. 16

The Lion Chasing Us

p. 17

JCGB Temple Clean Up

p. 18

Kansas Museum Exhibits Jain Shrine

For me, Mahavir Jayanti is the unofficial turn towards spring. Growing up, it would be the first time everyone made it out of the snow and to the temple collectively as one large community. The preceding months working on projects for the Mahavir Jayanti celebration often took place in the solitude of my own home, and the temple event initiated excitement and energy. As the weather warms and we engage with the environment instead of protecting ourselves from it, we often find ourselves rapidly contracting with the external: the end of the school year, jobs, internships, vacations—you name it. This issue of Young Minds serves to expand and extend on the 2015 Retreat season theme: The Path to Jainism, which asks us to look within. The writers explore service learning, internal understanding, and social justice in the context of Jainism. To all the contributors, thank you for inspiring me to dive deeper in my personal journey with Jainism. And to all readers, I hope you enjoy! Best, Saejal Chatter Director of Publications youngminds@yja.org 2


Young Jains of America

April 2015

Contributors A special shout out to all the talented, inspirational writers! Mahima Shah Divyansh Shah Kayuri Shah Jimika Mehta Mishi Jain Sarina Jain Kanvi Shah Monica Vora Niki Khandheria Juhi Shah Binoy Shah

A special thanks to: Sneha Parikh and Prerak Adhuria For their embodiment of leadership as co-chairs of the 2014-2015 YJA Executive Board

Navakār Mantra Ṇamō arihantāṇaṁ I bow to the arihants, destroyers of their inner enemies. Ṇamō siddhāṇaṁ I bow to the siddhas, the liberated souls. Ṇamō āyariyāṇaṁ I bow to the acharyas, the religious leaders. Ṇamō uvajjhāyāṇaṁ I bow to the upadhyays, the religious teachers. Ṇamō lōē savva sāhūṇaṁ I bow to all the sadhus and sadhvis, those who have renounced the worldly life and follow a path of simplicity. Ēsōpanchaṇamōkkārō, savvapāvappaṇāsaṇō Maṅgalā ṇaṁ ca savvēsiṁ, paḍamama havaī maṅgalaṁ This five-fold bow (mantra) destroys all sins and obstacles, and of all auspicious mantras, is the first and foremost one.

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Young Jains of America

RC Retreat Recap: YJA Mid-Atlantic Poconos Retreat is always the main event of the year for many young Jains across the region. This year it was no different. The retreat this year was much smaller than it had been in the past, but this actually added to the overall experience of everyone at the retreat. It was great to see all the attendees mingle and know each other's names. Attendees truly got to know everyone else present!

April 2015

Mid-Atlantic Retreat

Also, we had the blessing of having great sessions. Chintav Shah led a great session in which the attendees were engaged. It was nice to have a speaker to whom everyone in the audience can relate to in one way or another. This session had something that everyone could take away from. Another great aspect of the retreat was the weather. Even though it was absolutely freezing, and skiing/snow tubing was almost called off, the weather pulled through on the Saturday of the Retreat. With the sun shining down, it was perfect weather to be outdoors doing snow activities. It was a great honor to put together #Poco15 this year, and I hope the attendees had as much fun as I did. It really was worth the sleepless nights when you notice the attendees having fun and learning something new. It made everything worth it. #Poco15 was a great experience, and I look forward to seeing where else this retreat goes in the future.

-Jimika Mehta

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Attendee Retreat Reflection: Poconos 2015 was my third Poconos Retreat, and I have to say, perhaps the best one yet. Set in a quiet area on the border of Pennsylvania and Delaware, we were only minutes away from the mountain, which had arguably the best snow and trails that I had ever seen. Whether it was snow tubing, snowboarding, skiing, or even sitting by the fire in the lodge, we found ourselves growing closer to one another. This year's retreat consisted of around 40 people, and I believe I can speak collectively for everyone that attended the retreat, in saying that we made bonds that were much deeper than would have been possible at other times. Whether it was playing mafia till the early morning, or mashing our brains together to guess words during "contact", it was a pleasing experience to meet other Jains from different places who were so amiable and relatively similar to us. The education sessions were also extremely informative and provoked individual thought after they had concluded. Jain Family Feud made an appearance again, and we were thoroughly quizzed on our knowledge of Jainism. We also introduced a new segment, called 'Jain Olympics', which served as a social and informative game, testing our understanding of Jainism while facilitating new friendships. Lastly, Chintav Shah's session on why religion is necessary in today's rapidly modernizing world was an experience of prolonged enlightenment. It made us think about the deeper aspects of our religion and explored the reasoning behind what 'religion' entails. I don't normally look forward to February and the snow, but this time, I surely am. #Poco2015

-Divyansh Shah 5


Young Jains of America

Running to Jainism

April 2015

By: Mahima Shah The road to Jainism is not a difficult one to find. In fact, everyone has already embarked upon a path that will eventually lead them towards the true realizations that Jainism offer, yet there is one variable factor. This one changeable aspect is how long it will take each person to shift from crawling down the road to standing up and running down the road, sprinting towards the ultimate end goal. Only when people actively want to free themselves from worldly distraction and take the initiative to delve into Jainism, will the religion reveal all its secrets. We are brought up in a complicated, competitive world where people are continuously working and are almost always stressed out. Today life is just a race, and the winner is apparently the one with the most success tagged on to their name. But people forget about happiness. There are many times adults, including young adults, ask themselves "Why am I working so hard and earning so much if I rarely get time to use it?" But this is a fleeting thought and more often than not, they will make no change in their lives. This being said, it makes sense that we should find time to get away from life's hardships and focus on what can make us happy forever. And that is Jainism. Jainism holds the key to eternal happiness, eternal satisfaction, and eternal love. Through Jainism, anger, ego, greed, and deceit can be discarded and in their place will be forgiveness, modesty, contentment, and honesty. So now one might ask, how do we get to this stage? It all starts with clearing your mind. Think about the concept in a new way - for example, newly born children have an empty mind, so their environment is the first thing they learn from, and that is when they learn at the fastest rate. Similarly, when the soul remains undistracted, we learn and understand so much better. In a way, simple-mindedness allows us to be open to other ideas and absolute truth suddenly becomes possible. This is where meditation comes into play. By filtering the mind and letting go of every emotion-filled thought, even if just for a few minutes, you would now have the capability to realize the true beauty of a peaceful yet blissful state of mind. From here comes filling this empty mind with information to aid you in your journey. Stories of others who attained moksha, information on ways to eradicate karmas, the hardships one must endure as a result of past actions. Go out and find descriptions of why moksha really is the ultimate goal - not just because it frees the soul from the cycle of birth and death, but because it places the soul in an eternal state of purity - no problems to deal with, no stress to cope with, no sadness, no anger, no frustration, no hurt. Imagine a life of complete, unrestricted bliss and rapture, a safe haven catered specifically to your needs and desires, a universe less powerful than the force of your thoughts, a world that you reside in where there is no hate, no crime, no violence, no malicious thoughts...and now realize that this can be yours. Your soul can be enveloped in a shroud of peace, forever free from petty problems as well as major calamities. So now ask yourself, what’s a hundred years of resisting the temptations of worldly life when it will secure your happiness until the end of time? You wake up in the morning and at night you are ready to sleep again, exhausted from the day and craving that temporary reprieve. Find a reprieve that won’t be temporary. You already have been lucky enough to have been born onto the road to Jainism, now put in the effort to begin running towards the path to moksha.

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Vegan Intentions By: Sarina Jain I never gave much thought to the reasons for my vegetarianism. Being Jain, it was something everyone in my family practiced and it was the norm in our house. But in school or at friends' houses it was something I received incessant questions about growing up: Does that mean you can only eat salad? Don't you ever just crave beef? How can you know you don't like meat if you've never tried it before? For a while those questions bothered me, namely because I didn't have good answers to them. I didn't understand why I had been born vegetarian and what it meant to abstain from the consumption of animal products. It was only as I grew older that my love of animals prompted me to develop more of a conscience about vegetarianism as an act of non-violence and compassion for all beings. When I turned 16, I made the decision to become vegan. I think in a lot of ways I was lucky with the timing of my decision. Vegetarianism and veganism are both becoming trends that people, Jain and non-Jain alike, have begun to take interest in and experiment with. As a result, I found it relatively easy to find substitutes for dairy products like milk and butter and to buy non-dairy alternatives at the grocery store. There was definitely an experimental phase in my veganism, and I think it was important for me to have that in order to become aware of the food that I was choosing to consume, for ethical as well as nutritional reasons. When I went to college, I confronted some new challenges as a vegan. Especially in a communal dining hall, where I had no control over the selection and preparation of the food I was eating, I found it difficult at times to remain a strict vegan. On one occasion, for instance, I had ordered pasta at a make-your-own station, and the chef accidentally served me a cheese-based alfredo sauce rather than marina. What I have learned, however, is that being vegan is not about the one hundred percent avoidance of animal products and by-products; it is about doing as much as you can within the limits of your own control. There have been many more times when I ordered something without cheese and it was left on by mistake, or when I ordered black coffee and milk was still brought out on the side, or when I had to borrow a pair of boots from a friend that turned out to be made of genuine leather. But I have stopped hating myself for these mistakes. I try to be as conscientious as I can, and I make an effort to avoid meat and animal byproducts whenever it is in my power to do so. I am far from a perfect vegan, but for me it's enough. .

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Young Jains of America

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YJA Fundraising Item: BLANKETS Our Director of Fundraising has been hard at work, and here is what we all have been waiting for! Our YJA Fundraising item of the year is YJA blankets! They are $10 a piece in person and $10 plus shipping online. Do not miss out on the chance of having your own YJA blanket!

Save the Date: Northeast Retreat This year we are excited to announce the addition of a Northeast Retreat! What: Northeast Retreat When: May 15th - May 17th Where: Massachusetts Look out for an email with more information and registration details! 8


Young Jains of America

April 2015

Jainism, Medicine, and Social Justice: Reflecting on Global Medical Brigades Spring Break Trip to Honduras By: Niki Khandheria “My thoughts are stars I cannot fathom into constellations.” I would like to start off by saying I very much relate to this John Green quote, so I apologize in advance if my expressions are incomprehensible. This March, I participated in a medical service trip to Honduras with the Georgetown University chapter of Global Medical Brigades, along with around fifty other undergraduates and three US doctors. We served in the community of San Diego, located a few hours from the capital of Tegucigalpa. Setting up our medical clinic in the classrooms of its local primary school, we worked alongside Honduran doctors, dentists, and community health workers to provide medical care to a total of 1,466 patients over four clinic days. We rotated staffing different stations, such as patient intake, triage, medical consultation, dentistry, gynecology, pharmacy, and health promotions. In the population that we treated, we noticed a high burden of stomach/head/joint pain, fever/cough/cold/parasites, and an extremely high prevalence of (untreated) diabetes and hypertension. As an International Health major at Georgetown University, I feel that serving with this medical brigade not only enlivened my classroom experience but also gave me the space to reflect on the moral and religious underpinnings of medical service. Since the beginning of my university studies, I have been fascinated by the intersection of medicine, international health, anthropology, theology, and service, and this trip was the perfect opportunity for me to engage with some of those aspects while reflecting on others. I naturally mentally probed issues of global health care access, delivery and sustainable development, but also discovered threads of Jainism in our work, which revitalized and reconnected me to my faith. First of all, it feels impossible to me to conceptualize international medicine in my mind and articulate it to others without thinking of the example of Dr. Paul Farmer, a medical anthropologist and physician who cofounded Partners in Health. His life’s work is a testament to his statement: “The idea that some lives matter less is the root of all that is wrong with the world.” Farmer invokes the Catholic concept of liberation theology and applies it to medicine by committing to creating a “preferential option for the poor in health care.” He states that instances of “structural violence”, such as poverty, racism, and gender inequality, are inextricably tied to healthcare, and as a result he approaches diseases as “biological manifestations of social inequalities.” By understanding these systemic and global forces, he calls health care professionals to make more informed, useful, and effective interventions on the ground. I felt exposed to the application of Farmer’s ideas during my time in Honduras, especially the one that health is a fundamental human right to be claimed. Inherent in caring for the sick should be caring about the “context of care,” referring to the political and economic developments that create the conditions for sickness in the first place. This was a concept I repeatedly recognized while interacting with patients in Honduras; the arthritis in a farmer’s joints could not be separated from his years of labor in the fields, and the parasites in a child’s stomach could not be separated from her family’s access to clean water and sanitation. Therefore, with the framework of social justice medicine in mind, I was delighted to travel to Honduras and discover fingerprints of Jain principles weaved into its application, ones that I will now attempt to articulate. Possibly my favorite parable is that of the blind men and the elephant, which exemplifies the principle of anekantavada, or pluralism and relativity. The principle reminds us that we are only capable of partial knowledge, and this limitedness was a recurrent feeling during my trip. Part of the reason I felt limited was because as an undergraduate I know I do not have substantial medical training, nor do I have a robust understand9 ing of the Honduran people’s culture and language. Therefore, naturally I questioned the effectiveness and


Young Jains of America April 2015 purpose of my being there. Was I mainly there for them or for me? At the same time though, I realized the power of the little things I could do: thanking the patients for coming to see us, smiling, holding a child’s hand, and most importantly simply listening. Also, the multiplicity of perspectives that anekantavada teaches us is important in the healthcare setting because teamwork, collaboration, and learning from others are at the cornerstone of medicine. Student or doctor aside, anekantavada is a human principle, a reminder of our finitude. I discovered the importance of recognizing that we do not and probably never will have all the answers (for our patients or for ourselves).

Another principle I discovered was that of the fundamental unity or Oneness of all things. Scripture teaches us we are One with God but this trip’s experiences reminded me of how we are also one with all of humanity. In treating the patients, my team and I realized humans are all the same, despite superficial differences in resources or status that may convince us otherwise. A concerned mother’s worry for her child’s fever, a young boy’s fear of a dental extraction, and an aged grandfather’s apprehension of his heart condition reminded us that whether Honduran or American, rich or poor, all human beings have the similar goal of living a happy and healthy life. I recognized that nationality, gender, race, socioeconomic status, and other lines we so foolishly allow to divide us are mere illusions that cloud the reality of the unity of mankind, and I was able to discern my role in the healthcare field relating to the upholding of this unity. Through interacting with the down-to-earth nature of the Honduran people, it did not take long for me to recognize the simplicity of their lives, so they served as perfect examples of the Jain principle of nonmaterialism. In my mind, this simplicity only exaggerated the disparities of healthcare access in rich and poor countries: that despite their simple lives, their healthcare needs were still far from being met. Of course I encountered the universal value of compassion, as I saw it in the way the doctors treated their patients and in the way my peers interacted with them. I also felt a genuine connection to others in the spirit of solidarity, but it was not always a feel-good sentiment. In fact if I had to describe my feelings during the brigade in one word it would be something along the lines of discomfort, uneasiness, heaviness, or distress. Andrew Boyd’s quote perfectly encompasses this indescribable feeling, which transcends sadness and enters a more complex realm: “Compassion hurts. When you feel connected to everything, you also feel responsible for everything. And you cannot turn away. Your destiny is bound with the destinies of others. You must either learn to carry the Universe or be crushed by it. You must grow strong enough to love the world, yet empty enough to sit down at the same table with its worst horrors.” I realized that we felt hurt and indignant because we encountered firsthand the grave social and health inequalities from which the Honduran people present were suffering. In the face of these systemic injustices that we witnessed and in the similar daunting global forces that Dr. Farmer mentions, it was natural for me to become discouraged and overwhelmed by the injustice in the world. In fact, I found myself comparing this feeling of defeat to the dejected Arjuna in the middle of the battlefield in the Mahabharat epic before Krishna helps him revitalize his lost sense of his duty through the Bhagavad Gita. Just as Krishna pleaded Arjuna not to allow his feeling of turmoil become an excuse for inaction, I was reminded to re-embrace “karma yoga”, or selfless action, as a path in life no matter how difficult or uneasy its pursuit may feel. This process prompted me to reconnect to my favorite Gujarati prayer, “Jeevan Anjali Thajo.” The title translates to, “may my life be an offering to others and to You.” I especially love its ending lines: “vamlo ni vachche naiya muj halak-dolak thajo, shraddha kero deepak maro, nav kadi ye olvajo” which mean “when I am wavering and unstable in the ripples of life, may my lamp of faith never burn out”, a beautiful reminder to find refuge in faith and hope no matter how dark the world may seem.10


Young Jains of America

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Along the same lines, I was reminded of Swami Vivekandanda’s concept of the world as a “moral gymnasium,” in which our duty is to thank the receiver of our service for providing us the opportunity to exercise our morality. Similarly, because Georgetown frequently engages in discourses on Catholic social thought, I recently came across Pope Francis’s warning of the “globalization of indifference” and how solidarity can overcome it, which reminded me of the distinctions between charity and solidarity, vertical versus horizontal, and helping versus serving. Swami Vivekananda once said, “Cut this word ‘help’ from your mind. You can never help others, you can only serve them.” During this trip I was able to think more about what that difference meant to me. I feel it means destroying the pedestal that the giver is often placed on and becoming a partner, not savior, to poor. This resonates closely to the Jain bhavanas of pramoda (respect) and maitri (amity), which in turn remind me of one of my favorite Jain prayers, “Maitri Bhavanu.” The specific lines I thought of were: “karuna bhini ankho mathi, ashruno shubh shrot vahe”, which means “may my heart bleed at injustice and may tears of compassion flow from my eyes.” The entire prayer encompasses a spirit of goodwill, appreciation, equanimity, and friendship. I loved discovering in Honduras how this spirit of solidarity can be applied to the field of health care. Lastly, this service trip really allowed me to practice a Jain principle that I personally interpret as connection to Self. I feel that Lord Mahavir placed great emphasis on conquering and recognizing one’s own self and mastering the mind. “Self-forgetfulness” is also worth mentioning here, because it conveys that the essence of service is self-effacement, referring to forgetting the needs and desires of your physical body during service of others while engaging your soul. This concept of self-discovery and formation was cultivated for me during the medical brigade, as it opened up avenues for me to deeply connect with who I really am. I frequently remembered the beginning lines of the prayer “Humko Manki Shakti Dena”: “hum ko man ki shakti dena, man vijay kare dusron ki jay se pehle, khud ko jay kare”, which translates to: “give me strength of mind, that the mind may be victorious, that before others' victory, the self is victorious.” I agree that we have to really know ourselves before we can give of ourselves. As much as external compassion is a part of medical or any type of service, turning and reflecting inwards is an equally important part of human action because it allows us to continue the dynamic nature of our relationship with Jainism and its principles. Lastly, the foremost principle of Jain religion is non-violence, which is understandably relevant to medicine and health, is exemplified by this quote from Yogashastra (Jain Scripture): “All living things love their life, desire pleasure and do not like pain; they dislike any injury to themselves; everybody is desirous of life and to every being, his life is very dear.” The experiences during my medical brigades trip were difficult to process let alone encapsulate in one article, but I appreciate the opportunity to unpack these dense reflections because the act of doing so was powerful in itself. I have so much left to learn and experience, but I am grateful to my Honduras trip as it cultivated my development as a student, a person, and a Jain and gave me the opportunity to seek out how to integrate my faith into my daily life. Going forward, I value Martin Luther King Jr.’s take on what societal progress requires: “tireless efforts of men willing to be co workers with God.” I would like to end with my favorite lines from “Jeevan Anjali Thajo”: “bhukya kaje bhojan banjo, tarasya nu jal thajo, din dukhiya na aansu loota, antar kadi na dharajo,” which means “May I be food for the hungry. May I be water for the thirsty. May my heart be never satisfied by wiping the tears of the poor and heartbroken people. May I never feel like my work is complete.”

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South Retreat

RC Retreat Reflection “Yoga on the Beach, roller coasters, food, the most legendary game of mafia ever, spirit animals, Jain rap songs, masks, Anekantavada, solving puzzles while blind, palm reading, psychiatrist, reenacting Harry Potter scenes, singing Justin Bieber hits, a lot of coffee and chai, vegan s’mores, and finally, Jainism.” –This list created by Sunny Jain, a retreat attendee, just barely brushes over the level of fun and excitement this year’s South Retreat was made up of. The 2015 YJA South Retreat involved adventurous rides like bumper cars at Pleasure Pier, silly scavenger hunt games, and numerous rounds of mafia and psychiatrist to serious discussions about Swadhyay, sects in Jainism, and analyzing ourselves as Jain leaders and what that means in the modern context. I had the distinct pleasure of organizing this year’s retreat, and I can most definitely say that I have never had this much fun. From analyzing each other’s spirit animals to cooking delicious meals together and playing late night games, the South retreat was an absolute success. Staying in Galveston, Texas at a beach house simply added to the amazing time we were already having! We were able to use the beach for yoga and meditation and enjoy the beautiful weather. Towards the end of the retreat, all of us had truly bonded and become really great friends. Overall, I would highly recommend attending the South Retreat to anyone who is looking to make friends for a lifetime and have a truly enlightening weekend learning about Jainism in the most exciting way possible. Go #South15! Much #yjalove."

- Mishi Jain, South Regional Coordinator

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Break It Down and Cleanse the Soul “The ultimate goal of Jainism is to end the cycle of birth, death, and rebirth, by eradication of all karma.”

This simple sentence carries the weight of Jainism, explaining a whole religion. But how can that be? It doesn’t say anything about vegetarianism or sparing the lives of insects; honestly, if I didn’t know better, I would just think someone stuck a bunch of fancy words together and hoped it sounded good. Thankfully, I do know better. And it’s not too bad once you break it down. Growing up in an environment where everyone is different can be amazing, but at the same time a struggle. Surrounding us are people from hundreds of different backgrounds, and growing up with the same principles as our parents is difficult. A question that most Jains have been asked is the famous, “Why don’t you eat meat?” The famous question has a famous answer, a variation of the statement, “Because of my religion…” which is essentially a tool to brush off the attention the question has brought. To me, that question should be treated as if it were an opportunity: a chance to explain a certain aspect of Jainism: one of the best known and acted upon, Ahimsa (non-violence). As one of the five great vows (Mahavratas) as well as a part of the Atichar’s vows of limited nature (Anuvratas), it deserves more than a place on the side. Ahimsa is a powerful instrument in all Jains’ lives, and in mine, it’s how I give back to the world. Every life I save, every soul I refuse to harm impacts me in a way that I cannot scientifically describe. But as a Jain, I have a spiritual way to explain it. Each time I perform a life-saving act, my soul becomes a little purer, as I gain beneficial karma for my good deed. In my life, refrainment from violence has had the largest impact on my daily actions, from being more careful where I walk to accidentally annoying waiters at restaurants about ingredient information. Ahimsa isn’t the only vow that grabs the attention of others. Aparigraha is what gives Jains the power to detach themselves and be liberated. It may seem like a far away concept, but in a young Jain’s life, it can be seen everyday. In our experiences, school is where the most examples of attachment and possession can be found, a minefield of the By: Kanvi Shah word “mine” all over the place. Elementary school kids have to deal with crayon and eraser “thefts.” A constant bickering between young kids about one taking the other’s possessions. As a Jain, I have always believed that even though it actually may be mine, it’s OK to let go. When you enter middle school it’s a whole other story. In your early teens, you have new things to fight over: grades, appearances, and relationships. It’s all a matter of how much you really care about superficial matters, and I, because of the principle of Aparigraha, am not personally attached to any of these. If it’s there, it’s there; if it’s not, it may hurt but I’ll get over it. By keeping a distance between my soul and the world around me, I avoid passions like greed and anger, both pathways to gain karma. Third on my list is Satya (truthfulness). Satya is a power from within that every human being owns, but how it affects you is for you to choose. There is an instance, or several instances, in each of 14


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Young Jains of America

April 2015

Break it Down and Cleanse the Soul (Continued) our lives where we have the choice to speak the truth or deceive with a lie. No matter my intention, I have chosen the path to deceive before. And many others have as well, whether he or she was Jain or not. “A little white lie never hurt anyone,” is a common saying, but really, a “little white lie” always comes backs to bite the person who told it. For this reason, Jainism promotes either telling the truth or not saying anything. I have used the power of Satya repeatedly in my life. With my family, with my friends, everyone in my life trusts me to tell the truth, and I do. Whether it is for how they look in an outfit or whether I have been hiding something from them, Jainism has brought the light of Satya dancing into my life. The vow of Achauriya (non-stealing) is a vow that doesn’t seem to fit into daily routine. Stealing seems like such a large crime, how could it possibly fall into my everyday schedule? Well, stealing doesn’t always have to be at the scale of bank heists or embezzlement. Stealing can be a simple matter of taking someone’s eraser and not returning it, or picking up a coin from the ground and pocketing it. When we commit actions like this, the word stealing doesn’t always come to mind; it’s usually a natural, subconscious notion that can be put under “taking things without permission.” And in this day and age, any type of stealing has not only an affect on the karmic matter bonded to your soul, but the legal and social status of your identity in this world. Jainism simply teaches us to take only what is ours to take and leave what isn’t. For example, cheating has always been tempting to try. Every time I get stuck on a question, there’s that little voice in my head telling me, “it’s okay, you’ll never get caught, and it’s just one glance at your peer’s paper.” But Jainism is always right there, ready to retort with a simple, “Is it really worth the damage to your soul just to take an answer that isn’t yours, and might not even be right?” That’s when I make my decision that Jainism has got my back and cheating is just not worth it. The idea of Achauriya is so simple, it’s easy to forget how important it is. The last vow of limited nature is self-control, a vow so vast, it stretches over the ability of attaining liberation itself. Liberation takes certain strength from within, the simple willingness to be completely free from this and every other life we may obtain. Self-control is what brings that strength to us. The ability to have self-control is itself amazing, and though many aspects of this vow do not apply to my life at the moment, I believe Jainism has brought me to a level of self-control I will never fall from. I face the task of school, family, friends, peers, teachers, and several other acquaintances every single day. These parts of life are not difficult, but at the same time have a certain type of pressure that pushes down on you. It may be just an impending project that has you worried or the impact of not getting a role in the school play, but there are times when we break and wish to do things that we would never have thought of under normal conditions. Having the self-control to refrain from any of these activities is what I like to think of as conquering your own mind – and I have conquered my mind, due to the subtle changes Jainism has made in my life by teaching me about self-control. Since my mind is somewhat under control, my next goal is to conquer my soul with the power of selfcontrol. Tracing back to what I first said about the statement, “the ultimate goal of Jainism is to end the cycle of birth, death, and rebirth, by eradication of all karma,” ending this cycle is how to reach liberation. And to end the cycle, there must be an end to the accumulation of karma to my soul, and every other soul existent in this universe. This is achievable by practicing the five great vows, in every way possible. My simple explanation of the usage of these vows in my life is just the beginning. Now that the sentence that carries the weight of Jainism is no longer a bunch of words strung together, it’s not so bad, is it? 15


Young Jains of America

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April 2015

The Lion Chasing Us “Every week of my second year as an undergraduate has felt overwhelmingly busy. If I am not stressed, I don’t know what to do with myself, and sitting around seems to only make the situation worse.” Unfortunately, this seems like a common saying amongst many college students. And most of those around me are barely twenty yet. My physiology professor once said that we bring the stress upon ourselves, and no physiological stress is present. Most of us, gratefully, happen to know where our next meal is, aren’t being chased by a tiger, and don’t have to worry about a roof over our heads. Instead, we worry about grades, our job, landing the interview, or just remembering to eat. We don’t take a moment to simply drop all the technology, our cell phones, our laptops, or just an addiction to Netflix. In that moment, sometimes, I take a second to close my eyes, ignoring even the books in front of me, and try to meditate. I live in a city, and pausing is relatively hard when sirens are going off at all times of nights, but mentally for even a few minutes, allows me to wipe my mind of any worries. What I realized from all this, is that the most important health, is mental health. There is a serious stigma associated with the idea of mental health, and many students struggle with mental health problems. In order to remove the stigma, nothing can be better than talking. Opening up is what will remove the anxiety and stress we feel as students everyday. There is no talk about mental health, and that’s what I believe must change for students to start on the path towards removing stress in their life, in a different format. If the topic isn’t something you can talk about, it’s important just to take a second and break. I take the time to turn to my faith, and reflect, but everyone has his or her own way of coping.

By: Kayuri Shah

Whether it’s through faith, or talking about your stress, take the moment and don’t let a deteriorating mental health status get in the way of living your life.

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Young Jains of America

April 2015

Jain Center of Greater Boston Temple Clean Up On Saturday January 10 2015, there was a clean up at the Jain Center of Greater Boston for the New Year. This event was a huge success and individuals from all over the New England area came to help out. There were two 3hour shifts and about 20 volunteers of all ages. The volunteers formed different teams and worked together to clean the main hall, vedi room, and all of the classrooms. th

This event was a great opportunity for individuals who are a part of the Jain community to come together and help out. I am currently a junior at MCPHS University in Boston and a local representative for YJA in the Northeast. After graduating Pathshala in 2012, I felt a bit disconnected from the temple that I attended my whole life. It felt great reconnecting and working with JCBG’S Executive Board to organize this event. I truly believe that the younger generation should take a stand and ` remember that giving back to their roots is important even after they move on with their lives. It would be amazing if this event could inspire other temples around the country to take a similar initiative. This is a just a small reminder that just a few people coming together can make a huge impact.

-Monica Vora

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Young Jains of America

April 2015

Kansas Museum Exhibits Jain Shrine By: Binoy Shah

I have some exciting news to share with all of you! The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas City showcased a Jain Shrine in their Passport to India event on March 29th. We have been working closely for the past four months with Nelson-Atkins to help make this a reality, and I am pleased to say that our efforts have come to fruition. During those four months, my Pathshala teacher, Mirav Kapadia, and I attended various meetings, generated new ideas of what to do with the Jain shrine, and answered any questions that the museum had. The Passport to India event showcased art from the three of the four Dharmic religions (Jainism, Hinduism, and Buddhism) and the Jain Shrine was a centerpiece during the event. I reached out to the Kansas City Jain Sangh for volunteers and received a very enthusiastic response. At the event, the volunteers and I explained and answered any questions about the Jain Shrine to foster a dialogue between the local Jain Sangh and those that attended the event. Passport to India was an incredibly successful event as the museum was expecting around 2,000 individuals but actually received over 4,000 individuals! It is truly amazing for a smaller city to exhibit art from a minority religion. We worked closely with Nelson-Atkins to help expand the educational aspect of the Jain Shrine because it shows that our culture, history, and religion are still evident even though we no longer reside in India. Furthermore, this is a declaration of how much we truly embody our religion to ensure that it is not forgotten. Nelson-Atkins mentioned to us that the museum received many positive reviews from those that attended and saw the Jain Shrine. I even had a high school student talk to me because his research project involved Jainism; to me this demonstrates the growth and prosperity of Jainism within the American culture. Consequently, in the future, we will continue working closely with Nelson-Atkins to bring more Jain related art on display because this is one way that we will ensure Jainism thrives within spaces outside of India. If you have any questions then please refer to the following website or feel free to contact me! Email: bkshah2012@gmail.com Jain Shrine: http://www.nelson-atkins.org/art/Exhibitions/jain-shrine.cfm

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Young Jains of America

April 2015

Please Make a Contribution to YJA Today to Pass Jain Principles & Practices onto the Next Generation of Youth! Jai Jinendra! The Executive Board for Young Jains of America (YJA) plans to be very active in bringing Jain principles to 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: § § § § §

Monthly Webinars – Educate and raise awareness about Jain principles and ideals and address youth problems, difficulties, and concerns. Website Maintenance – Continue to develop a professional website for Jain youth and create a forum to share Jain principles and values. Regional Retreats – Weekend retreats held in each region to instill a sense of religious and cultural pride among Jain youth. Community Volunteering – Organize volunteering events, such as Relay for Life and assistance at soup kitchens to allow youth to participate in charitable community activities. National Dinners – Encourage the development of friendships with Jain youth in their local cities, while conversing about real-life topics relating to Jainism over a delicious meal.

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, it is 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 email fundraising@yja.org with your comments or suggestions for improvement by YJA. If you have any questions regarding Young Minds, please e-mail youngminds@yja.org. We thank you for your wonderful contribution! -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Young Jains of America Contribution Form *You can make a contribution by credit or debit card at https://jaina.siteym.com/donations/donate.asp?id=3410* Full Name: ___________________________________________________________ Company Name (Optional): ___________________________________________________________ Address: _______________________________ City: ____________ ST: ____ Zip: ___________ Daytime Phone: (______)______________

Evening Phone: (______)_____________________

Email Address: __________________________ Please make your check payable to JAINA, include ‘Young Jains of America’ in the memo line, and mail it to: Young Jains of America c/o Akash Shah 906 Torrance Blvd #11 Redondo Beach, CA 90277

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Young Jains of America

December 2014

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Young Jains of America Est. 1991

April 2015  

Young Minds - April 2015

April 2015  

Young Minds - April 2015

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