October 2017

Page 1

Young Minds

October 2017

A Sense of Place




CONTENTS: OCTOBER 2017 3 4-5 6 7 20 20 25 32 32 35

8 9-13 14-15 17 18-19 21-23 24 27 28-29 30 33

16 31 34


From The 2017-2018 Co-Chairs From The Editor, Director of Publications From The Past Co-Chairs Burritos and Beginnings: A Letter From Your Mid-West RC Goodbye and Good Luck: A Letter from Your 2016 Director of IT To Infinity And Beyond: A Letter From Your Director of IT Building Creative Communities: A Letter From Your Mid-Atlantic RC Southeast is Beast: A Letter From Your Southeast RC North to South, South to North: A Letter From Your Northeast RC Let’s Make it Rain: A Letter From Your Director of Fundraising


Mantra: Reflection on Universal Friendship Introducing the 2017-2018 YJA Executive Board The Importance of Jain Education in America by Anjali Doshi Discussions Digest: YJA Forums Artwork: Animal Abuse by Twinkle Shah Turning the Outside In by Darshi Shah Jainism in a Global Perspective by Parshva Vakharia Keeping Our Religion Relevant by Dipal Savla Local Representative Spotlights Education Corner: Diwali by Parshva Vakharia Diwali Recipe: Tamarind Curried Cauliflower + Curried Raita


Regional Events National Dinners YJA 2018: Convention


MESSAGE FROM YOUR CO-CHAIRS Dharmi Shah and Siddharth Shah | EMAIL: chairs@yja.org

Jai Jinendra, We are so excited to begin our term as Co-Chairs of YJA for the upcoming year! After a very fruitful meeting in Chicago, our board is ready to hit the ground running with new ideas and initiatives. We’d like to thank all of our supporters and YJA’s previous boards for their hard work and enthusiasm in giving back to the young Jain community. Their work has set the foundation for many generations of Jain youth to follow, and we are humbled to be stepping into their place as we start a new chapter with the 20172018 Executive Board. Aptly titled “A Sense of Place”, this issue of Young Minds intends to challenge us to think outside of our comfort zones in defining what our place has been, is today, and what it has the potential to be. As Co-Chairs, we fully intend to explore novel ways in which we can best leave our mark as a national organization, both within and outside our communities.

In a setting as diverse as our cities, country, and world, we seek to actively shape our futures and make differences in our society. Learning from the vast experiences of our adult Jain community, we hope to continue to build and strengthen our relationship with the parents of our youth and sanghs around the nation. Most importantly, we want to grow our presence in your heart and your life. It is for you, a YJA supporter, for whom we strive to create a sense of place in our extended YJA family. With your support, we are very hopeful and ready to work hard for a productive and successful year ahead! With #yjalove, Siddharth Shah and Dharmi Shah Co-Chairs, 2017-2018

“May peace rule the universe; may peace rule in kingdoms and empires; may peace rule in states and in the lands of the potentates; may peace rule in the house of friends and may peace also rule in the house of enemies.” - Virchand Gandhi Jain Scholar (1864-1901)


from the EDITOR Jai Jinendra! Dear Young Minds readers: What is home? Why are we here? How do we build communities and find our people? What duties and responsibilities do we have to ourselves and to others? Religion and writing both serve as methods to wrestle with and develop understandings of our relationship with these fundamental questions. I am grateful that Jainism encourages open-mindedness as much as it does conscientiousness. Jainism is not a restrictive religion, for there is no definite right or wrong way or right or wrong place for any of us. We often think of the world in terms of where our place ends and where the rest of the world begins. We are shown and guided as to who we should be, with little time to explore who we are and who we want to be. To remedy this we must not only look at the broader world, but at our inner selves. Today, writing, among other aspects of life, has become more immediate and digitized. But it isn’t fading; it is evolving, much like Jainism. We write in Tweets and blog posts, Google Docs and Microsoft Word, English and Gujarati. We no longer write down every fact or statistic, but what is important to us and what cannot be found elsewhere or be recalled at a later time. In an insightful YJA Forums

thread, “The Evolution of Jainism”, one member voiced that “with books that translate scriptures and the creation of YJA itself, we took something from a book and turned it into something bigger for the world.” We are not changing or forgetting our roots in the canonical texts. Instead, we are expanding the tree. We need not think of Jainism and another aspect of our life, whether it be sports or sandwiches, as separate. They are integrated, for our morals and beliefs influence our daily actions and habits. In “Turning the Outside In”, Northeast LR Darshi Shah captured in writing how a subway encounter revealed her intrinsic Jain qualities to her and showed her just how precious they are. Take the first step in building your bridge, and we promise you that you won’t be walking alone. As former Pathshala student and current Pathshala teacher Anjali Doshi shares in “The Importance of Jain Education in America”, our common heritage bridges our generational and other divides, bringing us together. You will be joined by Jains of all generations. Finding a sense of place requires being courageous and welcoming the unfamiliar. Spaces that are typically not considered to be ours can become our place. As current Southeast Regional Coordinator Rishab Jain shares, our ‘place’ is not just a dinner table; it can be a park or a sports arena. A Jain community can even be found over 3,000 miles from home,

05 as Director of Education Parshva Vakharia has come to find in his study abroad semester in London. As a young Jain in America, whether it be at my Christian kindergarten or my college’s annual clam bake, I have often felt as an outsider. Writing has become my outlet to open myself up to the world. Writing involves taking risks and letting yourself be vulnerable; it is perseverance and self-reflection at once. The mind can be a maze at times, and as our world pushes us to move and work faster and harder, we also need to consider the importance of sitting still and reflecting. We are a family and our purpose is to help one another and let each other know that we are not alone. Our culture and heritage are in our voices, our actions, and words. We can help each other by sharing our stories - those of failures and successes, those of memories and those of goals. While we come from seemingly disparate ends of the universe, our words bring us together. This is not writing for the classroom.Your story can be in the form of an article or a song, a drawing or a poem, a video or a cartoon. This is not the Bill of Rights - this is writing for you.You write for yourself, to connect with yourself, and only then, to connect yourself to the larger world.Young Minds is a platform for your stories and voices. When you write, you are expressing yourself, communicating with others, and ultimately, recording history for future generations of young Jains who can learn from you and your experiences. When this issue is published, it is not the end. Sharing your opinion requires reaching out to people in your community and asking them to read, listen, and respond. Then, you reply. The conversation does not end today. It begins. It is an honor and privilege to hear and share your stories. I hope to encourage you to express yourself through writing, to listen to your stories, and to help you convey and share them. I hope to learn from and hear from all of you, whether it be on feedback on this issue or anything at all. Please feel free to reach out to me at publications@yja.org or on Facebook at any time. Thank You and Micchami Dukkadam, Rachna Shah Director of Publications, 2017-2018 youngminds@yja.org


MESSAGE FROM PAST CO-CHAIRS Avish Jain and Hetali Lodaya, 2016-2017 Co-Chairs Jai Jinendra Readers, Now that we have some time (frankly, a lot more time) given that we’re not co-chairing YJA, we’ve been able to do some reflecting on the wealth of experiences we’ve had over the past year. People keep asking: How does it feel? What do you miss? And the obvious question: What will you do now?

Whether by attending local events, reading up on YJA Pathshala, or going to Convention next summer, seek out that space where you get to explore and grow the part of you working to blend an ancient religion with our very modern existence.YJA is, and will continue to be, a great place to do that, because it is where we can learn and grow from each other in very tangible ways. Anytime someone tells their YJA story - about finding friendships, faith, and meaning in their lives - we are reminded why we do what we do.

Well, what will we do now? Some things have certainly changed. We don’t get hundreds of Slack messages every day, we don’t spend as much time on the phone, and we don’t like YJA’s social media posts the instant they go up (maybe we still do that … don’t tell anyone). We know that there’s a group of 16 bright, creative, and dedicated individuals that have taken up the reins.YJA is in excellent hands with them, and we can’t Lastly, we must say thank you! We feel inwait to see what they accomplish! credibly privileged to have been given the opportunity to work with so many of you But one crucial thing has stayed exactly the over the course of this transformative year. same: how important it is to us to embrace You gave us your support, your time, and our identity as young Jains in America. There most of all, your trust as we worked to are so many ways that we express that part grow our community for Jain youth in the of who we are - by spending time reflectUS.Your unshakeable faith in us and our ing and introspecting on holidays like Diwali, Board is truly what kept us going. Keep that meeting up with our Jain peers, being faith, even as you find your own path—your Local Representatives or youth liaisons in YJA family is right there with you. our communities, and generally continuing to contribute however we can. Neither of Micchami Dukkadam, and we’ll see you us feel like YJA has totally left our lives, around sometime soon! really, because that engagement is what YJ A is all about - and we’re not stopping anyWith much #yjalove, time soon. Avish Jain and Hetali Lodaya We encourage you to also find ways to Co-Chairs, 2016-2017 embrace that identity this upcoming year.


Burritos and Beginnings Charmi Shah, Your Midwest Regional Coordinator I didn’t know a single person who would be at the YJA 2014 Convention. My Louisville sangh was quite small, so I flew alone to Washington, D.C. for my first YJA event. I had no idea what to expect, was nervous about meeting new people and making friends, and honestly, very much, regretting my decision to come in the first place. Not yet ready to leave the airport, I decided to stall a little longer and order a burrito. I ate the burrito as slowly as I could, but when no new ideas came to mind for putting off going to the convention, I made my way to the shuttle. There, I saw two other Indian girls, who I assumed were also going to the convention. However, the three of us rode the shuttle in silence. As we were getting our bags out upon arriving at the hotel, one of the girls asked me if I was also going to the YJA Convention.

“Yes!” I exclaimed. “I don’t know anyone else, so I’m sticking to you two.” Fast forward three years, and those girls are two of my closest YJA friends. 15-year old me would have never guessed I would be where I am today. I’ve served as a Local Representative for the Mid-West for the past two years, and am now the Mid-West Regional Coordinator. YJA gave a small-town girl like me a family and community that I never had while growing up. I can’t imagine my life today without it. If you have any doubts about getting (more) involved with YJA, just go for it. Attend a local event, join a subcommittee, or go to your region’s Retreat and this year’s Convention! Not only will you learn more about Jainism and yourself, but you’ll also gain the most valuable life-long friends.You won’t regret it.



Shivmastu sarva jagatah,

May the whole universe be blessed,

Parhit nirataa bhavantu bhutaganaah,

May all beings engage in each other’s well-being,

Doshaah prayaantu naasham,

May all weakness, sickness and faults diminish and vanish,

Sarvatra sukhi bhavantu lokaah

May everyone be healthy, prosperous, blissful, and peaceful.

Sarva Mangal Mangalyam

The holiest of all holy things,

Sarve Kalyana Karanam

The cause of all bliss,

Pradhanam Sarva Dharmanam

The foremost of all religions,

Jainam Jayati Sashanam

The path shown by Tirthankars is supreme.



BOARD MEETING RECAP This year’s first 2017-2018 YJA Executive Board Meeting hit all the marks for us. YJA’s best initiatives are a blend of social and educational components, and creating that requires all of our collective efforts. From Retreat analysis to Convention planning for #YJA18, we put all 16 of our heads together to develop the best new content for you. Each of our eight Directors started off by identifying what prior initiatives they want to continue and outlining original new ideas to execute. With a new mobile app,YJA Forums,YJA Pathshala, and plans to connect with national Jain organizations from across the world all on the table, we’re certain this year is going to be action-packed and exhilarating. The Regional Coordinators have big plans for the year too! The six RCs and the Director of Events have decided to focus on three goals for this year: 1. Making an impact in our local communities with initiatives like the Interfaith Drive and Walk-A-Thon. 2. Strengthening Regional cohesion with mini-Retreats and interregional events 3. Working to create a strong youth base in our Sanghs with volunteering and temple clean-up events. We’re excited to give back! But, let’s not forget the (other) fun parts, too! We bonded over some fantastic falafel, Mexican food, and a LOT of Chicago-style deep dish pizza. With board storytime and carefully coordinated wedding crashing, we learned how to work as a unit and rely on each other’s skills


(which came in very handy when we went looking for these stickers!). After all, we’re not just an Executive Board - we’re a group of new friends, and, even more so, a family. As our board term begins, we want to turn our enthusiasm and experience into the best year YJA has ever had by prioritizing you. Feel free to hit us up on Twitter, Instagram, or Snapchat at @theyoungjains, and if you’re feeling old-school, share your ideas, comments, and pictures with us at info@yja.org. We can’t wait to hear from you all! With #yjalove, The 2017-2018 Executive Board


2017-2018 Executive Board Dharmi Shah | Co-Chair Dharmi Shah is a third year pharmacy student of the University of Illinois at Chicago College of Pharmacy. When she is not learning the actions of medications, you will see her playing the piano, being a foodie, practicing yoga, jamming out to music, and lounging in different coffee shops. After serving as the Director of Events for the 2016-2017 YJA Board, she is thrilled to come back as a Co-Chair and would love to hear from you at chairs@yja.org with any questions or suggestions.

Siddharth Shah | Co-Chair A Houston native, Siddharth Shah is a double honors sophomore Chemical Engineering major at Texas A&M University. He is an active tennis player and is also part of the Wreckin’ Raas Team. Siddharth loves just about any sport, ranging from basketball to bowling to chess (yes, it is a sport). In his free time, Sidd can be found studying for JAB, playing ping pong, or eating extra dark chocolate. After serving as the South Regional Coordinator for the 2016-2017 YJA Board, he is very excited to start the new year as a Co-Chair and would love to hear from you at chairs@yja.org with any questions or suggestions! Thanks and Gig’Em! Saejal Chatter | Director of Project Development Saejal Chatter is a published author, cybersecurity enthusiast, and Boston sports fan. She is a member of the Georgetown University Class of 2017 where she studied Economics and Theology. Along with a love for writing, she is passionate about anything and everything involving spending time with friends and family. Returning for her third term on the Executive Board, she hopes to sustainably increase YJA engagement. Email Saejal at projects@yja.org if you have innovative ideas for new projects or suggestions for improving current projects. Parshva Vakharia | Director of Education Parshva Vakharia is a student at the New York University Stern School of Business studying Finance and Accounting. After spending his entire life in the NY/NJ area, Parshva is currently studying abroad in London. Parshva has a wide range of interests, including tabla, singing, Chinese yo-yo, traveling, and basketball, and he is a diehard Boston Celtics fan. Parshva is extremely excited to continue YJA’s education initiatives this year. For any feedback, suggestions, ideas, or thoughtprovoking questions, feel free to contact him at education@yja.org! Anand Shah | Director of Events After having been an LR, a JAB captain, and a Regional Coordinator, Anand Shah will be serving as this year’s Director of Events. Anand is a first-year at The University of Chicago, where is he is majoring in Mathematics and Economics. He loves exploring music (everything from Beethoven to pre-prison Gucci), making late night Taco Bell runs (sub beans, please), and making new friends! So, if you think you’ve stumbled over a wild mixtape or have brilliant suggestions on planning the next YJA initiative, please email Anand at events@yja.org! Sidhant Gandhi | Director of Finance Sidhant Gandhi resides in the San Francisco Bay Area and is currently Product Manager at a virtual reality / augmented reality startup. Previously, he was a software engineer on iOS at Apple. His alma mater is USC. Sidhant’s interests are photography, code, and kaizen. Talk to Sidhant about Jain philosophy, specifically Karmic Theory, and you’ll have a great conversation. Check out more of him at sidhantgandhi. com. Feel free to contact him at finance@yja.org with any questions or concerns.

Monika Jain | Director of Fundraising Monika Jain is a senior at Rice University studying Kinesiology-Health Sciences with a minor in Medical Humanities. While being an active member of her local Jain community in Memphis, TN and a local representative for the YJA South Region, Monika is excited to be an official YJA executive board member! In her free time, she enjoys watching food videos, cooking/baking, traveling, and tagging people in memes. Monika looks forward to connecting with young Jains throughout the U.S. and internationally to build strong relationships within the community. If you have any questions, comments, or want to know how to get more involved with YJA, feel free to email Monika at fundraising@yja.org.

13 Anish Doshi | Director of IT Anish Doshi is currently a software engineer at an analytics startup, Trifacta. Originally hailing from Illinois, he moved to the bay area to go to UC Berkeley, and after graduation moved to SF. He’s been involved with Jainism since a young age through JSMC events and JAB, and is particularly interested in applying its philosophy to problems in current events. Outside of engineering and Jainism, Anish enjoys hiking, playing chess, and eating vegan baked goods (which he encourages you to send to him). If you have any questions, feel free to email Anish at web@yja.org. Rachna Shah | Director of Publications Rachna Shah is a freshman at Dartmouth College, where she plans to pursue her interests in economics, biology, and public policy. When she’s not writing, she can be found munching on almonds while listening to the news in French. She strongly believes that words are a platform for unity and diversity. Rachna loves talking with new people and old friends alike, so if you want to talk about anything, contribute to Young Minds, or have any questions, please reach out to her at youngminds@yja.org! Sehal Shah | Director of Public Relations Sehal Shah is a second year undergraduate student at DePaul University in Chicago, IL. Having grown up in a small town in Southern Indiana, she was excited to attend her first YJA Convention in 2012 at Tampa. Five years later, she can’t wait to spread #YJAPyaR as the Director of Public Relations. Sehal enjoys exploring the world, taking photos of food, Netflixing, and dancing! Share her your tweets, posts, and messages on all of our social media accounts. Feel free to contact her at pr@yja.org. Mansi Shah | Mid-Atlantic Regional Coordinator Mansi Shah is a Jersey native studying Cell Biology and Neuroscience at Rutgers University. She loves playing pick-up football games, eating homemade ice cream, and listening to podcasts in NJ traffic. She also enjoys having conversations on social justice issues, especially gender equality and incarceration. Mansi served as a Local Representative this past year and is looking forward to exciting new events as RC! Feel free to reach out with any ideas for the upcoming year at midatlantic@yja.org. Charmi Shah | Midwest Regional Coordinator Charmi Shah is a freshman at the University of Louisville majoring in Public Health and minoring in Spanish, with the goal of eventually completing medical school. When she’s not studying, Charmi loves trying new foods, traveling, and binge-watching Netflix shows. After serving as a Local Representative for YJA for 2 years, Charmi is super excited to spread the #yjalove and do her part in keeping the MidWest the MidBest. Email her at midwest@yja.org if you have any ideas, questions, or concerns. Aastha Kodia | Northeast Regional Coordinator Aastha Kodia grew up in Westford, MA and recently graduated from Umass Lowell in 2016 with a Bachelors in Business Administration with a concentration in MIS and Finance. She is currently working in Fidelity Investments as a Systems Analyst. She likes to hike, try new and crazy foods, and loves doing adventurous activities. This is her first time on the YJA Executive board. She is excited to help grow YJA and make it even cooler and greater experience in the Northeast Region! Email her at (aastha.kodia@ yja.org) if you have any ideas, questions or concerns. Prapti Ghiya | South Regional Coordinator A born and raised Texan, Prapti Ghiya is studying at the University of Texas at Austin as a third year Mechanical Engineering student. Currently, she is doing a co-op at a medical device company in Austin. In addition to school and work, Prapti is a passionate dancer; she is trained in classical dance and has been on Texas Raas for two years. She is looking forward to serving as South RC and is excited for what this year will bring! Email her at south@yja.org if you have any questions, comments, or concerns - Hook ‘em Horns! Rishab Jain | Southeast Regional Coordinator Rishab Jain is a first year Material Sciences/Engineering major at Georgia Tech. He grew up in Memphis, TN and is an avid sports fanatic, political watchdog, and major Model UN nerd. In his free time, he likes to play frisbee, listen to music (ranging from Bruno Mars to Childish Gambino) and support the New England Patriots. Rishab is most excited to meet members of the Jain community and to have a great time in all things YJA. Feel free to email Rishab at southeast@yja.org or tweet him @rishjain123! Pranay Patni | West Regional Coordinator Pranay Patni grew up in Milpitas, CA and is now a student at UC Berkeley studying Computer Science and Economics. In his free time, you’ll find him binge watching Netflix, playing FIFA, or profusely texting and messaging people on Facebook. At Berkeley, Pranay is an active member of the Jain Students Association and is also the captain of a Bollywood-Fusion dance team. He can’t wait to get to meet you and looks forward to having a great year as the West RC so feel free to email him at west@yja.org!



One of my earliest memories of Pathshala is of being excited to fold fortune tellers with my friend at the end of the class. In general, I don’t like to sit through lectures, and though I grew up to be a Pathshala teacher myself, I distinctly recall doodling on my notes and eyeing the clock during many classes. But nowadays, I can say that my experiences with Pathshala, Jain Academic Bowl, and other forms of Jain education have been fundamental in shaping me into the person I am now. I now truly believe that a strong Jain education system is not only a powerful way to affect youth of the community positively but is also necessary if the Jain community hopes to survive in North America. What do I mean by Jain education? Here, I mean any initiative in which a more knowledgeable Jain person or group imparts their knowledge of Jain principles, practice, and culture to less knowledgeable Jains. (Although there are professors at colleges teaching Jainism in classes, those instances of education have different goals and formats than what I am discussing here.) I also want to focus on youth in this article, although Jains at any age can be interested in learning religion and many temples have well-attended adult level classes! At its most fundamental, Jain education can help youth understand the practice of their religion. Given that much of Jain practice involves Indian languages that many youth here don’t speak, and highly specific actions such as sitting in a certain posture for Chaityavandan or Pratikraman, drawing Saathios with rice, and more, it’s important that we are taught at least how to say and do these things. Whether or not we ultimately choose to practice Jainism and its various rituals, we can only make that choice if we know how it is practiced in the first place. Additionally, Jain education can help us build and understand our identity as second and third generation youth. Western culture exalts individuality; making your own choices and “being yourself” is praised and prioritized. While our parents could more easily get away with saying “I’m not eating root vegetables today because it is a tithi” in India, if we say something similar here, we have to be prepared for questions from

15 friends and colleagues like “Why?” “What does that mean?” “Do you actually believe in that?” If we are not taught the meanings behind certain practices, then we cannot respond to those questions and say that we have actively chosen our practices. Being continually questioned, then, will exhaust us and reduce our motivation to continue practicing Jainism. Jainism itself tells us not to have blind faith--that doing things just because we are told to won’t ultimately benefit us. Having a full Jain education will give us the means to answer questioning, external and internal, with confidence. So far, I’ve talked about the benefits of Jain education for the youth receiving such education. However, my experiences as a Pathshala teacher and on YJA Board have convinced me that there is a larger benefit of Jain education--ensuring the Jain community in North America will survive in the future. Jainism is a hard religion to follow, especially because it frequently conflicts with the dominant practices of the West (e.g. when you go to school and see everyone eating meat). Although temples offer the opportunity to connect with the community, many temple events assume some understanding of the Jain religion, from poojas to parnas, and hinge on languages we may not speak. (Personally, Gujarati lectures are hard for me to enjoy when I don’t understand any of the jokes!) For youth who do not have a solid background in Jainism, the temple, and by extension the Jain community, may not seem very accessible. As they grow up in a society where many of their friends aren’t necessarily religious at all, as they go to college far from home and marry non-Jains, the motivation to stay connected to the Jain community will dwindle. In the end, if youth are not motivated to stay connected to Jainism, our communities will begin to shrink. Reaching youth before they grow up with a well-executed Jain education can help them actively choose aspects of Jainism that resonate with them, cement its values in their day-to-day lives, and find Jain temples more accessible. Therefore, I believe that Jain education is critical for ensuring today’s Jain youth find it valuable to keep Jain Sanghs alive in the future. Jain education has shaped me so much; I see it in the moments when I consider how my careless words may hurt another person and in the bigger decisions of my life, such as my choice to become vegan. I’m amazed at the work that Pathshala teachers, JAB coaches, parents, Sramans and Sramanijis, and more have put into teaching youth in America about Jainism, and making it accessible to them. With the continued effort of all of these people, as well as the potential of today’s youth to continue Jain education in the future, I’m confident that the Jain community in America can remain vibrant and strongly linked. I look forward to remaining involved with these efforts! If I’ve hurt anyone during my term as YJA’s Director of Education, Micchami Dukkadam, and thank you to the YJA community for the opportunity to contribute to Jain education.



YJA + JOY exploring a Michigan cider mill


YJA Forums: Discussions Digest




ARTIST’S STATEMENT Jainism has shaped me with the invaluable lesson of ahimsa, which I translate into compassion for animals. As an aspiring vegan, I have looked into animal abuse and found horrifying facts of several gruesome, inhumane things that so-called ‘humans’ do to animals. At times, the unimaginable pain that these animals face every day make me wonder who the real animals are—the animalistic humans or the innocent animals? From a young age, I have learned that all animals are five-sensed beings, and that many also have the consciousness that we do. I found it really upsetting that people could feel the pain of other people, but not of other animals, though they have the same capabilities, the same senses, and the same feeling of pain as us. I came to the conclusion that perhaps it’s because it’s harder to perceive and understand animal emotion because we don’t register it as well. Thus, as an artist, I was inspired to create a series of artwork personifying animals—or portraying them to have human characteristics—in hopes that it might help someone fathom the pain animals feel. I wanted to ask my audience, along with all the monstrous animal industries: How would this look if you did it to a person? My answer: quite animalistic. I make my point by taking different forms of abuse done to animals in the real world and illustrated those abuses applied on something more human-looking. I incorporate the motif of a human tear, because to a human audience, human emotions are easier to understand. In each piece, I highlight an aspect of abuse that each type of animal faces: here, pigs’ ears are clipped without anesthesia. Yes, I understand, these artworks are highly uncomfortable to look at, but that was entirely the point—I hope they stimulate thought for my audience about this issue I am passionate about. Co-Author and Illustrator of Catharsis, Twinkle Shah


Letters from Directors of IT Pujen Solanki, 2016-2017 Director of IT

Anish Doshi, 2017-2018 Director of IT

Dear readers: hello and goodbye.

Jai Jinendra,

As a member of Team Registration during the 2016 LA Convention and as Director of IT for the 2016-2017 Executive Board, YJA has become an integral part of my life.

It’s my absolute privilege to be serving as this year’s Director of Information Technology for YJA. In the eight years I have been a part of it, YJA has taught me to think critically about religious philosophy, live a meaningful life in the face of difficulties, and most importantly, recognize how many like-minded Jains there are who are working towards the same goals as I am.

It is time for the next generation to continue our legacy and build upon what we built upon.YJA is not just about a specific board’s accomplishments, but about our community and how it propels Jain Youth forward. Initiatives will come and go, projects will start and end, but the traditions we uphold will continue and grow. YJA recently celebrated its 25 year milestone. We are still young, and we are just getting started in finding and establishing our sense of place in the world. I look forward to seeing just how far we’ll go. Signing out –Pujen Solanki.

This year, I’ll be working on expanding YJA’s platform to other media, developing analytics to help us make data-driven decisions, improving the scope and impact of our educational platforms, and spotlighting the content produced by young Jains. There’s quite a lot to be done, which is why I’m thankful to be working on such an excellent board, with some of the coolest, smartest, and most dedicated people I’ve met. I love suggestions, feedback, and general conversations about Jainism, so please do drop me a line at anish.doshi@yja.org. Sincerely, and with tons of #yjalove, Anish Doshi


TURNING THE OUTSIDE IN NOT JUST THE JOY OF HELPING AN UNKNOWN, BUT THE JOY OF DISCOVERING THE UNKNOWN WITHIN. BY DARSHI SHAH After an exhausting 70+ hour work week in New York City, all I wanted to do was hurry home, spend time with my parents, and relax. It was an unbelievably humid Friday evening in mid-August when I ended work earlier than usual, so I chose the fastest subway route I could. It would be the most efficient, getting me home within an hour, but it would also be the most hectic, involving multiple train transfers. Exhausted, I stood in a congested F-train subway car, with beads of sweat covering my face, and hair strands falling out of my hair tie, while I was reading Paul Kalanithi’s memoir, When Breath Becomes Air. Dr. Kalanithi had just been diagnosed with stage IV lung cancer. Years of training and education to become a neurosurgeon and improve the lives of others suddenly evaporated in the now personal face of his own mortality. From that point forward, finding meaning in his life would no longer come from his ability to help others surgically but instead, from his inner values and beliefs. Then, something happened: a 65-year old gentleman tapped my shoulder. I was jolted out of the novel, back into the subway car, and into a conversation in Hindi with a confused-looking elderly couple. While I considered myself fluent in Hindi, I hadn’t spoken or heard it in over four years. I tried my best to push my tired brain to recall the language because Hindi was the only language the couple understood. “We need to go to Roosevelt Avenue,” the gentleman and his wife asked. They spoke softly yet confidently, despite the crowded scene. “Do we get off at Roosevelt Island Station?” “No,” I explained. “Roosevelt Island is different from the Roosevelt Avenue station. You should go out at the latter one, which is three stops away.”

22 Since this was at least 20 minutes away (rumors about New York City’s train traffic are conundrums are all too real), we began conversing. They mentioned that they were visiting as tourists to the US, but had been in New York City for only the past day. Moreover, they had no contacts in the region or cell phones with them. Concerned, I asked them if they knew exactly where they were trying to go. They only knew the name of the area: Indian Gold Bazaar, a name I had never heard before. With the poor data reception I had, I tried to figure out where this was and give them directions of where to go once they got off at the Roosevelt Avenue-Jackson Heights station. In those initial seconds, after giving them these directions, I immediately felt content. I’m guiding them in the right direction, I thought. Isn’t this fulfilling my moral duty to help others? Even more than just fulfilling a moral duty, I felt that I was doing the right thing and that was exactly what I wanted to do - provide help selflessly to those around me. Nevertheless, deep inside, I did not feel truly satisfied. Instinctively, I felt that I was giving less than what I had the potential and desire to; I was lacking somewhere and in something more substantial. My actions started feeling more and more unsatisfying. Directing these strangers verbally in this unknown city and land was just not enough in my mind.

So, instead of getting off at my stop, I got off with the couple at Roosevelt Avenue. But as soon as we exited the subway, we were faced by five roads which led to five streets with three intersections each. We were lost in a complicated

23 urban maze, except this was one was in the very heart of New York City. It was already 5:30 pm (way past my estimated arrival time at home), and the couple felt bad for ‘wasting’ my time, but I was determined not to leave until we had found the location. After several attempts of self-navigation and asking strangers in the surroundings for directions, we successfully arrived at Indian Gold Bazaar. This two-block street was a friendly melange of clothes boutiques, jewelry stores, delis, bakeries, and more. The scene was just as congested as the rest of jackson Heights, but even amidst the hustling noise of cars, buses, and trains, I could sense that the couple no longer felt so alienated. I can still recall my parting moments with the couple and I was checking the next train’s schedule on my phone amidst the hustling noise of the cars, buses and the trains. “I am so happy and fortunate to see that a kind, caring, and compassionate youngster like you still exists,” the lady said, tears welling in her eyes. “In this so called busy world, everyone else is focused purely on themselves. May God bless you.” She gave me her cell phone number and asked me to make sure that I would visit her and her husband in Hyderabad whenever I happen to go to India. Speechless, I bowed down and touched their feet, smiled, and left. It was only two hours, a number that may lose significance in the larger landscape of my life, but those memories won’t. This was such a small, simple incident, yet ended up being such a touching and empowering lesson for me. In such a small giving, I felt like I deeply connected with individuals whom I shared no familial relation with, except for one of humanity and kindness. This experience not only taught me more about myself, but it has also inspired me to listen to and practice those qualities found deep down inside of me. I knew that I probably was never going to see these “strangers” again; I was probably not going to receive anything in return for the help I gave them. Nevertheless, those thoughts never once crossed my mind, and I experienced no doubt that lending a helping hand was and would always be the right thing to do. More than ever, it was in these moments, when I took the time to appreciate the power of random acts of kindness which not only leads to internal moral satisfaction, but also ignites the urge to always have pure and selfless intentions behind our actions - something that resonates with the basic Jain principles of helpfulness, compassion, integrity, and selflessness towards all living beings, visible, or invisible; known or unknown.


JAINISM IN A GLOBAL PERSPECTIVE BY PARSHVA VAKHARIA When you’re 3,000 miles away from home, bringing your heritage with you may seem impossible. However, as I learn more about British culture every day, in the six weeks that I’ve been studying abroad in London so far, I’ve also connected with and strengthened my Jain roots in a way I hadn’t considered was possible. The Young Jains of the UK (YJUK) has operated in the UK since 1987, four years before YJA was founded! Upon learning this, I quickly searched Facebook to see if they would be holding any upcoming events. Fortunately, I found a few. While at a students’ meetup in London, I met several members of YJUK’s Executive Board, whose visions inspired me. A few weeks later, I attended the Jain International Trade Organization’s Jitopreneurs Conference. JITO’s mission is to create a worldwide network of Jain businesspeople, entrepreneurs, and professionals to promote economic empowerment and give back to the Jain community. I heard from billionaire businessman Gopichand Hinduja and steel magnate Lakshmi Mittal about venturing into the cutthroat world of business. I spoke with prominent Jain businesspeople from Japan, Kenya, UK, the US, and India and explained YJA’s mission. I was surprised to learn how many support connecting with and cultivating the next generation of Jain leaders. Whether you’re in a foreign country or in your hometown, you may feel that your Jain heritage isolates you. It’s important to remember that you don’t walk the path of being a young Jain alone. We have a tremendous amount of resources available to us, not only in the US and India but throughout the world. This year, I hope for YJA to share our passion and work in the US by connecting with sister organizations. In a globalized world, our sense of place has the potential to be anywhere we choose it to be.


Building Creative Communities Mansi Shah,Your Mid-Atlantic Regional Coordinator

As Mid-Atlantic Regional Coordinator, I am excited to give back to an organization that has brought so much laughter and perspective to my life. One fun fact I didn’t know before becoming RC is that the Mid-Atlantic region is home to the largest population of Jain young people in America! Knowing this, I hope to reach more communities across the region. I plan to work with a dedicated team of Local Representatives to plan and hold engaging events, whether they’re about the intersection of Jainism and the Arts or a fun cooking class on creative Jain recipes! Strengthening youth presence at our sanghs is another priority of mine. It’s an especially important way to reach a wider audience and reciprocate the continued support from our community leaders. I am motivated by a desire to deepen my understanding about Jainism, its rich history, and the network of inspiring individuals it continues to impact. I could not be more excited for the upcoming year!


REFLECTION ON RETREATS BY ROHIN KAPADIA As an LR for the South region last year, my favorite experience was by far the South Retreat. It was a perfect way to meet fellow Jains and LR’s from the region. I really enjoyed getting to know my peers through enjoyable and engaging activities, like hiking and morning yoga.

“The people I’ve met at the Retreat have become my second family.” All young Jains should be able to have this experience, which is why I strongly recommend that everyone attend their respective Retreats.


Keeping Our Religion Relevant Dipal Savla, 2016-2017 Mid-Atlantic Regional Coordinator As Jains, and especially as Jains who do not live in India, we are accustomed to being minorities. The vast majority of people we interact with on a day-to-day basis likely do not know what Jainism is. Sometimes, we might pause to explain our religious background and what it entails. However, this can be a cumbersome conversation to have with everyone we meet. How then, do we keep our religion relevant in today’s world? On one hand, Jainism is an internal, individual endeavor. We can practice Jainism by studying Jain philosophy and following a Jain way of life. My parents brought me to the derasar and pathshala, made vegetarian meals, and encouraged charity and volunteer work. I lived a Jain lifestyle before I knew Jain principles, and I actively chose the Jain lifestyle once I understood the reasoning behind it. To me, being Jain means thinking critically about each micro-decision I make: opting for the research project that does not involve animal sacrifice, choosing to give that stranger the benefit of the doubt, and advocating for more equal access to healthcare. However, while we can practice Jainism individually, to advance the religion, we need to create discourse. I first appreciated the importance of discourse in college, as one of four self-identified Jains out of over 3,500 undergraduates. I led our Hindu, Jain, and Sikh association and was often the only voice representing Jainism at our interfaith events. However, through thought-provoking dialogue, I was able to share what Jain philosophy has to offer to the world at large. Young Jains of America (YJA) enables such discourse on a national level. As a member of the Executive Board last year, I had the unique opportunity to bring together young Jains so we could more intentionally think about how Jainism impacts our lives and the world around us. We grappled with Jain principles at Retreats, dinners, online forums, and museum tours. We continued the conversations with our new friends at non-YJA gatherings and with our nonJain friends at school and work. The power of the dialogue we created has been tremendous. These conversations have inspired some to attempt veganism, encouraged others to be more accepting of the transgender community, and prompted many to get more involved in the Jain community. I encourage you to join the conversation. Continue practicing Jainism in your day-to-day life, but also come to YJA events, volunteer at your local Sanghs, and help plan the upcoming Convention. Join this intentional community. Instead of checking off “Hindu” or “Buddhist” in that form you have to fill out because it’s “close enough,” check off “Other,” and have those cumbersome conversations with people who do not know what Jain means. As we become changemakers in the world at large, I hope that the dialogue that YJA sparks will guide our future decision-making and help Jainism grow.




YJA’s LR’s represent us every day at Jain centers across the country. With each Young Minds issue, we highlight a few of them and what YJA means to them, their favorite part of being an Local Representative, and what they envision YJA to be.

Paakhee Shah

Southeast (Suwanne, GA) Joining YJA has been one of the best decisions I have made. Attending events, Retreats, and Conventions has allowed me to meet new people who are just as excited about learning about Jainism as I am. One of my favorite things about being an LR is connecting with people throughout the state, region, and even country that I may have never known before: these people turn from strangers into YJA family. I encourage all young Jains to join YJA because it is inspiring, memorable, and an amazing community to be a part of.

Sparsh Jain

West (Berkeley, CA) Though I’ve only lived in America for a year so far,YJA has provided me with a tightly-knit community of like-minded Jains with whom I can share myself without any inhibitions. Living away from India has actually gotten me to get closer to Jainism, as it is one of the few aspects of my life that connects me with my roots. What I find most valuable and resonates strongly with me is the practicality through which YJA promotes the Jain way of life. Living life in India where being a Jain is not emphasized, exposing myself to a community where I’m an outsider got me to re-consider my life and ideologies as a Jain. My most memorable experience as a YJA member has probably been writing articles for Young Minds (Vipassana: Liberation by Imprisonment?, Fighting Sickness like a Jain: Parallels Between Jainism and Naturopathy), I was given a platform to share my experiences, where I wrote about topics ranging from Vipassana Meditation & Jainism to the Jain way of life as a tool of wellness. Not only was this process productive and insightful, but it was also a means for me to connect with other YJA members and have a constructive exchange of thoughts and opinions.


Ajeet Choxi

Mid-Atlantic (Sandy Spring, MD) YJA taught me how to implement Jainism in my daily life, especially when I entered the ‘real world’. It brought up certain ideas of Jainism that I had never really thought of or noticed how deep of a meaning they have. As an LR, my most memorable experience has been leading my own project. I created an event to entertain the local area senior center, playing games and just hanging out with the seniors. Shoutout to Rushil Shah for helping me in leading this event! I’m really happy about the turnout and how much the seniors enjoyed themselves. YJA in three words is amazing, energetic, and successful, because, to me, that’s what YJA is about: the amazing friends you make, the energetic atmosphere people during garba and other activities, and the success YJA has had in bringing Jains all over America to come together under one roof and interact with each other.

Avni Nandu

South (Plano, TX) YJA has given me a community that inspires me to practice the Jain Way of Life (JWOL) in my daily life. They continue to show me that practicing the Jain way of life is possible and beneficial for me and all young Jains in America every day. My most memorable experience from YJA was the 2016 South Retreat. It was such a great weekend spent with Jains from the best region: #DirtySouth. So, if I had to describe YJA in three words, I would use community, friendship, and compassion.

Relaxing at YJA 2016 South Retreat. More pictures can be viewed here.


EDUCATION CORNER: DIWALI Parshva Vakharia, 2017-2018 Director of Education Happy Diwali and Saal Mubarak! Diwali is a festival celebrated by over 1.4 billion Jains, Buddhists, Hindus, and Sikhs from across the world. Jains specifically celebrate Diwali in commemoration of specific events that occurred on these auspicious days. On October 19th, the day of Diwali, Mahavir Swami attained nirvan, or salvation, and achieved moksh (liberation) in 527 BC. His nirvan occurred after he finished giving his final sermon, known as the Uttaradhyayan Sutra. In remembrance of this 48-hour sermon, many Jains perform a two day fast (chatth) during Diwali. Many also take part in Ratri Jagran, when throughout the night, they recite the mantra “Om Hrim Shri Mahaavir Swaami Paarangataay Namah.” On the following day, is October 20th: New Year’s. We celebrate Gautam Swami’s attainment of Kevalgyan. Mahavir Swami had sent his chief disciple, Gautam Swami, away before his Nirvan because Mahavir knew how attached Gautam was to him. When Gautam Swami returned and learned of Mahavir’s Nirvan, he was overcome with sorrow. However, this made him realize that no one can live forever and that no relationship is permanent. Giving up his attachment for Mahavir Swami, Gautam Swami achieved omniscience. To commemorate this day, many Jains listen to the Gautam Swami Raas/story and Navasmaran (nine sutras), and recite the mantra “Shree Gautam Swaami Kevalgyaanaaya Namah.” The day following New Year’s Day, October 21st, is the Jain festival Bhai Dooj, when sisters invite their brothers to their homes to show their mutual love and respect. When Mahavir Swami’s brother Nandivardhan was grieving over the passing of his brother, their sister Sudarshana called him to her house to console him. October 25th marks the Jain holiday of Gyan Panchmi, a day when Jains revere knowledge by worshipping scriptures and seeking blessings to continue learning. On this day, many Jains work to eradicate gyanavarnia karma, or sins related to disrespect of knowledge, by chanting “Om Hrim Namo Nanassa.” This Diwali, we encourage you to celebrate not only the New Year, but all of these important holidays.



It’s that time of year again! As we kick off events for the 2017-2018 YJA year, please join us for our annual National Dinners. This is a great way to meet and connect with Jains in your area over delicious food. We are so excited to have over 140 Local Representatives hosting dinners all over the nation this fall! Check out your regional Facebook Group for details and if you have any additional questions or want more information on National Dinners, please email events@yja.org.


South to North, North to South Rishab Jain,Your Southeast RC Aasthta Kodia,Your Northeast RC Growing up, my Jain Sangh in Memphis, Tennessee only had a few kids. Today, I’m constantly amazed by the number of engaged, passionate young Jains across the Southeast Region and the US. After our first board meeting this past month, I know that I made the right decision to become a part of such an amazing group of people. I couldn’t be more excited to be a part of YJA Board! As Regional Coordinator for the Southeast region, I’ll be creating events with my Local Representatives and putting on a Retreat (or two!) this year. I’d like to branch out from the status quo of events: rather than only grabbing dinner or coffee, let’s head to a sporting event or spend a day in the park! People tend to get to know each other better if they meet in interesting ways, and YJA events give us an opportunity to have fun while discussing just about anything in the process. Since we in the Southeast Region have quite a few things to do on any given weekend, I’m excited to see what we make of the resources we have on the journey ahead!

After attending four YJA Conventions, I was overwhelmed. I was constantly meeting new people but not making friends. I began to wonder if I could ever find a sense of place in YJA. This past year, I travelled to North Carolina for six months for job training, and I quickly felt something missing in my life. After attending a YJA dinner in downtown Raleigh, I met people I could connect with culturally and religiously. After the dinner, I began developing friendships with young Jains in North Carolina and nearby. I was even invited to my first dance show after party!

Finding a group of people I connected with became an integral part of my stay in North Carolina. I will never forget how YJA helped me to build a home away from home (shoutout to my TraingleJains!). Whether you recognize it or not, YJA is all around us, making it easier for us to meet fellow young Jains throughout America wherever we are. This year, I hope to give back to YJA. As the Northeast Regional Coordinator, I hope to improve regional events so that the next time a new (or old!) Jain comes into the Northeast region, we’ll be there for them, just as the Southeast was there for me.




Cucumber Raita

Ingredients: • 2 cups plain or vegan yogurt (nonfat) Ingredients: • 1-2 persian cucumbers, grated • 1/2 head of cauliflower, chopped • 2 tbsp chopped cilantro or mint (or • 1 tbsp olive oil or coconut oil combo) • 1/2 lemon or lime juice • 1/2 tsp ground cumin (or whole • 2-3 tbsp tamarind-date chutney cumin seeds) • 1 tsp paprika (or red chilli for extra • 1/2 tsp chaat masala (optional) spice) • Salt to taste • 1 tsp turmeric • 1/2 tsp paprika or red chilli (op• 1 tsp ground cumin tional) • 2 tbsp chopped cilantro • Shredded unsweetened coconut for Directions: garnish (optional) 1. Grate cucumber into a bowl. • 1/2 tsp dried ginger (optional) 2. Mix in plain yogurt. • Salt and Black pepper to taste 3. Add salt, cilantro/mint, cumin, and pinch of red chili. Directions: 4. Stir and serve as a dip with the cau1. Drizzle olive oil in a pan and heat on medium flame. liflower. 2. Add cauliflower florets and sautée for 5-10 minutes until tender. 3. Mix in lemon juice and spices and cook for 5 more minutes. 4. Serve hot with chopped cilantro and shredded coconut as garnish. Tamarind Curried Cauliflower

Made by: Priyanka Shah (Pinki’s Palate) - find more recipes at pinkispalate.com and @pinkispalate.


Who is ready for the best Convention yet in the beautiful, windy city of Chicago, IL!

Join us from July 5th - 8th, 2018.

If you have ideas for themes, sessions, or anything else for #YJA18, please email ideas@yja.org.


Let’s Make It Rain Monika Jain, Director of Fundraising

When I applied to be YJA’s Director of Fundraising, I knew I was taking on a big task, especially during a convention year. It’s my responsibility not only to raise money for the 2018 Convention, but also to support all the incredible activities and projects YJA hosts throughout the year. But I want to do even more. My initiatives not only focus on fundraising, but also include outreach to Jain sanghs and YJA alumni. To me,YJA is about building a strong community and network to support the past, present, and future of Jainism. That starts with reaching out.


Jai Jinendra, As we prepare for our upcoming year, our board is working harder than ever to strengthen connections with Jain Sanghs across North America and improve our educational programs, such as YJA Pathshala. We will build and expand National Dinners and Retreats to strengthen communal religious and cultural pride before our upcoming Convention in July. We plan to expand YJA’s impact through empowering the next generation of Jains to become leaders in their communities. As we expand our network and introduce nationwide social and educational events, we hope that you will consider investing in the future of Jainism and mobilizing Jain youth to lead tomorrow’s change today. Every dollar makes a difference in helping us achieve our mission. Our efforts are focused on helping young Jains grow and our strongest supporters begin with you. To make a one-time or recurring donation, please visit https://yja.org/donate. If you have any comments or feedback, please reach out to us at fundraising@yja.org. Thank you for your support, Young Jains of America Executive Board


Rachna Shah publications@yja.org


Aasthia Kodia Anand Shah Anish Doshi Anjali Doshi Charmi Shah Darshi Shah Dipal Salva Mansi Shah Monika Jain Rishab Jain Parshva Vakharia Pujen Solanki Rohin Kapadia Saejal Chatter Sehal Shah Twinkle Shah

JAINA YJA is the youth arm of JAINA. Gunvant Shah - President Mahesh Wadher - First VP Haresh Shah - Secretary Atul Shah - Treasurer

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