Category Archives: North American Jain centers

Jain declaration on Climate Change

Our Jain religion emphasizes ahimsa and we care for all living beings. Given today’s challenges, it is time for us to take a position on climate change. We invite comments to this position! (The picture below is not ours, we like it but it is just for illustration. Our position is in the text .)

Earth pledge

 

A Call to Action for Jains on Climate Change

 Ahimsak Eco-Vegan Committee of JAINA

Climate change threatens to harm all living beings on an unprecedented scale. Hindus, Buddhists, Christians, Jews, Muslims and others have all published their statements on climate change and make specific commitments to mitigate further damage. Our principles of ahimsa and aparigraha make Jainism a religion of environmental protection. The Ahimsak Eco-Vegan Committee of JAINA has drafted a position on climate change to translate our principles into actions.

We will hold a session on Sunday afternoon, July 5 from 4-5 pm at the JAINA convention  and invite you to participate in this session to discuss the right approach to present this position to the world.

Jain Declaration on Climate Change

In 1990, L. M. Singhvi wrote the Jain Declaration on Nature which described a Jain commitment to preserving nature. Almost 30 years later, there is an urgent need for action on climate change.

Jainism is one of the world’s oldest religions, having originated in Northern India well before 500 BCE and, as underscored by The Jain Declaration on Nature, is an ecological religion whose philosophies and codes of conduct inherently provide solutions to address our current crisis of climate change.  The principal tenet of conduct followed by Jains is that of Ahimsa or non-violence to any living being. As a result, practicing Jains are vegetarians.  We also have a long history of building sanctuaries for wounded animals. Jains refrain from the use of pesticides and herbicides, and the teachings prohibit Jains from engaging in professions that harm plants, animals and the earth. Another key tenet followed by Jains is Aparigraha (non-possessiveness). Ahimsa and Aparigraha as taught and traditionally practiced have great relevance to the climate crisis.  We also encourage our community and the world community to embrace new practices based on our fundamental Jain philosophy.

While there is no central authority that speaks on behalf of all Jains, the Federation of Jain Associations in North America (JAINA) is a well-established organization with an evolving agenda proposed by a number of committees. JAINA organizes conferences, activities and an education curriculum for Jains in North America. The Ahimsak Eco-Vegan Committee of JAINA affirms the consensus position of scientists that human activities, primarily the burning of fossil fuels and animal agriculture,  are the main cause of global warming. JAINA recognizes the extreme threat that climate change poses to all life on Earth.  We ask Jain individuals and communities to sign on to this Position on Climate change in order to make a public commitment to action.

Climate change in 2019

Burning massive quantities of fossil fuels to build and run modern society has increased the concentrations of carbon dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere from pre-industrial levels of 280 parts per million (PPM) to over 410 PPM. The CO2 molecules in the atmosphere trap heat from the sun. To date the average temperature of the Earth’s surface has increased by 1 degree Celsius due to warming by greenhouse gases released through human activities. Most of the extra CO2 and heat has been absorbed by the oceans, creating stress and dangerous living conditions for marine animals.

Higher temperatures have made life very difficult for many animal and plant species. In fact, tens of thousands of plant and animal species are going extinct every year due to habitat loss and changing climate. Hundreds of humans also die every year due to hotter conditions and from extreme heat events cause by climate change. Disease patterns are changing, with the most vulnerable animals and humans getting even sicker. Changes in the climate have already changed the geographic distribution of pathogen carrying mosquitoes and increased the risk of diseases such as Zika virus.

We see that sea levels are rising due to melting glaciers and hotter ocean temperatures. Low lying areas are flooding, causing people and animals to be displaced. Warmer ocean temperatures are also adding extra energy to hurricanes making them ever more destructive, again causing much loss of life and suffering.

We also see that forests are getting drier and wildfires are becoming increasingly more prevalent and destructive. All of this causes incredible suffering and loss of life – plant, animal and human. This is an unacceptable situation for Jains who hold that all life is sacred.

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Vegan Chai at JCNC’s anniversary celebration and food: Great reviews!

A note from Pranav:

 

Hi All, I want to sincerely thank the Jcnc kitchen committee and volunteers to prepare vegan foods in sufficient quantity and for allowing the use of separate serving  table on this dhwaja ceremony day (Aug 4, 2018) . This time the volunteers decided to really educate the members on the availability
of vegan alternatives and quite a few people wanted to taste the vegan foods side by side with the dairy based foods. Afterwards, we informally reached out to them on the tables they were eating and they said they found vegan items more flavorful because milk/yogurt was actually diluting the original flavor of chaula sabzi as well as daal. Vegan Gattha was the most popular because people found the dairy version was actually too dull and watery. All in all, we noticed that just like a kid doesn’t like plain milk and want it flavored, Jcnc members realized that milk was working against the flavor of the base food and they would rather enjoy sabzi, daal, legumes etc without dairy. Below are few verbatim feedback from members who aren’t currently vegan themselves.
I sincerely request the food committee to make more menu items vegan as I think community is open to it.
Dhiral —- “vegan chaula sabzi tasted better because it felt more flavorful… if there was only one counter I would have rather enjoyed vegan chaula… “
Krinaben shah —- “loved the vegan version and I would go for it anytime”
Mudit khasgiwala —- “vegan dishes were more delicious and highly recommend to make more of those”
And here are some reviews of the vegan cha:

 

 

Petition to end the Use of Dairy in Jain temples: A Pre-paryushan plea by Nirva

Dear readers,

Paryushan and Das Lakshan parva are just around the corner. Starting on Friday, September 6thJains all over the world will increase their level of spiritual intensity. 

My childhood Jain Centers included Norwood, Massachusetts and Houston, Texas. I now live in Massachusetts with my husband and four children and have been practicing veganism (food, clothing, even my car is leather-free) for 2 years. Last year, I attended a lecture in Mumbai where a Jain marajsaheb spoke to us about the dairy industry as it applies to Jainism. It inspired me to reach out to all of you.

As you may know, the Jain Center of Southern California  decided this year not to allow dairy in the temple due to the incredible suffering animals go through in order to produce ghee/milk, etc. They made an inspirational video which is worth watching;

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m.youtube.com/watch

Unfortunately, many other Jain centers today still use dairy products (whether it is ghee in pooja or food served). In our private homes we must respect a person’s wish to do as he/she pleases. However, our Jain center is shared by a community of people seeking to observe and follow Jainism, and more specifically ahimsa. In order to follow ahimsa to the highest level, I ask that you observe a non-dairy practice for 18 days (September 6 – September 23).  In addition to your individual practice, please sign a petition to end the use of dairy products in our Jain temples. This will magnify your good personal choices so that we can do better as a community.  

https://www.change.org/p/lets-end-the-use-of-dairy-products-in-our-jain-temples

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Dallas Jain pathshala students shine a Jain lens on Veganism, Energy, Water and other Environmental Issues

Environmental Fair PosterThe Jain Society of North Texas’ (JSNT) high school  age youth (Pathshala Group 6), with the help of  Joseph R. Otterbine,an  M.S. Applied Environmental Anthropology Candidate  from the University of North Texas, recently held  the JSNT Environmental  Fair. The Fair  brought a Jain lens to bear on  energy and electricity, veganism,  transportation, water usage, and methane production. The youth decided on these topics and researched them thoroughly.  They split into five groups and prepared presentations, visuals, and takeaways (e.g. vegan brownies [yummy!] , pamphlets, fact  sheets, water usage calculator, etc.) for their booths at the fair.
The Fair started with time for the community to walk around and see the booths, followed by a  presentation from Dr. Pankaj Jain (University of North Texas) on the topic of Dharma and  Ecology.

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After his short lecture the community members were urged to visit the five different presentations at the booths set up around the hall. The community was extremely receptive to the
youth’s efforts and proud of all the work that they had done in putting together all the intricacies of the Fair. When it came to the scheduled end of the Fair, some community membewer asked for more time to explore all the work that the youth had done! 

This event was successful because the youth wanted to do it,  and OWNED it!
This enthusiasm was palpable in their presentations, their attitudes, and interactions with the  community. The Fair got the Jain Society of North Texas to look at environmental issues and  how they, as Jains, are poised as natural environmentalists.
For a slide show of the event please see http://www.dfwjains.org/
and  keep reading this post to hear more about about environmentalism and energy use in a state traditionally known for its economic dependence on oil from these amazing Jain students. And for more on veganism, methane and water use, see the next post… Continue reading

Toronto Seniors Enjoy Health and Compassion based event: Towards Ahimsa

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Madhu, Monty and Dr. Tushar write:

Working collaboratively with the help of the Jain Society of Toronto (JSOT), the non-profit group Towards Ahimsa Inc. (based out of Toronto, Canada) co-hosted a special event  last month to celebrate the health and wellbeing of a plant based diet.Through a series of interactive activities and thought-provoking discussions a group of 70 senior community members learnt first hand the philosophical definition of ahimsa in Jainism in its relationship to diet.

Presenters included medical doctors & professional educators who started by defining the nature of a Plant Based or Vegan diet. They presented medical evidence regarding benefits to vascular disease, cancers, diabetes, blood pressure, weight control, and overall benefits to quality-of-life and mortality.  They also discussed ways to optimize the vegan diet and how to easily obtain nutrients like vitamin B12, calcium and iron, and protein.

The talk was extremely well received with great questions and enthusiasm on the part of the seniors. One attendee even claimed she would become vegan from this point forward!

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