Pujya Sadhviji gives Keynote at Closing of the Jaina Convention

Jul 09 2019

Pujya Sadhviji gives Keynote at Closing of the Jaina Convention

Pujya Sadhvi Bhagawatiji gives Keynote Speech at Closing Ceremonies of the 20th Biennial Jaina Convention in California

Three-Day Event at the Ontario Convention Center, titled “Jain Religion in the 21st Century”, drew over 4000 delegates from 70 Jain centers across the United States and around the world.

Pujya Sadhvi Bhagawatiji gave a keynote address at the 20th Jaina Convention in Ontario, California on the 7th July. Jainism has between four and five million followers, with most Jains residing in India. Outside India, some of the largest Jain communities are present in Canada, Europe, Kenya, the United Kingdom, Hong Kong, Suriname, Fiji, and the United States. Major Jain festivals include Paryushana and Daslakshana, Mahavir Janma Kalyanak, and Dipawali.

The five main religious tenets of Jainism are ahimsa (non-violence), satya (truth), asteya (non-stealing), brahmacharya (integrity in our relationships), and aparigraha (non-hoarding). During her illuminating speech, Pujya Sadhviji focused on these Jain tenets, which were given to us by Bhagawan Mahavira, the 24th tirthtankara and most-famous adherent of Jainist doctrine. She drew attention to the fact that the precepts are the answers to everything that ails our world today – problems that range from internal depression and anxiety all the way to the climate emergencies that we are facing across the globe. She reminded her audience that the five tenets laid down by Lord Mahavira are not just tenets for Jains but, rather, they are tenets for all of humanity.

Pujya Sadhviji wove the tenets of Jainism together with modern society when she told the audience that it was time to embrace an “Ahimsa 2.0”. “There is a growing need,” she said, “to reach beyond the vegetarinism, that is a pinnacle of the Jain lifestyle, toward veganism, fair trade, and organic food because the situation has become more dire.” Sadhviji continued by explaining that we are no longer just witnessing violence to animals. Now we are seeing violence to the earth, violence to people that are hungry, violence to our dwindling water resources. “We are seeing the theft of people’s resources – their land, food, and water. Women and children are working in sweat shops, so we can have more and more things for which we pay less and less money. This is also a form of violence,” she stated.

“What Lord Mahavira taught was simplicity”, she concluded. “Our true joy and peace comes from within and not what we buy. That teaching is not only something that benefits us spiritually, it is also a teaching that enables us to be assets to humanity.”

Founded in 1981, JAINA – the Federation of Jain Associations in North America – is an umbrella over various Jain organizations that preserve, practice, and promote Jainism in the USA and Canada. Together, they work to advance Jain teaching, promote compassion, humanitarianism and volunteerism and to facilitate academic and cultural exchanges. It is unique in that it represents Jains of all sects, and thus effectively represents the entire Jain community in those countries.

In the early 1980s, HH Pujya Swami Chidanand Saraswatiji, President of Parmarth Niketan, founded the world’s first Hindu-Jain Temple outside of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The temple was the first Indian temple in Pittsburgh, and the first in the world where Hindus and Jains met and prayed together. It also was the first temple where both sects – the Shwetambar and Digambar – of Jainism worshipped together.

Pujya Swamiji said, “When I founded the Hindu-Jain Temple in Monroeville, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania in the early 1980s, I also emphasized then that the teachings of Lord Bhagawan Mahavir are universally applicable and beneficial to all. He provides direction not only to Jains, but to all of humanity. I am glad that Sadhviji will have the opportunity to speak to this distinguished group.”

Keynote addresses at the prestigious event were also given by Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev, Isha Foundation founder; Gaur Gopal Das, renowned monk of the ISKCON tradition, Chairwoman of the Parliament of Religions Audrey Kitagawa, animal rights activist, Philip Wollen; PETA President, Ingrid Newkirk, and Nipun Mehta. The event brought together many saints, munis and sadhvis of the Jain tradition including Gurudevshri Rakeshbhai Javeriji, Acharya Sadhvi Chandanaji, Acharya Roopchandra Muniji, Acharya Lokesh Muniji, Sadhvi Shilapiji and many others.

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