U.C. Riverside’s College of Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences and the Department of Religious Studies Feb. 17 announced the establishment of its latest endowed chair, the Shrimad Rajchandra Endowed Chair in Jain Studies.
The chair is named after renowned Indian poet, philosopher, scholar and reformer of Jain principles Shrimad Rajchandra, who lived from 1867 until 1901. Several institutions and places throughout India use Rajchandra’s name in dedication for charitable activities.
The U.C. Riverside chair is the first to bestow the Rajchandra name as a dedication outside India.
The university requires $1 million to endow a chair. The Indian American families of Mahesh Wadher and Jasvant Modi each pledged $250,000 but have signed for $1 million, while the Jain Center of Southern California and Jain Temple of Los Angeles have agreed to help raise the remaining funds. Additionally, the family of J.N. Chheda has pledged $100,000 towards reaching the $1 million threshold.
The chair, which has yet to be filled, will be decided by U.C. Riverside officials. The university will set up a committee to conduct interviews of applicants and make a decision on the chairperson.
It will be focused on Jain religious principles with the chair expected to teach classes in Jain studies.
“To teach Jain religion, principles, culture, etc., to undergraduate students,” Dr. Nitin Shah, past-president of JCSC, told India-West when asked about the goals of the chair. Shah is also chair of the External Education Committee at JCSC, professor of anesthesiology at Loma Linda University and chief of surgical ICU at Long Beach VA Healthcare System.
Additionally, the chair will be expected to conduct research about Jain and other religions as well as teach the three main principles.
“Namely, ahimsa (non-violence), aparigrah (non-possessiveness) and anekantvad (multiplicity of views) to mainstream American students with the goal of developing tolerance amongst people, accepting different religions and living a non-violent peaceful life,” Shah explained. “We believe that Jain principles have lot to offer to the world and this will be one of the baby steps towards it.”
The chair has to be signed by U.C. president Janet Nepolitano before U.C. Riverside can begin its search for the chair.
Shah said that if the required funds are reached by the end of May, the university could have a chair in place for the fall 2018 semester.