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Aug 26
2023
9AM-1PM PST
Welcome Address by Parveen Jain, President and CEO, Arihanta Institute
Presiding: Parveen Jain
Jain Philosophy, Ahimsa, and Veganism
9:10 am - 9:30 am
The Ancient Jain Tradition and the Origins of Ahimsa
20 mins
The Jain tradition has been at the forefront of animal protection and advocacy for thousands of years. Learn about the origins of the Jain tradition and its fundamental commitment to ahimsa and compassion, animal protection activities in Jain animal sanctuaries, as well as some of the foundational history, mythology, and philosophy undergirding the Jain worldview and way of life. Understand why the Jain tradition, which has advocated for vegetarianism for millennia, is now making a transition to veganism in light of its ethical commitments.
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9:30 am - 9:50 am
Veganism & Jain Karma Theory
20 mins
In modern times, we tend to assume that “justice” is a social construct, that is, a set of agreements that members of a society follow or contest in a way that seeks to equalize the distribution of benefits and difficulties gained by the social order. However, this “constructionist” idea of justice seems to allow a number of injustices to go unaddressed. For example, the harmful actions we participate in with no immediate or obvious consequence, or even the forms of structural violence that we benefit from, and are therefore complicit in, but may not even realize it. This includes the many ways that our behavior causes harm to others—such as harming animals in food production. Professor Bohanec will explain how in the Jain tradition, justice, in the form of karma theory, is not merely an unreal social construct, it is the very operating mechanism of the universe to which we are all subjected and contributing to. He will examine how karma impacts our lives, non-human animals’ lives, and our relationship to the planet and all its inhabitants.
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9:50 am - 10:10 am
The Vegan Evolution of Ahiṃsā-in-Action
20 mins
Despite the immense variety of definitions for “veganism,” the “ism” of veganism fundamentally denotes a practice, specifically the practice of abstaining from animal use and animal-derived products. Transnational veganism refers to a global practice movement composed of innumerable, often uncoordinated groups and individuals engaged in the practice of veganism. In this talk, I discuss how the recent emergence of veganism among Jains—both inside and outside of India—seamlessly joins this global practice movement, even if motivated by very specific religious ideas and commitments. I highlight how the contemporary movement away from the traditional use of dairy products in Jain communities evidences a critical evolution of ahiṃsā-in-action.
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10:10 am - 10:40 am
Questions & Answers
30 mins
Keynote Speaker
10:45 am - 11:35 am
Journeys of a Jain Vegan: From Vegetarian to Vegan, From Engineer to Engaged Animal Advocate
50 mins
In life, we are not always sure which path to follow, and in many situations, we must make do with what we have been given. In this presentation, Nirva talks about how her dietary habits and career prospects continued to evolve with a backdrop of compassion. In this presentation, we will learn about Nirva's journey from vegetarianism to veganism and from biomedical engineering to leadership in animal advocacy. Born in the US with Jain values, Nirva will share insights on the importance of Jain philosophy for the standing of animals in our society, as well as career paths available where compassion is a central criteria to success.
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Jain Dharma and Animal Advocacy
Presiding: Hope Bohanec
11:40 am - 12:00 pm
Ahimsa in Action
20 mins
Shaleen will share how opening and running the farmed animal sanctuary, Luvin Arms, puts his core Jain value of ahimsa into action and how ahimsa can inspire change that can ripple around the world. He will explain how Luvin Arms and the rescued animals they care for offer connections where people are empowered to create changes that lead to more compassionate choices for themselves, the planet, and justice for all beings.
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12:00 pm - 12:20 pm
Jainism In Practice In the Modern World
20 mins
As an animal rights activist, a mom to a young daughter, and a wife to a husband who is a converted Jain, Mamta will share her experiences practicing ahimsa and anekantvad in her daily life that is filled with constant demands, competing priorities, and varying food restrictions and preferences. She will share her methods for extending kindness and compassion to herself, to her family, and to people in her community; and how she has grown confident over time to fully embrace her vegan lifestyle.
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12:20 pm - 12:40 pm
Ratnatraya: Reading between the lines of scripture
20 mins
The first verse of the Tattvarthasutra translates to: "Right faith, right knowledge, and right conduct, together form the path to liberation.” The call for animal rights challenges the status quo in the favor of a more compassionate world, where the moral status of a being transcends the construct of species. Historically, a positive change in the societal status quo is always opposed using interpretations of scriptures, in a way that exploits the voids, and veganism has been no different in that sense. While the principle of ahimsa (non-violence) is the first thing that comes to mind at the mention of Jainism, we often see resistance from different sections which seek to cite certain examples or interpretations of the scriptures to oppose veganism. Do the basic tenets of Jainism already provide a direction to traverse issues that can become cloudy? This discussion contemplates this question through a nuanced, first principles based approach to explore the philosophical foundation to embrace veganism.
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12:40 pm - 1:00 pm
Questions & Answers
20 mins