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Three NRI families committed $ 150,000 for the Lectureship ($ 30,000 per year for Five year)
New Bhagwan Shantinath Lectureship Started at California State University of Fullerton (CSUF)
Dr Nitin Shah explained the significance of the ‘Mantra’ (Most significant prayer in Jain Religion)

Dr.Jasvant Modi and Dr. Meera
Dr. Narendra Parson and Mrs. Rita
Mr. Mahesh Wadher and Mrs. Usha

Los Angeles, Sep. 06, 2018
Dr. Sulekh Jain A.Gary Singh Grewal

The Jain community in Southern California reached another milestone – Three families donated to start Bhagwan Shantinath Lectureship at California State University of Fullerton (CSUF). Signing ceremony took place on Sunday, August 26, 2018 at Jain Center of Southern California. Drs. Meera and Jasvant Modi, Mrs. Rita and Dr. Narendra Parson and Mrs. Usha and Mr. Mahesh Wadher committed $ 30,000 per year for Five years for the Lectureship.

Dr Nitin Shah, emcee, welcomed all and asked Dr. Meera Modi, Ramila Shah, Kinna Gandhi, Geeta Khona and Bina Shah to recite the traditional prayer ‘Namokar  Mantra’ for the auspicious occasion. Shah then explained the significance of the ‘Mantra’. “It is the most significant prayer in Jain Religion. This is the first prayer recited by the Jains while meditating. While reciting this mantra, the devotee bows with respect to the Panch Parameshti or the Supreme Five. This mantra simply serves as a gesture of deep respect towards beings whom they believe are spiritually evolved, as well as to remind the people of their ultimate goal which is liberation of the soul from cycle of birth and death.

He then went on to explain the purpose of Lamp Lighting. In almost every Indian home a lamp is lit before the altar of the Lord, furthermore, most auspicious functions commence with the lighting of the lamp. Light symbolizes knowledge and darkness – ignorance! Knowledge removes ignorance just as light removes darkness. Shah gave example of many religions about how do they utilize lamp lighting including Islam, Hindus, Jains, Jews, Sikhs, Buddhists, and Christians.

 This was followed by Flameless lamp lighting employing battery-operated lamps by CSUF officials Dean Sheryl Fontaine, Associate Dean and Professor of Religious Studies, Dr. Paul Levesque and Senior Director of Development Ms. Alina Mircea-Trotz along with donors Drs. Meera and Jasvant Modi, Dr. Narendra Parson and his grandsons Rohan, 10 years and Deven, 7 years old!

 Lamp lighting was followed by speeches. The first one invited to speak was Dr. Sulekh Jain – Grand Father of Jain Academic Education in North America as per Dr. Nitin Shah. He had flown in from Las Vegas just for this ceremony. He said “what is Samovasaran – enlightened soul gives sermons from it to all not only human beings but also to animals and birds and Jains need to open such Samovasarans in many universities. We want to give Jain vision glasses like other religions for students to look through.”

Dr. Jasvant Modi said “This is his dream come true. We want to develop such educational opportunities into as many universities as possible and he was inspired by his nephew Bhavin who asked him to look into CSUF as it is so close from Jain Center and he emailed Alina to explore and that brought us here today. This is our 7th Tirthankar naming in an academic institution.”

 Dr. Parson said that “He was inspired by Dr. Jasvant Modi who has been relentless and front runner to create such opportunities in as many places as possible and also Nitin’s nagging contributed to my involvement. Jains see world with open eyes.”

Dean Fontaine said, “We are very grateful for what you are offering and this will change students’ lives. You will be working with one of the largest Universities in the State of California and probably the country. CSUF was started 60 years ago and will go a long way in helping students learn values that Jain Religion offers.”

 Professor Levesque said, “He is glad that this lectureship will add a very important religion in the department for students to learn. He gave an outline that CSUF will hire a Lecturer who will teach a class of under graduates Jain Studies for one semester and organize a symposium related to Jain Principles in second semester. Students will be given scholarship also from the funds to study Jain Religion locally as well as abroad!”

Mahesh and Usha Wadher could not be present; however, Dr. Nitin Shah read their comments. Mahesh said, “The world needs to understand the Jain way of life and Jain principles. Today’s global society has become more complex and the world around us has become extremely volatile. There are many barriers such as political, religious, race, gender that keeps the world divided. At a time like this it is very important for us to come together and focus on the core values of humility, respect, compassion, love and peace that are common to all faiths of the world.”

 Donors and CSUF officials signed the agreement and Drs. Meera and Jasvant Modi and Dr. Parson delivered checks to Dean Fontaine. Around 70 members of the community were present to witness another historic moment. The signing ceremony ended with young Rohan and Deven Parsons reciting the Namokar Mantra.