JAINISM


Jainism at UofT

 

The University of Toronto is one of the few institutions in the world with a long-standing commitment to the study of Jainism in its own right. Apart from the University’s considerable strengths in Buddhism, Hinduism, and South Asian Islam, UofT has been the home of at least two generations of Jain Studies scholars, and it is the Department for the Study of Religion that hosts an annual lecture on Jainism which since about three decades has brought to Toronto the leading scholars of this exciting field to enrich the study of South Asian religions here. While a teaching curriculum is still being developed, the already ongoing research at UofT focusses on the understudied traditions of South Indian Jainism, particularly of the Tamil-speaking region, and on their institutional, ritual, and literary history.

 


Jainism at UofT
Study

 

Jainism has been intermittently, yet regularly taught in the past and efforts are being made to reintroduce regular courses on the undergraduate and graduate level. Projected courses are the undergraduate courses “Introduction to Jainism” and “Ancient and Medieval Buddhist and Jain Monasticism”, a graduate reading course and introduction to Jain Prakrit. Meanwhile, Jain content is taught as part of the courses RLG205H “Introduction to South Asian Religions” and RLG366H “Godless India”. For news on the emerging Jainism curriculum, please, check this site again in the future.

 

Among our alumnae is Dr. Smita Kothari, who in 2013 completed her thesis on giving (dāna) and meditation (dhyāna) among the Terāpanth. Sean Hillman is currently conducting his doctoral research, which, among other things, deals with Jain practices of dying. Please meet our current UofT South Asian religion graduate students here, – and review our alumni and their work here. For an overview of our programmes, please follow this link.

 


Jainism at UofT
Languages

 

It is critical to be able to translate from original sources or to converse with practitioners in their idiom whenever one studies South Asian religions, including Jainism. Therefore the study of key languages is a prerequisite for earning a degree at UofT. Sanskrit, crucial for understanding Jain philosophical and ritual literature, is part of the regular offerings, as are Hindi and Urdu. Introductions to and readings in the Jain Prākrits (Ardhamāgadhī, Śaurasenī, Mahārāṣṭrī), Apabhraṃśa, and Tamil can be offered on request for small groups or individually as directed readings.

 


Jainism at UofT
Extracurricular

 

The most important regular event in Jain Studies in North America are the Roop Lal Jain Lectures, which are held once every year and bring to UofT one of the leading academics in the field to present ongoing cutting-edge research on Jain history, practice, literature, philosophy, or visual culture. Additionally, students interested in Jainism can profit from a diverse array of top-level lectures, workshops, and conference on South Asia thanks to the rich event calendar offered by the Centre for South Asian Studies (CSAS). The series of talks brought together by the Religious Genealogies of Contemporary South Asia Colloquium, happening from September to April, usually features at least one lecture dedicated to Jainism.

 


Jainism at UofT
Research

 

Christoph Emmrich, Associate Professor of South and Southeast Asian Buddhism at UofT, has worked on doctrinal discussions on the subject of time in canonical, scholastic and commentarial Jain sources, on canon and postcoloniality with reference to Jain literature and indigenous scholarly practice and, more recently, on the Jains of Tamil Nadu, particularly the micro-history of the Jains of Kanchipuram. Some of his publications in the field of Jain Studies are “The Ins and Outs of the Jains in Tamil Literary Histories.” Journal of Indian Philosophy 39, no. 6 (2011): 599-646; Śvetāmbaras, Digambaras und die Geschichte ihres Kanons als Besitz, Verlust und Erfindung. Kanon und Kanonisierung in der Asiatischen Religionsgeschichte, Peter Schalk (ed.). Uppsala: Uppsala Univ. Press: 105-129; “When Two Strong Men Stand Face to Face. The Indologist, the Pandit and the Re-Making of the Jaina Scholarly Tradition”. Boundaries, Dynamics and Construction of Traditions in South Asia, Federico Squarcini (ed.). Firenze: Firenze Univ. Press & Munshiram Manoharlal. 2005; 571-587; “How Many Times? Monism or Pluralism in Early Jaina Temporal Description”. Aspects of Jainism, Marek Mejor & Piotr Balcerowicz (eds.). Motilal Banarsidass 2003: 69-88.