Gift Agreement for the Bhagwan Suvidhinath Endowed Chair in Jain Studies

August 29, 2020

Share:  Office of the Dean August 28, 2020

The Shah Family Foundation, on behalf of Mrs. Raksha and Mr. Harshad Shah, together with the Vardhamana Charitable Foundation, on behalf of Drs. Meera and Jasvant Modi, have entered into an agreement to provide funding for the Bhagwan Suvidhinath Endowed Chair in Jain Studies with the CSULB 49er Foundation and California State University, Long Beach. The goals of this gift include the creation and ongoing offering of courses on the fundamental principles of Jain religion, and to examine their relevance and implication for contemporary society. The endowed chair position will be a part of the Department Religious Studies in the College of Liberal Arts.


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“The College of Liberal Arts is proud to house the Bhagwan Suvidhinath Endowed Chair in Jain Studies,” said David Wallace, dean of the College of Liberal Arts.  “The college has a curriculum rich in all kinds of diversity, and this chair will develop curriculum and raise awareness of Jainism as a part of the cultural tapestry of South Asia and of Southern California.”

Jainism is an ancient religion, founded in the sixth century BCE, which advocates Ahimsa, or non-violence to all living beings, Apringraha (non-attachment), and Anekantavaad (plurality of beliefs). Jains pursue a spiritual journey along the Jain path towards Moksha (the state of complete liberation of the soul from the cycle of birth, death, and rebirth). While there are only approximately 4 million living Jains today, Jains form a professionally active and influential community, and Jainism possesses values that are deeply relevant to modernity.

“We are honored and delighted to launch the Bhagwan Suvidhinath Endowed Chair in Jain Studies! We deeply appreciate the donor’s gift, and their interest in the Department of Religious Studies at CSULB. This gift enhances our commitment to diversity, and broadens our ability to teach the religions of South Asia. In particular, we look forward to adding courses on the tradition of Jainism, a faith which is both ancient, yet deeply relevant to contemporary times,” says Sophia Pandya, Chair of the Department of Religious Studies.

Religious Studies focuses on the secular and interdisciplinary study of global religion, spirituality, and faith-shaped culture. The department already offers several courses that treat religion in South Asia, including: Hinduism, Religions of India, and Religions of Southeast Asia as well as Sanskrit. These courses reflect not only fact that the population of South Asia (almost 2 billion) is equivalent to a quarter of the global population, but also that Southern California houses a large South Asian community.  CSULB’s Department of Religious Studies also intends to develop a minor in South Asian Studies.  As a part of the commitment to the Bhagwan Suvidhinath Endowed Chair in Jain Studies, they are looking forward to developing new courses that will specifically or primarily focus on Jainism.