Press Release: CSU: Long Beach Appoints New Jain Studies Endowed Chair

November 27, 2023

Press Release

CSU: Long Beach Appoints New Jain Studies Endowed Chair

Long Beach, California – For Immediate Release –

Dr. Jasvant Modi and Jane Close Conoley, President of the University

The Department of Religious Studies at California State University: Long Beach has appointed Dr. Shivani Bothra as assistant professor and the Bhagwan Suvidhinath Endowed Chair in Jain Studies.

Dr. Bothra’s work focuses on non-violence, modernization, and women in the Jain tradition. Jainism is an ancient religion that has three main tenants, Ahimsa (non-violence to all living beings), Apringraha (non-materialism), and Anekantavada (plurality of beliefs or open-mindedness).

The position was named after the 9th Tirthankara who, in the Jain tradition, is someone who conquered the cycle of rebirth and became a spiritual teacher to others. The creation of this position was generously funded by Dr. Jasvant Modi and the Shah Foundation on behalf of Mrs. Raksha and Mr. Harshad Shah.

Dr. Modi came to the United States from India in 1975. After a long career in gastroenterology, he retired in 2014 and now spends his time in philanthropy.

Not only does he support centers that help to provide access to food, healthcare, and education to the Jain community in Southern California, he also has donated to over 30 universities across the globe to establish endowed chairs in Jainism. In 2023, Dr. Modi was awarded the Ahimsa Day Award by the Institute of Jainology in London. The award is given annually to someone who embodies the idea of ahimsa, or nonviolence.

Inspired by his own experiences, Dr. Modi is passionate about giving to educational institutions. He cites the kindness of others providing subsidized funds and hostel stays as the reason he was able to get his own higher education in India. Dr. Modi has since helped to rebuild the hostel in which he previously stayed in order to provide housing for students, including those outside of Jainism.

Dr. Modi is a strong believer that a basis in humanities is necessary for a peaceful and prosperous world. He is hopeful that providing education about Jainism to the general public can not only raise awareness about the underrepresented religion, but to help spread the values of Jainism. When speaking on the current state of the world, Dr. Modi said he “would like to see belief in non-violence [and] if there is a difference of belief, respect other people.”

Dr. Bothra is excited about her new position and will be teaching several classes not only on Jainism, but about the role of non-violence in world religions. “The embrace of Jain Studies by the Department of Religious Studies at California State University, Long Beach is a testament to the profound impact of Jainism, standing as a formidable pillar in the study of religions. It unfolds an unparalleled philosophy, affirming the unity of humanity and underscoring the paramount importance of harmonious coexistence among all beings,” she said.

Dr. Bothra will be an invaluable addition to Long Beach’s Religious Studies department. We would like to thank Dr. Modi and look forward to supporting Dr. Bothra as she takes her place at the university.