US varsity to have chairs of Sikh, Jain and modern India studies

  • PTI, Washington
  • Updated: Oct 24, 2015 13:05 IST

University of California will establish three new endowed chairs in Sikh, Jain and modern

Indian studies to expand knowledge of South Asian religions and culture.

The School of Humanities at the University of California, has the Dhan Kaur Sahota Presidential chair in Sikh Studies, Shri Parshvanath Presidential chair in Jain Studies, and Swami

Vivekananda-Dharma Civilisation Foundation Presidential chair in Modern India Studies.

Donations of USD 4.5 million, plus another USD 1.5 million from the UC Office of the President, will fund these chairs, intended to expand UCI’s scholarship in South Asian religions and culture, the university said in a statement.

Dhan Kaur Sahota Presidential Chair in Sikh Studies

Harvinder Sahota and Asha Sahota established the Dhan Kaur Sahota Presidential Chair in Sikh Studies, named in honour of his late mother.

The chair holder would be a scholar with in-depth knowledge of, and research interests in, Sikh religion and culture, including the history of Sikh religion from its origins in 1469 in the Punjab region of India to the current worldwide diaspora of the Sikh population.

Additionally, the scholar would have an understanding of the ethics and philosophy of Sikhism as well as familiarity with Punjabi–the language of the Sikh scriptures.

Shri Parshvanath Presidential Chair in Jain Studies

Meera and Jasvant Modi along with their children established Shri Parshvanath Presidential Chair in Jain Studies.

The chair holder would be a scholar with wide-ranging knowledge of, and research interests in, Jain ethics, philosophy, religion, history and culture, including the fundamental principles of Jainism, which are non-violence, non-possessiveness and a pluralistic perspective. Despite that, the chair would have familiarity with Indian languages such as Sanskrit and Prakrit.

The chair is named in honour of Bhagvan Parshvanath, the 23rd savior of Jainism, with ‘Shri’ being a Sanskrit title of veneration akin to ‘holy’.

The Dharma Civilization Foundation

A California-based non-profit Dharma Civilization Foundation seeks to promote philanthropic giving to further the systematic study of Indian religious traditions in Modern India Studies.

“The establishment of three endowed chairs in South Asian religious studies within the School of Humanities is a prime example of how UCI is a vibrant intellectual and cultural center with strong ties to its community,” said chancellor Howard Gillman.

“We are grateful to the leaders and community groups who came together to cement the School of Humanities’ foundation in South Asian studies and look forward to the educational and cultural impact on our students that the scholarship from these chairs will produce,” Gillman said.

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