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Vital Matters: Jainism and Ecology

February 28, 2023 | 12:00PM - 12:30PM



Drawing inspiration from the sacred landscapes depicted on devotional textiles presented in Visualizing Devotion: Jain Embroidered Shrine Hangings, Venu Mehta will discuss intersections of ascetic principles, spirituality and sociocentric environmentalism in the twenty-five-hundred-year-old tradition of Jainism. Highlighting nonviolence as the path to liberation, Jainism offers an important perspective on environmental activism.

This event is co-sponsored by the UCLA Center of India and South Asian Studies and the Center for the Study of Religion and generously supported by a grant from Lilly Endowment Inc. 

Venu Mehta is Bhagwan Chandraprabhu Postdoctoral Fellow in Jain Studies and assistant professor of comparative religions at Claremont School of Theology. Her research focuses on the devotional practices, literature, and iconography of the Jaina goddess Padmāvatī, with special attention to vernacular and regional forms of devotion and goddesses in Jainism. Her areas of scholarship in Jain studies include Jain religious diaspora and sectarian negotiations in the USA; Jainism and ecology; Jain bhakti literature and practices in Gujarat; Jaina theory of Anekāntavāda; and the Jaina notion of forgiveness. 

Vital Matters: Vital Matters programs explore objects that arouse devotion, awe, or serenity; mediate relationships between human and spiritual realms; and are of vital importance to the cultural heritage of individuals and communities. This series accompanies the new digital educational initiative Vital Matters: Stories of Belief—a platform for sharing different perspectives on devotional works at the Fowler Museum.

Image courtesy of Venu Mehta

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