An Interview with Komal Jain

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An Interview with Komal Jain
By Komal Jain

Master of Arts - Engaged Jain Studies Graduate Student 

Arihanta Institute & Claremont School of Theology


What inspired you to undertake graduate studies at Arihanta Institute?


I am a practicing Jain, and my native language is Hindi. I was born and raised in India, though I moved to the United States at the age of 9 where I completed my schooling and became proficient in English. During my school years, I struggled and always felt unlikely to succeed. I became versed in Jain scriptures like Namokaar Mantra and the names of 24 tirthankaras with symbols among many other facts, but I didn’t really understand why these facts were important? Still, I always went to mandir (temple), did pooja (prayer), and read along with my parents. Not only to be obedient, but also because I thoroughly enjoyed doing those activities. I did not mind waking up early in the morning and dressing up in Indian outfits with Indian jewelry to go to mandir. 


I also kept vrats (fasts) a practice that has continued into my adult life. I avoid eating root vegetables like carrots, potatoes, onions, and garlic – following Jain scriptures. Since 2021, I do not eat or drink after sunset. Even during pregnancy, I cooked and ate fresh food daily, observed Jain practices, and I now have a healthy baby boy. Today, if someone asks me why I endure these practices, I say that everyone has beliefs that are easier to understand for themselves. 


My goal in obtaining a Master of Arts degree in Engaged Jain Studies is to enhance my skills, knowledge, and experience within my own Jain tradition and practice. I also look forward to open dialogues with peers and sharing more about Jain literature, philosophy, history, anthropology, and languages – expanding other’s awareness of the practice of Jainism in day-to-day life. In other words, how does a Jain live daily. I find, my time is most valuably spent in just being Jain. 



What is your background in Jain education and Jain tradition?


My current activities include being a member of my city’s Jain Sangh and participating in monthly pooja on the fourth Sunday of each month. There is also an option to recite Bhaktamar Stotra and the meaning every Sunday. On Saturdays for one hour, twice a month, I participate in Bollywood Fitness, a workout program where we dance and exercise to Indian music. On Fridays, I attend one-and-a-half-hour classes on Jainism. On Thursdays, I take my son to the library for story time and books and babies’ programs to encourage him to be an avid reader and learner. On Wednesdays and Tuesdays, time permitting, I attend a 1-hour class on Jainism. On Mondays, I attend a one-hour program called Shanka Samadhan NRI where a Maharajji/Muniji (Indian Guru) provides solutions to our problems. At the last event, I had asked him, how to teach good values to our young son. 


Indeed, apart from being a full-time Jain and a full-time certified public accountant (CPA), since the birth of my son in 2022, I am also a full-time mom. The Master of Arts – Engaged Jain Studies is perfect for me because it is remotely accessible and I am also able to pursue an education that will ultimately help me raise my child to follow Jain principles. I wish for my son to adhere to Das Lakshan or Ten Attributes: Forgiveness, Humility, Straightforwardness, Contentment, Truth, Restraint, Austerities, Charity, Non-possessiveness, and Celibacy. 


How do you see yourself connecting your studies in the classroom with community, organizations, etc. that you are involved in, or which are around you? How do you plan to use what you learn in the world?


If there is one event, I look forward to each year, it is Das Lakshan. Although Das Lakshan comes 3 times in a year, the one everyone celebrates comes once a year. Not only is it special because it comes during the time of my birthday, but also because it summarizes Jainism for me very well. I try to live by those attributes every day, and it is my sincere desire to pass these attributes on to my son. I relate to it a lot and try to follow it as much as possible especially when I feel angry or frustrated when things do not go according to plan, or someone is not behaving like I imagined. I remember that not everyone is Jain or if they are Jain, not everyone is a practicing one. 


With a Master of Arts in Engaged Jain Studies, I would like to be equipped with the necessary tools to raise a Jain child. Following Jainism is one thing, but being able to articulate it in a way that my son comprehends is a whole different ball game. Since he was born in the United States, I am afraid he will not understand as much as someone who was born in India. I may end up having to translate everything for him, including even those points that I now consider basic or know second nature. I have already created a PDF with the information I practice daily and that I would like my son to follow as well.


Are you interested in pursuing higher studies in Jain education or another tradition’s higher studies? Would you pursue a career in engaged education or a similar profession?


I am resolute in my goals to be able to articulate, explain, and write in laypeople’s terms like the speakers I encountered while attending the Defining Applied Jain Studies - Virtual Conference held by Arihanta Institute in 2023. I am also looking forward to an opportunity to learn and grow from some of our future courses including Studies in Jain Karma and Ethics and Theories and Praxis of Non-violence and Jainism. My ultimate hope is that after completion of this Master of Arts in Engaged Jain Studies, I will be equipped with the tools necessary to pursue a PhD in Jain Studies.




The MA in Engaged Jain Studies is the requisite graduate program for anyone who wants to understand how to apply Jain philosophy and principles in daily life at the highest level, including, but not limited to young adult professionals and householders, both Jain and non-Jain alike.


We are so fortunate to have Komal in our first class of Engaged Jain Studies graduate students. And we look forward to accepting more scholars like Komal who are in pursuit of a deeper understanding of Jain philosophy and wisdom teachings so that they can bring them to their families and communities and cultivate change in the world – one person at a time. This is central to the Arihanta Institute mission.


To ensure success in this endeavor, we need your support. 


In this season of giving, we urge you to donate to our mission.  Every level of contribution helps us continue the path to spreading knowledge about the Jain philosophy and tradition and its relevance in our daily lives. 


Your generosity can significantly impact our success and is immensely valued. If you feel compelled to contribute, visit arihantainstitute.org/donate or email us at learn@arihantainstitute.org.


If you are interested in applying to our MA – Engaged Jain Studies program, schedule an appointment with one of our advisors to learn more, please email study@arihantainstitute.org.