Jainism & Its Newly Found Internet Presence
Veeral Shah, Cambridge, Mass
As both the influx of Jains into North America and the so-called "Information Revolution" both progress, so has the volume and interest in Jain information on the Internet. Internet connections continue to increase in speed -from the lowly 7200 BPS modem to the lighting- fast T3 ethernet and the quality and sheer number of sites is increasing exponentially as well. Increate web pages relating to Jainism in all of its manifold aspects- and these pages are assuming an evergreater importance in our new comprehension of our religion.
As a natural response to the advent of all encompassing medium termed the Internet, we Jains have responded- by creating web sites, mailing lists, and repositories of Jain information. Various communities -Leicester, Washington, Northern California, and Boston, to name a few - have their own pages, devoted to maintaining links, presenting news and reports about their respective communities, and opening the lines of communication in general. From professional high- bandwidth sites to simple text-based rudimentary once, we are unmistakably creating something special.
As a source for archival and dissemination of information, the World Wide Web is incomparable. People anywhere can view published books in an instant-for example, there is an entire explication of the Pratikraman ceremony on many different sites, including www.jainsamaj.org. Does Kansas have a Jain Center? Do you need to write to the president of the center in Central Florida? Get the information you need at www.jainsamaj.org Anything from Jain art and a richly descriptive history of the life Mahaveer to the sundry lists of tattvas, dravyas samitis, and vartas is easy to find on the World Wide Web, either by using a search engine or going to any of the pages listed here (they are all highly interconnected).
The value of the teaching resources on the web is priceless. For the center interested in beginning a Patshala program, a look at Northern California's or Boston's web site would be very beneficial. One can view the curriculum and see what students at different levels can be expected to learn with relative ease.
Discussion groups on the Internet foster discussion among a wide range of intellectuals. The young student and the erudite scholar alike can discuss modern issue as they pertain to Jain dharma on the Jain Discussion List www.jainsamaj.org This is an interesting group where all kind of topics are discussed: within the past week alone, the group discussed finding "fives" in Jainism, whether or not sex has positive karmic effects, and the principal of non-attachment as it relates to modern society. Every once in a while, someone contributes a gem from Jain history or philosophy. If you want to become a recipient and possible contributor to the discussions, E-Mail : firstname.lastname@example.org
In conclusion, the expanding presence of Jainism on the Internet is both beneficial and unavoidable. This new form of communication represents a great new hope for sustenance of Jain beliefs in the young generation. All can share the information and ideas that any one of us produces, and each temple should try their best to extend what already exists. We must embrace the new technologies, and we can look towards them to bridge our vast distance - to create a fuller wealth of teachings, images, and ideas for all of us to share.