Starting 2 October: Lecture Series – Dialogues in European Jain Studies

We are proud and excited to present this online lecture series which illuminates the diverse and innovative research work being done on Jainism and Jains. Each session consists of two thematically linked presentations, and is presided over by an expert on the subject. We hope this set-up will generate conversations, fruitful discussions, and plans for further collaboration between scholars in different parts of Europe and the world.

Dialogues is a collaboration between Ghent University, University of Birmingham, and Arihanta Institute.

Lectures take place on the first Monday of the month, at 4pm GMT / 5pm CET

More info and registration at:



Introduction to the session by Heleen De Jonckheere (SOAS, London)

Corinna May Lhoir (Universität Hamburg)

Empowering Vernacular Identity: Exploring Srimad Rajchandra’s Impact on the Significance of Gujarati in Forming a Religious Community

Corinne Smith (SOAS, London)

Adhyātma in Gujarat: Some Comparative Remarks on Śrīmad Rājacandra and Kānjī Svāmī



Introduction by Eva de Clercq (Ghent University)

Simon Winant (Ghent University)

Invitation to Bhīma’s Beheading and Quenched Fire: Strategies of Suspense in Devaprabhasūri’s Jain Mahābhārata Adaptation

Heleen De Jonckheere (SOAS, London)

The Absurd and the Grotesque in the Dharmaparīkṣā: a Taste of Embodied Humour



Introduction by Johannes Beltz (Museum Rietberg)

Jérôme Petit (Bibliothèque Nationale de France)

Jain manuscripts in Paris

Adrian Plau (Wellcome Collection)

Jain Manuscripts at Wellcome Collection: Overview, Issues, Future



Introduction by Jayendra Soni (Universität Innsbruck)

Jinesh Sheth (University of Mumbai, University of Birmingham)

Can an Anekāntavādin Disagree?

Małgorzata Glinicka (Instytutu Kultur Śródziemnomorskich i Orientalnych Polskiej Akademii Nauk)

Language and Cognition in Anantavīrya’s Thought



Introduction by Atul Shah (City, University of London)

Melanie Barbato (Westfälische Wilhelms-Universität Münster)

Food Security – An Issue for Practical Jain Studies

Claire Maes (Universität Tübingen)

The Impact of Globalization and Secularization on Traditional Practices in India: The Case of Sallekhanā



Introduction by Mehool Sanghrajka (Institute of Jainology; Learning Possibilities)

Samani Pratibha Pragya (SOAS, Florida International University)

Bindi Shah (University of Southampton)


MAY 6, 2024 – THE FUTURE OF JAIN STUDIES – Roundtable

5 October: Annual Lecture – Beyond Life’s End by Claire Maes

This year’s Ācārya Mahāprajña Annual Lecture will be held on Thursday 5 October, from 4:30 pm. It will take place in the Faculty Board Room (Blandijnberg 2), but will also be accessible online (see below for registration).

Our speaker Prof. Dr. Claire Maes (University of Tübingen) will discuss the age-old Jain practice of sallekhanā (a form of end-of-life fasting) in light of contemporary medical and legal frameworks.

















Beyond Life’s End: Towards an Ethical Evaluation of the Jain Practice of Fasting to Death

In this lecture, I make an ethical argument to consider the Jain practice of fasting to death (known as sallekhanā) as different from suicide. To this end, I bring the Jain fast into conversation with the practice of ‘Voluntarily Stopping of Eating and Drinking’ (VSED), an end-of-life option, available in various countries for competent adults, to hasten the end of life by consciously choosing to not eat and drink. From a medical and legal point of view sallekhanā can be considered a form of VSED. Although differing in terms of intent and historical context, the two practices are similar insofar that they relate to capable and sound individuals who voluntarily forego food and water until death. Showing the critical similarity between VSED and sallekhanā, I argue that the grounds put forward by major medical associations and legal societies to differentiate VSED from suicide are equally applicable to the case of sallekhanā. I contend that the Jain fast needs to be disentangled from the concept of suicide based on the quality of intent, but also because the process is, in theory and for some time at least, reversible, supported by loved ones and members of the larger Jain community, and dependent on the individual’s continuous and prolonged will of renouncing food and water. I also show how medical and legal authorities defend an individual’s right to VSED based on the principles of self-determination, bodily integrity, self-ownership, and respect for persons. I put forward the view to take these ethical principles into account to legally protect a Jain’s right to take the vow of sallekhanā.



Claire Maes studied Indian Languages and Cultures at Ghent University, Belgium, and Indian Philosophy at the University of Mysore in India. She earned her Ph.D. degree in 2015 from Ghent University with a dissertation that examines the influence of Jain thought and practice on the Buddhist monastic community in early India. Soon after, she joined the University of Texas at Austin where she worked for several years at the Asian Studies Department, first as a postdoctoral fellow of The Robert H. N. Ho Family Foundation Program in Buddhist Studies, and subsequently as a Sanskrit lecturer. Since September 2021, she is an assistant professor at the Department of Indology at the University of Tübingen, Germany. Her principal research topics are the Jain understandings of what constitutes a good death and the development of the Buddhist monastic community in ancient India.



Register for on-campus attendance:

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This event will be followed by a small reception.