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Jain wins national award for study of Indian eco-activism

Dr. Pankaj Jain, DANA book prize recipient and Assistant Professor of Philosophy and Religion StudiesPankaj Jain, right, assistant professor in the Department of Philosophy and Religion Studies and in the Department of Anthropology, received the annual DANAM-TakshaShila Book Award for excellence in Indic Studies.

The award was presented at the recent Dharma Academy of North America (DANAM) conference held in Chicago in conjunction with the American Academy of Religion Conference. DANAM has become the largest meeting at the American Academy of Religion, with more than 350 scholarly papers presented each year.

The award is for his book, Dharma and Ecology of Hindu Communities: Sustenance and Sustainability. The book is additionally recognized with The Rajinder and Jyoti Gandhi Book Award for excellence in critical constructive reflection in Dharma traditions.

Jain also is Eco-Dharma project director at the Hindu American Seva Center

In reviewing the book, Christopher Chapple, DANAM advisory board member and professor of Indic and Comparative Theology at Loyola Marymount University, said that Jain has created a pioneering work in the important and newly emerging field of religion and ecology.
The book presents research on three communities in India that practice unique forms of environmental activism. The book begins with an analysis of conceptual approaches to religious environmentalism in India, including devotional and ascetic models. The book examines three vital communities in different regions of India: the Svadhyaya movement, the Bishnoi community and the lifestyle of the Bhil tribal community.
The book suggests that the flexibility of the Indic ethos of dharma lends itself to providing tools to cope with impending ecological challenges. By spending time with each of these communities, by recording detailed interviews, and by translating core documents for the Bishnoi and the Svadhyayis, Chapple said that Jain has done a great deal to advance knowledge of indigenous ecological knowledge systems in India.

The book was also chosen for the Uberoi Foundation Book Award in 2011 and has received appreciative reviews in the Journal of Asian Studies, Journal of Dharma Studies, Environmental Values, International Journal of Hindu Studies, Oxford Journal of Hindu Studies, Philosophy East & West, Religious Studies Review, Sophia, Journal for the Study of Religion, Nature & Culture, Worldviews: Global Religions, Culture, & Ecology, and in Asia Times.

Posted on: Tue 26 February 2013

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