Dr. Pankaj Jain is an Associate Professor of Philosophy and Religion at the University of North Texas. He is co-director of the Rural Sustainability Summit and co-leader of the India Initiatives group. In addition to numerous articles, Dr. Jain is author of Dharma and Ecology of Hindu Communities: Sustenance and Sustainability (2011).
His affiliate research included an investigation of the religious and ecological practices of Hindus and Jains in North Texas. At the time of that research, he wrote:
The last few years have witnessed a rapid rise in South Asian communities in North Texas and the rest of the USA. In the Dallas-Fort Worth (DFW) area, 13.5% of residents come from Asian countries with diverse religious and linguistic backgrounds. I intend to conduct an ethnographic survey of the Hindu and Jain religious organizations and the socio-religious and ecological practices of one specific temple in DFW area as outlined in the diagram.
In line with UNT’s focus on interdisciplinarity, this project aimed to combine the disciplines of philosophy and religion studies and applied anthropology. As the worldviews of a community towards the environment are greatly influenced by its religious traditions, Dr. Jain’s project explored the connections between the religious traditions of local Hindus and Jains and their environmental practices. In addition to providing a detailed ethnographic survey of local Hindu and Jain temples, he intended to also help these organizations become more environmentally sustainable, informed by my study of the carbon footprint and energy usage at the temple sites. Dr. Jain leveraged existing collaborations with NGOs, such as GreenFaith, who are eager to provide their “green” technologies and services to the places of worship in DFW and beyond.
One of the major emphases within the UNT’s research clusters is sustainability. Dr. Jain’s project aimed to develop a bridge between UNT and DFW’s South Asian Community to capitalize on this relationship to foster their sustainable practices. He also collaborated with the Office of Sustainability for this project.
- Initial Study: Dr. Jain started by visiting and networking with local Hindu and Jain leaders at the BAPS Temple (Irving), ISKCON Temple (Dallas), DFW Hindu Temple (Irving), DFW Jain Temple (Dallas), Ramakrishna Vedanta Society (Irving), Hindu Temple (Flower Mound), Swadhyaya Parivar (Coppell), and Dallas Yoga Center.
- Comprehensive Map: To prepare a detailed map of Hindu and Jain temples in the DFW area.
- Demographic synopsis: To prepare a detailed profile of each temple in the area. This will include a brief history of each temple – dates of inauguration, land details, construction and architecture details, and congregation statistics. This synopsis will also be a contribution to the Pluralism Project’s national database.
- Case study: To select one site to test and apply “green” technologies. Based on my initial observations and site-visits, I am considering a temple in Irving as my initial case-study site to begin researching their sustainability practices in June 2011. This temple is one of the most frequently visited temples in DFW area by Hindus and will be a good model for work with other temples.
Selected Links and Publications
- Book: Dharma and Ecology of Hindu Communities: Sustenance and Sustainability (2011)
- Center Profiles (researched by student affiliates Heidi Bamberg and Michael Giulietti)
- Amma Dallas Satsang
- Amma Houston
- Art of Living Foundation
- Arya Pratinidhi Sabha America
- Austin Hindu Temple & Community Center
- BAPS Mandir of Dallas
- BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir
- Brahma Kumaris
- Chinmaya Mission
- Chinmaya Mission Austin
- Chinmaya Mission Houston
- Dallas-Fort Worth Hindu Temple Society
- Dallas-Fort Worth Self Realization Fellowship
- Flower Mound Hindu Temple
- Gurdwara Sahib of SW Houston
- Gurdwara Singh Sabha of North Texas
- Hare Krishna Dham
- Hindu American Seva Charities
- Hindu Association of West Texas
- Hindu Student Association
- Hindu Temple of Central Texas
- Hindu Temple of Greater Fort Worth
- Hindu Temple of San Antonio
- Hindu Temple of The Woodlands
- Hindu Worship Society Temple
- Houston Sikhs
- Irving Gurdwara
- Jain Society of Houston
- Jain Society of North Texas
- Jain Vishwa Bharati
- Kalachandji’s Hare Krishna Temple in Dallas
- Karya Siddhi Hanuman Temple
- Kerala Hindu Society of North Texas
- Lalitha Peetham
- Meenakshi Temple Society
- North Texas Hindu Mandir
- Patanjali Yogpeeth (USA) Trust
- Radha Madhav Dham
- Ramakrishna Vedanta Society of North Texas
- Sai Austin Temple
- Sambasiva Sarma Chintapalli
- Sanatan Hindu Center
- Siddhayatan Tirth
- Shirdi Sai Center of Texas
- Shree Swaminarayan Satsang Mandal
- Shri Omkarnath Temple
- Shri Ram Mandir
- Sikh Center Houston
- South Texas Hindu Society
- Sri Ganesha Temple
- Sri Shirdi Sai Baba Temple of DFW Metroplex
- Sri Vallabh Priti Seva Samaj
- Vedanta Society of Greater Houston
- Vishwa Hindu Parishad of America, Inc.