2 June 2021
Jaina Studies has lost one of its most celebrated scholars, Padmanabh S. Jaini, Emeritus Professor of UC Berkeley, who was closely linked with SOAS.
In 1956 Jaini was invited by John Brough to join the SOAS Department of Indian Languages and Literature, where he served for eleven years as Lecturer in Pali, PhD candidate, and Reader in Pali and Buddhist Hybrid Sanskrit. In 1967 Jaini accepted an invitation to join the University of Michigan as a Full Professor in Sanskrit to teach courses in Buddhism. In 1972 he accepted yet another invitation and joined the new Buddhist Studies programme at Berkeley, where he stayed until his retirement.
Professor Jaini was born into a Digambara Jaina family in coastal Karnataka and published many original works in Buddhist and Jaina Studies. In addition to a great number of celebrated text editions such as the Abhidharmadīpa with Vibhāshāprabhāvrịtti of 1959 or the Laghutattvasphoṭa of Amṛtacandrasūri of 1978 and numerous research papers two of his books became standard textbooks, The Jaina Path of Purification of 1979 and Gender and Salvation of 1991.
Professor Jaini was Associate Member of the SOAS Centre of Jaina Studies, and remained one its principal supporters. His last major work, Coincidences (Yogāyoga): Memoirs of Padmanabh S. Jaini of 2019 is more than an autobiography. It relates in great detail almost everything that needs to be remembered about this great scholar and human being and of the social contexts and chance encounters that shaped his life and work.
Tribute by Professor Peter Flügel