Shradha is a second year Master's of Divinity student and an awardee of the 2022 International Ministry Study Grant program.
Description of your academic interests and field of study
I am interested in the philosophical and sociological conditions that award agency, or the ability to feel agentive, to religious actors within South Asian traditions. I am specifically curious about the Jain and Buddhist traditions.
Description of what you’ll be doing on this fellowship
I will be investigating a recent increase in youth initiation into Jain monastic orders in India. According to local scholars, there were hardly 10-15 initiations per year until recently. In 2020 and 2021 the numbers went up to 250 and 400 initiations respectively. I am curious to understand where this uptick is coming from. I will spend time with two monastic orders, first in rural Rajasthan and then in the metropolitan city of Mumbai. Monasticism is a rejection of our consumer culture. Disenchanted and jaded from the institutions and injustices around us, a life of such rejection can seem enticing. Through this experience, I hope to learn from monastics, what brought them to initiate. I hope learn from their day-to-day practices, interview them, and map out the structures that are at play within the orders. I’m curious to learn how they organize themselves, what are their responsibilities? How is leadership picked? What are the internal politics of the organization? And most importantly, what do young monks see their role and responsibilities to be?