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First Jain museum on a university campus

By Our Staff Reporter

VIJAYAWADA, MARCH 27. Acharya Nagarjuna University will be the first one in the country to have a Jain museum on its campus. The construction of the proposed museum would be undertaken as part of a memorandum of understanding (MoU) signed by the university with Sri Shankeshwar Parshawanath Giriraj Trust.

Addressing a press conference here on Saturday, the university Vice-Chancellor, L. Venugopal Reddy, said bhoomi puja for the museum would be performed in the early hours of Monday and the foundation stone would be laid at 10 am the same day. It is a nine-year-old trust with Sri Vijaya Nityananda Suriji at the helm of its affairs.

The museum building would come on a land of 2,000 square meters at an estimated cost of Rs. 35 lakhs and would be called the Atmavallabh Jain Museum-Centre for Comparative Religious Studies.

Mr. Reddy said the museum would house rare and valuable Jain antiques and one of its floors would have a library. Though not immediately, the trust had also assured the university of financial assistance for a research centre, he said.

Replying to a query, Mr. Reddy admitted that there were no takers for the courses offered at the Mahayana Budhist Study Centre, set up by the university a couple of years ago.

"There are not many takers among the students. But, I am confident that the proposed Jain museum will not meet a similar fate. Because, the region has a considerable number of Jains,'' he said. The Head of the department of History and Archaeology, Anuradha, expressed serious concern over smuggling of antique Jain sculptures. The university was unable to preserve these valuable possessions due to lack of space, she said, adding that construction of the museum would serve the purpose.

The idea of setting up a museum was conceived following a national seminar on `Jainism - Its Contribution to the Indian Culture', hosted by the university and sponsored by the Trust, last year.

"There was a huge response and as many as 40 scholars from different parts of the country presented their papers,'' said the secretary of the trust, Dharamchand Binayikiya.

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