Young, American-born Jains adapt ancient and ascetic Indian faith to modern US society

The ancient Indian religion of Jainism is based on such strong nonviolent beliefs that its most devout followers are vegetarians who brush insects from their path.

The teachings of the centuries-old religious philosophy inspired Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr.'s nonviolent protests.

Now, a generation of Jains coming of age in the U.S. are rethinking and reshaping their faith to adapt to life in 21st-century America.

Some have embraced veganism, while others have turned to social activism to fulfill Jain's call for nonviolence. Still more are trying to spread Jain's philosophy to non-Indians, including public school teachers.

The new Center for Jain Studies at Claremont Lincoln University addresses this trend with a conference this weekend on gender equality and upcoming workshops on Jain principles and corporate ethics.