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Georgetown University in US appoints a Hindu Priest as First Director for Department of Hindu Life

Brahmachari Sharan has been serving as a senior monk at Shri Golok Dham Ashram in India since 2003

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  • Brahmachari Sharan was earlier an honorary Hindu Chaplain at University of Edinburgh since 2010
  • Mr. Sharan has been serving as a senior monk at Shri Golok Dham Ashram in India since 2003
  • In November 2015, Pratima Sharam was appointed as the first Hindu chaplain who resigned after three months of service

August 10, 2016: A Hindu Indian has been appointed as the first director at Georgetown University in USA, for the department of Hindu Life. Due to an increasing number of Hindu students in the university, Brahmachari Vrajvihari Sharan has also been given the recognition of the first Hindu Chaplain of the United States.

Brahmachari Sharan was earlier an honorary Hindu Chaplain at the University of Edinburgh, since 2010. He will now serve as chaplain-in-residence at Georgetown’s, also as a priest in residence to students from New South Hall, reported ndtv.com. The university, established in 1789, is open to all students regardless of their caste and creed.

“I am pleased to announce the appointment of Brahmachari Vrajvihari Sharan as Georgetown’s first full-time Director for Hindu Life and the first Hindu priest chaplain in the United States,” Rev Howard Gray, Interim Vice President for Mission and Ministry at the university said to ndtv.com.

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Georgetown University Logo. Image source: www.georgetown.edu
Georgetown University Logo. Image source: www.georgetown.edu

Brahmachari Sharan was appointed by the University because of his bond with the students on the basis of religious vibrancy, keeping in mind that there are around 400 Hindu students and professors in the university.

Mr. Sharan has been serving as a senior monk at Shri Golok Dham Ashram in India since 2003. He has also acquired official training for rituals at Vishwanath Sanyaas Ashram (in Varanasi and Delhi, India). A doctorate holder in Sanskrit himself, Sharan taught the subject of Asian Religions at Wales’ Cardiff University. Besides that, he has also served as a senior teacher at the University of London.

According to the ndtv.com reports, Georgetown University has also had a Hindu chaplain in the past. In November 2015, Pratima Sharam was appointed as the first Hindu chaplain who resigned after three months of service. “I am pleased to announce the appointment of Brahmachari Vrajvihari Sharan as Georgetown’s first full-time Director for Hindu Life and the first Hindu priest chaplain in the United States,” said Rev Howard Gray, Interim Vice President for Mission and Ministry at the university.

“I look forward to meeting each one of you wonderful, dynamic students when you return. In the meantime feel free to message me with any questions, or just say hi! If you’re already on campus,” said Sharan while addressing his students.

– prepared by Chetna Karnani, at NewsGram. Twitter: @karnani_chetna

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  • Kabir Chaudhary

    Georgetown University’s decision to appoint Brahmachari Sharan as the director for the Department on Hindu life is an honour, that no international university has ever given to a hindu scholar.

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Shankaracharya: A remarkable genius that Hinduism produced (Book Review)

The irony is that most leading scientists, particularly outside India but also within, have little knowledge of the structure of Shankara's philosophy and the transparent interface it has with scientific discoveries today.

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He was greatly influenced by three basic texts of Hindu philosophy: Upanishads, the Brahma Sutra and the Bhagavad Gita
He was greatly influenced by three basic texts of Hindu philosophy: Upanishads, the Brahma Sutra and the Bhagavad Gita.

Title: Adi Shankaracharya: Hinduism’s Greatest Thinker; Author: Pavan K. Varma; Publisher: Tranquebar Press; Pages: 364; Price: Rs 699

This must be one of the greatest tributes ever paid to Shankaracharya, the quintessential “paramarthachintakh”, who wished to search for the ultimate truths behind the mysteries of the universe. His genius lay in building a complete and original philosophical edifice upon the foundational wisdom of the Upanishads.

A gifted writer, Pavan Varma, diplomat-turned-politician and author of several books including one on Lord Krishna, takes us through Shankara’s short but eventful span of life during which, from having been born in what is present-day Kerala, he made unparalleled contributions to Hindu religion that encompassed the entire country. Hinduism has not seen a thinker of his calibre and one with such indefatigable energy, before or since.

Shankara’s real contribution was to cull out a rigorous system of philosophy that was based on the essential thrust of Upanishadic thought but without being constrained by its unstructured presentation and contradictory meanderings.

He was greatly influenced by three basic texts of Hindu philosophy: Upanishads, the Brahma Sutra and the Bhagavad Gita. He wrote extensive and definitive commentaries on each of them. Of course, the importance he gave to the Mother Goddess, in the form of Shakti or Devi, can be traced to his own attachment to his mother whom he left when he set off, at a young age, in search of a guru and higher learning.

The irony is that most leading scientists, particularly outside India but also within, have little knowledge of the structure of Shankara's philosophy and the transparent interface it has with scientific discoveries today.
Shankara wrote hymns in praise of many deities but his personal preference was the worship of the Mother Goddess.

Against all odds, Shankara created institutions for the preservation and propagation of Vedantic philosophy. He established “mathas” with the specific aim of creating institutions that would develop and project the Advaita doctrine. He spoke against both caste discriminations and social inequality, at a time when large sections of conservative Hindu opinion thought otherwise.

Shankara was both the absolutist Vedantin, uncompromising in his belief in the non-dual Brahman, and a great synthesiser, willing to assimilate within his theoretical canvas several key elements of other schools of philosophy. He revived and restored Hinduism both as a philosophy and a religion that appealed to its followers.

Also Read: Hinduism: The Nine Basic Beliefs that you need to know

Varma rightly says that it must have required great courage of conviction as well as deep spiritual and philosophical insight for Shankaracharya to build on the insights of the Upanishads a structure of thought, over a millennium ago, that saw the universe and our own lives within it with a clairvoyance that is being so amazingly endorsed by science today. The irony is that most leading scientists, particularly outside India but also within, have little knowledge of the structure of Shankara’s philosophy and the transparent interface it has with scientific discoveries today.

Shankara wrote hymns in praise of many deities but his personal preference was the worship of the Mother Goddess. The added value of the book is that it has, in English, a great deal of Shankara’s writings. Unfortunately, most Hindus today are often largely uninformed about the remarkable philosophical foundations of their religion. They are, the author points out, deliberately choosing the shell for the great treasure that lies within. This is indeed a rich book. (IANS)