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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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    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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Fireworks Might Extinguish the Flame of Laxmi Puja

We can have various kind of festival enjoyments on Festivals but without ever causing problem to others and the environment

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Fireworks
There is no mention in any corners of the voluminous scriptures of Fireworks blasting during a PUJAS that “upset” the harmony of peace and tranquility of others. Pixabay

BY SALIL GEWALI

If one wants to connect Hindu culture with the senseless bursting of crackers and boisterous fun then he is absolutely wrong. There is no mention in any corners of the voluminous scriptures of Fireworks blasting during a PUJAS that “upset” the harmony of peace and tranquility of others. To disturb others’ tranquility falls under the heading of vices. Preserving the sanctity of the environment, and more importantly, inner purity of mind and heart is the “prime doctrine” of SANATAN DHARMA which is popularly known as Hinduism. This Hindu culture now seemingly run the risk of having been defined by other communities with what is not very pleasant to hear.

Fireworks
It should not be misunderstood ever that Hinduism disapproves of all kinds of fun and frolic. No, it is never so.  We can have various kind of festival enjoyments but without ever causing problem to others and the environment without Using Fireworks.

I’ve overheard many toxic comments against this blatant desecration of auspicious “puja celebrations”. During Holi festival, many people fear to move out of their homes, particularly in certain the plane areas in India. You might be blasted with a bucketful of dirty water by pranksters from the 5th floor of the building. Is this sadism the part of the puja and holi celebration? One is afraid, with each passing year, this festival of color of joy, though having strong spiritual significance, has only painted the very face of Hindu culture with vulgarity and depravity.

Fireworks
If one wants to connect Hindu culture with the senseless bursting of crackers, Fireworks and boisterous fun then he is absolutely wrong.

Matter of fact, peace in one’s life and his efforts to help bring peace in others’ lives is essentially the fundamental basis of Hindu culture and festivals. Practically speaking, there is no devotion to God without “peace”.  Therefore, “Shanti” (peace) is one of the most paramount peace mantras in Sanskrit, not “Ashanti” which, of late, is the hallmark of such Hindu puja celebrations. The profound objective behind this peace mantra, as propounded in Upanishads, inspired even one of the greatest poets of the 20th Century – TS Eliot who underlined it with the purpose of life which he brought out in his epic poem – The Waste Land. That poem finally ends with the same peace mantra — Shanti, Shanti, Shanti.

Fireworks
TS Eliot who underlined it with the purpose of life which he brought out in his epic poem – The Waste Land.

It should not be misunderstood ever that Hinduism disapproves of all kinds of fun and frolic. No, it is never so.  We can have various kind of festival enjoyments but without ever causing problem to others and the environment. There are sufficient mentions of fun and frolic, merrymaking even in the spiritual activities — like Krishna LilaRam Lila…; and there exist endless nritya shashtras for healthy recreation. But they all are within the “purview of Dharma”. Ancient sages in their meditation conceived and authored a number of treatises in which we find the elaborate approaches and procedures to evolve oneself spiritually through fun-filled dances and music. There are “ragas and layas” (musical modes and rhythm), which are meant to “recharge” the mind for the meditative concentrationThe objective behind being to climb up the ladders of realization of oneness and universal uniformity.

Fireworks
There are sufficient mentions of fun and frolic, merrymaking even in the spiritual activities — like Krishna Lila, Ram Lila…; and there exist endless nritya shashtras for healthy recreation and not Fireworks. But they all are within the “purview of Dharma”.

However, there is absolutely no scope or prescription for deriving pleasure or fun by causing pain and anxieties to others? How come bursting high decibel fireworks at 2 AM or 3 AM or 4 AM is puja? In fact, it is called “adharma” or irreligion leading to self-degeneration.

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Therefore, it is DIYA, as per Vedas, which symbolizes the LIGHT to dispel the darkness of ignorance, the darkness of vices, and bring forth the light of knowledge to awake the “inherent” divinity. Goddess Laxmi is the “flame” of feminine ENERGY in the infinite cosmic creation. So, indulging in earsplitting fireworks and causing continuous problem to HER creatures, and HER environment, is totally against the fundamental principle of the devotion in Hinduism. Very sadly, with the blasting of the fireworks in the name of Goddess Laxmi we have invariably set off the tank of vices alone.

Salil Gewali is a well-Known Writer and Author of ‘Great Minds on India’. Twitter: @SGewali