The Georgetown University recently became the first college in the US to hire Mr. Brahmachari Vrajvihari Sharan, a Hindu priest, as a full-time campus chaplain. The move is being considered as an intriguing one for a Jesuit school rooted in the Catholic tradition.
Sharan, 31, has attained several religious trainings as well as an advanced education. In addition to training in India to become a priest, Sharan holds a doctorate in Sanskrit. He was trained as a priest in India before receiving his PhD in Sanskrit at the University of Edinburgh.
He has also taught in the UK and advises over 20 temples across the globe and has previously served as "honorary Hindu chaplain" at the University of Edinburgh. His hiring comes after a felt need at the university, as 300 Hindu students are currently enrolled in graduate and undergraduate programs at the university.
As the first Hindu priest to serve in the role of chaplain at any university in the United States, Sharan wore a traditional white garb as he chanted Sanskrit mantras and played the harmonium as he led the service on campus in Washington, D.C, during his first day in office. Sharan said Georgetown’s decision to hire him as a full-time chaplain and Director for Hindu Life was revealing of the university’s values. On his experience, Sharan says, “Our Catholic friends will ask, ‘Why do you have so many gods? Why do they have so many arms? Why, why, why?.....It feels like you have to be an ambassador for your entire religion. We want to make sure you have some knowledge”.