By – Ankur Patel Director of Advancement
Dr. Madhu Sharma, a Hindu chaplain at Duke University, received her Doctor of Philosophy in Hinduism Degree from Hindu University of America, in front of friends, family, and community leaders from several Hindu organizations, at the North Carolina Hindu Society in Raleigh on September 28th, 2019. Her dissertation was titled “Spiritual Solutions for Anxiety in the Vedic Philosophy: Theories and Practices.”
Dr. Sharma’s family background, her social work experience and primarily her work with students as a Dharmic Advisor / Hindu Chaplain led her to do research in the area of Hinduism and its principles to better understand the human mind. She wanted to study the ancient scriptures – the Vedas and the Upanishads, so that she could better answer students’ questions. Dr. Sharma wanted to go back to the sources of Vedic knowledge rather than rely on interpretations and summaries derived from secondary sources. She was guided in her study by Dr. Shashi Tiwari, Visiting Faculty at Hindu University of America, herself a renowned Sanskrit scholar, who was honored personally by the President of India and retired recently as a professor from the University of Delhi, India. Dr. Mugdha Thakur and Dr. Harold Koenig, both eminent psychiatrists from Duke University also served on her advisory committee. Dr. Sharma studied a range of anxiety and other mental disorders facing us, and how to address those problems through Vedic principles and practices.
Dr. Madhu Sharma’s elderly parents attended the ceremony at the Hindu Mandir, which they had helped establish, and were proud of their daughter’s accomplishment. As Hindu parents, they had encouraged and helped Dr. Sharma develop a deep understanding and appreciation of Sanatana Dharma.
Earlier this year, Dr. Madhu Sharma, opened the North Carolina State Senate with a Hindu prayer. Morrisville Councilman Satish Garimella described it as “such a proud moment for the Indian American community in North Carolina to have one of our very own deliver a historic invocation on the Senate floor and I could not have thought of any better person than Madhu to deliver it”. (from India Abroad)
In her comments after receiving her PhD degree, Dr. Madhu Sharma, author of the book, ‘Dharmic Advisor, A Modern Way’, said that “after more than 4 years of studying, working and writing, earning her PhD from HUA helped her complete one part of her life journey at the age of 65 ”. Mr. Kalyan Viswanathan, Interim President of Hindu University of America, who traveled to Raleigh, North Carolina to participate in this award ceremony, acknowledged Dr. Madhu Sharma as a pioneer in the Hindu community, in her service as a Hindu Chaplain at Duke University, where she represents Hindu Dharma, to the student community. He expressed the hope that the award of the Ph.D. degree represented a new beginning, and Dr. Madhu Sharma will continue to share and represent Sanatana Dharma in her community and beyond and be a role model for the Hindu community for many years to come.
Dr. Sharma made a plea for a permanent Hindu Chaplain in the Research Triangle area campuses to support Hindu students through their university years and called on the area temple leaders to develop funding for a full-time chaplain position to support students at the major universities in the area. Mr. Kalyan Viswanathan emphasized the need for continuing and advanced degree education in Hindu Studies through the Hindu University of America and requested the area temple leaders to get more involved in advancing both the University as well as the relationship between Hindu Mandirs and the Hindu University.