Meeting with Hindu Fellows at Harvard Center for the Study of World Religions
Prof. Mahulikar spent two days at Harvard University, one of the oldest and grandest universities in the world. Prof. Francis Clooney of the Harvard Center for the Study of World Religions (part of the Harvard Divinity School) had visited CVV campus in August, and Mahulikar wished to visit his department in return. Recently a Fellowship Grant was given to Harvard Divinity School, under Prof. Clooney’s direction, to establish a one-year Hindu Fellows program, with three students, Brni Shwetaji of Chinmaya Mission Houston, Swami Sarvapriyanandaji of Ramakrishna Mission New York, and Akshar ji of BAPS, Swaminarayan Sampradaya.
On Monday, September 9, Prof Mahulikar met with Prof Clooney and the Hindu Fellows and a few other students of Theology. The founders of the Grant, Vibhu and Ajit Nagral, were also present for the discussions on Advaita and CVV. One graduate student, Malini Shrikrishna, a passionate student of theology, was keen on continuing the conversation on Advaita and created a WhatsApp group called Advaitha Group HDS (Harvard Divinity School), and she hopes to spend a semester at CVV. The topic of Study Abroad at CVV was raised. Prof. Clooney suggested that CVV develop its program of study for a few years and get a brand name before approaching Harvard students to visit.
Visit to Harvard’s Widener Library South and Southeast Asian Collection
On September 9th, Prof Mahulikar, accompanied by Shashiji Dwaraknath and Ajitha, visited the Harvard Widener Library. Prof Mahulikar visited the Periodicals section and was able to search for Sanskrit manuscripts and see the digitized folios as well. She went to another section to see the Sanskrit collection, but the temporary library card given to visiting scholars did not give entry to the stacks of actual books.
Fortunately, when Prof. Clooney heard about her difficulty in accessing the Sanskrit texts, he connected Prof Mahulikar with librarian Richard Lesage (works with Tamil, Telugu and Hindi works), who took Prof. Mahulikar and Shashiji around the library, explaining how the library is set up, and took them to the stacks as well as underground levels where restoration and preservation of torn books is carried out. Dr. Lesage’s wife Rhea also works in the Greek section of the library. Prof Mahulikar was really happy to see the huge collection of Sanskrit books at Harvard, nicely kept and preserved.
Meeting with Harvard Dharma group (Hindu Students’ Association)
The Harvard Dharma Hindu students association invited Prof Mahulikar to attend their annual Ganesh Puja and address the students. On Tuesday, Sept. 10 afternoon, Prof Mahulikar went to the Dharma Prayer Space in Cannady Hall B wing basement to address the Hindu students of Harvard Dharma group. Siva Emani, the group’s Worship Chair, coordinated Prof Mahulikar’s visit and talk on Ganapati. Before the actual talk started at 5 pm, she had some informal conversations with the students who were doing graduation in Economics, Micro-biology, Neuroscience, Physics, etc. and told them about CVV and its Study Abroad and other programs. Then Prof Mahulikar gave a talk on “Vedic Brhaspati to Ganapati: a meaningful transition.” Since these students had no background of Sanskrit, it was a very casual discussion-type talk. It was good to see more than 30 students gathered there for Ganesha Puja. Prof Mahulikar told them about the minor courses offered in CVV and urged them to visit the CVV website for details.