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First batch of graduates in post-academic Hindu spiritual care

30 June 2022
On Friday, June 24, 2022, the five Hindu chaplains (see photo) received their certificate of the post-academic Hindu spiritual care training at the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam (VU). With this first batch of graduates, this is not only a milestone but a long cherished wish that comes true for the Hindu community. Before this, there was no possibility for Hindus to develop into Hindu chaplains at an academic level. This led to the fact that in some cases the Hindu person seeking help with existential and life-related questions that arose was not optimally guided.

With the arrival of VU professor Sharda Nandram in 2019, VU Amsterdam has offered room to fill this gap. A two-year postgraduate spiritual care programme has been designed. In addition to the knowledge of the VU supervisors Nandram and Bindlish, many other specialists from the Netherlands, India, the United Kingdom and the United States have contributed to the training.

Ancient Hindu techniques 
In the past two years, the students have not only been engaged in translating ancient Hindu techniques and philosophies into the contemporary Dutch context, but have also approached integrated Hindu approaches, such as yoga and meditation, from the original sources. This is an attempt to bring authenticity to the Hindu concepts that are sometimes misapplied in the West.

VU professor Ruard Ganzevoort and Dean of the Faculty of Religion and Theology calls on the graduates to take responsibility in shaping the profession of spiritual care from the specific contribution of Hindu spiritual care: "Look for the connection with fellow chaplains of Buddhism, Islam, Christianity, Judaism, humanists and those who also practice the profession in an undefined philosophical way and in  togetherness guide people in that which touches them deeply, what is sacred to them and what drives them."

The Hindu chaplains can be called in to deal with clients in hospitals, nursing and elderly homes, detention and defense deployment. People are confronted with deeper life questions in these moments. Spiritual care is care for people with life questions such as: "What am I doing it for?"; "who am I?"; "what's the right thing to do?" Life questions have to do with the spirituality, philosophy of life, inspiration and values of the person seeking help. The postgraduate ministerial training to become a Hindu chaplain provides input for such questions based on Hindu philosophies, traditions, scriptures, beliefs and techniques. 
Chairman of the Hindu Council of the Netherlands, mrs. Datadin, expresses her gratitude to the government for the financing of the programme, to VU Amsterdam for the place and facilities and to the lecturers who have worked with heart and soul on this. Datadin: "With this programme, a long-cherished dream of the Hindu Council has been realised and it is a special moment, because this is the first batch of graduates."