Oxford's Hindu Chaplaincy

Oxford’s Hindu Chaplaincy aims to serve the needs of Hindu and Jain students and staff of the University. We aim to give the students people to walk alongside when, or if, they are going through dark periods, struggle and grief. We work to ensure that everyone’s wellbeing – physical, mental, emotional as well as spiritual – is looked after and nurtured during what can be an uncertain time. You do not have to be in spiritual crisis to meet with the Oxford’s Hindu Chaplaincy’s chaplain, Shaunaka Rishi Das. He, as well as the rest of the Oxford’s Hindu Chaplaincy, are  practiced listeners and have a wealth of experience in supporting people through relationship, work and study difficulties, spiritual and vocational issues.  If we are unable to help, we often know who can. The Chaplaincy is involved in care, advice, advocacy, celebration, and education. 

The Oxford’s Hindu Chaplaincy work to support wellbeing and resilience for students and staff, including offering pastoral listening and prayer, and offer opportunities for relaxation and refreshment throughout the academic year.

Working with the Hindu Student Society (HUM), we host bhajans and puja each week during term. We also hold a weekly Bhagavad-gita study group. Kirtan (chanting) is offered each month. In this way the OCHS turns in to a pop up temple that offers the students a place to practice their religious rituals. We also host the celebration of festivals which fall during term time, often including Ramnavami, Shivratri, and Diwali. We welcome volunteers (sevaks) each year to help organise these festivals and every year we are blessed with a tidy amount who help organise every bit, from the singers and instruments to decorations and food. Everyone is involved in some way. These people are the driving force behind the festivals and we are thankful for their contribution.

The Oxford’s Hindu Chaplaincy offer:

  • A calm creative space at the centre of the University.
  • Opportunities for personal and spiritual development.
  • Exploration of values: personal, social and environmental. 
  • Worship facilities and belief contacts.
  • Meals, conversations and festivals.
  • Volunteering opportunities.
  • Meeting spaces for societies and religion & belief groups.
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The History of Oxford's Hindu Chaplaincy

Ever since the foundation of the Oxford Centre for Hindu Studies, young students at the Oxford University with a Hindu or Jain ethnicity have come to the centre seeking help and understanding in a world often far away from their home, family and friends. As many of them said, there was a sign on the door reading “Hindu”, a word that promised familiarity and like-minded people, which was an appreciated breather from their new and often challenging lives at the University. The centre welcomed everyone who asked for help and assisted them with everything from dealing with homesickness,  their studies, and personal problems while treating them with a delicious familiar meal at the centre.

In 2009, Hindu and Jain students at the University of Oxford asked Shaunaka if he would be interested in being their chaplain which he gladly accepted. It was the students who took on the task of promoting the new initiative. This was the official beginning of the Oxford Hindu Chaplaincy at OCHS – an autonomous initiative which is of service to all Hindu and Jain students at the University of Oxford.

The Oxford Hindu Chaplaincy at OCHS has been involved in many initiatives during the years. In 2018 they, in partnership with students who approached the Centre, formed a Hindu environment working group and a Hindu leadership working group and in 2019, the OCHS held a series of seminars on Hindu Chaplaincy, celebrated Diwali at St Edmunds Hall, gave a talk at Katharine House Hospice about Hinduism and palliative care and led a series of meditations at Jesus College.

The Chaplain

Shaunaka rishi das

Many students face cultural and spiritual challenges as they journey through University. The Hindu Chaplaincy offers a safe place where students can talk about their concerns and needs. It is a place with a sympathetic ethos, both to the student and to the traditions which make up Hinduism. Shaunaka Das cares for all Hindu and Jain students and the Hindu Chaplaincy is to be seen as a sanctuary for the students’ spirituality.

Shaunaka Rishi Das serves as the Hindu Chaplain and also serves local hospitals in the same capacity. He regularly meets with students and patients on a wide variety of personal matters as well as academic. He is available by email at shaunaka@ochs.org.uk, and by phone and on Whatsapp at 07766488583.

A Hindu Chaplaincy course

In 2015, The Free University of Amsterdam provided funding to the OCHS to produce a Hindu Chaplaincy course. This is to supplement their Masters Chaplaincy course with an option for the OCHS to present a standalone course as well. The course was designed and written by Dr Nick Sutton and Anuradha Dooney, who were employed by the Free University for a half-year, with Vineet Chander, Princeton University’s Hindu chaplain providing a peer review. In 2016 the course notes were prepared by Dr Nick Sutton, Vineet Chander (Princeton), and Shaunaka Rishi Das.

In 2017 OCHS, in collaboration with Free University of Amsterdam, launched a Hindu Chaplaincy guidebook which is also available on Amazon. The OCHS is still working with the Free University of Amsterdam where Shaunaka Rishi Das is a Visiting Professor teaching a course on Chaplaincy.,

Chaplaincy events