Finding Collaboration and Community in Dharmic Life

By Maya Mohosin (C’27)

Sanchi Rohira and other students in the Dharmic Meditation Center

Sanchi Rohira (SFS’24) (fourth from left) with fellow Hoyas in the Dharmic Meditation Center.

Having grown up in Frederick, MD, and Mumbai, India, Sanchi Rohira (SFS’24) always felt at a crossroads with her spirituality. Coming from a family of Sindhi Indians, she felt her spiritual background was incredibly syncretic, holding elements of Hinduism and Sikhism. Despite the deep history in her identity, she didn’t expect to become involved in Dharmic Life. 

Before arriving at the Hilltop, Sanchi had never attended formalized spiritual service. But when she joined Guzaarish, Georgetown’s competitive Bollywood fusion dance team, in her freshman year, she began attending Sunday Āratī with the other members because she wanted to see what a Dharmic gathering space at a Jesuit university would look like. Acharya Sharan, the former director of Dharmic Life shared a message of spirituality, inclusivity, and compassion that struck a chord in her. Rather than any specific doctrine or set of rigid rules and guidelines, he focused on helping students understand the vision of Dharma.

Sanchi Rohira and a fellow student at the Diwali celebrations

(right to left) Ashwin Ramaswami (L’24) and Sanchi Rohira (SFS’24) celebrating Diwali.

Being at Dharmic Life has taught Sanchi so much about spirituality but more importantly, helped her unlearn so many of the misconceptions and myths that she grew up with. Being a Dharmic person is more than strictly following a religion or a set of binary rules in the way Western, colonial perspectives have defined Dharma. Rather, it’s utilizing the tools and practices Dharma provides to cope with and manage cycles of joy and suffering in one’s daily life through spiritual practice. Through the lens of compassion and continuous improvement, Sanchi has been able to wash away the inaccurate conception of Dharma that she, like many people, had grown up with and found useful resources to ground herself when going through life’s challenges. 

Beyond her spiritual journey of Dharmic practices, she has also been awarded a unique opportunity to improve her understanding of other faiths. This year, as Georgetown has searched for a new director for Dharmic Life, Sanchi took on the role of coordinating Dharmic Life programs and the challenge of fostering an inclusive, spiritually empowering chaplaincy that connected students of varying Dharmic traditions. 

By connecting with student leaders of other faith backgrounds, Sanchi has been able to ask them questions about the challenges she herself faced and develop meaningful friendships and a deeper interfaith understanding in the process. During last semester’s interfaith leadership retreat, a group of students held a late-night impromptu meeting at the mountain house. Students from Jewish Student Association (JSA) and Muslim Student Association (MSA) shared their own experiences navigating challenges within their own organizations and communities and Sanchi learned a lot from how they managed similar challenges of fundraising, staffing, and other logistical problems. It was the kind of collaborative experience Georgetown strives to foster among interfaith communities.

Sanchi Rohira and other students in Dahlgren Quad

Sanchi Rohira (SFS’24) and fellow students in Dahlgren Quad after the weekly Prayer for Peace and Justice.

She is eager to take the skills she has learned in assisting with managing Dharmic Life and working in interfaith environments into her career. After graduation, Sanchi hopes to work on a political campaign and integrate her experience in political organizing with immigration and policy, and perhaps potentially attend law school one day. 

While the community is currently awaiting the arrival of the new director, Sanchi hopes everyone, no matter where they are on their spiritual journey, finds comfort in Dharma and its teaching. She says, “When you need it, you can come find it and it’s here for you.” 

Dharmic Life’s existence in itself is a promise for a new vision of Dharma in America and is such a unique project in a national and global context. The Dharmalaya, Georgetown’s Dharmic Meditation Center, is the first Dharmic space in a US university and it’s one of the few multi-Dharmic spaces that exist in the world. Sanchi hopes that Dharmic Life continues to maintain its roots in diversity and inclusivity. Seeing the enthusiasm and empowerment that students have experienced in the last few years makes her excited to see the new programs and community ties that could be built with the rest of the Dharmic Life community.

Maya Mohosin (C’27) is a communications assistant for Campus Ministry.

Photos courtesy of Sanchi Rohira (SFS’24).

Class of 2024
Senior Spotlight