people gather for a religious ceremony at the Dharmic Center
Called to Be: Access & Excellence

Title:Alumnus endows first fund exclusively for Dharmic Life programming

Author: Lauren M. Poteat
Date Published: April 23, 2024

At the onset of the pandemic, Anjali Bobba (B’23) began her first year at Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business. Grappling with a mandatory quarantine and three semesters remote, Bobba, a second-generation Hoya with family roots in Hinduism and India, found solace through Dharmic Life programming and in the university’s newly established Dharmālaya, or Dharmic Meditation Center.

The Dharmālaya, a sacred space and meditation center, was founded in 2021 as the first consecrated Dharmic space at any American institution of higher education. It was here that Anjali was able to find a distinct space for special prayers and meditation, which helped to enhance her academic studies and campus community life. In 2023, she graduated from Georgetown with honors, receiving the Reverend Joseph S. Sebes Award for significant contributions to the welfare and reputation of the university.

Inspired by their daughter, Durga Bobba (MBA’96, Parent’23,’25) and his wife Geetika, both members of the McDonough Parent Advisory Council, established Georgetown’s first endowed fund for Dharmic Life. They named it the Anjali Keya Bobba Endowed Dharmic Life Fund.

“Every Sunday Anjali went to Āratī, the weekly service held at the Dharmic Life Center,” says Durga Bobba. “Though COVID-19 cut her experience three semesters short, she never missed a service during the five semesters she was on campus. Geetika and I saw how much joy our daughter found attending these services and were compelled to support the Dharmic Life Center. There’s no other center like it in the world. It only happens here at Georgetown.”

Inspired by Georgetown values

During her time on campus Anjali shares that she thoroughly enjoyed interacting with the Georgetown community, congregating with students, and participating in university clubs, including the Hindu Student Association and McDonough Women in Business.

While at Georgetown, she served as chair of religious policy for the Georgetown University Student Association and president of the University Honor Council. At the McDonough School of Business, she was a peer ambassador and a member of the McDonough Undergraduate Admissions Committee. She was awarded a McDonough DEI Baker Trust Fellowship.

“Georgetown was my dream school,” says Anjali Bobba. “I wanted to experience all aspects of the university and make sure that I left it even better than when I found it. One of Georgetown’s four pillars is interreligious understanding and it’s very special that this value runs true throughout Georgetown.”

“Geetika and I saw how much joy our daughter found attending these services and were compelled to support the Dharmic Life Center. There’s no other center like it in the world. It only happens here at Georgetown.”

—Durga Bobba

A sacred space

The Anjali Keya Bobba Endowed Dharmic Life Fund will work to provide ongoing support for the Office of Mission & Ministry’s Dharmic Life programming, which is focused on the support and appreciation of spiritual traditions that originated out of India or the Indian subcontinent including Hinduism, Jainism, Buddhism, and Sikhism, as well as indigenous traditions.

Located in the Leavey Center, the Dharmālaya was established in 2021 with donor gifts, providing a sacred space for students.

“It is such an honor to witness the dreams of our students coming true,” said Georgetown’s first Hindu Chaplain and Director for Dharmic Life Brahmachari Vrajvihari Sharan, who played a key role in the design for the sacred space and programming through Campus Ministry.

Every day the Dharmic Meditation Center offers open hours for meditation and chanting, along with weekly services for Buddhist, Hindu, and Jain communities and opportunities for study, reflection, dialogue, and guided spiritual practices like yoga. Services regularly draw more than 100 students, many of whom dine together with weekly community meals of vegan-based sattvika foods.

Every month the center also offers Sikh Sangat, where the university community can come together to recite portions of Sikh hymns called Nitnem Paath, sing Shabads, or perform prayers called Ardas, followed by a communal meal of langar.

“I’m originally from California, so it was a big move coming to Georgetown,” says Anjali Bobba. “The meditation center was a great experience, because I was able to do the same Āratī, songs, and chants that I grew up with at home. Georgetown is very challenging academically and I don’t think that I would have been able to do what I did at Georgetown without Dharmic Life. It was like a reset for me.”

Throughout the year, Dharmic Life also hosts festival services for the different Dharmic traditions and religious festivals, including Holi, Songkran, Vaisakhi, Mahavir Jayanti, Dīpāvali, Navarātrī, Buddha Pūrṇimā, and Guru Nānak Prakash Purab. Once a year, an overnight Dharmic Life Retreat is held at the university’s Calcagnini Contemplative Center in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia.

“It’s not often two religions can come together to focus on service,” says Durga Bobba. “One of the Jesuits’ fundamental beliefs is ‘people for others’ and this principle, known as sewa jyoti, is also found in Hinduism. I love that this center is available. It’s an intersection of the Jesuit and Hindu value of service to others.”