Vandana Sharma (Diya)
Dr. Vandana Sharma, also known as "Diya," is a renowned scholar, writer, author,environmentalist, and philosopher specializing in Advaita Vedanta philosophy. She is recognized as the first documented research scholar to conduct systematic research on the intersection of Advaita Vedanta philosophy and the environment. Sharma has made significant contributions to the field and has received acclaim for her work.
Early Life and Influences
Dr. Vandana Sharma's personal background and influences have played a significant role in shaping her life, philosophy, and ethical values. She was born into a Shaivite Brahmin family. After the loss of her father at a young age, she was raised by her maternal grandparents, Colonel T.N. Sharma (Spolia) and Smt. Kamla Sharma (Spolia). Sharma has been deeply connected to her maternal grandparents, who have had a profound influence on her upbringing and outlook on life.
One of the significant influences on Sharma's life and work is the teachings and life of Adi Shankaracharya. She claims to have experienced the presence of Adi Shankaracharya on various occasions and considers her own life to be a miraculous outcome of His grace.
Sharma acknowledges Prof. S.R. Bhatt as her mentor, guide, and philosopher. His guidance has played a crucial role in shaping her academic and intellectual journey.
It is worth noting that Sharma holds great admiration for Veer Savarkar and considers herself an ardent follower of political figures such as Narendra Modi and Duttatreya Hosable. She is known for expressing her views favoring the concept of Hindu Rastra (Hindu nation) and aligning herself with the principles of Hindutva. These perspectives are reflected in her social media statements and public discourse.
Education and Scholarship
Dr. Vandana Sharma is a renowned scholar who has made significant contributions in the fields of philosophy, Indian culture, and environmental harmony. Her educational journey began with a diverse range of experiences, including working in television serials, plays, hosting national and international stage shows, and teaching at various Indian and foreign yoga schools affiliated with the Yoga Alliance, USA.
Sharma holds an impressive academic background, which includes a B.Sc. in Hotel Management, Tourism, and Culture, as well as a B.A. and M.A. in Philosophy, Religion, and Culture, specializing in South Saiva Siddhanta. She obtained these degrees from Annamalai University. Furthermore, she pursued advanced studies in Advaita Vedanta and Bhagwadgita Shankarabhashya from the prestigious Chinmaya International Foundation in Ernakulam, Kerala.
Driven by her passion for research and academic pursuits, Sharma completed her Ph.D. in Advaita Vedanta from the Department of Philosophy at Annamalai University, under the guidance of Dr. J. Thirumal. Her exceptional work led her to be awarded the Junior Research Fellow by the Indian Council of Philosophical Research, Ministry of Human Resource Development. Sharma also engaged in post-doctoral research in Advaita Vedanta at Lal Bahadur Shastri Rashtriya Sanskrit Vidyapeeth and conducted independent research on Atharva Veda at the Indian Institute of Advanced Studies in Shimla.
In 2023, Dr. Vandana Sharma conducted significant research on Kedarnath at the Central Sanskrit University, Ministry of Culture. Her findings shed light on the Kedarnath tragedy of 2013, highlighting the significant human factors that contributed to the disaster, challenging the perception that it was solely an act of God.
Sharma's intellectual contributions extend beyond her research. She has authored notable books such as "Ādi Śaṅkarācārya’s Praśnottara Ratna Mālika" published by Original Books in 2020, "Śaṅkara Vedānta for Environmental Harmony" published by Motilal Banarasidass Publishers, Delhi in 2021, and "Nature's Wisdom: Indian Philosophical Insights" published by Chaukhamba, Varanasi in 2023. Additionally, she edited Prof. S.R. Bhatt's book titled "Jainism: A New World Order" published by Springer in 2021.
Dr. Vandana Sharma's research prowess is evident through her numerous research articles published in both national and international journals. Her paper on "Cārvāka (Indian Materialism)" was published in the renowned Philotheos International Journal, while another work of hers appeared in the Journal of The University of Nebraska, Lincoln, USA. The India Foundation, a prominent think tank, published her paper titled "Vedic Averments for Environmental Harmony" in January 2022. These publications reflect Sharma's dedication, expertise, and valuable insights, establishing her as an esteemed contributor to the academic and intellectual community.
In summary, Dr. Vandana Sharma's academic journey and contributions encompass a wide range of subjects, from philosophy and religion to environmental harmony. Her research, publications, and participation in prestigious conferences have garnered recognition and respect from renowned scholars and institutions. Sharma's work continues to inspire and contribute to the fields of Indian philosophy, environmental ethics, and cultural understanding.
World Congress of Philosophy 2018, China
Sharma is known for her work on exploring the relationship between Advaita Vedanta philosophy and the environment. Her research paper on Advaita Vedanta Philosophy, Environment, and Animals was selected for presentation at the prestigious World Congress of Philosophy(WCP) in 2018, held in Beijing, China. Sharma's participation was made possible through sponsorship from the Indian Council of Philosophical Research, under the Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) of the Government of India, which recognized the significance of her work.
During the WCP 2018, Sharma's research paper received appreciation from renowned Australian philosopher Peter Singer, adding to the recognition of her scholarly contributions. Her research focuses on delving into the teachings of Adi Shankaracharya, a revered philosopher and theologian, and exploring the practical initiatives he undertook. Sharma's doctoral research thesis, titled "Adi Shankaracharya's Advaita Vedanta Philosophy: A Viable Solution to Environmental Disharmony," represents a significant milestone in her academic journey.
Sharma's research goes beyond theoretical exploration and presents an eco-aesthetic viewpoint derived from the subtle metaphysics of Advaita Vedanta. Drawing from Adi Shankaracharya's commentaries, known as Prasthanatreyi, and thirty-three Prakaranagran (scriptural texts), she identifies lessons of universal compassion and environmental harmony. Additionally, Sharma's thesis delves into Adi Shankaracharya's life and practical endeavors, including the establishment of Maṭhas (spiritual institutions) and monastic orders. Through this exploration, she sheds light on his teachings of internal, external, and cosmic peace and harmony.
Overall, Dr. Vandana Sharma's research and academic contributions provide valuable insights into the intersection of Advaita Vedanta philosophy, environmental ethics, and the importance of fostering harmony with nature. Her work adds depth to the understanding of Adi Shankaracharya's teachings and offers a fresh perspective on environmental stewardship rooted in ancient wisdom.
Awards and Recognition
Dr. Vandana Sharma's academic journey includes several notable achievements and recognitions:
Junior Research Fellow: She was awarded the Junior Research Fellow position by the Indian Council of Philosophical Research, Ministry of Education. This fellowship provided her with valuable support and resources to pursue her research in philosophy.
Post-Doctoral Fellow: Dr. Sharma also served as a Post-Doctoral Fellow under the Indian Council of Social Science Research, Ministry of Education. This fellowship allowed her to further deepen her research and contribute to the field of social sciences.
Swami Pranavananda Philosophy Book Award: At the Indian Asian Philosophical Congress, Dr. Vandana Sharma received the prestigious Swami Pranavananda Philosophy Book Award. This recognition highlights her significant contributions to the field of philosophy and showcases the quality and impact of her scholarly work.
Indian Institute of Advanced Studies, Shimla: Dr. Sharma engaged in independent research on Atharva Veda at the esteemed Indian Institute of Advanced Studies in Shimla. This opportunity provided her with a scholarly environment and resources to delve deeper into her chosen field of study.
- "Sankara Vedanta for Environmental Harmony" (Motilal Banarasidass)
- "Prashnottar Ratna Malika" (Low Price Publications)
- "Nature's Wisdom: Indian Philosophical Insights" (Chaukhamba Varanasi)
- "Dr Vandana Sharma Philosophy,NET Philosophy home tutor ₹ 1000 - ₹ 2000/hour" (in en). https://www.teacheron.com/tutor-profile/6lFN.
- Thirumal, Vandana Sharma and J. (2020-01-01) (in English). Adi Sankaracarya's Prasnottara Ratna Malika, Vol. 1. Originals. ISBN 978-81-8454-224-0. https://www.amazon.com/Sankaracaryas-Prasnottara-Ratna-Malika-Vol/dp/8184542240.
- "Sankara Vedanta for Environmental Harmony: A Novel Interpretation of the Age-old Advaita Vedanta Darsana (HB) | Author - Vandana Sharma 'Diya' | Foreword - Prof. S.R Bhatt | Publisher - MLBD Publications" (in en-US). https://www.mlbd.com/product/sankara-vedanta-for-environmental-harmony-hb-author-vandana-sharma-diya-foreword-prof-s-r-bhatt-publisher-mlbd-publications/.
- Team, TenNews (2021-10-27). "Sankara Vedanta For Environmental Harmony book launch: Eminent personalities outline core of advait, praise author for research" (in en-US). https://tennews.in/sankara-vedanta-for-environmental-harmony-book-launch-eminent-personalities-outline-core-of-advait-praise-author-for-research/.
- "Vandana Sharma - AbeBooks" (in en). https://www.abebooks.com/book-search/author/vandana-sharma/.