The Vraja Institute is an educational organization centered around Sanskrit and Sanskrit derived cultural, philosophical, and religious traditions.
In order to accomplish its mission, Vraja Institute supports a range of programs and initiatives, including but not limited to the following. First, it has an extensive offering of academic courses associated with both degree programs and short-term study. Formal courses and independent studies are taught in English and Hindi. Second, it publishes books. Third, it supports manuscript excavation, translation, and publication.
The Vraja Institute has extensive resources to support these activities. Its library contains more than 10,000 texts in Sanskrit, English, and Hindi. The collection is best represented by the fields of Ayurveda, Jyotish, Music, Tantra, Sankhya, Yoga, Nyaya, Vaisheshika, Purva-mimamsa, Advaita-Vedanta, Vaishnavism, Puranas, Itihasa, and Samhitas. It also houses over 5,000 handwritten books and rare manuscripts in Sanskrit, Bengali and Brajabhasha.
Vraja Institute has formal partnership with universities in the United States and India. Specifically, it is affiliated with Rutgers University, The State University of New Jersey, as well as Sampurnananda Sanskrit University in Benaras.
"I have been frequenting the Vraja Institute since its inception and although the Vraj area has several fine research institutes with outstanding scholars, Vraja Institute is the only place I feel fully comfortable sending students.
I have sent a number of academic colleagues, as well as university students to Vraja, and they have unanimously been impressed. The staff of Vraja are kind, extremely hospitable and helpful. The Institute hosts daily classes, arranges tours to the sites of this medieval holy town and its environs, and has clean accommodations and excellent food. With the increasing commercialization of Vrindavan, it is hard to find this combination of clean and safe facilities and intellectual rigor".
– Edwin F. Bryant , Professor of Hindu Religion and Philosophy , Rutgers University.
"I found the hospitality at the Vraja Institute exceptional. The rooms are basic but comfortable, the vegetarian food delicious, and highly knowledgeable guides are available for tours of Vrindavan and Braj".
– Andrew Fort, Professor of Religion, Texas Christian University
"My family and I found the Vraja institute a comfortable place to stay and the staff was always hospitable and helpful. The faculty have created an atmosphere that delightfully combines traditional shastric learning with critical thinking and respect for contemporary scholarship. I look forward to our next visit."
– Matthew R. Dasti, Bridgewater State University
"It was through Rutgers University that I connected to Vraja Institute. I came to Vraja Institute to study 'Hinduism' a three credit course, taught during winter break. For three weeks, I only got a taste of Vrindavan. I returned once more for a longer period of time. From September 2016 to January 2017, I had the honor of living at Vraja Institute while completing the third semester for my M.A. and applying to Ph.D. programs in the United States.
The best experience about Vraja Institute was the company. When surrounded by others who are trying to pursue philosophical knowledge, you are given no choice but to dive deeper into your own thirst for learning.
Within Indian philosophy, there is a wealth of knowledge, but one needs sufficient resources to access it. Vraja Institute has provided me with an opportunity to access this knowledge. I am proud to say that I have been accepted into a doctoral program in the United States and will hopefully be teaching Indian Philosophy as a professor of religion after my studies. Most importantly, I want to humbly thank Vraja Institute for not only helping me establish my career, but providing me with a foundation of knowledge. I am sincerely grateful to Vraja Institute, and I urge anyone to visit."
– Hemal Trivedi, M.A. Religion, Rutgers University
"Studying abroad in Vrindavan, India was one of the most memorable experiences of my undergraduate career. Experiencing the culture first hand was a very humbling experience. It has allowed me to understand the reasoning of the people of Vrindavan's beliefs and logic, which further enabled me to expand my cultural competence which I have found to be useful in my career as a social worker. I have a newfound appreciation for the dance, food, and overall community of Vrindavan, and appreciate their kindness and simple way of life."
– Kristel Calderon
"The Rutgers Winter 2017 Study Abroad Program in Vrindavan, India offers the cultural and educational experience of a lifetime! It is truly like no other. As you immerse yourself within Vrindavan, you gaze upon a land to which its beauty is intertwined with the historical, traditional, and religious events of its past and present. The three-credit course that is offered on behalf of Rutgers provides the necessary intellectual means to navigate through the rich histories of Vrindavan’s culture; past, present, and future. I find myself to be more knowledgeable and understanding in the ways of Vrindavan’s culture after finishing this program and would highly recommend it to anyone curious about Indian heritage."
– Joseph Mirys
"The Rutgers India Winter Session was one of my favorite Rutgers experiences as a religion minor. I had previously taken the Bhagavad Gita class with Edwin Bryant and was a little familiar with what we would be studying in India. This program brought what I had learned in class with Professor Bryant alive. I was able to experience the Indian culture and the Hindu traditions I had only read about in class. I was able to fully embrace and immerse myself in what I was studying. I got to witness pujas, alter worship, eat traditional indian food, see the crowded Mandir, temple on a busy Saturday morning, sing in Kirtan, musical meditation, and wear a sari. Previously, there were just concepts, I had read about and couldn't full understand or grasp until participating in them. This was truly a unique experience and really allowed for a deeper, fuller understanding of Hinduism."
– Julie Bottani