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Becoming Hindu Priests

Young Hindu boys getting trained to become priests in a School of Vedas in New Delhi is discussed intelligently by Rama Lakshmi in this article in the Washington Post. The residential Vedic School is located in a busy area in Delhi and here amidst all distractions of materialism, the young boys are studying to become a link in an unbroken tradition whose exact origin is yet to be pinpointed. The day for this young priest trainees begin at 4:45 AM

Rama Lakshmi writes

Sriram Sharma, a thin 13-year-old with large eyes and a shy smile, folds his sheet and mat and stacks them on the open stone shelf on the wall. He then steps tentatively into the cold shower and comes out shivering and chanting under his breath.

Sriram has lived at the school for more than two years, memorizing and reciting the hymns from the Hindu religion's oldest texts, called the Vedas. After six more years of training at the School of Vedas, he will become a Hindu priest who can perform prayer rituals involving fire worship and rhythmic incantations. He also studies math, English and Hindi for an hour each day.

The rules are strict and many might raise an eyebrow

The boys follow a grueling routine of do's and don'ts -- they cook and eat only vegetarian food, wash their own clothes by hand, cannot call or visit their families, cannot take medicine except for a physical injury, and cannot watch television. Parents cannot bring any gifts.

"The boys are not allowed to go out. I keep them away from the world of illusions and desires. They lead pure, austere lives," says G.K. Sitaraman, respectfully called "Guruji." "This school runs in an orthodox way, like thousands of years ago. The only difference is that we are no longer in the jungles."

Desires and illusions cannot be kept out through orthodox means. The only way to eliminate desires and illusion is by discovering the Self or Tat Tvam Asi – Thou Art That.

Hindu priests are a rare commodity and they are in great demand around the world. And many young boys here have already realized that. Some have already recognized the respect that a priest gets.

The older boys say they are eager to start their work in the real world and earn the social status that comes with knowledge of the Vedas. Hari Ramachandran says his father was a personal driver for a family and did not want his son to end up doing something similar.

"Even doctors and engineers respect priests who know the Vedas," says Hari, 16. "They would speak to us humbly. If I was a driver, they would bark at me and say, 'Go, get the car out of the garage quickly.' "

Hindu Rituals can be taught but the essence of Sanatana Dharma has to be realized. Hope at least one Young Priest understands the true teaching of Sanatana Dharma. Otherwise, the whole exercise will only be a training for a lucrative holy profession.