Dr. Arvind Sharma: Biography
Arvind Sharma's career falls into four clearly discernible chronological periods associated with distinct geographical theatres.
He was born at Varanasi in India and had his early education at Modern School in New Delhi. After obtaining a Bachelor's degree from Allahabad University, he joined the Indian Administrative Service (or I.A.S. for short) in 1962 and served in the state of Gujarat until 1968. His last posting was as the District Development Officer (or D.D.O.) of Ahmedabad, where he had also served earlier as the managing director of the Gujarat Industrial Development Corporation.
United States (1968-1976)
After six years as a public servant, he resumed his academic career in 1968 when he joined the University of Syracuse, in upstate New York. He obtained a Master's in Economics in 1971 from that university, after completing a Master's dissertation on: The Hindu Scriptural Value System and India's Economic Development. His thesis signaled a shift in his academic interests towards religion and he went on to obtain a Masters in Theological Studies from the Harvard Divinity School in 1974, concentrating on comparative religion. He then joined the Department of Sanskrit and Indian Studies at Harvard University, finally obtaining his Ph.D. in 1978. His doctoral work focused on Abhinavagupta's commentary on the Bhagavadgita. He also subsequently translated the commentary into English.
He was appointed Lecturer in Asian Religions at the University of Queensland in Brisbane, Australia in 1976 and subsequently to a similar position at the University of Sydney in 1980. When the International Association for the Study of Religions (IAHR) met in Sydney in 1985, he organized a special event to commemorate the bicentennial of Bhagavadgita's translation into English in 1785. The appearance of two books also marked the occasion: his The Hindu Gita and Eric J. Sharpe's The Universal Gita.
Canada (1987 - Present)
He was appointed Associate Professor in the Faculty of Religious Studies at McGill University in Montreal, Canada in 1987, where he is now the Birks Professor of Comparative Religion. Two books edited by him while at McGill are widely used in teaching comparative religion: Women in World Religions (1987) and Our Religions (1993). He was instrumental in recently convening a global congress on World's Religions After September 11 which met at the Palais des Congres in Montreal from September 11-15, 2006.