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Seva-Vidya (Service-Learning)

Volunteer & Service-Learning Opportunities in the Himalayas & at Home

‘All the suffering in the world comes from seeking happiness for oneself.
All the joy in the world comes from seeking happiness for others.’

~ Shantideva, Nalanda University, 8th century CE


Dharmalaya provides many opportunities for meaningful service for mutual benefit, some of which include an experiential education component (‘service-learning’ or ‘learning by doing’). Would you like to learn about a new culture or language while doing volunteer work with kindred spirits from other places for a project that benefits the community and the environment? Or, if you’re unable to visit the Himalayas, would you like to support Dharamalaya’s work from the comfort of your own home (or online from wherever you may be)? Read on…

Volunteer & Service-Learning Opportunities at the Dharmalaya Institute in Bir

The Dharmalaya Institute offers volunteer and service-learning opportunities in the remote and serene Bir area (about two or four hours east of Dharamshala by car or bus, respectively), with activities including green building (eco-friendly earthen architecture), organic farming and landscaping, and other fields related to sustainable and compassionate living. 

Dharmalaya currently offers six types of volunteer and service-learning programmes at different times of the year: 

  • Open Volunteer Periods for Sustainable Living Work: Ongoing opportunities for unstructured or loosely guided volunteer work in green building, organic gardening, natural landscaping, and other aspects of sustainable living (these opportunities are available for most of the year, except during other programmes, and volunteers during the open periods are free to come and go as they wish)  More ›
  • Karma Yoga Retreats: Periodic retreat programmes blending meditation and conscious movement with relaxed and joyful volunteer service work doing various activities related to sustainable living, such as green building, organic gardening, natural landscaping, etc.  See our Events Calendar ›
  • Intensive Workshops: Periodic, short but jam-packed training programmes and practicums in eco-friendly construction and other skills for sustainable living  See our Events Calendar ›
  • Green Masonry Training: A structured certificate programme in the art and techniques of earthen masonry, including adobe, cobb, stonework, etc. (Minimum commitment: three to six months)  More ›
  • Internship in Vernacular Eco-Architecture: A formal, rigourous, supervised internship programme for architects and students of architecture, providing hands-on experience and deeper understanding of the hows and whys of earthen architecture. Supervised by eco-architect Didi Contractor. Much more demanding than the other programmes. (Minimum commitment: one month)  More ›
  • Virtual Volunteering: You can also volunteer for Dharmalaya from your own home, or online from wherever you happen to be, by conducting research, writing, social networking, etc.  More ›

If you’re intersted in volunteering at Dharmalaya but you aren’t sure which of these programmes to choose, probably the best place to start is with the first option above, the Open Volunteer Programme in Sustainable Living. For more information, or to apply to volunteer at the Dharmalaya Institute, read our information for volunteers at the Dharmalaya Institute in Bir.

Volunteering Elsewhere in Bir or in the Dharamshala Area

If you interested in other volunteer opportunities in Bir, or if you are looking for volunteer opportunities in the greater Dharamshala area (in the Kangra District of Himachal Pradesh, India), including McLeodGanj and Sidhbari, see our Volunteering in Dharamshala page.


More info on volunteering at the Dharmalaya Institute ›