CIIS honors Ayurveda practioner Acharya Shunya

Crowne Plaza Foster City 1221 Chess Drive

CIIS Trustee Dr. Ricki Pollycove honoring Acharya Shunya with Former CIIS President Prasad Vepa

FOSTER CITY, CA: California Institute of Integral Studies (CIIS) awarded the Haridas and Bina Chaudhuri Distinguished Service Award to Acharya Shunya Pratichi Mathur On May 7 for her extraordinary achievement as a Vedic scholar and practitioner. The event was held at Crowne Plaza, Foster City.

CIIS President Joseph Subbiondo heartfully acknowledged Acharya Shunya’s work in promoting the Vedic sciences and her groundbreaking efforts in founding Vedika Gurukulam (the Vedic Indian education model) shining light on health and consciousness with classes in Ayurveda, Vedanta and Yoga.

CIIS has evolved from its roots that took hold in 1951 in San Francisco, when Dr. Haridas and Bina Chaudhuri founded the Cultural Integration Fellowship (CIF) to promote intercultural understanding and harmony, non-sectarian universal religion, and creative self-development and self-fulfillment. It became a pioneering hub for spiritual studies and practice.

Dr. Chaudhuri, the former Chair of the Philosophy Department at Krishnagar College in West Bengal, India, and contemporary of yogi and Indian philosopher Sri Aurobindo, came to the USA as someone who was well-versed in Eastern and Western philosophies with a deep knowledge of integral yoga, based on the recommendation of Sri Aurobindo.

In 1968, Dr. Chaudhuri founded an educational branch of CIF which later came to be known as CIIS.

This has developed into a flourishing center for both undergraduate and graduate studies where hundreds of students come to study each year in fields as diverse as transpersonal psychology, expressive arts therapy, traditional Chinese medicine, ecology and Asian religions.

Each year CIIS honors Dr. Haridas Chaudhuri and Bina Chaudhuri, by presenting the Distinguished Service Award to an individual whose life exemplifies selfless service as modeled by its Founders.

Previous recipients include Dr. Deepak Chopra and famous tabla maestro, Zakir Hussain. CIIS is also creating a new faculty position, the Haridas Chaudhuri Endowed Chair for South Asian Philosophy and Culture, which will ensure that Indic spirituality and philosophy which is so critical to the founding mission of the university, will be taught in perpetuity.

Acharya Shunya with (right) Raj Desai and Helen Desai (Trustees, CIIS),  Shipra and Rita Chaudhari (daughters of Haridas and Bina Chaudhari),  and (on left) Sanjai Mathur (Vedika Global Director), and Joseph Subbiondo,  President of CIIS.
Acharya Shunya with (right) Raj Desai and Helen Desai (Trustees, CIIS), Shipra and Rita Chaudhari (daughters of Haridas and Bina Chaudhari), and (on left) Sanjai Mathur (Vedika Global Director), and Joseph Subbiondo, President of CIIS.

In introducing Acharya Shunya, CIIS Board member, Mr. Prasad Vepa, spoke of the wonderful resonance between her teachings and the founding ideals of the Institute, since both recognize the central importance of the wisdom of Vedanta. Acharya Shunya was specially moved to receive this award because her grandfather, Baba Ayodhya Nath Sinha, who was also her guru, was a contemporary of Sri Aurobindo and had met with him on occasions, sharing their knowledge of the spiritual traditions of India.

In accepting this award, Acharya Shunya highlighted the beautiful synchronicity between the values of both organizations – CIIS and Vedika Global. Their inherent relatedness shined through as she emphasized the underlying educational philosophy of both – integration of body, mind and spirit in the pursuit and revelation of the unchanging oneness that is truth.

Acharya Shunya commented that the teachings of her Vedic lineage naturally integrate the sciences of Ayurveda, Yoga and Vedanta as vehicles for the betterment of the human condition, and ultimately for liberation (also known as moksha in Sanskrit) from transient reality.