Wharton graduate becomes yoga monk

Acarya Shambhushivananda works as a leader of the international spiritual movement Ananda Marga

· January 20, 2014, 8:59 pm   ·  Updated January 20, 2014, 9:45 pm

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Yolanda Chen | DP

Acarya Shambhushivananda graduated from Wharton in 1978 and now leads the educational branch of Ananda Marga, a meditation and yoga movement.


When one imagines the future careers of Wharton graduates, images of businessmen and stockbrokers on Wall Street usually come to mind.

Wharton graduate and yoga monk Acarya Shambhushivananda defies this stereotype, working as a leader of the international Ananda Marga spiritual movement.

As the chancellor of the educational branch of Ananda Marga, Shambhushivananda has worked all over the world organizing educational programs in over 1200 schools for children in both wealthy and impoverished areas.

The neo-humanist Ananda Marga movement was formed in 1955 and promotes a love of both the living and the inanimate world through the “three pillars of the whole system: science, spirituality and aesthetics,” Shambhushivananda said.

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In the past six months alone, Shambhushivananda has visited South Korea, India, Sweden and several African countries. He helped establish a children’s home in the slums of Nairobi and shelters for girls who would otherwise face prostitution in Mombasa.

Shambhushivananda said he no longer feels as though he has a home country, but instead described himself as “a global citizen.” He said he feels an equal connection and need for service in every section of the world.

He has devoted his life to incorporating the spiritual into the academic within education. “Education has to be the starting point of social transformation,” he said.

The specialty schools he has established work to promote this balance through several key elements like practical life skills, historical awareness and self-realization.

While living in India in his teens, Shambhushivananda discovered the Ananda Marga movement. After graduating at the top of his class from the University of India, he came to Penn in 1969. “My whole world view was enhanced by my study here at Wharton,” he said.

Related: Religious studies class requires students to engage in monastic way of life

While at Penn, Shambhushivananda studied finance, marketing and international business, eventually earning his Ph. D. and writing his dissertation on “planning nutrition interventions in developing countries.” He maintained his connection with the spiritual world while at Penn by leading retreats and meditation workshops .

Shambhushivananda wants Penn students to become involved in service work. “Life is meaningful — it can become more meaningful if we devote our intellectual capabilities for the benefit of human society,” he said.

“We have to provide the minimum essentialities of life to all the people of this earth, it is the birthright of all human beings. Governments, businesses, individuals, philanthropists all have to join together to do this,” he added.

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