Her credo: “Duty with sincerity and honesty” takes in to account the importance of hard work. She is a staunch believer in “Work is Worship” and “God helps those who help themselves”.
Shikshayatan and Purnima Desai are synonymous. Purnima founded the cultural organization- Shikshayatan which means house of learning, on the auspicious day of VIJAYADASHMI- the day Lord Rama achieved victory over demon king Ravana- on Thursday October 20, 1988. Purnima says she felt the need for such an organization to impart knowledge about Indian Culture to the young generation who are born and brought up in U.S. A. and who are deprived of the rich Indian cultural heritage.
About the activities of Shikshayatan, she said, “Shikshayatan conducts regular and organized classes to young and adults to impart knowledge about Indian culture – philosophy, languages such as Sanskrit, Hindi, and imparts training in Classical and Light Vocal music and in Instrumental music, like Harmonium, Keyboard, Tabla, Violin, Sitar, Flute etc, and the Classical and light dance etc.”
To serve the humanity on the planet Earth Shikshayatan has opened its doors to all nationalities to come together for peace, harmony and team spirit. Shikshayatan has successfully and continuously offered vocal and instrumental lessons flexibly throughout the calendar year for the last 25 years and it provides a stage for young and old performers alike.
In addition it has begotten several loyal and dedicated students who showed their support by providing community performances in churches, temples, at various functions of organizations, at South Street seaport Diwali celebrations, Public libraries, Public schools etc. Shikshayatan provides a very healthy, happy peaceful and comfortable atmosphere akin to one in India to all seekers who want to be connected to Indian art & culture.
Shikshayatan has a faculty of highly educated, multitalented and professional artists who are renowned and are spreading Indian culture to western world. Pandit Kamal Mishra is a great asset to the organization since 1989 and has proved his multiple talents through teaching and as a performing artist. We have an accomplished Tabla artist Anand Ramanaju who joined our faculty recently.
Pandit Sujan Rane, the great classical vocalist will also will be performing this year accompanied by a great Tabla player Naren Budhakar. Purnima has celebrated many festivals of India, birthdays of saints, sages, patriotic leaders to give the knowledge of India and her sacrifices, morality and spirituality. “Our students are academically growing on top and flowering spiritually also”, says Purnima.
She adds, “I also want to mention that we are blessed by saints, sages, spiritual masters like Amma, Sant Morari Bapu, Acharya Mridula Shashtri, Swami Bua ji, dignitaries and diplomats- Hillary Clinton, Gary Ackerman Dr. Karan Singh, Dr. Abid Hussain, Lalit Mansingh, Neelam Deo, Shashi Tripathi, scholars, renowned artists- Sonal Mansingh, Padmini Ramachandran, Archana Joglekar, Pandit Ramesh Narayan, Partho Bose, Aditya Narayan Chatterjee and many more, poets – Dr. Bijoy Mehta, community leaders, world renowned astrologers and healers Swami Chakradhar, Shakunta Devi and many community leaders .
The services she rendered have not only given Purnima a deep inner satisfaction but have brought her immense recognition and honor. She is recipient of many citations, felicitations, certificates, awards and rewards for her community work since 1988. Asked about her mission in life, she told The Indian Panorama: “My mission is to serve humanity and vision is to have a full fledged institution.
Manurbhav – Manushya ban – Be Human is real goal we teach which means have the true qualities of a human being for Peace, Prosperity with Politeness.” Her credo: “Duty with sincerity and honesty” takes in to account the importance of hard work. She is a staunch believer in “Work is Worship” and “God helps those who help themselves”. In the last 25 years that Purnima has been running the great institution she so lovingly founded to promote Indian culture and heritage she has come to be known as dynamic and versatile personality and as an ambassador of Indian art & culture in the United States.
She could not achieve it all alone. She received immense support of her family. Her husband Ashok C. Desai and her three daughters Komal, Tejal and Kaveeta and many well wishers have been a constant support and source of encouragement. Purnima is highly educated with a number of degrees under her belt. She is a B.A. (Edu.Hons)., C.C.O.S.W., M.B.A., Real Estate Manager., Computer Programmer and Music and Dance professional.
Born in a Brahmin family in Calcutta, India on MAGHI POORNIMA she lived in Calcutta for 19 years, moving to Delhi where she lived for 4 years. It was a brief one year stay in Mumbai, then Bombay, before she moved to New York where she has been living for 41 years.
She attributes many of her qualities to her close association with her late grandfather L.K. Desai, her grandmother late Mani Desai, her father D. P. Desai, and her mother Bhanumati, who was especially her greatest inspiration, besides her association with late Prime Minister Morarji Desai, G.L. Mehta, Dr. H. B. Desai, Dr. P.G. Shukla, Dr. P. Jayaraman, and many other scholars.
A motivating and dedicated teacher in Vocal and Instrumental music, dance, languages Indian philosophy, Sanskrit Shlokas, etc. Purnima is an acknowledged vocalist who has many music albums to her credit- Devanjali, Shivanjali, Krishnanjali, Ambikaanjali, Pushpaanjali, Vedanjali, Mahaviraanjali, Raashtraanjali etc. It is a little rare that a person is as multifaceted and versatile as Purnima is. Besides the above, she is a poetess who has written many poems and sung them in her music albums and participated in Kavi Sammelans in New York, Canada and U.K.
She is a journalist too in her own right. She is publisher/editor of Abhyudaya, an educational and literary magazine in Hindi & English for children, youth, and adults She has authored many books. A Children’s books -“Give All Get All” has 25 short stories with high moral values and coloring book. A book of patriotic songs is titled Rashtranjali. The book was released by a well known saint, Sant Morari Bapu.
Then there are books that contain spiritual songs- – Shivanjali, Bhajan Mani Mala Series: Ganeshanjali, etc. Theater also fascinates her. She is a Script Writer, Producer and Director of small plays -Apna Desh Apne Tyohaar and Bal Ramayan for Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, NY, USA. Add to that her skill as a program director of cultural events. She has produced and directed more than hundred cultural programs for youngsters and adults for various organizations, institutions, ashrams, temples, churches, libraries, schools, delegates, etc.
She does not stop here. She is a painter with proficiency in oil painting. But she paints only as a hobby. With such skills, performances, services and accomplishments it is a natural corollary that she would be recognized. She has received a number of recognitions, honors and awards. She is a recipient of Dharma Kalyaan Jyoti Madalsa Award by Maa Yog Shakti.
All Brahmin Convention 2001 commenced by Brahmin Samaj of U.S.A. honored her with an award of “Excellence and Accomplishments for brilliance, versatility, expertise, dedication, commitment and dignifying Worldwide Brahmin Community through [her] prolific, meritorious contribution and glorious accomplishments in the field of cultural and Educational activities”.
During the Cultural Festival of India organized on July 12 through August 11 in Edison, NJ, she was felicitated for her “outstanding contributions and achievements by a person of Indian origin living in America in the field of Academics.” On March 17, 2006, World Business Forum honored her with the awards: “Person of the Year” and “Woman of the Era” at the Hilton Hotel in NY.
She also received the “Samaaj Bandhu” and “Best Teacher’s Award” from the Probidhini Foundation; “Sangeet Vishaarad” on May 17th 2009 from Maha Mandaleshwar Maa Yog Shakti Saraswati, Spiritual head and Founder & President of MYSIM. She received a citation from New York City Council for being “an outstanding citizen, one which is worthy of the esteem of both community and the great City of New York” on October 2, 2009. Purnima is also a recipient of “AMBASSADOR FOR PEACE” from Universal Peace Foundation in 2011.
This is the woman and this her institution that she dreams of making a true Indian cultural center. And she is ready to make any sacrifice to realize her dream for Indian Americansyoung and old- and for India, the cradle of the finest cultural heritage. And she is not alone in this. Her family is committed to her vision and dream . Her supporters are there to encourage her. Above all, Purnima has an indomitable spirit and she has always drawn inspiration from Tagore’s “Ekla Chalo, ekla chalo”. Hum to nikle the safar per akele hee; log milte gaye, kafila banata gayaa”.
She also received the “Samaaj Bandhu” and “Best Teacher’s Award” from the Probidhini Foundation; “Sangeet Vishaarad” on May 17th 2009 from Maha Mandaleshwar Maa Yog Shakti Saraswati, Spiritual head and Founder & President of MYSIM. Purnima is also a recipient of “AMBASSADOR FOR PEACE” from Universal Peace Foundation in 2011.