Mrs. Purnima A. Desai
Founder & President
Purnima Desai’s Profile
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.