Rao Mrinalini Shanbhag Brahmaprajnananda Saraswati
Swamini Brahmaprajnananda Saraswati is a traditional teacher of Vedanta and a monk in India. She conducts classes and courses in Vedanta, Sanskrit and Vedic chanting in Mumbai and online for international students alongside conducting workshops on personal growth in the light of Indian scriptures and culture. She completed an intensive course of study under Pujya Swami Dayananda Saraswati ji, the foremost scholar of Vedanta and Sanskrit recognised worldwide, in Arsha Vidya Gurukulam. She holds An M.Phil and M.A in Psychology from SNDT University, Mumbai and her thesis was on ‘Coping strategies of street youth’ after her early years in a convent school.
Having trained as a psychologist and worked for fifteen years in different capacities as a counsellor, coordinator of initiatives for street youth, a strategic leader of an international organisation impacting fifteen thousand children annually, a social development professional, mentor of staff, professor of psychology and now religious teacher, the areas of project management, collective dialogue, conflict resolution and discovering harmony in oneself and with others, is part and parcel of everyday living. In recognition of her earlier work in the social sector, she was invited by the government to serve as a judge for justice for alleged child offenders. Given the diversity of cultures she constantly interacts with in India, Swamini recognises that the only way to discover harmony at all levels in the world is ‘to acknowledge differences, live a life of mutual respect and celebrate each other, with the vision of oneness.’
Interreligious Activities and Initiatives
‘I am the change’ – Leadership programme for Youth (with a focus on conflict resolution and peaceful inter religious coexistence) and conference of religious leaders for community
India is one of the most multicultural and multi religious countries. Mumbai being a cosmopolitan city is representative of its communities being multi religious. The ‘I am the change’ project has two components: i) ‘Leadership and peaceful coexistence’ capacity building sessions with a cohort of approx. 25- 40 college students followed by a ii) Conference of approx. 200 people focusing on harmony among religions which will include scholars from 3-4 religions as well as reporting of the initiative with college students. Sessions on leadership and conflict resolution were conducted with about 25-40 college students in the age group of 18-21 years from July to September 2016. On 2nd Oct, Mahatma Gandhi’s birthday as well as the International Day of Nonviolence, a one day conference was organized on the theme of ‘How can Inter religious dialogue lead to harmony?” where four religious scholars from different religions will present their views.