Lesson 9: The Bliss of Union
Maitreya Larios is a scholar and practitioner of the ancient and living traditions of India. He has been a practitioner of Indian spirituality since he was 9 years old.
In 2013, he obtained a doctorate in classical Indology from the University of Heidelberg in Germany, where he is currently employed as a research fellow. He wrote his dissertation on the living Vedic traditions of Maharashtra, which will appear as a book in late 2015.
He is most excited about being a student of Sanskrit and philosophy and about igniting that enthusiasm in his students. His personal journey over the 26 years of studentship in this tradition has been a humbling experience, but it is a path that he assures brings the most amazing transformations.
Besides his area of expertise as a scholar of Indian culture and religion, Maitreya is passionate about photography, visual arts, traveling and vegan/vegetarian cooking.
He is happily married and a father to a beautiful boy named Kabīr.
Few artists have the power to create an indelible impact on the minds of their audiences through their art form and one such name in the world of Kathak is Shambhavi Dandekar. Shambhavi Dandekar as an accomplished Indian Kathak master performer, has carved a niche for herself through her sheer talent, unique performances and unparelled choreography, that has brought her recognition on the national as well as the international platforms.
As a young dancer, Shambhavi started her training under the able guidance of her own mother and renowned Guru Pandita Maneesha Sathe, a celebrated dancer and a teacher in her own right. Shambhavi then went on to complete her intense training in ‘laya and tala’ or rhythm and beats from Table virtuoso “Taalyogi” Pandit Suresh Talwalkar. Along with her top-notch traditional dance training, Shambhavi also has a strong academic educational background with a Bachelors in Commerce and two Masters degrees in Dance. Furthermore, she also holds Diplomas both in French and Sanskrit.
Shambhavi has more than 20 years of teaching experience at an undergraduate and a graduate level at various dance education institutions in India. She has also started her own international school of dance in 2008, called ‘Shambhavi’s International School of Kathak’ or SISK. SISK is a prominent and a thriving international institution with five branches in India and the United States of America with over 400 students and a staff of 15 teachers who are trained by Shambhavi herself.
SISK has produced many a talented student over the years. Shambhavi’s years of experience, intellectual understanding and analysis of the nuances of the art form, has helped her create stellar performers out of her dedicated students. Many of her students are emerging as budding Kathak professionals. Shambhavi guides performers and students all over the world through workshops and master classes.
Shivani is a meditation teacher and multi-disciplinary artist, and the founder of Living Sanskrit. Born both American and into the yogic tradition, she is devoted to preserving and accurately practicing ancient indigenous wisdom in modern times and non-native contexts.
Shivani first heard Sanskrit in the womb, and not a day has gone by without it. She grew up immersed in dharma culture, yogic teachings, and sacred practices under the guidance of her spiritual teacher and also her grandmother.
Living Sanskrit is the culmination of a long-held dream to keep this tradition alive and share its magnificent gifts with the world.
Shivani started teaching meditation in 2001, and professionally a few years later at the suggestion of her spiritual teacher. Since then, Shivani has shared meditation with thousands of people at venues that range from corporate offices to hospitals to schools. From 2008-2014, Shivani was a Fellow with the Berkeley Initiative for Mindfulness and Law, leading retreats and weekly meditation sessions at Berkeley Law School.
Alongside teaching, Shivani is a prolific artist, photographer, and writer. She is a graduate of the Waterfront Conservatory and Playhouse, a member of the California Bar, and has a J.D. from the University of Southern California and a B.A. in Rhetoric with minors in Theater, Business Administration, and South Asian Studies from the University of California, Berkeley.
She lives with her beloved husband Nick in Redwood City, California, where she can often be found dancing, gardening, listening to birdsong, and hiking in nature.
Ekabhumi is an award-winning poet, author, illustrator, yoga instructor and arts educator with 18 years of international teaching experience. Through a ritualized and meditative creative method, he makes artworks for ceremonial and educational use that help people deepen their spiritual practice, recognize the divinity of common experiences, and find meaning in the beauty of our world. His artworks may be found in yoga studios, private homes, and on altars around the world. He is currently part of the core faculty of livingsanskrit.com.
His name was given by his first guru during a formal initiation ceremony into a tantric yoga lineage in 2005. Since that time, he has studied with many spiritual teachers and traditional artists both in India and the States. His art teachers include eminent western figurative painters like Domenic Cretara, as well as Newar artist Dinesh Charan Shrestha, Bikaner-style miniature painter Mahaveer Swami, Thangka painter Andy Weber, and yantra painter Mavis Gewant.
Ekabhumi’s writing and artwork has been published widely, appearing in anthologies and journals like The Poetry of Yoga, Berkeley Fiction Review, and Pearl, as well as books like Tantra Illuminated by Christopher Hareesh Wallis and Awakening Shakti by Sally Kempton. His instructional Shakti Coloring Book and the uplifting Bhakti Coloring Book are now available world-wide from Sounds True Press.
Though his first love is the arts, he has a wide range of interests that are reflected in his many past occupations: event producer, stock options broker, handyman, journalist, ski boot fitter, competitive surfer and champion sailor. He toured internationally as a performance poet, and the poets he coached won numerous regional and national titles. He facilitated writer’s groups, hosted poetry readings, and organized spoken-word festivals for nearly 20 years, culminating in the acclaimed 2009 Individual World Poetry Slam.
Ekabhumi is an inspiring, playful yet methodical teacher who helps students cultivate deeper intuitive states. For nearly two decades, he variously taught yoga, painting, public speaking, and creative writing to students ranging from kindergarten to post-graduate level. Much of his time is now spent creating educational material about interpreting, making, and utilizing sacred art of the dharma traditions. On weekends, he can be found in his garden practicing silence and learning directly from Nature.
Hema Patankar has spent her life immersed in study, practice and service to the Vedic tradition. It began when she was a teenager irresistibly attracted to the sound of Sanskrit and images of yogis who had become profoundly wise and blissful through meditation.
An alumni of a gurukula in Western India, Hema spent over 30 years intimately engaged with the traditions that have emerged from the Vedas. She worked on research, translation, and editorial projects in the company of learned pandits and scholars. She assisted with yajnas – ancient fire ceremonies – and rituals, which allowed her to get extraordinarily close to the living practice of Vedic traditions. She immersed herself in the sādhana of singing Sanskrit hymns and the songs of the poet saints, which she studied intensively with her Gurus and traditional devotional singers. She became known for devotional singing, and taught students from around the world.
Hema has a passion for the preservation of sacred Vedic heritage. For several years she was the Executive Director of the Muktabodha Indological Research Institute. There she spearheaded the development of an extensive online collection of rare Sanskrit texts. She nurtured the establishment of a traditional Vedic school where an endangered branch of the Vedas is preserved. She also directed the video documentation of remarkable Vedic rituals and brought rare texts on Śaiva philosophy and Vedic ritual to publication.
She later studied traditional Āyūrveda and earned a Vaidya Bhusana (vaidyabhūṣaṇa) Ayurvedic Practitioner degree. She is President of the Board of Trustees of Vedika Global, a school for the study and practice of traditional Āyūrveda and Vedic sciences. She has published articles on Āyūrveda, the Bhakti tradition, and the preservation of Vedic manuscripts. Most recently she edited a text on Vedic full and new moon rituals. Her current writing focuses on the intersection of living Ayurveda with the rituals and philosophy of the Vedic tradition.