ANDOVER, MA- Dr. Shashikala Dwarkanath, MD, the person behind Chinmaya Mission Boston, one of New England’s largest spiritual centers, which has played a vital role in the lives of thousands of people in the area—will receive this year’s Lifetime Achievement Award.
The Lifetime Achievement Award is bestowed upon annually by INDIA New England News, one of the nation’s largest print, online and video magazines covering the Indian and South Asian community.
“We have known Shashi now for over 25 years. She is an accomplished doctor, an excellent mother, a very supporting spouse, a community leader and more recently intensely seeking the very purpose of life,” said philanthropist Desh Deshpande. “She is one of the most complete human beings in our community, inspiring hundreds and thousands of young and grown up adults with her calming presence. Congratulations on a well-deserved award.”
Dr. Dwarkanath, a physician at Lowell General Hospital and one of the founders of Chinmaya Mission Boston and its Resident Acharya, will receive the award on Friday, May 26, at the 15th Annual Woman of the Year gala, where 20 outstanding women in the areas of science, technology, business, healthcare, arts and culture, and community and social services will be honored.
“To produce more than what we consume and giving more than what we take, I dedicate this honor and award to the children, our future, to the great masters and to Chinmaya Mission who has given me an opportunity to serve and grow,” said Dr. Dwarkanath, who co-founded Chinmaya Mission Boston center with her husband Dr. Gopala Dwarakanath, MD.
Dr. Dinesh Patel, an orthopedic surgeon for the last 40 years at Massachusetts General Hospital and faculty member at the Harvard Medical School, who has known Dr. Dwarkanath, said that she has pioneered the dissemination of art, culture and spiritual knowledge to the entire community.
“She not only started Val Vihar in her basement and later co-founded the Chinmaya Mission Boston building, but she has played a great role in spreading spiritualism,” said Dr. Patel. “She is a very unique person and a physician who is now an Acharya. I am so delighted that she is getting this year’s Lifetime Achievement Award.”
For over 30 years, Dr. Dwarakanath has nurtured the physical and spiritual health of her New England community. After receiving her medical training in the United Kingdom and India, she moved to the Boston area to complete her residency at Harvard Children’s Hospital Medical Center, New England Deaconess Hospital and the Lahey Clinc. As the Chief of Pathology at Lawrence General Hospital and subsequently Lowell General Hospital, she oversaw laboratory activity focused on the diagnosis of disease through the study of patient tissue and blood. Her work has been crucial to individual patient care as well as overall public health.
“This award is very close to my heart and this year it honors a special lady who is a physician, an educator and a spiritual leader,” said Dr. Manju Sheth, who launched the Lifetime Achievement Award at INDIA New England News four years ago. “As a physician, it is especially gratifying for me to see the community has decided to honor a physician this year. Shashi is a remarkable woman of science who has dedicated her life to spirituality and service to others. Her kindness, compassion and positive attitude leaves an indelible mark on everyone who meets her. My congratulations to Shashi, her family and especially the entire Chinmaya Mission family that she has served for over 25 years.”
Outside of the hospital, as a member of Chinmaya Mission, Dr. Dwarakanath has fostered the spiritual growth of families in the Greater Boston area and beyond. She began organizing values-based classes for children in her own home in 1989 and eventually oversaw a children’s Bala Vihar program spanning four New England locations and attended by over 650 children. To meet the growing demand of their local mission, Dr. Dwarakanath along with her husband Gopala created the Chinaya Maruti Center in Andover, MA in 2003. The center currently hosts over 400 children and adults who participate in weekly classes and prayer services.
Currently, Dr. Dwarakanath is the Acharya, or spiritual head, of Chinmaya Mission Boston. In recent years, she has attended a two-year residential Vedanta course at Sandeepany Sadhanalaya in Mumbai, India. She has brought what she has learned back to her local community, teaching classes on the Bhagavad Gita, Upanishads, devotional texts and meditation. She has presented talks on parenting and organized a women’s retreat centered on “Harnessing the Power of Emotions.”
In her free time, Dr. Dwarakanath enjoys writing poetry and playing the veena. She is happy to share her passions with her husband, two children and six grandchildren.