IITians Who Turned Monk

IITians Who Turned Monk

It should not be surprising to hear that there are IITians who turned Monk and IITians in ISKCON. There are those, who gave up on the hefty packages offered by the big company giants. Amidst the race for success and materialistic achievements, there exists a group of individuals who, despite their IITian background, chose an entirely different path – that of spirituality and renunciation.

It is not easy to cast aside worldly pursuits when you are accomplished enough, but everything is possible under the Sun. In this article, you will read about the 6 IITians who turned monk to seek a higher purpose and a sense of inner peace. And utilized their unconventional choices to transform lives.

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1 Gauranga Das

Gauranga Das
  • Known for: Bhakti Shastri, Monk, Motivational speaker, 
  • IIT: BTech in Metallurgical Engineering from IIT Bombay (1989-1993)

Gauranga Das is first on the list of IITians who turned monk because of their inclination towards spirituality and religious beliefs. He is a driving force behind one of the most successful Krishna-conscious institutes in the world (ISKCON Chowpatty). He is also known as one of the famous IITians in ISKCON. He is also a leadership consultant, corporate coach, inspirational speaker, environment leader, social reformer, spiritual leader, author, and an academician to say the least. With his multifaceted interests and finesses, he expanded his knowledge and exploration in various fields. He is known to have transformed many lives through his preachings. 

He did his BTech in Metallurgical Engineering from IIT Bombay from 1989 to 1993. During his IIT days, he was drawn towards Krishna’s consciousness and invoked the nerve of curiosity in him and since then, he immersed himself in the depths of consciousness. In 1993, he joined ISKCON as a monk. Most of his counselling revolves around stress management, sustainable living, spiritual awakening and passing the teachings from the Gita to the people of India and abroad. 

He is the Divisional Director of ISKCON  (Govardhan Ecovillage) Mumbai, Maharashtra. He is also a recipient of many awards and honours for his works. 

2 Swami Mukundananda

Swami Mukundananda
  • Known For: Spiritual teacher and founder of Jagadguru Kripaluji Yog JKYog system at IIT Delhi
  • IIT: IIT-Delhi 1982, Mechanical Engg; IIM-Kolkata 1984
  • Born: December 19, 1960

Swami Mukundananda is a spiritual leader, best-selling author, Vedic scholar, and authority on mind management. He is an ex-IITian with a prestigious IIT rank, who is now the founder of a non-profit organisation, JKYog (Jagadguru Kripaluji Yog) which is based in Dallas, Texas. 

During the IIT years, many philosophic questions would come to his mind. The rigorous scientific education at IIT did not address these questions. Later, when he began studying MBA, he was exposed to humanities subjects. And there is a JKYog India as well, which is situated in Cuttack, Odisha. 

Swami Mukundananada graduated with BTech from IIT Delhi and received his postgraduate degree from IIM Calcutta.

And it was after that, he started his journey towards spirituality under Jagadguru Shree Kripaluji Maharaj’s guidance. Despite having the best academic qualifications, he chose the path of abstaining from worldly pleasures. 

He now gives lectures at top-notch universities like MIT, Stanford, Yale University, and Cornell University. Being a Bhakti Saint, his core philosophy is based on developing selfless devotion and service to God. He is the founder of the Radha Krishna temple of Dallas in Allen, Texas. Swami Mukundananda is also the president of the Jagadguru Kripalu University, Odisha.

He has also authored a number of books, some of which are 7 Divine Laws to Awaken Your Best Self, The Science of Mind Management, The Power of Thoughts, Science of Healthy Diet etc.

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3 Rasanath Das

Rasanath Das
  • IIT: Indian Institute of Technology
  • Known for: One of the IITians who tuned Monk

Rasanath Das is an IIT and Cornell University alumnus. He earned his undergraduate degree from IIT and a postgraduate degree in MBA at Cornell University. He moved to the United States in 2000 to work as a consultant with the accounting firm Deloitte.

After earning a master’s of business administration (MBA) at Cornell, he started at Bank of America in 2006.

Das practised the Hindu path of selfless service to the divine for a decade before moving into the monastery in 2007. As part of this active service, he used his $170,000 annual salary to help finance the monastery. This is what he earned in a corporate job. “Living in a monastery was a very strong safety belt to make sure I kept my inner core,” he says.

4 Sanket Parekh

Sanket Parekh
  • IIT: IIT Bombay
  • Known For: One of the IITians who turned Monk

Sanket Parekh is an IIT Bombay alumnus with a degree in chemical engineering. He had plans to pursue a post-graduation course in the US. It was all good with a well-paying job, as he was paying 12 lacks in income tax, but life had something else to offer. And he became one of the 16 people who took diksha in a grand ceremony in Borivli, Mumbai, on January 22. 

Parekh belongs to a Vaishnav family. An online chat with his senior stirred the concepts of soul, mind, and body in him and looked forward to deepening his research and learning about inner peace. He studied for two and a half years under Acharya Yugbhushansurji to learn rituals and other basics.

5 Aviral Jain 

Aviral Jain
  • IIT: IIT BHU
  • Known for: One of the IITians who turned Monk

Aviral Jain studied at IIT BHU in computer engineering and later transformed his profession from being a computer engineer to a monk. He left his job in February 2019, which was giving him an annual package of 30 lakhs at Walmart company. Under the company of Vishuddha Sagarji Maharaj. Aviral Jain did meditation and penance for a long period.

Aviral Jain in becoming a Monk, one has to stand by mainly 5 beliefs – Ahimsa, Satya, Achorya (not to steal), Brahmacharya (distance from pleasure) and Aparigraha (not falling into any attachment). 

6 Mahan Mj

Mahan Mj
  • IIT: IIT Kanpur
  • Known for: One of the IITians who turned Monk

The next on the list of IITians who became monk is Mahan Mj, also known as Mahan Maharaj and Swami Vidyanathananda. Not just a monk or an IITian, he is an Indian mathematician who is currently a Professor of Mathematics at the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research in Mumbai. The IIT Kanpur alumnus secured AIR 67 in the engineering entrance exam, yet he followed the path that not everyone could dare to follow. He completed his master’s from the same institute and then joined the PhD program in mathematics at the University of California, Berkeley.

He is a recipient of many awards, including the 2011 Shanti Swarup Bhatnagar Award in mathematical sciences and the Infosys Prize 2015 for Mathematical Sciences. Mahan Maharaj has been quoted as saying, “I am enjoying being a monk as much as I enjoy my mathematics”.

7 Swami Ramanand

  • IIT: IIT Kanpur
  • Known for: IITian monk

Swami Ramanand is an IITian Kanpur scholar. He is one of the famous IITians who became monk, who is now a teacher with Ramakrishna Mission.

8 Madhu Pandit Dasa

Aviral Jain
  • IIT: IIT Bombay
  • Known for: President of ISKCON

Madhu Pandit Dasa is another on the list of IITians in ISKCON (International Society for Krishna Consciousness). He is a spiritual leader and the President of ISKCON Bangalore. He is the Founder and Chairman of The Akshaya Patra Foundation, guiding the organisation to realise the vision – “No child in India shall be deprived of education because of hunger”. He is an IIT Bombay alumnus who dedicated his life to serving the mission of His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada. Madhu Pandit Dasa was also selected by the highly reputed national talent search program of the country during his pre-degree.

9 Radheshyam Das

Aviral Jain
  • IIT: IIT Bombay
  • Known for: President of ISKCON Pune branch

Radheshyam Das is on the list of IITians in ISKCON. He is the President of the Pune branch of ISKCON since 1997. He is also the director of Vedic Oasis for Inspiration, Culture & Education (VOICE) Youth counselor and Corporate Advisor. Radheshyam Das completed his M. Tech degree from IIT-Bombay, and he has worked with CECRI, THERMAX and MATHER AND PLATT. He was inspired by His Holiness Bhakti Rasamrita Maharaja’s scientific presentation of Krishna Consciousness philosophy.

10 Shreesh Jadhav

Aviral Jain
  • IT: IIT Kanpur
  • Known for: President of ISKCON Pune branch

Shreesh Jadhav was an incredible IITian on the path of spirituality, from IIT Kanpur. He served as a Monastic faculty in the Department of Computer Science and Engineering. He joined IIT Kanpur in the year 1985, after securing an all-India 2nd rank in IIT JEE exam. Not just that, he was the topper in the GATE exam in Computer Science with a score of 99.92 percentile in 1989. But not all pursue the same path of, and he was one of those genius who chose to become monk.

11 Acharya Prashant

Aviral Jain
  • IIT Delhi
  • Known for: Advaita teacher

Acharya Prashant’s real name is Prashant Tripathi. He is an Indian author and Advaita teacher. He teaches seventeen forms of Gita and sixty forms of Upanishads. He is also the founder of a non-profit organization named Prashant Advait Foundation.

Acharya Prashant received his bachelor’s degree in engineering from IIT Delhi and later graduated in management from IIM Ahmedabad in 2003. That wasn’t the end, he also worked for Indian Civil Services before starting as a Vedanta teacher and an author.

12 Khurshid Batliwala

Aviral Jain
  • IIT: IIT Bombay
  • Known for: Spiritual Mentor

Khurshid Batliwala is a multitalented IITian turned monk. He is a prolific speaker, author, and teacher. Batliwala completed his M.Sc. from IIT Bombay. He has organized many events for the Art of Living. He has represented Art of Living in many National and International fora. He is a TEDx speaker as well. Khurshid Batliwala organizes different types of workshops related to mindfulness, cooking, mind mapping, mathematics etc.

13 Dinesh Ghodke

Aviral Jain
  • IT: IIT Bombay
  • Known for: Spiritual Mentor

Dinesh Ghodke is another IITian monk who is a teacher at Art of Living Teacher. He is a Spiritual Mentor, and TEDx speaker. He is also an author and sportsman.

Why does an IITian become a monk?

Why does an IITian become a monk? An IITian, or someone who has graduated from one of the prestigious Institutes like IITs or MITs, may choose to become a monk for personal, philosophical, or spiritual reasons. The sole reason they step onto the path of spirituality is their personal choices. Not everyone seeks materialistic pleasure, for some, the path is way ahead, and it continues with their spiritual quest to seek deeper meaning and purpose in life.

Your suggestions and updates (if any) to this list of IITians who turned Monk are most welcome.

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