Lokenath Divine Life Mission
   Lokenath Divine Life Mission is an outgrowth of the work of Swami Shuddhananda (b. 1949), who has become a holy figure serving the poor of Calcutta (Kolkata), much as his late Roman Catholic coun-terpart Mother Teresa. His fellowship carries out its social and religious service in the areas where there are poverty and sickness. He has played a major role in developing schools and medical facilities, as well as economic activity, to provide nourishment, homes, and education for the underprivileged. The mission offers courses to transform stress into a positive power that produces success, peace, and harmony. The mission also sponsors programs to foster women’s empowerment and sustainable rural development in India.
   The fellowship is named for Baba Lokenath (1730–1890), who reportedly lived for 160 years as an embodiment of love, compassion, and humility. He taught his disciples that he would guide and help them forever, even after his death. The Lokenath Fellowship calls upon this promise and assumes that the enlightened sage watches over the social service organization devoted to his work in life.
   As a young man, Shuddhananda emerged from school and university as a professor in business at Hyderabad University. Concerned about the reli-gious and social service needs of underprivileged people he eventually left the academic arena and sought refuge in the Himalaya Mountains. He remained there several years searching his soul about how to help others.
   As a very young man he had had visions of the 19th-century rishi and saint Baba Lokenath. The memories of the visions never left him. After his pilgrimage in the Himalayas he founded a social service and religious center where he could nur-ture those in need. The design of his mission and the scope of his services, from medicine to social support, are reminiscent of the work of Swami SHIVANANDA SARASWATI of Rishikish, the founder of the Divine Life Society.
   During the 1990s Swami Shuddhananda trav-eled to the United States to share his spirituality and to talk about the way he has designed his social service mission. A small number of disciples have joined to learn from him and help with his charitable work in India. The Fellowship in the United States is located in Louisiana. The Interna-tional Mission has headquarters in Calcutta.
   Further reading: Anne Cushman and Jerry Jones, From Here to Nirvana (New York: Riverhead Books, 1998).

Encyclopedia of Hinduism. . 2007.

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