Mahamandaleshwar Swami Nityananda is from a lineage of traditional spiritual teachers in India. While carrying the traditional teachings, he makes spirituality a practical part of modern daily reality, guided by the prayer "May all beings live in peace and contentment".
Born in Mumbai, India in 1962, Swami Nityananda was raised from birth in an environment of yoga and meditation. His parents were devotees of the famous ascetic avadhut Bhagavan Nityananda, and then became disciples of his successor, the renowned Shaktipat Guru, Baba Muktananda.
Swami Nityananda was trained from childhood by Baba Muktananda and initiated into the mysterious path of the Siddha Gurus. He learned the various yogic practices, including meditation and Sanskrit chanting, and studied the philosophies of Vedanta and Kashmir Shaivism.
He was initiated into the Saraswati order of monks in 1980 at 18 years of age and was given the name Swami Nityananda by Baba Muktananda. In 1981, Baba Muktananda declared Swami Nityananda would succeed him to carry on the lineage.
In 1987, Swami Nityananda founded Shanti Mandir as a vehicle for continuing his Guru's work and subsequently established the three ashrams. He travels between the ashrams each year, sharing the spiritual practices in which he has been trained and passing on the knowledge.
In 1995, at the age of 32, at a traditional ceremony in Haridwar, India, the acharyas and saints of the Dashnam tradition installed him as a Mahamandaleshwar of the Mahanirvani Akhara. He is the youngest recipient since this spiritual title was established by Adi Shankaracharya in the 8th century.
Currently Swami Nityananda, also known as Gurudev, spends his time between the Shanti Mandir ashrams in Gujarat, India and New York, USA.
His Shanti Mandir ashrams and community support a number of community projects in India:
Shri Muktananda Sanskrit Mahavidyalaya, a free Sanskrit school that provides a rounded and authentic exposure to Vedic teachings;
Shanti Arogya Mandir, a mobile clinic that services the medical needs of the villages around the ashram in Magod; Shanti Mandir Eye Camps, biannual eye camps held in the Haridwar region;
and Shanti Hastkala , a project that helps the rural poor learn handicraft skills and provides them with work opportunities.