Diwakar Channappa

Diwakar Channappa

Mukhiya, Founding member and Krishi teacher

Diwakar anna is our quintessential “Mannina maga” meaning “Son of the soil”. His connectedness with Bhoomi taayi (Mother Earth) is evident from his career choice as a farmer, his loving and humble approach towards people from different walks of life / age-groups and his strong desire to link education to life. Children at Udhbhavaha call him “Diwakar mama” and not “anna”, as they address other male teachers.

After earning a Master’s degree in Social Work, Diwakar anna worked as a Manager at Foundation for Food Research and Enterprise for Safety and Hygiene (FRESH), an NGO working in the field of food safety and hygiene. He was a trainer at Karnataka State Council for Child Welfare and has also contributed as a Project Scientist at Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO). Diwakar anna’s last stint was at Tumkur University as a guest faculty for Social Work, and while there, he had not an inkling that soon, a little book would turn his world upside down and change his life forever.

One Straw Revolution by Masanobu Fukuoka, a Japanese farmer and philosopher, inspired Diwakar anna to come back to the soil. And that’s why he chose to name his farm Marali Mannige (Return to Soil), as a metaphor to his journey. His efforts over a decade are now bearing fruit, literally. Within the organic farming community, he is well-known as the only farmer in Karnataka to have successfully grown barhi dates. You must visit Marali Mannige (in Gauribidanur, about 100 kms from Bengaluru) during the annual Dates Harvest Festival in July…we promise that you will have a sweet experience!

Our children learn traditional organic farming and gardening from Diwakar mama and while at it, they imbibe valuable lessons about life. Anna possesses the uncanny ability to derive profound insights from simple everyday events and natural phenomenon! He is a strong believer in the concept of ‘living in the present’ and that when one pays attention to their state of being, what needs to happen will happen, effortlessly. In him, we see a unique ancestral wisdom resonating in his words and deeds, which naturally led us to choose him to be the Mukhiya of Udhbhavaha.

Diwakar anna is an exemplary learner and makes no excuses to learn a new skill or art. Para- gliding and travelling are his other interests. Anna lives with his mother, Vijaya, his wife Bhavya, his two daughters Sharavathi and Mahanadhi (who are students at Udhbhavaha) and his son Moksha Madhava.

Deepa Shekhar

Deepa Shekhar

Founding member and class teacher

Harbouring dreams of becoming a teacher or a journalist as a child, Deepa akka grew up to become a Telecommunication Engineer and landed in the world of IT.

Deepa akka’s moment of truth came when she was at Mindtree Technologies, as part of the onboarding team for fresh engineers into the organisation. As she interacted with young minds from different parts of the country, aspiring to make it big in the world of IT, it dawned upon her that something is amiss… Questions about our education system and the current state of our youth began haunting Deepa akka, and as she attempted to seek answers, she was getting closer to her dream of being a teacher. It took her a good 35 years of going through the trials and tribulations of life to arrive here, setting her on a journey of quest to understand the education system in depth. This further led her into new dimensions and possibilities. 2 years at Vidyakshetra with children helped her realise that teaching is about learning together and enabling a child to unravel the possibilities that one has come with into this world.

Deepa Akka is a Keralite by birth and a Bangalorean by heart. True to her Thula rasi, seeks balance in all aspects of life and softly holds multiple threads together at Udhbhavaha. She sees education as the light that leads one into life and candidly confesses that her education has just begun and growing with children is the essence of her life. Her son, Rijul, belongs to the senior most group of children at Udhbhavaha.

Umesh Prabhu

Umesh Prabhu

Founding member and class teacher

Umesh anna is a Computer Engineer from Regional Engineering College, Surat. He was born and brought up in Mumbai, and has 17 years of rich experience in the field of Information Technology. His deeper quest to create a large social impact led him to the field of education, while exploring alternate schooling experiences for his two daughters, Anagha and Anwitha. He commenced his journey as a founding member and grade 1 teacher at Vidyakshetra.

Inspired by Guruji Ravindra Sharma ji, Shri Pawan Gupta ji, Shri Aurobindo, Rudolf Steiner and others, Umesh anna is currently pursuing his deeper exploration and passion at Udhbhavaha. Along with being a class teacher, he also handles the financial elements at Udhbhavaha.

Anna loves trekking in the mountains and forests, being with cows and feels a strong connection with nature. He enjoys listening to instrumental music and retro Hindi songs. He has earlier volunteered to work with special children/adults in Snehadhara foundation, an arts practices inclusion centre and is a trustee for the same. Umesh anna is married to Sandhya Prabhu, an anaesthetist by profession, who shares his interest in education.

Anna believes that learning is an ongoing process of life. He sees Udhbhavaha as a fertile ground for education, creating learning experiences for the present and future generations, with firm roots in Bharathiya culture and traditions.

Sandhya Prabhu

Sandhya Prabhu

Founding member and teacher

An anaesthetist teaching English! And also adept in the creative arts, music, theatre, script-writing, rangoli. That’s Sandhya akka for you. She is wife of Shri Umesh Prabhu, one of the founding members and teacher at Udhbhavaha, and mother of two lovely children Anagha and Anwita.

The seeds of teaching were sowed in akka’s rich and cultured upbringing. It matured during the quest for alternative education for her children. Along with her family, Sandhya akka sought answers to questions like – what is real education; what could be the purpose of life; why Bharatiya samskriti is eternal.

Akka took to teaching with the genesis of Vidyakshetra and continued with it at Udhbhavaha, drawing from the mentorship inputs of Shri Pawan Gupta ji, Shri Ravindra Sharmaji, our scriptures and many others.

Sandhya akka’s inspiration to teach comes from the blissfulness of being with children in a natural environment. And for her, teaching is all about learning – about her own shortcomings, mistakes, corrections, moving on without guilt and looking ahead with hope. Akka believes that we are learners even when we think we are teaching because, fundamentally, nothing can be taught. Only we can steer children to see the truth and eventually they assimilate, understand, make choices and progress. That is probably the essence of a real Guru.

She continues with her medical practice which gives continuous insights into the uncertainties of life and reinforces gratitude, and she shares these with her students in different spheres.

Udhbhavaha, for Sandhya akka, is an ongoing, beautiful journey of self-exploration for every individual, whether child, parent or teacher, towards truth, sahajata and niraalate. It is an inquiry into understanding the quintessence of Bharatiyata.

Manjunath

Manjunath

Founding member and class teacher

Once upon a time, in a village called Kukkundoor, a child was born to a couple. The year was 1988, the sun was in Uttarayana in Grishma ritu and it was the dark, moonless night of Amavasya, with the Punarvasu nakshatra shining bright in Mithuna raashi. Smt. Nagaratna and Shri Ranganath were over the moon at the arrival of this bundle of joy and decided to name him Manjunath.

Manju anna is a story-teller. He can tell a story at the drop of a hat! He takes children on incredible journeys through mountains and oceans, deserts and forests, caves and rivers, filled with mythical creatures and demons, fairies and sages, kings and queens. His tales are replete with magic, mystery, adventure, wit and wisdom. He weaves all these elements into such captivating narratives that even you could get lost in them! In his own words, he is a storyteller by heart, lungs, kidneys and all parts of his body!

So, it will come as a strange surprise that Manju anna was working with Mindtree Technologies, Bengaluru, as a Senior Software Engineer, before arriving here. He says that the stories he heard during his formative years and his experiences all through helped connect with his roots and bring out this innate talent that he possesses. He makes it a point to say that he is a True Blue ‘Old Bangalorean’. Though anna has a bachelor’s degree in Electrical Engineering, his passion lies in languages, history and sustainable science and technology. He also has a keen interest in Bharathiya itihasa and philosophy.

While at Mindtree, Manju anna happened to meet a few like-minded people, with whom he embarked on a voyage into the world of education. And that’s when the dots began to connect. All the reading, visits to numerous schools across India and lengthy discussions with experts and mentors led him to realise that ‘Learning and Parenting’, the two most significant aspects of our life, are the most ignored and that “Only literacy is not education”. This brought him to seek answers on how to provide holistic education and lead a harmonious, sustainable lifestyle. Many of his questions were answered during his deep study of works by Shri KS Narayanacharya, Shri Ravindra Sharma, Shri Pawan Kumar Gupta, Smt. Indumathi Katdhare, Shri Rajiv Malhotra, Shri S Gurumurthy and Sir Kenneth Robinson.

In July 2016, anna left a lucrative career in the IT industry and started Vidyakshetra, with a burning desire to create a prolific space that enables joyful learning and allows children to blossom into capable human beings.

Along with his regular role as a teacher at Udhbhavaha, Manju anna is currently learning to play the tabla, besides getting trained in Kalaripayattu and yoga. In short, he is doing what he wants and loves to do, while leading a happy and content life (at Udhbhavaha, we call this being Niraala). Travelling, long-distance running and film-making are some more of his interests. Anna lives in ‘Old’ Bengaluru with his mother Nagarathna and brother Vishwanath.

Whew! What a story!

Prithvi Raj

Prithvi Raj

Founding member and class teacher

“There’s a snake on the tree! Call Prithvi anna!”

And out of the bushes comes rushing a barefoot, South-Indian male, dressed in a panche and kurta, very eager to catch hold of the snake. Prithvi anna is an animal, much like a monkey, donkey or a yankee! In the city, he is like a fish out of water. In the wilderness, he is in his element.

Prithvi anna dropped out of his B.E. course when he felt that the knowledge of machines and how they work makes no sense to him. And life has been one big roller-coaster ride after that. His “dropout” qualification liberates him to pursue what he loves and that is as diverse as firewalking to being a barefoot long-distance athlete to rescuing wildlife.

Before coming to Udhbhavaha and the alternative education space, Prithvi anna dabbled in IT sales, soft-skills training and running a franchisee business in Mysore. He was thoroughly disillusioned when he realized that the global urban lifestyle is taking everyone on a downward spiral and this prompted him to turn inwards, inspired by Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev and Vipassana meditation. Anna is at Udhbhavaha to explore holistic education that can shape our children to be rooted in Bharathiyata and develop the ability to ride through the trials and tribulations of life.

Shashank Srivastava

Shashank Srivastava

Founding member and class teacher

It’s a common phenomenon the world over; 30-something women and men are working hard to garner that corner office, or checking out up-market condos on sale, or planning for an exotic vacation on the other side of the planet. Well, Shashank anna has dedicated his life to educating children in the most meaningful way possible. Can you feel the weight of that?

After spending his childhood in Varanasi and armed with an engineering degree from Prayagraj (erstwhile Allahabad), Shashank anna came to the IT capital, Bengaluru, seeking his fortune. He got to work with the best in the industry. But in spite of spending six-and-a-half years doing what he is good at, anna felt a deeper thirst…to do something else. What? He had no clue. He just had this strong sense to get out of the rat-race/ the corporate world.

Nursing myriad questions about life and the way forward, anna engaged in lengthy discussions with like-minded people at his workplace. During Ugadi of 2015, he had the good fortune of meeting and interacting with late Guruji Shri Ravindra Sharma, in Kala Ashram, Adilabad. The entire experience at this place, coupled with the profound insights from guruji enabled Shashank anna to wade through his emotions and thoughts, and gain clarity about certain important aspects. He then decided to be part of an education-initiative called Vidyakshetra. The next three years, anna got deeply involved in the area of adolescent education, and this immensely benefitted his students. Another key development during this period was the realisation about the teacher’s journey, what is education and how a school environment should be.

Anna is an innovative thinker and comes with an intrinsic understanding of the value of relationships. He has a keen eye for detail and picks up minor nuances in behaviour, which he then brings to the classroom, thus creating transformative learning experiences. His goal is to see students grow into happy adults with emotional balance / inner harmony and committed to continuous learning.