“One morning (many years ago), I woke up early, cherishing the quiet of the dawn. As the coffee brewed, I began putting away clean dishes from the night before when my eyes fell upon the block of kitchen knives. I casually wondered what it would be like to die. I wasn’t suicidal or depressed—the thought was one of innocent curiosity. As I contemplated this possibility, I had a vibrant vision of the trajectory of my life on the path of habitual seeking. I saw myself as an externally successful but deeply unfulfilled middle-aged woman who was worn-out and unhappy. She looked like she had missed out on the most important thing in life. The vision faded.

As my attention returned to the kitchen, I noticed that several minutes had passed and my hand was frozen in midair, still clutching a utensil. A stream of joy bubbled up from the depths of the ennui that had enveloped me until then. Finally I knew! What I was really seeking was the end of seeking. And it had nothing whatsoever to do with gathering, achieving, or acquiring.” ~Excerpt from Shakti Rising (Nonduality Press, 2017)


Dr. Kavitha Chinnaiyan is a Cardiologist and Professor of Medicine at Oakland University William Beaumont School of Medicine in Royal Oak, MI. Her clinical and research work focus on advanced cardiac imaging, heart disease in women, and prevention of heart disease. She has published more than a hundred papers in peer-reviewed journals and several book chapters and serves on several national and international committees and organizations in the field of cardiology.

She has studied Tantra, Advaita Vedanta, Yoga and Āyurveda with teachers across the globe. Her workshops, courses and writings strive to bring these time-honored traditions to modern living in practical ways.

She is a Śrīvidyā initiate and disciple of Śri Chaitanyananda Nātha Saraswatī (Haran Aiya), pīṭhādhipati and founder of the Rājarājeśvarī Pīṭham in Rush, NY.

She has studied Advaita Vedanta at the Chinmaya Mission, the Direct Path with Greg Goode, Śrīvidyā with Śri Śivapremananda, and Non-dual Śaiva Tantra (also known as Kashmir Śaivisim) with Paul Muller-Ortega and Sally Kempton.

She is the author of The Heart of Wellness (Llewellyn Publications, 2018), Shakti Rising (Nonduality Press, 2017), which won the Nautilus Gold Award for Best Books of 2017 and Glorious Alchemy: Living the Lalitā Sahasranāma (New Sarum Press, UK, 2020).

"What I had been seeking all my life was the end of seeking."


Joanne Tognarelli

Professionally, Joanne heads a team of specialists in international trade finance, a field in which she has worked for 20 years. Beyond this, she’s had a lifelong passion for just about any activity that gets her out exploring nature.

Joanne has had a dedicated spiritual practice for years, though it had often felt like it was at odds with her hectic householder life. It was therefore quite amazing for her to discover Kavitha’s teachings through The Heart of Wellness book, and to see Kavitha making her spiritual path her commitment and priority even in the midst of a hectic and successful professional and home life. Through Kavitha, Joanne has learned that the challenges of life are what give us the chance to grow. To face these in a practical manner and with continuous self-inquiry are critical factors in our sadhana. Joanne is also fascinated at how impactful lifestyle is in reducing stress in the body and mind. She is thrilled to be a part of the Śabda Institute and to see it grow, bringing these profound yet practical teachings to a broader audience.

Laura Humpf

Laura is a Yoga Therapist and Mental Health Therapist based in Seattle. She supports people while they heal from the effects of trauma and cultivate resilience. When she returned from her first trip to India in 2018 she put a prayer on her altar to find a radical, feminist, woman Tantra teacher. Within 3 months Kavithaji found her and Laura has been experiencing her grace and guidance ever since. Laura says, "My entire life transformed through Kavithaji's grace. My relationship with myself, my body, my family and the world changed, and I am forever grateful." Laura manages membership for the Śabda Institute. You can learn more about Laura at www.seedyogatherapy.com.

Prashanthi Chitre

After a successful career in IT, Prashanthi made an entrepreneurial transition when she founded her Performing Arts Institute that focuses on holistic growth through dance. As an engineer and a creative director, she brings a unique perspective and diligence to everything she undertakes, be it teaching dance, writing, storytelling, photography or video creation.

Prashanthi feels blessed to be one of Kavitha’s first Śabda students, and is grateful to serve and be part of the vision of Śabda Institute. Prashanthi says, “When I heard Kavitha Akka’s journey and what she shared - “The greatest leaps in my growth occurred when I approached the Guru with the attitude of not knowing, and the willingness to do anything for the knowledge they embodied”, it kindled my own desire to completely tune into my guru, with willingness to be open and transparent, and to serve and grow in absolute surrender! And that has brought me to her and this beautiful and powerful saṅgha of women.”

Prashanthi manages Media Production for the Śabda Institute. You can know more about Prashanthi at www.pcipaseattle.com

Rashmi Thirtha

Rashmi is a Sacred Artist. Her paintings act as an instrument to bring the power of Sacred Form and the majesty of Design present in the cosmos to our Awareness. They represent Śakti in all her magnificent manifestations as the Creative Power of the Universe. She has studied Sacred art, Visionary Art through the Color of Woman method, Intentional Creativity, Art and science of Yantra and ancient Temple Art of India with various teachers across the globe.

Kavitha appeared in Rashmi’s life through her longing to know more about the Mahāvidyās that were constantly emerging on her canvas. Rashmi’s seeking stopped when she was presented with Kavitha’s powerful transmissions of Vidyā. She found her teachings to be a harmonious combination of profoundness and practicality, which led to a radical transformation within and without. Being in Kavitha’s Presence of love and grace has transformed the course of Rashmi’s life. This love constantly inspires Rashmi to serve, learn and grow through seva and surrender to the Guru and the Path. Rashmi manages the Art and Creative Design portal and Sphota Stambha for Śabda Institute. You can view Rashmi’s artwork at www.rashmithirtha.com

Simi Jois

Simi started her career as a marketing and branding professional but found her calling in culinary photography. Painting with ingredients, pairing exotic spices for mutual enhancement and richness of flavor, she narrates stories through the play of light and bold strokes of color.

Her love for creating unique flavors deeply informs her passion for culinary optics. Her work has been featured on MSN, Fox News magazine, Better Homes, theKitchn, Smart Photography Magazine, Artful Blogging magazine, Adobe, The Hindu Newspaper to name a few. Simi says working with her Guru and being part of this team is grace. She is constantly learning and creating. Through this she experiences the practicality of her Guru’s teachings about ‘life being your sādhana’ and ‘the mundane IS the mystical’ you can view her portfolio at www.simijois.com

Simi manages the Photography and Creative Design portal for Śabda Institute.

Tanuka Gupta

With more than 25 years of professional experience as a Clinical Psychologist working with individuals with developmental disabilities and mental health disorders Tanuka was seeking a spiritual foundation that would help her growth as a woman juggling work and home, which she found through Kavitha. Her teacher soon taught her that her whole life was her sādhanā and there is no split between work and personal life.  This experience was further enhanced when Tanuka had the blessed opportunity to join Team Kavitha. Her heart opened wide to the power of women working in perfect alignment and support of each other. She learnt that approaching life’s issues with clear and honest intentions, pragmatism, rational and precise communication but with detachment to the outcome were key to harnessing creative flow and ensuring success.

Tanuka feels that being part of this space of power, devotion and commitment is the sādhanā of a lifetime. Tanuka manages the Śabda Sphota and Sphota Stambha programs for Śabda Institute.

Vanitha Ratnam

Vanitha started her career working in the healthcare industry as an information systems analyst. Over the course of time her focus shifted to health and wellness with an intention to improve quality of life for herself and her near and dear ones. This inspired her to take up yoga teacher certification and change her diet patterns. She looked for healthier ways to cook meals incorporating natural foods and spices. She began experimenting with food combinations and traditional cooking techniques. She is also an artist and spends time doodling and painting using watercolors, acrylics and digital media.  

Vanitha says, “I am grateful to be part of the Śabda team and its noble vision. The simplicity, directness and practicality of Kavitha’s teachings, rooted in the authority of Tantra, Vedas and other paths, had a profound impact on me and my outlook towards life as I immersed myself in her deep knowledge and wisdom.”

Vanitha manages the Heart of Wellness community and is also involved in creating the Bliss Recipe Book for Śabda Institute.

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